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Why Profiling Makes Sense and Should Be Done

Discussion in 'General Debates' started by Hubert Farnsworth, Jul 30, 2020.

  1. Hubert Farnsworth

    Hubert Farnsworth Well-Known Member

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    I recently read Sam Harris' article "In Defense of Profiling" in response to @epronovost 's criticism of Sam Harris' view on this. And I must conclude, that I support profiling at airports and other establishments in which security is a concern. This includes profiling based on race, ethnicity, religion, age, gender, geographical location of hometown, and any other variable that can be proven to be a statistical risk factor for a person to commit an act of harm against others. Profiling is a logical thing to do to ensure a secure society. But, for those who are skeptical, or are beginning to get angry at me for suggesting such a thing, I'd ask you to consider a simple scenario. There are many hypothetical examples I could give, but I'll choose an obvious one: Do an 18 year old white woman from Kansas and a 36 year old Persian man from Saudi Arabia have the same probability of committing an act of terrorism? We all know that the answer is an obvious NO, and statistics can prove that the 36 year old middle eastern man has a far higher probability of being a danger to others. So, if these two people have radically different probabilities of harming others, then what logical basis is there for subjecting them to the same standards of security screenings at airports? It makes no sense whatsoever. It is obvious to me that people who are statistically verified to have higher probabilities of harming others should be subject to stricter security checks at airports and other public establishments. This is just common sense. The strictness of security checks that people should have to undergo should be directly proportional to their statistically verified probability of harming others, taking ALL known demographic factors into account. This isn't an issue of racism, because race is only one of many factors that would be considered. I believe that it's in the best interest of society as a whole to create universally recognized standards for profiling based on statistical evidence, in order ensure the maximum protection for all of us.

    For those who believe that it is "prejudiced" or "unfair" for people of certain demographic groups to have to undergo stricter security checks, I'd ask if you also think it is unfair that people with higher probabilities of being exposed to COVID-19 be subject to stricter masking and quarantine rules. It makes sense to quarantine people with high probabilities of having illness that could harm others. If it turns out that they did not have the illness, then while unfortunate that they had to undergo the temporary inconvenience, it was still the right thing to do to avoid allowing them to become a danger to others, since statistically they had a higher probability of harming others. In the same way, people with high-risk demographic characteristics can go through the inconvenience of a slightly longer security check. This is not "racism," or "prejudice," it's just common sense.

    What are your thoughts? I have no doubt that this will be a highly controversial thread, but I hope that we can avoid allowing it to go off-topic.
     
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  2. ADigitalArtist

    ADigitalArtist Well-Known Member
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    Right. Just like you can expect a statistical higher amount of new atheist types to be ********.
     
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  3. epronovost

    epronovost Well-Known Member

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    That probability remains extraordinarily small; making your entire profiling useless and self-biased since the more you investigate a certain group the more crime you uncover amongst them and the more you reinforce your previously held assumption. This is ad hoc reasonning. It's also extremely resource extansive, ripe for potential missuse and inefficient. It's "mean-spirited security theatre" at best.

    That would be what we call in stats p-value fishing. It's mathematically unsound and dangerous. It also ignores the fact that repression and oppression can create ground for rebellion. Thus profiling increases criminality in addition to creating a spotlight fallacy.
     
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  4. Hubert Farnsworth

    Hubert Farnsworth Well-Known Member

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    Sorry, but I don't consider that to be a serious rebuttal.
     
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  5. sun rise

    sun rise "This is the Hour of God"
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    I don't agree.

    And profiling leads to racial discrimination as well as is obvious from the news.
     
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  6. Hubert Farnsworth

    Hubert Farnsworth Well-Known Member

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    You don't "investigate" any group more than any other. You simply look at already available demographic data on crime and terrorism. And there are CLEARLY demographic differences. What causes them is beside the point.

    What "we" call in Stats? I'm nearly finished with a Master's Degree in Statistics. Are you saying you have more statistical knowledge than I do?
     
  7. ADigitalArtist

    ADigitalArtist Well-Known Member
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    This isn't a good argument that deserves a good rebuttal. It is, indeed, prejudicial and bigoted.
     
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  8. Hubert Farnsworth

    Hubert Farnsworth Well-Known Member

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    How so? It shouldn't. Stricter security checks and "discrimination" are entirely separate issues. I oppose all forms of discrimination.
     
  9. ADigitalArtist

    ADigitalArtist Well-Known Member
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    I suppose you just missed in your education that white supremacism is the biggest statistical threat right now. With more and growing white, right wing extremist terrorist acts than any other demographics in the last ten years.
     
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  10. Hubert Farnsworth

    Hubert Farnsworth Well-Known Member

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    Depends on how you define "prejudice" I suppose. Why should people with different probabilities of harming others based on their demographics undergo the same security checks? There is no logic to that. To use Harris' example, do you think it's fair for a 3 year old child or 90+ year olds in wheelchairs who are obviously not threats to be subject to the same level of security checks as young adult men?
     
  11. Hubert Farnsworth

    Hubert Farnsworth Well-Known Member

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    If the statistics indicate that white men are the greatest threat, then, yes, white men should undergo the strictest security checks. The argument remains the same.
     
  12. epronovost

    epronovost Well-Known Member

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    You are relying on a spotlight fallacy there. Most people of any group aren't terrorist or aren't prone to be terrorists. Plus, a systematic system of profiling is self confirming making your database biased toward a preferred conclusion instead of being completely impartial. It also leaves vulnerability and easily exploitable breaches. If tomorrow muslim men are searched and attarct 10 times more attention than muslim women it will take a grand three minutes for terrorist group to recruit women to conduct their actions, then teenagers, then back at men, always staying one step ahead of your profilling as you misdirect your resources.

    Not knowing the cause or ignoring of a problem (and we do know the greatest cause for the development of criminal behaviors, especially political terrorism) prevents the application of a good remedy for them. Systematic profiling isn't one of them. In fact, it has been shown to be part of the problem as people react negatively to injustice and unfair treatment.


    No I don't have more knowledge in stats than you, but you don't seem to applying your knowledge of statistics to the fact that profiling is indeed a rather poor tool that is filled with weaknesses an risks especially if it's applied on large scale like for profiling race, religion, gender, age instead of actual factors of risks with a real cause-effect relationship for crime (especially politically motivated crimes). Your knowledge is useless if you don't apply it or apply it selectively.
     
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  13. Quintessence

    Quintessence Tale Weaver
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    Where are the data from these statistics coming from? I wager you're familiar with the "garbage in, garbage out" adage with respect to data. If profiling is allowed, which invariably leads to to a disproportionate number of data points for particular groups of people, how do you plan to correct for that bias so the "greatest threat" is accurately represented as conditions inevitably change?

    Perhaps more to the point - how is this "greatest threat" data going to be used?

    We know where that leads. No thanks.
     
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  14. ADigitalArtist

    ADigitalArtist Well-Known Member
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    Neverminding that playing on expectations of innocence is exactly what savvy criminals do and we've seen both children and elderly be used in violence and schemes. Including prolific amounts of scams and cons using dear old grandma with her grandson (saw a lot of those in gift return cons and phone scams).

    It also encourages criminals to put young and old in jeopardy to use then to get around security.
    All creating 'statistical' (lies, damn lies and statistics) prejudicial security systems just teaches criminals to exploit obvious weakness.

    And we all know white men, the statistical greatest threat (LDL&S), will never be in the crosshairs of heightened security. Too much bigotry against people of color, Muslims and Mexicans.
     
  15. robocop (actually)

    robocop (actually) Well-Known Member
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    Didn't read but I'm a huge fan of surveillance to reduce killing and suicide.
     
  16. ClimbingTheLadder

    ClimbingTheLadder Up and Down again

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    Exactly this
     
  17. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Christine's Uncle Fergus
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    What would a Persian man be doing in Saudi Arabia?
    They're natural enemies.

    Oh, the problem....your profiling based on
    protected group status would be illegal.
    Not all great ideas are legal.
     
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  18. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Christine's Uncle Fergus
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    I don't even know what she's saying.
     
  19. ADigitalArtist

    ADigitalArtist Well-Known Member
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    It's a joke about stereotyping. New Atheism - Wikipedia
     
  20. epronovost

    epronovost Well-Known Member

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    What if surveillance wasn't reducing killings and suicides and might actually contribute to them, would you still be a big fan of it?
     
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