Skip to comments.Profiling
Posted on 07/24/2013 4:34:23 AM PDT by Kaslin
In the wake of the shooting of a Nazi officer, Police Capt. Louis Renault played by Claude Rains in the 1942 movie "Casablanca," ordered his men to "round up the usual suspects." Was Renault engaging in some sort of profiling? He may have been, but what is profiling? Let's look at it.
We can think of profiling as a method to economize on information costs by using easily observed physical characteristics as a proxy for some other characteristic more difficult or costlier to observe. For example, say you seek to hire people to manually unload trucks containing heavy merchandise. I'm guessing that most would use sex as a proxy for strength and select men over the women. That can be called sex profiling. Of course, if you assumed that men and women have equal strength, you'd hire randomly.
You might say, "Profiling is unfair, and individuals should be judged individually!" Taken to the limit, such a position is ludicrous. Suppose police are trying to catch the criminal who just raped a woman in a city park. Would you want them to use sex profiling -- i.e., just round up men -- or should they round up everyone, regardless of sex? I'm betting that most people would view the latter as stupid. But there is a near equivalent in government. Ninety-six percent of the FBI's list of most wanted terrorists are Muslim, and most terrorist attacks in the U.S. have been committed by young Muslim males. Despite this, the Transportation Security Administration people behave as if each person who seeks to board a plane is of equal danger. That's why they search, frighten and inconvenience 5-year-olds and elderly people.
Some racial and ethnic groups have higher incidence of -- and mortality from -- various diseases than the national average. The Pima Indians of Arizona have the world's highest diabetes rates. Black males have the highest incidence rate for prostate cancer in the United States. Black males are also 30 percent likelier to die from heart disease than white men. Laotian, Samoan, and Vietnamese women have the highest cervical cancer rates in the United States.
Whether genetics, environment, or some other factor accounts for the association between race and the incidence of certain diseases, it is undeniable that such an association exists. That means an easily observed physical characteristic, such as race or ethnicity, can be used as a proxy for a higher probability of the existence of some other, more difficult-to-observe characteristic, such as prostate cancer, coronary disease, diabetes or cervical cancer. Simply by knowing a patient's race or ethnicity, a medical practitioner can be alert to and better customize a patient's screening needs. I wonder how many people would seek action against a doctor for medical profiling if the doctor recognized the association between race and the higher probability of a disease.
In a number of cities, there have been complaints of racism because some taxicab drivers turn down black fares. By simply knowing that a driver refused a black passenger, we cannot make an unambiguous statement about whether the decision was motivated by racial preferences. As early as 1999, D.C.'s taxicab commissioner Sandra Seegars, who is black, issued a safety advice statement urging the city's mostly black cabbies to refuse to pick up "dangerous-looking" passengers. She described "dangerous-looking" as a "young black guy ... with his ... shirttail hanging down longer than his coat, baggy pants down below his underwear and unlaced tennis shoes." Would anyone argue that black cabbies who turn down black fares are racists? A law-abiding black person denied a taxi is rightfully angered, but to whom should his anger be directed, at the driver who's trying to protect his life or at the people who've instilled fear by robbing and assaulting cabbies?
By the way, unlike us mortals, God wouldn't have to do any kind of profiling, because he knows everything. We mortals, with our imperfections, must find substitutes for his omniscience.
The way I hear it, profiling has kept terrorists from setting foot on an EL AL Airlines flight since the 1960’s...........just sayin.
Walter Williams is a national treasure and an always welcomed breath of fresh air.
Profiling is an essential element in law enforcement.
I don't know how much more of this stuff i can take...
...and an essential element of OPSEC.
I think profiling makes a lot of sense. You may occasionally miss the terrorist who dresses like a socialite, but it will be occasional.
This article should be required reading for all the morons who run our government.
Thank you, Prof. Williams, for stating the obvious in terms that even a politician can understand.
It is also an essential element is personal situational awareness.
Past experience and observed normalcy is what allows us to operate throughout each day. We presume that light switches are up for on, yet we also know that a few light switches are 3-ways and may be up or down for on. We proceed with the expected, being correct almost always, yet we have the logic to adapt to the exception. Profiling is the same way.
People that don’t want to be profiled as thugs shouldn’t dress and act like thugs.
Good try but still not on target.
To reach a conclusion, one must sort through facts, make choices of available info. That is given a series of facts, one must discriminate between them to determine if acceptable or non acceptable, pertinent or not pertinent.
Black people hate discrimination as a process because it can make them come up short in the decision tree. Then it does the most unacceptable of all. It destroys the assumption that all blacks are equal. Discrimination allows treating a person with a hoodie differently from one not wearing a hoodie. It allows one to distinguish between a male with his underwear showing above a belt fastened below his genitals with a person fastening his belt around his waist.
Blacks wail and moan about discrimination because and only because, the process allows elimination that results is selection of a likely criminal and that criminal happens to be black.
Profiling is discrimination in a decision tree that is ordinary and necessary, especially when narrowing down the list of suspects.
Scouts Out! Cavalry Ho!
Love me some Walt Williams!
well, everyone knows that blue-haired grannies are the ones playing the knockout game! Round them up. :p
That's just a small example of how far this country has sunk into the abyss of "political correctness".
While the Israelis use on HUMINT and Technology, it is the HUMINT interviews that filter out possible suspects.
Israelis know more or less what they are looking for, the US is not sure.
All Israelis who work for El Al or at Ben Gurion airport or at El Al facilities around the world all did military duty in one form or another - they know who they are dealing with and what they are capable of.
The last time there was a Hijacking at Tel Aviv was 1972 Sabena (Belgium) Airlines.
Israeli commandos disguised as mechanics stormed the plane and killed the terrorists. Who was in the raid? Both Ehud Barak and Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu was slightly wounded.
Profiling works, PC kills...go Israel!!
“Profiling”=Using your common sense.
CAN’T HAVE THAT, NOW—CAN WE??
Hey, thanks for the education. That was good stuff.
“Israelis know more or less what they are looking for, the US is not sure.”
Ain’t that the truth.
I try to use an analogy when possible. If a person was armed and walking down the Appalachian Trail when a bobcat popped out of the woods on the trail in front of them which should they do: 1) draw their weapon or 2) wait because this might be "one of the good ones"?
I'm pretty sure I know what the survivor would do.
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