Thursday, February 28, 2008


Earlier this week, news sites were circulating a report on a study about the misconceptions Westerners have about Islam. Muslims were polled and it turns out a majority of them condemn terrorism, want democracy, and considered themselves moderates.

In fact, out of the 1.3 billion Muslims in the world, only 7% of them could be considered radical. Only 7%? Great! (right?)

Unfortunately 7% of 1.3 billion is 91 MILLION.

The population of Australia is almost 20,500,000.

The number of radical Muslims in the world is about 4 and a half times the entire population of Australia.

So, 91 million people want to kill you. Yes, you. Your would-be murderers don't know your name and have never seen your face but it is still you that stars in their blood soaked fantasies. 91 million people dream of having the pleasure of decapitating you.

(let's pause here to note that I would be just as worried about 91 million Buddhist monks wanting to kill me. Or 91 million Ursuline nuns. Or 91 million Amish farmers. I didn't make up these statistics, I just did the math.)

The population of the U.S. is 301,139,947.

The number of radical Muslims in the world is approximately one third of the population of the U.S.

Let's pretend for a moment that the U.S. is a little model for the whole of the Islamic world. Go outside and walk out into the street. Turn around and look at your warm happy little house, then look at the houses of your neighbors, standing directly next to yours. Now imagine one of those houses filled with radical Muslims, building bombs in the basement and plotting your death.

How comforting is that 7% now?


As Marko points out in the comments, my example is flawed. It should really be something more along the lines of:"Go stand in the middle of your street, and imagine that there are 100 houses on your street. 7 of those houses would be inhabited by radical Muslims." I did not try to be intentionally misleading. I am the first one to admit that if you put a mess of numbers in front of me, my brain shorts out. It still does not negate my main point of 91 million being a really big fucking number and I'm not comfortable with it.

That said, I am a little baffled at how some are so quick to give these self-proclaimed radical Muslims the benefit of the doubt. These 7% who responded to the poll are the ones who readily admit their radicalism. They are the ones who are openly proud of their beliefs. I'll take them at their word.


Robb Allen said...

I'll temper that a little with the possibility that of those 7%, .0001% actually would act on it and even a smaller percentage of those have the means to do so.

Isn't it funny though that 7% is nothing to worry about when it comes to radical islamists, but .00374% of guns is enough of a reason to ban 'em all?

Lydia said...

perhaps I have a very poor interpretaion of this...but it's an ego boost that 91 million people fantasize about me in some capacity.

Breda said...

Good point, Robb.

And Lydia? You are more than a little twisted. And that's why I love you.

Carteach0 said...

Has there ever existed a different case? For most of human history, a seriously large part of humanity has been thinking about exterminating a seriously large other portion.

Still... the threat faced now is huge.. and borne out by the numbers you present.

Robb Allen said...

Carteach0's point is valid, but there's more to it.

Like I said, most of the people who "hate your guts and would kill you" are very much like the "Cold Dead Hands" chest thumpers we have on the pro-gun side. It's easy to say that to your friends, family and "poll takers", not so easy to actually follow through.

Another thing to remember is that I want the Barret Semi-Auto 50BMG that's sitting in the display case at my local range. I don't have enough money to buy it and the fact that every worker in the store is armed is a pretty damned good deterrent to me just walking in and taking it.

So, just because I have an urge to do something doesn't actually make it something that will happen. Same with the radical Islamic movement. We can deter them enough to keep that number negligible (generally) with the understanding that you can't stop crazy. We don't deter them by flogging ourselves over why they hate us, we do it by bombing the ever loving shit out of their homes if they attack us (albeit that's a simplified statement and should not be misconstrued as a free license to war).

Basically, the threat isn't that big. If it were, we'd have seen many more attacks than we have. Part of that may be our reaction, but a lot of it is that the chest thumping stops when it's time to take action.

Breda said...

robb, my thinking went the other way. I thought "7%? Are those only the ones who were willing to admit it? How many more could there be?"

Marko said...

The math in your example is a bit faulty, and misleading. If I'm supposed to take "the U.S. as a model of the Islamic world", then only seven out of 100 houses in my town contain radical Muslims, which is a far less dramatic percentage than "zomg, one in three!!"

The 33% ratio of radical Muslims to regular Americans would only have a significance if you moved every single Islamic radical in the world to our country. Also, you assume that everyone who's a self-described "radical Muslim" is also ready, willing, and able to slit throats for Allah.

I don't agree with anyone who says that the threat from these people is "unprecedented". I grew up in the Eighties, and we had thousands of nukes aimed at us by the Commies, which were far larger in number (and more technologically advanced)than the radical Muslims are now. How did we ever make it through the Cold War without pissing our pants daily and using the Constitution for kindling to keep the bad guys away?

hairy hobbit said...

only 91million islamists want to kill you. There are plenty of OTHER people out there that want to kill you too. I'm still of the belief that communism's "fall" was a ruse, and you have China...

I guess the point is "Be polite. Be professional. But, have a plan to kill everyone you meet."

Breda said...

Okay, 7 out of 100 houses. I'm not good at math, whatever. But is your number supposed to be comforting somehow? 'Cause I'm not feeling it.

Rabbit said...

I'll do my part and shoot three (or seven) and go back home if everyone else will do their part.


The Duck said...

Well it's thought to be 9-12 million in the US so that makes about 63-84 thousand in the country that don't like us, & it only took 19 to bring us 9/11
so what could 63 thousand do?

Carteach0 said...

1000 people do not care about you at all.
20 people want to be your friend.
5 people dislike you.
1 person wants to kill you.

Which one?

That is the real problem.
Be prepared for all cases, as possible.

phlegmfatale said...

Blood-chilling. Honestly.

Jay G said...

"How did we ever make it through the Cold War without pissing our pants daily and using the Constitution for kindling to keep the bad guys away?"

Well, for one thing, during the Cold War our enemy was definable, containable, and had definitive borders. Heck, they even wore funny hats and held parades.

Not so with the holy (anti-) Crusaders who'd like to hack us to bits, is it?

(Note: This bit of Devil's Advocacy is not intended to imply that I agree with the butt-wiping the Bush administration has done with the Constitution, mind you...)

Anonymous said...

These 7% who responded to the poll are the ones who readily admit their radicalism. They are the ones who are openly proud of their beliefs. I'll take them at their word.

I won't. When the reward for Osama bin Laden was up to... what, $10 million? $50 million? I don't recall any more... anyway, some television station had the bright idea of going to Afghani peasants and asking them about the reward.

Not one of them had any idea how much money that was. One man hoped it would be enough to set him up in a balloon-and-kite shop, a capital investment that would have required all of about thirty dollars.

(The day Oklahoma City was bombed and the press went giddy over the idea of Islamist terrorists, I, who lived a half mile from the Pentagon at the time, pointed out that the audience for Islamist terrorism couldn't find Oklahoma City with two hands and ten maps. All our troubles come from crazy people; but only a portion of those are Islamist crazy people.)

Back to the poll. Who asked the question, who was watching while they asked, and of whom did they ask it? Yeah, I know it was a Gallup poll, but who were the pollsters on the ground, and who was watching while they asked the question? Sure, errors on that could go either way: some would say they were moderate when they weren't, some would say they were radical when they weren't.

Either way, no, I'm no more scared of this seven-or-whatever percent of Islamists than I was of the average Russian peasant thirty years ago, nor the average Chinese peasant fifteen years from now.

I live in one of DC's exurbs with a fairly high Hindu and Muslim population. My neighbors don't scare me. I was, however, afraid for them in the aftermath of 9/11. As far as I know, the U.S. flags suddenly plastered all over their cars did more to protect them than any amount of home armament would have done.

Neither fear, nor guns, are always the answer. And jihad, from either side, never is.

staghounds said...

I did this same number crunch when a poll came out that some percentage SAID OUT LOUD TO A STRANGER ON THE TELEPHONE that they agreed with the 7-7 bombers.

A small percentage, but it meant like 400,000 British Moslems.

That's a pretty big recruiting and support pool.

staghounds said...

And I find Lydia's take on it very... familiar.