article describing Hurricane Earl shows a woman putting a pattern of duct tape on the window. Does this duct tape really help?
No, of course not. Duct tape does nothing to stop the glass from shattering, and does almost nothing to stop fragments flying around.
What it does give people is a false sense of security. For whatever reason, they’ve decided not to buy hurricane shutters (even though they live in a hurricane zone) and not board up their windows with plywood. But they can’t just do nothing, so they resort to sympathetic magic like taping up windows. At least they are putting something on their windows.
Such ignorance is not just useless, but in some cases, can be harmful. Some people believe they should leave their windows open a crack during a hurricane, in order to equalize pressure. The opposite is true: this makes it more likely that the hurricane will pop your roof off. The reason is that wind traveling over your roof creates low pressure above, and wind entering your house creates high pressure inside. This lifts your roof off, in precisely the same manner it lifts an airplane wing when flying.
There are obvious analogies with cybersecurity. People do things, like install anti-virus, firewalls, or WEP, because “doing something” makes them feel good. But they haven’t thought through the cause-and-effect whether doing such things actually work.