Sunday, December 2, 2007

Carnage in perspective

The Boston Globe has a Google mash-up of homicide data for Boston. With a month to go in 2007, there have been 63 homicides in Boston, which is arithmetically convenient for a city of about 630,000 (metro Boston is much bigger). That's a risk of 1 in 10,0000.

More than 40,000 Americans will die in car accidents this year. Thus the risk to all 300 million of us in America of dying in a car accident is substantially greater than 1 in 10,000, more like 1 in 7,000.

No one I know avoids car travel because of this, but the last time I went to Dorchester people who were supposed to go decided it was too risky to spend one day working on a Habitat for Humanity project.

We as a society can't tolerate murder. But unreasoning fear is not going to help us eliminate it.

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