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Five Myths of Terrorism

From Michael Shermer, monthly columnist for Scientific American, a respected science magazine founded in 1845. Link to Dr. Shermer’s complete article, Five Myths of Terrorism. It is worth reading, particularly if you wonder if actual risks justify wholesale trampling of human rights and freedoms.

  1. The myth of pure evil, which holds that perpetrators commit pointless violence for no rational reason.
  2. That terrorists are part of a vast global network of top-down centrally controlled conspiracies.
  3. That terrorists are diabolical geniuses.
  4. That terrorism is deadly.
  5. That terrorism works.

Shermer notes that America averaged 13,700 death by homicide in the years following the terror events of 2001. It also averaged about 40,000 traffic fatalities annually since 9/11. According to Shermer, deaths from terrorism are “statistically invisible, with a total of 33 in the U.S. since 9/11.”

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7 replies »

  1. Perhaps an important step in understanding that terrorism is also a myth created by those who benefit most. And at our expense. The hundreds of billions pumped into the network of monitoring, controlling and corralling our lives is pointless, especially when, as noted, terrorism kills few, whereas our lack of adequate infrastructure (ie. subways instead of more roads) is something to truly fear.

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  2. Be interesting to know how many medical and hospital related deaths per year – superbugs, medical errors, over or wrong prescriptions, too long wait times, adverse drug reactions, etc.

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  3. A chilling comment. The USA uses terrorism as politics of fear; fear of foreigners; fear of Muslims; fear of the unknown. The government uses the terrorism fear to fuel its own agenda of terror, by massively invading our privacy, through email spying and other nefarious means to gain the ultimate of totalitarianism.

    Big brother is alive and well and living in Washington and Ottawa, inventing more fears to unleash on a fear driven population.

    George Orwell had predicted this and it has come true. The Nazi Fascists have morphed into American and Canadian politics and the RCMP and the FBI/NSA are the latter day Gestapo. Democracy as we once knew it, is no more.

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  4. Wouldn't a good propagandist from the big government side observe that “deaths by terrorism are statistically invisible” is proof that their program works?

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  5. Terrorism by government collusion or in fact works well for them. What has been achieved in the name of security since 911. Loss of freedom, multiple aggressive wars by NATO, the pillage of peoples assets through rigging the markets LIBOR, the theft of peoples assets as the bail in, the list is long and growing everyday. Why doesn't someone prosecute the real criminals in our society. Oh ya they are in control of the government.

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  6. Yes, but the most effective counter-argument is that “the leash should be loosened” post haste in order to properly ascertain the appropriate level of protection for society as a whole. Too much caution is in itself a form of terrorism (consider the whole Edward Snowden mess).

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  7. Ah yes, the politics of fear.True, terrorism is an ugly and evil thing. Rightly so we should be protected from it. But when all is said and done, what is the true level of protection, and in reality, who or what is truly being protected? Are the true terrorists on the outside or are they subverting from within. In reality, are we being protected or controlled? An interesting speculation….

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