Terrorism: don’t be scared

Terrorism is a bad thing. But so is irrational fear.

One of my favourite factoids is that an Australian has a greater chance of dying from pesticide poisoning than from terrorism. I’m looking forward to the “war on pesticide poisoning”.

While looking around for a time-series for annual number of deaths from terrorism (which I couldn’t find) I found an article by by Wilson & Thompson called “Deaths from International Terrorism compared with Road Crash Deaths in OECD Countries“, published in 2005.

For calm people with a sense of perspective the results are expected. But for the frightened fear-mongers who demand trillions of dollars spending, various wars and abandonment of civil liberties… the facts are quite inconvenient.

For the 29 countries were comparable data was available between 1994 and 2003, the risk of death from driving was 390 times higher than the risk from international terrorism. Given the amount of fear (and consequent bad public policy) aimed at terrorism there are only two sensible conclusions:

* Either we should be scared shitless of driving, and immediately introduce massive government programs to save us;

* Or (as I would prefer) we calm down about terrorism and stop crying for bigger government every time something bad happens.