Freakonomics Takes on Terrorism

The White House was about to host a summit on terrorism, prompting the Freakonomics Radio team to ask, “Is There a Better Way to Fight Terrorism?”  Wisely, they turned to Carnegie Scholar Robert A. Pape, professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago and director of the Chicago Project on Security & Terrorism, who has written extensively on the subject.  Pape collected the first complete database of all suicide attacks around the world shortly after 9/11, including data from the early 1980’s to just before the Iraq War, 2003.  He tells Freakonomics host Stephen Dubner, “Just as big data has come into our life in sports, our life in the media, so too can big data help to inform at least some of the assumptions and therefore policy prescriptions on national-security affairs.” Pape, author of the books Cutting the Fuse: The Explosion of Global Suicide Terrorism and How to Stop It and Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism, demonstrates how data identifies the root cause of terrorism and can help avoid future tragedies. You can listen to the complete podcast, which also features several other experts on the topic.  Read more about Robert Pape’s work in the Carnegie Results issue “The Truth Behind Suicide Terrorism.”