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robert_jones's comment on emperors post got me thinking.… - Sally's Journal
March 28th, 2007
09:47 am

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robert_jones's comment on emperors post got me thinking. So here is

Poll #955431 Hatches, matches and dispatches

Number of births you have seen and remember (in total) - if you had a baby and were concious that counts, but unless you remember your own birth it doesn't!

0
74(84.1%)
1
9(10.2%)
2-3
3(3.4%)
4-5
2(2.3%)
6-10
0(0.0%)
11-20
0(0.0%)
21+
0(0.0%)

Number of newborn babies you have seen and remember (in total) - babies within the first week or so of being born, that you went to see because they were "new"

0
27(31.0%)
1
20(23.0%)
2-3
26(29.9%)
4-5
8(9.2%)
6-10
2(2.3%)
11-20
2(2.3%)
21+
0(0.0%)

Number of wedding ceramonies (or equivalent) you have attended (in total)

0
1(1.1%)
1
6(6.7%)
2-3
15(16.9%)
4-5
14(15.7%)
6-10
36(40.4%)
11-20
12(13.5%)
21+
4(4.5%)

Number of people you have seen die (in total)

0
79(88.8%)
1
5(5.6%)
2-3
3(3.4%)
4-5
1(1.1%)
6-10
0(0.0%)
11-20
0(0.0%)
21+
1(1.1%)

Number of dead people you have seen (in total)

0
53(59.6%)
1
20(22.5%)
2-3
7(7.9%)
4-5
0(0.0%)
6-10
1(1.1%)
11-20
2(2.2%)
21+
5(5.6%)


Give your answers for what you have seen with your own eyes happening for real in your life. But how does the distribution change if we look at films / books etc? I can think of at least a hundred gorey deaths in action films for each birth in the cinema. Also, how much of this is the age of my readership? Is it just we're at the age where our peers on average are getting married, not dying? Is society very banded by age - outside family when do we know people who are not roughly the same age as us? Or is it just that we think of people who do the same things as us as roughly the same age?

(46 comments | Leave a comment)

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From:emperor
Date:March 28th, 2007 09:02 am (UTC)
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You've excluded funerals; is that intentional? I suspect for many people their only experience of death is going to funerals, which are mostly closed-coffin in the UK.
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From:weaselspoon
Date:March 28th, 2007 09:19 am (UTC)
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And indeed Christenings and the suchlike. I've never been to a wedding where it wasn't a ceremony (like where the only people present are the couple, the registrar and the witnesses).
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From:megamole
Date:March 28th, 2007 09:20 am (UTC)
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Time to head off to Vegas?

;-)
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From:pozorvlak
Date:March 28th, 2007 10:06 am (UTC)
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That's interesting - I reduced my wedding count by one because the last time I went to a wedding (which you were at too), I was only invited to the reception and not the actual ceremony.

A couple from our department got married in Vegas a while ago - he's from Guildford, she's from the Faroe Islands, getting both their families together for a wedding would have been Far Too Much Hassle, so they decided to obviate the problem entirely.
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From:pozorvlak
Date:March 28th, 2007 10:12 am (UTC)
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By the way, how do you know atreic? The interconnectedness of my friends never ceases to surprise me.
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From:atreic
Date:March 28th, 2007 10:27 am (UTC)
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He knows mirabehn, and they are both part of the cool group of people who get together and read plays of which I am privaleged enough to be a groupie ;-)
(Deleted comment)
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From:megamole
Date:March 28th, 2007 09:20 am (UTC)
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Except our friend Xenia's, which was Russian Orthodox and therefore in which the coffin was open. It's a very tragic story, and I might tell you sometime.
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From:emperor
Date:March 28th, 2007 09:28 am (UTC)
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Well, indeed. I considered adding "Orthodox funerals being the greatest exception in this regard I am aware of".
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From:atreic
Date:March 28th, 2007 09:23 am (UTC)
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I forgot about funerals. Isn't that interesting in itself?
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From:emperor
Date:March 28th, 2007 09:28 am (UTC)
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Think of the damage to your Goff cred!

:)
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From:beckyc
Date:March 28th, 2007 09:03 am (UTC)
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I have, of course, seen dead people. But I've not seen, er, how should I put it, every day dead people, just exhibits of dead people that have been preserved in one manner or another (eg mummies, shrunken heads).

I avoid seeing such dead people where possible, because I am morally opposed to the displayment of corpses for entertainment purposes who haven't given their consent.
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From:ewx
Date:March 28th, 2007 10:19 am (UTC)

opposed to the displayment of corpses for entertainment purposes who haven't given their consent

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Would you count a documentary on WWII as (inevitably) for entertainment purposes? I think that The World At War could reasonably be said to be more than entertainment (though obviously definitions might vary).
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From:beckyc
Date:March 28th, 2007 11:02 am (UTC)

Re: opposed to the displayment of corpses for entertainment purposes who haven't given their consent

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Well, it's a bit more complex than that, but the approximate reasoning behind the opposition to entertainment from bodies because it shows lack of respect for both the remains and for the person who was alive and their expectations of how their remains would be treated.

So, documentaries glorifying killing people I would find distasteful (and by extension at least morally dubious). Pictures of people treating a body with disrespect I would find distasteful (and morally dubious). I find images of people being killed or of people already killed disturbing, and so I actively choose not to view them and would definitely prefer warning, but that's just personal squeamishness, which is different ("that seems gross" versus "that seems wrong").

(Yes, I am aware that that's more social training than a rational analysis)
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From:sphyg
Date:March 28th, 2007 12:08 pm (UTC)
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I excluded cadavers I've dissected, etc.
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From:liseuse
Date:March 28th, 2007 09:17 am (UTC)
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I've seen a surprising number of dead people for someone of 21. My mother ran a residential home when I was growing up, and thus dead old people were a sort of constant. I also saw both my maternal grandparents die and then dead. I have only been to one wedding however, and seen one newborn baby. The balance may need redressing.
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From:ewx
Date:March 28th, 2007 09:59 am (UTC)
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I don't believe I've ever seen a dead person or a death directly. Some war documentaries do include large numbers of examples of both however (i.e. as opposed to the acted deaths/corpses in fiction films).
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From:naath
Date:March 28th, 2007 10:05 am (UTC)
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I excluded dead people on display in museums etc. I've never seen a recently dead person other than via TV, I've been to a few funerals but all were closed casket.
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From:aiwendel
Date:March 28th, 2007 10:10 am (UTC)
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not sure what this is about really, but if christenings and funerals were included those numbers would be similar to weddings - all being social events. I've been to weddings christening and funerals since I was small, but a birth or death is a much more intimate personal thing which you would only see if you were very close to the people in question. I will see these during my adult life, but would be unlikely to have seen them as a child.
Yes a film will be biased towards the more exiting moments in life such as birth and death, and will not be representative, but they also have the power to compress time, such that these events can be included.
A soap opera which aims to be more realistic will probably have fewer, whilst a doom zombie doom will have more than it's fair share of the dead. *shrug* So I guess either way we get exposed to these things more in the realm of fantasy than in real life... where's this going?
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From:atreic
Date:March 28th, 2007 10:25 am (UTC)
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Well, Matthew wrote a post about how no-one talked about suicide, and Robert mentioned that it might just be a consequence of no-one talking about death. And then I was musing whether we live in a society where we look at all the nice bits like babies and weddings, and ignore the scary bits like death. Or if that was just me. Or if it was just young people.

And when I was writing that I'd seen far more babies / weddings than deaths I thought that actually in films / TV / books it's the other way round, you get hundreds of dead people in some films and far fewer births / weddings.

But I wasn't sure if either of these were right thoughts, so I thought I'd ask people.
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From:libellum
Date:March 28th, 2007 10:39 am (UTC)
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Funnily enough someone else (unconnected to you) linked to this earlier today:



From http://www.theoutercircle.com/?date=2007-03-28
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From:simont
Date:March 28th, 2007 10:57 am (UTC)
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Nice :-) but I think that in fact it is considerably more socially unacceptable to watch a film of people really being killed than it is to watch a film of people really having sex. And it's more acceptable still to watch a film of people pretending to either be killed or have sex, and this seems not too unreasonable a hierarchy. (There's still the question of why sex should have even a slight taint of unacceptability, but that's what we get for having millennia of organised religion in our history.)
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From:atreic
Date:March 28th, 2007 11:04 am (UTC)
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We see more really-dead / being killed people on the news than we see people having sex. But I suppose people having sex is not newsworthy.
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From:ewx
Date:March 28th, 2007 11:30 am (UTC)
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IME you see fairly few actually dead/being killed people on the news (but perhaps we're watching different news programs?)
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From:atreic
Date:March 28th, 2007 11:38 am (UTC)
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Well, maybe not many, but I thought (and I might be wrong) that when the tsunami happened there were lots of dead people lying around being identified by relatives. Not to mention children who are clearly starving to death / dying of AIDS, but that's a different sort of thing to immediately dying. In comparison I am almost certain I have never seen anyone having sex on the news.

Still, I don't have a telly, so I may not have much evidence on this.
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From:fivemack
Date:March 28th, 2007 12:14 pm (UTC)
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I think that the rules about dead people on the news have changed perceptibly in the last few years; I'm pretty sure we didn't see photos of the US Marines whose corpses were dragged through the streets of Mogadishu in the early nineties, but the story about a similar incident last week was illustrated with the corpse.

If I remember rightly, the first few major bombings in the Iraqi civil war were reported in a way that didn't show bodies, whilst current ones routinely show dead people. I wonder whether to argue that this is a reaction to the presence (at least on the Web; I don't think they're often shown live) of the videos of actual executions produced by insurgents.

Or is this just my brain behaving oddly, and there's been no real change in the last decade?
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From:ewx
Date:March 28th, 2007 12:32 pm (UTC)
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Fair enough, I guess I must watch less news than I used to.
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From:cartesiandaemon
Date:March 28th, 2007 02:41 pm (UTC)
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If consenting sex, instead of death or murder, were what wars and hurricanes caused... then I don't know what.
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From:atreic
Date:March 28th, 2007 02:48 pm (UTC)
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*giggle*

The words "Post WWII baby boom" mean anything to you?
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From:zebbiejohnson
Date:March 28th, 2007 05:34 pm (UTC)
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Because films satisfy curiosity and people are more curious about things they have no direct experience of.
And if everyone thought about sex all the time nothing would ever get done :-D They don't need encouraging.
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From:aiwendel
Date:March 28th, 2007 11:49 am (UTC)
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hmmm mmm death isn't talked about so much I guess as people don't like upsetting each other, suicide is a small subset of death, and less frequent...

I'm sure there is an element of not wanting to talk about the nasty bits, and trying to keep everyone happy.
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From:arkannath
Date:March 28th, 2007 10:39 am (UTC)
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I felt I had to put "lots" on the weddings front, as I've rung bells at quite a few. In terms of being a guest, probably 5-10ish.
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From:libellum
Date:March 28th, 2007 10:40 am (UTC)
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Ah, I forgot all the ones I've sung in choirs for! That would put my count up to "lots" as well.
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From:emperor
Date:March 28th, 2007 12:30 pm (UTC)
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Me three - I was a small lad at the time, though.
From:yrieithydd
Date:March 29th, 2007 12:20 pm (UTC)
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Me four (singing not ringing - I think I've now rung for one wedding). Useful source of income as a teenager!
From:kaet
Date:March 28th, 2007 11:24 am (UTC)
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Oops, dead people I meant three. All were in RTAs, and I was in the frame of mind of "person in chapel of rest", etc.
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From:sphyg
Date:March 28th, 2007 12:10 pm (UTC)
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I always forget to tick the zero box for things I haven't seen/done.
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From:sashajwolf
Date:March 28th, 2007 12:10 pm (UTC)
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If I included The Body exhibition, then I'd have to tick 21+ for the last question, but I had trouble remembering that the bodies in that exhibition were real and not made out of wax or plastic, so it didn't seem right to count them.

On the penultimate question, I've never been present at the actual moment of death, but I have three times sat with people knowing that they were dying, and in one case, fairly certain that the death would occur within hours. That was one of the most moving experiences of my life.
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From:lareinadeluz
Date:March 28th, 2007 08:38 pm (UTC)
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i was under the impression that the bodies in "the body" exhibition were actually plasticated, not preserved or anything. so there is no human tissue left - only the colored plastics that they replaced the tissue with. the skeletons of course are real. but i think thats it.
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From:fanf
Date:March 28th, 2007 12:26 pm (UTC)
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You see quite a lot of newborns in a maternity ward :-)
From:amalion
Date:March 28th, 2007 01:24 pm (UTC)
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My answers on the last one are slightly skewed by having worked in a hospital and in particularly my first post in Pathology which entailed being very near to the motuary.
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From:cartesiandaemon
Date:March 28th, 2007 02:45 pm (UTC)
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This is a bit off topic, but don't you know *anyone* who hasn't been to a wedding? OK, most people would go to one somewhere or other, but most of my relatives are a generation older, and most of my contemporary friends haven't got married yet.
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From:atreic
Date:March 28th, 2007 02:49 pm (UTC)
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Lots of my friends page got invited to my wedding, so I suggest that the friends page of someone recently married is a very very skewed sample!
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From:robert_jones
Date:March 28th, 2007 03:44 pm (UTC)
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outside family when do we know people who are not roughly the same age as us?

At work? At church? In fact, I think education is about the only context in which we are grouped roughly by age.
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From:lareinadeluz
Date:March 28th, 2007 08:36 pm (UTC)
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i put zero, but the answer would be more along the lines of 21+ if you count birthings of domestic animals. do they count? ;-)
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From:trinity_gal
Date:March 29th, 2007 05:50 pm (UTC)
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As it's already written here elsewhere...Orthodox/normal Russia the funeral takes place with coffin open, and it's usually surprising how good the undertakers are - there's peace in completely calm and serene expressions of the dead compared to their ugly pre-death misery condition/agonised way they died with body falling apart...(excluding deaths by horrible disfigurements like bombs..)
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