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Terrorism, Risk And Other Things We Hate (1)

Of terrorism, Risk, and other things We hate….

Risk, is intrinsic to life, whether perceived or not, all living things at any given point in their existence must face one sort of way of risk.

Risk detection, acceptance, aversion, mitigation or management is therefore key to one's life on earth. With the exception of humans, which can work-out to a certain degree, the mentioned variations of risk contention, by using their superior brain capabilities, the rest of the living beings handle risk through predefined response structures known as instincts, some instincts can be indeed very sophisticated, but nonetheless, still dependent upon a number of factors, arranged in a specific pattern to be ultimately effective and guarantee survival.

On the other hand, superior primates, all the way to humans, by way of their slow cooked evolution, can detect, accept and even adapt to multilayered levels of environmental interacting variables to assure survival.

If we are to take the former statement as true, why then, we humans, in some very critical instances, mock, disdain, or otherwise obviate many life threatening, or at the very least, some very dear costing risks to us????

In our human brain, value thinking, risk coping, and survival instincts are lodged around the pre-frontal cortex, this brain structure starts as purely instinctive (i.e. newborns) and then it is slowly cooked or briskly burned through volition, experience and reasoning…if ever….

In the end, volition, seems to be the main catalyzer between our willingness to learn and survive and our ultimate willingness to have, at all costs which may lead us to our ultimate demise.

Throughout my professional schooling and my 30something career experience in high and low places, have I seen the work risk invoked seriously; at best risk is somehow handled reactively but seldomely proactively and predictively. It was in the late 1990s, when I was part of a merger with a major US contractor, that I came across with people who were dead serious about risk, and all of the sudden a new dimension of life appeared before me.

I have seen many project and corporate decisions taken literally "by the seat of the pants", and even more critical issues solved likewise, and of course, the remedy was worse than the disease.

Risk, should not be taken as something to be feared, but rather something to be known, measured, mitigated and ultimately, dealt with in a proper manner.

As history progresses, human access earth resources have become scarcer and more, projects and issues cannot be addressed as "they start when they start, end when they end, and cost what they cost…", including risk.

If risk is pertinent to human life, we could all agree that a human life is the "most expensive risk of all", and while a person's life is indeed priceless, some entities like the US Environmental Protection Agency, have attempted to put a price to it , and they came up with a figure, as of 2011, of roughly 9.5 million of US Dollars, while the US National Transportation Safety Board, came with a figure of about 6.5 million of US Dollars.

Those are indeed quite a large figure figures, when translated to Dollars and cents.

In order to gauge, the economic impact of the cost of human life, the death toll in human lives in terrorist attacks in the last 135 years, that is counting 840 deadly incidents occurred since 1881 until February 2016, is of 52,076 deaths alone, without mentioning the countless number of people injured.

At an average cost of $8 million Dollars the cost of human loss of life is of $416,608,000,000.00 (Four hundred sixteen billion, US Dollars and 00/100), the average cost per year in terms of persons lost is of $3,085,985,185.19 (Three billion Dollars).

Those are pretty big figures, just to be "stuff that happens...", can you imagine the enormous value that has been lost, the researcher with a potential cure for cancer could have been lost in a terrorist incident, just for one.


of Attacks


North America



Central America






South America






Eastern Europe






Middle East












Table 1, Simplified Summary of Terrorist Incidents 1881-2016 by world region

As we have evolved, in our quest for answers to all life's questions, we have found the entire universe is patterned, the universe is not chaos as some have pointed, the universe is filled with exquisite order and patterns.

Some patterns, are discernible to the simple eye, others are intricately difficult to discern, yet they are there. Careful study and calculation should enable us to minimize the gap between noise and real signals.

Nothing is more patternable, as human history, no wonder why George of Santayana stated " Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." , remembrance, makes a trait, a trait, then becomes a trend and a trend a decision making input, and yes, all of them are patterns.

Then, why we are so surprised and tear our garments when a terrorism incident happens?, why we vow to never let it happen again?, why we hold vigils, with candles, prayers and chants, and then resume our lives with a "business as usual", mainly because we choose to be oblivious, we have what I call The Garden of Eden Syndrome, that is we refuse to see and be aware of the seamy side of life, and more importantly the really seamy side of human behavior.

For instance, have you noticed that nothing has changed in airport security since the 1970s up to date?, let me refresh the memories of those as old as me (I´m 54) and get you in an insight for those far more younger, in the 70s one of the favorite resource of terrorist was to hijack airplanes and use them as an asset for personal and political gain, making them to land here or there, use them and its passengers as bargain chips, while the poor souls inside suffered a thousand deaths. Let us make a micro pause to bring out to memory those souls that perished in 9/11.

Indeed, a whole lot has been made to avoid hijacking of airplanes in the last 40 years, but really nothing has been done to the massive killings that have happened in airport halls, Paris, Rome, Vienna in the 70s and of course Brussels nowadays.

While an airplane hijacking is a complex endeavor, an attack to an airport hall is as expedient to terrorists as the hijacking of an airliner, and probably as bloody……Yet again, have you seen increased security in airport halls?

It is not my purpose to discuss any sort of physical security, my purpose is to bring you to the knowledge, that risk is all around us, and it is our duty to mitigate it to such extent, until each one of us feels comfortable with, please bear in mind that there is no such thing as ZERO RISK.

See you, soon