From the LA Times:
The author of the Marquette study, assistant professor of biomedical engineering Taly Gilat Schmidt, did not test the actual machines. Instead, she based her conclusions on scanner radiation data released publicly by the TSA. She ran the numbers through simulation software that modeled how X-ray photons travel through a body.
Excuse me for my ignorance as I’m not a scientist but how can you write a paper on anything without testing that which your paper is making claims about?
Imagine if big tobacco came out with a study like this, saying cigarettes actually have vitamins in them and add 50 years to your life while increasing your sex appeal but never mentioned that the ‘scientists’ doing the research never got a single pack of smokes to test. People would be up in arms pointing out this serious flaw in the research.
Now of course I’m sure the TSA wouldn’t give inaccurate data to a scientist about their naked body scanners because the TSA is an organization well known for it’s transparency and honesty. Oh, wait, that’s not quite true…. In fact the TSA has made claims that they don’t have to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests and can actually lie in them at will:
“The County was required by the TSA to withhold that information because it (the existence of video from any particular CCTV camera) constituted SSI (Sensitive Security Information). Any disclosure of the existence of the videotape would have violated both TSA directives and federal regulations pertaining to the disclosure of SSI,” states the lawsuit.
So what is the truth regarding the levels of radiation that comes from these grossly violating machines:
The TSA has submitted the scanners for testing by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and the U.S. Army Public Health Command. The tests concluded that the scanners posed no significant risk to passengers, but TSA critics have called for more independent studies.
We can hope that these other organizations who have been given machines to test will conduct studies in an honest and transparent way but at this point I’m going to have a very hard time trusting any data provided from these studies simply based on the track record of dishonesty coming from the TSA.
In fact, until Mythbusters gets a machine to test and give the all clear I think I’ll continue to opt out.