Doug Bedell — June 17, 2007, 8:06 pm

Prudence, not Panic

Bruce Schneier writes at length in his latest CRYPTO-GRAM blog about how rare acts of terrorism are – regardless of how much effort has been made to prevent them. Yet, because of fear, overraction to such events, when they occasionally do occur, becomes likely.

“Novelty plus dread equals overreaction” is the manner in which Schneier sums up his research-and-observation-based reflections.

“I tell people that if it’s in the news, don’t worry about it. The very definition of ‘news’ is ‘something that hardly ever happens.’ It’s when something isn’t in the news, when it’s so common that it’s no longer news – car crashes, domestic violence – that you should start worrying.”

Scneier’s viewpoint, which he supports with a multitude of URL references on his blog, argues for prudence, not fortification, in securing facilities from the possibility of attack. In our own field, vehicle access barriers, it argues for barriers with little presence when not needed, but reliable stopping power should they be called upon. Barriers like the aesthetic Arrestor or our newly introduced LightFoot, rather than massive steel plates or beams that promote a fortress-like appearance.

Preserving familiar settings, rather than altering them, is the way to proceed if risk is unlikely to materialize, but potentially consequential if it does.

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