Security is a trade-off. Five areas where perception of the security trade-off can diverge from reality, as listed by Bruce Schneier in his 2008 Psychology of Security essay:
- The severity of the risk.
- The probability of the risk.
- The magnitude of the costs.
- How effective the countermeasure is at mitigating the risk.
- The trade-off itself.
Asked what dangers were more serious than terrorism, Mr Inkster suggested that British government planners were more concerned regarding the possible results of global pandemics, or perhaps the worst-case outcomes of climate change.
"We need to keep terrorism in some kind of context," he said. "For example, every year in the UK, more people die in road accidents than have been killed by terrorists in all of recorded history."
I used to like bees
I'd watch them bumbling through the leaves
And hum along with their good vibrations
Until I learned that they killed more people last year than THE TERRORISTS did.
Now I write letters to the Daily Mail
Demanding strict border controls on the entrances to hives
And random police raids on patches of lavender.
Which makes about as much sense
As our attempts
At a notional national defence
Against a terrorist threat
About as dangerous as stepping outside in the wet
(Pneumonia is Britain's fifth biggest killer)
I almost feel a kind of pride
In our innocence and trust as we're all taken for a ride
On the paranoia bus with the
Bullet-proof windows firmly closed and every steel door secure
Glancing at the dark-skinned people outside.
Mount Snowden kills as many people as terrorism
So let's drag it down to Belmarsh
Hold it without trial for 42 days
Til it confesses to conspiring to undermine our British way
Whatever that is.
More people are killed by taking the wrong pills than by terrorist attacks
Which means the money that's planned for ID cards, armed guards, putting people behind bars without charge
Would save more lives if spent instead on
You're more likely to be killed by a rare disease
Or win the national lottery
You're more likely to be killed by a hernia
You're more likely to be killed by your furniture
You're more likely to be done over by your lover
To meet your end at the hands of a friend
You're more likely to commit suicide yourself
Than be killed by the suicide of somebody else.
And stress kills thousands every year
So – an ironic twist –
You're more likely to be killed by the fear of terrorism
Than by a terrorist.
So how to explain this?
Our government's obsessed
An endless war against a risk
Not properly assessed
For which they need broader state powers to watch you at all hours, CCTV, ID – they don't mean to intrude, but could you include an ample selection of bodily samples? – longer detention, not to mention the need to obtain evidence mysteriously from overseas but let them explain: it doesn't count as torture if somebody elsewhere is doing it for ya, same as having your phone tapped by some information vandal isn't really a scandal because civil liberties must be balanced against the need for greater security, surely you don't really need that jury, with so many new offences in store there's bound to be one or more made just for you, even if you only meant to create peaceful dissent against society's ills, you'll still find yourself on the line out front in a new witch hunt during open season…
But it's definitely all about terror and you'd be making a grave error bordering on treason to suggest that they might want these powers for any other reason.
I won't be gagged, or tagged and numbered
Won't have my genes and eyeballs plundered
At my own expense for a defence that won't work against a threat that couldn't get much smaller,
They won't get my photograph, my details, my age
(So long as they don't log onto my Facebook page)
And when they show up for me
I won't go quietly
I'll tell them to go out and fight the real enemy
Because sex kills more people than terrorism
And so does pregnancy
So let's drop the terror cops
The thought police for the sex police.
I bet they'll have much better uniforms.