The disproportionate fear of terrorism

By Matthieu Ricard on May 02, 2012

Despite the enormous media coverage of terrorist acts, according to the largest database available, the number of terrorism deaths is very small compared with other causes of violent death. According to the Global Terrorism Database, since the attack of September 11, terrorism has killed 30 U.S. citizens, which is 3 per year as against 18,000 homicides and 40,000 deaths in road accidents.

As noted by the political scientist John Mueller, an average American is more likely to be killed by lightning, peanut allergy, wasp stings and the kindling of a nightgown than an act of terrorism.
Experts have shown that, ultimately, fear of terrorism has caused six times more deaths in the U.S. than terrorism itself. They estimate that 1,500 Americans died on the road for fear of taking a plane could be hijacked or attacked, without realizing that the probability of dying from a plane crash during a flight 4000kms is equivalent to the risk incurred by 20kms by car.

This paranoia of terrorism is so tragicomic reflected in the results of a questionnaire submitted to air transport users, which revealed that 14% of respondents declared themselves willing to purchased insurance covering terrorist acts against only 10% comprehensive insurance (which by definition includes the first!)

John Mueller and Mark Stewart believe U.S. government spent $ 1 trillion for the prevention of terrorism, assessing attacks that were thwarted as well, may have saved the lives of 2300 people according to estimates by these experts, putting the cost at $ 400 million per person. The value of human life is priceless, but the same financial resources could have saved the lives of several million people in other areas of intervention (health, poverty eradication, etc.)