Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Demolishing the threat of terror

Vulture Central has a fantastic demolition of the pointless airport security theatre here. I do strongly recommend that you read the whole article, but the executive summary is this:

Don't worry about terrorism next time you take a flight. There is a very small risk, as an airline passenger, that you will die violently before you land, but it has nothing to do with terrorists. It is entirely down to the chance of an accident.

Consider this, if you don't believe it. The year 2001, which saw four entire airliners destroyed with total loss of life on 9/11, was not in fact a particularly dangerous year to go flying. More airline passengers died in the year 2000; nearly as many died in 2002. Twice as many were killed flying in 1972, despite the fact that many fewer people flew back then, because airliners were far less safe.

Terrorism simply isn't a visible factor in your chances of dying while flying, or indeed while doing anything else: it is insignificant, a problem that has been almost totally eliminated for Western citizens since its not-very-serious heyday in the 1970s and 80s, and you shouldn't worry about it. It would make absolutely no noticeable difference to your or my chances of violent death/injury if terrorism was eradicated overnight.

All of which makes me wonder why there is so much brouhaha from the one-eyed trouser snake to try and "fix" this "problem". Who is benefiting from all this security theatre if it's not us?


Bristol Dave said...

Who is benefiting from all this security theatre if it's not us?

I think you know the answer to that one.

OldSlaughter said...

Because what is next.

After the paper knives were used, people were concerned about more sophisticated attacks.

What would the stats say had the drinks bottle attacks panned out.

It was cracked because it was taken seriously.

What happens if a theocratic apocalyptic organisation got its hands on a nuke?

David Gillies said...

Yes, the threat due to terrorism from an individual risk standpoint is negligible. This does not mean we should refrain from making sure that a very large number of mediaeval Islamic goons end their days in various supersonic flash-fried pieces after a visit from our wide selection of high-tech ordnance. If someone close to me is killed by one of these Dark Ages barbarians, the unlikelihood will be of scant comfort.