The Jeff Wise Blog

Is the TSA Fighting Terror, or Abetting It?

This week the ever-excellent aviation blogger (and commercial pilot) Patrick Smith posed the question: why haven’t Americans rebelled against the petty tyranny of the Transportation Safety Administration?

…one of the things that has always baffled and frustrated me is the lack of any organized protest against TSA by the airlines, the media or the traveling public. People complain, roll their eyes and maybe make a wisecrack or two, but there have been few formal calls for agency accountability. Groups like FlyersRights.org never miss a chance to exploit the latest tarmac stranding, but are mostly silent when it comes to the single biggest indignity of the air travel experience: concourse passenger screening.

I’d like to second Smith’s irritation, and go one further: are America’s transportation policies not fighting terrorism, but actually serving its ends?

There’s no question that the government’s intent is good. But as psychologists of fear know all too well, attempts to control fear are prone to what are known as “paradoxical effects.” Trying to quell anxiety can have the opposite result. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Terrorism

Thinking About Fear & the Brain

If I find myself in a severe crisis, will I be able to keep it together? How can I control anxiety and panic? Is it possible to lead a life less bounded by fear? These are the sorts of questions that I'll be exploring in this blog, an offshoot of my book, Extreme Fear: The Science of Your Mind in Danger, published on December 8, 2009 by Palgrave Macmillan.

Video Introduction

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