Life at № 42
These excellent graphs are by the wonderful people at Datagraver.
For more interesting graphs, numbers and information on terrorism, Oxford University’s OWID is fantastic.
I thought it would be interesting for everyone to have a look at them in the light of the recent nationality based travel ban imposed by the incoming US administration.
The first thing we see is great news, deaths are in the hundreds. Not thousands or tens of thousands. In a population of 740 million with a history of endless wars (including WWII when 3% of the entire population of the world was killed), that’s pretty fantastic.
Another thing we see is also great: terrorism overall has dropped significantly. The third factor we should look at is that at the height of terrorism related deaths in modern European history, the people responsible were thoroughly European. ETA (Basque Separatists) and the IRA being the main culprits. That comprises people of French, Spanish and Irish nationalities. The reason that’s important is that citizenship is (obviously) by no measure a reasonable predictor of behaviour. An accurate assessment measures majority rather than minority behaviour. If we’re to follow Mr. Trump’s formula we could take the following statistic:
and construct the argument that European countries, Canada and Australia should ban visitors from countries where homicidal violence rates are dangerously high. The top 6 are:
The problem with doing that is not only are we being unfair to the vast majority of innocent people who do not engage in homicidal violence, but we’re also not keeping anyone safer. Having any of the aforementioned nationalities may be correlated to violence, but it’s not a causal factor.
In the US you’re more likely to be shot by a toddler than to be killed in a terrorist attack. Or as the CATO institute put it in a detailed study: “… the chance of an American being murdered in a terrorist attack caused by a refugee is 1 in 3.64 billion per year.” That means the measure isn’t just abusive, it’s also a waste of time, effort and money (which should actually be focused on programs which have proven to be effective in keeping people safe.)
And just in case my previous examples didn’t give you a good enough sense of the proportionality of risk because you have a friend who was shot by a toddler… consider that on a “high terror” year like 2016, less than 200 people were killed in the EU where we have a population of 740 million. In Africa where the population is 1.2 billion there are 2900 hippopotami related deaths per year. That means terrorism deaths would have to be multiplied a good few times before the risk of death by terrorism in the EU got anywhere near the risk of death by Hippo in Africa. Fortunately no one’s trying to ban Hippos.