The bowl of Skittles analogy

Imagine that you have a large bowl of Skittles, and just three of those Skittles are poisoned. Would you pick up and eat a handful?

Proponents against immigration like to use the bowl of Skittles analogy. They extend this analogy to keep out immigrants, citing how even if a small minority of immigrants have the potential to be criminals, they must be kept outside their country’s borders.

Now if you live in the US, the odds of you being killed by a terrorist born abroad is about 1 in 3 million. That is thrice as low as being struck by lightning (about 1 in a million), and 333 times lower than being killed in a car accident (about 1 in 9000).

This is where the Skittles analogy breaks down. We aren’t talking about a bowl of Skittles, but a vast mountain range, of which merely 3 are poisoned. Further, not helping yourself to a handful from this pile is more irrational than not stepping out of your house for the fear of being struck by lightning, or not going anywhere near a 4-wheeler.

The next time you hear the bowl of Skittles analogy argument, enquire how large the ‘bowl’ is.

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