I’m a 16

This is a good time of year to just vanish — take a long walk into the empty fields around here, hunker down in a bit of brush, and freeze to death as the snow covers your corpse. Or fall into a frigid river and drown under the ice. There are lots of ways to go, and I’m not even considering the nefarious actions of evil-doers.

But now the Columbia Journalism Review has posted an an analysis of how much press your disappearance is worth. I took the little quiz which gathers your age, race, and sex and determines how interested the press would be in your demise. As it turns out, not very.

That settles it. I won’t plan on wandering off to die mysteriously any time in the near future. It’s just not worth it.

So what’s your newsworthiness? I have the advantage of being white, but the local newspapers aren’t going to get worked up over the fact of another old man disappearing.


  1. raven says

    I get even less than PZ Myers.

    No surprise.
    The old saying is that old people become invisible.
    I noticed that myself when I got old

    We are no longer interesting as potential mates and no longer potentially dangerous.

    We saw that during the Covid-19 virus pandemic.
    I can’t count the number of times I heard/read (inaccurately) that, “It only kills old people.”
    Like that is supposed to make us feel better as we die from lack of oxygen in an ICU.

  2. larpar says

    I got a 24. I answered the questions pretty much the same as PZ except I’m a few years younger and live one state south.
    They say my death would be in 16 local news outlets and 8 national. Those numbers are wrong. Two local, maybe, and no national unless I run into an ax murder or something like that.

  3. says

    Yeah, that’s a 16 for me, too. Close in age to PZ, also white, living in Oregon.
    Eleven local outlets and five national, although I have no idea why a national news outlet would cover my demise.
    One of the “news” outlets that it said would NOT cover my demise is FOX news. I think I could sway that, though, maybe by wearing a red hat and a “Trump won” T-shirt when I fall in the river. Then Tucker Carlson or whoever could find some kind of moral lesson for America in my story.
    Of course, if I went out dressed like that, I might just jump in the river.

  4. billseymour says

    I didn’t check, and if I were to die, there’d be no me to care. 8-)

    My score would probably match what others who responded reported.  I’m a cis, het, while male who’s 76 years old and recently retired from his job as a work-a-day coder for a really big company.  Nothing remarkable there.

  5. hemidactylus says

    I’m a 14 which seems quite high to me. I can’t see warranting that much press coverage, yet I am a Florida man. I’m NOT the newsworthy Florida Man. As Darius explains:

  6. billseymour says

    Oops…“white male”, not “while male” (although I guess I’m white while male).

  7. dbarkdog says

    Old guy in Maine at 11. I probably got a bump up because of all the stories about missing hikers. Incidentally, out state CDC director is leaving to be the number two in DC. One family leaving will adversely affect the diversity level in this very white state.

  8. Alverant says

    I’m worth 12. Not the lowest, but lower than PZ.

    PZ, your score is looking to be higher than normal for people here.

  9. Rob Grigjanis says

    take a long walk into the empty fields around here, hunker down in a bit of brush, and freeze to death as the snow covers your corpse

    You forgot the vodka.

  10. eliza422 says

    I’m surprised I got 15! I laughed when I saw that among other outlets the WSJ wouldn’t cover me…shocker!
    In reality I think I would get close to 0. But they are definitely right about the press bias!
    That sort of thing even shows up on your typical crime shows – most victims are white, and many are young women. Even the dialog around the victim shows the bias to young beautiful women.

  11. Tethys says

    I scored 32, but that’s assuming anyone noticed I was missing in the first place. That could be weeks, or a few days. I am far more concerned about the foster cat being left to starve than I am about violent death.

    Barring a random psychopath, I am more likely to freeze to death wandering around outdoors in January in MN, than by being murdered or abducted.

  12. robro says

    I got 11 and surprised at that. Of course, missing people warrant a news story while dead people just get an obit, if that. I live in a place with quite a few older people so I regularly get text messages from the local PD about missing folks who have wondered off from their nursing home. Most of the time I get a follow up message saying the person has been found, although they don’t always say what state the person is in.

  13. birgerjohansson says

    If I got killed by the serial-killer killer they have got down in Florida, I might warrant some more news articles.

    Anyway I have no illusions about the frailty of life. I grew up literally next to one of the biggest rapids in North Sweden (this was before the greedy power company ingested the last of the water supply).
    The river ate human lives. The big road nearby wanted its tribute of human lives. The agricultural machineries in those days had no safety features.
    (fortunately, firwarms were only items with which to hunt moose).
    It is only after sixty years my fear of death has begun to subside somewhat.

  14. whheydt says

    I got 11. I ran the data on my wife (who is dead, but no mysteries involved) and she got 14.

  15. Hatchetfish says

    I get 17 as a white male Oregonian 40 year old. To the record low: 85 year old Black NB Alaskan gets 2.

  16. John Morales says

    Mmm. I was hoping to find how they nut this out, this is what they provide:

    Methodology of this platform?

    Our analysis and model is based on a representative sample of 3,630 news stories about missing persons out of 19,561 collected by Meltwater Jan-Nov 2021. Of this sample, 2,383 stories concerned one or more specific missing individuals, covering 735 unique missing persons who were identified and categorized by age, gender, race / ethnicity, and geography. Missing persons were then cross-referenced with the NAMUS database for the same period. Meltwater identified the publisher of the story, the potential reach of that news outlet, and social sharing for each story.

  17. StonedRanger says

    I got a 4. Hispanic 68 year old in Oregon. I knew it, ya’ll gonna miss me when Im gone. /s Doomed I tell ya.

  18. birgerjohansson says

    Unclestinky @ 20
    I don’t know anything about Max Tegmark. At the very least, he is hanging out with some blokes with bad judgement. At worst, he has caught a part of the Elon bug.

  19. John Morales says

    I do not live in the USA, so, it’s moot.

    Has everyone, as a matter of course, looked at the “about” on the page?
    I doubt it.

    Not the most specific of methodologies there, or much as to how the samples they get are used to determine the published score.

  20. ANB says

    As a white man in his early 60’s, I’m a “16.”

    I put my 30-year-old daughter in (we’re both in CA). Her mother is Mexican, so “multiracial.” She scored 13.

    UFB. (I know she would actually score high in news stories because 1) she’s a high school teacher and 2) has a 4-year-old daughter, and 3) she happens to be gorgeous. Sadly, looks are a factor.

  21. dangerousbeans says

    I get an N/A. I am a trans woman from a country outside the US so no one in the US caring sounds about right

  22. Dan Phelps says

    I rate 10 news stories. I’m the same ethnicity as PZ and only very slightly younger. I suspect Kentucky residence rates me 6 fewer stories than someone from a more prosperous state.

  23. billmcd says

    Eh, their methodology’s a bit flawed. They filter by state, but take all states as monolithic. I live east of NYC, on Long Island, and they seem to think the local news wouldn’t cover it, but local news in Pittsburgh would. and Buffalo. And Harrisburg.

    Definitely flawed.

  24. kenbakermn says

    24! I don’t know why I’m 8 stories more worthy than you, PZ, but data is data. Actually I think the estimate for me is off by probably a full order of magnitude.

  25. microraptor says

    I got a 23, but I think that’s excessive since they didn’t have an option to indicate if you were trans, which would definitely lower the number of stories about your sudden disappearance.

  26. fishy says

    Jeff Beck died this week. He was an absolutely unique electric guitar player and there will never ever be another such as him.
    The media has decided that Lisa Marie Presley is the dead, “musician,” I should be concerned about.

  27. silvrhalide says

    That is one screwed up algorithm from Columbia J-School. Apparently I am a 17 but ABC and CBS both will and will not cover me. Also, my local papers will not cover me but a state in which I do not actually live will cover me extensively. WTF?