[ExI] Terrorist? Who can tell?

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Fri Aug 29 03:20:40 UTC 2008

Tom writes

> Hey! All the Polish immigrants [in London] are white! Last
> time I was in London, I actually had a moment where I
> wondered where all the white British people were - everyone
> working in shops was non-white or wearing a nametag with
> an eastern European name. I then went to my job interview,
> and found where the white British people are - working in
> those skyscrapers that make up the London skyline.

Possibly that helps to explain the figure of 40% BillK had
read somewhere for the fraction of people in London who
are white.

> faulty memory, but I could have sworn that *all* those
> arrested and convicted in the recent bombings were
> born in the Middle East, and have the same ethnic
> profiles that allow me to often recognize the origins
> of people I meet.
> Lee - which bombing arrests are you thinking of?

Sorry, I don't know for sure. Some busses were bombed
and by Al Qaeda, right?  Let us confine the particulars
to Al Qaeda bombers, since (reading below) you are
of course right about Animal Rights terrorists (who I'll
bet also have ethnic profiles and look disturbingly like
Hugh Grant).

> I checked on the details of the four men who directly
> carried out the July 7th bombings - two were born in
> Leeds (like me),

Indeed.  Of the same heritage as you (assuming that,
like about 95% of the people who post here) are of
the general racial group called "white".

> one in Bradford, one in Jamaica. None were born in
> middle Eastern countries.

I don't know anything about your July 7 bombing. But I 
assume that you didn't cherry-pick it, and that bombers
just as typically are from any one part of the world as
any other part, and look indistinguishable from a world
random sample of people. (Now me, being into a bit
of profiling, would tend to discount the a-priori of east
Asian terrorist bombers in London, but that's just me.)

> The current crop of terrorist arrests make it hard to pin
> down factors other than "Muslim", which includes 1.6
> million people in the UK.

Well, that's besides the point. The question revolves around
contentions like "are the 1.6 million people in the U.K who
are Muslim distinguishable in a random sample of six (or
make it 20!) from a random sample of men born in London?"

The most prominent terrorist group at the moment is Al-Qaeda.
Do you believe that a random sample of six people working for
Al-Qaeda would exhibit a significant difference in personal
appearance from a random sample of six Londoners or not?

> groups trying to stir up violence against immigrants, and this is
> all before you consider Russian spies murdering people in
> London. The security services have to keep an eye on many
> threats, and not get obsessed with any shortcuts generated
> by profiling.

I understand. We should use profiling only when it works, but
when it *does* work, it *should* be used, I think you'll agree.


More information about the extropy-chat mailing list