Our World in Data recently published a study which showed a disconnect between what people see in the news and what is reality for most people.
The study showed that while heart disease, cancer, and road accidents are the main causes of death in the United States, this is not reflected in Google searches or media coverage.
Prominent media outlets like the New York Times and The Guardian give the most coverage to terrorism and homicide.
People’s Google searches also do not reflect reality, with searches related to cancer, suicide, and terrorism far outweighing the risk to most people.
The image below from Our World in Data shows the disconnect between news coverage, Google searches and the reality.
What South Africans die from versus what they Google
In South Africa the main causes of death are accidental injury (7.5%), tuberculosis (6.5%), diabetes (5.5%), heart disease (5.2%), cerebrovascular diseases (5.1%) and HIV (4.8%).
Google searches, however, reflect very different trends than what the reality is in South Africa.
HIV is highly over-represented in South African searches, while heart disease and cerebrovascular diseases are completely underrepresented.
The over-representation of HIV/AIDS in Google searches may be linked to the extensive media coverage which HIV receives in South Africa.
While this gives only a snapshot of the causes of death in South Africa, it highlights the disconnect between what people search for and what people actually die from.
The chart below shows the disconnect between what people die from and what people search for.