What do I mean, overreact? Of course, it is difficult to imagine anyone not wanting to do everything possible to reduce the risk of another terrorist incident. Could anyone be said to overreact? Does anyone not care?

We keep hearing about the need to get tough on terrorism. Does anybody think we need to get soft on it? Mostly, such statements are not accompanied by specific proposals.

There is certainly a risk, as many people have said, that we could overreact:

  • by introducing ill-thought-out measures,
  • by throwing money at the problem,
  • by taking steps that alienate moderate Moslems and lose their cooperation and goodwill,
  • or by blaming the police or MI5 rather than trying to learn the right lessons.

However, I think there is another risk we need to consider.

The risk of giving the problem too much attention!

I have written before about the need to use statistics carefully, in blogs and in my book How to Avoid Being Misled by Statistics, go to


Think about these questions:

  • How many people have been killed or wounded by terrorist acts in this country this year? In the last ten years?
  • How many have been killed by serial killers? Gangland killings? Random acts of violence?
  • How many people are killed each year in traffic accidents,? In avoidable accidents at work?

We do not hear of demands for increased resources to protect us from killers of all kinds. We do not hear of draconian solutions being proposed to curtail our freedoms or to ensure that the Road Traffic Acts or Health and Safety Acts are enforced rigorously.

Is there not a risk that we can concentrate too much on one particular risk to the detriment of efforts to deal with many other kinds?

I am not complacent, merely asking for a sense of proportion.

What about you?

How are you prone to overreact?

  • What risk in your business do you concentrate on managing?
  • What others might you be ignoring?
  • When did you last have a Risk Management review, whether conducted by yourself or someone independent?

Is it time to  look at it again? (It’s not for the first time, surely?)

Have a chat with me, if you’re not sure. It won’t cost you anything just to talk about it.


Risk Dice