Miniver Cheevy: The Irrationality of Terror Fear

Here’s an important thought from Miniver Cheevy: Nothing to panic about except panic itself:

Likewise, we could have a 9/11 every month and lose more Americans to automobile accidents every year. You probably don’t know anyone killed on 9/11, but you certainly know at least one person who was killed or severely injured in a car accident. We haven’t given up cars; we recognize that accidental deaths are an unhappy fact of life, we work hard to minimize them, and we live our lives. This is what John Kerry was talking about, back in the campaign, when he said that we should reduce terrorism to being a “nuisance.”

It’s understandable that our brains have evolved to focus disproportionate attention on new and unfamiliar threats, while ignoring known dangers for which we believe (perhaps incorrectly) that we’ve taken adequate measures to protect ourselves. But it’s also true, as Cheevy points out, that the conscious effort by government leaders to exploit irrational fears of terrorism for their own political gain plays best in the red states (which are not really targets of terrorism) while eliciting yawns (relatively speaking) in the blue states (where terror is much more of a possibility).

Maybe that’s because blue-state urbanites are better at doing the math. More likely, as Cheevy suggests, it’s just that they’re more familiar with the issue, and therefore less prone to the “Oh my God, what’s that lion that I’ve never seen before doing over there?” over-reaction.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.