The promoters of nude body scanners have used one argument that they consider to be bullet-proof. It is all about saving lives, they assure us. The news reports that accompanied the announcement of their sudden and universal installation reported passengers accepting the scanners because what they gave up in modesty they got back in added security.
Or did they?
What exactly is the gain in security as a result of mandating these legal obscenities? How big is the current risk and how much will it be reduced by the new measures?
These are the questions that have not been explored. And here is the big news. For even the best case analysis shows that the gain is so small as to be totally insignificant.
Available data indicates that flying is a very safe mode of travel and the further increase in safety with the new measures will be very marginal. Based on historic official data currently the probability of a passenger dying in an air carrier accident is 1 out of 2,067,000 (much smaller than the one for motor vehicles, which is 1 out of 7,700). With the drastic measures now being implemented, in the best case scenario, this will only be reduced to 1 out of 2,271,428.
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