# WMD attack by 2013

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by areasys, Dec 24, 2008.

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1. ### areasysRegistered Senior Member

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I don't know if you all heard, but there a Congressional committee on stopping proliferation of WMD's recently (right after the Mumbai attacks, I believe) released a report stating that we could expect a terrorist attack using either nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons by 2013. It stated that, while progress had been made in securing these weapons, not enough was being made and our margin of security was shrinking.

What do you think about all this? Are there any experts in the field here? Do you think this is real or is it fearmongering? And do you think President-Elect Obama can/will do enough to prevent it?

Me personally, I'm pretty apprehensive. I go to UCLA so I live in one of the biggest cities in the US. And think about it, what better place to attack than the most sinful, liberal part of the Great Satan? I mean, it is pretty far from the downtown area, but it's still one of the "posher" areas of LA. It's so depressing, as well as frightening. I mean, I'm almost done, only got a year left, and I'm REALLY looking forward to this huge 26-hour dance marathon in February. But I can't seem to stop thinking that I'll be dead by the end of the school year.

Come to think of it, what's to stop something like Mumbai from happening at the dance marathon? Thousands of young, idealistic college kids living their dreams out in an all-American college in one of the largest cities in America.
I don't know. Am I just being paranoid, or are these fears justified?

3. ### ZapFacts > OpinionsRegistered Senior Member

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It will probably happen again sooner or later. The authorities themselves have been saying this since the 2001 attack. The logical act would be to avoid likely targets.

5. ### phlogisticianBannedBanned

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It sounds like of the same WMD bullshit they tried to sell us about Iraq. It's all diversionary bullshit to stop the populace worrying about the economy, and the govt eroding their civil rights.

There will not be a nuclear strike by 2013, that is BS, but they lump lesser threats such as chemicals into WMD with Nukes, so a minor gas attack is peddled with the same hysteria as a nuclear strike in the minds of the mindless.

It's won't happen on any 'mass' scale, so the whole concept of WMD is bullshit, for small minded assholes.

7. ### Fraggle RockerStaff Member

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It isn't enough to identify a risk. You have to analyze it and manage it. I was a specialist in risk analysis and management once upon a time, so perhaps I can help you.

The first step in analyzing a risk is to assess the impact of the risk event. What do you envision happening if your fears come true? A Mumbai-style attack with firearms, killing a couple of hundred people? A 9/11-style attack requiring years of planning, massive organization, lots of money and the tacit complicity of a foreign government, killing a couple of thousand people? Or the tactical nuke in "24," that killed about 20,000 people? You seem to be concerned with the smaller-scope attack. We'll keep the others in mind as we move on, but your scenario is around 200 deaths.

The second step is to assess the probability of risk realization, which means the chance of the risk event actually occurring. So let's look at your religious wackos storming into a student dance or a night club, where decadent American youth are drinking forbidden substances, flirting shamelessly, and gyrating to the devil's music. UCLA isn't the only university in L.A. They might get off the freeway downtown and decide to settle for USC. Or they could get completely lost and end up at UCI, CSUN or the Claremont Colleges. L.A. isn't the only large decadent city in America. New York and Washington were the targets of choice for the 9/11 hijackers, and there's always Chicago. Heck, why not go for Las Vegas if you don't like decadence? Finally, dances aren't the only place where decadent Americans gather. I was in Minneapolis on 9/11 and the people there quite reasonably feared that the Mall of America would be next: our largest cathedral of decadent capitalist consumerism, and there are a lot more people there than there would be at a student event, even at a huge school like UCLA, maybe with the exception of the UCLA-USC game.

So there are several hundred attractive targets for small-time terrorists. Once they pick one, they won't have enough resources to kill everybody, and it could be the night you decided to stay home and study or go out to a movie with that hot chick in your English Lit class. What are the chances of you being in the wrong place at the wrong time and being one of the unlucky ones to intercept a bullet? One in 500 for the location being somewhere near you, one in 20 that you'll happen to be there when it happens, and (based on Mumbai) one in a thousand that you'll be a target... Check my math but I get a probability of one in ten million.

So we've completed the risk analysis. Now it's time to do the risk management.

Start by comparing this risk to other risks in your life, and see how you manage them. The most obvious one is driving. Every year, slightly more than one one-hundredth of one percent of the American population are killed in auto accidents. That means there's one chance in ten thousand that you will die in a wreck--every year! It's the cause of death for one American out of every hundred!

So, how do you manage that risk? This will give you a guideline for managing a much smaller risk. Do you lie awake worrying about dying on the highway? Do you minimize the time you spend on the road, own a Mercedes-Benz, drive slowly, paint your car safety-orange and load it up with air horns? Take the bus around town? Never go anywhere you can't walk to?

Or do you just accept the risk as part of the whole package of civilization? One of those things that's justified because of the benefits of going to UCLA and living in the Capital City of the Pacific Rim, a place that's so nice, homeless people do everything they can to wind up there and sleep on the beach.

Let's look at it another way. I told you I'd bring 9/11 into this discussion. How many people are killed by terrorists in the USA? Maybe we're due for another attack, as you seem to think. Maybe a big one like 9/11. Fine. Read on.

In the last eight years, terrorists have killed three thousand Americans. Does that sound like a lot? A big problem worth spending billions of dollars and pissing off the whole world, to minimize? If so, then I've got a shock for you. During those same eight years, ONE HUNDRED FIFTY THOUSAND Americans were killed by drunk drivers! Drunk drivers are a lot easier and cheaper to catch than Osama bin Laden. We know who they are! We know their names and addresses, we've even ridden in their cars. For about a hundred bucks apiece we could install a breathalyzer ignition interlock in every car, and we could stop most of the drunk drivers without having to kill them, or even putting them in Gitmo, or even making them take their shoes and belts off every time they get in their cars.

Do you advocate doing that? Are you on the board of an anti-drunk driving lobbyist organization? Do you even THINK about it?

No? I didn't think so.

Well then there's your answer dude. You don't have to think about terrorism either. The risk is too small to worry about, by definition, because you don't worry about a much bigger risk.

That nuke in "24" was fiction, that's why it was on TV. If terrorists could get their hands on one, they'd probably blow themselves up before they made it to Valencia. And even if they made it, they'd kill the same number of people as drunk drivers kill every single year without anyone flinching.

Now send ten bucks to some poor Iraqi whose family was killed by American soldiers in the "War on Terror," and apologize to him for the fact that other Americans aren't as smart as you are.

8. ### kmguruStaff Member

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11,757
In about 2005, my friend's company presented an artificial intelligence based program based on their proprietory "Prediction and Prevention" logic to all the major intelligence agencies. They all respectfully denied to even do a pilot project. Unofficially, one group whose job is to prevent WMD in coming to our shores said that they trust the humans to watch over these things and have no trust in technology. The way he presented, we thought he is thinking about us creating a Terminator type AI.

Apparently the proposal found its way to some obscure agency. Last month, we were contacted to see what we have so far. Governments work very very slowly....

Yes there is a high possiblity...and yes this can be prevented but the cost will be high. Offense and Destruction is always cheap but Defense and Prevention is very time consuming and cost a lot. We spend about $4 Billion per year in Airline security. It would cost at least$2 Billion per year in the Prediction and Prevention Program. No one wants to spend the money to prevent something that may or may not happen. But I bet, if one happens, then lots of money will flow really fast to prevent the next one. That is life...

9. ### Fraggle RockerStaff Member

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24,690
Probability, not possibility. This is a matter of mathematics and we have to keep our terminology straight or we'll be led to an erroneous conclusion, particularly when emotions run high.
Which means that a scrupulous risk analysis must be done to determine the cost/benefit ratio. The average American values his life somewhere between $250,000 (as evidenced by the life insurance he buys, if any) and$7,000,000 (as evidenced by what juries award in wrongful-death suits against "deep pocket" defendants). A cold but objective actuarial calculation says that the present value of his lifetime earning power is on the order of $1,000,000, but that varies dramatically with education and doesn't take into account his value as a parent, friend, mentor, citizen, etc. I'd estimate the average generously at$2,000,000 to avoid being quibbled with. The standard deviation is rather large, but when you're dealing with a risk event that's expected to kill at least fifty people, the values will average out and your total will be accurate.

So it comes down to: How much can we afford to spend to reduce or eliminate the chance of one average American being killed? The answer is that we can't afford not to spend anything much less than two million bucks, because if we don't, in the long run we'll come out behind both financially and emotionally.

Many individuals choose not to purchase life insurance because they are willing to gamble. At the individual level, the utility of money function perturbs cost benefit analyses, which is why lotteries, which are probably the most house-favored form of legal gambling, are so popular. But at the community level the utility of money function is 1.00 so paying, say, $1.5 million to prevent losing a life valued at$2 million is a winning gamble.

If the cost per life saved is greater than $2 million, then we're overpaying from a sheer actuarial standpoint. However, trans-actuarial concerns come into play, such as the effect of terrorism on a nation's culture. Not to mention the balance of political power between the people who would get that$2 million if it were not diverted into anti-terrorist programs, such as schools and artists, versus those who would get it if it were, such as defense contractors.
Which, based on the eight-year history of airline-directed terrorism, saves (if it works) at least 300 lives per year. That's $1.3 million per life saved. That's a bargain, since the average value of a life is$2 million.
Actually that only raises the cost per life saved to more-or-less $2 million. It's a fair price. Maybe even still a bargain given the trans-actuarial costs of a death due to terrorism. Americans are abysmally incompetent at risk analysis and management, so it's difficult to predict how they will react to any scenario. Generally it won't be a rational reaction. They will brush off the high-school mathematics that's all that is required to do it properly, and let a charismatic politician talk them into making the decision that increases his own power and that of his corporate sponsors. Consider drunk driving, which is arguably the leading non-medical cause of death in America. (It's possible that non-drinking-related auto accidents have a slight lead.) It would cost no more than$100 to build a breathalyzer ignition interlock into every new car. Our national fleet is about 250 million vehicles, so that's a total of \$25 billion over the fifteen years it takes for the fleet to be replaced. One and a half billion dollars per year for fifteen years, at which time we're saving twenty thousand lives per year. (Of course the hard core drunks will find a way around the interlock, but they're not only statistically insignificant, they're also the most practiced at driving drunk without wrecking their cars.) Without going into a complicated present-value-of-money calculation, trust me that that comes out to only a few hundred thousand dollars per life saved!

This is a pittance. Many innumerate, irresponsible, risk-tolerant, immortality-deluded American workers have that much life insurance!

Yet as a nation we refuse to spend the money. Go figure.

10. ### kmguruStaff Member

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My bad. You are correct. In the risk analysis, did you also calculate the Neuroeconomics part due to fear and its effect on economy? After 9/11, the nation got paralyzed in travel and business activities. I did not fly and opted to drive for a while - even if it took me two days to get there.

WMDs of portable nuclear implosion type could be energy equivalent of 500 Tons of TNT...if exploded in a dense population could do some serious damage.

We could save 20,000 white collar people from death and resulting economic loss in 2013. So how much minimum money we have to spend to prevent this?

11. ### RickॐValued Senior Member

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3,336
Unfortunately, my fear is not about dying, my fear is being part of a totalitarian and completely non democratic society; Which those terrorists are trying to form or accomplish, where all thoughts MUST adhere to singular thought or goal, else ... well you know.

Tolerance is everything. Tolerance and freedom of thought is what makes us better.

Rick

12. ### kmguruStaff Member

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Ignorance is what causes this. Even in USA where there is free access to information, there are so many nutcases...and others who find a way to control the population as evidenced from Wall street.

How do you change that is the question....

13. ### ZapFacts > OpinionsRegistered Senior Member

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It is silly to say that one values one's life at how much life assurance they possess, or at how much a hypothetical jury might award in the event of one's hypothetical wrongful death. Really goddamned silly.

14. ### kmguruStaff Member

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Unfortunately that is the real world...

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Prove it.

16. ### OphioliteValued Senior Member

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Your posts to date reveal that your are not open to reasoned, logical argument. Therefore any attempt to 'prove' something to you would be a waste of time. Please continue to follow the dictates of your programming. I'm sure it is comfortable for you.

17. ### Fraggle RockerStaff Member

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24,690
It's difficult to calculate that. There were too many variables. The government used 9/11 to manipulate the population. They convinced people that Saddam had something to do with it, in order to avoid admitting that it was sponsored, financed, planned and largely executed by their "friends," the Saudis. If they had simply bombed Riyadh, invaded Saudi Arabia, executed King Abdullah, and occupied the country, it would have crippled the financial support for Islamic terrorism everywhere in the world. Their only remaining support would be from Iran and Syria. So how much of our current climate of fear is due to 9/11 directly, and how much is due to the way our government exploited 9/11 for the profit of its corporate sponsors?
That is a textbook illustration of irrational risk management. Even if there were a terrorist attack of the scope of 9/11 every year, driving would still be enormously more dangerous than flying, as measured in fatalities per passenger mile. The four airliners killed a lot of people on the ground, but only a few hundred of their own passengers.

And the really sad thing is that there will almost certainly NEVER be another airline hijacking, at least not here. The next time some religious wacko stands up in front of a planeload of people and says, "Now just all of you be calm and stay in your seats, and no one will get hurt," NOBODY is going to believe the bastard! They'll rush him like they did on the fourth 9/11 plane and send him to meet his 72 virgins, or just smash the plane into the ground before it reaches a populated area. The 9/11 guys ruined it for all future hijackers!

We're going through all this crap to protect ourselves against yesterday's terrorists. But it's okay, because the government has made us afraid, and frightened people are willing to give up more of their rights. They also watch more news, so the media are in on it too.
Whoa whoa whoa. You have correctly assessed the impact of the risk event, but you have not assessed the probability of risk realization. What is the probability of this attack actually occurring? It is NOT 100%. You cannot "save" people who are not scheduled to die. But you can sure waste a helluva lot of money pretending to do so. To date, it's been on the order of magnitude of a trillion bucks.
Yes indeed. And that is what the United States is becoming, as a result of our irrational response to 9/11. When we walk into an airport we give up virtually all of our civil rights. Leering civil "servants" paw through our luggage, examining our underwear and our medications, and judging our politics from our music collection. In some airports they are even ogling our naked bodies through fluoroscopes. If you talk back to one and remind him that HE works for YOU, he can put you in "airport jail" for several hours, without the due process of law that our constitution is supposed to provide us. And the government puts people on permanent, lifetime, irrectractable "no-fly" lists because their name is similar to someone else who MIGHT be a threat.

And that's JUST airports! There are cameras everywhere and it's even worse in England, which has actually become "1984." Everywhere you go they take your fingerprints. There are bitch-n-snitch hotlines for every imagineable fear, and the bitch-n-snitchers are protected by anonymity! Remember how we used to have a constitution that guaranteed us the right to confront our accusers?

The easiest way for a government to manipulate a population is through fear, and they have made everyone afraid of terrorism, even though it's a lower risk than being killed by a drunk driver. The constitution has been suspended and in effect we very nearly living under despotic fascism.
Tell that to the gay people in California who just had their marriages annulled by Christian extremists.
It's not hypothetical. Without updating my research to the most current data, my figures are reasonably well based on actual life insurance statistics and actual judgments awarded by juries. The payoff value of the insurance policies I carry on my house, my car and my business are accurate measures of the value I place on those things. Why do you suggest that my life insurance policy is any different? I agree that it's only economic value and doesn't factor in emotional value, but for another 50-100 years we're going to continue living in the Industrial Era, in which everything is measured in dollars because that's the only measure we've got. When someone finds a way to measure grief objectively and provide an insurance policy to cover it, then we'll do that.
This is what the IGNORE button is for. I'm sure there are people who enjoy reading those sorts of posts for their entertainment value, like the stories in the National Enquirer about all the alien abductions and exotic hybrid human-elephant children. (Didja ever wonder which species was the female parent?) Once he crosses the line into genuine trolling, the Moderators will take care of the problem. If I'm not here to notice, send me a PM.

Last edited: Dec 27, 2008

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Prove it.

19. ### ZapFacts > OpinionsRegistered Senior Member

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Life Assurance is for survivors. By your logic, if a person has no heirs or family and does not wish to buy life assurance, then he is worthless to himself.

20. ### OphioliteValued Senior Member

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You are talking in circles, pi trove.

21. ### ZapFacts > OpinionsRegistered Senior Member

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Assertion after assertion with no proof, no argument, no evidence, no point.

22. ### OphioliteValued Senior Member

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Now you can begin to sense what reading your posts is like for the rest of us. I shall adopt Fraggle's recommendation and employ the ignore button. My tolerance level for foolishness is at a low ebb today.
If you feel slighted at the opportunity to respond, please send an insult by pm. I am weaving them into a giant quilt with which to cover the Antactic ice cap.

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One fewer.