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Piegorsch Research Showing Risk of Terrorism For US Cities Is Hype

Walter W. Piegorsch, from the University of Arizona, is working for the Department of Homeland Security. The product he created for the good of the Homeland: A piece of pseudo-research that serves to keep the American people in a state of unwarranted fear. Congratulations for doing your part to contribute to the irrational sweep of security state tactics that endanger American freedom, Mr. Piegorsch.

I’ll call you Mr. Piegorsch, because no one who turns out the level of baseless fearmongering that you have deserves to be referred to with the term “Doctor”.

homeland security terrorism risk fraud Piegorsch sloppyTake a look at this map. According to Mr. Piergorsch, this map shows the levels of risk of bioterrorist attack in the 132 biggest American cities.

Scary, huh? Look! Cleveland is under a code red level of risk of bioterrorist attack! So is St. Louis! And Houston! Ooh, and Boise!

Boise?!? Boise, Idaho is at a code red risk level for bioterrorism? That’s where my bullshit meter starts ringing off the hook.

A reliable foundation for judging risk is to look at previous patterns of a particular activity. In this case, Mr. Piegorsch should have looked at patterns of previous bioterrorist attacks within the United States, analyzed the characteristics of the targets, and then made a prediction based on those observed characteristics.

That’s not what Mr. Piegorsch did, however. Mr. Piegorsch didn’t base his “research” on any observed facts related to the actual past targets of bioterrorism. Instead, Mr. Piegorsch engaged in rampant speculation. He imagined what kind of factors might possibly be related to risk of bioterrorist attack, factors like critical industries, railroads, and natural environment. Then, he built a model with that speculation as its foundation.

If Mr. Piergorsch actually based his research on historical facts of what bioterrorism has been in the United States, he wouldn’t have ever said that railroads, natural environment or critical industries in a city would be a factor. Think about it: When has a bioterrorist attack in the United States targeted a railroad or used a railroad as a means of pathogen dispersal?

The answer would be… never.

When has the natural environment of an American city contributed to a bioterrorist attack?

The answer would be… never.

When have critical industries been targeted in a bioterrorist attack in the United States?

The answer would be… never.

There has been one bioterrorist attack in the United States, and it had a very small impact, unless you count the damage done by government and public overreaction. Back in the autumn of 2001, a few post offices, TV networks and the offices of two U.S. Senators were exposed to non-weaponized anthrax spores sent through the mail. People across America ran around with their arms flapping in panic at the thought of white powder, but the fact is that only 17 people were infected, and of those infected, only 5 people died.

If Mr. Piegorsch had actually based his analysis on the one bioterrorist attack that has occurred in the entire 232 years that the United States has been in existence, he might have come out with a conclusion that places like post offices, TV studios and the federal government are most at risk.

Of course, a single event really isn’t a very good basis for risk assessment. So, if Mr. Piegorsch had done an honest analysis of the risk of bioterrorism in the 132 largest cities in the United States, he would have determined that the risk of bioterrorist attack anywhere in the United States is almost completely zero.

By color coding huge numbers of cities yellow or red in terms of the risk that a bioterrorist attack will occur there, Mr. Piegorsch makes it seem that the vast majority of the population is in grave danger of bioterrorism. Even the history of this decade gives no reason to believe in such a danger.

Instead of color coding his risk map with yellow and red, Mr. Piegorsch should have used colors like off-white, ivory, and beige. Of course, saying that Houston should consider itself under a code beige alert for bioterrorism doesn’t get the attention of the press, does it?

Well, Mr. Piegorsch, you got your attention. Your name was in the newspaper. Congratulations.

Congratulations to the Department of Homeland Security too. You see, they’re the ones who paid Mr. Piegorsch to do this little piece of “research”. Boy, did they get their money’s worth: Another piece of propaganda to make Americans feel scared, so that they’ll support giving more money and power to the Department of Homeland Security and its associated goons in the NSA, FBI, CIA and who knows where else.

Note to students at the University of Arizona: Why don’t you go knock on the door of Walter Piegorsch’s office today? Tell him you need to borrow a dictionary to look up the words “bias”, “propaganda”, and “paranoia”.

6 comments to Piegorsch Research Showing Risk of Terrorism For US Cities Is Hype

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