16 'common' things that happen a lot less often than you may believe

  • It’s extremely rare to be hit by lightning, get attacked by a shark, or die in a plane crash, events that happen often in movies and television.
  • Winning the lottery or creating a perfect March Madness bracket is even rarer than you think.
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.

Although TV and movies turn one-off occurrences into plot devices, there are some events that happen way more rarely than they’re portrayed in the media.

Here’s how likely you are to experience some of the amazing, horrifying, and weird events that we might think are commonplace.


Sharks are more likely to be killed by humans than humans are to be killed by sharks.

Barcroft Media/Getty ImagesThis great white shark isn’t interested in killing you.

Your odds of being attacked by a shark are merely 1 in 3,748,067.

The International Wildlife Museum reports that out of the 70-100 shark attacks per year, only 5-15 result in death, and that nearly 11,000 sharks are killed every hour, resulting in 100 million sharks death by humans every year.


There’s .3% to .5% chance that a birth will result in identical twins.

Ian Gavan/Getty ImagesFraternal twins are more common than identical twins.

Although about 3 in 100 births will yield twins, only 3-5 in 1,000 will result in identical twins, according to 2013 statistics.

Triplet or higher births, like quintuplets, only made up 0.005% of births according to the CDC in 2015.


You probably won’t die from being struck by lightning.

Christopher Markisz / National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Contest 2016You probably won’t be struck by lightning, but it’s even less common to die from the strike than you might believe.

There are a lot of facts and figures that try to determine your chance of being struck by lightning.

According to a safety expert at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and based on US data, your chances of being struck by lightning are as low as 1 in 1.1 million in a given year, but your chance of getting struck in your lifetime is around 1 in 13,500.

Other estimates vary – the National Weather Service says chances in a year are around 1 in 1.2 million and about 1 in 15,000 in your lifetime – but the point is it’s pretty unlikely.

An estimated 10% of cases where people were struck by lightning were fatal, but that doesn’t mean it won’t leave you with lasting damage.


Babies aren’t switched at birth very often.

Getty ImagesBabies in the hospital.

Although television shows like “Switched at Birth” dramatize this phenomenon, there were only 8 documented instances of this occurring in the United States between 1995 and 2008.


You’re probably not going to be audited on your taxes.

iStockGetting audited is pretty rare.

In 2017, the IRS audited 1.1 million tax returns, which was only 0.5% of the 196 million returns.

If you’re still scared of an audit, you can relax knowing that most are only conducted through the mail, not in-person, and result in an average amount owed of $US6,790.


Revealing a Royal Flush on a first hand will probably only happen in a James Bond movie.

In a 52-card deck, the odds of being dealt a Royal Flush, the highest-winning hand in poker, in your first round of cards is 1 in 649,740. There are 2,598,960 possible five-card combinations, and just 4 of them will yield a winning Royal Flush.


Four-leaf clovers are 1 in 10,000.

Wikimedia CommonsFour-leaf clovers are not common.

According to Dr. John Frett, Professor of Landscape Horticulture and Director of the University of Delaware Botanic Gardens, 1 in 10,000 is a fairly standard deviation for a rare expression in a plant species. It is possible that you may find a patch of four-leaf clovers, but in general, they’re quite rare.


Your odds of winning the lottery are wildly low.

According to Lottery USA, each ticket’s odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot are 1 in 302,575,350. Even winning $US10 or more on a Megaplier is a 1 in 15 shot.


CPR has an extremely low rate of success.

Although medical shows may make it seem like correctly-performed CPR will always revive the patient, the odds aren’t in the patient’s favour.

The most recent data from The American Heart Association showed that in 2016, the survival rate for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest patients who were given CPR was only 12% out of over 350,000 cases.

In a hospital, if CPR was conducted by a professional, the rate jumped to 24.8%.


Statistically, air travel is the safest form of travel and you have less to fear in the sky than on the ground.

Rashid Valitov/ShutterstockAir travel is very safe.

Although it’s been dramatized in everything from “Lost” to “Castaway,” plane crashes are relatively rare, and you have a much higher likelihood of being in a car crash than a plane crash.

According to 2017 census data from the National Safety Council, you have a 1 in 103 chance of dying in a motor vehicle accident, and a 1 in 188,364 chance of dying as an aeroplane passenger in your lifetime.


Only 1% of the population is ambidextrous.

Flickr/unlistedsightingsBeing left-handed is rare, but being able to use both hands with equal dexterity is even rarer.

90% of the population is right-handed, meaning that the other 10% are mostly left-handed, with about 1% being ambidextrous.


You can only see pandas at four zoos in the United States.

The Chinese government has been trying to conserve habitats across Southwestern China since the 1940s to protect Giant Pandas. To bring attention to saving wildlife, they have gifted or loaned Giant Pandas to other locations, including just four zoos in the United States: Zoo Atlanta, the San Diego Zoo, Memphis Zoo, and the Smithsonian National Zoo.


Documented cases of voter fraud are very rare.

Documented cases of in-person voter fraud are rare.

The Department of Justice charged 19 people who weren’t from the United States with voter fraud in the 2016 election out of 138 million people who voted. Additionally, the Washington Post found four examples of alleged voter fraud that made the news and lead to arrests.

That totals to 23 people out of 138 million who were accused of voter fraud in the 2016 election or around .00000017%.

Additionally, a report from the Brennan Center for Justice investigated allegations and found incident rates of suspected voter fraud ranged from 0.0003% to 0.0025%.


The odds of making a hole-in-one are pretty slim.

An amateur golfer’s chance of hitting a hole-in-one are 1 in 12,500, according to the data at GolfDigest.

A professional golfer has a rate of 1 in 2,500, still making it a rare occurrence that deserves some spirited golf claps when it happens.


Getting a perfect NCAA bracket is nearly impossible.

Duke mathematics professor Jonathan Mattingly has determined the odds of correctly picking all 32 games are 1 in 2.4 trillion. To get a perfect bracket, you need some knowledge and a whole lot of luck.


There’s no such thing as a photographic memory.

ShutterstockSchool children writing at their desks.

Claims of memorising entire pages of text from just a few seconds of viewing have been widely disproven.

However, the tantalising myth may come from people with incredible memories, like Kim Peek, the inspiration for Dustin Hoffman’s character in “Rain Man,” and children with eidetic memories.

Eidetic memory is the ability to hold the memory of an image in your brain, but this hasn’t been scientifically proven to extend to large chunks of text.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.