Thursday , 17 April 2014
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To solve TSA screening issues, look to the slaughterhouse

In an inspired take on the ongoing spate of airport screening controversies, Popular Mechanics‘ Erin McCarthy interviews cattle behavior expert Temple Grandin.

I’ve been through those machinesóthe grey round thing that looks like the Star Trek transporter and the black square thingóa bunch of times. I don’t have a problem with them myself. I don’t know what the TSA can do, because the underpants bomber had it in his underwear. How about this? A beagle up on the table. As you go through and you put your luggage in the x-ray, he sniffs you. He’s just at the right height to sniff at the right place. (Laughs) I don’t think people would like that. That might get really weird at the airport.

Informed by her experience of autism, Grandin designs feedlots and slaughterhouses that make the handling of cattle more efficient and humane. Her remarks in PopMech offer a few practical suggestions for screeners and policymakers (and a tip for fliers: there’s almost always another checkpoint that isn’t as busy as the one you’re shunted towards). But as Alexis Madrigal makes clear over at the Atlantic, there’s no clear technological fix for our security theater woes. And anyway I wonder: if we’re expecting a designer of abattoirs to fix airport screening, isn’t the game already lost?

[via Erin McCarthy on Twitter]

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