Anti-Terrorism Spending 50,000 Times More Than on Any Other Cause of Death


Old Man Struck by Lightning

The US spends more than $500 million per victim on anti-terrorism efforts.  However, cancer research spending is only $10,000 per victim.  Evolutionary psychology may offer an explanation for this irrational threat amplification.

But first a message from NATIONAL REPUBLICAN campaign committee:


Over the last decade it has stricken more Americans than terrorists have. It will stop at nothing to destroy our way of life.

Yet some politicians in Washington don’t see lightning as a threat. Barack Hussein Obama doesn’t. In the Senate, he voted to allocate hundreds of billions of dollars to the so-called war on terror, while spending absolutely nothing on a threat which has taken far more American lives. He just doesn’t get it.

Barack Obama.

Wrong on lightning.

Wrong for America.

Putting Terrorism in Perspective

Roughly 3,000 Americans have lost their lives to terrorist attacks in the last decade. This averages out to a loss of 300 people a year, which is a tragic figure and, as a country, it behooves us to do everything we can to reduce or eliminate the threat of terrorism. But there are still a lot of other ways to wind up being the main course at a worm banquet. The gravest dangers we face include heart disease, cancer, and celebrity breakups. Unfortunately, our country doesn’t have infinite resources available to eliminate every threat. So the task falls to our government to allocate what resources we do have in a manner proportional to the magnitude of each threat. If we, as a society, want to effectively counter the dangers we face, we first have to put them in perspective.

How You’re Really Going to Die

Ranked by the number of victims, heart disease comes in as the number one threat. It’s responsible for 700,000 deaths a year. This coronary malady keeps food on the tables of funeral directors nationwide. And, like a perpetual motion machine, this very food fills their arteries with cholesterol leading to even more heart attacks.

On to number two. Cancer kills 550,000 people a year. But ironically, some futurists see it as a potential key to immortality. It removes the limit on the number of times that a cell can replicate itself. Thus, if properly harnessed, this disease could be used to defy aging by allowing eternal tissue regeneration. This would enable Joan Rivers to continue enchanting Americans with her iconic brand of celebrity commentary for generations to come.

Runners up for the best solution to overpopulation include strokes with 160,000 casualties a year, respiratory disease with 120,000 casualties annually, diabetes at 70,000 , pneumonia at 60,000 , Alzheimer’s disease at 50,000 , and vehicular accidents at 40,000.

As previously stated, averaged over the last decade which contained the worst terrorist attack in our nation’s history, terrorism still only killed about 300 people a year. Compare this to the 1000 people who are struck by lightning every year. Hopefully, by putting storm clouds on the federal no-fly list we’ll be able to reduce this number in the future. But until then, based on current trends you’re three times more likely to be struck by lightning than to be killed in a terrorist attack.

Infographic Showing Disproportionate (Imbalance) US Spending to Combat Terrorism


Risk Annual Deaths Lifetime risk
Heart disease 652,486 1 in 5
Cancer 553,888 1 in 7
Stroke 150,074 1 in 24
Hospital infections 99,000 1 in 38
Flu 59,664 1 in 63
Car accidents 44,757 1 in 84
Suicide 31,484 1 in 119
Accidental poisoning 19,456 1 in 193
MRSA (resistant bacteria) 19,000 1 in 197
Falls 17,229 1 in 218
Drowning 3,306 1 in 1,134
Bike accident 762 1 in 4,919
Air/space accident 742 1 in 5,051
Excessive cold 620 1 in 6,045
Sun/heat exposure 273 1 in 13,729
Shark attack* 62 1 in 60,453
Lightning 47 1 in 79, 746
Train crash 24 1 in 156,169
Fireworks 11 1 in 340,733

 Sources: Unless otherwise noted, all accidental death information fromNational Safety Council. Disease death information from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Lifetime risk is calculated by dividing 2003 population (290,850,005) by the number of deaths, divided by 77.6, the life expectancy of a person born in 2003. *Shark data represents number of attacks worldwide, not deaths.


Screwed Up Spending Priorities

Now that we’ve compared the risks, let’s examine how the government chooses to allocate our limited resources to combat these threats. To the least likely means of death I’ve mentioned, terrorism, the federal government devotes about $150 billion annually. On the other hand, to combat the most likely cause of death, heart disease, the government contributes only $2 billion. And just $300 million is devoted to research on the third most likely cause of death, strokes.

So looking at it another way, we spend $500 million for every death from terrorism and only $2,000 for every death resulting from strokes. That means we spend 250,000 times more per death on terrorism. I’m sure all of this is very flattering to Osama bin Laden, but this disparity might leave some stroke victims scratching their heads, assuming they’ve retained full motor control of their arms.

Graph of US Deaths from Various Causes and Funding to Combat Each Cause

Why is the government response so disproportionate to the threat?


Evolutionary psychology may be able to explain this phenomenon. The human brain has been around for 200,000 years.   More than 99% of that evolution has been characterized by starvation and general scarcity of resources typified the environment in which humans evolved.  In this situation, violent acquisition of resources from other groups was often a necessary survival technique. Hence, human brains most hyper-vigilant and aggressive toward human threats (i.e. terrorists) were most likely to survive and propagate these characteristics.

On the other hand, throughout evolutionary history medical science was almost non-existent.  Hence, there would be no survival value added by a tendency to focus on more likely health-related causes of death. We just weren’t designed for these times.

Anxiety Fatigue

One possible reason is anxiety fatigue. When an individual is subjected to a stimulus for an extended period of time, such as the aroma of a hospital room, the sound of a fan, or the endless nagging of the mother-in-law, their mind eventually just filters it out. Mortality risks such as heart disease and cancer extend farther back in time than even the existence of our current civilization. Our society now more or less accepts these unfortunate facts of life as another cost of doing business.Thus, they’re filtered out of our collective consciousness to some extent. On the other hand, consider the SARS virus scare a few years ago. Despite the absence of a single American fatality, the newness of this airborne illness allowed it to occupy headlines for weeks. Similarly, the Islamic terrorist menace is also a relatively new phenomenon to the US. Maybe threat fatigue for terrorism just hasn’t set in yet.

Economic Consequences

The economic consequences of terrorism would, at first thought, seem like a justification for the level of concern. There was a huge financial cost associated with the 9/11 attacks. Total related insurance claim payments are estimated at $32.5 billion. However, there’s been no definitive proof that the attacks lead to a significant decline in GDP. In fact, a GDP which had been falling due to recession in the quarter prior to 9/11 actually started growing again in the quarter following 9/11.

It’s conventional wisdom that military spending is good for the economy. However, most macroeconomic models show that, in the long term, military spending diverts resources from productive uses, such as consumption and investment. This ultimately slows economic growth and reduces employment. So if one thinks they’re protecting our economy by taking trillions of dollars away from other productive uses to fight the so-called global war on terror, they should consider upgrading their abycuss to a calculator.

Nuclear Bombs

Another seemingly more justifiable reason for a magnified response to terrorism is the potential for a nuclear attack that could result in a far greater number of casualties than the typical terrorist attacks have to date. According to many experts on nuclear proliferation, the possibly insurmountable technical challenges of building or acquiring a thermo-nuclear weapon are enormous. Including the requirement that the weapon be portable, makes the likelihood of acquisition dramatically more remote. However, there is a real threat that highly enriched uranium could be aquired from a former Soviet state and used to make a crude bomb. This is a serious risk and needs to be addressed by either securing or downgrading the 1000 tons of yellowcake remaining within Russia and her neighbors. The government currently spends about a billion dollars on this effort annually. Compare this to the two billion we spend in Iraq every week and one might assume we have a bonobo setting our national security priorities in exchange for bananas.

Human Psychology

Finally, the psychological makeup of our species could also be a contributing factor to this risk amplification. Just look at the plot structure of a work of fiction. The vast majority of conflicts are between a human protagonist and a human antagonist.We seem to maintain an inherent attraction to interpersonal or, on a larger scale, inter-societal conflict. It’s only natural that this affinity translates to our media diet as well. Many studies have shown that the media sets the public policy agenda.So, the point is that interpersonal and societal conflicts like that between Western civilization and Muslim extremists are simply better able to maintain our attention than conflicts between man and complex, abstract medical threats.

In addition, sociologists and psychologists have determined that society amplifies the danger of risks imposed upon them, such as terrorism. Conversely, society finds risks resulting from voluntary behavior, such as car accidents, more acceptable.

Flow Chart Representing Social Amplification of Risks (Challenges to the Quantification of the Risks of Terrorism)

 Graph Source:

Graph Illustrating Cancer and Terrorism Deaths and Spending (by Tony Piro)

 Graph Source:

Iran US Foreign Relations: A History of Violence

Many Americans consider Iran to be a psychopathically violent nation that would be willing to commit suicide in order to kill as many Americans as possible.  The statistics behind historical Iranian US relations do not support this view.

Image of George Will wearing Mask

Juggalo’s Corner

By George “Ghost F**ker” Will

   A plurality of Americans believe that Iran is an irrational, suicide-bound regime that would use nuclear-weapons up in this bitch, given the chance. But is this belief supported by an Iranian history of violence?  Is Iran really a bunch of stone-cold killaz or, alternatively, are these bitchez just yanking our nizzos?

   If Iran is truly as wicked hardcore as Americans claim, they should have a history with a serious mutha f***in’ body count. However, when you examine Iran’s history, it becomes painfully obvious that Iran, in fact, has a p***y for ballz. Despite the incendiary rhetoric of its leaders, Iran, when comparing their body count to that of the United States, just be lookin’ like some candy-ass bitchez.

Conversely, a serious examination of American historical interaction with Iran reveals the US actually possesses grenades for balls that will indeed get your mouf blowed up when you suck them.  Let’s look at the numbers.

IRAN VERSUS THE US:  Will the real HARD CORE gangstas please stand up?

Civilians Killed

War: Iranian Civilian Deaths from Direct US Involvement (Infographic)


  • Iran Air Flight 655 was a civilian jet airliner shot down by U.S. missiles on July 3, 1988, over the Strait of Hormuz, toward the end of the Iran–Iraq War. The aircraft, an Airbus A300B2-203 operated by Iran Air, was flying from Bandar Abbas, Iran, to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, over Iran’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf on its usual flight path when it was destroyed by the United States Navy guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes (CG-49), killing all 290 passengers and crew aboard.
  • The U.S. government issued notes of regret for the loss of human lives and in 1996 paid reparations to settle a suit brought in the International Court of Justice regarding the incident, however the United States never released an apology or acknowledgment of wrongdoing. In August 1988 Newsweek quoted Vice President George H. W. Bush as saying “I’ll never apologize for the United States of America. Ever. I don’t care what the facts are.”

Civilian Deaths (Indirect Involvement)

War: Iranian Civilian Deaths from Indirect US Involvement (Infographic)

  • The Iran–Iraq War (also known as the First Persian Gulf War and by various other names) was an armed conflict between the armed forces of Iraq and Iran, lasting from September 1980 to August 1988.  The Iranian civilian death toll, overall, is estimated between 11,000 and 400,000 for Iran.
  • United States support for Iraq during the Iran–Iraq War, as a counterbalance to post-revolutionary Iran, included several billion dollars worth of economic aid, the sale of dual-use technology, non-U.S. origin weaponry, military intelligence, Special Operations training, and direct involvement in warfare against Iran. Support from the U.S. for Iraq was not a secret and was frequently discussed in open session of the Senate and House of Representatives. On June 9, 1992, Ted Koppel reported on ABC’s Nightline, “It is becoming increasingly clear that George Bush, operating largely behind the scenes throughout the 1980s, initiated and supported much of the financing, intelligence, and military help that built Saddam’s Iraq into” the power it became”, and “Reagan/Bush administrations permitted—and frequently encouraged—the flow of money, agricultural credits, dual-use technology, chemicals, and weapons to Iraq.”

Military Deaths

War: Iranian Troops Killed vs American Troops Killed - Military Deaths (Infographic)

Number of American TROOPS Killed in Iranian-Supported Attacks on the US = Between 0 and 4,715

  • There have been no Americans killed by Iran in the US.  
  • 4,474 Americans were killed in Iraq.  There are many unsourced claims from the Pentagon and the American media that Iran has been providing weapons to insurgents in Iraq.  However, no evidence has been presented proving citizens of Iran, let alone the Iranian government, is culpable for these deaths. 
  • October 23, 1983, Beirut, Lebanon. A truck loaded with a bomb crashed into the lobby of the U.S. Marines headquarters in Beirut, killing 241 soldiers and wounding 81. Some analysts believe the Islamic Republic of Iran was heavily involved and that a major factor leading it to participate in the attacks on the barracks was America’s support for Iraq in the Iran-Iraq War and its extending of $2.5 billion in trade credit to Iraq while halting the shipments of arms to Iran. However, in 2001, former Secretary of Defense at the time of the bombing, Caspar Weinberger, stated: “But we still do not have the actual knowledge of who did the bombing of the Marine barracks at the Beirut Airport, and we certainly didn’t then.”
Number of Iranian Troops Killed in US-Supported Attacks on Iran = Between 300,000 and 1,000,000
  1. The Iran–Iraq War (also known as the First Persian Gulf War and by various other names) was an armed conflict between the armed forces of Iraq and Iran, lasting from September 1980 to August 1988.  The death toll, overall, was an estimated between 300,000 and 1 million for Iran.  
Rumsfeld and Saddam Shaking Hands

Government Overthrowals

War: US Overthrows Iranian Government (Infographic)

Number of Times Iran has Overthrown the US‘s Democratically-Elected Government = 0
Number of Times the US has Overthrown Iran‘s Democratically-Elected Government = 1
  1. The 1953 Iranian coup d’état (known in Iran as the 28 Mordad coup) was the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh on 19 August 1953, orchestrated by the intelligence agencies of the United Kingdom and the United States under the name TPAJAX Project. The coup saw the transition of Mohammad-Rezā Shāh Pahlavi from a constitutional monarch to an authoritarian one who relied heavily on United States support to hold on to power until his own overthrow in February 1979.

ROUND 5: Military Invasions – US WINS!!!!!

War: Countries Invaded by United States Since WWII (Infographic)

Number of Countries Bombed by Iran SINCE WWII = 0
Number of Countries BOMBED by the US SINCE WWII = 32
  1. China 1945-46
  2. Korea 1950-53
  3. China 1950-53
  4. Guatemala 1954
  5. Indonesia 1958
  6. Cuba 1959-60
  7. Guatemala 1960
  8. Belgian Congo 1964
  9. Guatemala 1964
  10. Dominican Republic 1965-66
  11. Peru 1965
  12. Laos 1964-73
  13. Vietnam 1961-73
  14. Cambodia 1969-70
  15. Guatemala 1967-69
  16. Lebanon 1982-84
  17. Grenada 1983-84
  18. Libya 1986
  19. El Salvador 1981-92
  20. Nicaragua 1981-90
  21. Iran 1987-88
  22. Libya 1989
  23. Panama 1989-90
  24. Iraq 1991
  25. Kuwait 1991
  26. Somalia 1992-94
  27. Bosnia 1995
  28. Iran 1998
  29. Sudan 1998
  30. Afghanistan 1998
  31. Yugoslavia – Serbia 1999
  32. Afghanistan 2001
  33. Libya 2011


Under orders from President Eisenhower, the CIA organized a military coup that overthrew Iran’s democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh.  Britain, unhappy that Iran nationalized its oil industry, came up with the idea for the coup and pressed the United States to mount a joint operation to remove Mossadeqh.

1953 to 1979

Following the coup, the U.S installed Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi , and the thriving democracy that existed in Iran was crushed.  The Shah led 25 years of tyrannical rule (supported by the CIA) that resulted in the killing of thousands of Iranians who opposed the U.S. puppet government.  On the economic front, the Shah denationalized Iran’s oil industry, 60% of which went to American firms.


U.S.-backed Shah of Iran forced to leave the country after widespread demonstrations and strikes. Islamic religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini returns from exile and takes effective power.  Sixty-six hostages taken by students at the U.S. embassy in Tehran.  The students justified taking the hostages as retaliation for the admission of the Shah into the U.S., and demanded the Shah be returned to Iran for a trial. The new Iranian regime believed the Shah was in the U.S. so that the U.S. could carry out another coup d’etat in Iran; the U.S. claimed he had come there only to seek medical attention. The Shah was given refuge and Iranians demanded his extradition to Iran to face justice.  The U.S. rejected Iran’s request and the hostage taking ensued. The hostage crisis at the U.S. embassy in Tehran lasted 444 days.


Iraq invades neighboring Iran with the approval of the United States.  The war lasts eight years and kills hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Iranians.  Iran suffered heavy casualties from Saddam’s chemical weapons, many of which were provided by the U.S.


Last 52 U.S. hostages freed in January after intense diplomatic activity. Their release comes a few hours after U.S. President Jimmy Carter leaves office. They had been held for 444 days.

1982 to 1983

As Iranian forces gained the upper hand on the battlefield with Iraq, the U.S. launched another covert operation to arm and aid Saddam.  It began clandestinely to supply Saddam with satellite intelligence on Iran’s deployments.  Weapons were also sent via CIA fronts in Chile and Saudi Arabia directly to Baghdad. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein greets Donald Rumsfeld, then special envoy of President Ronald Reagan, in Baghdad on December 20, 1983.

1985 to 1986

Iran-Contra Affair: U.S. holds secret talks with Iran and makes weapons shipments, allegedly in exchange for Iranian assistance in releasing U.S. hostages in Lebanon. With revelations that profits were illegally channeled to Nicaraguan rebels, this creates the biggest crisis of Ronald Reagan’s presidency.


Following the mining of a U.S. Navy frigate, U.S. forces engage in series of encounters with Iranian naval forces, including strikes on Gulf oil platforms. The engagement was code named “Operation Praying Mantis”.  The battle, the largest between surface forces since World War II, sank two Iranian warships and as many as six armed speedboats.  The Iranian Frigate, IS Alvand, attacked by U.S. Navy forces.


On patrol in the Persian Gulf, the USS Vincennes shot down an Iranian passenger jet that it had mistaken for a hostile Iranian fighter aircraft. U.S. Navy Captain Will C. Rogers III ordered a single missile fired from his warship, which hit its target and killed all 290 people aboard the commercial Airbus.

1986 to 1989

Some seventy-three transactions took place that included bacterial cultures to make weapons-grade anthrax, advanced computers, and equipment to repair jet engines and rockets.

What Really Causes Terrorism? It’s Not Your Freedom.

FACT 1: 95% of suicide terrorist attacks are targeted at occupying foreign militaries.

FACT 2: 0% of suicide terrorist attacks have been directed at countries not militarily involved in geopolitical disputes.

Robert Pape at the University of Chicago, with funding from the Department of Defense, has created the first comprehensive database of every suicide terrorist attack in the world from 1980 until today.  The data reveal important truths that must be realized before there can be any hope of minimizing this threat.

Every suicide terrorist campaign has had a clear goal that is secular and political: to compel a modern democracy to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland.

From the The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism by Robert Pape:

As Table 1 indicates, there have been 188 separate suicide terrorist attacks between 1980 and 2001. Of these, 179, or 95%, were parts of organized, coherent campaigns, while only nine were isolated or random events. Seven separate disputes have led to suicide terrorist campaigns: the presence of American and French forces in Lebanon, Israeli occupation of West Bank and Gaza, the independence of the Tamil regions of Sri Lanka, the independence of the Kurdish region of Turkey, Russian occupation of Chechnya, Indian occupation of Kashmir, and the presence of American forces on the Saudi Arabian Peninsula. Overall, however, there have been 16 distinct campaigns, because in certain disputes the terrorists elected to suspend operations one or more times either in response to concessions or for other reasons.

Table of Statistics on Suicide Terrorist Campaigns (1980-2001)

Every suicide campaign from 1980 to 2001 has had as a major objective—or as its central objective—coercing a foreign government that has military forces in what they see as their homeland to take those forces out. Table 2 summarizes the disputes that have engendered suicide terrorist campaigns. Since 1980, there has not been a suicide terrorist campaign directed mainly against domestic opponents or against foreign opponents who did not have military forces in the terrorists homeland. Although attacks against civilians are often the most salient to Western observers, actually every suicide terrorist campaign in the past two decades has included attacks directly against the foreign military forces in the country, and most have been waged by guerrilla organizations that also use more conventional methods of attack against those forces.

Statistics on Motivation and Targets of Suicide Terrorist Campaigns (1980-2001)

Even Al Qaeda fits this pattern. Although Saudi Arabia is not under American military occupation per se and the terrorists have

political objectives against the Saudi regime and others, one major objective of Al Qaeda is the expulsion of U.S. troops from the Saudi Peninsula and there have been a tacks by terrorists loyal to Osama Bin Laden against American troops in Saudi Arabia. To be sure, there is a major debate among Islamists over the morality of suicide attacks, but within Saudi Arabia there is little debate over Al Qaeda’s objection to American forces in the region and over 95% of Saudi society reportedly agrees with Bin Laden on this matter (Sciolino 2002).

The popularity of suicide terrorism is growing as a result of ground operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. 89 percent of all suicide terrorism around the world since the Iraq war is the direct result of troops on the ground.

Below is a graph I made using Global US Troop Deployment Data and data from the Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism.  The rise in US troop deployments in the middle east temporally precedes the rise in suicide terrorist attacks. This fact suggests[1. Conditions Necessary to Infer Causation (Kenny, 1979):
Time precedence: For 1 to cause 2, 1 must precede 2. The cause must precede the effect. The time precedence condition is satisfied since the troop increase occurs prior to the increase in attacks.

Relationship: The variables must correlate. To determine the relationship of two variables, it must be determined if the relationship could occur due to chance. Lay observers are often not good judges of the presence of relationships, thus, statistical methods are used to measure and test the existence and strength of relationships. The relationship condition is obviously satisfied because the magnitude of the upward trend completely dwarfs any random variation exhibited prior to the US invasion.

Nonspuriousness (spuriousness- not genuine): “The third and final condition for a causal relationship is nonspuriousness (Suppes, 1970). For a relationship between X and Y to be nonspurious, there must not be a Z that causes both X and Y such that the relationship between X and Y vanishes once Z is controlled” (Kenny, 1979. pp. 4-5). that violently invading and occupying a country will increase animosity among the population that is being invaded. This animosity tends to manifest itself in the form of terrorist attacks perpetrated against the violent invader. The nonspuriousness condition can be assumed to be satisfied unless some other causal factor that better fulfills the relationship and time precedence conditions is identified.] that violently invading and occupying a country will increase animosity among the population that is being invaded. This animosity tends to manifest itself in the form of terrorist attacks perpetrated against the violent invader. 


Graph of Middle East Troop Levels vs Suicide Terrorist Attacks (1993-2005)

The desired end as defined by the Bush administration would be the elimination of terrorism. They attempted to achieve this using the means of military invasion and occupation. The above graph suggests that the means used did not achieve the desired end. In fact, the means produce the opposite of the desired ends.

The Public Believes that the Government Has Effectively Reduced Terrorist Capabilities But It Doesn’t Believe that Terrorist Capabilities Have Been Reduced

According to Pew polling, a majority of the public (61%) believes that the ability of terrorists to launch a major attack is about the same (44%) or greater than (17%) it was at the time of the 9/11 attacks. So the public doesn’t think the hundreds of billions spent on the War on Terror are producing any reduction in capabilities.  Yet, somehow the  the majority of the public (71%) continues to say the government has done very (22%) or fairly well (49%) in reducing the threat of terrorism.  It’s hard to understand how one can think the government is doing a good job at reducing the threat of terrorism when one believes that it hasn’t been reduced.

Table Showing Views of Terrorists' Capabilities Unchanged (2002-2009)

How to Reduce the Terrorist Threat

The data clearly indicate that increasing the degree of US military occupation in majority-Islamic countries, will only serve to increase the threat of terrorism.  I’d never accuse the American public of being quick, but they do seem to learn over time.  Half of Americans (50%) now believe that decreasing the U.S. military presence overseas would be the more effective policy, while just 31% say an increased presence would be more effective.

Views on Whether US Should Cutback on Troops to Reduce Threat of Terrorism (2002-2009)

Share your thoughts in the comments section below!