The Los Angeles Times headline reads “TSA scanners pose negligible risk to passengers, new test shows”. The reason that headline is dishonest is because it uses the verb “shows” rather than “claims”.
The article begins:
Full-body scanners used for security screening at the nation’s airports do not expose passengers to dangerous levels of radiation, according to a new independent analysis of the security devices.
The study by the Marquette University College of Engineering concluded that radiation from so-called backscatter scanners passes beyond a passenger’s skin to reach 29 different organs — including the heart and brain. But the radiation levels are considerably lower than those of other X-ray procedures such as mammograms, the study said.
This is “the first independent review of the scanners”, the Times notes. Halfway through we read (emphasis added):
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.
So using the TSA’s own data rather than actually independently testing the machines, the author found that “the results of her test suggest the risk to passengers is negligible” (emphasis added). Well, yes, perhaps it does “suggest” that, but it doesn’t by any means “show” it.
The Times closes with:
But Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, questioned the Marquette study because it was based on data provided by the TSA.
“We do not truly know the risk of this radiation exposure over multiple screenings, for frequent fliers, those in vulnerable groups, or TSA’s own employees operating the machines,” she said in a statement.
How many people will read only the headline, or just the the lede?