Be Afraid, Very Afraid!

Mueller, John. 2004. “A False Sense of Insecurity?” Regulation (Fall): pp. 42-46.

John Mueller holds the humorously named Woody Hayes Chair of National Security Studies at the Mershon Center at Ohio State University. For those who don’t know football history, Google will tell you about the rise and fall of Woody Hayes.

42: “Until 2001, far fewer Americans were killed in any grouping of years by all forms of international terrorism than were killed by lightning, and almost none of those terrorist deaths occurred within the United States itself. Even with the September 11 attacks included in the count, the number of Americans killed by international terrorism since the late 1960s (which is when the State Department began counting) is about the same as the number of Americans killed over the same period by lightning, accident-causing deer, or severe allergic reaction to peanuts.”

43: He refers to “hyperbolic overreaction.”

44: ” University of Michigan transportation researchers Michael Sivak and Michael Flannagan, in an article last year in American Scientist, wrote that they determined there would have to be one set of September 11 crashes a month for the risks to balance out. More generally, they calculate that an American’s chance of being killed in one nonstop airline flight is about one in 13 million (even taking the September 11 crashes into account). To reach that same level of risk when driving on America’s safest roads — rural interstate highways — one would have to travel a mere 11.2 miles.”

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