A Short List of What We Know About All Humans

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The Lancet reports that 15.3 percent of all humans are daily smokers. Yet smoking varies enormously, from:

  • 25 percent among men to 5 percent among women, and from
  • 43 percent among Greenlanders to 1 percent among Sudanese.

Even the gender difference varies dramatically, from:

  • nonexistent among Icelanders, where 14.4 percent of women and 14.5 percent of men smoke, to
  • huge among Armenians, where nearly half (43.5 percent) of men and virtually no women (1.5 percent) are smokers.

A question: What else do we know about all humanity (apart from our shared physiology)? Here is my short list. Do you know of more? If so I’d love to hear from you.

 Human life expectancy: 71 years

  • but with huge variation—from 39 years in Sierra Leone to 84 years in Japan.

Humans overweight: 37 percent of men and 38 percent of women

  • but with huge variation—from 3 percent in Timor-Leste to 85 percent in Tonga.

Human religiosity: 68 percent say “Religion is important in my daily life”

  • but with huge variation—from 16 percent in Estonia to 100 percent in Niger.

Humans employed full time by an employer: 26 percent 

  • but with huge variation—from 19 percent of women to 33 percent of men, and with child-free women varying from 11 percent employed in North Africa to 67 percent in Russia.

The bottom line: We humans are kin. But how we differ!


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About the Author
David Myers has spent his entire teaching career at Hope College, Michigan, where he has been voted “outstanding professor” and has been selected by students to deliver the commencement address. His award-winning research and writings have appeared in over three dozen scientific periodicals and numerous publications for the general public. He also has authored five general audience books, including The Pursuit of Happiness and Intuition: Its Powers and Perils. David Myers has chaired his city's Human Relations Commission, helped found a thriving assistance center for families in poverty, and spoken to hundreds of college and community groups. Drawing on his experience, he also has written articles and a book (A Quiet World) about hearing loss, and he is advocating a transformation in American assistive listening technology (see www.hearingloop.org).