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How 300,000,000 People Can Be Catastrophically Wrong

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Chris Jordan is a digital photographer focused on American consumption. His 2009 book, Running the Numbers: an American Self Portrait, brings a wide array of staggering statistics on American consumption into observable form -- from 1,000,000 trees cut down every year, to 2,000,000 plastic bottles used every give minutes, to 2,300,000 U.S. adults in prisons.

In 2008 he gave a TED Talk presenting some of these statistics in digital form. It helps grasp the magnitude of the data to see it in digital form. Otherwise, a million is a million, an arbitrary word that has no real meaning whatsoever. It's easy to dismiss the magnitude of these statistics; the fact, for example, that 1,100 Americans die from smoking every day. We dismiss these destructive statistics, a form of denial, he argues. "These are numbers our brain just doesn't have the ability to comprehend. We can't make meaning out of these enormous statistics."

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