I missed the story in the Guardian on March 6th about our “growing lifespan”. (I do think ‘growing’ is a strange adjective: surely ‘increasing’ would be better?)
Anyway, I came across the story today after reading the bemusing phrase:
The lifespan of the average British person increases by five hours a day.
on the BBC website.
Reading that made me suddenly feel tired.
I might, very reasonably, expect to live another 30 years. That’s over 10,000 days. If each of those days that I live adds another 5 hours to my life, I feel like that theoretical mouse who’s stuck in a box and gets weaker and weaker as he gnaws through his way out. Each day he only manages to eat through half the remaining thickness and so he never escapes. (Can we say he dies asymptotically, though not, perhaps, asymptomatically?)
Of course the five hours increase each day wouldn’t be so problematic as the curves would converge and actually meet at some point, but it still sounds an awful lot more life to have to deal with than I ever signed up for.
The first paragraph from the Guardian story phrases it rather differently:
Every day the lifespan of the average British citizen increases by between five and six hours. That means that babies born today will life five or six hours longer, on average, than those who were born yesterday.
Put that way, it doesn’t sound quite so worrying, as I wasn’t born yesterday. Then again, if it’s the average British citizen who’s being considered, nor was he, however much his political gullibility might lead you to believe the contrary.
There really has to be a way to report statistical news more logically.