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(BusinessWeek)   Expert: "Only one in 30 million people will probably get cancer from scanners." US Airlines: "532 million people fly per year"   (businessweek.com) divider line 419
    More: Scary, National Council on Disability, radiation exposures, R-AZ, Arizona State University  
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9972 clicks; posted to Main » on 24 Nov 2010 at 6:00 PM (3 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2010-11-24 07:10:37 PM  
532 million people fly every year? Considering we have less than 350 million people living in this country, I find that figure quite suspect.
 
2010-11-24 07:10:42 PM  
TheDirtyNacho: jshine: Nabb1: Eh, my wife's a radiologist. If she says they're okay and will let our kids go through them, that's good enough for me.

On an individual case it's true; it's probably safe for her or you or your kids. It's like playing Russian roulette with a 30-million cylinder gun. The odds of getting the bullet are extremely small for any given person.

...but given how many people "play", it's certain that *someone* will get the bullet.

It doesn't work that way. This is stochastic, not deterministic. Very different things.

Virtually all of the population probably (heh) does not have the statistics knowledge to accurately assess these statements. And the press for damn sure doesn't. Probability theory is involved as well.

Worthless article. But it's sure to rile up the ignorant but think they're intelligent crowd.




I described it correctly, assuming that each trip through the scanner is independent (which is a "best case" scenario -- reality is worse, if anything, since DNA damage accumulates).

If not, please describe my error in detail, besides just saying that "it's wrong". My PhD thesis (chemical engineering) involved stochastic effects in gene regulatory networks, so I'd be more than happy to discuss this in technical detail if you feel that I've made an error.
 
2010-11-24 07:11:12 PM  
jshine: olddinosaur: The article is misleading.

Likelihood increases with repeated exposure; if you go home once a year to visit granny, you are in no great risk.

But if you are a businessman who flies 50 times a year, that risk is not 50 times higher; more like 250 times higher.

And if you are a pilot who flies 250 times a year---WATCH OUT!


If one assumes statistical independence (which may not be valid from a biological perspective) then it works like this:

Say the probability of an event happening in one "trial" is "P" (here 1/30,000,000 = 3.333e-8). The probability of that event not happening is 1-P (here, 0.999999967). The probability of the event *not* happening in 2 independent trials is (1-P)^2, or to be general, the probability of the event not happening in N independent trials is (1-P)^N.

Here, (1-P)^1 = 0.999999967 (99.9999967%)
(1-P)^50 = 0.999998333 (99.9998333%)
(1-P)^250 = 0.999991667 (99.9991667%)

Again, these are the probabilities of *not* getting cancer (assuming each run through the scanner is independent).

If there were 5.32e8 statistically independent trips through the scanner each year, the odds of *nobody* getting cancer (in that year) would be: (1-1/3e7)^5.32e8=1.98843346e-8 or a 99.999998% chance that it *will* happen at least once.


i was told there would be no math...
 
2010-11-24 07:12:19 PM  
impaler: hockeyfarker: I question that it's even 1 in 30 million.

still higher than the probability of getting killed by terrorists, though.

532/30 = 17.7 fatal cancers a year. More than the number that die from airborne terrorism. And that assumes they will stop the terrorists.


Not quite how the numbers work, and because of duplicate or frequent flyers it's also a pretty gross overestimation.
 
2010-11-24 07:12:26 PM  
Coco LaFemme: 532 million people fly every year? Considering we have less than 350 million people living in this country, I find that figure quite suspect.

One person can fly (or be screened) multiple times. Presumably, it's not distinct people that are being counted, it's the number of through the TSA screening station.
 
2010-11-24 07:12:57 PM  
Regarding TSA and dosimeters, as far as the few comments relating to OSHA are concerned, TSA is a federal department, OSHA does not apply to public sector employees including the military and federal/state/local government employees, with the exception that state/local government employees in the states that have adopted their own OSHA approved state plans must implement an "as effective as" policy. So, no, OSHA won't give two flying flips.
 
2010-11-24 07:13:22 PM  
sconietagneeded: this is entertaining.

i wonder why these nuclear physicists / statisticians / cancer experts waste their time debating with the masses of idiots on here....maybe I should mistype or make a spelling mistake for one of these clever individuals to point out....


what if the choice is to argue on fark, or debate with relatives, home for the holiday, about whether Obama was born in this country?
 
2010-11-24 07:13:47 PM  
joe714: TheSilverOne: People have no clue how probability works. 1 in 30 million change doesn't mean 1 out of every 30 million will definitely get cancer.

If I roll a standard fair die I have a 1 in 6 chance of rolling a 3. That does not mean if I roll the die six times I'm guaranteed to get a 3. I could roll it a hundred times and never get a 3. That's probability. So basically 1 in 30 million means that the likelihood of any one person getting cancer from any one scan is extremely tiny. With odds that low, chances are highly in favor of no one ever getting cancer from these scanners.

Umm, no. That's not how it works either.

If you roll a standard die 6M times, there's a high probability 3 came up about a million times, with each step further away from the expected odds being defined by it's own probability distribution.

The odds of any specific person being killed in a terrorism related aircraft accident is within the same order of magnitude as the cancer risk. If we use your interpretation, the odds are highly in favor of no one every dying in a terrorist attack either, so we're still back to these things accomplish no real change in risk for an extremely unlikely event, at a disproportionate cost in time, money, and personal liberty and dignity.

Human beings are terrible at understanding relative risks of extremely rare and unlikely events, especially when compared to common but still highly unlikely events. Most people will not die in an auto accident. However, you're several orders of magnitude more likely to die in a car crash traveling to and from the airport than you are to die in a terrorist attack against your flight. If you drive the entire trip to avoid flying, you're even more likely to die in a car crash, even though those odds are still minuscule.


Wait, my example and what I'm trying to say, which is correct don't match, thank you for calling me out on that. The die rolling example does imply that with every run through a scanner you're more likely to eventually get cancer from it, just as the more times you roll a dice the odds are in favor of you eventually getting a 3, which obviously isn't the case. It's the single event that matters and they don't cumulate or something damn I'm having a low brain day and officially have no farking clue what I'm trying to say anymore.

Listen to the other people. The ones who know what they're talking about. Not the ones saying 18 will die each year.

That said, you are also right, none of this is worth the multitude of costs relative to the negligible benefit and hope my initial fail didn't imply otherwise.
 
2010-11-24 07:15:41 PM  
unyon: hockeyfarker: moothemagiccow: . What about frequent flyers - folks who fly monthly or weekly? Are they just farked?

the odds of them getting cancer are now 12 in 30 million, or even 52 in 30 million. they might as well end it now!

It's actually 50/50. You're either going to get cancer or you won't.


Arguably if you accept the concept of non-linear time and of an immutable future, then the odds are 100% that you either will or you will not.
 
2010-11-24 07:17:13 PM  
Alright, that's it, let's just invade Muslim countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to xianity.
 
2010-11-24 07:18:39 PM  
bangmaid: I wonder how much radiation you get from standing in front of a microwave or putting a cell phone to your head?

Standing in front of a microwave exposes you to 0 xrays.
The hint is in the name.

/Electromagnetic spectrum, look it up
 
2010-11-24 07:19:36 PM  
Did anyone find it funny that the company is called Rapiscan?
 
2010-11-24 07:20:25 PM  
fizzix_is_fun: There are hundreds of reasons to dislike the scanners and the ridiculous operating procedures of the TSA. I don't think radiation exposure is one of them, but it seems to be what the masses have jumped on. I guess it's not all that surprising. There's an almost irrational fear of radiation exposure in this country that just will not go away.

i have never understood the fear of radiation in this nation. nuclear power would have help us not be so tied to oil (and oil has cause a lot of problems we've have had and are having with terrorists). never mind the whole climate change thing. that said, if the radiation boogieman gets these machines yanked and the TSA biatch slapped, i'm all for pretending that one trip through this device and your mom gets breast cancer.

/also, the "true" risk is unknown and some impressive people have said so
//that's a known unknown i believe...thanks dick cheney
 
2010-11-24 07:20:30 PM  
trerro: Radiation is cumulative, and your body purges it very, very slowly.

No, some radioactive particles are difficult to purge. Radioactivity itself is NOT cumulative.

Radioactivity itself comes in three varieties.

1) Alpha (essentially excited Helium atoms without electrons). Easily stopped by a piece of paper and generally unharmful. If you get some radioactive particles emitting alpha particles within your body, ya, that's a problem. But otherwise, your skin does a nice job stopping this. The Polonium example you cited earlier is in this category.
2) Beta (essentially excited electrons). Once the electron transfers its energy, it's not "radioactive" anymore. I can promise you your body has lots of electrons in it. Radiation from bananas fall in this category.
3) Gamma (high energy packets). Once they hit, the energy is transferred in some form or another, and the gamma ray is gone. The TSA scanners use these.
 
2010-11-24 07:21:05 PM  
lennavan: zahadum party planner: lennavan: I like how everyone just seems to have accepted this guy's 1 in 30 million number.

Peter Rez, a professor of physics at Arizona State University, said that when a scanner is working properly the amount of radiation exposed is very low.


Spoken like a true physicist with know biology training or knowledge of cancer whatsoever. Nice.


Biology training is the training to become a biologist. Is this a difficult concept for you to grasp? The man had physics training, to become a physicist which no doubt required zero biology whatsoever, save perhaps a silly undergrad course he may have taken a decade or longer ago.

Now to be fair, I don't expect him to understand biology but he might keep his opinions on biological topics to himself and stick to the physics of scanners. From his manuscript if you take him at his word (what exactly his "clear evidence" is for instance), 200mSv is bad, 100mSv is unknown:


Physicists can most certainly understand complex biological issues, and can have education to deal with radiation and its effects on biology. Shoot, sometimes physicists and biologists work together on projects!

This is even a school age project: http://www.phys.ksu.edu/gene/ (new window)

Funny, Dr. Manney, the professor I worked with, was a prof of both physics and biology; but more physics than biology, as I worked with him in the physics department.
 
2010-11-24 07:21:10 PM  
TheSilverOne: Highway61Revisited: TheSilverOne: People have no clue how probability works. 1 in 30 million change doesn't mean 1 out of every 30 million will definitely get cancer.

If I roll a standard fair die I have a 1 in 6 chance of rolling a 3. That does not mean if I roll the die six times I'm guaranteed to get a 3. I could roll it a hundred times and never get a 3. That's probability. So basically 1 in 30 million means that the likelihood of any one person getting cancer from any one scan is extremely tiny. With odds that low, chances are highly in favor of no one ever getting cancer from these scanners.

Add to that the fact that not everyone has to get scanned, most people go through security without it (for now). And plenty who are selected opt to get groped.

But that's only assumng this 1 in 30 million figure is true and that said, I don't trust anyone involved with these things. Lucky for us, I'd bet the odds of them being permanent fixtures in our airports is probably about 1 in 30 million.

Uh, I don't think you know how probability works, either.

Taking the statistics at face value :

A relative risk increase of 1 in 30 million means that you can likely expect 1 more case of cancer for every 30 million people going through the TSA scanner compared to an identical population that is not going through the scanner.

Uh yeah I do... we're talking about two different things.

Prevalence and probability aren't the same thing.


You said:

With odds that low, chances are highly in favor of no one ever getting cancer from these scanners.

That's not how an increased relative risk of 1 in 30 million works.

Sure, on an individual basis, it is extremely unlikely that going through that scanner will give you cancer. However, (again assuming the statistic is correct to begin with and assuming 532 million go through the scanner), around 18 people will get cancer when they would not have otherwise.

I'm not sure what issue you take with that.
 
2010-11-24 07:21:15 PM  
Luse: bangmaid: I wonder how much radiation you get from standing in front of a microwave or putting a cell phone to your head?

Standing in front of a microwave exposes you to 0 xrays.
The hint is in the name.

/Electromagnetic spectrum, look it up


Also apparently cell phones now use ionizing radiation. Who knew?
 
2010-11-24 07:21:19 PM  
Luse: bangmaid: I wonder how much radiation you get from standing in front of a microwave or putting a cell phone to your head?

Standing in front of a microwave exposes you to 0 xrays.
The hint is in the name.

/Electromagnetic spectrum, look it up


OP said radiation, not xrays. A microwave does expose you to a very very minor dose of radiation but it's not harmful.

/Non-ionizing radiation, look it up.
 
2010-11-24 07:21:39 PM  
I'm just waiting for terrorists to start planting bombs before the security checkpoints at airports. The lineups of people waiting to get through security helps ensure that there's always a big crowd in the airport. If terrorists actually want to kill and, y'know, terrorize people they can do it very effectively without even getting within a few hundred feet of a plane.

The TSA would actually save lives by hurrying people through security with "just" the old fashioned checks.
 
2010-11-24 07:22:01 PM  
FTA: "The probability of getting a fatal cancer is about one in 30 million, which puts it lower than the probability of being killed by being struck by lightning in any year in the United States, which is about one in 5 million," he said.

Is that 1 in 30,000,000 per year? Per person? per exposure? per life-time? Makes a big difference to frequent fliers.

The figure on being struck by lightning is just plain wrong. Perhaps it is the figure for being KILLED by lightning in a year. Perhaps they accidentally added a zero. Only 20% of the people struck by lightning are killed immediately. Many others die prematurely, possibly as a result of being struck by lightning, in whole or part. Your odds of being hit by lightning are actually 1 in 500,000 a year. Three or four hundred Americans are killed by lightning each year, most of them in Florida or a few other lightning-prone, outdoorsy states.

Of course, being struck by lightning, unlike air travel, is mainly a young to middle-aged male habit. Over 80% of the victims are men. Men are more likely to be working or playing outdoors. Golf particularly exposes one to the risk of being struck by lightning, particularly in Florida.

So that's another thing: anybody may have to fly--the elderly, the sick, the very young, the pregnant, etc., but not everybody has to be struck by lightning. You can avoid lightning with a little bit of planning--plan to move to Yellowknife or Moose Factory--the chances of being struck by lightning in Canada are considerably lower, if only because you'll have the sense to come in out of the rain if you live in Canada, where the rain is much, much colder on average.

Also, people naturally fear an involuntary risk more than a voluntary one. Your odds of being killed by smoking are pretty high but people "choose" to smoke despite it being an addiction. People are not choosing to be fondled by fat ugly quasi-retarded security personnel. Well, most of them aren't.

I expect that a few lonely weirdos will start flying just for the groping.
 
2010-11-24 07:22:23 PM  
trerro: Radiation is cumulative, and your body purges it very, very slowly. Anyone remember the guy the Russians took out with Polonium, months after actually exposing him to it?

That 1:30 mil becomes much, much higher for frequent travelers, and even worse, what about the pilots being exposed to this on a daily basis - sometimes even multiple times per day?

More importantly, let's say this device is only going to kill a single person, ever. That's 1 more than it's going to save.


Radiation does not build up in the body to be 'purged'. It knocks things loose, like molecular bonds in your DNA. This happens all the time through other means, physical, chemical, viral. The very heart of biological beings incorporate methods to detect and repair damaged DNA.

Nevertheless, too much radiation can knock too much DNA loose, which can lead to cancer (which is a failure of the body to regulate genetic damage). This is a stochastic process - meaning, it is random. There are so many potential factors, it becomes non-deterministic. Since the body can repair itself, small doses likely have no long term effect. Cumulative small doses before the body can repair itself can have an effect, but the body receives plenty of small doses everyday from the natural environment.

A single large dose can have an acute effect - radiation sickness. But even that does not guarantee cancer in the long run.

The key phrase in all this is 'stochastic process'
 
2010-11-24 07:23:37 PM  
So, how many people died from terrorist attacks on airplanes per year, under the old rules? I bet it was less than 30,000.
 
2010-11-24 07:26:02 PM  
ParallelUniverseParking: Peter Rez, a professor of physics at Arizona State University, said that when a scanner is working properly the amount of radiation exposed is very low.

Those things are not operated by radiologic technicians but simple TSA agents. Who tells me that they can operate them right, provide maintenance and spot when something is going wrong? It's not like the scanned person would get an insta-sunburn or catch fire. How many people would walk through a malfunctioning scanner, that might expose you to a X times higher dose, before they would realize something is wrong?


Working properly is not the responsibility of the operator. Outside agencies, not the operator, are responsible for the proper operation of the scanners. Minimal training is actually required for the use of the equipment.

Like medical radiological equipment, there are redundant safety systems built into the equipment that insure its proper operation.

FWIW- the amount of radiation used in the scanning process makes up about .03% of the 300mrem background exposure the average person gets each year, or the equivalent of about twenty minutes of flight. Medical chest x-rays, which increase the risk of cancer to 8 in 10 million, are aproximately 10mrem.
 
2010-11-24 07:29:08 PM  
helix400: trerro: Radiation is cumulative, and your body purges it very, very slowly.

No, some radioactive particles are difficult to purge. Radioactivity itself is NOT cumulative.

Radioactivity itself comes in three varieties.

1) Alpha (essentially excited Helium atoms without electrons). Easily stopped by a piece of paper and generally unharmful. If you get some radioactive particles emitting alpha particles within your body, ya, that's a problem. But otherwise, your skin does a nice job stopping this. The Polonium example you cited earlier is in this category.
2) Beta (essentially excited electrons). Once the electron transfers its energy, it's not "radioactive" anymore. I can promise you your body has lots of electrons in it. Radiation from bananas fall in this category.
3) Gamma (high energy packets). Once they hit, the energy is transferred in some form or another, and the gamma ray is gone. The TSA scanners use these.


What you described are the three results from nuclear processes. These are the output of radioactive decays. These are NOT the only sources of radiation, and the TSA scanners do NOT use gammas from nuclear decays.

Photons extend the range from radio waves to gammas. The point where they start becoming harmful is when they can ionize bound electrons. This varies depending on the actual material, but for most materials, the 'dangerous' range starts somewhere in the UV to X-ray range of the spectrum.
 
2010-11-24 07:29:59 PM  
impaler: hockeyfarker: I question that it's even 1 in 30 million.

still higher than the probability of getting killed by terrorists, though.

532/30 = 17.7 fatal cancers a year. More than the number that die from airborne terrorism. And that assumes they will stop the terrorists.


HAHA! That's funny. You think they're worried about Americans getting killed. HAHAHA

They're worried about the Pentagon or White House being hit. They could give a shiat about how many Americans die from terrorists, much less from cancer caused by scanners.

HAHAHA....they care!!! HAHAHA!!!! That's rich.
 
2010-11-24 07:30:53 PM  
Sorry, is that based on a single exposure, or multiple? Very very few people take one flight one way during their lives.
 
2010-11-24 07:31:10 PM  
Highway61Revisited: TheSilverOne: Highway61Revisited: TheSilverOne: People have no clue how probability works. 1 in 30 million change doesn't mean 1 out of every 30 million will definitely get cancer.

If I roll a standard fair die I have a 1 in 6 chance of rolling a 3. That does not mean if I roll the die six times I'm guaranteed to get a 3. I could roll it a hundred times and never get a 3. That's probability. So basically 1 in 30 million means that the likelihood of any one person getting cancer from any one scan is extremely tiny. With odds that low, chances are highly in favor of no one ever getting cancer from these scanners.

Add to that the fact that not everyone has to get scanned, most people go through security without it (for now). And plenty who are selected opt to get groped.

But that's only assumng this 1 in 30 million figure is true and that said, I don't trust anyone involved with these things. Lucky for us, I'd bet the odds of them being permanent fixtures in our airports is probably about 1 in 30 million.

Uh, I don't think you know how probability works, either.

Taking the statistics at face value :

A relative risk increase of 1 in 30 million means that you can likely expect 1 more case of cancer for every 30 million people going through the TSA scanner compared to an identical population that is not going through the scanner.

Uh yeah I do... we're talking about two different things.

Prevalence and probability aren't the same thing.

You said:

With odds that low, chances are highly in favor of no one ever getting cancer from these scanners.

That's not how an increased relative risk of 1 in 30 million works.

Sure, on an individual basis, it is extremely unlikely that going through that scanner will give you cancer. However, (again assuming the statistic is correct to begin with and assuming 532 million go through the scanner), around 18 people will get cancer when they would not have otherwise.

I'm not sure what issue you take with that.


It's really more like those 18 people might be at an increased risk* than otherwise.

*dependent on a vast, uncountable number of factors in their life experience and biological makeup

Personally I think if you're going to make a statement like "1 in 30 million will get fatal cancer", you should show your work...
 
2010-11-24 07:31:32 PM  
HeartBurnKid: So, how many people died from terrorist attacks on airplanes per year, under the old rules? I bet it was less than one in 30,000,000.

FTFM
 
2010-11-24 07:33:36 PM  
vorsicht: OrelupM: torch: 1) NOBODY flies just once.
2) The TSA agents are not allowed to wear dosimiters

that is all

You don't think there was a single first time flyer on a plan that crashed?

It's rare that a commercial airplane crashes and even more rare that the crash is fatal. But in the last 9 years there have not been any first time flyers that died in commercial plane crashes that departed or should arrive in the US.

Generally airplane deaths are from hiding in the wheel wells. I am guessing most of them are first time fliers. Air Marshals have been the leading cause of death most years and those were mostly first time fliers.

Just remember American Air figured out that TSA had been damaged 43 aircraft and 9 had to be repaired before they were airworthy. So the lack of casulties is not anything to do with TSA.

When has any government agency other than TSA be able to just dump an expected explosive in the garbage. The entire TSA process is based on never actually finding a real threat.


I was just pointing out that "NOBODY" is a heck of an absolute to be capitalizing.
 
2010-11-24 07:34:01 PM  
I dunno. I'm pretty sure that large terrorist cells are pretty much done hijacking airplanes. The days of "turn this plane around or I detonate this bomb" are over. The 9/11 attacks kinda shot future terrorist plane hijackings in the foot. If a terrorist is discovered on a plane, the passengers are going to assume that they are going to die and thus have nothing to lose by attempting to thwart the attack by taking down the terrorist(s).

TSA is a waste of money.
 
2010-11-24 07:36:39 PM  
Really, the stupidity of this, is that 1 underwear bomber caused the outlay of 1.5 billion dollars or was it 4.5 billion, I don't know, in order to catch underwear bombers.

So now there will be no underwear OR shoe bombers.

There will be some other kind of bomber if there are any bombers at all.

Will we invest an increasing percentage of the federal budget into...cavity searches? Actual x-rays (like in Colombia)? Pre-screening screenings at off-site, secret locations?

Will we become like Egypt, investing most of our national productivity in something inane and stupid?
 
2010-11-24 07:37:07 PM  
50,000 Americans die every year in auto accidents. If they were serious about protecting us, that's where they should start.
 
2010-11-24 07:37:26 PM  
I wish there was some way for the Internet Tough Guys to post about how they are going to cause havoc and mess with the screeners/operators of the backscatter scanners. There really isn't as much of an opportunity as there is with the pat-downs.

Seriously, I really don't like these two new TSA methods at all. And I wish they'd get rid of them. I think they are an extremely unnecessary invasion of personal privacy.

I just think it is funny how the pat-downs have brought in a wave of Internet Badasses who are supposedly going to cover themselves in poop and scream like a banshee whenever the TSA worker touches them, strip naked, then fake an orgasm and hump at the chair, 'cause that'll show 'em.

When, in reality, they'll just go through the damn scanner and mutter stuff under their breath.
 
2010-11-24 07:40:24 PM  
Will we become like Egypt, investing most of our national productivity in something inane and stupid?


Swarma?
 
2010-11-24 07:40:58 PM  
Barakku: I wonder what the probability of being even remotely harmed by a terrorist or their actions (TSA aside) on a plane are.

I'm sure the odds would severely increase if no screening precedures were in place.

I'd be more curious about what the odds of survival would be if you were a total a-hole about being screened or pat-down and the crowd behind you who were willing to go through the scanner missed their flight due to your beligerence.

Of course we'll probably never find out as the opt-out movement appears to have been headed by armchair activists rather than the travelers themselves.
 
2010-11-24 07:41:30 PM  
TheDirtyNacho: Highway61Revisited: TheSilverOne: Highway61Revisited: TheSilverOne: People have no clue how probability works. 1 in 30 million change doesn't mean 1 out of every 30 million will definitely get cancer.

If I roll a standard fair die I have a 1 in 6 chance of rolling a 3. That does not mean if I roll the die six times I'm guaranteed to get a 3. I could roll it a hundred times and never get a 3. That's probability. So basically 1 in 30 million means that the likelihood of any one person getting cancer from any one scan is extremely tiny. With odds that low, chances are highly in favor of no one ever getting cancer from these scanners.

Add to that the fact that not everyone has to get scanned, most people go through security without it (for now). And plenty who are selected opt to get groped.

But that's only assumng this 1 in 30 million figure is true and that said, I don't trust anyone involved with these things. Lucky for us, I'd bet the odds of them being permanent fixtures in our airports is probably about 1 in 30 million.

Uh, I don't think you know how probability works, either.

Taking the statistics at face value :

A relative risk increase of 1 in 30 million means that you can likely expect 1 more case of cancer for every 30 million people going through the TSA scanner compared to an identical population that is not going through the scanner.

Uh yeah I do... we're talking about two different things.

Prevalence and probability aren't the same thing.

You said:

With odds that low, chances are highly in favor of no one ever getting cancer from these scanners.

That's not how an increased relative risk of 1 in 30 million works.

Sure, on an individual basis, it is extremely unlikely that going through that scanner will give you cancer. However, (again assuming the statistic is correct to begin with and assuming 532 million go through the scanner), around 18 people will get cancer when they would not have otherwise.

I'm not sure what issue you take with that.

It's really more like those 18 people might be at an increased risk* than otherwise.

*dependent on a vast, uncountable number of factors in their life experience and biological makeup

Personally I think if you're going to make a statement like "1 in 30 million will get fatal cancer", you should show your work...


Yeah, I am in no way vouching for the accuracy of the actual numbers here... just that a relative risk of 1 in 30 million means that given 30 million exposures you will find around 1 more person with cancer than a similar population with no exposure.
 
2010-11-24 07:41:55 PM  
TheCableGuy: TSA is a waste of money.

Especially since the rules before 9/11 were just fine. The only reason anything happened was because a few people nodded of on their jobs. It was already illegal to bring various implements on board. So about all the terrorists would've had is their fists. Which likely wouldn't work very well.
 
2010-11-24 07:41:57 PM  
Atypical Person Reading Fark: There will be some other kind of bomber if there are any bombers at all.

The next one will probably be "sarin gas guy" who gets through completely undetected because nobody* has tried that before and TSA is entirely focused on bombs. Meanwhile they'll keep up the shoe bit, and the groping/irradiation, and the "no water bottles", and the "laptops out of their bags," and etc., etc., etc. -- with a new veneer or silliness added on to the top.

/ *excluding the Tokyo subway incident
 
2010-11-24 07:43:46 PM  
RhineStoneTaco: I wish there was some way for the Internet Tough Guys to post about how they are going to cause havoc and mess with the screeners/operators of the backscatter scanners. There really isn't as much of an opportunity as there is with the pat-downs.

Seriously, I really don't like these two new TSA methods at all. And I wish they'd get rid of them. I think they are an extremely unnecessary invasion of personal privacy.

I just think it is funny how the pat-downs have brought in a wave of Internet Badasses who are supposedly going to cover themselves in poop and scream like a banshee whenever the TSA worker touches them, strip naked, then fake an orgasm and hump at the chair, 'cause that'll show 'em.

When, in reality, they'll just go through the damn scanner and mutter stuff under their breath.


It was one thing when they sent some dumbass in a suit to follow the "junk" guy, but then people started getting arrested.
 
2010-11-24 07:44:27 PM  
Atypical Person Reading Fark: Actual x-rays (like in Colombia)?

[citation needed]
 
2010-11-24 07:48:04 PM  
I'm fairly certain there are many more voluntary, unnecessary activities that have higher death rate. Like driving to the store.
 
2010-11-24 07:49:12 PM  
tbyte: RhineStoneTaco: I wish there was some way for the Internet Tough Guys to post about how they are going to cause havoc and mess with the screeners/operators of the backscatter scanners. There really isn't as much of an opportunity as there is with the pat-downs.

Seriously, I really don't like these two new TSA methods at all. And I wish they'd get rid of them. I think they are an extremely unnecessary invasion of personal privacy.

I just think it is funny how the pat-downs have brought in a wave of Internet Badasses who are supposedly going to cover themselves in poop and scream like a banshee whenever the TSA worker touches them, strip naked, then fake an orgasm and hump at the chair, 'cause that'll show 'em.

When, in reality, they'll just go through the damn scanner and mutter stuff under their breath.

It was one thing when they sent some dumbass in a suit to follow the "junk" guy, but then people started getting arrested.


You won't get arrested to save your liberties?

I didn't think so.
 
2010-11-24 07:49:42 PM  
And the chance that these scanners stop a terrorist?

0 in 30 million. Because even if they worked to stop somebody from getting a bomb onto a plane (which they've never been proved to be capable of), the terrorist just detonates while waiting in line to go through the scanner.

One would think that this statistic would be at least as important than the miniscule chance that these things kill you.
 
2010-11-24 07:51:23 PM  
RhineStoneTaco: When, in reality, they'll just go through the damn scanner and mutter stuff under their breath.

Meh, I'll opt for the groping. Not out as part of any organized protest, but just because I don't want to increase my odds of cancer by any amount -- no matter how small -- for the sake of theater.
 
2010-11-24 07:51:32 PM  
zabadu: tbyte: RhineStoneTaco: I wish there was some way for the Internet Tough Guys to post about how they are going to cause havoc and mess with the screeners/operators of the backscatter scanners. There really isn't as much of an opportunity as there is with the pat-downs.

Seriously, I really don't like these two new TSA methods at all. And I wish they'd get rid of them. I think they are an extremely unnecessary invasion of personal privacy.

I just think it is funny how the pat-downs have brought in a wave of Internet Badasses who are supposedly going to cover themselves in poop and scream like a banshee whenever the TSA worker touches them, strip naked, then fake an orgasm and hump at the chair, 'cause that'll show 'em.

When, in reality, they'll just go through the damn scanner and mutter stuff under their breath.

It was one thing when they sent some dumbass in a suit to follow the "junk" guy, but then people started getting arrested.

You won't get arrested to save your liberties?

I didn't think so.


So you finally admit it is a matter of liberties, and that you are arguing against them. Sure took you a while though.
 
2010-11-24 07:52:24 PM  
corronchilejano: Atypical Person Reading Fark: Actual x-rays (like in Colombia)?

[citation needed]


Actually, that's true. If you look up the rules for entering the country, you may be asked to submit to an abdominal xray. I posted it one of the 400 tsa threads this past week.
 
2010-11-24 07:53:01 PM  
tbyte: zabadu: tbyte: RhineStoneTaco: I wish there was some way for the Internet Tough Guys to post about how they are going to cause havoc and mess with the screeners/operators of the backscatter scanners. There really isn't as much of an opportunity as there is with the pat-downs.

Seriously, I really don't like these two new TSA methods at all. And I wish they'd get rid of them. I think they are an extremely unnecessary invasion of personal privacy.

I just think it is funny how the pat-downs have brought in a wave of Internet Badasses who are supposedly going to cover themselves in poop and scream like a banshee whenever the TSA worker touches them, strip naked, then fake an orgasm and hump at the chair, 'cause that'll show 'em.

When, in reality, they'll just go through the damn scanner and mutter stuff under their breath.

It was one thing when they sent some dumbass in a suit to follow the "junk" guy, but then people started getting arrested.

You won't get arrested to save your liberties?

I didn't think so.

So you finally admit it is a matter of liberties, and that you are arguing against them. Sure took you a while though.


No, I'm using words that you and others used. You were losing your "liberties".

But you won't get arrested for them.
 
2010-11-24 07:53:15 PM  
BumpyMcNipples: impaler: 532/30 = 17.7 fatal cancers a year.

The loss of 18 innocent lives per year is a SMALL price to pay to not be terrorized

by people who don't live here.


Where did you get your maths? Contracting cancer and dying from cancer are two seperate things. There in nothing in the post that said cancer fatalities. Many cancers are surviveable.

The whole study is flawed as you would have to keep all 527 million travelers off the airplane (20 mins of flight is equivalent to one visit with the scanner), out of the sun and away from medical radiological equipment for the year. In other words: one would have to have a large controlled sample with their only exposure to be 300 mrem of radiation annually for this supposition to actually hold any water at all.
 
2010-11-24 07:54:06 PM  
tonguedepressor: stfu about TSA seeing as you've probably not flown in years nor have plans to anytime soon.

Stopped reading right there. You're an idiot.
 
2010-11-24 07:54:06 PM  
zabadu: corronchilejano: Atypical Person Reading Fark: Actual x-rays (like in Colombia)?

[citation needed]

Actually, that's true. If you look up the rules for entering the country, you may be asked to submit to an abdominal xray. I posted it one of the 400 tsa threads this past week.


Hah -- they should require that on *leaving* Colombia, not entering.
 
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