(cross-posted as a comment at Majikthise)

Every time I hear the term ‘dirty bomb’ used, I have to stifle an annoyed sigh.

I’ve been a firefighter for over ten years, and since 9/11 the amount of federally funded terrorism ‘education’ I’ve sat through has mushroomed. I’ve sat through classes where I’ve been told that the number one threat to U.S. public safety is the Earth Liberation Front. I’ve heard Greenpeace labeled a terrorist organization. I’ve heard much talk about ‘dirty bombs’, too, but very few specifics. There is a reason for that last fact, and I don’t have the scientific expertise to explain it.

Thankfully, Technology Review has my back. To phrase their analysis in the colloquial, dirty bombs are bullshit. Now I’m not one for donning the tin foil hat, but the corny sci-fi nature of the dirty bomb concept makes me wonder why it has such traction, even in our current fear-mongering public discourse.

I would urge you and your readers to consider the evidence (and the pertinent lack thereof) when attempting to suss the motives behind such campaigns. I suspect that the upcoming drill is a great way to justify the DHS budget as well as to maintain our highly profitable atmosphere of paranoia.

It wouldn’t be the first time that a dubious terrorism scare was used to implement a farcical and expensive policy. The next time your rolled-up, three-quarters empty toothpaste tube is confiscated by a diligent TSA agent because the amount it originally held is an ounce-and-a-half beyond the required maximum, just remember that the alleged plot that gave birth to this lunatic, chicken-shit policy was neither factually credible nor scientifically feasible.

4 comments on “

  1. Anonymous says:

    It’s like the witch hunting, bro. That was very profitable since the effects of the doomed witches went to their ‘discoverers’. It’s a wonder that it ever stopped.Paranoia and ‘terrizm’ scares are very, very profitable to the right people. I don’t know if we will outgrow this particular witch hunt; people are too ignorant, too easy to scare, in this country. Folks in countries with REAL terrorist organizations are a lot more blase (Britain) but they are even more far along the fascist path than we are–London is the most heavily surveyed and ‘observed’ city in Europe.If you are afraid of what might happen, you might never get out of bed…

  2. Anonymous says:

    The average gasoline burning SUV has produced and spread more harmful material than any dirty bomb could ever spew. That’s the ticket, Turrists, just keep selling that oil. :-0

  3. Exador says:

    You’re spot on with the dirty bomb, unfortunately, that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be effective. It would, because people fear radiation. Blown up in a major city, say the financial district, plenty of people wouldn’t go there out of fear. That, and our belief that the government is liable if we are not completely safe. In other words, the gubmint would prevent people from going to that area out of fear of being sued.We’re an ignorant bunch.

  4. It isn’t just that it wouldn’t be effective if detonated. In practical terms, it is a counterproductive concept on its very face. The effort that it would take to collect and consolidate sufficiently dangerous radioactive materials (without killing oneself before completing the task) and detonate them with sufficient force to do damage makes the ‘dirty bomb’ something that even Rube Goldberg would sneer at.The antidote for irrational fear is knowledge. If we are content with being so ignorant that a terroristic chimera like the ‘dirty bomb’ can be effectively used by authoritarian bureaucrats and cynical media vultures alike, then we deserve to bite the dust as a nation. Sooner rather than later.

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