How to Stand up to Terrorists

Fear of terrorism is literally irrational. You are 20 times more likely to be struck by lightning than fall victim to a terrorist attack. 200 times more Americans are killed by car wrecks than by terrorists. Yet people seem to be at least 200 times more scared of terrorists than of cars. This makes no logical sense.

In an article in the new issue of the CEI Planet (on page 7), I make the case that this is due to black swan bias, an inborn cognitive bias in the human brain that makes us pay undue attention to rare, catastrophic events and ignore everyday dangers.

Terrorism thrives on black swan bias. Terrorists are so few in number that fear is their only weapon. Every time people submit to new security theater measures, every time we trade away our freedom for the illusion of security, the terrorists win. The way to fight back is to not be scared. Fortunately, the facts give us plenty of reasons to drop our irrational fears.

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3 responses to “How to Stand up to Terrorists

  1. Got it. I’d be careful about sharing this theory with the Egyptian government, though. They’d probably launch an immediate campaign to kill all black swans as a safety measure.

  2. Pingback: Where Do TSA-Confiscated Items Go?

  3. Pingback: Mission Creep | Inertia Wins!

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