Why didn't high-priced/pseudoscientific "behavioral profiling" work in San Bernardino?

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Unrepeatable results, a climate of racial & cultural fear & a bottomless budget conspired to create FUD products peddled by snake oil salesmen?



Why? Simple:
Want To Succeed in Establishment Policy Circles?
Just Be Aggressively and Consistently Wrong Over and Over and Over

  • Tom Englehardt

That’s very true from my personal experience with the .gov & .mil. Meek & right loses out to aggressive & wrong every time.

Aggressiveness, particularly in those circles, is perceived as confidence & if they are confident then they must be correct. Besides, the only thing deemed worse than being wrong is being stupid - no one who is expected to know the answer ever says “I don’t know”.


“The indicators work,” Wicker told The Intercept in an interview. “Behavior indicators work. You just need to train the right people.”

Aha, so we just need to train everyone!

Remember, the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. And Behavior Indicator Training.


You just need to train the right people.

If the money spent on the training is wasted, it is always the customer’s fault.


Of course the indicators don’t work as you think they will. Psychology is not an exact science, and if I know what indicators you might be looking for, I can game your results. Also, as the social network required to carry out an action shrinks, so do opportunities for detecting and preempting that action.

Someone who is in full command of their mental faculties, however will intentionally limit points of contact law enforcement may have with them, with little effort. Like a GPS, law enforcement can only find a terrorist planning something evil and preempt if enough reference points are visible before hand.

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Indeed, it is neither.


So it’s like the TSA that has stopped millions of terror plots, but can’t tell us about it cause SECURITY!!


Psychology is not a Science.

(OK, it’s got some qualifications, but Psych rates highest on the nonreproducibility scale. Not to mention it took over a century to get them to understand that all their lab rats/mice were fucked up in the first place by being forced to live in jail cells.)


but , but , the nice people in the cat detector van plainly said that if i held the bomb detection wand correctly and listened to the sleep tapes , that it would really work much better next time ~


And in this case the lab rats can alter the conditions of the jail cells


No, this isn’t a waste of resources/money. Far from it! This discipline is an art, not a science. It works when it works. Like phrenology, homeopathy, cold readings, and intercessory prayer.


Friends university admin and IT have similar complaints:

  • Consistently improve things and keep the department running smoothly: Receive more responsibilities with no additional rewards or recognition.
  • Screw up major systems and processes through sheer incompetence, but put in a couple extra weekends to fix it: Receive promotion.

One of these things doesn’t belong!

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This industry looks like part of the larger vulgar libertarian group in the U.S. of “stand your ground” laws, private security, gated residential areas, NRA xenophobia and caveat emptor that has colonized SoCal.

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Situations like that are a good candidate for the Peter Principle in effect.

The error mgmt oft makes is that when things are running smoothly it signifies that there isn’t enough work and/or that an area needs or can handle growth. “Pain” is the key indicator they’re looking for to identify areas that are performing at peak capacity. If it doesn’t hurt, you’re not working hard enough. When there is pain, the ones that find a way to alleviate it are deemed ripe for promotion. Never mind the fact that the one who created the pain in the first place should be considered ripe for demotion. With the Peter Principle, they too will get promoted and continue to do so until they reach a level of responsibility that they simply cannot handle. That then, is where they will spend the bulk of the rest of their career: in a position where they continually fail but can typically shift blame onto others until they move on to their next unsuspecting employer.

Of course, all of this ignores the points you presented (all too common it is sad to say) along with the fact that - particularly in IT - there is a sweet spot of any complex systems steady state which should always be the target yet rarely is. A setup where it is either not growing (growth isn’t always required to achieve success) or has constant & predictable growth, closes all gaps it needs to and has achieved its uptime/stability goals (in the high nines) which can be continued during growth. Once stability is achieved, then a talented team can make it do extraordinary things - but if you don’t have that stable base, sometimes even talent isn’t enough as downward momentum can make a even a relatively simple system untenable.

I, personally, also believe that the Western Capitalists (not that it’s unique to the west, just predominant) chief concern with short term profits - especially when success/failure is measured by the quarter - is a key contributor to this systemic failure we all “enjoy”.

Oh to live in a capitalist society where five years is short term for business and long term for copyright :joy:


It’s every bit as effective as “abstinence education”, so expect an imminent 50% increase in federal subsidies.


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