Stung Eye
Stung Eye

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False Sense of Insecurity?

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In light of recent strife:

Don’t Panic.

Assessed in broad but reasonable context, terrorism generally does not do much damage.

This is the thesis of John Mueller’s* paper, A False Sense of Insecurity.

While deeply tragic for those directly involved, the number of [deaths] as a result of international terrorism is generally only a few hundred a year. [This is] tiny compared to the number who die in most civil wars or from automobile accidents.

100,000 Americans have died in automobile accidents since the 3,000 deaths of September 11th.

[Although] the shock and tragedy of September 11 does demand a focused and dedicated program […] to prevent a repeat, […] part of this reaction should include an effort by politicians, officials, and the media to inform the public reasonably and realistically about the terrorist context, instead of playing into the hands of terrorists by frightening the public.

There are psychological barriers to feeling secure from terrorism.

My parents pointed out that we more readily accept death outside the context of premeditated murder. That you are more likely to die by a lightning strike, than a terrorist act, may not instill you with hope.

In some respects, fear of terror [is] like playing a lottery in reverse: the chance of winning the lottery or of dying from terrorism may be microscopic, [yet] one can irrelevantly conclude that one’s chances are just as good, or bad, as those of anyone else.

Cory Doctorow comments:

The bottom line is, terrorism doesn’t kill many people. Even in Israel, you’re four times more likely to die in a car wreck than as a result of a terrorist attack. […] The point of terrorism is to create terror, and by cynically convincing us that our very countries are at risk from terrorism, our politicians [and our media] have delivered utter victory to the terrorists: we are terrified.

You are not in danger.

Peace be with you. Do no harm.

*John Mueller holds the Woody Hayes Chair of National Security Studies at Ohio State University.

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