Friday, August 18, 2006

Wagging the Dog, sort of

Since last week, a media frenzy has exploded over how unsafe air travel is since terrorists can get a hold of easy to make and easy to conceal explosives. Interestingly enough, its possible that this could be largely conjecture. While the possiblity of making one of these explosives is relevant, the primary question is feasibility and effectiveness of this method of terror.

The Register is running an interesting article on just this point. It generally concludes that using the common ingredient to make these liquid bombs, TATP, is difficult to make and can be unstable. Moreover, it would take quite a bit to bring down an airliner. It's feasible that a terrorist could use this kind of bomb to blow a hole in the air plane, but it is unlikely it would take down the whole plane, even with a small hole.

We see this scenario everywhere today (Times Online, LA Times, UK News, ZDnet, Time, NPR, USNews, and CNN). But why? This could be one perspective. Politicians are rallying the troops. The goal is to keep the American people scared of something that is statistically unlikely in order to sway votes. Even the President is hoping so. Why focus on what is really going wrong and what really needs to be fixed, when you can terrorize the country with a mass media blitz that will butress expanded governmental power? It's clearly the goal when certain media outlets devote significant resources to keeping us "informed." What makes this even more clear is the way the President has attacked decisions that would inhibit his unconstitutional actions.

The reality of the situation is th media spins the news, and politics takes advantage. The only way to rectify the problem is to be more cynical, to question more of what we are told. That should be the ultimate goal, a population motivated to seek out different points of view on world events, to get educated, and to vote based on that education.

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