Without evidence of benefit, an intervention should not be presumed to be beneficial or safe.

- Rogue Medic

Do FAA restrictions on electronic devices make flying safer? Part II

The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) may be easing restrictions on some electronic devices, but do any of these restrictions make flying any safer?

A boombox playing at 100 decibels[1] could cause safety problems, but there are already rules on being disruptive, so only an idiot would feel there is any need for another rule to address that problem.

Setting up a pirate radio station might also cause problems, but…

One member of the group and an official of the F.A.A., both of whom asked for anonymity because they were not allowed to speak publicly about internal discussions, said the agency was under tremendous pressure to let people use reading devices on planes, or to provide solid scientific evidence why they cannot.[2]

Image credit.

We are pandering to the anxieties of the most easily scared ignorant, when there is no evidence of risk.

Not just no evidence of harm, but not even any evidence of risk.

Why are we so stupid?

If cellular phones were so dangerous, all that would need to be done to take down a plane would be to put a cellular phone in the checked luggage of a person on the flight and call it during take off or landing.

No bombs.

No shoe bombs.

No exploding tooth paste.

None of that James Bond stuff that the terrorized worry about.

As I wrote in 2011, travelers are told to turn off their iPads and Kindles for takeoff and landing, yet there is no proof that these devices affect a plane’s avionics. To add to the confusion, the F.A.A. permits passengers to use electric razors and audio recorders during all phases of flight, even though those give off more electronic emissions than reading tablets.

The F.A.A. declined to comment.[2]

We have met the terrorists and they are the ignorant among us.

We have given them the power to terrorize us.

Why is valid evidence important?

Whether it is medicine, flying, education, . . . , valid evidence is our best defense against ignorance.

Common sense and other old wives’ tales are what we valid evidence demonstrates to be wrong.


[1] Sound: The decibel scale

The scale is exponential, so 100 dB is not 11% higher than 90dB, but exponentially higher.

Click on image to make it larger.

[2] Disruptions: F.A.A. May Loosen Curbs on Fliers’ Use of Electronics
March 24, 2013, 11:00 AM
By Nick Bilton
NY Times Blogs