Math, Bloomberg Style

The mayor of New York City got rich by supplying numbers. But, oddly, he doesn’t understand basic math.

Here’s his response to the plot to burn JFK:

“There are lots of threats to you in the world. There’s the threat of a heart attack for genetic reasons. You can’t sit there and worry about everything. Get a life,” he said…

“You have a much greater danger of being hit by lightning than being struck by a terrorist,” he added.

He’s making two sophomoric errors.

First, he’s using the Starving Chinese argument (why solve a local problem when millions of Chinese are starving?).

That’s only relevant when we need to make resource trade-offs to control risks. But there are no trade-offs between optimizing our diets to reduce bad cholesterol, fitting lightning conductors, and arresting Islamofascists trying to blow up our airports. We can do them all.

Secondly, he’s applying an average risk of terrorism across the whole of the US. However, he’s mayor of NYC, and the risk there is very high.

Last time I looked the NYC murder rate was 600 a year. Averaged over the 5 1/2 years since 9/11, the 3,000 murdered that day also come in at about 600/year. So New Yorkers are as likely to be killed by terrorists as they are domestic killers.

And as the Israelis have found – and the JFK plot confirms – Muslim terrorists are an unadventurous bunch and have a habit of repeatedly hitting the same target.

So they’ll keep on hammering at Washington and NYC. And when the next one gets through and kills more thousands, New Yorkers’ risk of being killed by terrorists will spike above their risk of being killed by local murderers.

Still, this does confirm that an idiot can make a lot of money and then get elected mayor of NYC.


One Response to Math, Bloomberg Style

  1. stevereenie says:

    “You have a much greater danger of being hit by lightning than being struck by a terrorist,” he added.

    You’re right, he dilutes the probabilities by expanding the denominator with what ever universe he chooses (how about 6.5 Billion people on the earth, then the probability of anything happening is practically nil). Good thing (for the shareholders) that he isn’t in charge of actuarially calculations and risk assessment for an insurance company.

    Maybe he hasn’t heard that almost all the terrorist cells that have been broken up by the FBI had wonderful plans for New York. ……….. Next Stop Lauderdale

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