Yet another weird SF fan

I'm a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan. Common sense? What's that?

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Yet another weird SF fan

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Logic and the Department of Motor Vehicles

I recently had to go to an office of the New York Department of Motor Vehicles to renew my non-driver's ID card. It's possible to renew a driver's license by mail but the non-driver's ID can only be renewed in person. It makes a little bit of sense to insist on the latter in today's society because of the possibility that a terrorist might use the ID card. In that case, it does not make much sense to allow driver's licenses to be renewed by mail. A terrorist can get a driver's license almost as easily as a non-driver's ID.

It's a logical theorem: A and B imply A. In this case, if a card can be used as an ID and the card can be used to drive legally then the card can be used as an ID. The Department of Motor Vehicles disagrees. Apparently, the geniuses at the Department of Motor Vehicles think that a card that can be used to drive legally cannot be used as a plain ID. I'm reminded of tests of the average citizen's understanding of logic. A substantial fraction of the population think “Joe is a computer programmer and a nerd” is more probable than “Joe is a nerd,” even though the first implies the second.

I won't do more than mention that they only checked my Social Security card and the picture on the old ID card (to see if I'm still bald, I guess) … or that I had to wait an hour and a half to do something that only took a few minutes … or that a terrorist with a driver's license can trasport a car bomb …


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