Monday, November 22, 2010

On full-body Frisks

Much controversy these days over the new rules on full-body scans or full-body frisks, take your pick as a traveler. Apparently this all stems from one unsuccessful attempt by a traveler to conceal explosives in his underwear.

I've been pondering the obvious innumeracy of all of this nonsense. What would our lives look like if there were such draconian rules governing our daily lives in an attempt to make them totally risk-free? One commentator suggested there would be a rule banning left turns. But on analysis this is way mild, as the risk from left turns is higher by several orders of magnitude than the underwear-on-the-airlines risk. Certainly there would be no two-lane highways. Many other products which we use safely every day would be banned.

Perhaps readers can come up with some other examples?

2 comments:

Harley King said...

As one who flies a lot, I find the time spent on preventing future incidents absurd. I, of course, am old enough to remember when flying was actually fun. Between the airlines and government over the last 30 years, they have together made flying a pain in the neck.

An individual is more likely to win the lottery than die in an airplane crash. People are more likely to die driving a car, walking, being shot or choking than they are dying in a plane crash. So, why don't we spend more time and dollars preventing gunshot deaths?

Laura said...

Great point Jerry. The New York Times ran an article yesterday "explaining" the necessity of these measures and "helping" us realize that they are just there to keep us safe and that we should all stop complaining (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/23/us/23land.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&src=twt&twt=nytimes).
The fact that there are many other, worse threats out there is not addressed at all. Why don't we spend more time and dollars preventing gunshot deaths? Well preventing those deaths wouldn't allow us to create a common enemy to blame, violate privacy on a broad scale and justify two wars, I guess.