The Rising Cost of Theatre Tickets - Complications Ensue
Complications Ensue:
The Crafty TV and Screenwriting Blog




Baby Name Voyager graphs baby name frequency by decade.

Social Security Administration: Most popular names by year.

Name Trends: Uniquely popular names by year.

Reverse Dictionary Search: "What's that word that means....?"

Facebook Name Trees Match first names with last names.


Archives

April 2004

May 2004

June 2004

July 2004

August 2004

September 2004

October 2004

November 2004

December 2004

January 2005

February 2005

March 2005

April 2005

May 2005

June 2005

July 2005

August 2005

September 2005

October 2005

November 2005

December 2005

January 2006

February 2006

March 2006

April 2006

May 2006

June 2006

July 2006

August 2006

September 2006

October 2006

November 2006

December 2006

January 2007

February 2007

March 2007

April 2007

May 2007

June 2007

July 2007

August 2007

September 2007

October 2007

November 2007

December 2007

January 2008

February 2008

March 2008

April 2008

May 2008

June 2008

July 2008

August 2008

September 2008

October 2008

November 2008

December 2008

January 2009

February 2009

March 2009

April 2009

May 2009

June 2009

July 2009

August 2009

September 2009

October 2009

November 2009

December 2009

January 2010

February 2010

March 2010

April 2010

May 2010

June 2010

July 2010

August 2010

September 2010

October 2010

November 2010

December 2010

January 2011

February 2011

March 2011

April 2011

May 2011

June 2011

July 2011

August 2011

September 2011

October 2011

November 2011

December 2011

January 2012

February 2012

March 2012

April 2012

May 2012

June 2012

July 2012

August 2012

September 2012

October 2012

November 2012

December 2012

January 2013

February 2013

March 2013

April 2013

May 2013

June 2013

July 2013

August 2013

September 2013

October 2013

November 2013

December 2013

January 2014

February 2014

March 2014

April 2014

May 2014

June 2014

July 2014

 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Americans have put up with a lot of security theatre in airports over the past decade. But theatre isn't free. According to a Cornell study, 520 people die every year because they drive so they don't have to have their junk groped.

The US government's reaction to 9/11 has never been rational. Bruce Schneier has been writing about this for some time. It is not a numbers-based approach. It is a story-based approach. Each time we hear a story about terrorists, we devise a security measure to respond to it.
A short history of airport security: We screen for guns and bombs, so the terrorists use box cutters. We confiscate box cutters and corkscrews, so they put explosives in their sneakers. We screen footwear, so they try to use liquids. We confiscate liquids, so they put PETN bombs in their underwear. We roll out full-body scanners, even though they wouldn’t have caught the Underwear Bomber, so they put a bomb in a printer cartridge. We ban printer cartridges over 16 ounces — the level of magical thinking here is amazing — and they’re going to do something else.

This is a stupid game, and we should stop playing it.

It’s not even a fair game. It’s not that the terrorist picks an attack and we pick a defense, and we see who wins. It’s that we pick a defense, and then the terrorists look at our defense and pick an attack designed to get around it. Our security measures only work if we happen to guess the plot correctly. If we get it wrong, we’ve wasted our money. This isn’t security; it’s security theater.

Understanding how stories work also means understanding where they don't work. Sitting around the campfire talking about how Og killed the tiger helps us all survive the next tiger. But not if the tiger is listening to the story.

I think that human beings are hardwired to understand the world through stories, just as we're hardwired to learn language. I think there is a part of our brain architecture that enables us to make stories out of what happens in the world.

But not everything should be boiled down into a story. What makes a story compelling does not also make it true. But we have a tendency as a species to prefer a compelling story to a boring (or frustrating, or fearsome) truth.

Stories are wonderful. They help us understand the world. You watch a movie about a relationship and maybe you take away an insight about your own relationship. But they are not a substitute for rational thought.

Labels:

3 Comments:

I think the problem isn't a narrative approach, but an inaccurate or incomplete narrative.

By Blogger Austin Storm, at 3:13 PM  

I was making a similar point with a co-worker recently. This has nothing to do with keeping us safe; it's about creating the fiction that they're keeping us safe. Israel's airport security system (And I have real reservations about most Israeli security practices.) is about keeping people safe.

What's supposed to happen when a bomber shows up with a bomb up his ass? Are we supposed to drop our pants, bend over and grab our cheeks? How many violations and indignities are we supposed to suffer in this system? Also, why in the hell is Canada emulating every stupid American practice?

Since this is a film blog, I'll point out that "The Dark Knight" has already showed us the end game in the whole suicide bomber scheme, when someone arrived with a surgically implanted bomb. What would the TSA do to us if that ever became a reality?

By Blogger David, at 1:06 PM  

I think this is an excellent point about how the way we perceive and respond to threats often has nothing to say about the threats themselves, but lots to say about the long march of evolution.

Jason Zweig among others has done an excellent job of summarizing a lot of the neuropsychology behind these types of things, in his case with regards to money and our predisposition to see patterns, when none are there...http://www.jasonzweig.com/book_yourbrain.html

By Blogger Hepworks, at 10:12 AM  

Post a Comment

Back to Complications Ensue main blog page.



This page is powered by Blogger.