Worrying Accomplishes Nothing in the “War On Terror”

January 16, 2008

Who is more dangerous to your health, Al-Qaeda or the Department of Homeland Security?

For the answer, check out this awesome article by John Tierney in the New York Times that attempts to define the psychological toll of the “war on terror”.  And I quote:

“An intriguing new study suggests the answer is not so clear-cut. Although it’s impossible to calculate the pain that terrorist attacks inflict on victims and society, when statisticians look at cold numbers, they have variously estimated the chances of the average person dying in America at the hands of international terrorists to be comparable to the risk of dying from eating peanuts, being struck by an asteroid or drowning in a toilet.

But worrying about terrorism could be taking a toll on the hearts of millions of Americans. The evidence, published last week in the Archives of General Psychiatry, comes from researchers who began tracking the health of a representative sample of more than 2,700 Americans before September 2001. After the attacks of Sept. 11, the scientists monitored people’s fears of terrorism over the next several years and found that the most fearful people were three to five times more likely than the rest to receive diagnoses of new cardiovascular ailments.”

The rest of the articles goes into how fear of terrorism is a strain on the social fabric, as well as how constantly keeping the terror level at yellow or above doesn’t really benefit anyone.  And think about how many false alarms and predictions of imminent attacks based on nothing more than intuition there have been?

Here is more support and a graph from Tierney’s blog.

Excellent, more support for my belief that worrying accomplishes nothing, unless you consider raising your stress levels as an accomplishment.  And while I hate to trot out this overused phrase, living in constant fear means the terrorists have already won.


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