Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Astonishing gulibility

A man has just been convicted of fraud for selling an ineffective device supposed to detect bombs.

Although the device was quite ineffective, and consisted mainly of an empty case, he'd been selling the devices, many of them to the Iraqi government, for ten years before being detected.

I'd have expected anyone buying such a device to demand a demonstration first, and I'd have expected technically sophisticated users to look inside. Suspicions should have been aroused by the generality of the claims made for the device.

I can believe that one might be able to make something that would detect a particular sort of bomb - one containing a particular explosive, or a certain sort of timer, but something capable of detecting any bomb would have to carry our many different tests and, if such a device could be made, it would be a full scale laboratory. Anyone with even a modest scientific background should have smelt a rat.

Sophisticated technology is so important these days that officials who approve purchases need at least a smattering of technical knowledge.

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