Dear TSA, and everyone who works there:

Eat SHIT, you know-nothing, cowardly whiners. Hysteria and idiocy reign, again.

Let’s play a game. It’s called “measure risk with math!” I know, I know: the TSA is no good at either measuring things OR at math, let along rational thought, but bear with me.

First, let’s figure out how many airline passengers there have been in this history of American commercial aviation. It’s going to be a big number, since the FAA reports that there were 732 million passengers in 2012 alone. Let’s assume we’re talking on the order of 10 billion, then, which is probably low, but is also probably in the right ballpark (though I will eagerly accept corrections, provided they come with a clear rationale or, better, data).

Now let’s estimate the number of knife injuries or attacks that have happened on planes, ever. That number is harder to get, so as an upper bound let’s just start with the entire death toll on 9/11. It’s obviously risible to consider all those deaths as the result of the box cutters, but using that enormous number should put to rest concerns that I’m underestimating actual knife attacks in the air.

So, out of an estimated 10 billion passengers, we had about 3,000 injuries/deaths.

Good thing the TSA is protecting us!

Let’s look at this another way, which is to compare average knife injuries per year to the number of passengers per year. By annualizing the data, we can compare it intelligently to the chances of death or injury from other unusual events, to better understand what other activities we should ban or limit using “knives on planes” as the clear, logical border for permissible vs. impermissible.

Again, I’ll put my thumb on the scale against my position here, and count all 3,000 losses in 2001 as knife losses, but I’m going to divide it by 13 to pull an average per year since then. That yields a laughable 230, but vs the 700 million person-flights a year (here, at last, I may be using a slightly-too-high figure for average person-flights, but I think it’ll come out in the wash).

Using these ludicrously-overstated figures, we see 0.00003 percent chance, per year, of a knife injury or death on a plane. You are significantly more likely to die in an accidental plane crash. Or be legally executed. Or be struck by lightning. Or die from a bee sting. Or an earthquake. Or be killed by a dog.

Obviously, the next logical steps should be to ban going outside in the rain; eradicate bees; forcibly relocate folks from fault zones; and euthanize any dog over 15 pounds, as all these ideas have as much logical backing as keeping small pocketknives off planes.

People are insanely, irrevocably stupid. And the TSA is worse than most.

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