How To Tell You're Living In The Wrong Country
...Thing is, TSA airport security has nothing to do with security, and everything to do with making sure that every human being who transits within or through a U.S. commercial airport knows exactly who is in charge. We call it the Tip of the Spear.
The idea is to desensitize people to government intrusion, generally with something shocking (like treating a 6-year old girl as a criminal terrorist). That’s the tip of the spear. As the spear drives further and further into its target, subsequent intrusions seem less and less acute.
Psychologist Robert Cialdini, whose writings on influence and persuasion have been read by millions across the world in dozens of languages, discusses three key principles which apply to this ‘Tip of the Spear’ approach.
The first is called social proof. It’s easy to understand — like lemmings, sheep, or milk cows, people standing in the security line watching everyone else get patted down and go through body scanners, will most likely comply with the social norm. Monkey see, monkey do.
The second is the principle of authority. Also easy to understand — people will obey authority figures even if it requires taking objectionable action. Uniforms establish an authority image, as do the training programs that teach intimidation tactics to government agents — voice projection, direct eye contact, use of professional vocabulary, etc.
The third is a bit more complex; Cialdini calls it the principle of commitment and consistency. Simply put, if people commit to an idea in word or deed, their future actions will be consistent with this idea because it becomes part of their own self-image.
In this context, people who submit to government intrusion the first time (e.g. watch their children receive pat-downs at TSA checkpoints) are more likely to continue acceding to further government intrusions down the road. It’s a bit of a boiling frog approach....