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  • Hey, Vsauce. Michael here.

  • A few years ago

  • in Minneapolis an angry dad stormed into the retail store

  • Target. His daughter, a high schooler,

  • had been receiving coupons in the mail from the store for things like cribs

  • and diapers. Was Target encouraging his daughter,

  • a minor, to go out and get pregnant? well

  • Well, the store apologized but a few days later they heard back from the father. He

  • told them

  • "a few things have been going on in my household

  • I was unaware of. My daughter is due

  • in August. I owe you an apology." You see,

  • Target's internal algorithms have been tracking

  • and processing his daughter's purchases and recently

  • she'd started buying different items than usual.

  • Things like certain vitamin supplements and scent-free soaps and lotions.

  • Behaviors the system flagged as evidence

  • she could be pregnant, thus they her sent the coupons.

  • And they were right. Without being told,

  • Target knew that a girl was pregnant

  • before her own father.

  • We are tracked and followed digitally now more than

  • ever before. We live in a world of 24/7 CCTV,

  • browser cookies, trackable debit cards and cell phones and GPS,

  • fingerprinting and DNA analysis. But despite

  • all of that, every single year

  • in the United States alone more than 2,000 people

  • disappear and are never found again

  • dead or alive.

  • Where do missing people go? How did they disappear?

  • What if you disappeared and

  • how do you know you haven't already

  • disappeared? In many cases, missing persons are the victims

  • of unsolved or unknown crimes.

  • They may have suffered accidents or taken their own lives

  • and their bodies were never found. Or they may be perfectly fine and have simply

  • escaped their old life, old friends and family, old debt and obligations to start

  • a new life

  • somewhere else, possibly as someone else.

  • How long would it take for people to notice

  • if you disappeared? Well, think about it. I mean,

  • it sort of depends on who you are, how you live

  • and how you disappeared. In most jurisdictions after about five to seven

  • years,

  • if no one has heard anything from you at all,

  • you can be declared dead in absentia.

  • This is what happened to French astronomer

  • Guillaume Le Gentil. In the 18th century hundreds of people traveled far and wide

  • to observe the transit of Venus from different locations

  • on earth. They knew that by comparing their measurements they could calculate

  • more accurately than ever before just how far away

  • the Sun was. So, Le Gentil

  • left Paris in 1760 for Pondicherry

  • in India. But after a storm blew him off course

  • and the British occupied Pondicherry, he was forced to spend the day

  • of the transit on a boat at sea, which rocked

  • too much for accurate measurements to be taken. Now, the next

  • transit would happen in 8 years. But after that, the next

  • next transit wouldn't happen for another 100 years.

  • So, he stuck around. He didn't return to Paris. Instead, he built an observatory

  • and waited. When he finally returned

  • to Paris, 11 years after leaving, he found that he had been declared

  • dead. His wife had remarried,

  • his family had plundered his belongings and his position

  • at the Royal Academy of Sciences had been given to someone else.

  • He never did see the transit of Venus,

  • by the way. On the day that it happened, the sky above him

  • was overcast.

  • We know the human population

  • of Earth.

  • Kind of.

  • Population figures and counters are only estimations.

  • Individuals are best accounted for by real people

  • in their real lives. But that doesn't always

  • happen.

  • Earlier this year Janet Veal passed away in her apartment

  • in Ringwood, Hampshire. Large portions of her body

  • were eaten by her pet cats before she was discovered

  • weeks later. And seven years ago

  • Joyce Carol Vincent was found dead on her sofa,

  • in Wood Green; or at least her skeleton

  • was found. She'd been dead for at least three

  • years and no one ever checked on her.

  • Her television was still on.

  • And four days after Timothy McVeigh bombed

  • a federal building in Oklahoma City, taking

  • 168 lives, a severed

  • left leg was found in the rubble.

  • No one knew who it belonged to. The legs of all the other victims had been

  • accounted for

  • and no one else had been reported missing.

  • DNA analysis showed that the leg belonged to a Lakesha Levy,

  • but she had already been buried with both her legs.

  • So, they dug up her corpse.

  • She'd been buried with someone else's left

  • leg. The legs were swapped, but because her body had been embalmed,

  • DNA in the unknown leg could not be analyzed.

  • To this day no one knows who that leg

  • belongs to. The 169th

  • victim remains a mystery.

  • Some conspiracy theorists argue that the leg may have belonged

  • to be actual bomber, someone besides Timothy McVeigh,

  • who was close enough to the explosion to be obliterated completely,

  • except for one leg. Regardless,

  • what it does show is that it is possible for a person to disappear

  • without anyone ever asking where they went.

  • Sometimes people are reported dead or missing

  • even when they aren't. Premature obituaries

  • are common. Many living people already have one on file.

  • If a famous person dies, the media, television, newspapers, magazines, well

  • they need a full story as soon as possible. So, they

  • prepare them ahead of time, locked away, leaving only the dates and circumstances

  • of the death to be filled in.

  • Makes sense, but it's awkward

  • when they leak before the person's dead. In 2003

  • CNN's website accidentally carried draft obituaries for living people that could

  • be

  • accessed. It's embarrassing, but

  • for the person reading their own obituary, it's a chance to do something

  • that most of us never get a chance to do.

  • See how you will be remembered after you're gone.

  • Alfred Nobel invented dynamite.

  • He made a fortune manufacturing and selling

  • deadly weapons - cannons and armaments. In 1888

  • his brother Ludvig died but many newspapers mistakenly thought that he

  • had died

  • and published obituaries for Alfred

  • Nobel. They weren't very flattering.

  • One French paper declared "The merchant of death

  • is dead." Nobel read these

  • obituaries and was so ashamed by what his legacy apparently

  • was going to be. When he did die, he left almost

  • all of his money to the cause of celebrating humanity.

  • He created The Nobel Prize. Marcus Garvey

  • wasn't so lucky. The story goes that after suffering

  • a stroke newspapers ran premature obituaries that

  • were critical of him, saying, he died broke,

  • alone and unpopular. Shocked by how negatively he was being remembered

  • Garvey suffered another stroke while reading his own obituary

  • and died. In April of 2006

  • five Taylor University students died in a tragic car accident.

  • Another student survived, but was in a coma.

  • She was identified as Laura van Ryn.

  • Her friend Whitney Cerak wasn't as lucky. She was pronounced

  • dead. A thousand people attended her funeral

  • but over the next few days as Laura

  • recovered, she began speaking and when asked her name,

  • Laura said my name is Whitney. The girls

  • looked similar. It turned out Laura

  • was the one they had buried. Later, Whitney

  • was married in the very same church that years before

  • had held her funeral. What if you are already missing

  • and just don't know it? It's not known how often hospitals

  • accidentally switch babies at birth.

  • Modern hospital policies make it unlikely to happen, but because we don't

  • all go out and get maternity

  • and paternity tests for fun, there isn't a lot of data

  • on the phenomenon. But it does happen. It's often discovered because of DNA tests

  • administered to resolve child support disputes.

  • Or, in the case of the 35-year-old woman, in the Canary Islands,

  • it's because in 2001 an employee at a store you're shopping at mistakes you

  • for her best friend - because you look exactly

  • like her, because she is

  • your long-lost twin, separated from you

  • since birth. And the sister you grew up with,

  • thinking was your twin, turns out to be a biological

  • stranger. What if you are missing

  • but the authorities don't know?

  • Such is the life of the unreported

  • missing. People in a country illegally,

  • people estranged from their family and friends with no

  • missing person report ever being filed,

  • children of homeless mothers. These people aren't just

  • missing, they are what is known as

  • missing missing.

  • The FBI's National Crime Information Database contains

  • approximately 50,000 reported missing children,

  • but Outpost For Hope reports that there are more than a million

  • children in America who are missing, without anyone

  • knowing they're missing. It is not against the law

  • to go missing under your own volition.

  • You might have debts to pay or contracts to honor,

  • but if you are an adult, the act of disappearing

  • is not illegal in and of itself. You have the right

  • to go missing. But believing that no one would

  • miss you? That is ridiculous and unscientific. Statistics

  • would suggest otherwise. David Wong

  • wrote one of the most powerful articles I've ever read.

  • There is a lot of information

  • out there. There's even a word for it - infobesity.

  • It takes a lifetime to even

  • experience some of it. It's easy to think that everyone

  • knows everything that you know. But every year

  • more than 100 million new people are born and not a single one of them is

  • born

  • knowing that they are made out of atoms or that black holes

  • are awesome. Someone needs to be there

  • to tell them, to show them.

  • How many jokes do you hear every day,

  • every week? How many jokes do you hear

  • every year? Here's a fun thought.

  • By considering average life expectancy

  • and the typical number of jokes a person hears in a year,

  • David Wong posited a thought, rough

  • in its approximation, but sharp in its essence.

  • If you are under the age of 38

  • odds are the funniest joke

  • you will ever hear is a joke you haven't even heard yet.

  • And, if you are over the age of 38,

  • odds are you already know a joke that to more people than you could ever

  • possibly meet

  • might be the funniest joke they will ever hear.

  • So, wherever you are, we're glad you there.

  • And as always,

  • thanks for watching.

Hey, Vsauce. Michael here.

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B1 INT missing leg transit dead laura whitney

How People Disappear

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    林宜悉   posted on 2020/03/28
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