London Olympics 2012: The odds of dying in a terrorist attack

Published: August 8, 2012
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You are 14 times more likely to win a gold medal in the same Olympics you are scared to attend than you are of dying in a terrorist attack.PHOTO: REUTERS

Here come the London Olympics 2012 with another cynical exploitation of fear, thousands of law enforcement officials to protect the public and use of devices as advanced as the LRAD (Long Range Acoustic Device). To top it off, there was the very timely ‘terror visa scandal’ scam by The Sun.

As the media projects and orchestrates it, sometimes it seems as though terrorism is the only cause of unnatural death that we face. It seems like the lives of millions of travellers are at risk solely due to this threat alone. There were 2.84 billion commercial air passengers in 2011 alone with only 373 fatalities, so one’s chance of dying in the commercial jet is 1 in 7.6 million.

With the emotionless and analytical brain that I have, I wanted to put things in perspective. Statistically speaking, here are few odds of dying with the causes:

Ø        Drowning in a bathtub: 1 in 685,000
Ø        Fatally slipping during a shower: 1 in 812,232
Ø        Being struck by lightning: 1 in 576,000
Ø        Being murdered: 1 in 18,000
Ø        Dying from any kind of injury: 1 in 1,820
Ø        Dying from intentional self-harm: 1 in 9,380
Ø        Dying from assault: 1 in 16,421
Ø        Dying in a car accident: 1 in 18,585
Ø        Dying from any kind of fall: 1 in 20,666
Ø        Dying from accidental drowning: 1 in 79,065
Ø        Dying from exposure to smoke, fire, and flames: 1 in 81,524
Ø        Dying from forces of nature (earthquake, flood): 1 in 225,107
Ø        Dying from choking on food: 1 in 370,035
Ø        Dying in a fireworks accident: 1 in 1,000,000
Ø        Dying from a dog bite: 1 in 700,000
Ø        Dying from falling off a ladder: 1 in 2,300,000
Ø        Dying form unintentional alcohol poisoning: 1 in 820,217
Ø        Dying from heart disease: 1 in 5
Ø        Dying from a cancer: 1 in 7
Ø        Dying from a stroke: 1 in 23
Ø        Dying from electrocution: 1 in 5,000
Ø        Dying due to a falling coconut: 1 in 250,000,000
Ø        Dying due to a shark attack: 1 in 300,000,000
Ø        Dying of a snake bite: 1 in 3,500,000
Ø        Dying due to food poisoning: 1 in 3,000,000
Ø        Dying in an accident at work: 1 in 43,500
Ø        Dying in a road accident: 1 in 8,000

Now, the odds of dying in a terrorist attack on board is 1 in 25,000,000 (25 million) and the overall average of dying in any kind of terrorist attack worldwide is 1 in 9,300,000 (9.3 million).

If not convinced, here is another interesting set of statistics:

Odds of being an astronaut: 1 in 13,200,000
Odds of winning an Olympic gold medal: 1 in 662,000
Odds of becoming the president: 1 in 10,000,000
Odds of sighting a UFO today: 1 in 3,000,000
Odds of dating a supermodel: 1 in 88,000 (Veena Malik, anyone?)

So, you have twice the chances of becoming an astronaut than flying in a plane doomed to crash due to a terrorist plot. Moreover, the odds of you becoming a president are twice that of  dying in a terrorist attack (isn’t that ironic?). Need some more perspective? Well, you are three times more likely to sight a UFO today, 14 times more likely to win a gold medal in the same Olympics you are scared to attend, and the chances of you dating Veena Malik are 106 times that of you dying in a terrorist attack!

If you, like any logical person, believe that you will never date a Veena Malik-type, for God’s sake, grow up and stop fearing terrorism. Just start enjoying your life.

Follow Zeeshan on Twitter @zeeshanusmani

Zeeshan-ul-hassan Usmani

Zeeshan Usmani

A Fulbright Scholar and an Eisenhower fellow, Zeeshan works at a private company and lives in Islamabad. He is fascinated by anything that has a direct impact on the lives of a common man. He tweets as @zeeshanusmani

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.