August 10, 2007

Should we talk about terrorism attack strategies?

If You Were a Terrorist, How Would You Attack? - Freakonomics - Opinion - New York Times Blog: "Hearing about these rules got me thinking about what I would do to maximize terror if I were a terrorist with limited resources. I’d start by thinking about what really inspires fear. One thing that scares people is the thought that they could be a victim of an attack. With that in mind, I’d want to do something that everybody thinks might be directed at them, even if the individual probability of harm is very low. Humans tend to overestimate small probabilities, so the fear generated by an act of terrorism is greatly disproportionate to the actual risk."

This is from the guy who wrote Freakonomics, a book I truly enjoyed reading. He always look at things in ways that are difficult to predict and surprising. So I picked up this post with interest, to end disappointed, there were no real revelations for me as for theory of terrorism or anything like that. I also felt uneasy about the scenario he describes, cause it's like giving ideas to the bad guys. I remember reading a tom clancy book(as pointed out in the comments), the one where the plane crashes in the senate and kills everyone but the VP, our hero, who then becomes president. Then in 2001 when seeing the planes crashing in the WTC NY - I asked myself some serious questions if a link could/should be established. Back to today again - I reread the post, and like *some* of the comments, I think it's better to know about the scenarios than not. The consequences of trying to stop people from writing/thinking about potential scenarios are unacceptable, it would be literally the wrong side winning. So I agree with the author statement:

"So by getting these ideas out in the open, it gives terror fighters a chance to consider and plan for these scenarios before they occur."

So even if it's scary we have to have the courage to talk about.

1 comment:

Didier Thizy said...

I agree it's good to get the ideas in the open. No different than getting encryption algorithms out in the open. Security by obscurity is not very effective, and that applies when defending against terrorism too! :)