In the Wake Of The Latest Terrorist Attacks, Here's A Rational Approach To Saving Lives

from the psychology-of-security dept

The knee-jerk response of politicians to terrorist attacks -- calling for more surveillance, more crackdowns, more displays of purposeless force -- is by now so routine that we don't even remark on it. We tend to go along with their plans because we are very poor at estimating risks, and thus often end up making bad decisions about trade-offs -- specifically, trading off liberty in the (misguided) hope that it will deliver security. That's not a new insight -- Bruce Schneier wrote two fascinating posts on what he called "The Psychology of Security" as far back as 2008. But maybe it's time to start challenging a strategy that hasn't worked, doesn't work and will never work. Maybe we should start pushing for an alternative response to terrorist attacks -- one based on logic and the facts, not rhetoric and fear. That's exactly what Björn Brembs, Professor of Neurogenetics at Regensburg University in Germany, has done in a short blog post about a more rational approach that avoids bad trade-offs. As he writes:

It is very difficult to prevent casualties such as those in the recent terror attacks in Madrid, London, Paris, Brussels or elsewhere, without violating basic human rights and abandoning hard-won liberties.
So what might we do instead? Brembs suggests a new kind of "death prevention program." Not one based on futile attempts to stop every terrorist attack, but a compensatory plan to save far more lives than terrorists ever take:
There are ~1.2 [million] preventable deaths in Europe alone every year. These deaths are due to causes such as lung cancer, accidental injuries, alcohol related diseases, suicides and self-inflicted injuries. With even in the 1970s and 1980s terrorist-related fatalities never exceeding 500 per year, we are confident that we will be able, from now on, to save at least 100 lives for every one that is being taken in a terrorist attack.

To reach this ambitious goal, we will start with increasing our efforts to prevent alcohol and tobacco-related deaths through effective public-health intervention programs as well as basic and applied biomedical research into the prevention, causes and treatment of these diseases and disorders. With about 30,000 annual fatalities in traffic-related accidents, we will also introduce European-wide speed limits, strong enforcement via speed-traps and an increased police force which collaborates across Europe. Drivers convicted of violating speed limits or DUI will have their driver's licenses withdrawn for extended periods of time. Should these activities fail to reach these goals, we will start targeting more areas.
Although it could be argued that some of those measures are themselves restrictions on freedom (and things like speed traps haven't been shown to make the roads any safer), against the background of today's harsh anti-terror laws, and plans for even more surveillance -- the UK's Snooper's Charter, for example -- those don't look as bad. In any case, implementation details are less important than shifting emphasis to this very different approach. The idea of focusing on stopping preventable deaths caused by known factors, rather than chasing after unpredictable events is a good one. Moreover, as Brembs writes, a "death prevention program" would not only preserve basic human rights and civil liberties better than today's response, it would also benefit the economy and boost employment:
Our investment in basic and applied research will yield discoveries that will benefit all of humanity long after the last terrorist has sacrificed his life in vain. With our new program, every single terrorist attack will save the lives of countless more citizens than it has cost, turning terrorism into a net life-saving activity.
That, surely, is the way to truly defeat the terrorists -- rather than handing them an easy victory by accepting disproportionate measures that destroy the very freedoms politicians claim to defend.

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  • icon
    Brent Ashley (profile), 29 Mar 2016 @ 3:47am

    If that's the goal

    This presumes that the goal of the current security developments is actually to reduce the effects of terrorism as stated. If it turned out that the real goal was to increase power and perpetuate revenue, we might find that there is little appetite among those in control for a rational approach to saving more lives. Perhaps the current strategy is serving their goals already.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2016 @ 9:01am

      Re: If that's the goal

      This is exactly the Goal. Regardless of how 9-11 came about, the government wasted just exactly no time using it as an excuse to rob liberty from a willing and cowardly population.

      In the name of Terrorism and Child porn they have justified our complete and utter surrender to an Authoritarian regime... for our safety and security of course!

      Remember when your parents told you to always do whatever a cop tells you? That is how you enable a Police State. The state can never be trusted, and must eternally be challenged for its Power & Authority. The price of liberty is eternal vigilance, as the furnace of human corruption heats the world.

      There is not a single right mentioned in the Constitution that is not under a concerted assault by the Government. The supreme court has fallen a long time ago an no longer serves it intended function, Congress has unconstitutionally given it's law making power to Alphabet Soup agencies, and the Executive branch has been regularly abusing every last power it has, completely unchecked by Congress. All of it fed upon by worthless citizens that are okay with it so long as the corruption in power services their idea of America, only act outraged when the other side does it in return! We have successfully fulfilled George Washington's prophecy in his Farewell address if we persisted with this terrible 2 party system that seeks to pit Americans against Americans!

      The corruption is so well entrenched that it is now an open secret like the 'emperors new cloths' and you can see video's on youtube of law enforcement both large and small antagonizing the citizenry and mocking us.

      It is like they want us to rebel so they can have a field day killing citizens.

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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 29 Mar 2016 @ 4:04am

    Given the vast differences between 'lives lost to terrorism' and 'lives lost by other preventable causes', cutting 'anti-terrorism' funding by even 25% and putting it pretty much anywhere else would likely save more lives.

    Research into preventative diseases, funding for treatment, almost anything would be a better target of the money if the goal is to save lives.

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    • icon
      MadAsASnake (profile), 29 Mar 2016 @ 4:49am

      Re:

      Just dropping the funding itself will likely reduce attacks as there will be less effort spent on actions that drive people in that way. It is all money that should be put back in the overall budget to benefit all people in society - ie it shouldn't be earmarked for "terrorism (tm)" at all.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2016 @ 9:43am

        Re: Re:

        Sadly there is a lot of truth to these claims.

        Just like a self fulfilling prophecy the American response against terrorism is often terrorist in nature itself and only breeds more terrorism.

        If the TSA or DHS was formed during WWII we might have lost the war due to its waste and bureaucracy. It was bad enough that the Japanese were all hauled away but at least they didn't foolishly target the normal citizens like we do now pretty much treating everyone as a potential terrorist.

        At a certain point some people WILL think... if they are going to treat me like one anyways...

        Like I said, self fulfilling prophecy and the government seems all for breeding more terrorism for political gain.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2016 @ 4:46am

    I can tell you how to save 1 million lives a year

    If we really want to save lives, there is an easy way to save 1 million per year just in the US.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2016 @ 4:50am

    What does "instead" mean?

    "However, there are ~1.2M preventable deaths in Europe alone every year. We propose to do something about these lives instead."

    So this is a binary choice? We can't do (or try) both?

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    • icon
      Dark Helmet (profile), 29 Mar 2016 @ 6:12am

      Re: What does "instead" mean?

      "So this is a binary choice? We can't do (or try) both?"

      This. Put more simply, we CAN talk about terrorism in the context of global body count and simply decide to save lives unrelated to the threat of terrorism where we can, add up the plus/minus and declare victory, if we want. But what very silly people we would be if we did.

      I appreciate any time someone points out the relatively small threat that terrorism presents in our daily lives compared with all the other ways one might figure out how to die in the West. This, again, misses the point entirely, as it takes the question of intention out of the equation and focuses strictly on body counts. And intentions matter. Nobody intends to cause death by having a drink, and nobody intends to cause danger by driving 10mph over the speed limit. But the terrorist SPECIFICALLY intends to wreak death and harm with their actions, which leads to the important question: will any of these numbers make sense any longer if/when terrorist groups suddenly become capable of racking up larger body counts?

      No, they won't. I don't mean to suggest that ISIS is on the verge of getting its hands on a nuclear weapon; I have no reason to think that they are. But I'm confident I know what ISIS would do if they did get their hands on such a weapon, and I know that all of the math above in the post goes sideways if that happens.

      This isn't to suggest that we curtail liberty and there is certainly nothing wrong with preventing death where we can, as the post advocates. But who is arguing AGAINST this? Anyone? Contextualizing saving these lives while discussing terrorism is nice for feeling better, but it takes the eye off the ball: global terrorism, particularly from religious motivations, is a problem best dealt with when the body counts are small rather than once they become truly horrifying...

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      • icon
        Ninja (profile), 29 Mar 2016 @ 7:06am

        Re: Re: What does "instead" mean?

        We could start by treating terrorism as any other crime. There's a difference between killing someone intentionally and not.

        I agree that we should give plenty of attention to the problem. But with proper priorities given based on its real threat. Human Rights (and in your case, your Constitution) are many steps above in the priority ladder.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2016 @ 9:23am

          Re: Re: Re: What does "instead" mean?

          No... Terrorism is NOT a Crime as any other, it is an act of war by petty miscreants that seek a war of attrition with people they hate and seek to crush or utterly destroy!

          I hate the Police State but, get your head out of your rear, Terrorism is nothing more than enemy combatants committing war upon someone and should only be addressed by the Military, not high school drop out law enforcement military rejects!

          This is why all non-Citizens should never have a single Constitutional right within the borders of the US. This is why we should be very discriminatory with whom we allow to become citizens. Because once they become citizens... all of their actions then must be addressed through the lens of the Constitution.

          Right now we only have the ineptitude of these backward Muslim assholes to thank for the damage not being greater than it is because we already know that the idiots in charge, and likely you, would rather see more dead citizens than to dare be seen saying or doing anything that might appear to be politically incorrect to a Muslim.

          So the natural solution is police state... where everyone gets their body felt up, their cash/property seized, and their privacy invaded as desired by the government in complete and willful violation of the Constitution.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2016 @ 8:37am

        Re: Re: What does "instead" mean?

        global terrorism, particularly from religious motivations

        Would you say North Korea's blustering and testing of nukes is religious terrorism? Does Russia or China's territorial ambitions have a religious basis? If not, do we place less importance on them?

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        • icon
          Dark Helmet (profile), 29 Mar 2016 @ 9:14am

          Re: Re: Re: What does "instead" mean?

          "Would you say North Korea's blustering and testing of nukes is religious terrorism? Does Russia or China's territorial ambitions have a religious basis? If not, do we place less importance on them?"

          While I would caution against conflating normal geopolitical chicanery with terrorism, as they aren't remotely the same thing, North Korea is probably the most religious state I've ever seen. That said, the government itself is not motivated by religion, which is why keeping them in check is so easy. Pyongyang is a whole lot of talk and no action. They're chiefly a threat to their own people and not much else.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2016 @ 9:51am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: What does "instead" mean?

            Yea, they like to trot out that old "Religion is the Cause of all War and human suffering" shit every time they can.

            Humans are the cause of all War and Suffering, we will do it with or without religion happily.

            And in all likely hood, the person that likes to claim this against religion is likely so mentally unhinged that they too would be of the very mind that would war in the name of their religion were they in a position of power.

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      • icon
        Uriel-238 (profile), 29 Mar 2016 @ 11:57am

        Re: Re: What does "instead" mean?

        I disagree. Terror is about freaking out communities and getting us to panic and making things worse.

        If we treated it as an apolitical crime, say, another madman on another shooting rampage (which we do when a white guy shoots up an abortion clinic) terror attacks would become another disaster that we weather, like everything else.

        It's something we haven't tried before (and won't): Hunt down the assailants, comfort the bereaved. Rebuild what was broken. But don't acknowledge Islamic State or any political cause behind an attack.

        The damage is done not by the attack itself, but how the society responds to it.

        The problem is, our officials like getting more power, so they're happy to ride the panic like a curl off Honolulu.

        San Bernadino was essentially another US rampage shooting, yet because the guy might have someday done something bigger, and he was an Arab Muslim, and he read dabiq, we decided that it was a terror attack brought to us straight from the Levant.

        Think about how much we spend on fighting terror. Then think of what we could do with those taxpayer funds if we chose not to fight terror so hard, especially since all our fighting isn't really amounting to anything, but making some weapon industries rich.

        I'd rather have the fusion reactor and the cure for cancer, thank you.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2016 @ 9:39am

      Re: What does "instead" mean?

      the former would probably contribute to more terrorist attacks than the latter.

      Remove people's freedoms and they fight back. Though the same could be said of droning people and calling the non combatants caught in the blast "collateral damage"

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  • icon
    Peter (profile), 29 Mar 2016 @ 5:08am

    No fame to gain

    Heart attack, smoking, traffic accident - 'silent' deaths. Somewhere, someone passes away. Few people notice, few people care.
    A big bang - tens or hundreds of victims, millions scared - that's where heros are made.
    Go kick Sadam's butt. Catch the bad guys before the act using clever data finickery. Hoorah, mankind saved.
    Or not. Who cares - by the time we learn the great idea didn't work (again), our hero has already won the election, got their budget, bathed in the spotlights.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2016 @ 8:00am

      Re: No fame to gain

      "The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic." - commonly attributed to Joseph Stalin.

      He wasn't wrong. See the comment in the article about people being exceptionally bad at judging risk.

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  • identicon
    Quiet Lurcker, 29 Mar 2016 @ 5:17am

    How to cut terrorism in one simple step, without shifting spending priorities or or even spending a single, thin dime:

    Don't report on terrorism or the inevitable investigations into same.

    The terrorists want attention. Don't give it to them.

    How to cut terrorism in one simple (expensive) step: Carpet bomb Iran

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    • identicon
      Simpltons revenge, 29 Mar 2016 @ 6:00am

      Re: Iran

      I think you misspelled saudi arabia

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    • icon
      frank87 (profile), 29 Mar 2016 @ 6:46am

      Re:

      You're wrong. They want to kill, rape and plunder jews and kaffir.
      The bombs made them heroes to their friends. But they build a reputation by stealing and plundering.

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    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 29 Mar 2016 @ 7:13am

      Re:

      How to cut terrorism in one simple (expensive) step: Carpet bomb Iran

      Considering many terrorists are home bred I'd correct that to:

      How to cut terrorism in one simple (expensive) step: implode planet Earth

      Or, maybe, agree that the current foreign policies just breed more terrorism and hatred and actually start doing it right without discriminating anyone.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2016 @ 5:19am

    This approach doesn't address

    the contribution of fear inducing industries to the GDP. "Which lives to save", is where the wicket gets sticky. What Bjorn does is highlight how far we are willing to go to not address an uncomfortable question.

    The psychology of it boils down to this: There are certain things in this world that narcissists typically sabotage or regard as unintelligable. Not because they don't understand those things, but because they can't leverage them. "Pride of workmanship" generally falls in that category. Parlimentary procedure doesn't compensate for the related sabotage. AGILE does to some degree.

    So Democracy 2.0, or governance by best practices, is really a procedural thing. But even just using modern document handling practices in legislation would mitigate huge swaths of corruption.

    The issue here is that there ARE ways to manage collective mania. Even in the Senate. Note however, that they WILL send your sons and daughters overseas to die in some shit hole, just to distract you from implementing any of them. They have before.

    It isn't about the war. It isn't about terrorism. It isn't about the flavor of the week. It is about them. The entire time you've been looking away, it was because they wanted you to look away. That is how they maintain control.

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  • icon
    frank87 (profile), 29 Mar 2016 @ 5:55am

    The problem isn't countable in lives.

    The problem is some people totaly disrespect the law. These guys are supported by AK47-swinging drugsdealers.
    Educating law abiding citisens might save more lives but doesn't solve that problem.
    Normal policework does (and maybe legalizing drugs will cut the funding of their lifestyle)

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2016 @ 6:13am

    The changing war

    So instead of the war on terrorism, we'll have the war on alcohol, the increased war on drugs, the war on smoking, the war on high-fat diets, the war on.....
    All of this has in common, more power to the elites and police.

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    • icon
      FITZ! (profile), 29 Mar 2016 @ 11:32am

      Re: The changing war

      A culture shift can be more effective than laws and law enforcement. Just look at cigarettes. Yes, there have been laws, but they've been accompanied by educational campaigns that led a reversal in how cigarettes are viewed in our society.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2016 @ 6:13am

    So we admit defeat?

    The people we elect and pay big bucks to (with all their pet projects) can't figure out how to stop a terrorist. So the solution is shrug their shoulders and say "Meh."

    Why not just be honest and say the terrorist have won? Sorry you family was blown up but we 'saved' a hundred lives by writing speeding tickets.

    I don't think people realize the terrorist are doing this to be in the spotlight. These are not some low life LA ghetto bangers wanting 15 minutes of fame on the nightly news. These terrorist just want people dead. Their view of life is very simple...their way or dead. These terrorist have created a Caliphate under Sharia law. Their motto is "the only good infidel is a dead infidel". The half-assed idea I just read in this article will just increase attacks.

    But hey, I guess it will balance the spreadsheet. For every person killed in a terrorist attack we saved one person from binge drinking themselves to death.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2016 @ 7:36am

      Re: So we admit defeat?

      Not entirely. Terrorist don't want us dead individually. They want to destroy the concept of the western civilization. And they are succeeding. Every time a successful attempt happens, more restrictions and security happens. Multi billion dollars have been spent to stop terrorism. The only thing we have to show for it is a bunch of fake terrorism plots stopped. I think it was a complete waste of money and thought so since the TSA started. That money should have gone to pay for secondary education for students, help the environment, maybe even have a fund that pays the victim's family.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2016 @ 10:46am

        Re: Re: So we admit defeat?

        This is exactly the effect they are looking for.

        We experience a few terror attacks and let them get to us... meanwhile the Terrorists read in our own newspapers about how infrastructure is suffering under the massive financial toll anti-terrorism is costing and sit back in victory.

        All they have to do is periodically bomb, saw off a head, or gun folks down to keep the pressure and fear up and people will keep running around like scarred children begging for government to take our liberty to protect us from the big bad monsters.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2016 @ 9:11am

      Re: So we admit defeat?

      It isn't about binge drinking or any one thing. It is about realizing limitations. We can only educate so many people about drinking. We can only prevent so many terrorist attacks.

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    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 29 Mar 2016 @ 12:46pm

      Re: So we admit defeat?

      We admitted defeat when we chose to torture.

      We admitted defeat when we chose to hire mercenaries to do our dirty work.

      The United States today is not based on the ideals on which I was raised to believe it was and promised would be upheld forever.

      (Perhaps it never was.)

      But this United States is just a different band of terrorist thugs with a budget, so we send our bombs via drone instead of human carrier.

      We don't have the moral high ground. We aren't God's chosen, and I don't support the United States as a nation, if it's a nation that tortures and imprisons without due process, that enforces bad law only on the meek, that regards its own people as the enemy, that tolerates judicial overreach and police brutality.

      This is not a nation worth saving. We've long been defeated already.

      Feel free to change it into something that serve the people. By then it will be a whole different state.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2016 @ 6:27am

    'it's time to start challenging a strategy that hasn't worked, doesn't work and will never work'

    the thing here is that politicians/governments and security forces are fully aware that what they are doing in ramping up surveillance and everything else they can think of wont work ON TERRORISTS but will work on us ordinary citizens, regardless of where we live and the regime we are under. the truth of that is that we are the easiest one to conduct surveillance on, to remove freedom and privacy from and that is the MAIN AIM, and has been all along. what they have been waiting for is a bunch of thick fucking terrorists to come along and start blowing things up and murdering people so as to give the excuses needed to be able to watch every move WE make, to read every comment WE write, to listen to every sentence WE speak and that is the situation we are not only in but will get worse, because more than anything else, governments/politicians and security forces dont want citizens to be able to learn anything about what THEY are doing because they are such lying, cheating, two-faced, double standards, back stabbing fuckers who want to get away with everything they do, especially when it is underhanded (using their position to make extra cash!) and/or embarrassing!!

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2016 @ 6:48am

      Re:

      And to continue that thought and what I didn't point out in my previous comment. What does work and is a somewhat Constitutionally protected right is the ability of citizens to carry arms.

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      • icon
        Uriel-238 (profile), 29 Mar 2016 @ 12:58pm

        The right to bear arms

        The second amendment only serves when the citizens have enough gun discipline to take care of their weapons, hit what they aim at and secure them from curious toddlers.

        And a lot of our gun-owners don't follow through on this responsibility.

        I'm not saying we should challenge the right to bear arms, but we certainly need to change our culture to respect them more. (While we're at it, a little more respect for circular saws and power tools wouldn't hurt.)

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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 29 Mar 2016 @ 6:51am

    You have to talk to those that are effectively benefiting from those failed anti-terrorism policies. Or do we really think nobody is benefiting?

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2016 @ 7:10am

    This controversy isn't about saving lives,

    it's about social & political control.

    You little people just don't get it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2016 @ 9:49am

      Re: This controversy isn't about saving lives,

      I am pretty certain every history buff remembers the reichstag fire, and gets this perfectly.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2016 @ 10:02am

        Re: Re: This controversy isn't about saving lives,

        He was not wrong, the little people don't get it, which is why any of the current candidates for prez are not laughed off the stage. Every one of them are pro police state, not a single one of them seek to restore any aspect of liberty to America.

        Those historians are often only consulted by those in power. What better way to trick and deceive the citizens than to pull off some of the same old moves that fooled people in the past.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2016 @ 7:10am

    "and an increased police force"

    That will eventually be used for more surveillance and warrantless searches and seizures and a more abusive police force in general. Yes, just when we have a problem with police abuse this is exactly what we need, more police.

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  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 29 Mar 2016 @ 7:17am

    More strict speed limits is not the answer. I know we've all heard the slogan "speed kills", but that's just not true; it's all in the context. A person could die from being run over at 10 MPH, where 40 would have knocked them out of the way and left them with broken bones instead. And when you're inside the vehicle, surrounded by a few tons of metal armor, it's even less relevant.

    Poor safety kills. You want to save lives? Run programs that encourage people to trade in old cars for newer ones with better safety features. Crack down on aggressive and unsafe drivers, the kind who cause accidents. (If I were writing the rules, I'd have the system treat tailgating in exactly the same way as DUI.) But speed is literally the entire point of having a car, so leave that one alone. It's the only reason we put up with the expense, the maintenance, the traffic and all of the other headaches that being a driver and a car owner regularly brings into our lives: because they are faster than any other way to freely get around. (By "freely" I mean how you can get precisely to wherever you're going, as opposed to taking a plane which only flies from an airport to an airport.)

    If anything, I'd like to see all the speed limits (for highways at least, where the chance of meeting an unarmored individual are negligible) raised by 10 MPH where I live, and see a lot more tailgaters getting pulled over.

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    • icon
      JoeCool (profile), 29 Mar 2016 @ 11:17am

      Re:

      Very good points. The saying is actually wrong - it's not "speed kills", it's "difference in speed kills". Everyone driving down the freeway at 80MPH doesn't kill, it's that SJW in the fast lane doing 40MPH that kills. That's why you're more likely to get a ticket in LA or San Diego for doing 40 in the fast lane than for doing 80. In fact, my mom once got a ticket for doing 70 in LA... NOT for speeding, but for impeding the flow of traffic.

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      • icon
        John Fenderson (profile), 29 Mar 2016 @ 11:35am

        Re: Re:

        "In fact, my mom once got a ticket for doing 70 in LA... NOT for speeding, but for impeding the flow of traffic."

        That's the law in my state as well. My state is a "basic rule" state -- the correct speed to drive is not the one listed on the speed signs, but is the one that is the safest considering road conditions. That may be above or below the posted limit, and you can get a ticket for driving so fast or so slow that you are impeding or endangering other traffic.

        The caveat: yes, it's technically possible to legally exceed the posted limits, but if you get a ticket when you're doing so, you'll have to prove in court that the speed you were driving was reasonable. In practice, that can be a difficult thing to do, since you have to document the road conditions at the time.

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        • icon
          JoeCool (profile), 29 Mar 2016 @ 2:37pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Yes, quite a few states are like that. That also allows them to ticket someone going SLOWER than the speed limit, but still too fast for conditions, like doing 55 in the fog. Sure, you're obeying the posted speed limit, but you're going FAR too fast for the conditions. People need to slow down for things like that... and snow and ice and etc.

          So what do you do when the general flow of traffic is too fast for the conditions? For example, EVERYONE is doing 55 through the fog. Answer - don't join them. Take another route, or stop at a cafe and have some coffee while waiting for the fog to lift. Maybe leave a little earlier before the fog forms. I used to go to college a full three hours early to avoid traffic and weather conditions I knew would develop. I'd then take a nap in the common area of the engineering building... along with a half dozen other people who had the same idea.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Socrates, 29 Mar 2016 @ 6:42pm

            Solomon curve

            This is good advice.

            The Solomon curve shows a approximation of risk relative to deviation from average speed. It tends to tick people off, because it flies in the face of the common perception of "speed kills".

            There have been efforts to "bend" the curve to be more politically correct, usually by selectively excluding parts of the data set. I.e. by excluding slow motorists intending to do a turn.

            It is also interesting that the the German Autobahn motorways is much safer than the US highways, even though two thirds of the Autobahn is free from speed limits (for passenger cars)

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Mason Wheeler (profile), 30 Mar 2016 @ 7:15am

        Re: Re:

        Very good points. The saying is actually wrong - it's not "speed kills", it's "difference in speed kills".

        No, it's not even that. It's "poor safety kills."

        You don't get much more difference in speed than "reckless driver going way too fast" and "wall". But when a driver in Mexico crashed so hard his car went through a wall and crunched into the tree on the other side, and then caught fire, he and his passengers were able to exit the vehicle completely unharmed, because they were in a Tesla Model S, which is a ridiculously safe vehicle even by today's standards.

        https://www.yahoo.com/autos/bp/second-tesla-model-fire-sparked-crash-mexico-141237816.html

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Bob Webster (profile), 29 Mar 2016 @ 8:10am

    A more effective approach.

    In the Wake of the Latest Terrorist Attacks, Here's a Rational Approach to Saving Lives: Stop drunk driving.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Machin Shin (profile), 29 Mar 2016 @ 8:52am

    Foolish Fears

    I have long ago come to the conclusion that we are going about this all the wrong way. For one thing it makes me sick that the USA has forgotten some of the things that are supposed to be core values for the country. "Land of the free, home of the brave", Well WTF happened there? We have turned into a bunch of cowering sissies giving up our freedom because we are afraid.

    One very interesting idea to me has always been for us to drop all this stupid fighting the terrorists junk. I say that for a bunch of reasons, one of the big ones being that we are the freaking terrorists. We have innocent people terrified of blue skies because that is when our drones are in the air. Now you just try and tell me that doesn't bread more terrorists.

    The other point is this, what happens if we pull back and toss all that money into good projects? Fix our infrastructure, develop new technologies, and fighting sickness and poverty. We could do a hell of a lot with the amount of money and manpower we are wasting "fighting".

    Well, here is what I would expect to happen. There will be a few attacks against us. It will not be pretty at first. The thing is though, very quickly they will start to loose power and here is why. Very few people are so sick in the head that they will attack innocent people. Right now terrorist are able to frame us as bad guys, it is easy to do with all our guns, tanks and bombs. If on the other hand we are out helping people...... Suddenly it is hard to frame us as "evil" and they will quickly loose manpower.

    They also tend to prey on the poor. Offering to take care of their families if they join to do terror attacks against us. If we are in these places helping the poor... well then terrorists loose a powerful recruiting tool and once again, we come out looking like the good guys instead of evil assholes raining death from our drones.

    Over all, I think we would come out much better by manning up and really being the home of the brave. Stand up to the terrorist by proudly saying "Fuck you, I'm not afraid of you" and letting them destroy themselves.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2016 @ 11:41am

      Re: Foolish Fears

      "Well WTF happened there? We have turned into a bunch of cowering sissies giving up our freedom because we are afraid."

      In the future please add a trigger warning. After reading your aggressive hate speech thousands of people will have to go to their safe-zone rooms.

      But jokes aside your ideas are very unpopular for as long as socialism is seen as something negative in my opinion. Not because it is real socialism but because you suggest helping people who didn't work for it and therefore don't deserve help, in the current system.

      Besides by bombing, destroying stuff people have to rebuild it and surprisingly often those contracts go to US companies. So the current system works very well because you create terrorists which means you spend more money on bombs to destroy more stuff and in turn the locals pay you to rebuild that stuff. From a US point of view it is a Win for the Gov (looks strong), Win for the industry (money) and Win for the public (jobs). Hard to argue against a Win-Win-Win situation.

      And of course those people in power f.e. the weapons industry will spend billions if necessary on lobbying to keep the status quo.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Machin Shin (profile), 29 Mar 2016 @ 1:58pm

        Re: Re: Foolish Fears

        "Not because it is real socialism but because you suggest helping people who didn't work for it and therefore don't deserve help, in the current system."

        I think that is really a huge issue we have here as well. Most seem to think that helping the poor must equal handing out free stuff and giving away money. I actually am strongly against that in most cases. If you have the ability to work, then you should work for what you get. The only people who should get free handouts are those unable to get things for themselves.

        We are not helping people by giving them things. We are hurting them, taking away their independence. Government assistance should help people get on their feet and shove them in the right direction. It shouldn't be a system for making people useless and dependent on their monthly checks.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2016 @ 4:14pm

          Re: Re: Re: Foolish Fears

          "It shouldn't be a system for making people useless and dependent on their monthly checks."

          Well, of course not. But even the minimal help to get people on their own feet is viewed as "socialism" in most parts. Helping the poorest people, the homeless, to get a home, an address so they can get a real job is seen as socialism or anti-capitalism by most folks.

          I really don't want to argue about this with you because we are on the same level but you do have to incorporate the public view. And the public view is that if we helped homeless or even those in need (read: under the min income) the US would fall to socialism. And that is bad (far lack of a better term) because it violates the basic principle of "you deserve what you work for".
          Hell... Screw studies, the Gov person in charge of them thinks that the world is 8000 years old (6000 bc)after all, because even if all of them say that working together is better than working for yourself, we live in capitalism. And a sociopath is better off every time in that scenario (Swiss study, iirc ETH Zurich).

          While I do agree with you I have to admit that the at the moment you (and I) are a minority and sociopaths rule the world.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Uriel-238 (profile), 29 Mar 2016 @ 4:17pm

          Why not hand out free stuff?

          The Geneva convention (regarding refugees) and the United Nations Human Rights Council both have declared that the base human being has a right to food, clothing, safety from elements and hostile forces, awareness enough to make informed decisions about their own fate and liberty enough to choose what that is.

          Some of that is, as you call it, free stuff.

          You seem to think that government assistance is only about people who are having a momentary hard time.

          I know someone who was run over by a motorcyclist as a pedestrian crossing a crosswalk. Her brain doesn't work right anymore, and she can no longer do the work she did before. The motorcyclist didn't have crap for insurance. Are you going to tell her she should just die off and rid us of the surplus population?

          Not that the current system is servicably functioning to provide every able worker a job at their level of competence. Our stats don't take into account people who are underemployed, or people who have ceased looking for work, and right now, it's fighting vehemently regarding actually paying workers a living wage. Underpaying employees is, by our current business society regarded as an acceptable part of a business model.

          Down here on the ground that shit don't fly. We ground pounders may suffer it momentarily because we don't have a choice, but we curse you with every breath, and some of us are spitting in your glasses and peeing in your food.

          You have three options here:

          ~ Provide work for everyone who can, that isn't maddeningly tedious, and pays well enough to live. Support those who can't

          ~ Benefits for everyone who can't work, or can't get work, or isn't paid for enough to live on by the work they do

          ~ Suffer a shitload of crime and death. Because when it comes to survival we have a lot of people (some of whom are veterans) who will fucking murder you and take your stuff and eat your carcass if the choice is that or dying, themselves. Starve them for a couple of days and you'll get to see that monster come out.

          Incidentally, I've yet to see in my career in the psychiatric sector any instance of laziness that isn't actually avolition, that is a symptom of a larger disorder. People are generally industrious and will find stuff to do. There is a bigger problem that no-one wants to pay them without a song, a dance and a blowjob to show they deserve to be paid.

          We're going to see the robot revolution in a few years, as robots that can do clerical work or service work become sharp enough and cheap enough to replace human laborers. (They're out there already. They're just expensive.) And at that point we're going to have to take a good long hard look at this protestant work ethic bullshit.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2016 @ 9:34am

    The current "solution" of bombing everyone those in charge do not like seems to be working great.

    Aside from the fact its creating terrorists 1000 fold. So what if those drone strikes are killing dozens of noncombatants every time they hit. Who cares they use double tap attacks where they target emergency first responders to the first missile strike.

    We obviously just need to use bigger bombs to wipe out everyone we don't like so that way there are no survivors able to declare a jihad or revenge on us for killing everyone they knew for no reason other than because we could.

    Yes that is sarcasm. When you have a military attacking civilian targets that have no military to fight back, of course we are going to get "terrorists".

    They are just as wrong for attacking civilians as we are.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2016 @ 9:52am

    This article is just another "do it for the children" point of view. Using terrorism as a jump off point for improving lives.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 29 Mar 2016 @ 9:59am

    Horse head

    It's all a matter of profit and loss.

    It's profitable to sell security theater.
    It's profitable to sell people things that make them sick (cigarettes, junk food).
    It's profitable to sell dying people things to extend their life (drugs, healthcare, insurance).
    It's profitable to sell war.
    It's loss to build greater safety into consumer products.
    It's loss to keep soldiers alive with armor.

    So this is a great idea, and please don't take me as unkind, but I think you can expect to receive a gift from entrenched power interests tonight--a horse head in your bed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2016 @ 10:40am

    So how about, instead of preventing alcoholism and tobacco related deaths, we instead invest in jobs programs for those european muslim ghettos? Cut down on unemployment in the demographic likely to 'radicalize', decrease the alienation, increase absorption into mainstream culture ...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 29 Mar 2016 @ 11:42am

    Can I mention the drone-strike program?

    Speaking of Terrorism

    500 sorties a year in Afghanistan alone. (there's a whole 'nother program focusing on Pakistan.) They don't count the bugsplats too much, but we pretty much shoot up any village or encampment we find regardless of persons of interest.

    This isn't doing anything for us but making some Afghanis dead and others sad.

    One presidential signature could stop that shit right now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Socrates, 29 Mar 2016 @ 7:10pm

      Re: Can I mention the drone-strike program?

      That cannot be stressed enough!

      May I also mention the discrepancy in mass media coverage between deliberate bombing of Palestinian hospitals and much smaller acts of terror harming westerners? Can we expect the victims of our policy to not notice? For how long?

      The political establishment have supported evil acts for decades, and eroded civil liberties, and signed away sovereignty for "trade" shams, and generally being more focused on "winning" than doing their job. And now they are loosing, big time. This paves the way for fringe parties and instability. Some of these say and do things that should scare any sane person.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Glenn, 29 Mar 2016 @ 3:54pm

    Terrorists are, at heart, cowards. They attack and murder as many civilian and unarmed people as they can. So, arm and train everyone. People fear guns because they fear what they don't know. Training removes fear of the unknown and teaches the correct "fear"--mishandling of guns. As long as there are cowards out there who are willing to murder you for no good reason, everyone should be prepared and willing to defend their own lives and the lives of others from the cowards who would take them. This world was never the safe place you deluded yourself into hoping it was.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 29 Mar 2016 @ 4:23pm

      Cowards

      Terrorists are, at heart, cowards. They attack and murder as many civilian and unarmed people as they can.

      That perfectly describes the United States CIA drone strike program.

      So we Americans are cowards too?

      Because we're not stopping the program.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Socrates, 29 Mar 2016 @ 7:47pm

    With about 30,000 annual fatalities in traffic-related accidents, we will also introduce European-wide speed limits, strong enforcement via speed-traps and an increased police force which collaborates across Europe.
    With about X annual fatalities in Y-related accidents, we will slaughter a goat for all of Europa,

    Drivers convicted of violating speed limits or DUI will have their driver's licenses withdrawn for extended periods of time. Should these activities fail to reach these goals, we will start targeting more areas.
    Should these activities fail to reach these goals, we will burn a witch.


    There is actual proven ways to improve health and save lives. I'm of the opinion that one of those should be attempted instead of utter bullocks.

    1)Make true trans-fat content mandatory instead of fake ones as is permitted today. Easy to do, and does not harm citizens.
    2)Make it a priority to put the responsible for the cooker gasoline trade (Trafigura) behind bars. Easy to do, it help saving the environment, and prevent accidents like the Vest Tank one in Sløvåg municipality in Norway.
    3)Make it a priority to put those who put harmful plastic softeners in products that is in contact with food behind bars. The softeners is especially harmful for young children and fetuses.
    4)Make public funded research public (and without patents).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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