The Fear

(cc photo by richardmasoner)

(cc photo by richardmasoner)

Warren Strobel on the latest terrorism stats:

There were just 25 U.S. noncombatant fatalities from terrorism worldwide. (The US government definition of terrorism excludes attacks on U.S. military personnel). While we don’t have the figures at hand, undoubtedly more American citizens died overseas from traffic accidents or intestinal illnesses than from terrorism.

The State Department’s figures on “Death of U.S. Citizens Abroad by Non-Natural Causes” are available online. They represent an undercount since they only include deaths that were reported to State. Playing around with the numbers a bit I see that 26 Americans died in vehicle accidents in Mexico between 1 August 2009 and 1 January 2010, so it’s safe to say you’re dramatically likelier to die abroad in a traffic accident than a terrorist attack. In general, I’m a believer that we should be more alarmed by motor vehicle fatalities than we are so the message isn’t simply “calm down about terrorism.” The point, however, is that it’s important for public priorities to be brought into closer line with objective risks.