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Lie Detectors to be Used for Airline Security 504

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the obviously-a-machine-knows dept.
swimgeek writes "A new walk-through airport lie detector being made in Israel may prove to be the toughest challenge yet for potential hijackers or drugs smugglers. The product has been tested in Russia and should be commercialized soon. The software in the detector picks up uncontrollable tremors in the voice that give away liars or those with something to hide, say its designers. Passengers that fail the test are then required to undergo further questioning or even search."
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Lie Detectors to be Used for Airline Security

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  • What if they... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by TarrySingh (916400) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @07:48PM (#14058505) Homepage
    Tell the truth and then blow up themselves near the lie detector?
  • by TheNarrator (200498) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @07:53PM (#14058545)
    Maybe they could sell a home version of this that would help rate aspiring actor on their ability to convincingly speak a part from a screenplay.
  • Re:Oh goodie (Score:5, Interesting)

    by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Thursday November 17, 2005 @07:55PM (#14058565) Homepage Journal
    I wish it was legal for an airline to offer a tyranny free departure lounge. "I'm aware of the risks of terrorism and I'm willing to pay hirer insurance premiums not to be harrassed."
  • Riiiiight.... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by ChePibe (882378) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @07:59PM (#14058606)
    Here's the problem: many Islamists - particularly the type they're trying to detect - do not consider lying to an infidel to actually be lying.*

    Lie detectors generally depend on the person being scanned to be more or less honest with themself. If they aren't, then no dice.

    This won't work.

    * - Info from a poli sci professor I have this semester who worked on the Senate Intelligence Committee for 10 years... sorry, too lazy to find a link
  • by Jeremi (14640) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @08:00PM (#14058619) Homepage
    If by "lie detector" you mean polygraph tests, then you're right -- they are bunk. A machine that detects lies by some other means is not impossible though -- you can detect lies with an MRI machine [wired.com], for example. How you would integrate that into an airport, I don't know.
  • Re:Oh goodie (Score:3, Interesting)

    by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Thursday November 17, 2005 @08:18PM (#14058765) Homepage Journal
    If the passengers of those flights had not been prevented from having weapons they could have easily overwhelmed dudes with boxcutters. It's a double edged sword. On the other hand, explosives are definitely something you can detect without being so fuckin' invasive and have no legitimate use.
  • Re:Oh goodie (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Fallingcow (213461) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @08:20PM (#14058787) Homepage
    If only taking a ship was a valid alternative for travelling overseas.

    I've actually looked in to this, and the only sort of sea transportation available is aboard freighters, which often take on a dozen or so passengers at a time. It's a bit pricey--higher than air travel but lower than cruise ships (which take too damn long to get where they're going anyway, and cost tons of money; they're not transportion, really). Also, their schedules can be hard to work with.

    They're probably the cheapest way to do a round-the-world tour, though, and some shipping companies offer just that. Surprisingly little info online, but apparently there is an underground of "low-luxury" travellers who like take a less tourist-y route, and there are newsletters and magazines for this sort of thing.

    I fully intend to take at least one voyage like this at some point in my life.
  • Re:Oh goodie (Score:3, Interesting)

    by shanen (462549) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @08:22PM (#14058810) Homepage Journal
    I've also abandoned flying, though I can't even estimate the number of times I'd flown before that.

    As far as security goes, even if the system really works, I can already see lots of problems. For example, false positives from people who have OTHER things to hide that have nothing to do with airplanes. Or even more seriously, false negatives from people who are using drugs or some trick to reduce their voice stress under the detection threshold. Even more serious than that, we have true negatives that are really false negatives, because the passenger is an innocent patsy that doesn't know about the bomb that was stuffed into the luggage.

    True positives? Gosh, if only the terrorists were so conveniently stupid.

    Right now I regard it as yet another example of BushCo projection--accusing others of your own flaws. Taking the most extreme example available, Dubya is a sincere moron, so he expects the terrorists to be the same way. Another flavor of stuff like accusing other people of trying to rewrite history while you try to rewrite history.

    Next, let's start considering the problems if the system doesn't really work. That's probably more likely, actually.

  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @08:32PM (#14058897)
    I wish I could find the original slashdot comment I saved this from. I googled for it briefly and found the slashdot story [slashdot.org] but couldn't find the comment. If you do, please reply with it.

      --The following was written by someone else--.

    "Yeah! Hunters don't kill the *innocent* animals - they look for the shifty-eyed ones that are probably the criminal element of their species!"

    "If the're not guilty, why are they running?"

      I wrote about this a while ago. Here's the text:

    "If you haven't done anything wrong, what do you have to hide?"

    Ever heard that one? I work in information security, so I have heard it more than my fair share. I've always hated that reasoning, because I am a little bit paranoid by nature, something which serves me very well in my profession. So my standard response to people who have asked that question near me has been "because I'm paranoid." But that doesn't usually help, since most people who would ask that question see paranoia as a bad thing to begin with. So for a long time I've been trying to come up with a valid, reasoned, and intelligent answer which shoots the holes in the flawed logic that need to be there.

    And someone unknowingly provided me with just that answer today. In a conversation about hunting, somebody posted this about prey animals and hunters:
    "Yeah! Hunters don't kill the *innocent* animals - they look for the shifty-eyed ones that are probably the criminal element of their species!"
    but in a brilliant (and very funny) retort, someone else said:
    "If the're not guilty, why are they running?"

    Suddenly it made sense, that nagging thing in the back of my head. The logical reason why a reasonable dose of paranoia is healthy. Because it's one thing to be afraid of the TRUTH. People who commit murder or otherwise deprive others of their Natural Rights are afraid of the TRUTH, because it is the light of TRUTH that will help bring them to justice.

    But it's another thing entirely to be afraid of hunters. And all too often, the hunters are the ones proclaiming to be looking for TRUTH. But they are more concerned with removing any obstactles to finding the TRUTH, even when that means bulldozing over people's rights (the right to privacy, the right to anonymity) in their quest for it. And sadly, these people often cannot tell the difference between the appearance of TRUTH and TRUTH itself. And these, the ones who are so convinced they have found the TRUTH that they stop looking for it, are some of the worst oppressors of Natural Rights the world has ever known.

    They are the hunters, and it is right and good for the prey to be afraid of the hunters, and to run away from them. Do not be fooled when a hunter says "why are you running from me if you have nothing to hide?" Because having something to hide is not the only reason to be hiding something.
  • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Thursday November 17, 2005 @08:41PM (#14058970) Homepage Journal

    I travelled to and from Israel prior to 9/11 and, being the security geek that I am, I found their approach to airport security very interesting. Not only is it utterly different from what we do in the US, but it is obviously devastatingly effective. Israel has been under open attack from terrorists for *decades* and yet they've never, ever had an incident.

    What do they do that's different? The whole focus is different. In the US, we focus on the (arguably futile) task of assuring that there are no weapons on the aircraft. In Israel, they focus on assuring that there are no terrorists on the aircraft. Their approach is about screening people more than bags, on the theory that weapons aren't dangerous, people are dangerous.

    The screening is intensive, detailed and time-consuming. They do search the bags while they're at it, but the main purpose of searching bags isn't to look for weapons, it's to look for clues and to provoke reactions. I'll describe my experience of going through security in Tel Aviv on the way out of Israel by way of example.

    I was travelling with my boss, on business. The first thing they did was to separate us, sending each of us to a different table. At each table were three agents. One of them searched my bag -- *very* thoroughly, picking through it piece by piece. Another asked me questions at a rapid-fire pace, jumping around between who I was, what I was doing, where I had gone, who I had spoken with, who I knew in Israel and what was the purpose and origin of various pieces from my luggage. The questioner was detailed, but not necessarily thorough. He asked about seemingly random things, but inquired in great detail, testing to see how my story would hold together under scrutiny. After asking the names and phone numbers of some people I had met with, he pulled out a phone and actually called one of them and grilled him for a minute! Then he and the agent who had been speaking with my boss stepped away and conferred with one another, obviously cross-checking our stories to see if they matched up.

    The third agent at each table just watched. The guy at my table had his eyes glued to me the whole time, watching for any hint of abnormal reaction... it's unbelievable how nervous that made me! But I suppose my reaction was normal.

    I can see *exactly* how a lie detector would fit into this model. Even if it didn't actually work, it would make the subject that much more worried and frightened, making it harder for a terrorist to stay calm enough to have all the right reactions. It wouldn't even matter if it gave bad readings from time to time, because in a situation like that, with trained, experienced agents, the lie detector would be just another tool to help both trigger and analyze reactions; it would be the agents themselves that made the decisions about who to investigate further and who to pass on.

    Although I would really hate to see what would happen if the US tried to institute a *real* airport security system like the Israelis have, rather than the "security theatre" that we have, I found it very impressive. It sucked royally to be the subject of that scrutiny, even as an honest guy just trying to fly home... it's easy to see why they have such an amazing track record.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 17, 2005 @08:45PM (#14059003)
    Ever travel with sex toys? That'll be interesting with a lie detector at the gate...
    I was returning home from NZ and a vibe my girlfriend had picked up on the trip started buzzing inside my luggage while it was being inspected by security. The guard recoiled and asked what the noise was and I quickly said "a massager". He seemed relieved, zipped up the bag and said "hope you enjoyed your stay in New Zealand" with an implied wink-and-a-nudge. Could've been a bit embarassing with a lie detector involved, though I don't believe I'd have ended up in jail for it...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 17, 2005 @08:49PM (#14059028)
    Hijackers plan years in advance and make lots of practice runs to see what they can get away with. Prior to 9/11 they had been smuggling all kinds of things onto aircraft in trial runs to see just what they could and couldn't get away with. If they want to do another 9/11, they could do the same thing with these lie detector machines. A certain percentage of people are good at fooling lie detectors. Potential hijacker candidates would be screened by their organization to see if the can fool a lie detector. They would then be further tested by sending them on on many trial runs through the airport with some minor contraband just to see how good they are at fooling the airport lie detector. The ones that can fool the machine consistently will be the ones trained to carry out the next 9/11.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 17, 2005 @09:22PM (#14059257)
    Israel has been under open attack from terrorists for *decades* and yet they've never, ever had an incident.

    Not quite. An El Al plane was hijacked by the PFLP in 1968. Security was subsequently tightened, and every attempt since has been foiled.
  • by Cruxus (657818) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @09:45PM (#14059428) Journal

    Lie detector tests are premised on the probability that people will experience anxiety when lying. Of course, some people are more susceptible to anxiety than others. Generally nervous people might experience the anxiety that causes these voice microtremors without actually lying.

    On the other hand, people can fairly easily be trained to pass lie detector tests while still lying. Psychopaths in particular, many of whom are constitutionally underreactive to certain stressors (search Google for "deficient affective experience"), tend to be able to lie without the slightest trace of anxiety. This is mainly because psychopaths have an entirely self-centered attitude and thus no moral qualms about lying, stealing, or doing anything to people to get what they want or to serve their own twisted brand of justice. Note that one type of psychopath (the so-called secondary psychopath) is hypersensitive to stress; these are the common-criminal/reckless type.

    My guess is that psychopathic individuals would be attracted to international terrorism. Osama bin Laden, for example, is almost certainly a psychopath. Therefore, these lie detector tests will be less effective against the people most likely to do harm!

  • by King_TJ (85913) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @10:12PM (#14059608) Journal
    I started a new courier job, and was amazed by how much paperwork is required to ship a package on a flight and pick one up from the cargo terminal these days! They even have a federal security agent who randomly walks around the terminal lot trying to open the doors of your vehicle while you're inside trying to drop off an outgoing package or pick up an incoming one. If he/she is able to - then you're immediately stopped from making the delivery or receiving it.

    (The theory being "You're responsible for the security of your delivery from the moment you accept it until you drop it off for shipment.")

    IMHO, this is just more assinine posturing -- because let's face it. The courier himself might be the one sabotaging the delivery, right? He'd have the most access to the package of anyone. And furthermore, an unlocked vehicle door on the airport lot is no guarantee the person kept the doors locked during the rest of the package's transit.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 17, 2005 @10:42PM (#14059787)
    I have worked in situations where taking polygraph tests are mandatory. After having taken several so called "lie detector" tests, I have concluded that "lie detectors" are bad pseudoscience at best. All lie detectors, whether they be polygraph or voice stress analysis or whatever, depend on the leap of faith that the subject is nervous because they're afraid they'll get caught in a lie. The problem is: is the subject nervous because they're lying or are they nervous for some other reason, say being subjected to a test, or in this case preparing to fly on an airplane (Oddly, some people get nervous about flying)? Most polygraph tests I have taken amounted to good cop/bad cop kinds of interrogations, using the equipment to make the subject uncomfortable (one time, my arm actually turned blue due to a blood pressure cuff being tightened too much for almost an hour with no release of pressure). Also take note that the spies Ames and Hansen passed their lie detector tests regularly. They were both nabbed through examinations of their financial records IIRC, not through anything the lie detector had to say.

    I doubt very seriously that this will have any positive effect on airport security. But it will increase the annoyance factor for law-abiding passengers.
  • by non (130182) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @11:12PM (#14059946) Homepage Journal
    i've flown on El Al a few times. invariably they find something they don't like about me after 30-45 minutes of questions. the last time i flew them i asked the questioner to call their supervisor, and then just asked that they search me. they asked me to calm down, etc. and i explained that i had no desire to go through the interrogation and that it would be easier for both of us if they just searched me. so yeah, let them search me.
  • by JimBobJoe (2758) <swiftheart@nOspAM.gmail.com> on Thursday November 17, 2005 @11:31PM (#14060048)
    "If you haven't done anything wrong, what do you have to hide?"

    Though I've hardly refined it, anytime I've received this response I ask the person if they've ever used a dressing room in a clothing store.

    Just about everyone has used a dressing room...so the question is...what do they have to hide? Why doesn't the person undress and try the clothes on in front of everyone? They have nothing to hide. Everyone's got body parts like everyone else.

    People use dressing rooms because they are shy about their bodies. They decline to reveal their bodies to people even though, in the great scheme of things, it doesn't matter to society as a whole--but it matters deeply to the person whose body it is. Clearly that implies that other things could be irrelevant to society, but very important and closely held to the individual.
  • Re:buy your own (Score:2, Interesting)

    by msbsod (574856) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @11:57PM (#14060175)
    "Calibrating" or training these devices must be fun. I have worked on modeling data with mathematical models for scientific projects. While studying the methods I found articles about psychologists using the same methods to model people's behavior. Of course, psychologists in the US would get their samples in the US. That was quite popular in the 60's. Later the psychologists applied their models with the coefficients from the US in Europe. It turned out that the Europeans are all crazy. They just would not match the hyperplanes [wolfram.com].

    At least the Europeans of today are not using lie detectors to protect air traffic, objects important for national security, check police officers, or innocent people like you and me.
  • by porksoda (253218) on Friday November 18, 2005 @12:29AM (#14060330) Homepage
    you know, those autistic savants that stare at x-ray screenshots of people's luggage and look for bad shit.

    Temple Grandin, "an autistic woman who was recommended for institutionalization as a child, [...] went on to become an influential expert on animal behavior and inventor of humane systems for handling livestock. [...] Grandin, in her book, notes that autistics have ably performed quality-control jobs that draw upon their detail orientation, and score exceptionally well on tests that involve finding a hidden shape inside a picture. She suggests that autistics be tried as airport screeners, to spot guns, bombs and the like amid the cluttered images of x-rayed luggage. Is anyone in the Department of Homeland Security working on this idea?"

    Source: http://www.techcentralstation.com/091305C.html [techcentralstation.com]
  • by Achra (846023) on Friday November 18, 2005 @12:32AM (#14060346) Journal
    Ok, the airport security is silly. I might note that I am currently writing this post from inside a US airport.
    I'm a commuter. I fly home for the weekends. There's lots of us like that here. The economy bites.
    The 2 things that will absolutely get you a special going over are:
    1) One-way ticket
    2) Buying your ticket with cash
    I fly a LOT. I've never even been looked at. I constantly fly with super weird computer equipment, today I have a handheld ultrasound machine. Does the TSA guy have any idea what that is? No. Does he ask? No.
    I'm the first to admit that our airport security is absolutely ridiculous and designed fully to put some kind of sense of security in the inebriated masses. But, FYI, if you avoid those 2 things, you will never be hassled. Even (or perhaps especially) if you are wearing a turban and muttering, "Muhammad, Jihad." repeatedly under your breath.
  • Re:Feynman (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 18, 2005 @12:47AM (#14060428)

    Eventually Feynman took pity on the guys and returned the door and (I believe) confessed. When he did, there was an uproar, as people claimed he had lied.

    I've had that effect in the opposite direction. Someone cracked an account, I was asked if I did it. Said no, got my ass kicked for lying. The people at the time said they wouldn't have come down on me if I'd been honest, but they had to punish me for lying.

    A few months later, the guy who did it bragged about it, got turned in, and *I* got my ass kicked again! This time for "lying to cover for the guy."

  • Re:Not happening (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gobbo (567674) <wrewrite AT gmail DOT com> on Friday November 18, 2005 @12:59AM (#14060475) Journal
    Hear, hear.

    It's not ever going to happen again in any of our lifetimes.

    Well, not all hijackers are sending planes into buildings. Have you heard of any others? One, I think, previously. In fact, there are enough (an understatement) highly suspicious unanswered questions about those hijackings that the conspiracy theorists have topped the JFK body of ravings.

    I'm in doubt myself about the official story, and there are only two degrees of separation between myself and one of the deceased flight stewards (a fellow parishoner of my brother-in-law). Also, not all hijackers board planes in the USA, and security varies hugely in the world's airports--something hijackers know.

    Which brings me to your point "the terrorists know the things we're missing." Well yes, and I often wonder about where all the terrorists are. Most murders go unsolved, for instance, as do most robberies, etc. etc. A skilled criminal network (think Hell's Angels) gets caught rarely, and they're doing some pretty sophisticated law breaking, over long periods. I look around me, and see how easy it would be to really muck things up, scare people (hey, I'm a righteous square, two kids and a station wagon--really--but I dabbled in some vandalism while a young teenager, and did a stint caring for street youth, so I know about havoc). There are so many vulnerable points in an open society! And that's the way we want it. I can only surmise that they either aren't very numerous, or aren't really there, or are really stupid.

    Condi Rice will be on TV going, "Who could have guessed they would use..." whatever it was.

    Yeah, who could guess? Only those who saw the near-exact scenario played out on The [plaguepuppy.net] Lone [cloakanddagger.de] Gunmen [stylicious.com] only six months before the actual event. So, um what, maybe five million people could guess? Or did they forget to wear their tinfoil hats, and got that episode erased?

  • by zazzel (98233) on Friday November 18, 2005 @02:34AM (#14060749)
    Count me as another guy who can't stand this attitude any longer. It's for a good cause! For the sake of security, cut my balls off! Sorry, but I am a German who has just had to accept that his Secretary of the Interior bypassed parliament to get RFID passports with biometric information (fingerprints, face vectors) through. You know where this guy came from? He was a lawyer defending a leftist terrorist organization in the 1970s. Now it's obviously a small step from the extreme left to the (semi?-)fascist right - at least the "individual liberties" question is a no-brainer for them. Okay, it was an "or else" question: the US threatened to demand tourist visa from everyone traveling to the USA - but i'd rather accept the lenghty process of applying for a visa everytime I want to go see New York City instead of having my OWN government collaborate without any public discussion and bypassing parliament through some EU loophole.

    It's the US's right to demand visa, and I would gladly comply (or not go there, whatever!) - but it's MY government's duty to act in my interest, not constantly threatening me. And besides, what's a mere 130 EUR ($150?) for a passport that's going to be microwaved in my kitchen anyway?
  • by famebait (450028) on Friday November 18, 2005 @03:47AM (#14060987)
    I am sure I would set such a machine off every time I walk through a security gate - I'm just a generally nervous person. Do I care?

    You will after the first 10 times when you get stopped for further questionong every fucking time and it's always you and not the other guys.

    it improves security

    No it doesn't. Proof? Let's see yours first.

    reduces the cost effectiveness of security

    I think it's supposed to increase it. Not sure it would, though.

    and makes it quicker for the average person to get where they're going.
    [...] I'd be more worried if they were planning on putting all their faith in this system,


    They'd have to put a lot of faith in it if the efficiency reward you postulate is to be realised. Otherwise it will just slow things down.

    The whole focus on airplanes is misguided anyway. Just because that's what was used in the last major attacked on the US doesn't mean it's a more important target than anything else. There are plenty of other ways of doing great damage with modest means. Too many to control well. It's like the missile shield thing: If I were a terrorist and got myself a nuke for the purpouse of hurting the US, why would I go through all the trouble of also getting a long range missile, learning to operate it properly, and risk it being detected and shot down? It would be so much easier to just ship it to any coastal city in plain sight. In a normal cargo container or in a perfectly normal-looking rereational boat. In the same way, public transport provides nice good concentrations of people, but there are many types of them, not all well suited to rigorous security, and if they all become "difficult", there's no shortage of other crowded venues, including open outside spaces where admittance control is unthinkable without creating a society so bad that just succumbing to muslim fundamentalism seems like a nicer way out.

  • by gangofvirtue (929857) on Friday November 18, 2005 @04:28AM (#14061103)


    And studies [cornell.edu] argue [lewrockwell.com] ... that so many more people have died on the roads because they switched from flying due to the extra inconvenience, cost and sheer paranoia, that the number of extra road deaths in the USA alone may exceed the number of people killed at the World Trade Centre.

    <rant>
    Apart from the loss of civil liberties and the loss of billions of dollars, this is just another pointer to the fact that the so-called war on terror is costing many, many more lives than its ostensible targets. Up next, after two thousand dead American troops and literally [iraqbodycount.org] countless [bbc.co.uk] dead Iraqi civilians: ... a civil war? ethnic cleansing? militant theocracy? more terror? all of the above?
    </rant>

  • Re:What if they... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Redwin (805980) on Friday November 18, 2005 @04:57AM (#14061189)
    As amusing as that comment is what about people with actual artifical voiceboxes? If a terrorist is really committed to giving his/her life for their cause whats makes you think they aren't committed to doing anything possible to succeed in their mission?

    I've been on quite a few flights where someone in a wheelchair or on crutches gets waved through because searching them is made too difficult by their handicap. Especially metal detectors with the person having metal crutches or metal pins in their bodies. From personal experience, I've had a splint which has a metal brace and pins drilled directly into the bone to support the leg while it heals. This has caused metal detectors to go crazy and a hand detector which goes anywhere near it to go haywire. There are many ways that may have worked if people are afraid of dying, deoderant cans that could be pierced to cause an explosion, a knife or blade hidden in a set of crutches to name a couple off the top of my head. The point, as people have said before is that if you know they are hijacking the plane for terrorist activites what have you got to lose? Taking hostages only works if you can exert authority over them. A sealed pilot cabin which can release some form of sleeping gas to everywhere else in the plane would be far more effective.

    Face it, terrorists are perfectly capable of causing terror by means other than ones they have already done. Making ridiculous measures only wastes money and creates a culture of unnessesary fear.
  • Familial Tremor (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 18, 2005 @08:30AM (#14061860)
    So those of us who have a slight tremor in our voices will be marked as terrorist ? It's bad enough I shake slightly, . And what about parkinson's folks ? Would Katherine Hepburn be grounded now ?
  • Nervous flyers .... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 18, 2005 @10:28AM (#14062664)
    On behalf of someone who used to be an exceedingly nervour flyer (who was afraid of air travel), I can guarantee that a lot of innocent people are already scared shitless getting onto an aircraft and going through security. I know people who need to be medicated before they fly.

    Having these people put on headphones and go through an invasive interrogation designed to see if they are nervous is going to create an absurd amount of false-positives.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 18, 2005 @11:12AM (#14063075)
    Swillden, it is your intersting post which instigated mine, so the thanks really should go to you. :)

    First off, I'd like to preface with a confession that my direct (i.e. personal interaction) with the Islamic world is based mainly on Palestinians, but from what I have read and heard (always suspect) it seems fairly similar in other Islamic societies as well.

    I would like to rebut regarding my case for "Top Billing" of sex as a motivation for terrorism.

    If my post somehow came across as critical of religion (in general or Islam in particular) then it wasn't meant as such. Religion is, to my mind, a set of guidelines for social interaction which is supposed to support civilization, not destroy it. In almost all cases where religious behavior has been corrupted to evil ends, somewhere the basic point of "love thy neighbor" has been forgotten, regardless of which religion it came from (I believe that most religions advocate doing well by one's fellow citizen, although some don't afford "person" status to non-members of that religion).

    Still, in any society, there will be a constant percentage breakdown of miscreants, ranging from shoplifters to rapists/murderers. Religion generally frowns upon anything that's prima facie "bad", such as theft or murder. Social frameworks in general require a carrot at one end to appeal to the better sides of its citizens, and a stick at the other to enforce consequences where the better side isn't strong enough. Note here that the ultimate reward for being a martyr is not just a ticket to Eden, but a waiting estate containing (insert multiple of 7) beautiful virgins to fulfill your every dream. The Eden part is foregone, it's the virgins which tell you what bombers expect to be doing for the rest of eternity in Eden.

    Although I have no idea who you are, I can make some big generalizations about why your case is different:

    You had access to western media, which is a social juggernaut. There's no stopping MTV from trickling into brains via TV, radio, print, the toy industry, cellphones, billboards, etc. To the generation of suicide bombers growing up in the territories, this simply wasn't there. Difficult to get nudie magazines. No internet. Not even the Sears Lingerie catalog to, ahem, aid in self-satisfaction. You, as a member of western society had this available all around you and you rejected it, although statistics say you probably tried some before rejecting it. Either way it was always sitting there in the background. It is very different when you consciously refuse the object put in front of you (perhaps having tried it and then decided), versus wanting something you know exists but can't access. It is a "force multiplier" for desire/curiosity. Sex is a powerful motivator, and as strict as any social group in the USA is, the hydra of modern media finds its way into the most conservative of homes, thereby giving *some* kind of input for sex-starved teens everywhere.

    Case in point: what are the world's angry Islamic states complaining about when it comes to the US? Infiltration by "McDonalds and MTV", into their unspoiled homogenous culture. They fear heterogenous, lowest-common-denominator culture taking root and growing in their youth's minds (a wise thing to fear). They fear losing the chokehold they have on sexual behavior and acceptable outlets, because it is such a fundamental cornerstone of Islamic (and many religious) societies. They understand it, and I understand their fear, because it's a not easily reversible process. Sexual energy/frustration is a powerful force, steamrollering over more things in society than any other force in history, and it has been (arguably) harnessed to do many of man's great works, good and bad. The fact that you had the education to recognize this, and the "inoculation" from western culture to taste enough without being overcome by it, makes you fortunate, not "especially strong".

    The point of this is not to belittle religious culture in general; it's to argue that

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