The Five Rules of Risk

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Animation by Josh Sherrington
Sound by Graham Haerther (
Thumbnail by Simon Buckmaster
Music by
Select footage courtesy the AP Archive




  • We got some math wrong. The annual fatality odds for licensed drivers in the US is actually 1 in 6,000 which translates to lifetime odds of about 1 in 75.

    Wendover ProductionsWendover Productions6 days ago
    • I do have to wonder what happens if one omits behaviour like driving drunk, which would increase risk dramatically. Do the odds of death/injury then fall, and by how much?

      Stephan BrunStephan BrunDay ago
    • @Ch LePrince It isn't ehven number of people are this can be can easily be accounted for. It should be deaths/hour/capita or even deaths/distance/capita. Even this is a fallacy, as experience and conditions of both driving and mountain biking come into play. Are the deaths of mountain bikes stacked in the inexperienced or very experience buy extreme mountain bikers or somewhere else, just like driving deaths is it the Highways or the Residential roads? Or is it actually the conditions, i.e. snow, ice, darkness etc.

      Alex BakerAlex Baker2 days ago
    • That isn't really relevant anyway as it should be amount the activity is done per year. This isn't your best made video ever I am afraid. Also it would depend where you drove, where as any form of mountain biking would have a risk as even falling over stationary could mean your head hits a rock and you die, the odds of this are very low. The equivalent is sitting in a parked car, how long until you die? A car will hit that parked car at some point, but even then it has so many safety features you still probably wouldn't die.

      Alex BakerAlex Baker2 days ago
    • Actually paused the video and run the math because I felt it was way too high. Glad to know it was a mistake.

      NamefagNamefag2 days ago
    • Sorry but the kaleidoscope was really annoying couldn't watch to the end and unlike

      ACIDesignsUYACIDesignsUY3 days ago
  • There are a few issues I had with the assumptions made in this video, but the one I disagreed with the most is this: "The value of your first dollar is the same as your millionth" Well, the first dollar I earn goes towards lunch. The millionth gets me unnecessary luxury. I don't think those two are equivalent in any way.

    GyroCannonGyroCannonHour ago
  • <a href="#" class="seekto" data-time="166">2:46</a> that's a Tesla Cybertruck, I see what you did there 😏

    Abhiyan BhandariAbhiyan Bhandari6 hours ago
  • I think the intro to the video took a weird perspective. For the sidewalk analogy there was no alternative. The risk that came to mind for me was not whether or not to use the side walk, it was should I use the road or sidewalk to walk on. Obviously the risk of walking on the road is significantly higher than the sidewalk so I'll choose the sidewalk. For the mountain biking one you weighed the risk of death from driving or biking but not injury. I don't know for sure but I'd be willing to bet that the statistics for biking injuries is much higher. Although it would be a tough stat to track cause not everyone is going to report their biking mishaps.

    RNG-esusRNG-esus10 hours ago
    • Love how he used a Tesla truck as the vehicle representation👍🏼👍🏼 ironically those vehicles will probably change the death rate statistics

      nieooj gotoynieooj gotoy10 hours ago
  • I think this might be a bad video?! There certainly is fact, value and knowledge... So the overall content should be good, but somehow the video is bad. Like it's not articulate enough to it's point and it brushes over deeper reasoning without consideration. Point: video ought be good, objective and nuanced, but it isn't. It's choppy and open to misinterpretation, which is also risky. P. S. Long time fan, love your work. Some of your work is truly great and informative but this vid falls pretty short. Thus my (hopefully constructive) criticism.

    Fizzy ZailaniFizzy Zailani11 hours ago
    • This video is riddled with logical fallacies and I've only been watching for 3 minutes

      nieooj gotoynieooj gotoy10 hours ago
  • Ok but if you never walk outside you will die from no sunlight and no excersize so not doing that is also a risk

    Chongo OkChongo Ok11 hours ago
  • Okay the fatality rate of driving is higher than mountain biking, but what about injury rate? Possibly parents were more worried about injuries rather than straight up death

    Andrea FogliaAndrea Foglia18 hours ago
  • Your maths on vehicle deaths - 1 in 600 per year - is laughably far off. It's not even close, your LIFETIME risk of dying in a car is still orders of magnitude less than that.

    Chris DomsChris Doms18 hours ago
  • When comparing life and risk, there is a catch 22 - because when I step out of the door I risk my life, but if I don't, I don't live it.

    jayjay.24jayjay.2419 hours ago
  • <a href="#" class="seekto" data-time="161">2:41</a> Now we know where Elon Musk got his concept for his Tesla rover.

    Rage KnightRage Knight20 hours ago
  • This assumes risk is perceived as absolute. I don’t mountain bike because I think I will likely die, but because I don’t want to injure myself.

    Casey BernerCasey Berner21 hour ago
  • came for board game, got existentialism.

    spaghetti is deadispaghetti is deadi23 hours ago
  • I hope i don't' die after watching this video this dude made pandemic video before

    Ronak NikamRonak Nikam23 hours ago
  • <a href="#" class="seekto" data-time="480">8:00</a> railroads is misspelled. "Rairoads"

    Brandon WatersBrandon WatersDay ago
  • "If you kill one, it is a tragedy. If you kill ten million, it is a statistic."

    LexieAssassinLexieAssassinDay ago
  • "Why do you walk outside?" I don't. I'm in social quarantine. Checkmate buddy.

    kolim jonekolim joneDay ago
  • You cant compare driving to mountain biking The number of drivers are much higher than bikers

    قيس الجدياني | QGamer_Arقيس الجدياني | QGamer_ArDay ago
    • more exposure to cows than sharks for a fatality to even occur; I don't think you'd say based on that alone that it's riskier to work with cows than it would be to swim with shark

      kolim jonekolim joneDay ago
  • Eu fiz uma legenda em português-brasileiro... se alguém puder me ajudar a deixar disponível já está na área de legendas do vídeo...

    caquitowscaquitowsDay ago
  • I think some risk numbers are just "correlation not causation" figures.

    Sam GarciaSam GarciaDay ago
  • well consdering humans will always have some degree of error in our risk management system, our leaders will always over shoot or undershoot the risks of some things.

    Seth ApexSeth ApexDay ago
  • This video is riddled with logical fallacies and I've only been watching for 3 minutes

    S EdwardsS EdwardsDay ago
  • Love how he used a Tesla truck as the vehicle representation👍🏼👍🏼 ironically those vehicles will probably change the death rate statistics

    Michael HarrisonMichael HarrisonDay ago
  • It's unbelievable most people can't understand such simple things.

  • Waited for risks of climate change as an example

    CaptiveCaptiveDay ago
  • <a href="#" class="seekto" data-time="134">2:14</a> wasatch crest!!

    stinksmccstinksmccDay ago
  • Flawed? Really? How about the fact that mountain biking has no useful utility in our lives; while driving is necessary to accomplish nearly everything.... Most of us have jobs away from home. Simple as...

    Joseph WaddellJoseph WaddellDay ago
  • Walking outside vs staying at home isn't zero-sum - a huge number of accidents happen in the home. The risk of not getting exercise is very high, etc.

    psammiadpsammiadDay ago
  • I went driving along a motorway once. It was more scary to me than a roller coaster as it was clear I was taking my life into my hands. I wish the government would make proper public transport. I don't intend to ever drive again.

    JackamomoJackamomoDay ago
  • Did you just draw a image of tesla cyber truck

    Sanajit DasSanajit DasDay ago
  • I think how much I value my life is fairly irrelevant for a risk calculation. When you weigh the value of the reward against the value of your life, how do you get the value of that reward? I think typically it could be understood in terms of mitigating some other risk. So it's not a series of isolated risk vs reward calculations, it's a single infinite web of risk vs risk vs risk. Driving is fine, because not getting to work or not getting to the grocery store is also pretty risky. Mountain biking after school isn't, because the risk from lack of exercise and entertainment isn't as severe. Or because there are less risky alternatives that solve the problem just as well. I also wonder if the thing about the 100th life having less value than the first could just be the effect of the other principles. I think your example was a terrorist attack which kills a few hundred being about as significant as a natural disaster that kills thousands...but while natural disasters aren't often predictable, they are known. They tend to be regional too which can make then seem more voluntary. You know what disasters might happen in your area, you know how to prepare for them, you move if you really don't want to take that risk. So that's a semi-known, voluntary risk against a generally unknown and "mandatory" risk. Not quite the same thing. Could even be as simple as more people dying means more people discussing it, which means more explanations for it are given making it seem more known or predictable too. Finally...humans wouldn't have evolved if we didn't also care about the survival of our family/tribe/species...which explains the "illogical" behavior around mandatory/unknown/high exposure risks. We're more willing to accept that we might die as long as it doesn't wipe out all of us at once.

    Urza9814Urza9814Day ago
  • I don't understand the statistics claims here. <a href="#" class="seekto" data-time="115">1:55</a>,000 change of dying if walking outside? reference 1 doesn't have that value. what it says is that there is a pedestrian death once every 88 mins in the US. So how many people walk outside every 88 mins? how many of those seconds of those walks were people not killed at? clearly dividing the number of pedestrian deaths per minute divided by the amount of persons minutes walked in the US every year, will show that the odds of dying by walking outside is extremely low. so maybe some other calculation? maybe the amount of pedestrian deaths in a given year divided by total amount of deaths in the US in a given year? that too doesn't reveal the correct risk, since it doesn't consider all the people in the US that DIDN'T DIE in that year. So the correct calculation should be the probability of dying in a given year * the probability of dying as a pedestrian hit by a car. Clearly this is much much lower than <a href="#" class="seekto" data-time="115">1:55</a>,000 claimed in the video this is the same for all other odds/risks presented. i don't think anyone would walk outside if the odds were so high. they simply aren't and that's why everyone does it. and in regards to mountain biking - the magnitude of the 2 death rates is simply nowhere near comparable. without taking into consider the trillions of driving hours of all americans a year is a warping of reality. what we all know intuitively is that if only 10 people do something and 1 person die due to a crash (for example), this activity is extremely more riskier than a different activity that has trillions of people doing it, but of all deaths during that activity 100% were caused by a crash (for example). the shear rarity of the death event itself is being ignored in the considerations presented in this video and skew what we all intuitively consider. that said, once the math is corrected, then indeed we all consider the value of risk vs. reward and make decisions accordingly

    Ariel KassAriel KassDay ago
  • "infinity multiplied by anything is infinity" zero enters the chat

    bowen voowybowen voowyDay ago
  • if 2/3 of people drive of course the numbers go up, the number of people that mountainbike likely leads to less risk because of selection bias, the people that do are less likely than the average person to suffer an accident in the situation; if 2/3 of people did mountain bike the numbers would go up, maybe not to the same number but yeah. In the US 1 person dies by a shark every 2 years, cows kill 20 people per year; Does that mean cows are more dangerous than sharks? No, it probably indicates that there's considerably more exposure to cows than sharks for a fatality to even occur; I don't think you'd say based on that alone that it's riskier to work with cows than it would be to swim with sharks.

    Vlad Pintea-GärtnerVlad Pintea-GärtnerDay ago
    • Wealth is relative. The comparison with the dollar doesn’t hold up because in the case of a dollar, the perceived value loss at higher quantities is logically true as well. 10$ is

      bowen voowybowen voowyDay ago
  • The animation in the video was really distracting

    kityew23kityew23Day ago
  • All of us Christians watching this: NBD

    LoungeSpecialistLoungeSpecialist2 days ago
  • Cough cough, cdc, cough, cough

    bob smithbob smith2 days ago
  • Is there not some Irony in this video ending with the words "or someone else will take it" re the domains?

    Julian Manieson JrJulian Manieson Jr2 days ago
  • We drive motorized vehicles because of the convenience, utility, necessity and pleasure they provide therefore we accept a higher risk (though we rarely think about it). We don't ride mountain bikes for the same reasons we drive therefore we accept a lower risk. If the very last image was some sort of 'dig' at the need for mass self-isolation, when was the last time so many did so much for so many? Thank you for not coviding.

    Marc GoodmanMarc Goodman2 days ago
  • not walk outside is guaranteed death by hunger.

    jun skijun ski2 days ago
  • Ha! I love it how you used a Cybertruck silhouette to represent a car :D

    Grzegorz DykGrzegorz Dyk2 days ago
  • <a href="#" class="seekto" data-time="163">2:43</a> this is true and i understand your point but comapred to other sports like soccer or basket ball, Mountain bikini is more dangeroise

    Axel PeterssonAxel Petersson2 days ago
  • @wendoverproductions The numbering on the 'Activity or Technology' is wrong @ <a href="#" class="seekto" data-time="497">8:17</a>, on the students side there's two #6's and #16 is missing

    Dean9419Dean94192 days ago
  • Comparing the risk of driving a car and the risk of mountain biking solely on the death toll is very skewed logic. Parents being against mountainbiking as a school activity is probably not because they are fearing their kids dying, but because of (severe) accidents, which especially untrained DO happen a lot.

    Jan PJan P2 days ago
  • This video: “Why do you walk outside?” Coronavirus: “Let me stop you right there.”

    WertsirWertsir2 days ago
  • The moving kaleidoscope background is really disorienting and makes it harder to read FYI. Good video otherwise

    Tom HammondTom Hammond2 days ago
  • "infinity multiplied by anything is infinity" zero enters the chat

    bodoti qwiubodoti qwiu2 days ago
  • I thought this was gonna be about a board game!

    Price ThomasPrice Thomas2 days ago
  • I have always been completely baffled by everyones blind acceptance of cars. Everybody just acts as though there is nothing that needs to be fixed and that it is a completely safe thing to do. Everyone deploys the them but not me defense. "Oh somebody else will get hurt, but I'm a good driver." When in reality, we are all just as likely to get hit by the drunk driver and killed, just as a few in my life have been.

    SJGSJG2 days ago
    • With this lockdown entering the third month, about 6,300 people who were supposed to die in car accidents during these two months, are not going to die. Maybe you’re one

      bodoti qwiubodoti qwiu2 days ago
  • Sadly this is why paintball isnt popular enough

    kelvink9999kelvink99992 days ago
  • Wealth is relative. The comparison with the dollar doesn’t hold up because in the case of a dollar, the perceived value loss at higher quantities is logically true as well. 10$ is as much money to someone who has 1000$, as 1000$ is to someone who 100,000$. It is us humans who assign value to the money, otherwise it would only be printed paper. Because that is the case, any perceived value equals the real value. If everybody was rich, nobody would be rich.

    Tristan MöllerTristan Möller2 days ago
  • Well, did not know that the risk to die while i go for a walk is 1/55.000. Maybe i should not go outside anymore.

    TobixTobix2 days ago
  • In the end I would expect it to punch Trump & his Covid19 policies.. but guess Wendover love audiences too much... 😏

    Harpax AHarpax A2 days ago
  • But I’ve been in more mountain bike accidents than I can remember and I’ve never ever been in a car accident

    Eman MEman M2 days ago
  • Also I don't think it's not exactly lives that are worth saving. It's more like living that's worth saving. That's why it's such a tragedy when a 10 year old dies of cancer but we basically accept that 80 year olds will die of cancer. That's why so many people are insensitive to the human cost of Covid - the average age of a covid victim greater than the average age of total mortality.

    Bill KongBill Kong2 days ago
  • It's also not novelty that increases perceived risk. It's more like uncertainty gives a range of possible perceived risks. If you're a person who is risk averse then you will perceive risk at - say - the 99th percentile. Then a high uncertainty activity will seem very high risk because the chance of something terrible happening seems high. But some people are risk tolerant they may perceive risk at the 5th percentile. They'll look at the same event and think hey there's a very high chance that nothing bad at all will happen.

    Bill KongBill Kong2 days ago
  • The yardstick isn't disease the yardstick is total mortality. The only reason it looks like disease is because that's what currently dominates total mortality. This is very natural: we care about a new source of mortality when it significantly contributes to total mortality. That's basically how we evaluate everything.

    Bill KongBill Kong2 days ago
  • The example of driving is a perfect counterexample to the idea that prevalence is inversely proportional to acceptance. I think there's very much an opposite effect too. People don't want to be the only idiot getting killed. But if everyone is doing it, even if a lot of them are dying, then maybe this is how life is meant to be. People smoke and drink and drive and sometimes they go to war.

    Bill KongBill Kong2 days ago
  • There's some bad statistical interpretation in this video. I ride a bike a lot more than the average person and if I went off a 20 foot jump right now my chance of dying isn't 1/30,000 per year it'd be like 1/10 in 2 seconds along with 8/10 chance of serious injury. So most people, like me, evaluate this rationally, and then avoid doing the risky thing they can't manage. The reason why the risk of mountain bikers dying of mountain biking per year is so low is that they are subject to super strong self selection to be good at it, and even when they do they don't spend nearly as much time doing it as people spend driving cars: it's a recreational activity. So comparing per year population mortality for the two activity has basically no relevance for comparing instantaneous individual mortality.

    Bill KongBill Kong2 days ago
  • In a car you can choose to drive slowly and carefully and even if someone else hits you you will not die. You will die only if you do something stupid. On the other hand with the bike if you fall off a cliff your dead. Even if driving slowly if you fall you will hurt your knee.

    jawbreakerjawbreaker2 days ago
  • More risk to get injured mountain biking and is unimportant for daily life so I would say the risk involved in mountain biking is higher

    joe sharpjoe sharp2 days ago
  • ok kurzgesagt

    Andrew JamesAndrew James2 days ago
  • Rule 1 (voluntary over involuntary risk) and rule 4 (new things riskier) really explain why people are so scared or not onboard with self driving cars

    NicoNico2 days ago
  • "When people, somehow, get to decide what risk others face" **cuts to a crowd of people in face masks** very subtle...

    PersonaPersona2 days ago
  • With this lockdown entering the third month, about 6,300 people who were supposed to die in car accidents during these two months, are not going to die. *Maybe you’re one of the 6,300.*

    Wimbely Parkersson-DavisWimbely Parkersson-Davis2 days ago
  • With this lockdown entering the third month, about 4,000 people who were supposed to die in car accidents during these two months, are going to die. Maybe you’re one of the 4000

    Wimbely Parkersson-DavisWimbely Parkersson-Davis2 days ago
  • This felt like an old-school Vsauce video

    ntt2kntt2k2 days ago
  • "Voluntary" is defined confusingly here. Driving isn't voluntary for most people. What frames it to be voluntary?

    Person ManPerson Man2 days ago
  • Title: The Five Rules of Risk Preview: Ryanair Me: you mean risk of breaking back?

    abbsnn coseabbsnn cose3 days ago
  • Sorry but the kaleidoscope was really annoying couldn't watch to the end and unlike

    ACIDesignsUYACIDesignsUY3 days ago
    • Why do I feel like at the end of the video, he is directing that message to a certain president judging by the background video, cough cough trump cough cough*

      abbsnn coseabbsnn cose3 days ago
  • Sam is starting an insurance company ;)

    Better With RumBetter With Rum3 days ago
  • (<a href="#" class="seekto" data-time="53">0:53</a>) Cue Vsauce's into music.

    sion8sion83 days ago
  • mountain biking death stats is lower because high barrier to entry limits participation from only skilled and interested people, while driving is accessible to anyone.

    DanyalDanyal3 days ago
  • This is just a death circle jerk video

    Daemon MagisterDaemon Magister3 days ago
  • Well.. just another good video that points out how dumb we are as a species.

    Paul HamacherPaul Hamacher3 days ago
  • Alright, so I lost the little rules booklet, and looked up the rules online, and I still don't know what to do with this map, dice and little army figurines, but I think I know a bit more about how and why I over and underestimate the dangers of this world...

    Dani BükiDani Büki3 days ago
  • One dollar will always be one dollar. Well, yes, but no. Inflation beat the value of a coin, so a dollar in the past gave you a room, but nowadays it gives you some candy.

    João PauloJoão Paulo3 days ago
  • That guy got hit by a Cybertruck at <a href="#" class="seekto" data-time="71">01:11</a>

    Karthik SelvarajanKarthik Selvarajan3 days ago
  • Infinity times 0 equals the set of all real numbers.

    jeff krausjeff kraus3 days ago
  • Any Book Recommendations on risk?

    Causality_EducationCausality_Education3 days ago
  • Please avoid that nausea inducing background in future.

    eurocowdotcomeurocowdotcom3 days ago