Terrorized by Risk

What is this poor fellow so scared of? Is he traumatized by the probability (miniscule) of being brained by an asteroid (properly called a meteorite) as he strolls to his favorite banana vendor? Or he is he worried by the odds (much higher) that he will be creamed by a drunken driver as he walks or drives home? Maybe he’s worried about the obvious threat to his health and safety posed by the vicious terrorists of the world who want to do the United States harm. Well, he’d be better off watching his back as he crosses the street.

The fact is, the threat of harm from terrorism here in the USA is pretty darn trivial. There are so many other things that are more likely to bring down death and maiming on an individual that it might seem odd that people are so worked up about it. Of course, one difference is that being killed in a car accident or by falling off of a ladder is an . . . accident. The fact that there are people out there who would love to kill some of us, any of us, is deeply upsetting. Nevertheless, the odds of its actually happening are very small.

Some people, including me, think the terrorism bit is being overblown. Part of the terrorist-industrial complex, for which the vague notion of a “war on terror” is, for most, justification enough. Add that to the prison-industrial and the military-industrial complexes, and you have quite a service and construction economy going! You can read some very good arguments on this point by Prof. John Meuller of Ohio State University at this link:   Six Rather Unusual Propositions on Terrorism. Meanwhile, I’m going back to worrying about something really scary – the next major meteorite impact on earth!

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