Archive for June 20th, 2012
Comedy Central’s Indecision presents some rather unsurprising statistics that need to be read by every member of Congress. What is an American’s likelihood of dying from a terrorist attack?
According to government statistics, roughly as many Americans are killed annually by unstable furniture and falling televisions as are killed in terrorist attacks.
What else is more dangerous than a terrorist attack?
16 oz. sodas, inconvenience of going through TSA security at an airport (which discourages many people from flying, causing them to die on the highways), use of your bathroom, texting, autoerotic asphyxia, alcohol and tobacco, weather, suicide, hospital infections and doctor errors and stress.
One more thing: What is the risk of an American dying in a terrorist attack? Ronald Bailey of Reason suggests a very liberal estimate (an estimate assuming death to be more likely) would be 1 in 1.7 million, and he offers these additional statistics:
Taking these figures into account, a rough calculation suggests that in the last five years, your chances of being killed by a terrorist are about one in 20 million. This compares annual risk of dying in a car accident of 1 in 19,000; drowning in a bathtub at 1 in 800,000; dying in a building fire at 1 in 99,000; or being struck by lightning at 1 in 5,500,000. In other words, in the last five years you were four times more likely to be struck by lightning than killed by a terrorist.
This same article indicates that the U.S. spends $400 million dollars per life saved in antiterrorism security measures (cost$1 Trillion since 2001), but this number doesn’t include military expenses by the United States. It’s also important to keep in mind that the U.S. spends more on maintaining a military than the rest of the world combined.
Perhaps if Americans weren’t so afflicted with innumeracy, we could accept the true (miniscule) risk of dying from a terrorist act, and focus on preventing much more likely forms of death. Perhaps we could spend a significant chunk of that “anti-terrorism” money to combat innumeracy.
At Psychology Today, psychotherapist Eric Maisel explains mania as a continuum, running from the commonly experienced racing of one’s productive mind to spinning out of control that leads many people to seek medications and therapy. His evidence that mania is often part of normalcy is as follows:
- Straight-A students are 4 times more likely to be “bipolar.”
- Students who are math whizzes are 12 times more likely to be bipolar.
- Overwhelming anecdotal evidence that “smart and creative people are often manic.”
At the outset, Maisel warns that the terms “Manic-depression” and “bipolar disorder” as so flawed as to be “useless and dangerous.”