We can’t be terrorized if we refuse to be

Runners continue to run towards the finish line as an explosion erupts at the finish line of the Boston Marathon

Bruce Schneier NAILS IT:

As the details about the bombings in Boston unfold, it’d be easy to be scared. It’d be easy to feel powerless and demand that our elected leaders do something — anything — to keep us safe.

It’d be easy, but it’d be wrong. We need to be angry and empathize with the victims without being scared. Our fears would play right into the perpetrators’ hands — and magnify the power of their victory for whichever goals whatever group behind this, still to be uncovered, has. We don’t have to be scared, and we’re not powerless. We actually have all the power here, and there’s one thing we can do to render terrorism ineffective: Refuse to be terrorized.

It’s hard to do, because terrorism is designed precisely to scare people — far out of proportion to its actual danger. A huge amount of research on fear and the brain teaches us that we exaggerate threats that are rare, spectacular, immediate, random — in this case involving an innocent child — senseless, horrific and graphic. Terrorism pushes all of our fear buttons, really hard, and we overreact.

But our brains are fooling us. Even though this will be in the news for weeks, we should recognize this for what it is: a rare event. That’s the very definition of news: something that is unusual — in this case, something that almost never happens.



  1. “It’d be easy to feel powerless and demand that our elected leaders do something — anything — to keep us safe. It’d be easy, but it’d be wrong.”
    I feel the same way about the gun-control people after a school-shooting.

    Is there a difference?

  2. Jared: You’re probably right that gun control won’t likely prevent mass shootings at schools or anywhere else.

    But gun control might reduce other kinds of gun violence.

    Studies show that states with tougher gun laws have less gun violence, and households with guns are more dangerous than those without guns.

    Read this:


    And this:


  3. Good to see that you finally admit that the gun law changes proposed have nothing to do with Sandy Hook. Never waste a good crisis right?

    Households with alcohol freely available and households with stairs are probably more dangerous than those without. Your logic is weak.

  4. Brian Opsahl

    Your really going to try that for your comparisons, stairs, and alcohol with gun violence.
    useing your logic Doc: who gets treated first, gun shot victims,or a vomiting alcoholic.
    or how about a kid who fell six steps or one who blew a hole in himself with his drunk dads AR-15….what kind of Doctor are you anyway…thats some very twisted logic Sir..!!

  5. Poor doc! His right-wing heroes are mostly gun nuts, so he feels a need to parrot their rhetoric.

    He even tries to disparage studies about the dangers of guns in the household.

    What a sap!

  6. You should go to medical school before you call me a sap.

    You should also work in a hospital and see the numbers of people who come in with injuries from falls and alcohol related damage.

    Here are the stats for kids under 5 alone. The elderly are much worse.


    Most children who fall down the stairs do so without any object or activity related to the fall, the authors wrote. Those aged up to twelve months tend to have an injury while they were being carried, in their baby walker, or in their stroller.

    One quarter of injuries experienced by children up to the age of twelve months occurred while somebody was carrying them. They were found to be three times more likely to be hospitalized than those injured in stairs due to other causes.

    The authors reported that:
    931,886 children under 5 were treated for injuries related to falling down the stairs from 1999 through 2008
    There were 46.6 injuries per 10,000 population each year; average during the study period. A drop from 53.0 to 42.4
    The total yearly number of injuries dropped 11.6% during the period studied
    2.7% of children under five brought to emergency departments for stair-related injuries were hospitalized
    35% of injured children had soft tissue injuries – the most common type
    26% had puncture wounds or lacerations
    76% had head or neck injuries – the most common body regions to be affected
    11% had upper extremity injuries – the second most common body region to be affected

  7. Here is information for the elderly. You should study it closely Mr. C.


    How big is the problem?
    •One out of three adults age 65 and older falls each year,1 but less than half talk to their healthcare providers about it.
    •Among older adults (those 65 or older), falls are the leading cause of injury death. They are also the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma.2
    •In 2010, 2.3 million nonfatal fall injuries among older adults were treated in emergency departments and more than 662,000 of these patients were hospitalized.2
    •In 2010, the direct medical costs of falls, adjusted for inflation, was $30.0 billion.4
    What outcomes are linked to falls?
    •Twenty to thirty percent of people who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries such as lacerations, hip fractures, or head traumas. These injuries can make it hard to get around or live independently, and increase the risk of early death.5,6
    •Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI).7 In 2000, TBI accounted for 46% of fatal falls among older adults.3
    •Most fractures among older adults are caused by falls.8 The most common are fractures of the spine, hip, forearm, leg, ankle, pelvis, upper arm, and hand.9
    •Many people who fall, even if they are not injured, develop a fear of falling. This fear may cause them to limit their activities, which leads to reduced mobility and loss of physical fitness, and in turn increases their actual risk of falling.10

  8. Brian Opsahl

    You are a medical doctor and you are seriously pushing this argument…?OMG

    Please tell me where you went to school so I do NOT send my kids there…

  9. Its ok Rep Hoyer has it all figured out:

    “At a Tuesday press conference, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) politicized the
    Boston Marathon bombings by blaming Monday’s tragedy on the sequester,
    saying the bombings were “proof” that some of the sequester cuts were
    “irrational.” Hoyer is the House Minority Whip and second-ranking
    Democrat in leadership.”

  10. And the personal insults are lame, if you can’t debate or share thoughts in an intelligent matter, why bother posting?

  11. Pushing what argument Brian? Are you refuting the numbers I posted about falls at home and the billions of dollars they cost the medical system?

    I didn’t even link to any of the horrible statistics associated with alcohol.

    Liberals get so uncomfortable when their logic is proven to be faulty. You wanna know why? Because it doesn’t make you feel good and liberal logic is all about feeling good, isn’t it?

    Keep in mind, you probably would want to send your kids to the place I went to school. It is one of the great bastions of liberal craziness in the midwest.

  12. Thats right, outlaw basements and upper levels because they can only be accessed by using stairs.

    The right wing “logic” is appalling. That someone (people) are so obtuse is astounding.

  13. Craig Knauss

    So doc, let’s see if I get this right – If we want to reduce injuries from falls, we should just shoot small children and old people? And are you recommending we use automatic assault rifles with large magazines loaded with armor piercing ammo?

    Maybe you could tell us how many children and old people died of falls in public places last year? Did it exceed the number that died from gunshots in massacres?

  14. Neftali

    “Every time something really bad happens, people cry out for safety, and the government answers by taking away rights from good people.” – Penn Jillette

  15. Orlando Clay

    Demented Doc theorizes: “….and liberal logic is all about feeling good, isn’t it?”

    Um, no. Do you think we Libs are “feeling good” about having been proven right all along about the war crimes of the Bush/Cheney cabal during their reign of arrogance and total incompetence? No, liberal logic is essentially all about thorough analysis of all available facts; whereas, conservative logic is typically based upon fear-mongering (see Bill O’Reilly), apocalyptic visions (see Glenn Beck), twisted interpretation of the Holy Scriptures (see Pat Robertson, Mike Huckabee), hubris (see Ann Coulter), hysteria (see Sean Hannity), and outright fabrication (see Rush Limbaugh and most Fox News hosts).

    You’re a real piece of work, Doc.

  16. Todd,

    Set the stairs example aside and answer the same question about alcohol.

  17. Hi Orlando!

    I am merely trying to set a record here.

  18. By the way Orlando, if I am demented, what is Craig? He thinks we should gun down children and old people. That’s just sick.

  19. doc: Four more comments and you’ll hit 5,000.

    That distinction and a couple of bucks will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks.


  20. Brian Opsahl

    What i am so shocked at Doc, is the complete ignorance your showing on the difference between gun violence and stair related fall numbers…and alcohol accidents numbers at the hospital..? To somebody being able to blow a hole the size of Texas in your Grandmas head.
    Not very pleasant sounding is it.

    Not one of the wingnuts can show me where your going to lose your 2nd amendment rights and the right has been telling me this since i can remember some 35 years ago.

    Funny how never not once in all that time they did tell me this has anybody stopped me from buying some pretty cool hardware with 30,50 and 100 round clips. Clips if deemed to destructive to have as an American I will follow the law as it’s written. If it means having only a 10 round clip then big deal. Laws change all the time and if would save say 11 kids from certain death from a guy who had to take a few extra minutes to re-load then so be it.

  21. Craig Knauss


    Are you a moron? NO, I do not think we should gun down children and old people. But you kept trivializing all the shootings that have happened and compared them to mortality rates for totally unrelated events, such as falls. So do you think people shot in massacres don’t count? Do you think massacres are OK? Maybe we should use massacres to reduce the number of fall deaths? Would that be an acceptable solution for you? Since you keep changing the subject, you must believe that.

    BTW, while you’re spouting out unrelated mortality statistics, why don’t you quote for us how many people die in medical facilities from negligence and malpractice each year? I bet that exceeds the number of people shot with assault weapons also.

  22. Brian,

    Then you should be against a ban on alcohol in the home as well.


    Of course I don’t think that is what you meant. Keep in mind, this back and forth on this thread started when Pat said “You’re probably right that gun control won’t likely prevent mass shootings at schools or anywhere else.”

    And you are absolutely right about the numbers of unnecessary deaths in medical facilities in this country. You might be heartened if you could see the amount of work that has gone on most hospitals to improve those numbers. Not just hospitals really, but across the continuum of care.

    Funny but true coincidence about that, you know what one of the first things hospitals targeted? You guessed it, the fall rate.

  23. Brian Opsahl

    Who’s for banning anything…? your really going to do a right hand turn on me or what..?

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