Is the threat of terrorism exaggerated? | The Tylt
Is the threat of terrorism exaggerated?
The unpredictable and random nature of terrorism is what makes it so frightening, but that element also causes us to lose sight of the reality. Terrorism is less likely to happen than a lightning strike. Thousands of people die in car accidents every day, but these deaths generally don't usually make the news, whereas acts of terror do.
But of course, a terrorist organization acquiring a nuclear weapon is a very genuine threat. As the editorial board of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette pointed out during Obama's final Nuclear Security Summit in April:
"The specter of terror loomed over the Nuclear Security Summit...To grasp clearly the threat they pose, it is necessary only to think of the recent attacks in Brussels and Lahore if carried out by terrorist killers with even a small nuclear device."
Washington Post writer Daniel Kahneman believes the West's disproportionate media coverage of terrorism makes us overestimate the risk:
As he explains in his book “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” “extremely vivid image[s] of death and damage” resulting from terrorist attacks are “reinforced by media attention and frequent conversation,” leaving us with highly accessible memories of such events. When people who have been exposed to such coverage later assess how likely more terrorism is, such events come readily to mind.
But others believe we are not facing the truth about the threat of terrorism. The attacks in Paris, Brussels, and Istanbul left many Americans wondering when the United States will be next.