Economics and the mid-life crisis have much in common: Both dwell on foregone opportunities

C'est la vie; c'est la guerre; c'est la pomme de terre . . . . . . . . . . . . . email: jpalmer at uwo dot ca

. . . . . . . . . . .Richard Posner should be awarded the next Nobel Prize in Economics . . . . . . . . . . . .

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Profiling and Political Correctness:
reductio ad absurdum

Profiling makes statistical sense. Paul Sperry argues this point very cogently in an Op-Ed in the NYTimes [registration required], in which he criticizes New York City Mayor Bloomberg for saying that inspection of bags in subways will be completely random. U.S. Constitutional rights aside, this is a dumb policy.

From everything we know about the terrorists who may be taking aim at our transportation system, they are most likely to be young Muslim men. Unfortunately, however, this demographic group won't be profiled. Instead, the authorities will be stopping Girl Scouts and grannies in a procedure that has more to do with demonstrating tolerance than with protecting citizens from terrorism.

Critics protest that profiling is prejudicial. In fact, it's based on statistics. Insurance companies profile policyholders based on probability of risk. That's just smart business. Likewise, profiling passengers based on proven security risk is just smart law enforcement.
Alan Adamson, at Silly Little Country, has a similar response to the critics of profiling. Noting that Suspect #1 in a recent Trono mugging is a white male, Alan says,

We would not want any 'racial profiling'. So I hope it is recommended they pull over some young black males in order to catch suspect #1.

... Sex should be fair game too. So I hope the police are apprehending women as well in looking for suspect #1.
Reductio ad absurdum. Very effective.
Who Links Here