Tuesday, April 2, 2013

WDS: On the Matter of Profiling

Haley Scholars Spring 2013 Reading Groups

By Cindy Lyles

“Dangerous Minds: Criminal Profiling Made Easy” details the process of FBI criminal profiling, one that includes making predictions of an offender’s personality and practices based solely on their criminal activity. The “how to” books of famous FBI profilers from the past, along with the many detective and criminal profiling TV shows, offer simplistic, romanticized views of profiling. In this essay, however, Malcolm Gladwell shows how the process of profiling is more complex than it is cut and dry.

Through a series of profiling vignettes, Gladwell raises the question of whether the FBI’s profiling practices are sound and furthermore, helpful in catching perpetrators. A group of researchers oppose the idea of profiling a criminal from his/her criminal actions alone, including forensic scientist Brent Turvey, who is “highly critical of the FBI’s approach” (350). Turvey said, “The fact is that different offenders can exhibit the same behaviors for completely different reasons…You can’t just look at one behavior in isolation” (350). It is looking at criminals’ behavior in isolation that leads to unsound and vague predictions.

Even with its “hit or miss” nature, why would the FBI profilers discussed earlier in the essay argue that profiling shouldn’t be done away with? Or, with Turvey’s standpoint in mind, how can criminal profiling be refined?


Ashely Bass said...

They may argue that criminal profiling shouldn't been done away with, because there is a chance of it working. Criminal profiling has helped the FBI catch perpetrators in the past so they believe that it should be kept around. In order to help refine criminal profiling, the FBI can hire people who are highly educated in human behaivor and great at doing educated guesswork. The more experienced the person is, the easier it will be to narrow down the criminal profile.

Jamal Sims said...

Although it may be seen as a "hit or miss", profiling definitely has its benefits. It may work better or worst when dealing with various people, but this procedure allows FBI profilers to get some information from each individual.

Terry Taborn said...

It may be "hit or miss" but to catch a criminal you must think like a criminal. The only way to catch one is if they determine that criminal's next move and stop them before they do it. I think it is impossible to completely do away with "profiling". When it comes down to it, chasing a criminal is like cat and mouse. If the cat can't outsmart the mouse it won't catch it. This form of police work has been around for years and there is no telling how many criminals would still be on the loose if it weren't for criminal profiling.

Jessica Oranika said...

It can be argued that certain kinds of profiling shouldn't be done away with because of their chances of working. However, the law enforcement should remain professional and be weary of letting things such as biases and stereotypes affect their search. Profiling should not be enough evidence to incriminate someone. There is much more that should be investigated. The "Mad Bomber" was not caught by simply arresting every man wearing a buttoned, double-breasted suit.

Dj Sterling said...

The FBI profilers might argue to keep criminal profiling because it has worked in the past. If profiling had never worked then I would agree to completely get rid of it, but since it has there are chances that it can work again.

Joneshia Y. said...

FBI profiling does have its benefits, regardless of the hit or miss aspect of it.