Last year was certainly a terrible for celebrities, as the grim reaper seemed practicallly unstoppable. In 2017, however, celebrity deaths shouldn’t be as common as they were last year, according to one statistician who decided to dig a little deeper.
The number of celebrities who died last year is astonishing. David Bowie, Carrie Fisher, Prince, and Debbie Reynolds were some of the names that made international headlines, but there were a lot of celebrity deaths that didn’t get that much attention. A full list is available online.
Throughout the world, fans publicly grieved the death of some of the most notable among us. Admittedly, last year was rather unusual. The BBC’s obituaries editor, Nick Serpell, analyzed whether the number of celebrity deaths was higher, and he found out that twice as many celebrities died in 2016 than in 2015, and five times as many in 2012.
At first, it looks like 2017 would be a more terrible year for celebrity deaths. So much so that there’s even a morbid website called DeathList trying to predict who will be the next celebrity to pass away, as reported by the Inquisitr.
A lot of people argue 2016 was “jinxed,” as a lot of people see the logic in the increase in the number of celebrity deaths. Baby boomers who came of age during the 1950s and 1960s will eventually pass away, as death is inevitable. Moreover, there are now more celebrities than there were before, as the internet made it easier to gain popularity and become a celebrity.
Taking all of this into account, the New York Post published an article in which it claims 2017 will be an awful year for celebrity deaths. After all, the definition of celebrity has evolved right under our noses, and it looks like it’s just a numbers game: more celebrities, more celebrity deaths.
Be that as it may, 2016 was still an exception. Jason Crease, a Cambridge-based data analyst, recently published an article on Medium stating his analysis of the number of celebrity deaths between 2000 and 2016. He found out it was much greater than could be expected. Statistically, the number of celebrity deaths in 2017 should be much lower, as the last years’ numbers are expected to occur once every 200 years.
To define who was and who wasn’t a celebrity, Mr. Crease used Wikipedia biographies, basing his definition on the length and number of revisions a celebrities’ Wikipedia page has. Michael Jackson had a score of 0.993, which made him the most famous death of the analyzed period. In 2016, the most famous death was of Fidel Castro, with a score of 0.945. The maximum score is one.
Mr. Crease even adds a little humor and shows a table where we can see Jesus has a score of 0.989, higher than Adolf Hitler’s 0.972. We should also point out Albert Einstein had a score of 0.944, while Justin Bieber had 0.901.
This definition led to two major lists: P200, consisting of the top 200 celebrities, and P1,000, of the top 1,000. Mr. Crease’s data predicted fewer deaths in the top 200 celebrities.
“I would predict 17 P200 deaths in 2016. There were actually 25. This is just outside the 99.5% prediction interval. So roughly a once-in-200-years event.”
As such, we can expect a smaller percentage of celebrity deaths in 2017, at least taking into account the lists created by the mathematician. Readers pointed out there could be other factors involved in the definition of “celebrity,” as traffic statistics, for example, could be noteworthy.
In the post, Mr. Crease didn’t give its readers a prediction regarding the total number of celebrity deaths expected in 2017.
[Featured Image by Jack Taylor/Getty Images]