Suppose there were a law that required NFL teams to fill their roster spots randomly. In other words, such a law would keep a team from drafting players with respect to their size, speed, gender, age, belly size, etc. They also would not be allowed to sign free agents in any way but randomly. Would you think that would be a good use of the teams' resources?
Of course not. By choosing randomly, teams would end up with teams populated with people that have poor football skills. The quality of the game would suffer and the fan base would waste away to nothing. Talk about the NFL being the No Fun League.
Yet that is more-or-less what the TSA is doing in the latest of their ramped-up security measures to make air travel safer (see this Kansas City Star article). The TSA is rolling out an expansion of a process in which they will check passengers' hands for explosive residue. It's something they have been doing for some time, but now they are going to expand their procedure in the wake of the Christmas Day bomb attempt by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab last year.
But will they target groups that are statistically-linked to airline bombings? No. The TSA will be checking passengers without heed to any statistical information correlated with airline bomb attempts, i.e. randomly. The TSA will be randomly checking 6 year old girls and 85 year old men. They will be inspecting every Tom, Dick, and Harriet with equal likelihood.
I understand why the TSA has said they will be checking passengers randomly. I also understand why the author of the KC Star article nor his editors had no critical comments whatsoever on the randomness of the checking. They don't want to appear to be racially insensitive.
But while academics and and other do-gooders put their feet up on their desks and pat themselves on their backs and tell themselves what a just society they've created, ordinary passengers needlessly will have more of their time wasted, at best. At best, airlines will have to deal with more and more understandably cranky passengers. At worst, the TSA's failure to take the appropriate actions will keep them from doing the job they are supposed to be doing: keeping planes from falling out of the sky.