A lot of people are upset about the TSA scanners, and I’m with them. It’s ridiculous how burdensome flying is becoming for no appreciable safety increase. The most dangerous part of flying is driving to the airport. We surely aren’t spending $8b to make that safer.
Unfortunately, a big part of the rallying cry is around “be afraid of the x-rays”. I was surprised how many of my tech friends got wrapped up in this one, even though the available data suggests otherwise. The FDA has a pretty thorough write up about the process and testing for the scanners. I do get that people, in general, aren’t interested in facts, but I was hoping that in a more educated and technical audience that wouldn’t be as true. Running around saying “be afraid of x-rays” is the same kind of scare mongering as the TSA is using to put all these ridiculous enhanced security measures in place.
Fighting fear with fear just generate hysteria and stampedes, and drowns out all the rational conversation, the one that shows just how ineffective and invasive these scanners are.
I think Seth Godin gets to the heart of things around the TSA and the new scanners:
Smart marketers know how to pivot. I think it’s time to do that. Start marketing the idea that flying is safe, like driving, but it’s not perfect, like driving. If someone is crazy enough to hurt themselves or spend their life in jail, we’re not going to stop them, and even if we did, they’d just cause havoc somewhere else. So instead of spending billions of dollars a year in time and money pretending, let’s just get back to work.
The current model doesn’t scale.
I’m anti TSA back scatter scanner, but it’s not because of the radiation, which is actually quite small. Coming in at a measure of 0.005 mrem, it’s about 1/2 of what you get by eating a banana. If you live in a brick house you are getting at least 20x that radiation level every day.
I’m anti back scatter scanner because I think it’s a 4th amendment violation, and that it’s an incredibly expensive waste of money. That money could be better spent on kitchen safety, as kitchen appliances kill more people a year than terrorists do.