You Won’t Be Killed By A Muslim Terrorist

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OK, it’s impossible to say this with 100% certainty, but it is possible to say it with 99.995% certainty. In fact, had the 9/11 attack never happened, you could say it with 99.999% certainty.

There is one thing the terror attacks in San Bernadino and Paris have made obvious – the vast majority of Americans have no clue when it comes to risk and the likelihood of impending death. The same people clamoring for Congress and the President to seal the borders to Muslim boogeymen don’t think twice about spending every night with their fat butts parked on the sofa stuffing their yaps with chips and booze. But which is more likely to kill you, a Muslim coming to America or a bag of Cheetos? If you said the Muslim then count yourself among the clueless.

Say you know 100 people who died this year. (This is a morbid example but it easily illustrates the statistics.) These people will have died from a variety of causes, some natural, some accidental, and many preventable. Based on 2013 numbers from the CDC these are the things that would have killed them:

  • – 23 died of heart disease. There are many factors causing heart disease, but obesity and smoking are major factors. You have complete control over these factors, but do you actually do anything about them?
  • – 8 kicked off because of a respiratory illness like asthma or emphysema. Again smoking is a major factor in these deaths.
  • – 6 more died of lung cancer. This is one of the most popular ways for smokers to kill themselves. And it is a horrible way to die. By the end you’ll be praying for a dude wrapped in a black sheet screaming “Allahu akbar!” to put a bullet in your head.
  • – 5 died of one of the myriad minor forms of cancer.
  • – 5 had strokes.
  • – 3 lost their minds before Alzheimer’s killed them.
  • – 3 were finished off by diabetes, most likely type 2 – the “Biggest Loser” disease. Get yourself to a healthy weight and you will probably cure yourself of this.
  • – 2 died of the flu or pneumonia, the first time an infectious disease makes the list.
  • – 2 died of leukemia or lymphoma, two more forms of cancer.
  • – 2 more pass from colon cancer.
  • – 2 bit the dust when their kidneys failed.
  • – 2 were killed by their diseased livers, a condition most likely caused by being a drunkard.
  • – 1 or 2, most likely women, died of breast cancer.
  • – 1 or 2 intentionally killed themselves. The first “unnatural” form of death on the list.
  • – 1 or 2 died of pancreatic cancer.
  • – 1 or 2 got blood poisoning.
  • – 1 or 2 accidentally ingested poison. The first accidental form of death to make the list.
  • – 1 or 2 died in a car accident. And yet millions of people get in cars or share the road as pedestrians without ever thinking “I could get killed doing this.”
  • – 1 person was offed by high blood pressure and it’s a good chance that it was an obese smoker.
  • – 1 person fell off a building, or down a flight of stairs, or in the tub, or even out of an airplane and smashed his brains out.
  • – 1 died of kidney or bladder cancer.
  • – 1 died, a man, of prostate cancer.
  • – 1 was killed when his circulatory system called it quits.
  • – 1 got Parkinson’s and went slowly downhill before expiring.
  • – 1 accidentally died when she choked on a grape, or drowned, or had a tree fall on her, or cut off her arm with a chainsaw, or set her hair on fire, or was bitten in half by a shark, or one of the other millions of unlikely ways to die in an accident.
  • – 1 was murdered. The actual chance of this happening in a given year is only 0.6%. You’re almost three times more likely to intentionally kill yourself than have someone else do it for you.
  • – 1 died from brain cancer or some weird intestinal infection.
  • – 1 died from hepatitis, or HIV, or a medical screw-up, or childbirth, or tuberculosis, or was killed by a cop.
  • – 18 remaining dead people were killed by one of the millions of minor deadly diseases or the CDC lacked data on the cause.
  • – No one was killed by a terrorist, Muslim or otherwise.

How can this be? Terrorism is on Fox News and CNN 24-7! I know people are killed by terrorists, I saw it live on TV! Obviously terrorists are a MAJOR threat!

Between 1995, the year of the Oklahoma City bombing (the biggest terrorist attack in American history to that point), and the present, terrorists have killed 3,234 people in the US. That’s an average of 154 per year. Almost all of them were killed in one attack – 9/11. Based on the 2,596,993 deaths the CDC lists for 2013, there is a 0.0059% chance you will be killed by a terrorist this year. In the fourteen years since 9/11, terrorists have killed a total of 79 people. In seven of those years no one was killed. You are three times more likely to be killed by a policeman. If you think terrorists are a real threat to your life then perhaps you also think we should disarm all the cops so we can neutralize that threat.

The data is clear. Of the many ways there are to die, roughly 45% of them are affected by your own behavior, with overeating, heavy drinking, and smoking being the most detrimental factors. But how much news coverage do you see devoted to trying to lose weight or kicking the nicotine habit? How many Congress-varmints are calling for efforts to improve Americans’ life-styles?* None. They’re too busy trying to scare you about a virtually non-existent threat as an excuse to further grow the police state.

The never ending wars, the illegal domestic spying, the gun grabbing, and the erosion of your rights won’t do anything to make you safer. The exaggerated threat is insignificant. Don’t trade your liberty for safety because the safety they offer is a fairy-tale.

* Note, I am not calling for a governmen effort to improve American life-styles. I think we all know how wasteful and counterproductive that would be.

Wayne Middlesteadt is the author of Five Ways to Beat the Market and The Golden Age of Distance Running.

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Wayne Middlesteadt is a 1986 graduate of Georgia Tech and has an MBA from Georgia State University. Currently working as a financial writer and track and field historian, his latest book is Five Ways To Beat The Market.