cigarette smoking vs. tanning - a minor correction to the statistics

I would never dare suggest that Cecil Adams was wrong, but in
What’s more likely to cause cancer, smoking or tanning? (April 17, 2009)
I see the following:

By my calculations, this is incorrect. I come up with this number:
two other people have never died: Elijah and Enoch.

The number of people who have lived is approximately 107000000000 (cite). This number needs to be adjusted for the last seven years but I’ll take it as an approximation.
Therefore, the long-run risk of death for anyone short of the Virgin Mary is (107000000000 - 2) ÷ 107000000000 = 0.99999999998 or 99.99999998 %

So there is still hope for me, in that I may avoid the taste of death.

New update, Arnold: I was hanging out at a tough bar on the west side of manhattan the other night, and who should walk in but Elijah and Enoch. Unfortunately a fierce bar fight broke out, and they were both knifed to death. So, Cecil’s 100% stat is now correct again. (BTW, Enoch was chain smoking the whole time, and Elijah had this really deep dark tan, which had to be salon-induced, so they were really pressing their luck!)

Thanks to you, I had to explain to a co-worker why I was laughing when he went by.


A tanning salon in NC is nothing compared to the one I saw while vacationing in …ARIZONA!!. No joke. I don’t know who’s dumber: the person who uses it or the one who decided it was a good idea to open one.

Good one! But there must be some other religious traditions that mention people that never died. Anyone know of any?

There are plenty of tanning salons here in Southern California.

I don’t. The nearest equivalent that comes to mind is the type of the pagan hero who after death joins the gods (as opposed to the average schlub who can look forward to no more than a vague, ghostlike existence). But the hero who never dies in the first place seems to be unique to the Abrahamic religions, both as part of the actual religion (Enoch, Elijah; Mary; Mohammed, and, for the Twelvers, Muhammad ibn al-Hassan) and as semireligious legend (Arthur, Holger Danske, Barbarossa). The Wandering Jew and the Flying Dutchman constitute antitypes, I suppose. Longfellow’s Hiawatha has something in that way, but, as far as I know, that is Longfellow’s invention; it falls in the most obviously Christianized part of the poem.