Obviously, the TSA's recent policies have come under a bunch of heat, but what's really concerned me more than anything is the reactions I tend to see from spokespeople, politicians, and the media. I actually just flew this weekend (and am on vacation now, typing from my iPad) and have had a few thoughts bouncing in my head I wanted to jot down and get some thoughts on from others. There is a sort of strange stigma attached to flying, and I'm not sure exactly the source. The average person views flying as a scary or risky sort of transportation. When private airplanes crash, it hits news headlines, and people seem to have an impression that airplane crashes are not uncommon. The reality is that commercial planes almost never crash. They are incredibly well engineered with backups upon backups of critical systems. If a commercial plane goes down, it is international news. It is exceedingly rare, and virtually every plane crash you hear on the news involve private planes. I honestly can't remember a commercial flight in the U.S. going down since 9/11; correct me if I am mistaken. The other perception, among Americans, is that we are some kind of enormously huge terrorist target. Which, yes, we are a target, but we are mostly a target due to our interference with other terrorist targets. I'm not going to discuss politics here, but suffice to say that countries like Israel are much bigger terrorist targets than us and many countries have car bombs exploding in their streets, while the U.S. hasn't suffered a notable terrorist attack in a decade. Again, I'm not getting to any point here or saying that we're not a target, but I want to get that point out before I continue. This combination of perceptions, that (A) airplanes go down a lot and are unsafe, and (B) we are the singe largest terrorist target, has led to a sort of "zero acceptable risk" policy. Which, to the layman, sounds fantastic, but is in reality utterly absurd. Consider that there has been very close to zero American airline-related deaths in the last eight years, and hundreds of millions of flyers, and then compare this statistic to the amount of people killed in car crashes every year. How many deaths would be averted if we dropped all speed limits to 20 MPH? Tens of thousands of lives would be saved. Are we, as a society, willing to make that tradeoff? No. We're either not willing to accept that loss of liberty, or not willing to accept the impact on our way of life/society/economics. I believe it was Ben Franklin who stated, "They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security." People, however, tend to get fussy at this viewpoint; one person patriotically began speaking of how people like me had "forgotten" 9/11 but he would never. My viewpoint is not to pretend it never happened, nor to allow it to happen again, but to take reasonable precautions to make it a poor choice of target. Consider that, prior to these new X-ray scanners, airport security has been, so far, sufficient to prevent anyone from successfully harming anyone else on a plane via a bomb or weapons since 9/11. These new security precautions began after someone smuggled a bomb in his underwear. Strangely, the media presents this as a security failure. However, when you examine the facts- the type of bomb the man had to use to get it through a metal detector was so unwieldy that it (A) has been lab demonstrated to not have been powerful enough to take down the plane, and (B) was so difficult to reassemble that the other passengers noticed and stopped him. I would say this is a security success. The man couldn't smuggle a traditional bomb on a plane, so he had to build this unwieldy, nonmetallic, detonator-less device that ended up getting him caught and wouldn't have brought down the plane. Not only has existing security proven more than adequate, the key is to simply make it impossible to repeat 9/11. Essentially, make it impossible (or extremely unfeasible) to hijack a plane. All you need to accomplish that is a big, fat security door between the cockpit and the passengers. Even if a terrorist did somehow get a bomb past security, and that bomb was somehow powerful enough to take down the plane, it would be impossible for the terrorist to get to the cockpit. The worst damage that could conceivably occur would be for the plane to be destroyed (again, worst case scenario), which makes attacking an airplane a...very poor target for terrorists, because they could accomplish just as much damage by destroying a pair of crowded city buses with a tenth of the effort. Israel (again, much bigger terrorist target, gets hit by car bombs regularly) has security doors in the cockpits, and allows their security personnel to profile and asks the same kinds of questions that they do at the border. And that's it. And no one has hijacked an Israeli plane. The most you can do is blow up an Israeli plane, and that's only if you can make it through security; it's so difficult and the payoff is so little (only the passengers, you can't hijack the plane) that the terrorists just use car bombs because it's not worthwhile to attack the airplanes. Yet the media floods us with so much FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) about the evil terrorists out for our airplanes that people seem to think no amount of security is enough and are accepting of increasingly intrusive (and unsafe; see the University of California's statements on the health risks) security, even when other countries that are much bigger targets have successfully implemented policies that stop terrorist attacks on airplanes we clamor for more security and don't bat an eye when it starts to get ridiculous (Israel's head of airport security has publicly berated how silly the TSA is). Can I get thoughts from anyone? Are there flaws in my perspective on this, or does anyone perhaps have more insight in people's viewpoints? I'm trying to get a feel for the public view, because I was rather disappointed by how...narrow minded the people I spoke to on my flights seemed about it, though I didn't want to attempt to engage a deep discussion or debate for the duration of the flight (that's what the internet is for, amirite?). On a side note, I'd also like to encourage anyone who agrees with me to opt-out of the new scanners. I fully agree that I'd rather go through the scanner than get a pat down, but the TSA brags about the low opt-out statistic as proof of customer acceptance of the scanners, and that statistic needs to be hurt. Take a stand. I've tried to opt out my last three flights in the last two weeks, but, strangely, something has occurred every time to allow me to not have to get patted down OR scanned be it a really bored security guard not wanting to do a pat down or the machines being out of order...I always get through unscathed. See: http://attackofthemonday.com/?p=344 Any comments appreciated.