Posts Tagged ‘Precautionary Principle’

Airport security and the monetisation of distrust

February 25, 2014

I am just back after a trip of 10 days and have suffered the travails of airport security at 5 airports.

It occurs to me that the behaviour of the security personnel (by definition composed of people required to follow a particular protocol and required NOT TO THINK) is primarily a measure of distrust.

  1. The “security” industry is just too large and too lucrative to disappear.
  2. Whether or not airport security achieves its purpose is not measurable and it is to the industry’s benefit that it not be measurable.
  3. The greater the inconvenience and hassle generated, the greater the perception that something useful is being achieved. (Hassle free security checks – which could be done – is not beneficial to the industry).
  4. The security checks are the single most disruptive and stressful part of the journey.
  5. Idiot security staff (chosen so since they are not required to think) are vested with a power to ruin your travel experience and doing so is one of the little pleasures they have in their jobs. They are more formidable than any immigration control officer.

Distrust has been monetised and some industries are making a killing. It is the monetisation of the precautionary principle where it pays handsomely to be alarmist.

I will not see a return in my lifetime to the days when the travel itself was a pleasurable experience. Those days are long since gone and will probably never return.

Fortunately it is still exciting to arrive.

In-flight electronics ban is based on fears – not on any evidence

September 17, 2012

I am always irritated when the regulations regarding in-flight electronics are announced at the start of a flight. I dutifully switch my phone off not because I have any perception of causing danger but only because I don’t want to be denied travel.

There is no evidence whatsoever that using electronic devices on flights – whether during take-off and landing or while cruising – has any deleterious effects on aircraft navigation or any other technical operations during the flight. But this regulation – like so many others – was based originally on fears. Getting rid of an existing regulation even when there is no evidence that the fear is justified is extremely difficult. Once any irrational – but fear-based – regulation is in place the onus of proof shifts from showing something to be unsafe to proving instead that it is not unsafe. And proving a negative is not very easy.

An FAA regulator is walking down the street snapping his fingers continuously. A guy stops him and asks, “Why are you snapping your fingers all the time?”  “To keep wild elephants away.” “That’s ridiculous!“, says the guy. The regulator replies, “Oh, yeah? You don’t see any wild elephants around do you?”

The Wall Street Journal writes:

Do Our Gadgets Really Threaten Planes?

The ban on electronic devices rests on anecdotes, not on hard evidence—because there isn’t any.


Spending billions for no return: AGW alarmism going the way of the Y2K panic

February 23, 2012

I have yet to come across a case where Alarmism and the invocation of the Precautionary Principle to spend billions has been justified. The Precautionary Principle itself is flawed and is  usually invoked to justify actions in favour of  a political ideology which go against common sense. There are no principles involved.  For example the billions spent on “preventing” the alleged Y2K meltdown were shown to have been essentially unnecessary  when countries which just did not have the money to spend suffered no significant ill-effects (Ukraine and Romania for example).

The Precautionary Principle: An activist is walking down the street snapping his fingers continuously. A guy stops him and asks, “Why are you snapping your fingers all the time?” The activist answers, “To keep wild elephants away.” “That’s ridiculous!”, says the guy. The activist replies, “Oh, yeah? You don’t see any wild elephants around do you?”

The AGW othodoxy is following the same path where trillions are being spent in following political objectives which have no basis and go against common sense.

Professor Richard Lindzen of MIT has been addressing the UK House of Commons.

The Independent: Is catastrophic global warming, like the Millenium Bug, a mistake?


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