Monday, November 30, 2015

Are terrorists going to kill us all?

It's easy to be worried when shockingly dangerous events happen. From 2002 to today, an average of 31 Americans were killed by terrorists each year. Well sure, you say, I purposely excluded 2001. Ok fine, including 2001, it's an average of 270 Americans a year.

270 Americans a year sounds like a lot until you realize that:

  • 11,000 Americans are murdered by guns every year (excluding accidents and suicides)
  • 33,000 Americans are killed in car accidents every year
  • 38,000 Americans are killed by accidental poisoning every year
  • 58,000 Americans die due to a diet too low in fruits and vegetables every year
  • 90,000 Americans die due to alcohol every year
  • 467,000 Americans die due to smoking every year.

There needs to be a way to advocate for fewer resources to fight terrorism without sounding like an advocate for zero resources to fight terrorism. We should put up a fight proportionate to the problem. We should definitely have lots of money and teams of experts devoted to fighting terrorism, and we should have even more devoted to fighting, say, car accidents.

We also need news headlines that reflect, not distort, life's true risks. Not only is violence not likely to kill us, it's less likely than it's ever been.

So remember, the next time you see someone who you suspect may be a terrorist, play it safe by not accepting any cigarettes from them.

Here are some illuminating charts:

Sources / related articles:

Deaths from gun violence vs. deaths from terrorism, in one chart

The things most likely to kill you in one infographic

Smoking, high blood pressure and being overweight top three preventable causes of death in the U.S.

The World Is Not Falling Apart