The Realistic Threat of Terrorism

To think rationally about risk is to think probabilistically / statistically about the dangers we face.

Noting that “the most dangerous person you’re ever likely to encounter – by several orders of magnitude – is the one you see in the mirror every morning”, John Goekler offers some perspective on what risks we really should be more concerned about than terrorism.

A significant majority of Americans, polls repeatedly tell us, list terrorism as one of their greatest fears. Like most of our media-inspired interests and worries, however, this one has little basis in reality. […]

As the data clearly shows, the things that genuinely threaten us are the ones we are most likely to ignore or simply accept. (We’re statistically far more likely to be killed by a lightning strike than by an action of Al Qaeda, for example.) The ones that we’re scared witless of – and spend trillions of increasingly scarce dollars to avert in our boundless paranoia – are less likely to harm us than a bag of peanuts. (Deaths in America due to peanut allergies average 50 – 100 per year. Deaths of Americans due to terrorist activities […] have averaged less than 15 per year since 2002.)

via Schneier