Political fearmongers are at it again. I refuse to be swept into the penumbra of their virtual fears. I carry on my day-to-day a activities in a normal manner. I travel almost everywhere, atany time. Have I lost my mind? No, but I have taken a course in statistics.
I have a niece who tells me that she doesn’t believe in statistics. That’s sort of like doubting the theory of evolution. I ask my niece (and others like her) to toss a coin in the air 1,000 timesand see how many times it turns up heads and tails.
How many people died on 9/11? Using round numbers, about 3,000. What is the population of New York City? Somewhat over 8,000,000 , not including the suburbs. This means that I, as an individual, had a statistical chance of being killed during 9/11 of 3,000 divided by 8,000,000 or roughly one chance in 2,700, a little over 0.0001 percent. This is probably less than your chances of dying by slipping and falling in your bathtub.
So, why the panic? Of course, one should take normal precautions at all times. But, even ifthere should be another terrorist strike here, the chances of my being killed (or your being killed) are infinitesimally small. The people of Israel realize this; their reaction to suicide bombings is totake precautions but get on with their lives. To do otherwise is to let the terrorists win.
The intensity of fear is pervasive. Some trepidation in New York or Washington might beunderstandable. But for people in Sandusky, Ohio and Paducah, Kentucky to tremble in their bootsis nothing short of ridiculous.
What about fear of flying? The number varies at different times and seasons, but approximately 5,000 aircraft are in the U.S. Skies at any given moment. Should any plane be blown up by terrorists, the chances of my being on that plane is one in five thousand or 0.02 percent. Unless I fly frequently, it is less than that. Even assuming that the recent plot in Britain had succeeded, the chance of my or your being a victim is less thatn .002 percent. And that’s only if you fly frequently from London to a U.S. Destination. Besides, the terrorists never got away with it.
In spite of these abysimally small odds, hundreds of thousands –– perhaps millions –– of Americans are fearful of flying They limit so many of the pleasures available in life by refusing to board a plane. This is silly. Worse yet, these same people do not hesitate to drive 500 miles to visit Uncle George in Chicago, a motor trip with far greater opportunities for tragedy than travelling by plane.
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