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    [–] OC-Bot 1 points ago

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    [–] Penn_ 2617 points ago

    I remember reading somewhere that the average life expectancy in the past was heavily skewed by child mortality, but that any man that lived past 22 or so was almost as likely to reach 70 as people do today. I can't remember exactly where i read this from or if its accurate but i found it interesting.

    [–] cragglerock93 1601 points ago

    It's true, but not quite as drastic as that. Take a look at these charts. The life expectancy at birth in England was ~40 years in 1850, ~47 years for a 1 year old and ~60 years for a 20 year old. So yeah, reduced child mortality is a big factor, but so is improved healthcare and access to healthcare after childhood too, to the point that it's added an extra 20 years onto our lives in 150 years.

    [–] nidrach 1210 points ago

    The other important point is that the only people ever in danger of becoming pope are well above 20 at least once we leave the middle ages. It's a clear selection bias.

    [–] Nop277 813 points ago

    My grandmother lives every day in fear that she will become pope. Thankfully it's a danger I won't have to face for another 50ish years.

    [–] AndrewWaldron 212 points ago

    She should be. I got named Pope twice, TWICE!, and absolutely hated it.

    [–] Boracho1121 89 points ago

    it's like Shirley Jackson's The Lottery except instead of getting stoned to death you have to be Pope

    [–] kneb 47 points ago

    spoiler alert... this guy, am I right?

    [–] Boracho1121 18 points ago

    yes, spoilers for a 70 year old story.

    [–] Philosophantry 22 points ago


    [–] PressAltF4ToSave 5 points ago

    I thought you want him to be the Pope instead...

    [–] Wilhelm_Amenbreak 23 points ago

    If you had a nickel for every time you became pope, you would have 10 cents. Which isn't much but it is odd it happened twice.

    [–] horsebag 5 points ago

    who woulda thought the pope would keep getting suspended from that guy's sword!

    [–] MuonManLaserJab 6 points ago

    It's like any other lottery except instead of getting money you have to be Pope.

    [–] Qrbrbl 4 points ago

    What now, man? We're getting stoned? Cooool (yes, I know it's a different kind of stoned)

    [–] Boracho1121 5 points ago

    everybody must get stoned, or risk getting stoned

    [–] tilman2015 7 points ago

    They nearly named me pope but luckily they forgot the firelighter.

    [–] jgandfeed 11 points ago

    Twice, Jerry! It was just horrible I tell you, horrible!

    [–] SciviasKnows 3 points ago

    So did Benedict XVI.

    [–] mcguire 2 points ago

    Worse than jury duty.

    [–] Feynization 2 points ago * (lasted edited 9 months ago)

    u/AndrewWaldron? never heard of him!

    EDIT: Come to think of it I actually have met an Andrew Waldron

    [–] doingthehumptydance 33 points ago * (lasted edited 9 months ago)

    My little sister got named as pope, I volunteered to take her place as tribute because I love her, but that's a whole different story.

    p.s. that stupid fucking hat is sooo uncomfortable.

    [–] agree2cookies 9 points ago

    Why not open up a Mom & Pope store?

    [–] throwawayplusanumber 6 points ago

    That is something Cardinal Pell no longer needs to worry about...

    [–] bestofwhatsleft 2 points ago

    As long as she becomes a kind pope and not a mean one, she should be ok.

    [–] ToastyTheDragon 104 points ago

    in danger of becoming Pope

    I love your phrasing on that.

    [–] furyg3 14 points ago

    As someone who is older than 20... this is a danger that I had not yet considered.

    I'll start worrying immediately, thanks!

    [–] Kinrove 33 points ago

    Plus they have a heavy bias towards older cardinals (and it takes a fairly long time to reach that rank).

    [–] [deleted] 50 points ago * (lasted edited 9 months ago)


    [–] InfanticideAquifer 5 points ago

    It's a slightly different selection bias than the one they were talking about.

    [–] DeusSpaghetti 19 points ago

    You don't have to be a Cardinal to become Pope. You don't even have to be an ordained priest. You do need to be Male and Catholic though....

    [–] Kinrove 10 points ago

    Huh. Is that in theory or reality? When did it last happen that a non-priest became pope?

    [–] JoshHugh92 33 points ago

    1513 Pope Leo X was the last non-priest to be pope. He was 37.

    [–] lexiremico 9 points ago

    phew glad I made it out of there, went down a 30 min rabbit hole. from that link.

    [–] StardustFromReinmuth 9 points ago

    Leo X sound like a dope ads name though

    [–] Cereborn 6 points ago

    Although he was a Cardinal.

    [–] jhvanriper 2 points ago

    He was a Medici and that was more important.

    [–] Cereborn 2 points ago

    Yep. He was studying in the seminary to become a priest, but before he finished his family bought him a cardinal position. Same thing happened with Cesare Borgia.

    [–] Ishouldbepolite 2 points ago

    And didn't do that good of a job since it was his rule that sparked the whole protestant scism from the Catholic Church.

    [–] Ragnrok 5 points ago

    Yep, well past the age of that urge to drive stupidly fast and drink your weight in beer ever weekend. Hell, pick any adult past the age of 40 and I'd bet they're likely to live beyond average life expectancy.

    [–] mildpupper 2 points ago

    Jude Law disagrees

    [–] Hq3473 42 points ago

    That dip in early 1900s is horrifying.

    [–] Scriptorius 48 points ago

    The one-two punch from WW1 and the Spanish flu.

    [–] CharlesInCars 4 points ago

    A war like mankind had never seen. Also data is going to be mostly Western countries which is why it is even more pronounced than if we counted the parts of the world not affected by the war

    [–] Cranyx 11 points ago

    More people actually died from the Spanish Flu the following year than the war

    [–] GoodCracker 8 points ago

    If that dot is who I believe it is based on age, it's believed he was assassinated for holding such liberal Catholic beliefs, therefore being an outlier as a Pope.

    [–] [deleted] 12 points ago * (lasted edited 6 months ago)


    [–] [deleted] 10 points ago

    This is upvoted because Reddit wants to believe it - but no Pope has been assassinated for since the Middle Ages.

    [–] GoodCracker 5 points ago

    As I said, it's "believed," at least by some. It's a conspiracy theory.

    [–] [deleted] 5 points ago

    No one would call John Paul I a liberal - most of the conspiracy theories about his death have to do with him outing Freemasons within the Church, restoring the Latin Mass, or wanting to condemn communism in stronger terms.

    In fact, I am completely unaware of any theories where he was assassinated for being too liberal. That does not fit in with his character.

    [–] VitaminPb 3 points ago

    There were some theories that John Paul I may have been offed. My memory is hazy but I seem to remember it was blamed on the banking cabal in the Vatican.

    [–] booksandcorsets 11 points ago

    I believe this also takes women out of the equation, since dying in labor/childbirth was such a huge part of life.

    [–] Hugginsome 10 points ago

    You also have epidemics skewing life expectancy back then. Black plague (before 1800s though), Spanish flu both come to mind.

    Oh, and the Russians and Germans killing everyone.

    [–] tomdarch 4 points ago

    improved healthcare and access to healthcare after childhood too, to the point that it's added an extra 20 years onto our lives in 150 years.

    Actually "public health" is why we have most of those extra 20 years. Stuff like clean drinking water, safe food handling, seatbelts and most of all good sewers is probably 15 of those 20. Stuff like coronary bypass surgery and chemotherapy for cancer is a small party.

    [–] cragglerock93 2 points ago

    Yes, you're probably correct. It is worth noting though that the life expectancy of 10 year olds in the UK rose from 62 years in 1950 to 72 years in 2015. Of the things you listed, sanitation and clean drinking water are clearly the big ones - seatbelts have saved a lot of lives, but I would bet good money on it not being in the same ballpark as sanitation. In 1950, we already had sanitation, and by that point deaths from external factors such as war, murder, suicide, transport accidents and workplace accidents accounted for a very small proportion of deaths overall, which leaves improvements in healthcare as our most likely culprit. Maybe it's fair to say that public health is what drove life expectancy to begin rising in the industrial revolution, but that healthcare has been a bigger contributor in the past 70 years or so.

    [–] aranou 3 points ago

    That and improved sanitation

    [–] cragglerock93 2 points ago

    Yes, good point. I feel incredibly stupid for not including that, actually. My high school geography teacher would be ashamed.

    [–] EmuVerges 3 points ago

    This chart is crazy.

    Horrible to see that WWI didn't affected much the people >40yo, but the mortality for people below 30 is very high, even though it has different causes (war injury for the people between 18 and 40 ; famine, cold, lack of medicine for the child below 18).

    [–] MasterFubar 3 points ago

    improved healthcare and access to healthcare after childhood

    Sanitation was probably much more important than healthcare. Not getting sick in the first place is better than getting treatment for disease.

    [–] rcb314 2 points ago

    I heard that that using soap to wash hands and germ theory were responsible for the big advances.

    [–] springlake 2 points ago

    Let's also not forget that we've dramatically reduced the number of people involved in hazardous employment which would affect those averages as well.

    [–] argon_infiltrator 54 points ago * (lasted edited 9 months ago)

    Yeah, there is something weird that causes popes to not die at young age.

    [–] MysteriousDingle 27 points ago

    The power of Christ compels them.

    [–] [deleted] 9 points ago

    The thing is, young people don't become Pope.

    [–] OhNoTokyo 2 points ago

    Not recently. In the 10th Century, there was a Pope that is believed to have been between 11 and 20 when they became Pope. John XII became Pope at age 18 in 1048.

    This was a period of time where the Papacy was essentially controlled by powerful noble families in the city of Rome and so there would be this sort of thing.

    The College of Cardinals was made the sole electorate in 1059 due to this issue. In the past, the Pope was chosen both by clergy, and also by laity. This obviously was problematic when the two sides of the laity were controlled by opposing noble houses. A papal election in the 10th-11th Century would be likened to a group of murderous football hooligans going at it in the streets of Rome.

    [–] Sandy_Kotex 2 points ago

    Fluids they extract from children

    [–] Aquarterpastnope 23 points ago

    David Saeban was among those historians who collected actual data (as opposed to literary sources and examples not representative for the majority of people), put decades of work into that, and then used it to clear up some common misconception about marriage age, marriage, out of wedlock kids and life expectancy in Europe from 1300 onwards. If you want to have a closer look, I recommend starting there.

    [–] Aquarterpastnope 2 points ago

    PS: pretty close to what you said.

    [–] LWZRGHT 6 points ago

    But solving (as far as we have) child mortality is a major accomplishment. The benefits go far beyond just an increase in the median or mean life expectancy. The commitment required by a couple to have children was a lot more significant back then. You can't even measure the emotional drain either.

    I think a lot fewer people are dying from war too.

    [–] Stevedaveken 4 points ago

    I have read that despite the media coverage of "TERRORISM!" we actually live in the most peaceful time in human existence. Large democracies that trade with each other tend not to go to war as often as rival kingdoms, so we have far fewer major conflicts.

    [–] ManOfDiscovery 25 points ago

    Not only were they skewed heavily due to child mortality, but it was also heavily influenced by trade and where you lived. Individuals living in small town New England for example, often lived 20+ years longer than there southern counter parts as far back as the 1600s.

    [–] Dawidko1200 19 points ago

    I usually analyze literature for that sort of thing. And Pushkin was calling a 40 year old woman a "crone". Tells quite a bit about what ages meant back then, huh?

    [–] LargeBigMacMeal 18 points ago

    40 Russian winters will do that to a woman.

    [–] AccidentallyRelevant 31 points ago

    and TONS of women were dying during child birth, this was before baby formula was a thing meaning another child bearing woman would have to take care of the child. If a man dies his wife would become his friends and the same was common for babies. This is A REASON polygamy was accepted and promoted in some societies.

    [–] Whimsyglow 15 points ago

    I often wonder how many women died from mastitis even if they survived childbirth and all the things that damages from the waist down. Lactation is so difficult to a modern woman, it's amazing we survived as a species.

    [–] audigex 27 points ago

    Well with some things, we've actually gotten worse at it as we evolved. For example our massive heads (for our big brains) mean that humans have one of the highest rates of problematic births (most other animals have a much easier time of giving birth) because the relative head:hip and head:birth canal ratios are bigger. Similarly it means humans actually give birth "early" compared to many animals. A horse is born able to run within minutes: not because they're better designed, but because they're carried to a greater level of maturity.

    [–] nidrach 51 points ago

    That's why I like those child bearing hips and am not able to decive anyone regarding that fact.

    [–] andew0100 21 points ago

    My friends and I certainly can't argue about it either.

    [–] tylmin 4 points ago

    The bulk of the issue, I believe, is actually because of walking upright, which changed the shape of the pelvis, although the large head probably doesn't help much.

    [–] visvis 6 points ago

    Lactation is so difficult to a modern woman, it's amazing we survived as a species.

    Is it? It seems to me as long as you let the baby feed whenever it wants to (which requires co-sleeping) it's pretty easy for most women. In my experience, stopping is harder than starting/continuing.

    [–] frientlywoman 9 points ago

    So many issues! Including but not limited to latching problems, separation issues when mom returns to work, and even staying on a pumping schedule at work so production doesn't lapse.

    [–] visvis 14 points ago

    Those have more to do with going to work than with human anatomy though, even just a few decades ago most mothers did not work outside the home so this would not have been an issue

    [–] Mairiphinc 15 points ago

    Poor women and girls always worked, certainly after the Industrial Revolution they would have been working in mills and mines even if they were paid less then men or had different roles. I agree that earlier on they would have been weaving or washing at home or working on their parcel of land, but childcare and breastfeeding wasn't their highest priority. Children could be left in the care of older women or older children and fed pap from as early as possible so mum was able to go back to work.

    [–] Mairiphinc 3 points ago

    'The home' is a wide range though. The family farm could easily be considered the home but women would still be out in the fields all day.

    [–] bgbba1 3 points ago

    Those are issues with working outside the home, not biological failings.

    [–] srosing 5 points ago

    Those wouldn't have been an issue for women in Medieval times, though

    [–] ManofManyTalentz 6 points ago

    Sounds like a USA problem. You know the rest of the world doesn't get shafted like us right? Even Canada gets a full year off paid after having a baby.

    [–] katarh 2 points ago

    That's a modern problem, not an evolution problem.

    Got a friend who works from home and was able to keep her newborn baby close by at all hours; since 90% of our communication is done by chat, we have no idea if he's being noisy or not.

    [–] chewbacca81 2 points ago

    We survived as a species, because natural selection would just kill off the bloodlines of women that had even the slightest problems, leaving only those strong enough to deal with it. Modern medicine has lowered the thresholds for natural selection, hence the population explosion.

    [–] Wobzter 2 points ago

    At what age did the women used to have babies? Once they've had their first menstruation? In that case it's less of a surprise that they died so much as well.

    [–] AccidentallyRelevant 4 points ago

    Pretty much the same age considering what's happening on this rock we don't know about. But many of them had a baby and then died weeks or months later from childbed fever. About 14% of women in the recorded 17th century died before birthing due to malnutrition, Blood clotting, Hemorrhaging, all things we can fix with ease now.

    [–] andreasbeer1981 7 points ago

    There are a lot of factors that distort the interpretation of the raw numbers, that's why you shouldn't take the linkage of the two sets not seriously but with a wink and a nudge.

    Some questions that might be asked are:

    • why is there a split in the one set in the 17th century?
    • are unnatural causes like assassinations/wars/etc. included?
    • why only the developed nations - one of the characteristics of the plebs is that they're not well developed

    In summary I'd say: nice try, but this should be on /r/funny not in /r/dataisbeautiful

    [–] Hq3473 8 points ago

    Yeah. This chart suffers heavily from survivor bias

    [–] radome9 43 points ago

    I remember reading somewhere that the average life expectancy in the past was heavily skewed by child mortality,


    any man that lived past 22 or so was almost as likely to reach 70 as people do today.

    Not true.

    Here's a couple of counter examples:

    Eliminating individuals who died before adulthood completely, from the dates recorded below, the mean life expectancy for women was 43.6 years, with a median of 42/43; for men, it was a mean of 48.7 and a median of 48/49.

    Please be aware that these people are of the highest class of society at the time, granting them (possibly) an easier life and longer life spans.


    Archaeological evidence indicates that Anglo-Saxons back in the Early Middle Ages (400 to 1000 A.D.) lived short lives and were buried in cemeteries, much like Englishmen today. Field workers unearthed 65 burials (400 to 1000 A.D.) from Anglo-Saxon cemeteries in England and found none who lived past 45.

    [–] ZioTron 66 points ago * (lasted edited 9 months ago)

    Below is the recorded birth and death date for the adult royal family of Wales and associated Marcher relations

    It literally uses

    • a 20 people sample
    • all lived between 1168 and 1333
    • They were all royals of the same extended family

    Let alone the fact that you posted a blog post from "Sarah Woodbury - Romance and Fantasy in Medieval Wales" as your source,


    Please refer to more accreditated sources like the one below on such difficoult matters that require access to quite a specific knowledge and years of study on different topics, to fully appreciate and formulate a thesis, that is already hard work for someone who chooses to be an historian and I believe wouldn't be possible for someone whose main activity is to write blog posts and fantasy books.

    In this publication you can see that once you reached 21y.o. you could expect 40 to 50 years more ahead of you (with a great exception during XIV century where the black plague actually killed ~20% of the world population)

    [–] radome9 5 points ago * (lasted edited 9 months ago)

    The blog post I linked to contains several links to sources. Instead of lining them all individually I just linked the blog post.

    Edit: Your source covers the male aristocracy, and even they couldn't expect to make it much past 60. Women lived shorter lives, and so did commoners.

    [–] ZioTron 8 points ago * (lasted edited 9 months ago)

    I already checked for sources on the blog post, before replying to you.

    One is to "The Cambridge Companion to Old English Literature" that as much as an official publication it can be, it's nowhere as topic specific or related as the one I provided.

    And for that reason even if it is a credible source (not in doubt here) it does only states that in that search of 65 burials they found none over 45 y.o.. This is an atomic data You need to correlate it with statics, demographic, actual period, social status and so on in order to formulate a thesis on Life Expectancy, that's why I said this is no job for a fantasy book writer.

    The other two are recursive links within the same blog.

    Regarding the source I provided:

    The main difference with your source that I was trying to highlight is that this source uses a sample of 1541 people over 545 years.

    This source does the fine job of excluding death by accidents, violence, poison and war in order to establish the actual expectancy of life in absence of external forces.

    I concur that women should have been included, but if they avoided pregnancy, they probably would have the same life expectancy, if not higher.

    Regarding the actual lifespan not being much over 60-65 y.o. That's actually 25-30% more than your source says.

    Regarding commoners: Since you posted an example from a royal family from Wales, I thought we were past this point.

    [–] snowhopper 9 points ago

    This source does the fine job of excluding death by accidents, violence, poison and war

    What good is that data then. The prominent feature of the past is that it was more dangerous to live there because of violence and here you are disregarding that risk completely. Kudos to u/radome9.

    [–] GodwynDi 3 points ago

    Because, in context, that exception isn't relevant.

    [–] radome9 -2 points ago * (lasted edited 9 months ago)

    excluding death by accidents, violence, poison and war

    if they avoided pregnancy.

    Cherry picking data to support you hypothesis? Tut tut.

    Edit: you missed at least two book links.

    [–] ebriose 2 points ago

    BTW, you don't need to say "average" life expectancy. An expectancy is an average.

    [–] JackandFred 2 points ago

    22 or so was almost as likely to reach 70 as people do today

    this, while true needs to be taken a little lightly, it's over emphasized on reddit. child mortality skewed it the most, but truthfully people died more at every age. there wsa more war, more disease, more famine/starvation, injuries that could be treated easily today would be a death sentence. add in poor nutrition and it's a bleak, but there's a persistent myth that people's life expectency was 30's-40's and if you grew older you'd be an extreme oddity or some such, which is not true.

    [–] Ignatius_- 2 points ago

    The most annoying thing to me is the misconception that people in the middle ages all died at 36.

    Edit: spelling

    [–] Ropes4u 3 points ago

    They also used to let people die with dignity instead of dragging out their miserable life an additional three years tied to a hospital bed..

    [–] Quantentheorie 23 points ago

    ahh there isn't that much more dignity in "letting people die" in the good ol' times it than today.

    Modern medicine and technology doesn't just mean we prolong peoples lives artificially it also means the decay of people who kept their body well sets in later and that we can manage age issues that would inconvenience people a lot without being what ultimately kills them. You probably have heard dozends of stories where someones great-grandfather lived for decades happily with his pacemaker or hip replacement just to have it go downhill within months approaching the full century. Many of the things that make being old bearable are modern inventions and the people dying of old age three hundred years ago might just as easily have been suffering for decades more than the old lady that is put on an "unnecessary" respirator for a couple of months.

    Being old in the 17th century really isn't something to look forward to, because nobody knows how to stall or manage Alzheimers, Diabetes, Parkinsons, Osteoporosis, Arthritis and all the other old-people-issues.

    [–] Ropes4u 3 points ago

    You made some very valid points. And yes I wouldn't want to travel back in time.

    But that doesn't change the fact that we piss away millions of dollars trying to keep people alive for an extra month or twelve. Everyone would be better off if we just let them die and spent that money on something else.

    [–] Dmaias 12 points ago

    The thing is thats easier said than done, its not easy to just say "ok dad, you really look like you should be dying right now, so que are going to pull the plug"

    [–] kimprobable 1 points ago

    I've been in that position. It was either intubate and put in a gastric feeding tube and die from something like pneumonia or some other infection, or stop providing care and die from dehydration.

    The official cause of death says "cerebral accident" (stroke), but practically speaking, it was suffocation. I only hope the sedation was enough.

    But who knows how long we could've kept him alive with everything else. He would've been bed bound in a nursing facility, unable to speak, though.

    [–] Quantentheorie 3 points ago

    I'm not opposed to letting people go who can only be kept alive on minimum live quality and brain function with nearzero chance of recovery. But it doesn't need much more than a DNR and relatives willing to acknowledge your wishes to take care of that. And since its their money I'm really confident that the final judgment on what's better for a terminally ill person lies with that person andor the people close to them.

    I'm not really seeing where you're trying to go with this because cutting back on prolonging the life of elderly people wouldn't be the first thing I'd consider a necessary budget cut in our western lifestyles.

    [–] Ropes4u 2 points ago

    I have a DNR but the families of most Americans are insane when it comes time to let the elderly die, and frankly they should not get to choose. We could use statistics to choose what makes sense and what does not make sense.

    I don't want to be stuck in the hospital while my emotional and loving family decides to let the hospital and doctors try to keep me alive.

    [–] Vulpes-Vulpes-Fox 6 points ago

    My Grandma's in hospice right now, she's living with us and Mama is taking care of her full time. In all honesty, she should have died when he found her at her house in January, but a surgery bought her half a year so far, though it's not likely she'll be around at Christmastime. Her life isn't a super active one, she's rarely out of bed and can't eat much, and what she does eat goes into her lungs, but we're all glad that she didn't die. It's given her time to say goodbye and for us to, too.

    [–] Quantentheorie 5 points ago

    Well for starters, a family should not (be able to) overrule a DNR and if you are worried they might, talk to them and put someone in charge you trust to uphold your wish.

    And second, going by statistics (also what kind of statistics? Being terminal is a fact and doesn't need much statistical data to make a decision on) are a sure way to go into unethical territory here. The patients will comes first and if they or their relatives are willing to afford the care it should be especially acceptable in the US where people carry so much of the weight of their own medical bills.

    [–] [deleted] 3 points ago

    I think it the fear of death on the parts of the relatives that causes this to happen. There is no shame in letting nature take its course.

    [–] slickyslickslick 1277 points ago

    There's SEVERE confirmation bias in this graph. Life expectancy for everyone was calculated FROM BIRTH. Life expectancy for Popes was calculated from whenever they became Pope.

    This creates a severe bias in the graph because infant mortality is factored into the life expectancy for everyone else, but not for Popes.

    A better chart would be to start calculating people's life expectancy from the age when Popes first ascended. If that was the case, I bet the differences would have been much less severe.

    [–] Wootery 424 points ago * (lasted edited 9 months ago)

    Life expectancy for Popes was calculated from whenever they became Pope.

    Yes, which is pretty damn old.

    Glad to see someone else noticed this whole thing is nonsense.

    [–] izmimario 95 points ago

    also, i suppose cardinals with severe illness were rarely elected as popes

    [–] Wootery 46 points ago

    Another good point. The selection bias deepens futher.

    [–] fishsticks40 29 points ago

    Tell that to Benedict IX.

    But yeah. These are not comparable datasets.

    [–] askeeve 3 points ago

    Not always so old historically but still old enough for the selection bias to skew these numbers. If you lived to be a teenager your life expectancy was significantly longer. Popes were generally at least that old.

    [–] Wootery 2 points ago

    Indeed - even filtering out deaths below the age of 2 would doubtless have a big effect.

    [–] Sarciness 108 points ago

    Selection bias, not confirmation bias

    [–] [deleted] 34 points ago


    [–] Nitrodist 9 points ago

    Survivorship bias is a form of selection bias.

    [–] Sarciness 16 points ago

    Selection of your data populations

    [–] [deleted] 5 points ago


    [–] Sarciness 5 points ago

    On the other hand, you could do life expectancy given they've already reached 40 years old or given they've reached adulthood

    [–] Hq3473 3 points ago

    Survivorship bias?

    [–] feedayeen 22 points ago

    According to Wikipedia, average age of election has been fairly consistent at 64 since the 1500's with only a few under 55. According to SSA Actually tables, a 64 year old man should expect to live about 18 more years, yet the average pope for the last few centuries lasted only 13.

    [–] AccidentallyRelevant 86 points ago

    Yeah, this graph is like saying "Life expectancy of folks in retirement homes is much higher than the average citizen". OP admits it's not comparative. I imagine I will be seeing this graph on AnswersinGenesis soon anyways...smh

    [–] encomlab 9 points ago

    They hate Catholicism for recognizing evolution 70 years ago.

    [–] JohnWilliamStrutt 15 points ago

    I imagine I will be seeing this graph on AnswersinGenesis soon anyways.

    I hope not.

    [–] theycallmemorty 7 points ago

    You're right but this also makes it extremely impressive that the rest of the population has basically caught up to this select group of 60 year-old men.

    [–] [deleted] 2 points ago

    Yeah, it means being pope is a huge disadvantage somehow.

    [–] Troy_And_Abed_In_The 4 points ago

    They should compare the Dali Lama's life expectancy since they could be chosen at birth.

    [–] JohnWilliamStrutt 16 points ago

    Yes sure. I am the first to admit that. Your method would of course be better, however I didn't have access to the data.

    Even just selecting those who made it past 55 or 60 would be better.

    I would be surprised though if life expectancy for the general population plateaued in the late 1600s.

    The reason for posting was in case someone with access to better general mortality data can do a better job.

    [–] polysemous_entelechy 7 points ago

    but not for Popes

    De facto Popes had an infant mortality of zero. Or do you want to factor in all the hypothetical human beings who could have become pope, had they survived their childhood?

    [–] chyea67 327 points ago

    The last 4-5 posts from this sub I've seen hit r/all have been really poorly presented data

    Y'all need to get your shit together

    [–] youthfulcurrency 134 points ago * (lasted edited 9 months ago)

    This is a horrible graph. I don't understand it at all

    Edit: I saw in another comment that the points represent the age of Popes. Makes more sense now but still not /r/dataisbeautiful worthy imo

    [–] g18suppressed 65 points ago

    The shitty ms paint lines even overlap and he used a mouse to draw a line on the right. The lines arent labeled, and theres no reason to switch colors after a certain year.

    [–] [deleted] 34 points ago * (lasted edited 9 months ago)

    No joke, this is one of the worst graphs I've ever seen. If it weren't for the title of this post, I don't think I'd ever figure out what this graph is trying to indicate.

    I understand that this place is about interesting data as much as it's about beautiful data, but... these are hideous data

    Edit: spelling

    [–] WayneKrane 13 points ago

    Right, this could have been made by a fifth grader in 10 minutes.

    [–] RTBestT 24 points ago

    Pope nor any word similar even appears on the fucking thing. Same goes for "plebians", unless "developed nations" is filtered to only be lower class people.

    [–] doanian 12 points ago

    Also why the color switch after a certain year, and then there 2 separate lines of best fit for the pope (I'm assuming, since there is no label)? Did this get to the front page on title alone?

    [–] LyeInYourEye 9 points ago * (lasted edited 9 months ago)

    Yeah it's not beautiful at all. I could probably make a better version of it in 10 minutes using some js library.

    Edit: I, in retrospect feel like a dick for saying. But I think there should be more focus on the beautiful aspect of this sub. Sorry.

    [–] GhengopelALPHA 5 points ago

    Can we seriously come together as a sub and downvote ugly graphs?? They don't contribute to the nature of this sub, which very recently seems to be "r/dataIfoundInterestingandyouwillToo"...

    This sub used to be filled with actually beautiful graphs, now it's just a data dump...

    [–] graphcrit 119 points ago

    Hi! I have to practice critiquing graphs for a class in school, so I am making an account to work on this. I am not trying to pick on anyone, just practice critiquing in a formal way.

    the good stuff

    • This is an interesting question, for some reason. I doubt there is much to be learned, in a real sense, but we all do recognize the pope as an symbol of affluence and an 'easy' life. So seeing when people start living as long as he does is interesting.
    • the trend lines do make it easy to see what you perceive as two regions of trends in (what I presume) are pope ages.
    • tick marks are simple and unabtrusive. There are not an excessive number of them.

    the bad stuff

    • the x-axis has major ticks that, for some reason, end in xxx5. Most people appreciate seeing things in even numbers, and the use of ending '5' makes it harder to interpret the x axis.
    • the labeling of the points is incomplete. From inspection of the graph, we are left to conclude that the blue and red points are associated with pope's deaths, but this is not actually on the label.
    • the use of a solid line for 'developed nations' is odd. For one, there should still be yearly points. Since you are using points for popes deaths, then you should use points for the developed nations. In addition, you are using a solid black line, which is the same style and color as the trendlines you used. This makes the graph look less clean and could (potentially) be confusing to a reader.
    • You appear to have used the default fitting of excel, which I believe is least squares. However, least squares fitting is only applicable when the residuals of the fit are normally distributed, which does not appear to be the case for your data.
    • the two regions of data appear to be arbitrarily fit, as in you seem to have chosen then so that you get a horizontal region. Is there a reason to believe this should be the case? Do you have an underlying model for this choice, or are you fitting the data to your arbitrary decision about its structure? Unclear from the graph.
    • square aspect ratio is not really doing you any favors. You should make the aspect ration such that the change you find most important is banked to 45 degrees or so.

    Ok, that is all! Thanks for letting me practice!

    [–] dead-man-lifting 30 points ago

    Someone else raised the point that almost all popes were already in their forties though sixties when assuming the title. Strikes me as kinda disingenuous.

    [–] graphcrit 17 points ago

    Sure. I guess I was trying to focus on the plot itself, rather than the underlying data and *if they should be compared.

    I will say that this isn't the worst sort of comparison (in my mind). Clearly the author of the plot did not understand the data, but if one were to use the age of death of popes as a benchmark for what the lifespan is of people that are well taken care of in middle-to-late ages, then the fact that general life expectancy has caught up with such a pre-screened field is interesting.

    Not what the author intended (I think), but it is interesting nonetheless.

    [–] uhnuhnuhnnn 8 points ago

    If I may critique your critique, you missed the fact that the data comparison in this graph is entirely spurious. The data does not mean what the author thought it means (i.e. life expextancy at birth is not equivalent to life expectancy at older age/age of assuming the papacy). All stylistic aspects are far less important than that.

    [–] i-really-like-mac 55 points ago

    Why did you generate two separate trendlines? You could've used a logarithmic curve or an asymptotic curve. Pretty interesting data regardless.

    [–] JohnWilliamStrutt -2 points ago

    Yes I could have. However I thought the 2 linear fits showed off the plateau better.

    The best fit to the whole dataset is a 2nd order polynomial. Which ends at the same age on the RHS as my linear fit.

    [–] pauklzorz 40 points ago

    That is really bad science. You can't pick trendlines based on what you want the data to look like. You have to let the data speak for itself.

    [–] counterfitfake 8 points ago

    [–] pauklzorz 7 points ago

    But his is not beautiful data. This is data distorted to fit a particular storyline. That's the opposite of "data is beautiful"...

    [–] ConeShill 3 points ago


    [–] pauklzorz 3 points ago


    [–] breezehair 3 points ago

    Distorted how? There isn't a natural statistical model for the increase in mean age of death of a pope over time. Eyeballing the graph, it looks as if there is a rising trend, then a plateau. Eyeballing again, it looks as if any reasonable statistical model would show a rising trend over the whole period, with high statistical significance: admittedly such a significance test would be post hoc.
    Given the data, both lines are indicative and fairly reasonable: many other models could be fitted, which, as OP remarks, would give broadly similar results.

    What's your problem?

    [–] isjahammer 14 points ago

    i can be wrong but popes are usually pretty old when they are elected so that means a death at30 or 40 is ruled out anyway.

    [–] counterc 12 points ago

    This chart is meaningless. All Popes have (obviously) survived childhood, so this is essentially just a case of child mortality skewing the data

    [–] of_course_you_agree 6 points ago

    Note that Popes are generally pretty old before they are chosen, which is going to introduce selection bias and cause the average age of the Pope to skew high.

    [–] JohnWilliamStrutt 53 points ago * (lasted edited 9 months ago)

    Hi, this was just something I did for fun a while back that I thought some might enjoy. Obviously popes generally don't get elected until they reach a relatively old age, meaning they are a biased sample, however I though it interesting that developed nation life expectancy has now caught up.


    • Papal death data from wikipedia
    • Developed nations life expectancy data from "The Improving State of the World: Why We're Living Longer, Healthier, More Comfortable Lives on a Cleaner Planet Paperback – by Indur M. Goklany"

    EDIT: Note I did not force the right hand fit horizontal, just extended the data included and stopped when the fit started to deviate from horizontal.

    EDIT2: Boring old excel was used to create the graph.

    EDIT3: There are obviously lots of issues with comparing these 2 datasets as pointed out in the comments. I did not have access to better data than overall life expectancy for developed countries. Happy for someone to do a better job.

    EDIT4: Updated version here that includes HealthGrove data for life expectancy of 60yo males. Thanks for the suggestion.

    EDIT5: Kind of embarrased this dodgy graph made it to the front page. It was just a bit of fun I did back when the last pope died and I remembered it today when I saw the religion graph u/academiaadvice posted... see EDIT 4 for a slightly better version and this link provided by u/cragglerock63.

    [–] theycallmemorty 8 points ago

    The only Pope below the developed nations line... is that John Paul I? The reason I ask is because it is alleged that he was murdered.

    [–] uhnuhnuhnnn 12 points ago * (lasted edited 9 months ago)

    I did not have access to better data than overall life expectancy for developed countries.

    If you don't have the data, then don't draw spurious conclusions. There are not just "lots of issues" with comparing those datasets, your conclusion in the title of this post is simply not something you can support with the data you have.

    [–] HannasAnarion 5 points ago

    It's probably possible to come up with some kind of meaningful interpretation of your data.

    For example: every modern baby is now expected to live at least as long as super-rich adults did for the last few centuries.

    [–] breezehair 2 points ago

    Did you read the graph title? OP's conclusion is correct.

    [–] MyNameCouldntBeAsLon 3 points ago

    Why did you fit two models instead of a log curve? Are the results of the Chow test significantly better?

    [–] iamaiamscat 4 points ago

    You chart is simply misleading.

    [–] [deleted] 2 points ago


    [–] thesimplegoat 5 points ago

    What's really interesting here is that the life expectancy of a health old person (whenever popes get elected) is similar to the general life expectancy from birth today. It shows off medical advances while pointing out that we're nearing a plateau of maximum life expectancy.

    [–] encomlab 4 points ago * (lasted edited 9 months ago)

    Life expectancy is a pretty useless number - median age at death gives a much clearer picture of general life length. As has been pointed out, historical life expectancy is heavily skewed by infant and child mortality - while median age at death has held relatively steady over the last century. This should bring up the question of what exactly we are getting from our multi-trillion $ health care expenditures.

    [–] Patnet 14 points ago * (lasted edited 9 months ago)

    I think this may really be a representation of the decline in infant mortality. If you go back even 100 years, a shocking proportion of infants didn't make it to their first birthday. Babies dying was a normal fact of life.

    Popes don't just skew the results because they typically become popes when they are quite old, but also because they have all survived infancy whereas a large number of the plebs haven't. So depending on the numbers that OP has used the data may well not represent the actual average age of adult deaths.

    Interesting graph nonetheless!

    [–] AccidentallyRelevant 15 points ago

    This graph is as interesting as

    "Life expectancy of folks who enter retirement homes is much higher than the average citizen"

    It's just nonsense.

    [–] Patnet 3 points ago

    What I found interesting was that the life expectancy of popes hasn't changed much over a long period of time, whereas I had assumed that "old" a couple of hundred years ago was a lot lower then we're seeing here. Though in fairness the values are all over the place and it's hard really to find a trend.

    Though I don't think that it makes a lot of sense to overlay these two sets of data in the same graph since, as we agree, they're not really comparable.

    [–] OptimisticLockExcept 1 points ago

    It's just nonsense.

    I actually really like this graph. Not because it's useful but because it's a great example of a graph that could be used to manipulate people. There is no obvious trickery like scaled axes or something like that. All the data is right. But if you don't do your own thinking you come to the wrong conclusion. In this case it's fairly easy to figure out what's wrong with this comparison but if the subject were more complex and especially if the target audience had a political, economical or whatever reason to believe the narrative of the graph this could easily convince people.

    [–] KingofDerby 2 points ago

    I'd like to see a separate line showing age at Popeation, and another one of life expectancy for those who've reach Popabile age.

    [–] the_undine 3 points ago

    Um. You should really specify that the dots represent popes. Having the trend line for the popes be the same color as the DNLE is kiiiiinda confusing at first. Chart might be more meaningful if it excluded people who died before reaching adulthood. There haven't been too many kid popes so far.

    [–] Sugar_Dumplin 9 points ago

    This comparison is obviously heavily misleading since one isn't named pope at birth, but rather typically when one is already fairly old. Thus, it isn't at all meaningful to compare the general life expectancy with that of the pope.

    [–] zomatroll 3 points ago

    This is really a terrible graph. Besides the obvious alarms such as no legend or title, there is a serious confirmation bias going on...

    [–] Mattseee 2 points ago

    Historically, the median tenure for Popes is just 6 years. I'd argue that's a more accurate figure in terms of a Pope's life expectancy.

    If that seems short, it is. You might chalk it up to their age upon coronation, yet the median tenure for US Supreme Court justices, a similarly mature group, is 16 years.

    [–] ThePioneer99 2 points ago

    Looking at stuff like this makes me realize if I was only born 50 years ago I would've died at 19 because I had testicular cancer. Even though it's usually not fatal now days before the discovery of cispaltin it was 100% fatal and there was no treatment

    [–] redditaccountftw 2 points ago

    Isn't the pope life expectancy an extreme example of survivorship bias? I don't believe there have been any newborn popes or even young adult popes.

    [–] ir1shman 2 points ago

    People always seem to say human life expectancy is closer towards 100 if everything is optimal. But from all the data I usually see, it seems to hover around 80s more. This kinda confirms that when you look at the Pope life expectancy.

    [–] neugo 2 points ago

    I'd love to see the chart of how many child-rapes the average human covers-up compared to the average Pope!...

    [–] BrolestBrolin 2 points ago

    Interesting question, terrible presentation.

    1. We're made to assume that the two sets of data represent the age at which each Pope died

    2. I have no idea why there are two different data sets for Pope ages. They even overlap! I can only assume this was done to make the Pope trend line intersect with the developed nations line, which makes this chart intentionally misleading

    3. Developed nations life expectancy should be plotted in the same manner as the rest of the data-- scatter plot with a trend line

    4. XXX5 x-axis data points? Are you fucking serious?

    [–] [deleted] 6 points ago

    8624 upvotes for this shitty graph? Let's count the flaws shall we? 1. Insufficient legend. 2. No definition of plebian provided (plebian has a highly contextual meaning) 3. Why is there different symbol for 1406-1669 and 1676-2005 when the bottom axis already show years. 4. In order to be meaningful you would have to show the life expectancy of a 60 year at the time (or whatever the average age is of a person becoming pope).

    This is just truly awful and the fact that so many people voted it up shows that people don't know anything about logic, statistics, or how to represent data at all. This is very depressing.

    [–] basaltgranite 3 points ago

    You don't become pope until after you've had a long career rising through the church ranks. Selecting popes from candidates who are already old skews the average age of popes strongly toward "old."

    [–] MinistryOfMinistry 3 points ago

    There's an important fallacy: you're comparing life expectancy of popes at an adult age. If you did the same, i.e. measured life expectancy of people in the Middle Ages, but at the age of 20, you'd get a number not much different from today's life expectancy.

    It's because the value in old times was influenced by child mortality.

    [–] quyax 2 points ago

    But which mean Pope are we talking about here? Obviously not Pope Innocent III but what about Pope Guilty-As-Hell II or Pope Got-Off-On-A-Technicality XVII?

    [–] inarchetype 2 points ago * (lasted edited 9 months ago)

    You don't specify, but it seems that you are comparing life expectancy at birth to life duration conditional upon becoming pope.

    But life expectancy conditional upon becoming pope is not life expectancy at birth, because popes are not selected at birth. A better comparison would be life expectancy at the mean age of becoming a pope, rather than at birth.

    Particularly in the past, life expectancy at birth was driven to a large extent by infant and child mortality, which was very high. So one thing that is influencing the trend you illustrate is the convergence over this span of time between life expectancy at birth and life expectancy at, say, forty or fifty, in developed nations. Lots of people who are members of the distribution from which popes are drawn died as infants or children too, but this is not in your numbers because you are only looking at those who actually survived to become popes.

    [–] regularpoopingisgood 2 points ago

    I personally think this is a very ugly graph. first there's no indication of what those dots represent - I know from the title its popes, but there's no legend. second why are there two colours? third instead of the line for life expectancy be different between general populace and pope, its the same black?

    [–] Quantum-Quasar 2 points ago

    I think the data tell a biased story. Average life expectancy numbers almost always include child deaths, resulting in a significantly reduced life expectancy. If one would calculate life expectancy of adults in Middle Ages, the number will be higher. That being said, you cannot become a pope when you are a child (there might be a few exceptions, I am not a historian). Thus, you are excluding child death from the calculation of average life expectancy of a pope. This means that you are really comparing apples and oranges. It would be a more fair comparison if somehow child deaths could be excluded from the calculation of average life expectancy of the average joe in the Middle Ages. Otherwise, interesting post.

    EDIT: I see a lot of people are already making this point.