Jordan Superstitions Analysis

950 Words 4 Pages
The Economics of Terrorism

It is rumored that for every game of Michael Jordan’s fifteen-year basketball career, he wore his University of North Carolina basketball shorts under his uniform. This presented a problem, since his Chicago Bulls shorts were not large enough to fit over his other pair of shorts. To fix this, Jordan instead opted to wear baggy shorts that came down to his knees. Due to the public attention on Jordan, this simple adaptation, interestingly enough, ended up causing every player in the NBA to start wearing these knee-length shorts within a decade.

If one man’s superstition could have such a profound change on the NBA, then perhaps superstitions are more compelling than we think. Perhaps, superstitions could be hidden away in more elaborate topics, maybe even terrorism for instance. Is it then possible that widely held beliefs about terrorism--as with superstitions--could have no basis in truth at all? The answer to this question, as with most things, lies in the wonderful, intricate, and peculiar world of economics.

Who do we imagine
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The reasoning lies, conveniently, in economics--or, more specifically, incentives. It turns out terrorism, unlike crime, is not committed out of self-interest and survival, but out of desire for influence and change. Therefore, describing terrorism as “civic passion on steroids,” Steven D. Levitt suggests in Superfreakonomics that it is easier to instead match a terrorist’s incentives to that of a voter. Educated individuals are more likely to engage with the political activity in their country and therefore become the demographic for potential terrorists. As far as demand goes, terrorist organizations prefer people with the skill and competence to organize an attack with correct methods, targets, and timing, as failure to carry out the attacks would certainly reflect poorly on the

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