Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Racial Profiling

Let me come out and say it:  I know I do it.  I try to be aware of it.  But I do it. The way I react to people depends on several factors, but race is one of them.  Knowing that can help you avoid sticking to that view, and one can overcome it by being aware.

This video is interesting, in this regard.  I'm thinking of the Zimmerman trial, in particular.  Zimmerman may have thought what many people would think, using race as a sign of suspicion.  But you don't get to act that way.

(Yes, I blogged about this before.  The stuff I wrote in the second half is still where I stand.  It's not just statistical discrimination.  It's UNjust statistical discrimination).


Anonymous said...

Very interesting. Very sad.

However, do you believe that the allegations made in the story linked to below from a television station geographically near you, and one that interviews one of your colleagues, has the same merit?

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of the time when one of my friends closed his business and another bought a display cart that was in his store. We (4 or 5 white guys) arrive after work (~9:00 pm either a Thursday or Friday in the summer so it was very busy) on Thames Street in Newport RI with a truck (partially blocking the busy street). The key we had did not work, we call the guy who was closing the store - he tells us how to break in - we do. We take cart, load it in the truck and leave after about an 1.5 hours in total. No one said a thing to us. The conversation on the way back consisted of what do you think we could get away with, it was surreal.

John Thacker said...

Statistical evidence may indeed lead us to believe that Zimmerman "may have thought what many people would think." However, convicting him on that basis without sufficient proof, as many people would like to do, is itself statistical discrimination.

And without sufficient evidence, it's unjust, just as the original suspicion would be.

Anonymous said...

We all use heuristics which we hope are based on reasonable statistics.

If one makes some false positives based on mistakenly suspecting someone from a group that is overrepresented for some characteristic, it is an incorrect conclusion but is it surprising or unreasonable?

Old Odd Jobs said...

I'm not from America so luckily I do not suffer from race-neurosis. If blacks in your country did not commit such a disproportionate amount of crime then this profiling problem would not exist.

Jim Oliver said...

White people have been trying to avoid blacks for a long time. With racial profiling and the Zimmerman case will blacks start to avoid whites a bit?