Definition: The act of a single individual or group of individuals having long-lasting policy ramifications for a whole population.
Background and derivation: Richard Reid, also known as the ‘shoe bomber,’ was a would-be assassin who was unable to light the fuse on his explosive-laden shoe on a transatlantic flight between Paris and Miami in October 2001. In 2003, he was convicted in U.S. Federal Court of having committed a terrorist act and is now serving a life sentence.
Since his conviction, passengers passing through security check points in airports must take off their shoes and have them x-rayed with their carry-on baggage. Had Reid been successful in destroying the aircraft midair, we all would be none the wiser and not be victims of the Richard Reid Effect.
Example: The alleged plot by British terrorists to blow up U.S.-bound jets with liquid explosives has led to another, Richard Reid Effect TSA policy limiting passengers to carrying only small bottles of liquids in airplane cabins.