If you ask people to sort a number of items in order of ascending danger, with cars and sharks being some of them, then it is very likely that in quite a lot of cases sharks will be ranked considerably higher than cars. But if you take all factors into consideration – such as the chance of encoutering one or the other on a daily basis, or the total yearly number of people getting killed globally by one or the other – it’s quite obvious that it would make much more sense to run away screaming every time you see a car approaching you. (But please don’t do so, as it would also tremendously increase your chance of being run over by the one coming from the other direction.)
Of course in those rare cases where a human does get killed by a shark, this causes big headlines as journalists and editors are vey much aware that this kind of headlines gets more newspapers sold or causes more people to click through.
Until recently I was convinced, however, that those journalists and editors were able to put in all in the correct perspective and only used that approach for commercial and economic reasons. Unfortunately that turns out to be an illusion: most of them have a world view that is far from realistic, as is shown in the TED* talk by Hans and Ola Rosling shown below. Fortunately the talk also contains some great and very practical rules of thumb to make sure you world view is and remains realistic, so certainly check it out – it’s 20 minutes of you life well spent!
*If you’ve never heard of TED talks before, you should definitely check it out (and many other TED talks at http://www.ted.com).