Not even a week after Nate Silver’s departure from The New York Times prompted a generation of pundits to sigh mightily, turn to camera three, and continue talking about the prospect of Palin running in 2016, Ann Althouse defended her corporate masters with this little bit of innumerate lunacy:
I’m blogging this because it’s not an atypical incident and because too many people in America have unrealistic, idealized notions of the goodness of trains and their capacity to whisk everyone around everywhere at high speed.
So how about we take the country synonymous with “high speed” rails and look at it data. The most recent available, from 2011, indicates that 4,612 Japanese people were killed in motor vehicles accidents. How many were killed by trains of any kind [.pdf]?
Now I know what you’re thinking: one is still a lot of people to die on trains of any kind. Althouse is right to be suspicious of them. But care to guess how that one “Others” person died? According to page 79 of the aforelinked report, “a crossing rod that had been stuck in the lowered position was raised by an employee of the railway company, leading to a train colliding with a vehicle that had entered into the crossing.” So the only person killed by a train of any kind in the Land of the High Speed rail was in a car.
Take heed Americans!
Be very afraid!
Put aside the fact that, in 2011, 32,367 people died in car accidents, whereas as 759 were killed in non-high speed rail train accidents. I know 759 isn’t zero, but unless my maths deceive me, it’s quite a bit less than 32,367. But what am I saying?
Don’t be an unrealistic idealist!
Far better to live in a country where more people die on more dangerous tracks than risk being one of the non-existent victims of Japanese high-speed rail disasters!
I occasionally wonder how much They pay Althouse to play a craven jackass online, then I realize They probably just ply her with flowers and an Internet Husband and decide I’d rather not taste this morning’s breakfast again.