Profiling at airports: What the Wall Street Journal doesn’t get.

The Wall Street Journal thinks it would be a good idea to focus screening resources at airports based on racial or ethnic profiling. What this means is that — for the same level of overall screening resources available — the out-of-profile group…

The Wall Street Journal thinks it would be a good idea to focus screening resources at airports based on racial or ethnic profiling.What this means is that — for the same level of overall screening resources available — the out-of-profile group gets less screening. I.e., game the profile, and you’e more likely to get something actually dangerous on board. And no, profiles can’t be kept secret — just as frequent flyers learn the profiles applied at their favorite airports, terrorists learn about them. Nothing of this is new; the Carnival Booth paper nicely describes an algorithm for finding the most likely successful attackers given the presence of a profiling system. Racial and ethnic profiling is likely to increase the chances that attackers successfully bomb planes. It’s bad for security.But of course, rational arguments don’t count when hysteria is the order of the day.