Syrian Refugees, Jelly Beans, and Murderers

A meme going around compares Syrian refugees to jelly beans:

If i gave you a bag of 50000 jellybeans and told you 100 are poisonous, you wouldnt accept them right? Then why would we accept 50000 refugees if some of them are bad?

evil-jelly-bean-300x225I like jelly beans and numbers so I did a back of the envelope calculation. In the US there are about 15,000 murders per year. Most murderers kill only one person. Even serial killers kill only 2.8 people on average. Thus, 15,000 is also approximately the number of murderers in a year.

Let’s say that people live on average for 50 years–that’s a bit low but our figure for the number of murderers was a bit high–this means that in the current population there will be approximately 15000*50=750,000 murderers.

750,000 killers among us struck me as an awful lot when I first calculated the number but there are approximately 166,700 people in prison for murder right now and of the 750,000 some of them are not yet murderers and some of them won’t be caught. Thus, on reflection, 750,000 seems like a scary, yet reasonable estimate.

The current US population is 322 million so there are .0023 murderers per capita or 2.33 murderers per 1000 or 116 murderers per 50,000 people in the United States. Put differently, about 116 American babies out of every 50,000 will grow up to murder someone. (Perhaps the NYMag should rerun its poll?). In contrast, only 100 of the 50000 jelly beans were poisonous.

Thus, if anything, Syrian jelly beans look pretty good compared to American jelly beans.

Addendum: See Alex Nowrasteh for calculations going beyond jelly beans.


So we should deport all Americans and replace them with Syrians and then the US can be as peaceful as Syria?

Except it's not murders and murderers. It's not a police action consideration.

It's jihadists. It's enemy soldiers.

As such, it's about patriotism and feelings of safety, it's about center of the world-ness, of nation-state "our way of life is better" then yours, and Texas is better than California.

And as such "open borders" isn't about idealism, it's about access to natural resources, we are not patriotic citizens of the world, humans above all else... we are Texans and Ohioans each confident that our way of life is superior to other states, and willing to prove it, if we can only be allowed too... and we have all been moving for years and years, sorting into group of people most like ourselves... and within this framework we are we are loosely, no matter what goofy Dems think, joined as these United States.

And Texas and most other states require of this nation, a set of bylaws that weigh our interests as preferred super-voting rights stock, and we aren't running this calculus based on murders... people must renounce the world they came from, show themselves to desire assimilation, that they are huddled masses yearning to breathe free... which means we get to laugh at your god and parade women in bikinis, and you get to embrace this way of life and happily submit to proof that you are worthy... which starts with, ratting our those amongst you who are suspect.

We should take all women and children and tel the men to stay and fight against those who would harm the American way of life to which they are newly dedicated. There's historical precedence for this right?

If American teens replaying the Columbine scenario are not Jihadists, what are they?

They are swept up by FBI surveillance in just the same way, as well.

What are they? They are "disturbed". They don't have an ideology, a theology or a political agenda. They have, at best, a social agenda: getting back at the world or someone, and having their name in bright lights for a time...

There is a good article out there, forget where now, about how new shooters do homage to earlier ones, and are drawn into a death cult.

Sounds very similar.

The media plays a large roll in encouraging mass shooters of these kinds.

The media basically tells people who have social issues that they will agree to broadcast out their grievances and publish their manifesto...but there is a catch: the media needs ratings. So they need a big "event" in order to do this.

The dirty secret is the media makes big bucks off mass shootings, and if we wanted "common sense" limits on our rights to prevent shootings, it might be the 1st amendment that needs limiting. Let's see if the progressives and the press eagerly push that agenda as they do gun control.

And they don't have a constituency out there ullulating in the streets with joy at their crimes and saying it was the proper American to do for all God-fearing Protestants. This is the difference between a white lone wolf terrorist and a jihadist. A jihadist is a skirmisher in a grander war.

Actually, I think Gochujang make a good point. I doubt whether jihadists' thinking about the world and their objectives is much clearer than that of the teenage shooters. Non-specific grievances, lack of respect, glorification of violence, expectation of being killed in a blaze of glory, etc.

The media is the means of getting French and Belgium born Europeans to commit mass murder in Paris.

Explain how Paris is different than the repeats of Columbine involving two or more US born citizens? Three radicals conspired to kill as many people in the bombing of a Federal building in the US West that was immediately assumed to be an Islamic terrorist plot. It was "highly sophisticated" and thus assumed to complex I assume to be done by anyone educated in US schools or the US Army.

My guess on communication for Paris - analog encoding sent by low power low frequency waves in instant disappearing messages (speaking face to face) corroborated by complex devices made in billion dollar Chinese factories - wrist watches. I got trained in terrorist tactics watching WWII movies and Westerns - the key tactic of looking at watches is one I learned from those Jewish writers and commies in Hollywood.

You've got to feel for the terrorists. They proclaim the ideology behind their actions all the time yet what appear to be very intelligent people still say their motives are comparable to teenage angst.

It all makes perfect sense. Bring in millions more illegals and Muslims. It advances the Obama, media, academia strategic goal: ultimate destruction, er, fundamental change for evil, racist, unjust America.

"illegals and Muslims"

You've stated this as a single category. We all know what your agenda is.

There's this concept called opportunity cost in economics.

Except it doesn't apply to immigration economics.

Why not?

Just because.

How about logic?

Belgium and French born Europeans kill the same number as Tim McVeigh so US conservatives argue that all mass murders are caused by Syrian refugees and the way to prevent future murders in the US and Europe is to bomb and occupy Syria and Iraq.

But no one dare mention the role of the key corporate driving force behind the so called Islamic extremism - the House of Saud control of oil profits which has used for all my life the power of religious ideology to divert the self interest of the people being screwed by the Saudi and their partners EXXON, etc al

The House of Saud has funded Salufi preachers in Pakistan, Europe, UK, and Africa to divert the focus from the Saudi oppression, blaming the West for all the oppression in Saudi Arabia.

If the West stopped burning fossil fuels by paying tens of millions of workers to build capital assets to harvest wind and sun and store it then the money going to war would be spent putting the unemployed to work building capital assets that drive the economy energy needs, and Saudis would go back to riding camels instead of creating Europeans who try to out do Tim McViegh.

But then how would the military industrial complex get rich? They might have to switch to green energy.

There are people who don't consider the missed opportunities caused by rejecting immigrants.

Everyone is missing the point, homogeneity is by far the most valuable social good.

Anything that reduces that regardless of claimed economic values is a net drain.

Homogeneity is supposed to increase social trust. In other words, it makes people more gullible.

"homogeneity is by far the most valuable social good."

Really? Sounds boring.

If you start to do calculations on current murderers in the US, rapists and the like, won't most of the results be due to past non-European immigration (or, ahem, involuntary migration)? Isn't that damning evidence against the idea of bring peoples from incompatible cultures or levels of development? Any society will produce its own psychos, monsters etc, but at least they're a problem arising from natural renewal of that society, not playing the roulette when bringing people in.

It's like those people who point to French born citizens committing acts of terror as being a reason why it's ok to bring in refugees. I know the current crop might not kill you, but is it really comforting that their children or grandchildren might kill their children or grandchildren (of which you will have one or two)?

most violent crime arrests are of white people. although a little more than half of murder arrests are of black people.

source -

I see your figures don't have a Hispanic set, which means they were integrated in the White set. All those drug dealers, gang members etc. And the White set will automatically include Middle Easterners and North Africans. And, still, Blacks are 27% of arrests, compared to being 13% of the population. Would you also look at homicide statistics, interracial violence statistics, interracial rape and tell me how that looks? I also have a theory that White people in very diverse places will be better behaved than in White only areas (unless they're very wealthy White only areas), which means that the results will skew even more towards minority criminals.


Also, an american citizen murders someone within US borders, nothing changes. A muslim carries out a terrorist attack and we get more govt agencies reducing our rights and freedoms and safety even more (TSA, NSA, etc). Partial equilibrium kill analysis is useless. Gotta follow through, what happens next

This comment is #300, and Alex's premise still sucks!

If you look at the FBI jelly bean stats you'll see what percentage of each by color are perpetrators and victims. Then do the math.

If you knew that there were maybe 100 serial killers in China would you cancel your trip to see the Great Wall?

If you know they all came from one area of Shanghai, would you visit that area?

And they helpfully had certain distinguishing facial characteristics, like a predilection for unkempt beards.

Is this supposed to be a joke?

So, most of the 9/11 hijackers were admitted as students so they don't count, and the Tsarnev brothers were refugees but they don't count because they were young when they got here, and the Fort Hood killer, Nidal Hussan, was born here so he doesn't count, and the guys that attacked the conference in Garland, Texas were born here too so they don't count either and only one of guys that did the Paris attack was a newly arrived refugee and the others were long time residents of France or Belgium so that barely counts.

But here's the thing, every where in the world where Muslims and non-Muslims attempt to live together, the Muslims, sooner or later, start killing the non-Muslims. In the Philippines, Muslims kill Catholic Christians, in Paris, post-Catholics. In Israel/Palestine (and elsewhere), the Muslims kill Jews. In the Balkans and Caucasus they kill Orthodox Christians (on occasion by machine gunning down naked children as they attempt to flee them). In South Asia they kill Hindus, Jains, Christians, and Sikhs. In Iran, they kill Christians, Bahais, and Zoroastrians. In Thailand, the Muslims kill Buddhists. In Iraq, they kill and enslave Christians and Yazidis. In Nigeria, there are no Yazidis so they just kill and enslave Christians and Animists. Same thing in the Sudan and elsewhere in East and Central Africa. This is not an occasional thing motivated by any particular local issues. This is not something related to the Muslims integration into society or the number or quality of social services provided to them. It is a fundamental tenant of the Islamic faith that Muslims should kill and enslave non-Muslims.

There might be an argument for admitting Muslim refugees from Syria and elsewhere if: (1) we could be assured that vetting for terrorist sympathies will be successful and (2) that we could be assured that the "three year olds" among them will not eventually grow up to be Muslims. I am sure the Tsarnev brothers looked very cute and harmless when they were admitted.

"So, most of the 9/11 hijackers were admitted as students so they don’t count, and the Tsarnev brothers were refugees but they don’t count because they were young when they got here, and the Fort Hood killer, Nidal Hussan, was born here so he doesn’t count, and the guys that attacked the conference in Garland, Texas were born here too so they don’t count either"

Oh, they count, but there are over 6 million Muslims in the U.S. -- do they commit more or less violent crime than the general population? There were about 16,000 murders in the U.S. last year -- how many are committed by Muslims? I live in Ann Arbor, and I would be a rare day to ride the bike path through the parks along the river and not see several women in headscarves out for a walk with their families. It happens there are also a lot of Jews in town. Is it a tense situation? Not in the least. Nobody's threatening anybody with violence. Sadly, there ARE places in SE Michigan with high murder rates, but Dearborn definitely is not one of them.

You are quite wrong. As it happens, Michigan leads the nation in active members of ISIS. There are thought to be around 1,000 former Michiganders currently raping and killing to propagate their faith in the Islamic State. Some of them are former refugees but I believe a majority are home grown. When the Michigan Jihadis have killed and enslaved all of the Christians and Yazidis in Iraq and Syria I imagine they will return to Wolverine State. Hooray!

I would very much like to see your statistics for murders committed by Muslims as compared to non-Muslims in Michigan or elsewhere. Based on Michigan's prison population, I think you will be surprised at how those numbers actually play out. In any case, please explain how an increase in the number of Muslims in Dearborn will reduce the number of murders in Detroit.

"As it happens, Michigan leads the nation in active members of ISIS. There are thought to be around 1,000 former Michiganders..."

Source? Google doesn't seem to be able to turn up even dodgy, disreputable sites making such a claim.

"I would very much like to see your statistics for murders committed by Muslims as compared to non-Muslims in Michigan or elsewhere."

Same here. But I'd think that anybody loudly demanding new restrictions would already have such statistics at hand to support their cause -- do you have ANY stats that show Muslims in American are particularly dangerous?

The FBI is claiming about 200 Americans *total* have tried (successfully or not) to go to Syria to join ISIS. That doesn't exactly jibe with your 'data', does it?

Maybe the 1,000 Michiganders number is residents, and the 200 number is citizens? Or maybe one is wrong.

I may have to withdraw my claim on the number of Michiganders killing and raping for ISIS as I can't remember where I saw the number originally. However, the FBI figure you cited is already out of date and is evidently based entirely on people caught on their way to fight for ISIS. Just since August, the number caught has increased by 50 and it has doubled in the past year. The FBI admits it has no reliable figures for how many actually made it to Syria or Iraq. However, approximately 70 people have been arrested in the US in the past 18 months in connection with ISIS domestic terror plots. That number includes an undisclosed number of refugees making it past our rigorous screenings.

I would think that the person arguing for a dramatic increase in Muslim immigration should have the burden of producing favorable statistics. That is especially true in this case since the absence of reliable statistics is a direct result of which party now controls the Department of Justice. As with attempts to find out how many "normal" crimes are committed by "normal" immigrants. If the statistics were favorable, I suspect the information would be readily available.

The numbers above, are sufficiently large to convince me that no one in Michigan or elsewhere has yet found a magic method of "taming" the Muslim community.

"The numbers above, are sufficiently large to convince me that no one in Michigan or elsewhere has yet found a magic method of “taming” the Muslim community."

Which numbers? The FBI numbers are for the entire country, not Michigan. Speaking of which -- do you live (or have you ever lived) in Michigan? I've been here in SE Michigan for a few decades, and pay pretty close attention to the news. No 'taming' (a rather offensive way to put it) was required. There is simply NO rash of property or violent crimes being committed by local Muslims (who live here in higher concentrations than anywhere else in the U.S.), nor have we experienced any local terror attacks. The biggest controversies have been things like how Ramadan fasting is handled in the Dearborn schools. Yes, there's this one crazy cleric:

But the overwhelming opinion of local Muslim leaders is that ISIS is evil:

I don't ever lose even a fraction of a minute's sleep living among, supposedly, the greatest concentration of Arabs outside the Middle East.

The numbers which convince me are the numbers I cited. Again, the number of Muslim Americans arrested for ISIS inspired terror conspiracies in just the last 18 months is "approximately" 70 (I guess the Justice Department doesn't have anybody that can actually count that high). That is ten times the number of terrorists involved in the Paris attacks. We now seem to be experiencing about one attack or attempted attack each month in the US.

It's good that no "taming" was required since I believe that none has occurred. Again, there is no place on earth where Muslims and non-Muslims have live in peace over the long term. When Muslim numbers reach a sufficient critical mass, they start killing.

"You are quite wrong. As it happens, Michigan leads the nation in active members of ISIS. There are thought to be around 1,000 former Michiganders currently raping and killing to propagate their faith in the Islamic State. Some of them are former refugees but I believe a majority are home grown"

What the hell? If someone lives in Michigan as a citizen or resident and decides to leave and go fight for ISIS they are not a 'refugee' and this does demonstrate you don't get Slocum's larger point. What is the problem with Dearborn? If the Muslims there want to kill Jews, well they don't have to fly to Syria to find them. That a few Muslims there may have went off to fight for ISIS implies that they *don't* find the local Muslim culture friendly to their views.

There is a connection here with school shootings, when you get events with extremely low levels of frequency, rates become meaningless. Out of 100,000 people, there will be a few who will kill someone at some point in their lives. But you can keep your eye on a set of 100,000 people and never see a school shooter, never see a terrorist who blows himself up with a bunch of others at a coffee shop.

If you count 9/11, the number of murders becomes vastly disproportionate to the population.

There are lots of places where Muslims peacefully coexist with others, but that's like Milhouse complaining that no one talks about the days he didn't wear culottes to school -- modern Islam definitely has a unique problem with religious violence, for whatever reason.

There are reasonable middle grounds of acculturation between "ban all the Muslims!" and "Islam doesn't have a violence problem!" We should be more worried about Syrian immigrants than Japanese immigrants, but at the same time there are in fact lots of Syrian widows and orphans who really don't pose much of a threat. So the question becomes whether we trust the current government to make that distinction properly.

BTW my wife just had the mass citizenship oath. I was surprised just how many countries were represented. We didn't have any Syrians, but there were a couple Iraqis. I was quite proud of all my new fellow Americans, the only ethnicity worth a damn.

I was quite proud of all my new fellow Americans, the only ethnicity worth a damn.

"American citizen" is an administrative designation. Your ancestors determine your ethnicity, not the State.

An ethnic group or ethnicity is a socially defined category of people who identify with each other based on common ancestral, social, cultural or national experience.

I am an American. No hyphens.

America has a lot of mixing.

Ethnicity will be harder and harder to point to. The identity politics people will eventually try to stop the race mixing because it harms their cause. (I hope I am wrong about this prediction.)

You can walk around some places in California and see someone who is vaguely everything mashed together...good luck getting that person to be anything but American.

"If you count 9/11, the number of murders becomes vastly disproportionate to the population."

Vastly disporportionate? I don't think so. Even if we cherry-pick 2001 as our start date, there have been more than 200,000 homicides since 9/11. 3000 is about 1 and a half percent of that total, while Muslims make up ~2% of the population. So, even if Muslims commit other forms of homicide at the same rate as the general population (which is doubtful given their level of affluence and religious observance), they'd be committing homicide at much less disproportionate rates than some other American sub-populations.

Slocum -- if we're talking about Muslim violence in America, it would be sort of ridiculous to ignore the worst terrorist attack in US history, especially given that deaths from terrorism are necessarily very lumpy. If we looked at 2001 alone, then we'd find Muslims had committed around 1/7 of the homicides that year despite being only 1% of the population, making them about 15 times more likely to have killed someone. It would take a lot of years of merely average murder rates to push that down to the average for any other group -- and 9/11 was far from the only Islamic terrorist attack since 2001.

And of course if we're talking specifically about religiously-motivated violence, then the disproportionality is much larger, both home and abroad.

That said I'm sure there are wonderfully safe, liberal, and peace-loving Muslim communities in the USA just as there are in many other places, we just need to be sure we're importing people willing to commit to American ideals.

Exactly how much sense does it make to consider 9/11 as just 'a lot of murders'? At the end of the day 9/11 was an act by less than two dozen hijackers. If the Columbine kids had access to a plane they would have killed thousands as well and if either had access to a nuclear bomb they would have killed hundreds of thousands.

But if you are talking about rates then the only metric that makes sense is the # of perps per units of population. In other words, if you are buying a coffee and in walks in any random Muslim person odds are probably less than 1 in 100,000 something violent is about to happen. That compares favorably to all other ethnic, religious and other groups in the US (ok if you get more specific you could get better odds, for example if you're getting a coffee and in walks a 70 year old Catholic nun the odds of mayham breaking out are probably 0 in 100,000 cases (not that there's even 100,000 70 yr old nuns in the US!))

Do you even collect those statistics? Middle Easterners and North Africans are White in the US, as opposed to pure-blood Spanish or German Argentinians, who are Hispanics. Any crime they commit will go to the already much abused (but still small) White tally.

You can't convince a bigot with facts. He's certain that every Muslim is a potential, and even likely, terrorist. He is terrified of them. Bravery in the face of terrorism is simply out of the question, instead he falls back on xenophobia in the face of a threat.
But kudos for trying.

That is frankly bull. Fear has very little to do with anything. Its about preserving what's left of what was a functional, high achieving culture . All peoples are not alike, do not have similar capacities and living in the Us doesn't automatically make them high climbers. No magic dirt, just culture and genetics with a few outliers

Mass immigration was forced on Americans in a most undemocratic way, virtually no one wanted it but the elite, those who want a new electorate to get them elected (and to check Black folks) and those who want cheap labor

So excuse me if the people who made up the founders of this country would like to keep what they built. Our "betters" the ruling elite and their institutions sold us out for a mess of pottage or their own personal gain.

I'd say treason but its overused and honestly not enough word anyway.

I'm not sure what is frankly.

If you only pay attention to deaths caused by Muslims, you get the sort of picture drawn by you.

Great post. I already expect petty objections to this numbers. But it is a great point about how little people ponder about risks, and generally know numbers.

I think their common sense appraisal is more astute than random statistics such as we see here. Most murders are done by relatives or friends, and there are certain populations which are at very high risk of murder. Most people have very little to fear from the run-of-themill American murderer.

The same logic holds for death by terrorism. Even adjusting for the increased Syrian population, you would have to resort to ahistorically terrorism participation and deaths per terrorist rates to impact the risk profiles of "most people".

This does not follow at all. The comparison was between American murderers and an *entirely arbitrary* assignment of 100 terrorists per 50,000 refugees, which is in addition to the normal

And it doesn't even begin to scratch the surface on costs. 91% of Middle Eastern refugees are on food stamps 3 years after arrival, and 73% are on Medicaid. Each 10,000 are projected to cost $6.5 billion in tax dollars. They have a much higher incidence of rape offense. They have been proven hard to assimilate in many, many ways. Middle Eastern refugees are not a bargain by any stretch of the imagination.

On top of that, Muslim males are not a persecuted class. I could see accepting Christian males, or women in general. Maybe men with intact family units including multiple children. But unaccompanied Muslim males? Not only are they a high risk, they are not likely to be refugees.

The average Syrian is also very unlikely to be murdered by other Syrians, despite the civil war. So, logically...

Sadly, people who can approach it as calculated risk (as opposed to unreasoned fear) will be no more than 1 in 10.

The rest will throw up a mental wall to keep out reason.

I have a cold today and will cop to being cranky.

No, you're not being cranky.

There are some people like you mention, plus some out and out nativists and racists.

I think identity politics has been a very bad idea, as it encourages white nationalism, and thinking like this.

"My group needs protection!"

Jews and their Israeli nation-state do remarkably well by identity politics. We could learn a lot from them.

1948, they deported 700,000 nativists.

If the US is being torn asunder by ethnic interest groups, why shouldn't Whites have one? There's a double standard here, where you praise and encourage other people to organize specifically to follow their ethnic/racial interests (even though race is a social construct), even without a shred of historical legitimacy for their victim rhetoric and regardless of the costs to the whole, but deny the same right to Whites. How is White identity politics worse than Black identity politics, or Hispanic? They call themselves La Raza, for God's sake.

"White" is not an ethnicity in any meaningful sense. There are vast cultural, historical, linguistic, and religious differences among various groups of whites in this country.

@ Bernard:

Is American Black an ethnicity then? When they could be Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba etc in origin or very mixed? Or when they could be the traditional Northern minority, or descendants of the Great Migration from the South? If Blacks can find a group interest, then why can't American Whites, regardless of how many sub-identities they fashion for themselves? How many Americans descended from Poles and Germans still speak the language? Was WW2 not enough to create a shared identity among Whites, an American identity? Or the Civil War?

The whole thing is contradictory. And it is an argument against further immigration, since Whites apparently can't organize, but incoming immigrants are immediately sorted into racial voting blocks, interest groups for government privileges and automatic victim status and the like, and they stick with them.

Plus, to my mind, there was already a well defined American White sub-ethnicity, the Southerners. But then the progressives came for their flag, their dead, their monuments. Cultural imperialism?

Here's what Steve Sailer is saying about "the flight from White".

It is a calculated risk but you forget, their is no substantive benefit to bringing any in.

We have plenty of everything good they might bring.

Run it as Cui Bono and you get a result that looks like its mostly to make a small subset of the elite "fell good" its a dopamine rush for junkies masquerading as policy.

I don't feel any more informed about the numbers after reading Alex's post. There's just an assumption that only 100 of the refugees would be murderers, that they would murder the same average number of people as a "regular" murderer and that the only thing a ISIS supporter could do to the US after being admitted would be to kill people. We won't actually know how many refugees will be murderers, it could be 100 or it could be 1000 and if they are planning an attack there will most likely be more then one death in that attack. Also the most likely thing that an ISIS supporter would do after immigrating into the US is to recruit other members and raise funds, potentially multiplying their effect. That's what happened in France, homegrown terrorists supported by foreign fighters (Abaaoud was Belgian but trained in Syria and sneaked into Europe through Greece, presumably with the refugees.)

The problem is not accepting refugees into the US, the problem is the US government is not seriously vetting potential refugees for terrorist links. They don't even know who many of these refugees are, many have no passports and it's not like you can call Assad and confirm their identity. The DHS is relying almost entirely on interviews with the refugees to determine if they qualify and they are under political pressure to admit as many refugees as possible. The entire process has been a cluster since day one, the Paris attacks just gave a megaphone to the people that have been complaining all along.

How COULD the gov. seriously vet these people? Would the Assad regime, the keeper of records in Syria, provide them to a country with whom they are at war? If they were on the bad side of the Assad dictatorship wouldn't that be a plus for them as potential Americans? Was this sort of vetting required in the aftermath of WWII for Germans to return to their homes or Vichy French to resume their places in society?

This "vetting" thing falls right into the nation/state syndrome of attempting (impossibly) to know everything there is to know about everyone and predict future behavior on the basis of the past. On that basis guys like me would be listed somewhere for having stolen apples off the neighbor's tree and driven into town without fastening the seat belt.

They could start by sharing intelligence on known or suspected terrorists more broadly and sharing refugee information with other intelligence services. Also requiring independent verification of identities would be a big help. DHS is under too much political pressure to get things done quickly rather then do things right.

FYI, after WW II many Germans who could not prove their identity were detained. Many were brought to concentration camps to see if the people there recognized them as camp guards. Names were compared against seized German records and if there was even the slightest belief you were a member of the military you were sent to a POW camp. The last of those held by the western powers didn't get released until 1948. Several million German prisoners died in the Soviet Union with only a few thousand being released in 1955.

This 100 killers are on top of the 'normal' rate of killers. So the actual number should not be 100 or 116 but 100+116.

Besides, if you compare these killers wrt the amount of killers in the US for religious reasons, I think the numbers will be quite different. There are not 116 killers per 50.000 people for religious reasons in the US. Maybe not even 1 per 50.000 people.

Aye. Actually, Arab countries generally do not have elevated homicide rates apart from political violence. The thing is, the migrants are generally young men and young men who would be attempting to navigate a cultural matrix not their own and not characterized by the social controls operating at home. The French prison population is predominantly Muslim and supposedly the Danish government is loath to publish statistics on the ethnic origin of criminals lest the public get wise to them. Diversity's not strength. It is a challenge.

The Danish statistical bureau (Statistics Denmark, publishes numerous statistics on the national origin and immigration status (immigrant, descendant or Dane) of criminals. What it does not do, however, is produce data on the *ethnicity* of criminals, since no registration of ethnicity (as opposed to national origin or immigration status, which have legal implications) exists in Denmark.

I'm sure if the Dubai police department was to take charge of Brussels, Arab-related crime would fall to unheard of lows. The catch is of course the methods used would be unacceptable to the Belgian populace. Sunni Arabs are not criminally-disposed when living under political systems evolved to govern Sunni Arabs. But import them into political systems designed to govern Northern Europeans, and it's little wonder it doesn't work. If your cat gets sick because you insist on feeding it rabbit food, the problem isn't the pet, it's the caregiver.

Allowing Sunni Arabs to immigrate to Western countries actually does them a grave disservice. All they see is surface-level optics: prosperous, stable, liberal societies. They don't realize the cultural and behavioral tradeoffs required to integrate and succeed in those societies. They think they'll move here and become rock stars. In reality they don't have the educational background to economically compete, nor the cultural norms to participate in the communities. They'd be much happier and well-adjusted in more culturally-matched nations. Having Sunni Arabs immigrate to the West is like hiring someone for well-paid job they're not qualified for. Human biases will make them jump at the opportunity, but you're just setting them up for a miserable life of humiliation and depression.

So you think Arabs are hopelessly stupid?

I disagree.

You're reducing my complex argument to a non-sequitur, so you can easily dismiss the challenging points I'm making without having to engage them. Humans are the products of cultural-biological co-evolution. We know from twin studies that upwards of 40% of individual human behavioral and personality variance is genetically inherited. Since most of the rest in due to independent unexplained variance, the law of large numbers tells us that between large population factors genetic factors explain the sizable majority of variance. Look at maps of national IQ, and you'll notice that neighboring countries, even with very different institutions have much more similarity due to similar populations. Circa 1985 East Germans who grew up under Communism behaved a lot more similar to West Germans than they did to Communist North Yemenis.

The cultural fitness landscape that your ancestors grew up in has deep predictive power on your behavior. One of the defining attributes of Western history is the pretense of strong centralized states for the better part of the past millennium. As Gregory Clark demonstrates in Farewell to Alms, the monopolization of violence by the state has powerful selective effects on human evolution. It selects for pacifism, impulse control and future time orientation. By allowing disputes to be settled by courts instead of clans it also reduces the need to signal to others toughness and severity. Its documented that it creates a transition from a culture of honor to a culture of personal dignity. That allows for the expression of individuality, cultural liberalism and women's rights. This can be seen today, as Middle Eastern countries have the world's highest rates of geletophobia (fear of being laughed at), and Northwestern Europe the lowest.

Sunni Arabs only see the material prosperity of the West, and think they must want it. What they don't realize is that material prosperity comes at a cost. You'll have to go to a workplace, where you have to dutifully and consistently follow orders from a manager. Possibly a female manager at that. That's anathema to Sunni Arab culture, which idolizes the rebel Arab rider, who answers to no man. You'll also have to take open and honest criticism, and not find it personally offensive. To even get to that level, you'll have to spend many years studying with no expected reward besides the possibility of an average middle-class lifestyle in a decade or longer. If that's fully laid out on the table, most Sunni Arabs would find the choice repellant. That's why its so common for Sunni Arabs to move to the West, then completely disengage with the economy and culture.

Doug, twin studies tell us about twins, not everyone.

Average Arab IQ is around 84, one standard deviation below average and mildly retarded by Western standards. They also have higher time preferences than European and Asian people.

Its not from lack of education either, it like most of intelligence is around 70% genetic and with heavy amounts of consanguineous marriage, its embedded deeply into the culture and the DNA

We really don't need more people like that.

And yes I know the number of people with IQ's one or more STDV over a hundred is quite limited and declining, deal.

Modern societies need these kinds of brains and they need an environment that is competitive for people with those kinds brains.

Bringing in average people much less slower ones is a fast trip to Idiocracy.

I can see why the people at the top might not mind, it keeps them at the top but the rest of folks don't need it.

As I say, we have a lot of kids repeating the school shooter scenario.

Why the heck would we discount them as not religious?

A nonreligious slug feels better entering my belly?

This religious vs non-religious distinction is one of the more obvious post hoc rationalizations I've seen. Yeah, if you're killed for non-religious reasons you recover in a couple weeks.

Did you know that the rate of Syrian murderers is much higher among Syrians than among Americans??

I am waiting for someone to say it is all Arab--not just Syrians--but Saudis, Iraqis, Qataris, Egyptians, Libyans, Afghans,Tunisians etc. etc.--that are the Jelly Beans that should be denied entry into the country, even on visas, and even if they are visiting Disneyland.

If you look at it, it is only refugees, not Arabs of the other countries where there are active fundamentalist groups, that are being denied entry.

Is a family necessarily a terrorist cell. Only if they are refugees, but not tourists.

Note that affluent Arab countries are not anxious to import Syrian refugees, much less 'Syrian' 'refugees'. Might have something to do with being conscious of what their interests are and not having their public life addled by a clerisy loyal to their own subculture and not the country at large.

Art, The affluent Arab countries--such as Saudi Arabia--EXPORT their terrorists and fundamental clerics who teach this stuff.

No need to import.

You're going to have to do better than bald assertion if you want to demonstrate that it's Saudi government policy to foment terrorist acts in the West.

You might have noticed that Saudi Arabia is not the only state on the Arabian peninsula.

Who funds the salafi mosques?

Right, the Saudis.

Art, I am just saying that it is not logical to treat Syrian refugees differently than other Arab country nationals, whether for tourism or refugee status. What we should worry more about are returning nationals from Syria than Syrian natives fleeing with their families.


The Saudis rule a populace that is fairly extreme, and they handle it by officially being very opposed to terrorism but at the same time buying off the Islamic radicals and mainly turning a blind eye to their activities as long as the House of Saud itself is not threatened.

If revolution comes to Saudi Arabia, it will almost certainly look a lot like ISIS.

Yes, unlike in the USA, where all political decisions are borne of stupidity and ineptness, in Saudi Arabia all political decisions are borne of shrewdness and reliable, considered judgement.

But how man of those American murderers kill random people of all age groups and lifestyles? Not many.

I'll take my American jelly beans.

I was going to say the same thing, most murders are 'heat of passion' between people that know each other.

And, of course, it would never be anybody that any of us are related to. In fact, many people here seem to be arguing that the probability is close to 1 for the victims and close to 0 for the rest of us. Sounds like mood affiliation to me.

You ignore the other part of my analysis, the presence of a high-risk neighborhood and/or lifestyle. We are in control of that. My risk of murder is much, much smaller than a prostitute. Or someone living in the ghetto.

We have had about a hundred school knockdowns this year, but the average person processes them differently, and forgets them completely, when thinking about "terrorist" treats.

A rationalist would look at top sources of risk, and approach them first, not start in the middle and build a frightened case.

Of course there is ample study on why we do. We become inured to background threats, but are shocked by the atypical. This is compounded when the atypical treat is highly visual, emotional.

Monkey brains.

Monkey brains indeed.

Or how many of those American are potential mass murderers by default.

If an American murderer kills 1 on average, these tend to kill between 20 and 100... so actually, only 10 poisoned jelly beans would tip the scale.

Thus, if anything, Syrian jelly beans look pretty good compared to American jelly beans.

A remarkably lucid statement of what open borders advocates actually think. We're also not supposed to notice that your initial estimate of 100 poisons in 50,000 was completely arbitrary, nor that there are places for actual Syrian refugees to be housed as we speak. It never occurs to the moderators to inquire into improving conditions in the camps. Importing a mess of young men (many of the feral) is what they wish to do a priori and the rest is just a sales pitch.


For all we know it could be 5000/50000. Do the math again Tyler, but this time use my made up number of 1 in 1000. Didn't Germany plan on importing 100,000 terrorists (1 million migrants)?

Whoops, Alex not Tyler

The jelly bean comparison is inapt. The better simile is to the baby Jesus.

They're (77% military age males) coming to America and leaving their wives and little children to face the terror in Syria.

Art, You haters (sarcasm) just don't get it. Islamophobic, xenophobic haters disrespect the culture:

Enlightened liberals are open and respectful of diversity. Honor killings of daughters (23 in the US last year), raping young boys, mutilating female genitals, murder bombing innocent civilians, blowing passenger jets out of the sky, flying jumbo jets into tall buildings are simply part of their culture. And, if you fight it, they'll attack you more . . . no wait.

To pick one factoid, in the U.S. over six hundred children were killed by their parents in 1983.

You just process that differently because you are processing emotionally.

Gochujang, maybe people really do process the numbers correctly. The assumption is that the Syrians will have comparable problems as native citizens in addition to the risk of terrorism. Maybe people aren't discounting those numbers but instead keeping them in mind while examining the extra risks.

I really like this old Time Magazine article, which is now sadly behind a paywall. It describes the psychological factors that push one fear or another to the forefront.

This is where I got the idea that unusual and visual dangers affect us more. When we see an unexpected shooting on TV, it is very easy to visualize yourself in this "new" danger. We weight it much more highly than the danger of our commute, or the risk in our diet.

In the case above, with honor killing, we start with the feeling that Americans never kill their children, and this is a new horror. Sadly it is not new, we know in another part of our brains that Americans do kill their children, we just discount it.

So that honor killings of daughters represents a death rate at least 5 times that of filicide in the general US population is insignificant?

In terms of risks to either population, filicide is low. It is however very emotional.

Gofuhkjang, that doesn't correlate or mean you can bring in more murders. You're a fucking idiot.

or that 1 American jelly bean is n average 1/20 to 1/100 less poisonous than a jihaidist (whatever the nationality) one. Someone detonating himself in a bus kills more people than the average American murderer.

Exactly. How many jellybeans killed the how many people in the World Trade Center? Does the typical serial killer in the US use bombs, grenades and machine guns?

Of course people aren't jelly beans. And while I understand your point about risk, the entire premise of the question is wrong.

A more apt question is . . . "If you could save 50,000 people from lives of desperation and possible death at the risk of accepting maybe 100 potential murders would you do it?"

There's a simple third option. Pay peaceful Muslim countries a stipend to accept Syrian refugees. A country like Morocco or Bangladesh would jump to take refugees at 50k a head. That's far cheaper than the aggregate NPV impact they'll have on European welfare spending, let alone lowering property values in Paris and Stockholm.

Most terrorists have far less interest in blowing up other Muslims. Also law enforcement in these countries are better trained at investigating other Arabs and have more experience with extremism. Finally these refugees have a much better chance at integrating into culturally similar countries.

The reality is they really cannot compete in European labor markets. Not even native speakers who have gone through Europes excellent educational systems can find jobs. Refugees in Western Europe are doomed to a lifetime of economic marginalization and unemployment. They make think they wanted, but it will ultimately make their lives unhappy.

Yes, but will they honor the deal by offering prospects good enough to keep those refugees? I suspect that a large number of those refugees they have supposedly taken would end up at Western doors very soon.

Come to Morocco on your way to Spain, get paid $1000 for staying a month.

A simple upgrade in border security on the European side would suffice. Neither Israel or the Gulf States has any problem with illegal immigration from refugees. It's perfectly possible, it just requires the political will. Once the humanitarian impetus to accept refugees is eliminated there's little plausible objection to enhanced border security. The origin states would also be highly incentivized to cooperate on their end. If the Moroccan government was receiving $5k/year for every refugee in residence, you'd be damn sure they'd shut down anyone trying to smuggle them out.


You misunderstand. The stipend to be paid to the government of the host country. In which case, they're highly incentivized to stop them from subsequently smuggling into Europe. This also has the benefit of discouraging economic migrants from pretending to be genuine refugees. If you're fleeing an ISIS war zone, Morocco's a paradise. If you're simply a third world worker trying to get to that good Western European welfare, you have no interest in re-locating to another third world country.

>Most terrorists have far less interest in blowing up other Muslims.

Surely you can't be this ignorant or biased?

Most terrorists have far less interest in blowing up other Muslims

Do you have any idea what you are talking about? The overwhelming majority of terrorist-related deaths have been Muslim.

No, I would not. Because you could extend that to every person in the world, and we have to limit our immigration.

We have had a policy for many years which we follow. Refugees need to be of a persecuted class, not just people having bad luck.

That's not the correct frame. You do not need to import 50,000 people to save them or maintain them. Camps adjacent to Syria will accomplish these goals.

We shouldn't be taking in refugees in any numbers from anywhere but Haiti or Cuba, bar a few spot admissions of prominent people who would face quite discrete risks were they sent home. Even then, if you've got a Chinese or Burmese dissident on your hands, there's always Taipei or Kuala Lumpur.

I think we'll have to agree to disagree that "camps adjacent to Syria" will save "people from lives of desperation and possible death."

No, you're just wrong.

Syria is suffering internal disorders. Internal disorders are not an excuse to engage in mass acts of population displacement in the service of libertarian social and economic fantasies. The conventional policy for handling refugee displacement is maintenance proximate to home countries with an eye to repatriation when the disorders have concluded. That recognizes a humanitarian obligation to provide maintenance, not an obligation to provide a conduit for residents of a country tearing itself apart to go follow their bliss somewhere else where they are complete strangers.

We'll I don't know what you're responding to but it isn't to anything I wrote. Maybe a review of the the instant-replay might be helpful.

My 1st comment was 100% about framing a question in which the original premise held that human beings are no more valuable than jelly beans. You replied that my alternative framing about "saving people from lives of desperation and possible death" was wrong because "Camps adjacent to Syria will accomplish these goals."

I replied that I disagree. And I disagree because camps adjacent to Syria are pretty clearly not accomplishing these goals . . .

"Conditions for Syrian refugees in the Middle East are so dire that some are now considering returning to their war-ravaged homeland rather than endure poverty, hunger and a futureless exile in the neighbouring nations where they are stranded, the UN has warned."

We’ll I don’t know what you’re responding to but it isn’t to anything I wrote. Maybe a review of the the instant-replay might be helpful.

I can explain something to you. I cannot comprehend it for you.

Mr. Brian, they're called latrines, quonset huts, and water delivery systems. Much simpler to build more and better of them than to import the camp residents into Nebraska.

Nationalism/ethnocentrism/citizenism (so: tribalism) is a strong impulse that most people can't and don't want to overcome.

Here we see progressivism’s enthusiasm for statist coercion.

Walter Lippman: "Their weapons are the coercive direction of the life and labor of mankind. Their doctrine is that disorder and misery can be overcome only by more and more compulsory organization. Their promise is that through the power of the state men can be made happy... Throughout the world, in the name of progress, men who call themselves communists, socialists, fascists, nationalists, progressives, and even liberals, are unanimous in holding that government with its instruments of coercion must by commanding the people how they shall live, direct the course of civilization and fix the shape of things to come. …the mark of a progressive is that he relies at last upon the increased power of officials to improve the condition of men… the only instrument of progress in which they have faith is the coercive agency of government.”


But then, you see pogressivism’s enthusiasm for statist coercion in your breakfast cereal.


From the article: “But there is a lot that manufacturers can be doing and FDA can be doing, to protect kids.”

The tool of coercion being restrictive entry and exit, which a favorite of authoritarians of the left and right.

It's amazing how blind the true believers can be.

It's not just murder. Sweden is the rape capital of Europe because of a certain belief system (CBS). Some 70% of French prisoners belong to this CBS.

In education and employment, from the UK to Germany, this adherents of this CBS lag every other immigrant group and basically hoover up welfare.

In Syria pre-war a poll showed only 28% of men (and 32% of women!) believe women should be able to work. A huge majority have nothing but disdain for the separation of church and state and can't wait for sharia law to be imposed.

Is American culture so resilient that it can sustain the mass import of such idiocy?

Now for costs. It's estimated that just 10,000 Syrian refugees will cost the treasury $65 billion over their lifetimes in America. How many lives could be shielded for this money in Syria and Iraq?

What's so important about admitting 10,000 winners of the political lottery while going through the motions with cursory air strikes in Syria and thus allowing millliions to suffer?

It's moral preening.. The ability to signal virtue with no direct and immediate cost trumps a decision to engage in a complex and risky strategy to shelter millions from ISIS through sustained armed force.

For a young academic who's never wandered away from the intellectual plantation it is no surprise that the allure of cheap moralizing will outweigh the heavy cost and risk of practical action.

It's like the improsoned Rapunzel lecturing Tess Durbeyfield in the infallibility of love.

"In Syria pre-war a poll showed only 28% of men (and 32% of women!) believe women should be able to work. A huge majority have nothing but disdain for the separation of church and state and can’t wait for sharia law to be imposed."

So lots of pre-war Syrians have different beliefs than you do. Ergo, everyone should believe what you believe. Maybe you should write an instructional manual on life, in Arabic.

No, he should be able to say "fuck off" to third-world apes comming to HIS own country and changing it for the worst.

Is someone denying him the right to political participation or speech? He can say that all he wants. Let's just hope he's a non-voter.

"Is someone denying him the right to political participation or speech?"
Yes, as the US government has demonstrated amply 150 years ago, the right of secession is off the table.

Also, both in USA and Europe anti-discrimination laws deny him freedom of association.
+hate speech laws in Europe deny him freedom of speech.

So, yeah, he cannot say what he wants and is effectively not the master of his own life.

"A huge majority have nothing but disdain for the separation of church and state and can’t wait for sharia law to be imposed."
The trolls get funnier by the second. So is the USA government now in the business of managing the culture to achieve an adequate support for "separation of church and state"? So will something be done regarding Americans who "have nothing but disdain for the separation of church and state and can’t wait for a Christianist sharia law to be imposed"? As far as this subject is concerned, the real enemy is already here and his skin collor is not what you seem to think it is.

The path to citizenship in the US requires showing good moral character and elements of sharia law are at odds with that moral character. So yes, the US Government is in the business of managing culture with respect to immigration.

Because everyone tells the truth on those forms..."hmmm, I'm a Nazi, so do I check this box saying I'm a Nazi? I think not."

"Sweden is the rape capital of Europe because of a certain belief system (CBS)."

This seems to be an unusually bold assertion, even for MR comment threads. Can you explain the evidence behind this statement?

Forty years after the Swedish parliament unanimously decided to change the formerly homogenous Sweden into a multicultural country, violent crime has increased by 300% and rapes by 1,472%. Sweden is now number two on the list of rape countries, surpassed only by Lesotho in Southern Africa.
Significantly, the report does not touch on the background of the rapists. One should, however, keep in mind that in statistics, second-generation immigrants are counted as Swedes.
In an astounding number of cases, the Swedish courts have demonstrated sympathy for the rapists, and have acquitted suspects who have claimed that the girl wanted to have sex with six, seven or eight men.
The internet radio station Granskning Sverige called the mainstream newspapers Aftonposten and Expressen to ask why they had described the perpetrators as "Swedish men" when they actually were Somalis without Swedish citizenship. They were hugely offended when asked if they felt any responsibility to warn Swedish women to stay away from certain men. One journalist asked why that should be their responsibility.

This is so obviously due to their rape reporting standards, how can conservatives be so biased? I would bet you the rape problem is much smaller in Sweden than in 95% of the rest of the world...

Still higher than it would have been without third world immigration!

Honestly, the Care Bear preening on Facebook is what is making be contrarian on this issue.

I wish people would learn to control their Care Bear narcissism.

So most people ain't very good at judging risks. Not a novel observation.

Risk of murder and terrorism are very low risks to Americans, but the media and politicians heavily stoke such fears daily.
The Paris attacks have been top headline news in the U.S. for almost a week yet they are trivial events in modern history, even trivial in French history alone. No wonder Americans greatly over estimate terrorism risks.

Automobile travel is by far the most dangerous thing that Americans are routinely exposed to, yet nobody fears getting in a car.

(I don't much like jelly beans or tedious metaphors)

There are about 5 billion vehicle miles driven per fatality on US highways. Travel from point A to point B has never been safer in world history than that made on US roads.

...and a 100 Americans die horrible, agonizing deaths in twisted automobile wreckage every week !

Manny times that number are horribly injured every week in automobiles.

Well over 1,000,000 people die every year in automobile crashes worldwide. Imagine if terrorists were killing a million people every year, decade after decade -- but we all yawn at automobile deaths.

The point, however, is assessment of 'relative' risks in American daily life versus terrorism risk. Geeeez

I think in general, people give too much emphasis to spectacular and horrible and telegenic disasters. That's why we usually end up discussing gun control in terms of rare but spectacular and horrible mass shootings, rather than much more common suicides and hotheaded murders of girlfriends or acquaintances. It's why people stress out over the safety of the flight from Washington to LA, but not about the drive to and from the airport at the ends of that journey. And so on.

Terrorism is a tiny risk. Even if we multiplied the risk of dying in a terrorist attack by ten, for all of us, it would not become any of the biggest risks we faced.

The point is: There is an upside to using automobiles but there is no upside to terrorism.

I would gladly use a life saving medicine even if it had a one percent chance of killing me. I would definitely not eat a bloody bonbon if it had a one percent chance of killing me.

Stop comparing stuff on just one dimension when it cannot be usefully compared that way. It makes you look like a subprime thinker and makes the Donald and his people look really smart by comparison. Do you want that?

There is nothing worse than Trump looking smart.

He's been amazingly lucky with stories coming out after his dum-dum statements that show maybe he has a point.

"bomb the s out of ISIS."

A week later, Paris, and then we find out we haven't been bombing oil tanker trucks.

And America can magically find 20 new targets for the French to show righteous anger.

Rightly or wrongly, people fear terrorism. It is a worry that is ever-present.

And car travel is a boon that we accept risks to have. What is the boon of Syrian refugees?

Syrian American median household income is about $11,000 above the median, so the plus side could be that you are bringing in a large number of hard workers that increase the wealth of the nation.

Syrian *refugee* median income? Of course not,you're using the baseline of people who emigrated during good times.

In other words, bull.

"The Paris attacks have been top headline news in the U.S. for almost a week yet they are trivial events in modern history, even trivial in French history alone."

But hardly trivial within the living memory of the average living Frenchman. What makes the news is not necessarily what would or should prove noteworthy to history over the long term.

Three of my classmates from college died in the Twin Towers. How's that for risk assessment?

Two of my classmates from high school died in car accidents.

I haven't known anyone who died in a car accident. I knew one guy who died on 9/11 and otherwise it's been close twice. Inner city crime is something that happens on TV for me.

The relative risk depends on your circumstances.

"yet nobody fears getting in a car"

Not even J. Edgar Hoover

Alex: now incorporate some number or some metric (even approximate) for the lethality of these imported murderers.

The Paris Eight murdered almost 130 (some 16 victims per murderer), a rate some five times higher than whatever credit you're giving to lazy serial murderers.

How we forget so quickly. 9/11/2001, 19 of these same terrorists took out nearly 3000, and they are forever working to do it again. It's not random, it's an organization of people who will never give up until we are all destroyed.

Seriously. We're not talking about individual people, we're talking about motivated individuals bent on creating destructive organizations. It's not materially the same, and there's a high tail risk. The Paris Attackers aren't even refugees for the most part, but French citizens, of immigrants who came in the recent past. That's what can happen if you screw up.

The jelly beans in question are not free. Shouldn't the question be rephrased as "Would you be willing to pay $15,000 (or more) a year for a bag of jelly beans that has a .2 percent chance of killing you? "

Many people would draw a different conclusion.

Eating jellybeans is a voluntary act, being murdered isn't. Admitting Syrian refugees is a voluntary act, like eating jellybeans is a voluntary act. Why would someone voluntarily eat jellybeans or admit Syrian refugees if you know some of the jellybeans and Syrians will kill you? I remember one Thanksgiving when I was a child (I'm nearly old) cranberry sauce was identified as a possible killer (yes, cranberry sauce!), so nobody ate cranberry sauce that Thanksgiving, much to the chagrin of cranberry farmers.

Let's imagine that the probabiliity of a major terrorist attack on US soil (say, something with more than a dozen deaths) is

P[no] without the Syrian refugees, and

P[yes] with the Syrian refugees.

Delta = P[yes] - P[no]

If we're going to talk about whether we should accept the Syrian refugees or not in terms of terrorism, Delta is probably the number we care about. If Delta is very small, we shouldn't worry much about their impact on terrorism, and we should instead decide based on other stuff (humanitarian concerns, international diplomacy, costs of resettlement and support, the refugees' likely long-term impact on the US). If Delta is big enough, then we should surely refuse the refugees.

How do we get a handle on Delta? My intuition is that Delta is likely to be pretty small, but that turns on stuff I don't know how to evaluate--like the ease with which ISIS could slip a few people into the set of refugees we're accepting, and the ease with which they're likely to be able to recruit from those refugees and their kids in the future.

How about just picking out the poisonous jelly beans and discarding those? why is that not an option?

I think the argument either assumes that background checks are mostly worthless, or that Syrians are ineluctably drawn to a higher incidence of terrorism.

The whole thing only appeals to someone who implicitly already thinks Syrian refugees are more likely to be dangerous than the average person.

In this case, experience has shown that unpoisoned beans generate poisoned beans.

So, let's start with a completely arbitrary ratio of refugees to killers, compare it with a (sorta) real ratio of Americans to murderers and draw a conclusion. ... I love you guys but is this really meaningful?

Besides, theoretically, I have a real choice about the refugees versus the current situation. And, even if you grant the threat ratio suggested by the jellybeans, wouldn't that simply add to all the other deadly threats I face (everything from a traffic accident to struck by lightning) and make my overall situation more dangerous? It's not as if one replaces the other.

Nope, it's not at all meaningful. I think Tyler's compassion and prior beliefs swamped his reasoning ability here.

We should also be considering crime rate among immigrants, including murder rate, but that's a very different matter than terrorism.

Shouldn't this also take into account the aspirations of the Syrian jelly beans (possibly not realized due to a lack of resources) to kill more than the average per murderer?

"Most murderers kill only one person. Even serial killers kill only 2.8 people on average."

Why should one assume those bad Syrian jellybeans will stick to these averages? Isn't the purpose of a terrorist to kill as many and as in-discriminately as possible? Is it more likely that there will be a McVeigh or Nichols among those Syrian jellybeans than the "American" jellybeans?

On Sept 11, 2001, approximately 8 people managed to kill approximately 3,000. On November 15, in Paris, about the same number killed about 130 (and critically injured many others). Aside from those casualties, those mass murders caused and will cause fundamental changes to the way of life we had theretofore known.

I question the statistical equivalency among these beans. And, why should one further create the false equivalency between a purported "gift" (which one is free to refuse) and the status quo, which one is forced to live with?

For the first time in my life, I actually want Taleb to parachute into a conversation with a rant about tail risk.

Poison jelly beans are anti-fragile.

If every serial killer has 2.9 children, we're ahead of the game!

Isn't the obvious flaw in all this that this ignores the fact that terrorism is a layered risk, on top of the baseline murderer rate that you see in any refugee, or American, or human population? So even if there are only 100 out of 50,000 terrorists in the refugee population, then that is almost doubling the baseline rate of 116/50,000 murderers that we are already willing to take in.

Even worse, it is doubtful that the 1 murderer:1 person murdered ratio holds for terrorists. Each of the 8 Paris terrorist-murderers killed about 15 people, and wounded something like 50. So admitting 100/50,000 terrorists would be like admitting 1,500/50,000 murderers (or 1 out of 10 attempted murderers), which is 15 times the baseline rate.

Of course, the 100/50,000 is completely arbitrary, but since a terrorist kills something like 1 order of magnitude more people than a typical serial killer, and the fact that it is probably far easier for a terrorist to start a new life in a new country by posing as a refugee than by other means, estimates on these numbers should be selected to be conservative.

Great, but the elephant in the room is the very low standard for security in Europe right now. Today, passport check means putting a stamp and making questions on why you spent more than 90 days in Schengen area

Some people tries to find the poisonous jelly beans, is that so wrong?

Low standard of security? Probably you were just lucky. And well it is much more difficult to go to terrorist school in Afghanistan/Syria/Pakistan/ whatever from the US, since from here you would have to take the plane, while you could just drive your car to syria, from Germany, France.

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Google translate shows a bunch of Bengali about Lenin.

This is a Moby trying to play off as an add for illegals.

Has any syrian refugee killed anyone in Europe? There is absolutely no evidence to support the claim that ANY of the jelly beans are poisonous. So, the question should be:

You are given 50.000 jelly beans, and on your yard there are a few poisonous mushrooms. Do you accept the jelly beans?

Yes, at least one of the Paris killers entered as a Syrian refugee.

(I find your facetious analysis tedious, especially when you are not aware of basic facts in the news cycle.)

Could be mistake, but wasn't there some suggestion that the Syrian passport was fake? And in any case, that it belonged to someone who applied for refuge, not someone who was granted it? There's a difference between an applicant and a recipient of refugee status.

If its fake, its still using the refugee system, and succeeded.

This is a very weak argument and it should be stopped.

Also, in 2009 we found we had let in 2 IED bombers as refugees from Iraq. Now, maybe these guys had "retired" but it should be disconcerting.

Not if the jelly beans give birth to poisonous mushrooms.

I'm surprised a libertarian doesn't see that it isn't the low odds of being a victim of a terrorist attack, it is the almost certainty of losing many liberties even if there isn't one.

France had its border closed and Paris put under curfew and an equivalent of matial law.

The Canadian parliament has been pretty relaxed, the lawns used for anything from protests to getting a sun tan. One person changes that place from a place belonging to the people to a place where people are suspect.

The US and Canada will be more like Syria by the time we are through, each of us being subject to some petty fool with a gun and a badge.

The local airport changed from a place where I knew everyone by name as I board the plane to a place where strangers feel me up.

So you have your calculations wrong. There is a one hundred percent certainty that your life will be measurably worse as a result. Not because of doing without so as to give someone in need. But as a result of the inevitable police state.

Remember the Brazilian electrician who was shot after the tube bombings in London a few years ago? Collateral damage I suppose.

If I understand your argument, you're saying we need mostly closed borders and a government policy of encouraging cultural uniformity, because excessive diversity might lead to violence which could increase authoritarianism? I feel like the cure is worse than the disease. I also don't think that an immigration policy based on cultural or religious segregation will necessarily make a country less neurotic about foreigners.

You illustrate my point exactly. I'll throw your black and white argument back at you. You would be willing to submit to the necessity of showing your papers to be able to go about your daily life in exchange for hummus. Or falafel. Mmmm.

I never said that; I'm an anarchist so I certainly disagree. I just don't accept that government-enforced cultural segregation will lead to greater freedom. If anything, using government to enforce cultural norms and keep out dangerous differences seems more likely to inculcate obedience to government authority.

I don't see your "segregation is freedom" argument working. You want to hand off a bunch of powers to government in the effort to make people feel safe. Well that's not a recipe for eliminating the TSA. Conditioning people to expect the government to keep them in a perpetually safe bubble seems more likely to encourage future TSAs.

LOL. Anarchist society means people get to draw their own borders and there's no City Council to block off the streets and provide police escort for your Pride Parade.

You do realize you're arguing for more statism as a cure to statism, right? We need statism over here so that we don't get this other type of statism. The joke is that we already do have the kind of statism you warn against and it's because of restrictionism, not open borders.

Diverse societies require strong central governments.


"Diverse societies require strong central governments."

Says who? You?

And is your argument against a strong central government that we need a government juuuust large enough to wage war on the border and interfere in private business to stop the hiring of illegal immigrants?

I can't see how violations of the free market and immigration restrictionism bring us any closer to our libertarian goals. What I see is a justification for statism based off some fear-mongering about immigrants.

Because diverse societies naturally want to disintegrate into their constituent nations so they require an all-powerful central government to enforce civil rights legislation, conduct surveillance, and mandate transfer payments among people who would otherwise take their ball and go home. See Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, Syria. Also the secessionist/devolutionist movements in Italy, Spain, Great Britain.

Multi-ethnic polities like Chile and Singapore work, so long as there's a societal consensus over who gets to run things. The mestizo/indigenous of Chile seem happy to let the Iberians and Prussians run the top bureaucracies and military, for example.

This was a shockingly bad model. Alex, I'm usually a fan but that was just terrible and did not represent the probabilities in any way that was useful.

In fact the model was so bad it couldn't be the core argument. Yet it takes up most of the post. I'm just terribly confused.

This analogy is fun but subtly shifts the terms of the field against refugees in a few important ways:

1. Biggest flaw, as Alex said: this analogy applies to any large group of people. The argument only works if you assume that Syrians are disproportionately prone to murder. Otherwise it's also an argument to stay away from any heavily populated area. Since there are lots of people who implicitly assume that Muslims and/or Arabs are more prone to murder, they don't realize this implicit assumption.

2. The non-poison candy has no human rights, feels no pain, and has no need to be eaten or discarded. The vast majority of non-murderous people in a group of refugees all have interests that are ignored by the jelly bean analogy. Tossing out candy hurts nobody; tossing out thousands of human beings hurts those humans.

3. Candy is a minor luxury item with little lasting value. Human immigrants tend to generate substantial economic value, especially over the long-term. Even refugees can be substantial economic contributors, so the value foregone by throwing away this group of human beings is much more valuable and long-lasting than the missed sugar rush of eating candy.

4. A poisoned jelly bean is already poison, and the only issue is whether you eat it. A murderer is not inherently a murderer; they need to take later affirmative acts that they might decide against or be thwarted before completion. Poison already exists, while murder is merely a possible (or even likely?) future occurrence. Using a foregone conclusion to stand in for a possible outcome is not quite the same.

All analogies are "flawed." They aren't fully developed arguments addressing every possible aspect of a debate. They are offered as a simple way to demonstrate (usually) a single principle. This particular analogy I believe is simply intended to demonstrate the law of large numbers applied to immigration from terrorist countries, i.e., you will end up with a handful of terrorists even if, as the liberals are fond to remind us, "they're not ALL terrorists!!!" Only your first point is sort of related to the analogy. The rest are neither here nor there. And hard LOL at number 3.

Yes, all analogies are imperfect. And pointing out their flaws is part of the process of analogizing. You need not explain analogies to me, since I understand them and use them regularly. This analogy is not very persuasive to people not already convinced, and I listed some of the reasons why.

All the points are relevant to a policy discussion; ignoring human rights and economic value is bad from a policy standpoint, but the jelly bean story assumes them away. The last point is most relevant, since the jelly beans substitute in a certainty for a possibility.

It's fine to discuss human rights and whether a certain group is likely to be a drain or a boon economically, but you can't contrive an analogy that would simultaneously address all those points and any of the other dozen points one could bring up. If instead of this analogy, someone made an equivalent statistical argument about the likely result of immigration from countries with well-documented high incidence of terrorism and anti-Western sentiment and you respond with something about refugee human rights, you aren't responding to the point. You should rebut the point directly (for example, dispute that the group in question has elevated terrorism risk) or concede the matter and explain why it's outweighed by some other concern (human rights or whatever).

The single principle, when applied to almost anything else, fails, which would suggest it's a bad principle.

_NL's other points (#2-#4) demonstrate the futility of the comparison more broadly.

The assumption seems to be that any additional murders will be like other murders, that is, "retail," a person here and another there, instead of "wholesale." BUT consider that the body count in Paris was relatively low because the attack at the stadium was botched.

And, although it's true that the odds of being murdered by a terrorist remain low practically everywhere, successful terrorist acts exact other prices upon the target society. For example, citizens begin to self-censor what they say and write, and, whether or not the inevitable security apparatus that is created to counter the terrorism is actually effective in doing so it will surely be intrusive.

The real question to be asked is: WHY? Why would we knowingly accept this risk?

I couldn't be more tired of the unverified assertion that all refugees are an invading army / mooslim terrorists / scary Those People.

The Cato Institute [Koch's propaganda arm] disagrees.

US State Department definition of process
Recent public update

White House public response

There is no issue --- there's simply Republican lies. In other words, business as usual.

I'm assuming you are unfamiliar with Alex Nowrasteh if you imply that "even libertarians don't think refugees are a risk" or something like it. Libertarians, especially those in academia and foundations and think tanks, are typically way more pro-immigration than the average progressive Democrat.

It really should be libertarians who say something like "even Bernie Sanders thinks the refugees don't pose a risk."

Except Obama's own team has testified this is an issue. Clapper.

And Comey says its hard to screen.

So give it a rest.

Has Dr. Tabarrok gone off and joined the sociology department. this sounds like their sorta research.
You are comparing extremist muslim terrorism to regular old homegrown murder and they are two
very different things. They have different objectives means and results
One jelly belly bean in Egypt took down an airliner last week and six or seven jihad jelly beans
killed 120 or so people.
Wouldn't this be more of a black swan situation?
I think MR is the best blog on the net and I think there are some excellent reasons to bring
Syrian refugees into the country but these jelly bean folks need to come up
with a more thoughtful model.
this model does not represent reality

The danger is that they will be like blacks. I.E. that they are net welfare recipients forever, that they vote for leftist parties as an ethnic block with zero care for society in general, that their violence and cultural behaviors destroy the value of all property near them, that PC culture/affirmative action/disparate impact continues to plague our society, etc. Most of the issue is with your everyday NAM, not a random terrorist incident.

Got it, so that's one vote against granting asylum to refugees, and one vote to deport black Americans.

I don't think you serve the anti-refugee side well by commingling it with anti-black racism. You make it easier for proponents of more immigration to characterize anti-Muslim feelings as prejudice when you openly flaunt your anti-black prejudice.

A lot of pro-immigration reasoning includes an unspoken assumption that for every immigrant accepted, the country gets to deport one African-American.

Of course that's not true at the national level, but it is true to some extent at the local level: immigrants can be useful to gentrifiers as the economic shock troops that push out blacks. (In huge Los Angeles County, Hispanics served as actual gang troops to drive out blacks via violence.) So immigration is seen by white urban elites as a way to shove their problems with American blacks out onto the exurbs.

(In huge Los Angeles County, Hispanics served as actual gang troops to drive out blacks via violence.)

In 2000, the population recorded as 'black alone' in Los Angeles County was 930,000 and another 32,000 were black in combination with other things, for a negroid population of 962,000

In 2014, the population recorded as 'black alone' was 830,000 and the black-in-combination populaition was 115,000. The total negroid population would thus be 945,000.

The registered decline is 1.77% registered over 14 years. I'd say the chicano gangbangers are not putting a whole lot of sweat into this task.

Blacks are being driven out of the convenient centrally located parts of Los Angeles County with the great weather and into the remote high desert portions of L.A. County. For example, N.W.A.'s Compton, historic home of gangsta rap, was down to 26% black by 2010:,_California

"A lot of pro-immigration reasoning includes an unspoken assumption that for every immigrant accepted, the country gets to deport one African-American."

If it's unspoken assumption, that should tell you something.

Race baiters play up divisiveness between people to force everyone else to take sides. 'If you're pro-immigration, you probably want to marginalize black people." Your example demonstrates that clearly.

This was so intellectually dishonest and morally bankrupt that you should be ashamed of yourself for making that argument, but I understand why you did. People like asdf cast a pall over restrictionists. Best to distance yourself as far as possible, and what better way than with a dishonest deflection?

American-born blacks are my fellow Americans. My ancestors and their ancestors have generations of intertwined history. I value the welfare of American blacks far more than I do the welfare of random Middle Eastern Muslims who have turned their country into a hellhole through their cultural tendencies.

American-born blacks are my fellow Americans.

You might remind your votaries that. Especially the guy who says we cannot have school vouchers because inner-city blacks will choose the wrong schools and the guy who says you should not spend public money on police protection in slum neighborhoods because that's 'war socialism'. One of these cretins is on this thread.

I certainly care more for the blacks than the criminal Russians.

Aww gee Art Deco, are you still passive-aggressive about being chased away from iSteve due to nobody liking you or caring about what you had to say? You really ought to get over that.

"I don’t think you serve the anti-refugee side well by commingling it with anti-black racism. "

Pray tell, which of his assertions is not true?
I'm waiting for statistics disproving them but I am not holding my breath.

" they are net welfare recipients forever, that they vote for leftist parties as an ethnic block with zero care for society in general, that their violence and cultural behaviors destroy the value of all property near them,"

That not only describes blacks and maybe Muslim immigrants, it covers a whole mess of lower class American whites as well. Sadly, government policy has been to subsidize the continued existence of whites that refuse to graduate from college or embrace the Protestant work ethic with appropriate enthusiasm. Society in general needs to cut off welfare spending, eliminate the popular vote for the plebs, take guns and knives away from them, and keep them away from the normal folks with valuable property. Sounds like a good plan.

Most welfare goes to the old, not the poor.

The danger is that they will be like blacks. I.E. that they are net welfare recipients forever,

About 5% of the black population are TANF recipients at any one time. A large minority of blacks qualify for EBT cards, but the subsidy amounts to a little over $2,000 per household per annum. Not livin' large on that.

The bottom 40% of American households by income are net recipients of government transfers.

That doesn't mean they receive direct cash contributions but if you fail to pay enough taxes to cover your share of the military, for example, then you are relying on other people to pay more to cover your shortfall.

Obviously people bounce in and out of income quintiles all the time but there are some groups of people who seem permanently stuck at the bottom. It's accurate to call these people "net welfare recipients forever".

There is no 'your share of the military'. It's a public good and the benefits are characterized by non-excludability and non-rivalry.

As for 'the bottom 40%', no, they're only net recipients if they're receiving benefits in excess of their tax payments. North of 80% of the population is too young to receive Social Security old age benefits (and most were not poor during their working years), households receiving SSDI or SSI comprehend about 6% of the population at any one time (and require a disability adjudication), scads of poor people do not need Medicaid because they receive medical insurance from their employer, etc, and most adults do not have dependent children in school at any one time.

Please note the majority of blacks of working age are either prosperous wage earners, salaried employees, or small business. It's a majority that does not exist for him.

Oh gawd not here too please!

I'm not an American but indeed I think America should take in Syrian refugees. Having the whole Atlantic ocean to protect you, you can actually choose and sort and integrate. Central Europe, Germany mostly, will completely disintegrate in the coming years. America would not.

But still, Alex. Why oh why do you join the moronic masses on twitter with foolish comparisons? The number of murders per year, those aren't jihadist murders, there's greed and jealousy, frustration and psychotic breakdowns. Do youz think Syrian refugees will be immun to those human feelings? Don't you think they will commit those murders in addition to the whateverpercentage of jihadist terror some of them might commit?

Ah! This whole refugee thing: I would so love to bash the Donald and his ilk for their politics. But then every bloody single time I read a pro immigration statement argue in favor of taking refugees in their argument are completely bollocks! It's like ISIS' propaganda's first victim was *everyone's* sanity.

Make fun of Trump saying his plan is bomb the S out of ISIS.

Find out a week later, that we have not been bombing oil tanker trucks that finance ISIS.

Yeah, I don't like this feeling either.

Well, if I have to pick between Europe and US, of course I'll pick the survival of Europe, since I'm already here. Why do we have to pick, again? Can't both Germany and the US run sane immigration and asylum policies that are generous to refugees in camps in the Middle East and that won't screw over their existing populations? Does it always have to be a race of who gets first to South Africa?

To complete the jelly bean analogy: After accepting you have to shake up the jar, eat one, then pass it to the next person until they're all gone and 100 people are poisoned that wouldn't have been if you had not accepted the gambit.

That makes the analogy deadlier, but also makes it even less of an analogy. Even refugees with existing ill intent are not guaranteed to do anything violent, because event could intervene. And if they do succeed in carrying out violence, the odds are that it won't be one person affected for each perpetrator. You're upping the drama of the jelly beans, but it really weakens the analogy.

A fine and not atypical example of academic brain rot.

syria man so sexy mmmmmmm

syria man yes!

ooOooooOOoooo syria!!

My wife is an afro-shudra man we're gonna bring home a syrian refugee boy and make him into a catamite

please... be tender for handsome syria man

Fear of being cuckolded really does seem to drive the right. Wonder why that is.

Since the poison is belief in Islam, an ideology that has taken over once successful parts of the world and reduced them to barbarism, and which inevitably causes continual violence when it reaches some proportion of the population, the fact of the matter is that over 95% of the jelly beans are poisoned

So, on a tangentially related note: Maybe we should only accept "keep them out" rhetoric from people who don't smoke?

No, the cancer is the unverified assumption that the Islamic death cult of Daesh would never lie. Hint: just because they "say" they are Teh One True Islam.. doesn't mean they actually are.

David Koresh and Jim Jones both called themselves The One True Christian. Why is nobody killing themselves in support of those two whackaloons?

I will go out on a limb and say 1:1 odds of "Syrian" "refugees" being a net expense to US taxpayers. What is the benefit of bringing people who can't govern themselves in their homelands here? Is Alex really going to hang his hat on the argument that only some of them are criminals and, worst case, capable of only taking out around 100 or so victims? The burden should be on the immigration proponents to show how taking in thousands of people from a failed, alien culture serves the national interest. All I can see is more transfer payments, more ghettoization, more bureaucrats, and more surveillance.

Inevitably, the host society has to do backflips to keep from offending Muslims and, inevitably, Muslims end up lashing out violently at non-Muslims until the goal of Muslim hegemony in a particular territory is achieved. This is the case all over the world and through history. There is zero reason on Earth for us to buy ourselves this problem.

This is terrible, even the prediction part is fundamentally bad: you predict the "murderer potential" of babies born in the US based on the number of murders in the US, which in fact could be commited by people both born i n s i d e and o u t s i d e of the US. If the "murderer potential" distribution of people born in the US is very different from those who were born outside of the US, the predicted number is wrong: it could be less, it could be more.
(Example: if Canadian immigrants tend to murder a lot more in the US while being born in Canada than people from the US, your method would overestimate the expected number of US babies later becoming murderers. Similarly, if Canadian immigrants tend to murder a lot less then you underestimate)
Other flaws have been pointed out already. I am just very angry because these are the kinds of writings that make it almost impossible to reason normally about these important questions (and also gives bad reputation for economists). BTW I am not from the US, just wanted to point it out that this is destructive.

Can we trade this guy?

America needs Raiders' fans, too. Be nice.

Unfortunately, the return would be lousy.

Alex, I do not think American murderers is a good baseline here. We should have higher standards. This isn't the medieval days where we can exile undesirables. We are stuck with our native population. If, hypothetically, all our troublemakers and criminals renounced their citizenship and later re-applied to re-enter the country, would we want them back? I would think not.

Second point, I would not conflate organized terrorism from anti-Western Muslims to common murder. You are forgetting the tail risk of terrorism where thousands can be killed in a single day, not to mention the fear, destabilization, and higher transaction and other economic costs. A free society will not last alongside terrorism. A police state is inevitable. Our principles of liberty and self-government presuppose a people that are capable of self-government.

Europeans got a whole lot of good out of centuries of "genetic pacification". Is there an argument for why we should be exempt from providing this service for our own posterity?

Our fears are not reducible to numbers and rational assessments of those numbers. My father-in-law used to drive to Florida (800 miles) each winter because he was too anxious to get on a plane. As a nation, we did not get very excited about Russian airplane downing or the recent Beirut terror killings. Our nation got very upset about Ebola; my local newspaper has nothing about Chagas' disease in the US. I think that I am trying to look at things dispassionately, but I may be fooling myself just as everybody else does.

I'm for accepting some Syrian refugees on moral grounds, and I believe the vast majority of refugees will do fine here. I'm in no way frightened by their arrival. But I also have the benefit of having had years preparing for their arrival, since, once we invaded Iraq, I knew we'd make a pig's breakfast of it and have been mentally prepared for the negative unforseen fallout of our folly for years. I just decided to suck it up.

Most of those coming to Europe seem to do it for economic reasons, which makes me think they would be more suitably settled in the US. Land of opportunity, rah rah.

Damn, and I always thought it illogical to go strolling the West and South sides of Chicago. Alex just proved me wrong.

I'd like to return these beans, please. Thanks.

As ever, we have statistics. (You know, Alex, the FBI has a whole website section on this. Took me two minutes to find it.)

When we are speaking of fears of terrorism, we are talking principally about white, middle class, suburban fears of terrorism. When Republicans want to restrict immigration, this is their constituency. So what are the odds of a white person being killed by a stranger with whom they had had no prior interaction (ie, no argument, brawl or ganglang connection)?

If one massages the FBI data, it turns out that about 1,600 white Americans were killed in 2009 by strangers with whom they had no prior interaction. Thus, a 9/11 equals two years of such white murder victims, and the Paris attack, about 6% (including only mortalities). And this is a country of nearly 320 million.

In France, the annual number of murders is around 650. For middle class French, the odds of being killed by a stranger is probably 1/5th of this amount, so right around 120. In order words, if you're white middle class French, the likelihood of being killed in the attacks are equal to the probability of murder by a stranger from every other cause.

This is to be offset by 'jelly beans', although a better analogy for migrant Syrians might be 'stones'. They could be beneficial in some settings, and a burden in others. But they are not an unalloyed gain.

Thus, one must offset the risk of a major violent incident with the likelihood of no change in the average person's well-being for allowing in Syrians.

What happens when you use 10 year averages, and don't treat this year's attacks as your baseline?

(It is certainly a salient fear that this is a new normal, as it was for us on 9/11, but that new normal did not appear.)

Globally, we have had mass casualty events pretty much once a year or once every two years, though.

And a fall in the bathtub is still more likely to kill me

Dying in the bathroom is quite common. We need bathrooms and use them everyday.

Dying in a bomb attack on a nightclub in Bali is not common. We don't need bomb attacks on nightclubs.

You are assuming randomness, Gochujang, which is likely incorrect. It seems more than likely that ISIS will attempt to infiltrate terrorists posing as refugees. Therefore, some ten year average is not the right metric. After Paris and the Russian aircraft bombing, it's safe to assume ISIS is going to try something in the US.

But if we're talking ten year averages, bear in mind that 9/11 was followed by two wars. That there were no subsequent terrorist acts may by due largely to the US commitment to take the fight to the terrorists where they were.

This also highlights an important point: Any cost/benefit calculation must include any potential US military reaction to a terrorist act.. The cost to us could be valued in the hundreds of billions of dollars and perhaps up to 5,000 soldiers dead.

My question must have been good if you avoided it so completely

I'll file this under Dunning-Kruger. Did you wear the juice?

If we exclude 2001 and 2015, typical US causalities as a result of terrorist attacks, in this case 9/11, in recent years amounted annually to about 500 US military and contractor deaths per year in Iraq and about 300 per year in Afghanistan. These deaths were the direct result of terrorist attacks on the US. And I am, of course, excluding civilian deaths.

(I was generous by giving you the most "inclusive" list possible there as well.)

Your odds of being killed in a terrorist attack are small. But that's irrelevant.

The relevant question is whether we need to take the risk at all. If you're the President, and you let in terrorists, and they kill 50 people, it will land on your desk. And one of the things you can't say to the parents of the 19 year old girl gunned down is that, "Well, I'm sorry about your daughter, but the numbers worked on an expected case basis."

You must not be a New Yorker. I worked in Wall Street, and then at One Penn Plaza above Penn Station, which I transited every day to catch the Northeast Corridor train to New Jersey. I never lingered in Penn Station. I was aware every day that I was in a target zone.

You started with a pretty good quantitative approach, Steven. Now, it's irrelevant?

FWIW, it looks like there were about 850,000 murders total since 1972 (based on extending the FBI data I could find, 1972-2005).

So using that VERY inclusive list (where a black guy knifing a prison guard counts as Muslim violence) it is about 3000 out of 850,000 or

0.3% of the total risk. Scary

If you wanted to kill Americans after 9/11, you could go to Iraq or Afghanistan.

If you want to kill Americans now, you have to catch reporters and aid workers in the region...those sources are all exhausted now.

So, logically...

If the leadership of ISIS is even of a dull normal mental capacity they'll already have agents in place in the US, just as Al Queda did before 9-11. They probably think it's pretty funny that everybody has their knickers in a twist over some refugees when they've got jihadis staying in nice hotels in Chicago and LA.

You're forgetting all the effort and costs that were taken to create the 10 year average that we currently have.

knew a big dog with sense of humor who liked to sneak up behind strangers at the dog park and pee on their leg. As he was a big dog, it was "disruptive"
The dog thought it was funny and he had a point.
mebbe the jelly bean model is an economis'ts version of a dog's version of apractical joke?

I find it interesting that many of the pro-gun control people flip flop on refugees. Suddenly we can trust people, and not regulate them. Suddenly a small risk is fine, stop worrying about potential for death.

Its the reverse for many pro-gun rights people: suddenly waiting periods are good, and we should be better safe than sorry.

Of course not everyone flip flops like that, and analogies are analogies.

My compromise would be this:

Keep all widows and children refugee cases chugging along. Pause all military age males.

Obama says the vast bulk are these, so lefties should accept this. Righties should be mollified.

We could also use a points system, where religious minorities are given additional weight.

Keep in mind we are mainly acting as overflow for refugee camps. Its not as if these are refugees at the border being chased by ISIS or Assad.

Also, I am a bit uncomfortable when the military age males are fleeing conscription. So, the world expects Russia or America to provide ground troops while Syrian boys drink beer and chat up girls in Frankfurt?

What is actually the unemotional data?

"Recently released Centers for Disease Control (CDC) data indicates that child deaths in preventable gun accidents are on the increase, and that gun-related deaths are now the second most common cause of child and teen deaths, with only cars killing more kids than guns in 2013. "

Do terrorists rank there or not?

I am willing to have accidental and criminal deaths by guns to preserve the 2nd amendment.

I am also willing to risk Syrian refugees possibly being terrorists.

I am consistent.

It would appear you would like more gun control, but yet are blithe about increased risks from terrorists.

Imagine we had only 8 millions guns, and wanted to add a mere 10,000 or 100,000 guns from Syria per year. Would you be posting the same link arguing against the importation of those guns? After all most guns are never used.

Weird answer. FWIW though, I do remember gun control folks going for the low bar of safe storage, and gun freedom types fighting safes and locks.

Right. sure. Gun control folks who just happened to bring up Australia over and over. Sure, they are all okay with gun safes instead of confiscation or "buy backs"

But let's work from that premise. What could we do to make Syrian refugees a :"safer" refugee?

As I said, admit women and children only, maybe males over 45. Weigh religious minorities higher - so you'd get Christians and Yezidis. Honestly they are at more risk than Sunnis.

Or just announce a 3 month pause while we work out the issue.

Do you notice how that compromise has not been offered? Because this topic is political cudgel now, for both sides.

Also, thanks to the NRA, people in the US on terrorism watch lists are legally allowed to buy guns. If the pro-gun/anti-refugee because they might be terrorists crowd figure that bit out maybe the discussion improves.

Do you have a link to that?

Though, after that Malaysian woman was on the do not fly list for a decade due to an error, I have less appreciation for government lists.

The FBI was surveilling the cartoon would be shooters in TX - supposedly a team of 14 people is needed to do that. Guy could still drive to TX unmolested.

Never mind. Google worked.

"700,000 people on the watch-list"

That's a very large watch list.

And with 2,000+ people buying guns, but no incidents.

I either should be more scared or less scared by this.

Here's another obvious compromise: just send them to the states that are okay with them.

My city has a lot of Iraqi refugees. So far, no problems.

Why upset Alabama when we could take all 10,000 in my city alone and probably not notice.

At least it would tend to keep them out of Germany, no?

A stupid post from a usually well thought out person... Not all questions can be addressed using "back of the envelope" tricks. The question of Syrian refugees, and the almost certain presence of a fanatic Islamist in their midst, poses a real moral and political problem which you're nerdy little dance did not come close to address. Just stick to economics and leave moral/political problems to others.

You're right-- he's responding to the jelly bean question in solely mathematical terms and his response is far from an answer to the Syrian refugee problem. In other words--just because Syrian refugees could be less dangerous on average than Americans does not mean that we should accept them. Accepting them still means that we are accepting some number of dangerous people. I completely agree. I think Alex would too.

That said, please give respect to Alex for thoughtfully responding to the interesting jelly bean perspective on the Syrian refugee problem. Just as the question has merit, so does his answer. While he does not address the political and moral problems involved Alex's findings DO imply that our unwillingness to accept refugees lies in fear rather than logic.

No matter how the numbers come out, one dangerous person is enough to make thousands unworthy of their need for asylum and peace as humans. That is your moral question... among many.

Thank you for your work here Alex.

"No matter how the numbers come out, one dangerous person is enough to make thousands unworthy of their need for asylum and peace as humans. That is your moral question… among many."

Well said. I'm an economist who doesn't come around to MR much... the comments here have reminded me why.

Only .03% of Jeffrey Dahmer's diet was human flesh, therefore it would have been irrational to refuse his dinner invitation.

Terrorism has a much greater psychological impact than every day murders.

Odd that liberals only seem to care about psychological harm as it applies to victims of "hate speech" but seem to discount the psychological harm caused by acts of mass terror.

The bag of jelly beans is also a terrible metaphor for what's being discussed.

First a poisoned jelly bean can kill you, so even 1 poisoned jelly bean is too much. Conversely 100 additional terrorists in your country almost certainly won't kill you, they'll kill someone but lots of things kill someone, and they'd probably kill about the same number of someones where ever they were.

Also the benefit of 50,000 jelly beans, eating lots of candy, is really mild compared to the cost of dying from eating a poisoned jelly bean.

Conversely the benefit of taking in 50,000 refugees, saving many lives and giving them a much better future, is quite high compared to your very mild increase in personal risk and the shift of risk from the 100 terrorists being in your country instead of another country.

Why are we referring to them as "Syrian refugees"? These are not refugees, these are overwhelmingly migrant opportunists. And why aren't they reading Edward Said? they should be heading to other Muslim countries, not to the land of the infidels.

Terrorists intend to kill more people than the average American murderer does.

I think Prof. Cowen is not factoring the level of poison in the internal jellybeans as compared to the external jellybeans. Any one of the internal 750,000 is likely to cause a stomach ache, while any one of the external 100 can kill you.

The 100 of course are not just likely to be run-of-the-mill murderers, but likely to cause terror and mayhem in a way that would make Americans vote in more authoritarian laws and further destroy their societal fabric.

I am generally friendly to the aspirations of people who are compelled to migrate from their native lands, but this particular argument doesn't pass muster.

But as soon as you realize that half of the poisonous jelly beans are black ones, you have additional information to decide which jelly beans you eat and which you do not.

Analogies are always suspect, and this one is worse than most. We're talking about human lives, not delicious treats, so not taking them means some of the "jelly beans" will suffer or die. We took in a lot of Cuban, Lebanese, South African, and Vietnamese refugees, and yes there were some poisonous ones. I can't tell you what the net benefits were, but clearly those who resided closest to the refugees felt a greater impact than those who did not. Much of this is a NIMBY problem.

I also think many who want to help the refugees pay more service with their lips than with their homes or wallets.

The meme might also be vastly understating the number of poisonous jelly beans, selling itself short. As some critics have pointed out, the host nations of our previous refugees were not actively threatening terrorist attacks against us at the time and using the refugees as a trojan horse.

I've been agnostic about whether we should or shouldn't help the refugees, but I find that both sides of this issue are making a lot of noise. It appears this issue is more of a political football than a policy debate.

"Thus, if anything, Syrian jelly beans look pretty good compared to American jelly beans".

But if American poisonous jelly beans kill one person on average but poisonous Syrian jelly beans kill 10 people on average - then Syrian jelly beans start looking bad again.

Reagan loved jelly beans.

Jelly Beans are an incorrect analogy.

Hypergolic fuels are a better analogy. Mono-methyl Hydrazine and Anhydrous Nitric Acid are relatively stable when kept in separate tanks. When they are mixed together, however...

You multiple the number of murders each year by 50 years to determine there are 750000 murderers. Then you divide that by the current population but you fail to account for the almost 4 million people that are born each year. That is 200 million more people that could be among the 750000 murders that you do not even include in your statistics. So in reality there are 750000 murderers among more than 500 million people not 322 million people.

And you fail to take into account the number of people who die every year.

and everybody that dies is a potential murderer, so they still need to be counted.

Just to clarify, every year there are 15000 murders. As you stated people die every year and as I stated people are born every year. this means that among the 4 million births there are people that will eventually commit a murder, so they would be one of the Murderers. You need to count the number of people that lived over the total 50 years to get an accurate ratio of murderers per 50000 people.

This whole debate and the House Bill are completely beside the point. The issue isn't frequency in population but screening ability. The HR Bill essentially says we've not been screen well to begin with. It seems to be that then telling the same agencies tasked with protecting us to do a better job and have their top person sing a form is not really going to change anything. Moreover, the people we want to screen out will simply not show up looking like Syrians if we're not letting any in.

It's the same stupid reaction we always get from a vocal segment of the population and to whom the politican then generate meaningless law to make it look like they are doing something. In the end we all end up worse off than before and no safer from whatever it was anyone was afraid of.

This argument is such a weak strawman. No one is saying refugees are violent. The group in question are primarily military age Muslim men from a part of the world that is crawling with terrorists. Notice the other risk factors? But you frame opponents as anti "refugee", and cite stats about refugees as a homogenous group. Those are arguments I see being made by idiots on Facebook. Not something I'd expect from you.

You're making a false assumption like the lefy always does. You're assuming that the definition of murder in Syria is the same as it is here and this is hardly true. Here even the police can be charged for murder if they kill without justification under law. In Syria the police routinely kill anyone that threatens the state without trial. Inter-ethnic conflicts where people kill each other would not be counted, and religious minorities like Christians would not be counted as victims if they were killed by Muslims. Also, the many honor killings of women are legal under Sharia law and would be considered murder here. Under Sharia law women have less rights than your dog or cat does in America.

Sharia is not the law in the state of Syria. Never was.

No offense Alex, but this is a really stupid post.

8 jellybeans killed/maimed over 200 jellybeans, how does that factor in? TERRIBLE post of selective statistical high-mindedness leaves out a little thing called "reality and context."

The black jelly beans are much more likely to be poisonous than the other colors.

Let's never help refugees because one time someone got bitten.

Anyway, the example itself is wrong, as it de-humanize the problem.

Put it another way: you have 50.000 people at the gates in the middle of an plague outbreak. You can allow them in, but among them there will very likely be 10 diseased who are hiding the symptoms and who will soon kill 1.000 innocent, healthy citizens. Then there is another 100 who are healthy carriers and might develop the full blown disease within a decade, or not. And then there is another 10.000 who aren't apparently carriers, but whose kids will have a much weaker immune system and possibly contract and spread the plague within 20 years.

What do you do?

Thank you Alex, for falling prey to identity politics. We get it. You're ethnically Arab, and you feel some bizarre connection with these terrorists who would undermine and destroy the very country that gave you everything. Shame on you, not just for the idiotic analysis that compares apples to oranges and uses the completely arbitrary and entirely too low 100/50000 number (your post is the most confused, illogical thing I've read on the entire topic of Syrian refugees), but for masquerading as having the moral high ground when really you are literally just succumbing to your own identity politics. You disgust me.

The comparison itself is wrong, as it both doesn't consider future consequences and it de-humanizes the problem.

Put it another way: you have 50.000 people at the gates in the middle of an plague outbreak. You can allow them in, but among them there will very likely be 10 diseased who are hiding the symptoms and who will soon kill 1.000 innocent, healthy citizens. Then there is another 100 who are possibly healthy carriers and might develop the full blown disease within a decade, or not. And then there is another 10.000 who aren’t apparently carriers, but whose kids will have a much weaker immune system due their culture-stemming behaviors (which we cannot address else be whipped as racists) and quite possibly contract and spread the plague within 20 years.

What do you do?

Ok, I'm sorry, I was copy and editing for another site and I accidentally hit enter.

I guess it's a measure of the abysmal level of knowledge of the situation, and of public discourse in general, but if anyone were to point out that perhaps basic human decency should enter the calculation, one could point out that the vast, vast majority of the jelly beans are in fact innocent human beings, who are suffering in overcrowded refugee camps, without the right to work or integrate into their current host country (so basically, without the right to get on with normal lives somehow), and some of them have been there for years now. But hey, let's just pretend they're jelly beans if that makes the math easier.

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