Although only 23 people on average have been killed per year by terrorist attacks in the United States since 2001, American citizens and politicians consistently rank terrorism as a top security threat, leading to costly wars abroad and the repression of civil liberties at home. To what extent can education about terrorism alter perceptions of the threat? Much existing scholarship—and consistent polling over the past two decades—suggests that it cannot, but we disagree. Evidence gathered from an extensive series of experimental and observational surveys involving students in 31 terrorism and non-terrorism related courses at 12 universities—including massive open online courses (MOOC) and online surveys—reveals that the more individuals learn about terrorism, the smaller they perceive the threat to be to themselves and to the U.S. In the fight against terrorism and the fear it inspires, knowing really is half the battle.
Krause, Peter, Daniel Gustafson, Jordan Theriault, and Liane Young. 2022. “Knowing Is Half the Battle: How Education Decreases the Fear of Terrorism.” Journal of Conflict Resolution (April). https://doi.org/10.1177/00220027221079648.