Why don’t Americans fear bathtubs more than terrorism?



It may surprise you to learn that more Americans are killed in bathtub accidents than in acts of Islamic terrorism in a typical year.

Of course, there are countless other causes of death that are far more common than acts of terrorism — but few, if any, of them arouse the kind of fear that most Americans feel about the threat posed by ISIS. Millions of voters likely will base their choices for president this year on promises made regarding the threat of terrorism than on any of the numerous other dangers we face every day.

Nicholas Kristof, a columnist for The New York Times, TOUCHED UPON this is matter the other day:

The basic problem is this: The human brain evolved so that we systematically misjudge risks and how to respond to them.

Our visceral fear of terrorism has repeatedly led us to adopt policies that are expensive and counterproductive, such as the invasion of Iraq…Donald Trump responded to the Brussels attacks with crowd-pleasing calls for torture of barring Muslims that even Republican security experts agree are preposterous.

On the same day as the attacks, a paper by James E. Hansen and other climate experts was released arguing that carbon emissions are transforming our world far more quickly than expected, in ways that may inundate coastal cities and cause storms more horrendous than any in modern history. The response? A yawn.

None of this is to say that terrorism is not a threat. We all remember what happened on Sept. 11, 2001. But that was 15 years ago. If we allow ourselves to become unduly afraid, or we take actions that are foolish and counterproductive, the terrorists win.

The way I figure it is that one of these days, I’m going to die. But it is extremely unlikely that the cause of my death will be an act of terrorism. Meanwhile, I will continue to keep my fear of terrorism in proper perspective.