I have just had the pleasure of seeing Steven Pinker give a talk at the Ottawa Writers’ Festival about his new book Enlightenment Now: The case for reason, science, humanism and progress. Picking up where he left off in The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why violence has declined, Mr. Pinker makes a compelling case for why things on this planet are not as bad as we think they are.
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8 deaths in Canada since 9/11
Starting with my own country, Canada, it should be beyond doubt that the threat from terrorism, focusing on Islamist extremism which remains the #1 terrorist menace no matter what others tell you, is minimal. Yes, I know that the Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre (ITAC) has set the national threat level at medium (halfway up the scale), but according to my calculations we have seen two deaths from jihadis in Canada since 9/11. Two. If you add in the massacre at the mosque in Quebec City in January 2017, which was carried out by a possible white supremacist (by the way, the alleged perpetrator has pleaded not guilty), that number jumps to eight.
When we extrapolate out to the world we do see a precipitous spike in deaths from terrorism from 2011 to 2014 (from 8200+ to 43500+), although the numbers have fallen since. And if you take into account two important factors – the rise of the barbaric Islamic State and the fact that two-thirds of deaths occur in five countries (Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and Pakistan, all of which are either at war or near war) – you see that just about everywhere else terrorism is a non-factor.
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