This short blog post is slightly different to the other posts I have written but it addresses something that I feel is very misunderstood and often gets a lot of people angry. I recently listened to a conversation between Sam Harris & Maryam Namazie and the subject of profiling Muslims was discussed at length. They both couldn't come to an agreement and at times the conversation was very difficult to listen to. What I wanted to do here is give my view on profiling in the form of an analogy. I hope my analogy is as clear to you as it is in my mind.
Imagine we have 10,000 spherical marbles and 10,000 cuboid marbles. The machinery that makes the cuboid marbles puts a small scratch in 1 out of every 2000 cuboid marbles. The machine that makes the spherical marbles doesn't create this scratch. The machine that makes the spherical marbles may cause other imperfections but we are sure it does not make the scratch that is present in a small number of the cuboid marbles. Someone gives you all 10,000 spherical marbles and all 10,000 cuboid marbles and tells you find all the marbles with that specific scratch in the shortest time possible.
Wouldn't you quickly remove the spherical marbles from the search and only look through all the cuboid marbles as you know that this scratch will only be present in the cuboid marbles? You know that the vast majority of cuboid marbles don't have this scratch and you only expect to find this scratch in a small minority of these cuboid marbles but you straight away know it is counterproductive and a waste of time to even look at the spherical marbles.
This is profiling. Based on the information you have been given you have eliminated the marbles that you know will not have this scratch. You will at no point think, I better randomly select from spherical and cuboid marbles because I don't want the cuboid marbles to feel like victims. We just do what we can to make the search as fast and as efficient as possible.
Imagine that lives depended on the speed at which you found these marbles. This is the world we live in today, our inability to find the scratched marbles in the shortest possible time can lead to the deaths of tens or even hundreds of people.
Shkar Sharif is the head instructor at Tiger Crane Kung Fu in London. Any other questions, ask!