Profiling (EP.67)



Q 1. What’s wrong with profiling? A. Nothing; it is a vital tool, and useful in a variety of situations. Q 2. So, why are we talking about it? A. This word, along with so many other terms that are in common usage, has been co-opted by those among us who wish to rewrite key word definitions to suit their agendas. Kinda like re-writing history, but that is another podcast. People who do things like this are truth-twisters.

Links and References

Racial or Racist?

Offense is in the Eye of the Offended


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Q 1. What’s wrong with profiling? A. Nothing; it is a vital tool, and useful in a variety of situations. Q 2. So, why are we talking about it? A. This word, along with so many other terms that are in common usage, has been co-opted by those among us who wish to rewrite key word definitions to suit their agendas. Kinda like re-writing history, but that is another podcast. People who do things like this are truth-twisters.

The first thing we, you and I, need to do is to understand the true definition of a word. Then we need to understand what the altered definition is and the agenda behind the attempt to hijack the word. After that, we can use the word as originally intended–and be prepared for the 1984 word police–the truth-twisters–to come at us. But we will be ready.

We’ll deal with more than one word today; let’s start with profiling. Merriam-Webster, the dictionary people: “The act or process of extrapolating information about a person based on known traits or tendencies, e.g., consumer profiling: the act of suspecting or targeting a person on the basis of observed characteristics or behavior, e.g., racial profiling.”

“Ah-ha” I can hear you saying, “See? Racial profiling!” There is absolutely nothing inherently wrong–and many things right–with racial profiling, along with the other types of profiling. For example, if you are looking for a cure for sickle cell anemia, you would not start with Asian or white populations, you would start with blacks; that population is the most susceptible. Among other things, different ethnicities overall have different preferences in personal care items. A careful marketer would ensure that certain products were optimized to give the greatest benefit to those ethnicities, then use always limited time and money to make sure the target market is aware of those beneficial products.

Kep point: In a world of unlimited needs and wants, and limited resources –the world we all live in–profiling, also known as focusing, is necessary. Profiling, like any tool, e.g., money, is inherently value-neutral, can be used for ill or for good. The last thing we should do is eliminate a valuable tool, e.g., profiling, by intentionally making the definition of profiling mean nothing but–or even mostly–illegal and racist actions by an alleged oppressor group against a presumed victim group.

Let’s take a look at a couple of other terms; discrimination and prejudice. We’ll start with discrimination. We’ll begin with Merriam-Webster again: “1a. prejudiced or prejudicial outlook, action, or treatment, e.g., racial discrimination. 1b. the act, practice, or an instance of discriminating categorically rather than individually. 2. the quality or power of finely distinguishing, e.g., the film was viewed by the audience with discrimination. 3a. the act of making or perceiving a difference, the act of discriminating, e.g., a bloodhound’s scent discrimination. 3b. psychology, the process by which two stimuli differing in some aspect are responded to differently.” Once again let’s note that only a small part of the definition has anything to do with being illegal or wrong. “I have a discriminating palate.” means that I have, or think I have, a finely developed sense of what is good food and what ain’t. Yes, I just used ain’t” in the same sentence with palate–and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Okay, how about a walk on the wild side? We’ll look at the word prejudice. We’ll parse this one ourselves. Pre and judge; pre-judge. Don’t we all prejudge, either as a simple shortcut or as a useful tool, all the time? If you like Steven Spielberg’s movies, you will likely prejudge a new movie of his favorably until or unless you have some sort of information to the contrary. If you have a political affiliation, aren’t you likely to favor a candidate from that party, at least until you learn more? As a frequent bicyclist, I can prejudge motorists. For example, if I see a car with bike racks, I am guessing that they will be fairly civil toward cyclists. Alternatively, my experience, and that of many other cyclists over the decades, tells me that pickup drivers are far less likely to be tolerant of cyclists. Yes, this is highly anecdotal and does not prove anything, but when you are wearing lycra on a 20lb bicycle on streets full of 3,000lb cars, these type of prejudgments can save your lycra-covered bacon.

There are powerful forces at work twisting our language to suit their agendas. Let’s know what words mean, use them correctly and stand up when challenged by the agenda-driven truth-twisters. And, yes, I am profiling them.

Let’s apply the two Results With Reason main tenets to today’s issues. The two main tenets that we believe in at Results With Reason are:

  1. Personal Responsibility; practice it, teach it and
  2. Be Your Brother’s Keeper.

Today’s application is again straightforward:

  1. Personal Responsibility. Engage in the political conversation. Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe, for what you know to be true. Show them love and trust as you do.
  2. Be your Brother’s Keeper. Be patient with each other; some will understand what you saying immediately, others will not. Teach and encourage; don’t criticize and reject. Love and lead. Remember, we are all in this together.

Now it is time for our usual parting thought. It is not enough to be informed. We need to act.  And if we, you and I, don’t do something, then the others who are doing something, will continue to run the show.

Remember: Knowledge by itself is the booby prize.

Will Luden, writing to you from my home office at 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.

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Will Luden

I am your host, Will Luden, former long-time high-tech CEO and Board Chair. I had no idea when I started this podcast that it would become the highest calling of my professional career. Lincoln famously hoped that a government, “…of the people, by the people and for the people…”, would not perish from this earth. My hope, the reason for Revolution 2.0 ”A Booster Shot”, is that a government based on common goals, achieved by applying non agenda-based reasoning to core facts, will allow us to continue to build on our mutual inheritance of a legacy of dedication to seemingly impossible ideals, a legacy that also includes a history of achieving them.
Will Luden
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2 Responses

  1. Charles Cabral Reply

    A slippery slope. When does profiling become stereotyping? Demographics, to use a more politically correct term are certainly helpful in understanding where history has placed certain racial, ethnic or religious groups and why. It can be useful in developing business strategies that are keyed to particular socio-economic classes. Obviously, political parties use it in targeting campaigns.

    The problems arise when the generalities end up being applied to individuals. “That person is a member of (X) so he or she must like (Y) music or is more likely to have committed a crime, doesn’t speak English, etc.” For most people, this is simple intellectual laziness or justification for some malice. On the other side, a person who wants to live a life style not associated with his/her ethnic group should not be demeaned as a traitor, lacking “soul” or whatever.

    My sympathies go out to the police who have to make life or death decisions on a split-second basis when experience over years may have caused them to have a “spidey sense” regarding the intentions of individuals partially based on their perceived ethnicity. An extraordinary amount of training and awareness is needed to keep that from becoming an oppressive bias.

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