Opt-Out Day an Unqualified Success

 Posted on November 27, 2010 in Uncategorized

The statist media's spin on National Opt-Out day is that it was a failure:

As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson airport said 39 (out of 47,000) fliers opted out of the scanners. All continued to their flights after being screened, while at LAX, there were 113 opt-outs across eight terminals, which was less than 1 percent of the total travelers screened.


In the spirit of Defending People (by sticking it to The Man), let's look at that analysis.

There are many ways to measure success. It could be measured, as its organizers say, by awareness raised. In those terms, it was a glowing success. People, including congresscritters (PDF) are asking tough questions. (But The Fourth Estate is not-God forbid; the Government's rooster will not vacuum itself.)

Success could also be measured by increased proportions of people opting out. The legacy media's numbers, fed to it by TSA's propagandists, tell only part of that tale. There were 113 opt-outs at LAX (or was it 133 out of 50,000 total passengers as of mid-afternoon?), but we have no information on how many passengers were asked to submit to full-body scans. Unfortunately, TSA keeps that information and-tellingly-they aren't talking.

According to (please let me know if you find a primary source), "only 2 percent of all passengers would have been picked at random to go through" the full-body scanners. According to TSA, in normal circumstances "only about one percent of passengers selected to be scanned" chose to be patted down as well. So if LAX chose 1,000 of those first 50,000 passengers for scanning and 133 opted out, ten times as many passengers as normal opted out. Again, a success.

Or success could be measured by TSA's changed behavior. Scanners at EWR weren't running; scanners at LAX and SJC wer roped off and scanners at SEA were turned off. So it appears that National Opt-Out Day succeeded in changing TSA's behavior.

The fact that many scanners were out of service also suggests that fewer than the usual two percent of passengers were selected for scans, which increases the proportion of passengers opting out. If LAX chose only 500 passengers for scanning and 133 opted out, the opt-out rate was 20 times normal.

Tannebaum predicted that Opt-Out Day would be a failure. I figured beforehand that both sides would declare victory. They did, but I don't think the organizers have given themselves enough credit. This hand clearly goes to The People.

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