Monday, December 28, 2009

Lightning is Your Real Enemy

With latest failed attempt at blowing up an airplane covering all the news and creating the usual hysteria in the bedwetting crowd all I can say is I am glad I am no longer in the weekly get on the airplane crowd. It was bad enough before with the shoes and liquid craziness but they are going to go to even more extremes since the Christmas day episode. The funny/weird thing is that none of the crotch grabbers getting their shorts all twisted up over this latest failed attempt stop and actually analyze the reality of what the 'threat' really is around air travel.  Take a deep breath folks and get a grip.

Nate Silver does the numbers on terrorist attacks.
Over the past decade, there have been, by my count, six attempted terrorist incidents on board a commercial airliner than landed in or departed from the United States: the four planes that were hijacked on 9/11, the shoe bomber incident in December 2001, and the NWA flight 253 incident on Christmas…

Over the past decade, according to BTS [the Bureau of Transportation Statistics], there have been 99,320,309 commercial airline departures that either originated or landed within the United States. Dividing by six, we get one terrorist incident per 16,553,385 departures.

These departures flew a collective 69,415,786,000 miles. That means there has been one terrorist incident per 11,569,297,667 miles flown. This distance is equivalent to 1,459,664 trips around the diameter of the Earth, 24,218 round trips to the Moon, or two round trips to Neptune…

There were a total of 674 passengers, not counting crew or the terrorists themselves, on the flights on which these incidents occurred. By contrast, there have been 7,015,630,000 passenger enplanements over the past decade. Therefore, the odds of being on given departure which is the subject of a terrorist incident have been 1 in 10,408,947 over the past decade. By contrast, the odds of being struck by lightning in a given year are about 1 in 500,000. This means that you could board 20 flights per year and still be less likely to be the subject of an attempted terrorist attack than to be struck by lightning.

h/t to Anne Laurie at Balloon Juice.

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