In the Name of God

Discussion in 'Religion & Philosophy' started by Mr Casey, Dec 11, 2006.


Is Religious profling right?

Poll closed Dec 25, 2006.
  1. Yes

    0 vote(s)
  2. No

    0 vote(s)
  1. Mr Casey

    Mr Casey Guest

    Religious profiling is of great signifigance to our current society, whether we like it or not. We view Muslim's as fanatics and terrorists, killing in the name of God, despite the fact that this is only a small minority.

    Simple question. Does it have merit? Why or why not?

    My simple idea is that it DOES have merit, because it is usually a group of people that acts out. If truly innocent, then legally the people of the eithnicity have nothing to fear. Socially it is a problem yes, but after 9/11 who can doubt the fear within themselves when they see an arab in an airport, or on a plane next to you?

    In some ways, it does help catch terrorists or other dangers to society.

  2. Kazmarov

    Kazmarov For a Free Scotland

    Of course there's no merit to it. Fanaticism is prevalent in every major faith, and by profiling them in any way we shrink the sensibility of the faith in favor of a caricature. Most fanatical movements have basis in political manipulation that really has nothing to do with the faith itself.
  3. Gavik

    Gavik Registered Member

    So, Tim Mcveigh was an Arab? Thanks for the clarification. The next suicide bomber could very well be an Asian woman. I'm not saying this because all humans are good and racial profiling is wrong, but they will adapt and change tactics. That's what terrorism is: The unconventional.
  4. Kazmarov

    Kazmarov For a Free Scotland

    And in pervasive wiretaps, only the criminals need to fear. It gives the government a ludicrous amount of power to discriminate and be selective, especially considering the many biases that the government is developing.

    Why are you talking about religion in one paragraph and ethnicity in the second? Arab people almost universally have a) nothing to do with fanaticism and b) large portions of Arabs aren't Muslims, forty percent of Lebanon is Christian.

    It's a silly, pointed question. People are guilty by the evidence that can be brought against them. Profiling simply, as Gavik said, reduces security by narrowing focus. It's pretty obvious that security agencies weren't expecting explosive gels, or shoe bombs before that in planes.
  5. WindAndConfusion

    WindAndConfusion Registered Member

    Let's try a thought experiment. Say you have a terrorism screening tool that is sensitive to one part in a hundred million (meaning that it will only yield a false "innocent" about once for every hundred million actual terrorists who are screened) and specific to one part in a million (meaning that it will only yield a false "guilty" for every million regular civilians who are screened).

    Say that, on average, there will be about one major terrorist conspiracy per hundred million people per year, each involving an average mean of ten people. (This is much higher than the actual rate of terrorism in the US.) This means there will be thirty new terrorists every year in the US, out of a population of about three hundred million.

    Say that you use your miraculously accurate terrorism screening tool on the entire population. You should expect to catch all 30 terrorists, yes, but you'll also get about 300 false positives. 10 out of 11 people you "catch" will be innocent.

    Let's try a slightly more realistic example. You have a sensitivity of 99% and a specificity of 99.99%. On average, you will miss about one terrorist every three years, you will catch about 99 of them, and you will also get a hundred thousand innocent people, for a batting average of about 0.1%.

    90% sensitivity and 99% specificity, which is still probably far too generous (especially for a screening tool as clumsy as racial profiling): you'll catch 27 out of 30 terrorists every year, and also three million innocent people. Average accuracy: 0.0009%.

    75% sensitivity and 95% specificity, which is probably the best approximation for racial profiling I've offered: You'll get 22 or 23 of 30 terrorists, and fifteen million innocent people. Average accuracy: less than two hits in a million.

    Addendum to my angry rant: Screening tools like CAPPS and racial profiling are useful to politicians, because it makes it look like they're doing something, and bureaucrats, because it gives them power, funding, and job security; unfortunately, these same techniques are bad for literally everyone else in the country (or very very close to it), with the possible exception of the terrorists themselves (who will have a huge "victim" population to camouflage themselves in thanks to these "tools").

    Addendum II: A previous discussion regarding the NSA wiretapping scandal from way back when (still ongoing, of course, not that anyone in politics cares about something so old as seven months ago):

    I've had a lot of education in math, so when I read this article, my first thought was they're trying to make a Bayesian spam filter for terrorist phone calls, and it sort of made sense. But now that I think about it again, what information are they hoping to extract from this? "You're likely a terrorist because you only make calls between 8:00 and 8:45 PDT on Tuesdays. You're likely a terrorist because you call a lot of the same geographic locations that an ALF member used to. You're likely a terrorist because there is a statistically significant frequency of 9s in the numbers you dial, strongly and robustly correlated to the frequency of 9s in numbers that terrorists call."

    I don't mean to knock down a straw man. I am legitimately curious if they have any idea what they expect to find, and how they plan to apply those results. I want to know what basis they have for expecting this to yield anything useful-- and if they don't have any basis for this, I want to know that, too.
    So why are they analyzing phone calls made by people who aren't connected to nodes on the terrorist phone tree? To keep their servers warm? Or because some media-savvy bureaucrat is taking it on faith that it's possible to augur the secrets of radical extremism with the pigeon guts of phone records?
    Why not look just look at the list of incoming calls for that number, instead of wasting CPU time crunching through the entire database of outgoing calls to find the vanishing few that were actually to that number?
    I know you're just playing Devil's Advocate (first-rate job, by the way; you are Glaucon to my Socrates), but that was exactly where my understanding of their logic fell apart, too.

    Even assuming we're willing to give them unlimited access to these phone records, there's no good reason for them to store all of them on their own servers. They will only ever need to use a tiny handful of those records, and the rest of the database will only sit there, untouched and unused, except for the occasional corrupt agent looking to spy on someone, or the periodic security leaks that will put this data in weird and uncomfortable places. I wouldn't mind that they're looking at phone records, except that it's almost certainly a sign that they have no idea what they're doing, nor any idea how to do a better job of it.
  6. indieinmich

    indieinmich Guest

    I can understand why some would feel that this is a good thing.But to me the idea of religious profiling is some what silly.I dont think a radical muslim knowing that they are walking into a place with security is going to be waving his muslim flag as he or she walks in.
    A muslim women in traditional garb is obvious.A man wearing his muslim beanie is obvious.But what if they walked in wearing western style clothing and a cross.
    I am really not sure profiling beyond skin color really works because every thing else can be changed or manipulated.
  7. Kos4Evr

    Kos4Evr Registered Member

    I feel that if the government actually expects to get results the need a better system. I don't care for profiling of any kind because its based on general missinformation hoping to find actual information to support itself.
  8. MID

    MID Guest

    Actually the profiling that is generally not done, but which should be, is based upon the characteristics of the criminals we seek. Religion is generally not one of them.
    In the case of recent events, we should be looking for younger men of arab descent...their religion is not relevant, because that is not something they necessarily wear on their sleeve. Of course, they are all Muslim, but it would be difficult to include religion as a screening criterion, since a Lebanese Christian generally looks rather similar to Saudi Muslim.

    Such profiling is valuable, and is a standard tool in the law enforcement professional's tool baq. Yet for some reason, PC maintains that we must not do this as pertains to the obvious nature of the terrorists who attack this country, and who wish our destruction.

    I am still not sure where this attitude comes from in the U.S. in recent years.

    But I would say that religious profiling is likely not useful. Ethnic profiling, absolutely.

    ...When a murder is committed in Philadelphia, a call may go out saying, "suspect is a black male, age 25 to 30, close cropped hair, slight build, about 5'7", 130 pounds."

    Would we, in that case, be stopping an 86 year old woman, because we dont' want to single out young, slightly built, short haired young black men around 5'7" or so tall...for fear of some civic group giving us the business?

    No, I don't think so. We'd be looking for someone who looks like the murderer. Logical, actually...
  9. Icyblackflame

    Icyblackflame Registered Member

    You can change your skin color to certsin degrees. Of course, you can make yourself seriously tan (orange-looking?) if you're white, and they cell bleaching skin whatevers in some stores in some states if you want your ckin to be lighter. There's really nothing you can't change externally.
  10. Time Lord

    Time Lord Guest

    I don't think there's any quote I despise more than when I hear this. When the Founding Fathers made the Constitution, they built in many safeguards. Some were STILL worried, so they put in a Bill of Rights. Why? Because they didn't believe this crap about "well, if you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about". They spelled out that it was none of the government's business to go snooping.

    That said, sadly, there is something to profiling, if only for ruling out people. I find it silly that 70 year old grandmothers have to undergo searches at the airport because we don't dare discriminate. Oftimes profiles emerge because, duh, an overwhelming number of people who fit that category commit these types of crimes.

    Of course there are always exceptions. Remember when the Oklahoma bombing took place? The TV media was quick to assume it had to be Islamic Terrorists. I remember the headlines- "Terror in the Heartland!". And what happened? It turned out to be a dumb white redneck right wing nutjob.

    Tough questions in a diverse nation like ours.

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