Profiling is an inherent part of human psycho-behavioural function. The psycho-mechanics are well recognized and a variation of this is the concept of a “heuristic”. Commonly used (and benign) terms such as “typically” “as expected”, ” predictably”, “as anticipated” or “characteristic” all allude to profiling.

Human decision making is a complex compromise. The diverging variables are those of speed and accuracy. Speed is important in many situations, and might make a death or life difference to that individual. Speed involves rapid cerebration and the fewer the variables so the more rapid the decision process.

Thus, as in all biology, a compromise is necessary between speed of cerebral processing and an accurate determination of context. Absolute accuracy is unrealistic, speed is a design necessity.

Profiling is the capacity to draw conclusions on a limited, but specific set of variables. These variables are, for the major part, either learned by experience, or communicated from the experience of others. With a limited number of variables, the speed of processing is correspondingly more rapid. There is no claim to absolute accuracy, rather there is a claim to safety and the faster the decision, so the more rapidly a defense strategy can be implemented, and the safer it will be.

Of course this complexity (of profiling) is not constructed at a cognitive level. Much of it is subliminal. Inherent “hardwiring” is the most important, and the most speedy, route to a safest decision.

President Obama called a news conference in 2014, with the specific intention of condemning, what he called, “white profiling of (i.e. generalising about) black Americans” . Did he not have the insight to realise that by saying this he was in fact profiling (i.e. generalising about) white Americans in assuming that they had developed certain strategies with respect to black Americans?

By claiming that he was aiming to “reduce profiling” does he think that he can change the inherent neuro-psychological mechanisms of human behaviour? If so this is arrogance beyond the tolerable. Changing these subliminal mechanisms would be an attempt as futile as altering rates of the pulse or gastro-intestinal secretions in an entire population.

President Obama is not alone. The belief that the attitudes of humans can be manipulated by politicians – and enforced by of law – has become common in the last century. To phrase it another way such political attempts to indoctrinate require a smothering of highly developed intuitive behavioural patterns. These patterns of innate behaviour have served mankind since the earliest extremes of evolution. It is highly unlikely that upstart politicians in the 21st century are going to change such powerfully evolved physiology.

Important, though, is that individual humans realize that their behaviour patterns are not amenable to the bullying tactics of political enforcement and react critically– as they are entitled – to this type of “big brother” attempted perversion of their intuitive behaviour.



About jp

Orthopaedic Surgeon
This entry was posted in Human Behaviour, Humans as social animals and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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