Episode 79

Episode 79 Transcript courtesy of Laurie Foster

Mandatory Credit: Photo by REX USA (2642870a)
"Not all blank" Knee-Jerks 1926
Zealots 1585
See All the Problems...

This week, our thoughts are with the fallen in France. Dick has a knee-jerk reaction to “knee-jerks,” and I cut right through all the bullshit and get to the heart of the problem with zealots. Speaking of Bullshit, I’m finally releasing my Penn & Teller video with my official response to my appearance on their show.

Special thanks to Harry’s for sponsoring this episode. Go to Harry’s website and use the promo code “BIGGESTPROBLEM” when checking out to get $5 off your first purchase. And thanks to Harry’s and our listeners for supporting this show for the rest of the year.

I made the argument several times before about poverty being a key factor in countries that harbor the most terrorism, and here’s the evidence again since it was abjectly ignored the last time I brought it in:

(Sources below)

And here are the lowest 30% of countries by GDP per capita where 6 of the top 10 countries from the list above also have the highest incidents of terrorism (the IMF didn’t report data for Syria in 2014, but Syria was ranked 136 on the list according to the CIA World Factbook). Asterisks indicate countries with high levels of sectarian violence (Buddhist separatists in Myanmar, farm attacks in Zimbabwe, rebel attacks in Ethiopia, rebel attacks in Congo and CAR, etc) that weren’t in the top 10. Clearly poverty isn’t the only cause of terrorism and civil unrest, but it’s a good indicator. Iraq wasn’t on the list of lowest GDP per capita because of oil money, but that money is concentrated in the hands of relatively few.


Just three countries—Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan—accounted for 54 percent of terrorist attacks and 58 percent of terrorist fatalities in 2012. All three of them are Muslim countries. Want to know who wants to solve the problem of terrorism the most? Muslim countries. That said, of the 50 or so Muslim countries in the world, only roughly 6 are dealing with terrorism, and all 6 happen to be among the poorest. Poverty and lack of access to good education usually go hand-in-hand. Sources below.

As for the argument that most terrorism is Muslim, The Daily Beast has a great article about it: Are All Terrorists Muslims? It’s Not Even Close. They cite an interesting study that finds that not only is most terrorism not Muslim, most of it isn’t even religiously motivated. Here’s an excerpt from that report that found ethno-nationalist and separatist terrorism accounted for the majority of incidents from 2009-2013:

(Sources below)

This is important to note, because blaming people who are innocent will foment reprisal attacks, killing more innocent people, causing more reprisal attacks and the next thing we know we’re in World War III. Don’t be idiots.

And here’s the podcast for our SoundCloud listeners:

Statista – Countries with the highest number of deaths by terrorism in 2013, by percentage of total deaths
Slate – More Than Half of the World’s Terrorist Attacks Happen in Just Three Countries
TheDailyBeast – Are All Terrorists Muslims? It’s Not Even Close
Wikipedia/IMF – GDP per capita

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