Sunday, January 25, 2015

Do you feel secure trusting these people with your life?

So Bud Kennedy broke the disquieting news about American Airlines confiscating a dangerous pen when someone tried to carry it on the airplane. Check out Buds tweet - he has a photo of the pen...

Bud Kennedy - Pens made from bullet casings. RT @DLoesch This is what @AmericanAir says is too dangerous to fly with; confiscated.

This is quite disquieting in at least two ways.

There is a concept called functional fixedness. Daniel Pinker tells a great story in his mind games quiz –   I will use Daniel’s words to illustrate the idea.

Imagine a movie called “Lamb to the Slaughter,” in which the heroine bludgeons the victim with a frozen leg of lamb. She then cooks the lamb and feeds it to the police, who are searching her house for a baseball bat, which they think is the murder weapon. The fact that the police never considered the leg of lamb as a weapon is a perfect example of:

Take the test you can get one right- right off…

Remember when terrorists walked onto jets with boxcutters? Everyone assumed they were working in the shipping department. It would have been a real stretch if someone in security had imagined the possibilities about to unfold. But next time? We want bright eyed  and  imaginative security people who are able to see the capabilities of materials not just their traditional role.

Here, instead, the inspector sees a shell casing and equates the danger of guns and bullets to a re-engineered casing. This is really a problem with fixedness. Fixedness to the point of pretty damn dumb.

So if this person cannot separate a dimenbodied bullet from a real bullet in a gun, how can him or her possibly imagine something functionally innocent but that can be used in a perfidious function? Not much hope there. And it does not bode well for a collaborative brain function. There was no sign of that in this security debacle.

And the problem gets even more troubling.

Think about the people who wrote the job description for airplane safety inspectors. Who do you think they selected for? Policing skills? Law and order types? I figure they would be judgemental types, rigid thinkers.

Maybe I am reaching a bit, but who would be the best to figure out what and why people are bringing stuff onto an airplane? Someone curious. Someone a bit mischievous. Someone with an active imagination that does not keep every item in its place.

I dare say, I am stretching a point beyond the facts I know. But my prima facie evidence is… they took the pen. I would imagine there have been thousands of innocent items confiscated that are near stupid.

We need to see this stunt as a serious security issue.
What do we have to do to find a smart spot at this key intersection point to board planes. Otherwise, we will be plagued by continued confiscation of innocent stuff- maybe not this blatant, but still denoting a security problem that we are not matching wits well with the conjuring evil brain.

Does this pen look more dangerous than a school ruler? It is not. Is this pen more dangerous than a rolled up magazine? no.
Is this pen more dangerous than any other pen? It actually looks more fragile.

Mixed into this problem is the hubris and arrogance of power.

Give someone total power and they are able to act with impunity- stupid or not. So lets call them out on this, and maybe they will wise up. They need to understand there is a price for stupid. Lets let them know we are not happy. The twitter tag was @americanair but the TSA has to be in the mix. Who has exhibited more arrogance and hubris that the TSA?

Did this take place here at DFW International Airport? We send planes out of here with full tanks for far destinations all the time.  Lets insist there be changes. Search for pens confiscated on Google. . Other pens have been confiscated with no reasonable or consistent rational. Let’s insist it stop.

What do you think?

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