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Terrorism Is Rare

Radley Balko points to an article that shows exactly how rare terrorism is. The figure that caught my eye was the last one. There were 647 deaths due to airborne terrorism over the last last ten years. There were 7,015,630,000 passengers over the same period. Yes, that figure is higher than current world population. That's because each time someone flies, they count as one passenger. You take ten trips, you're counted ten times. That represents each opportunity to become a terrorist victim, and is therefore the correct measure to use. Each time you board a plane, your odds of being a victim of terrorism are about 1 in 10,408,947 (my own calculations yielded 1 in 10,843,323, but the point holds either way). Your odds of being struck by lighting are over twenty times higher! Terrorists are so rare that they can't win by killing people. There are too many of us and too few of them. Terrorists can only win by scaring people. Making them overreact. Making them trade away their freedom for for the illusion of security. The TSA, which is based on exactly that, represents the terrorists' greatest victory yet. That's why people need to know just how safe we really are, even with all of the terrorists out there. The more we know, the less scary they become. And fear is their only effective weapon. If we take it away, the terrorists lose.