The Washington Post‘s Philip Bump has inadvertently declared the victims of the St. Cloud, Minnesota terror attack statistically insignificant, as he fact checks the math in a Skittles metaphor shared by the son of a presidential candidate.
“Donald Trump Jr. inadvertently encourages America to scoop up refugees by the handful,” his headline says, before expanding Donald Trump Jr’s tweet about Skittles and Syrian refugees into a visualization of a libertarian study — swimming pools and calorie counts included.
Bump argues that the actual ratio of poisoned to harmless Skittles is so small that you are free to eat as many as you possibly can without fear of death.
It’s a long excerpt, but you need to see how far he goes to drive the point home.
The libertarian (and Koch brothers-backed) think tank Cato Institute published a report last week assessing the risk posed by refugees. That report stated that, each year, the risk to an American of being killed by a refugee in a terror attack is 1 in 3.64 billion, as Huffington Post’s Elise Foley noted on Twitter. From the report:
From 1975 through 2015, the annual chance that an American would be murdered in a terrorist attack carried out by a foreign-born terrorist was 1 in 3,609,709. Foreigners on the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) killed zero Americans in terrorist attacks, whereas those on other tourist visas killed 1 in 3.9 million a year. The chance that an American would be killed in a terrorist attack committed by a refugee was 1 in 3.64 billion a year.
In other words, for every 10.92 billion years that Americans live — one Skittle, if you will — refugees will kill an American in a terror attack in three.
An actual Skittle is about 1 centimeter squared by about a half a centimeter tall (or thereabouts). Setting aside questions of stacking the oblong Skittles in this very large bowl by assuming each will occupy two-thirds of that volume, we’re talking about one-and-a-half Olympic swimming pools of Skittles. Wrigley produces 200 million Skittles a day, so this is the entire production line for more than 54 days, transported to an oversized swimming pool and dumped in to the top. And in that pool: Three poison Skittles.
If there is one poisoned Skittle in 3.64 billion, that means I could extract quite a few handfuls before I was likely to pick out a poisoned one.
Specifically, about 68.7 million handfuls. Let’s say it takes me one minute to grab a handful and eat them. I would hit a poisoned Skittle, on average, every 130 years. I would also be consuming the equivalent of a package of Skittles every minute, which is about 330,000 calories a day.
Yet he throws in a caveat: “how many handfuls could I grab before I got one that’s poisoned? Well, it could be one, of course.”
Indeed, it could be. And there could have been a jihadist refugee who attacked nine strangers with a knife — just this past weekend. And Bump is, apparently, so consumed by Skittles that he has ignored this fact.
The column includes nothing about Dahir Adan, a “member of Minnesota’s Somali refugee community,” who eyewitnesses say shouted about Allah and asked people whether they were Muslim as he rampaged through Crossroads Mall in St. Cloud, Minnesota.
Per Bump, murder by refugees is so scarce that these Minnesotans’ wounds are statistically insignificant. We could go more than a century before giving them a single thought!