Here is the full transcript of Michael Huemer’s TEDx Talk: The Irrationality of Politics at TEDxMileHighSalon conference.
Michael Huemer – TRANSCRIPT
My topic for today is going to be the irrationality of our politics. Now, I’m going to start by giving a couple examples of what I mean by political irrationality, and then after that I’m going to give a theory of how we wind up with irrational policies, and then finally, I’m going to try and draw some lessons for us as individuals about combating the problem of political irrationality.
So I start with two examples; this is my first example of what I would consider political irrationality. It’s the war on terror. Now, this graph shows the number of fatalities due to terrorism in the United States. The RAND Corporation has an excellent database of terrorist incidents, and so this is from their database. What you can see is there have been about 3,200 fatalities, this is just in the United States, over the course of about 50 years.
You can see the big spike is the 9/11/2001 attack. The smaller spike that you can barely see, that’s the Oklahoma City Bombing. There’s a couple of other incidents, but they’re too small for you to see on the graph. Now, it’s interesting to compare this to two other things. This is the cost of the problem that we have to deal with, and it’s interesting to compare this, first of all, to another problem.
So, compare it to the number of people who’ve been killed by murderers in general in the United States. Now, I don’t know if you can see it, but on this graph, the red is, again, the terrorist murders: people murdered by terrorists in the United States. The blue is the people who were murdered by non-terrorists in the United States over the same time period – the last 50 years. The terrorists killed about 04% of the total.