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A Discussion of the "Profiling" - YT Debate

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2/23/2016 10:10:20 AM
Posted: 8 months ago

I made a rather innocuous (in my subjective view) comment on a Youtube video which lead to a discussion. Rather than to continue this debate (I am happy to do this also...), I thought I would present the discussion here as an interesting case study for debating those with strong beliefs who not only are happy to believe things without sufficient evidence but have convinced themselves that they are reasonable and their opponents are ignorant.

The comment was on this video here: so that you can find it. I will reproduce it here with a little commentary and also because some of my comments aren't showing up to me so I think it may not show up to all of you either (if not, I have screenshots from my phone to demonstrate they were once there, I don't know what is wrong with YT). I will label the individual I was talking to "1" and myself "2" (since they commented first) with any commentaries of mine in brackets immediately afterwards in italics.

They made their initial comment about the psychological pathology of the character Gregory House from House, M.D. (the subject of the video). To which someone replied they didn't like reducing a complex character to a diagnosis. Whether you agree with that is irrelevant, they then replied as follows which is where I came in.

1: Considering it's how they diagnose and catch killers, as well as other medical maladies. I think I'll stick with it; I appreciate your concern though. ;).A279;
2: Killers are caught because they screw up, a psychologist has never contributed anything worthy to a criminal investigation. As for the "other medical maladies", real doctors diagnose and treat them. (The diagnosis and treatment of them is a difficult task even for real doctors but that is a separate topic. This is a strong belief but I was prepared to back it up with how psychology doesn't properly follow the scientific method, misuse of statistics and so on if I managed to catch their interest.)
1: Uh huh, psychological profiles exist for no reason whatsoever. You sound like a moron, please don't reply again.A279; (An unnecessary insult but I thought I would plough in in the hopes of getting through).
2: Profiling is a con game that you've clearly bought into. You're the only one who sounds like a moron.A279; (Admittedly not good to throw back the insult but I thought it was rather unnecessary. I was again prepared to back this up, the "founder" for example making wild Nostradamus type claims and people focussing on the hits as well as evidence I cite later.)
1: Yep, me and the special agents of the FBI who use it to crack cases, it's why there is a study in criminology for it. Because it's a "Con game", that has never worked. The same with study of insects to see how long a body is dead, checking liver temperature, and everything else. It's all just a con. Silly me. Let me bow before the Czar of you and your ignorance. ;)
2: The agents who crack cases do not use profiling even the profilers. Fortunately most criminals are idiots and even those that are fairly bright can only get away with a limited number of mistakes. Entomology and medical science are demonstrably valid, you can't compare. Apples and oranges as they say.A279;
1: Considering I have had family members in the police force, and have them in Agencies, I think I'll take them, and the studies that back its use, then some random moron on the internet telling me it's a shell game and not effective. Thanks. By your "logic", if we are just waiting for people to: "Make mistakes", why gather evidence? Why look for a certain type of person (The most likely personality type to commit the crime?), why use psychological evidence to show age range, race, etc? Oh, right, because it helps to catch them. But yeah, you keep on with your stance. It isn't worth any more of my time or effort, and it makes everyone who is reading it stupider, at least, momentarily.
2: Real evidence is important but it only pans to a solution when they have made a mistake. E.g. narrowing down the TOD via insect larvae or something similar and determining who was at that location at the right time (perhaps if it was in a secure location for example). The reason we use profiling is because people think it will work - this is true of people going to psychics etc. but that's a con as well. They are in business not because they are genuine but because people believe they are. What studies do you refer to? Please cite them. Thank you.A279; (Again I try to explain my position as best as possible without rambling and I was also interested in the "studies" as I know of only one in support of profiling.)
1: or 16 years, "mad bomber" George Metesky eluded New York City police. Metesky planted more than 30 small bombs around the city between 1940 and 1956, hitting movie theaters, phone booths and other public areas.
In 1956, the frustrated investigators asked psychiatrist James Brussel, New York State's assistant commissioner of mental hygiene, to study crime scene photos and notes from the bomber. Brussel came up with a detailed description of the suspect: He would be unmarried, foreign, self-educated, in his 50s, living in Connecticut, paranoid and with a vendetta against Con Edison--the first bomb had targeted the power company's 67th street headquarters.
While some of Brussel's predictions were simply common sense, others were based on psychological ideas. For instance, he said that because paranoia tends to peak around age 35, the bomber, 16 years after his first bomb, would now be in his 50s. The profile proved dead on: It led police right to Metesky, who was arrested in January 1957 and confessed immediately.
In the following decades, police in New York and elsewhere continued to consult psychologists and psychiatrists to develop profiles of particularly difficult-to-catch offenders. At the same time, though, much of the criminal profiling field developed within the law enforcement community--particularly the FBI.

From here it continues to many other high profile cases. Comparing it to physics is Plebeian. It's a method of putting together facts that help to catch the person who committed the crime. Your comparison, is faulty, at best. The Green River Killer, seem familiar? They found him through psychological analysis of the crime scenes and printed him; the print was used when DNA came back later. He never would have been printed without the Psychological Forensics pointing to him. Among others. But yeah, it's just guesswork.

Idiot.(Someone could put a whole list together and bludgeon you with it, and obviously, you'd remain on your trek, even in the face of evidence. So. You're welcome. You've made this waste of time quite obvious.)A279;
2: Actually in that case there was other evidence which lead to him also. The valid predictions he made were either common sense or lucky guesses. If you read his full profile, you'll notice misses also. Confirmation bias explains why we focus on the hits. Where are the studies?A279; (Again without trying to ramble with lots of examples, I try to illustrate how he made a lot of his "profile" based on common sense with some vague guesses that are more impressive when they pan out. I also want to see the studies.)
1: Yep, science of a crime scene is just a "Lucky guess". Seems you're under your own brand of Confirmation Bias, sir, I bid you good day, along with your ignorance. :). Bye now.A279; (Notice how instead of analysing whether they are falling prey to confirmation bias, they turn it back to me immediately. This is what interests me, the people who are not only ignorant but think they are the enlightened ones and their opponents are ignorant.
I will continue this thread in a comment as I have hit the max length).
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2/23/2016 10:18:56 AM
Posted: 8 months ago
2: I've repeatedly asked for studies and you won't share them. You want to talk to me about science? How about I share one with you although it's a meta-analysis so you get several for the price of one. Look up Eastwood et al (2006) on the topic, you'll find it quite illuminating. I also question your view of science given that you would accept the word of people you know in law enforcement as evidence, that's a great sample size... If you do find such things convincing, I would point you to Brent Turvey, a profiler, who was quoted by Malcolm Gladwell questioning the scientific validity of profiling. If someone who has dedicated his life to it can keep an open mind, surely you can too.A279; (I now provide some evidence in the hope they search the literature. I also try to discuss how it isn't wise to base your opinion of an entire enterprise (law enforcement for example) based on limited personal experience, although if that was going to cause them to re-examine the evidence then I was happy to provide the Brent Turvey example.)
2: As a kind gesture, I'll also point you to Snook et al (2008) for a great outline of the problems with profiling e.g. the typologies used in profiling have not been empirically investigated at all or the fundamental issue that the theory on which profiling is based is implicitly flawed.A279; (I included a little more at this stage because I thought the Brent Turvey example might cause them to re-examine the evidence as I said.)
1: Rather than let it go, when I block you, you opt for a second account? 1) I'm drinking, this won't be my usual account. 2) Profiling isn't "Perfect", but it does have it's uses, and despite your f*cking "Blah, blah, blah." You press on. NOTHING is perfect, after whatever your next f*cking reply. This account will be blocked too. No matter how much someone cites evidence, that it works, when, and why, people LIKE YOU, will jump on bullsh*t. Congrats. No time for any other bullsh*t with all the rest I've dealt with today. F*ck off.A279;
2: This is the same account... You clearly failed to block me. You've failed to cite any evidence, offer any arguments - the only thing you've managed to do is childish ad hominem attacks. You then have the audacity to say people like me don't accept evidence? Amazing. (At this stage, I was very tempted to mock the whole blocked thing because I was rather annoyed by the constant attacks but I avoided it still clinging to the hope I could change their mind. I know that was foolish....)
1: I gave you evidence, rather than countermand it, you played a piddly attempt and went back to comparing it to "Psychics" not much room to talk, a**hat. (If backing up what you did, and saying "A**hat" to you is "Ad Hominem"you might want to study:" Ad hominem", A**hat), and yes, I did block you when you refused evidence and used cognitive bias to cite it away. EG: 77% of police have said it has helped them apprehend a "perp". The study of a scene, obviously, depends on the one studying it. But to push it into "Hocus pocus" is as bad, if not worse, then to cite it as 100% accurate, because, very little is. PS: For further speculation on insult: Calling you an a**hat is not Ad Hominem, that would only be the case if I were challenging your character, outright. I'm calling you out on refusal of evidence as presented, your stance of "Sticking" to your usual frame, with no wiggle room (Which I've given), and your overall fixation. That makes you: An a**hat, or otherwise: Someone who has their head up their a**.A279; (I don't think I need to comment on this...)
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2/24/2016 2:20:19 AM
Posted: 8 months ago
At 2/23/2016 10:10:20 AM, Sam314159 wrote:

Profiling is a useful and sometimes very effective screening tool.

Profiling is also part of human nature.