The Bathtub Threat: Terrorists and Danger

Posted: June 27th, 2013 | Filed under: civil liberties, media bias, terrorism | 4 Comments »

Terrorist Bathtubs

Cartoon Text

What is Most Dangerous to Americans?

a. terrorists
b. deer
c. bathtubs
d. home appliances

Hazard – Annual Fatality Risk (3)
Bathtub Drownings – 1 in 950,000
Home Appliances – 1 in 1,500,000
Deer Accidents – 1 in 2,000,000
Terrorism (1970-2007) – 1 in 3,500,000

Would you throw your civil liberties and a trillion tax dollars away to be slightly safer from bathtubs? (1) The government and media fearmonger for votes, viewers, and money. Replace hype with cost-benefit and risk analysis.


An example of media sensationalism was this comment by ABC’s Charles Gibson on the fifth anniversary of 9/11:

Putting your child on a school bus or driving across a bridge or just going to the mall—each of these things is a small act of courage—and peril is a part of everyday life. (4)

A rare example of a politician being level-headed about the threat of terrorism was in 2007 when NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg told citizens fretting over terrorism to “get a life” and that they have a better chance of being struck by lightning than by terrorism. (2)

To learn more about the colossal waste of money that the TSA has been read, “How the TSA Kills Us … Literally”.

To learn more about the fantastic absence of rational analysis in America’s continuing response to 9/11, read the book by John Mueller and Mark Stewart, Terror, Security, and Money: Balancing the Risks, Benefits, and Costs of Homeland Security (2011).

Terror, Security, and Money


1. Ronald Bailey, “How Scared of Terrorism Should You Be?”, 6 Sep. 2011. LINK
2. Sewell Chan, “Buzz Over Mayor’s ‘Get a Life’ Remark,”, 6 June 2007. LINK
3. John Mueller and Mark Stewart, “Hardly Existential: Thinking Rationally about Terrorism,”, 2 Apr. 2010. LINK
4. John Mueller and Mark Stewart, “Terror, Security, and Money: Balancing the Risks, Benefits, and Costs of Homeland Security,” 1 Apr. 2011. LINK (PDF)

4 Comments on “The Bathtub Threat: Terrorists and Danger”

  1. 1 DuckDuckGo, Google Now, and the NSA | ScreenGrab said at 10:18 pm on July 4th, 2013:

    […] Losing the standards-based Web would be tragic, but maybe not for the reasons that some cite. It would be painful to go on losing services like Google Reader or Falcon Pro (whose demise I recently chronicled), sure. Yet the real pain will come from large swathes of Web being the exclusive provinces of certain corporations who, for reasons either furtive or coercive, decide to give info to the American NSA. You’re social walled garden is also conveniently a surveillance state – it has natural tracking mechanisms and clear owners who can be talked into compliance. And of course, the rhetoric from both the array of walled gardens and from the NSA itself is all about making your worry less. Using Google Play Music apparently makes streaming music simpler (I never had a problem with Spotify, though), while the NSA’s collection of email is for the (truly outlandish) purpose of making you worry less about terrorism, something that kills fewer persons per year than bathtub falls do. […]

  2. 2 Claire said at 2:50 pm on July 15th, 2013:

    I note that the statistic used to support your argument that bathtubs are a more imminent threat than terrorism “(1970-2007) – 1 in 3,500,000” only runs up to 2007. I am assuming that you are using the same insurance algorithm that would be used to insure say a building or a car? If you factor in global terrorism on a daily basis then your figure would be incorrect. If your figure is local then I wonder how much it would cost to insure the new world trade centre based on recent experience and whether the insurance company would be willing to use your statistic to place a dollar value on that risk? It’s very easy to arrange statistics to make them seem trivial as compared to other risks. The reality is if it can happen once, it can happen again.

  3. 3 LAURENT BELKACEM said at 2:43 pm on January 14th, 2015:

    […] « The Bathtub Threat: Terrorists and Danger »  […]

  4. 4 Heae said at 12:43 pm on September 1st, 2015:

    every one has to die and imo the cause how he die is more important to their left behind.
    If someone drowns in a bathtub it is not as tragic as he die true a bomb but people don’t like to be afraid and in fear which terrorism creates so the spending millions are justified.