DO you know what all of humanity weighs? No, I thought not.
Would you like me to tell you? Yes, I thought so. Most people can’t wait to get their hands on something as interesting as this.
Websites confirm that the average human being weighs 134lb, or 60.7kilos – or in real terms, the terms most of us would understand, 9st 8lb.
Some time this year the world population is likely to hit seven billion.
On that day, the total weight of humanity will be 425bn kilos or 938bn lbs. Do you want to look at that, as a teacher would say, written out?
425,000,000,000 kilos. Or in pounds: 938,000,000,000.
But wait. It gets worse.
I read somewhere that the planetary ratio of human mass to insect mass is 60:1. This makes the weight of insects on this planet 25.5 trillion kilos or 56.2 trillion pounds.
That, by any reckoning, is a lot of wasps, gnats, bluebottles and ants.
Anybody who has camped on the shores of a Scottish loch or slept in a Malaysian youth hostel will know that there is a substantial transfer of human mass to insect mass in the wee small hours.
But I have to ask the following questions:
Who is counting the human beings so studiously as to be able to say that there are seven billion of us?
Don’t they get terribly frustrated when somebody extra dies or is born without telling them?
I can’t even say how many people live in my own village.
Second, and even more dubiously, I have yet to meet a wasp counter, damsel-fly enumerator or termite totaller.
So if nobody’s really counting these things, how do they know? It has to be a guess.
The moral of the story is, don’t trust statistics. Or take them with a pinch of salt.
A pinch of salt, by the way, is reckoned to be 80 grains, or one sixteenth of a gram. My source’s don’t specify whether this is common, rock or sea salt.
This is information I can’t live without. I feel that Stephen ‘QI’ Fry and I have a lot in common.