Why you should distrust authority

Two stories illustrate the dangers of putting your trust in the “authorities.”

  1. Crime lab analysts in the Houston Police Department have been faking analysis results on suspected drugs submitted to the lab for testing. The process of creating entirely fake analyses, called drylabbing, is pretty much universally condemned. However, the analysts involved received no more than a four-day suspension. One is still working in the crime lab.
  2. Wired Magazine reports that civil engineers have been studying the World Trade Center attack of 11 September 2001 and came up with startling conclusions (PDF) about how the authorities handled emergency calls from people in the towers. It seems that 911 dispatchers were telling people to stay where they were and not to evacuate. The report also said that use of the elevators during the emergency may have allowed as many as 2,500 people to escape alive. The people in the buildings had better access to information on what was happening and were able to make an informed decision to evacuate. Anyone in the towers who actually listened to the authorities that day and stayed put almost certainly perished.

The morals here are: The person with the badge is no better than you are and may even be worse, and you need to think for yourself and be prepared to make decisions and take action in an emergency; you cannot rely on “emergency services.”