Picture of the Week #11: The Terrorists Have Won

I know, I know. The "terrorists" can dress up as nuns. Or children. Or seniors.

But pictures like the one below just make me sad (even if it is a few years old).

photo courtesy: Flicker user Morning in America

Sadly, a new CBS poll out today suggests that 81% of Americans approve the use of full body scanners. We've got a lot of work to do.


Marcus November 16, 2010 at 10:43 pm

I've been shocked by the number of people who think that the full body scanners are no big deal. I really thought it would have been 80% the other way. Glad I didn't put money on that one...

Nick November 17, 2010 at 12:26 am

All of the discussion just keeps reminding of a wonderful quote from Benjamin Franklin: "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

kalin December 6, 2010 at 09:58 am

TSA: "oh by the way you get blasted by radiation each time you go through our scanners, no biggie"

Michael D December 6, 2010 at 03:51 pm

Radiation is scary because we all know that radiation causes cancer and cancer is a scary thing. But the radiation you receive from the scanners is less than the radiation you receive from one hour of flying at +30k ft. This doesn't justify the TSA from irradiating everyone. But if you are afraid that the radiation from the scanners is going to cause you harm then you should really be terrified of flying.

@Michael D: That is undeniably true, but why make it worse through unnecessary and obtrusive screening?

Michael D December 7, 2010 at 11:00 am

Mathematically you can subtract the increase in your odds of getting cancer from flying from that of flying plus being scanned but your body cannot. It is like saying you feel better about the injuries you will receive from a car accident going 100 but not 101 mph or 1 vs 1.01 mph. Yes the higher speed will be mathematically "worse" but your body will not be able to tell the difference.

Using the hysteria associated with radiation and cancer as a reason to stop the TSA from using those scanners is illogical and unethical. The TSA may not be a logical and ethical organization. But that doesn't justify the argument that the scanners should not be used because of the radiation danger.

Michael, I emphatically disagree with your analysis. The bottom line question is this--can the radiation from the full body scanners be harmful to your health?

Many doctors seem to think so.


Are the machines necessary?

No, for the reasons I have argued ad naseum.

Therefore, there is no justification for even a "micro"mental increase in radiation exposure--and that is not hysteria.

Michael D December 7, 2010 at 07:01 pm

There is no doubt that radiation is harmful. But a one hour flight exposes you to 10 times the radiation of the scanners. If you think the scan's radiation will harm you then the one hour flight will harm you ten times as much.

Those doctors say that low energy x-rays do not penetrate the body and deposit their energy in the skin. Even lower level energy x-rays (17-23keV and 3,000 times the amount of radiation as the scanners) are routinely used for mammography and they manage to penetrate at least 7 cm of tissue to expose the x-ray film. So who is correct? The "experts" or the x-ray film? X-rays which are lower in energy do not penetrate as deeply as higher energy x-rays. Higher energy x-rays cause more damage than lower energy x-rays. These are physical facts known since the discovery of x-rays.

If you want to say that the TSA has no right irradiating you, then I agree. If you want to say that the amount of radiation you are receiving in the scans is going to measurably increase the odds of you getting cancer given that you are going to take a one hour flight then you are wrong.

Four doctors writing a letter to the President's science advisor in April is not "many doctors" thinking so. In fact these four are the only ones I can find who are saying it is dangerous.

With 200k miles flying you have received more than twice the limit of the current acceptable level of radiation (discounting any solar event which you might have been flying in). This is not really pertinent to the argument just FYI.

I get your argument, but just because something is bad doesn't mean that a little more "bad" won't hurt or is acceptable. I may enjoy smoking (actually I hate cigarettes) and voluntarily smoke a pack of cigs each day, but that doesn't mean the government can smoke one more in my face.

RE: The Four UC Doctors

They called for an independent panel of experts to review all the risk data including whether the scanners pose a higher risk to certain folks like pregnant women, seniors, children, and teens.

The government declined their request, reiterating that the scans are safe for everyone. "The imaging machine was independently tested, and these studies have shown that the radiation dose is far below the standards set for safety," says TSA spokesperson Nick Kimball.

Why did the gov't decline the request? Do you trust Uncle Sam that much? The WikiLeaks scandal should give us pause...

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

e.g. http://www.example.com/