"Probability Neglect: Why the government massively overestimates the risks of terrorism."

"Probability Neglect: Why the government massively overestimates the risks of terrorism."

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August 2011
Probability neglect is when the probability of an event is not taken into account at all when assessing risk, or cost / benefit.

"Indeed, [in the ten years] since 9/11 no terrorist entity within the United States has been able to detonate even a simple bomb."

"Increased delays and added costs at U.S. airports due to new security procedures... the extra automobile traffic generated has been estimated in one study to result in 500 or more extra road fatalities per year."

"We'd have to foil 1,667 Times Square-style attacks every year to justify current spending on homeland security."

"'When I spoke about the terrorist threat, especially in the first years after 2001, I was often asked what people could do to protect their family and home. I usually responded by giving the analyst's answer, what I labeled "the RAND answer." Anyone's probability of being killed by a terrorist today was essentially zero and would be tomorrow, barring a major discontinuity. So, they should do nothing.'"


Bin Laden was killed 4 months ago. Al-Qaeda vowed revenge. There was also evidence that they wanted to do something on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, yesterday. Nothing.

The threat of terrorism far from justifies the actions of the US government. Repealing what remains of the USA PATRIOT Act and eliminating the TSA would be a nice start.

"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed — and hence clamorous to be led to safety — by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them
imaginary." - H. L. Mencken (1880 – 1956)
  • the patriot act has been a great excuse for drug searches without pesky warrants though.

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