Saturday, June 24, 2006

Profiling can work

Bruce Schneier says:
Racial profiling doesn't work against terrorism, because terrorists don't fit any racial profile.
But, as the comments show, his examples are isolated and out-of-date. One of them is even an example of an attempted bombing that was stopped by ethnic profiling.

1 comment:

Jonathan said...

You dodged the issue, Rodge-Dodge!

Almost no one I know of claims that profiling "cannot work". Many believe it works, but at a price too high to pay (civil liberties).

As one of the comments on Schneier's blog wrote, it can't [be expected to] work 100% of the time. So the question is how good the results, at what cost?

My readings of the folks who perform and study profiling as part of their daily grind, they are publishing articles lately that criticize past efforts at trying to wield profiling, as well as its claim utility. I'm speaking of the recent works by Borum (Psychology of Terrorism" and Borum et al.'s "The Role of Operational Research in Counterterrorism" -- the gist is that the people who use profiling are uneasy because of its very low efficacy. I criticized the second Borum article on my blog.

You say one example proves it works, as a refutation of Schneier's unease. I say you are extrapolating from a pretty small data set. Don't you have to compare it against all the times it doesn't work? Like, Learned Hand formula?