The downing of a Russian passenger jet, coordinated terrorist attacks on Paris and subsequent ISIS threats against cities in the United States have many travelers more worried than usual when they board that airline this holiday week. Andrew Shaver, a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at Princeton, writes in the Washington Post today that that’s exactly the effect the terrorists hope to have.

Shaver notes that Americas are all but immune from a terrorist attack on American soil, statistically speaking:

In the United States, an individual’s likelihood of being hurt or killed by a terrorist (whether an Islamist radical or some other variety) is negligible.

Consider, for instance, that since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Americans have been no more likely to die at the hands of terrorists than being crushed to death by unstable televisions and furniture. Meanwhile, in the time it has taken you to read until this point, at least one American has died from a heart attack. Within the hour, a fellow citizen will have died from skin cancer.

Shaver doesn’t mention the Boston Marathon bombing, but his point is clear: Americans invest a huge but disproportionate amount of resources, both psychological and financial, into preventing terrorism, when there are so many more likely dangers that surround us.

What is the Washington Post trying to do to our minds?