The data that Bill Gates tweeted comes from a project, titled Death: Reality vs. Reported, by students of the University of California San Diego. The researchers attempted to answer these questions: how do people die, how do people think they die, and is there a difference. To get some answers, they set out to investigate if there’s a disconnect between what one sees in the news and what happens in reality.
For their project, the students look at four sources: The Center for Disease Control’s WONDER database for public health data (1999-2016), Google Trends search volume (2004-2016), The Guardian’s article database, and The New York Times’ article database. “For all of the above data, we looked at the top 10 largest causes of mortality, as well as terrorism, overdoses, and homicides, three other causes of death which we believe receive a lot of media attention,” they wrote. For each, the relative share of deaths, share of Google searches, and share of media coverage, were calculated.