Trump Jr.’s Terrorism-Skittles Bowl Analogy

Donald Trump Jr. tweeted out this meme yesterday:

Social media immediately took up arms to attack him.  I think the Skittles meme is actually a valuable and useful way to understand the foreign-born terrorist threat but size of the bowl is way too small.  This is the proper Skittles analogy:

Imagine a bowl full of 3.25 million Skittles that has been accumulated from 1975 to the end of 2015.  We know that 20 of the Skittles in that bowl intended to do harm but only three of those 20 are actually fatal.  That means that one in 1.08 million of them is deadly.  It gets even better though.  There are over three hundred million Americans and not everyone can get a Skittle.  This means that the chance of any American actually eating the fatal Skittle and perishing is about one in 3.64 billion a year during the 41-year time period.  Do you eat from the bowl without quaking in your boots?  I would.

Perhaps future Skittles added into the bowl will be deadlier than previous Skittles but the difference would have to be great before the risks become worrisome as I write about here.  The Trump Jr. terrorism-Skittles meme is useful to understand terrorism risk – it just requires a picture of a bowl large enough to fit about 7,200 pounds of Skittles.