Was 2016 really a deadly year for celebrities? Science says maybe not

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The "mega-famous" who died in 2016 included Nancy Reagan, Carrie Fisher, Muhammad Ali, and Prince, by the definition of M.I.T. researchers

Carrie Fisher. George Michael. Prince. Muhammad Ali. Gene Wilder.

Was 2016 really a killer year for celebrities?

The answer depends a lot on how you define who is famous.

A trio of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology tackled the problem in part with an analysis of Wikipedia, counting the number of languages in which you can read about each celeb.

Another big factor, of course, is the size of the population approaching the age when the gig is typically up.

When the M.I.T. people put it all together, it turned out 2016 was less deadly than expected for celebrities who have Wikipedia entries in at least 20 languages.

But it does indeed appear to have been a bad year for those the researchers referred to as the "mega-famous," those with entries in at least 70 languages.

David Bowie, Nancy Reagan, Fidel Castro, Leonard Cohen and others of similar wattage accounted for 16 deaths in 2016, compared with 14, 10, and 9 such deaths in the years immediately before.

Read more about the analysis here.


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