As We Show In This Updated list, You’re Much More Likely to Be Killed By Brain-Eating Parasites, Toddlers, Lightning, Falling Out of Bed, Alcoholism, Food Poisoning, Choking On Your Meal, a Financial Crash, Obesity, Medical Errors or “Autoerotic Asphyxiation” than by Terrorists
Even so, the levels of terrorism are still much lower than many assume. Government officials and counter-terror experts may hype the terror threat to promote their agendas. But – as shown below – your risk of being killed in a terror attack is actually much lower than being killed by virtually anyother cause.
Daniel Benjamin – the Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the United States Department of State from 2009 to 2012 – noted in January (at 10:22):
The total number of deaths from terrorism in recent years has been extremely small in the West. And the threat itself has been considerably reduced. Given all the headlines people don’t have that perception; but if you look at the statistics that is the case.
Time Magazine noted in 2013 that the chance of dying in a terrorist attack in the United States from 2007 to 2011, according to Richard Barrett – coordinator of the United Nations al Qaeda/Taliban Monitoring Team – was 1 in 20 million.
Let’s look at specific numbers …
The U.S. Department of State reports that only 17 U.S. citizens were killed worldwide as a result of terrorism in 2011.* That figure includes deaths in Afghanistan, Iraq and all other theaters of war.
In contrast, the American agency which tracks health-related issues – the U.S. Centers for Disease Control – rounds up the most prevalent causes of death in the United States:
Comparing the CDC numbers to terrorism deaths means:
– You are 35,079 times more likely to die from heart disease than from a terrorist attack
– You are 33,842 times more likely to die from cancer than from a terrorist attack
– You are 4,311 times more likely to die from diabetes than from a terrorist attack
– You are 3,157 times more likely to die from flu or pneumonia than from a terrorist attack
(Keep in mind when reading this entire piece that we are consistently and substantially understating the risk of other causes of death as compared to terrorism, because we are comparing deaths from various causes within the United States against deaths from terrorism worldwide.)
A November, 2010, document from the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services reported that, when in hospital, one in seven beneficiaries of Medicare (the government-sponsored health-care programme for those aged 65 years and older) have complications from medical errors, which contribute to about 180 000deaths of patients per year.
That’s just Medicare beneficiaries, not the entire American public. Scientific American noted in 2009:
Preventable medical mistakes and infections are responsible for about 200,000 deaths in the U.S. each year, according to an investigation by the Hearst media corporation.
And a new study in the Journal of Patient Safety says the numbers may be up to 440,000 each year. But let’s use the lower – 100,000 – figure. That still means that you are 5,882 times more likely to die from medical error than terrorism.
Wikipedia notes that there were 32,367 automobile accidents in 2011, which means that you are 1,904times more likely to die from a car accident than from a terrorist attack. As CNN reporter Fareed Zakariawrote last year:
“Since 9/11, foreign-inspired terrorism has claimed about two dozen lives in the United States. (Meanwhile, more than 100,000 have been killed in gun homicides and more than 400,000 in motor-vehicle accidents.) “
President Obama agreed.
According to a 2011 CDC report, poisoning from prescription drugs is even more likely to kill you than a car crash. Indeed, the CDC stated in 2011 that – in the majority of states – your prescription meds are more likely to kill you than any other source of injury. So your meds are thousands of times more likely to kill you than Al Qaeda.
High-income countries such as the UK and US could see a 6.4% surge in deaths from heart disease, while low-income countries could experience a 26% rise in mortality rates.
Since there were 596,339 deaths from heart disease in the U.S. in 2011 (see CDC table above), that means that there are approximately 38, 165 additional deaths a year from the financial crisis … and Americans are 2,245 times more likely to die from a financial crisis that a terrorist attack.