Had the significance of the issue not been eclipsed immediately by the terrorist attack on the World Trade
Center that September, it is more likely than not that the focus on shark attacks would have continued and grown further despite the fact that most experts disputed the claim that the incidence of shark attacks on humans had increased at all (Broad, 2001).
Much of the increased attention on shark attacks was probably linked to circumstantial coincidence in relation to the Fourth of July and Labor Day holidays, when attacks in Florida and North Carolina (respectively) made holiday weekend news headlines. Those attacks ensured continued attention on shark attacks, especially after all the (understandable) extra attention and sympathy associated with the July attack in Florida on an eight-year-old Mississippi girl whose arm required surgical reattachment after a Bull shark bit it off while she was vacationing in Florida (Broad, 2007).
Despite the fact that the supposed increase in attacks on humans was not supported statistically, attention and growing fears about the "rise" in shark attacks continued until eclipsed by the events of September 11, 2001. According to one
University of Florida biologist who runs the International Shark Attack File of the Florida
Museum of Natural...
Statistics from that institution indicated that in September of 2001, only 52 shark attacks had been reported compared to previous years in which 84 had been reported in 2000, 58 in 1999, and 54 in 1998. Since the yearly average for the entire decade of the 1990s was 54 shark attacks per year, several other years (especially 2000) merited much more attention strictly based on statistics than the so-called "summer of the shark" in 2001. (Broad, 2007).
Scientists point to other factors such as the increasingly crowded beaches and the rise in popularity of various water sports as the cause of increases in shark attacks from one year to the next, further connecting the coincidence by reference to the fact that the most notorious incidents tended to occur on holiday weekends when many people spent their weekends on the beaches. Similarly, as news of each attack spread over conventional media and the Internet, each successive attack magnified the growing perception.
Statistical experts like mathematician John Allen Paulos of Temple University agree. His book Innumeracy detailed the fallacious conclusions resulting from incorrectly applied mathematical and statistical analyses. According to Paulos, the intense media focus on
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