The Trouble with Profiling by Bruce Schneler
Posted: 09 May 2012 10:23 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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I would like to commend you, Sam, for inviting Bruce Schneier to guest blog a rebuttal to your controversial article in favor of the practice of profiling.  http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/the-trouble-with-profiling

I, almost always agree with you Sam, but on this one, I have to go with the opposition.  Schneier makes some very good points in his blog, but offers no alternative.  I would like to: 


It isn’t WHAT a person looks like that tells you what he is going to do, but very often, it is HOW he looks.  The Israelis figured this out a long time ago and so did many airport officials in Northern Europe.  The key to identifying dangerous people is body language and interviews.  Granted, it doesn’t work 100% of the time.  Nothing does, but it is far more accurate than profiling, Xraying luggage, and body scans. 
 

Rule one is that the worker doing the interviews is well trained in all the subtle nuances of body language and interviewing.  It really is an art and requires a lot of training.  Actually, the idea is very similar to what prey species do instinctively.  How a predator behaves tips them off far more often than what they look like.  This is very true when applied to humans as well.  A person trained in spotting all the minutia of movements that we all do subconsciously, movements we really cannot control well, is far more valuable than a scanner.  Couple that with a brief interview from the same trained person (usually one lasting only 30 seconds is sufficient), and people to be pulled out for further screening are easily picked up.  In fact, professional screeners say it is glaring! 


These methods are tried and true.  Our US TSA program of hiring thousands of minimum wage McWorkers to run elaborate magnetic and Xray screenings is so easy to game it is useless.  It would be far better, and probably cheaper, to train interviewers FULLY, and pay them a living wage.  It would also move the lines a lot faster. 


I have traveled a lot and have seen this done, and it really does work! 

[ Edited: 09 May 2012 10:27 AM by 4earth]
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