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LostInParadise's avatar

Does it make sense to do profiling for potential mass murderers?

Asked by LostInParadise (23493points) January 18th, 2013

Everything that I have read says that profiling is not worthwhile because the number of possible future perpetrators is in the millions. Let’s do a quick calculation.

We are looking at young mentally disturbed WASP males from conservative rural towns. WASPs are now a minority. Let’s be generous and put the figure at ½. Males would also be ½. The age range would be about ⅓. Let’s say that 1/5 of the country lives in conservative rural towns and that 1/5 are mentally disturbed.

Putting this together gives ½×½×⅓×1/5×1/5 = 1 out of 300, or about ⅓%. Out of a population of 300 million that gives only one million, not millions. Seems worth looking into to me.

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17 Answers

marinelife's avatar

What would you do if you identified them? Could you keep them from getting guns? Not if their relatives had guns (like the Newtown shooter and the Columbine shooters).

And what about the stigma that all of those so identified who would never become mass murderers would carry?

josie's avatar

It makes perfect sense as long as the people you are profiling are white christian males.

Anybody else, and it will create a serious political problem for somebody.

Ron_C's avatar

No matter which race or religion you’re looking at, profiling is wrong, at least on a group level. If, however you see erratic actions or speech from a person, they should be evaluated. The problem is that money has been taken away from schools and guidance counselors and psychologists out of schools to save money.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Ron_C EXACTLY – why aren’t people understanding the ROOT cause?!

According to LostInParadise, my entire town’s males are all potential mass murderers, which is very far from the truth. More like law enforcement, military and family men, as I keep saying.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Why only look at white men? There have been nonwhite mass murderers.

Wayne Williams, Seung-Hui Cho, Lee Malvo and John Muhammad come to mind without much effort.

blueiiznh's avatar

They do more of this than you may think.

ninjacolin's avatar

I think the only kind of profiling you should want to see is the kind that attracts voluntary participation from the target group.

For example, if you’ve got the formula for exactly the kind of person you think needs guidance, then make an ad that targets and attracts that audience to some sort of guidance program where they can get help. Either make it appealing to those people specifically or to their legal guardians or to anyone else who has social input to encourage these people to participate in the program.

woodcutter's avatar

The first thing that will happen there ,is those people you are looking to target will realize this and stay away. It will keep those who might need some help not go in for it if they think they may be stigmatized for doing that. Wouldn’t you?

ninjacolin's avatar

@woodcutter I think you’re talking to me, right?

I think you’ve contributed further to the target profile: They may include people who don’t want to be identified publicly as seeking help for this reason.

Keeping in mind that the purpose is to attract this group.. you would have to have a program that meets those needs.

Jaxk's avatar

So once you’ve rounded up all the conservative males what do you do with them. Showers I suppose. Are you secretly a nazi?

LostInParadise's avatar

@Jaxk , Are you opposed to profiling in general or only when it involves your own kind?

Jaxk's avatar


First look at your profile. Obviously a political agenda. And even if we remove the conservative and rural pieces you made up, we’ve left with an obviously flawed profile. The Virginia Tech shooting were perpetrated by Seung-Hui Cho (Asian), The DC shootings were penetrated by John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo (black men), and the Goleta shootings were perpetrated by Jennifer San Marco (a woman). This is just off the top of my head.

Now we need to understand the purpose of you profiling. Presumably you want to get them off the street. We’re talking about going through our schools and dragging out a million or more kids that you think may be politically offensive to you. Sure sounds like what the Nazi’s did to me.

You think you’re making some political point but if you are serious, it is you that should be put away.

LostInParadise's avatar

You did not answer my question. Do you or do you not believe in profiling? There is no point in arguing over the details of my profile if you do not accept the principle of using profiles to identify prospective future crimimnal acts.

As for the details of my profile, check the following article

This quote from the article summarizes things rather nicely:
It’s not that white men are more violent. Rates of domestic violence, including homicide, are roughly the same across all ethnic groups. Statistically, murderers are more likely to kill family members and intimate partners than strangers. But while men from all backgrounds kill their spouses, affluent white men are disproportionately represented in the ranks of our most infamous mass murderers. In other words, the less privileged you are, the less likely you are to take your violence outside of your family and your community.

I would add that the sense of privilege and entitlement hold particularly not just for wealthy white males but for wealthy white WASP conservative males, that is, the subgroup of white males who are.experincing most actely the loss of power and prestige following laws against racial and gender discrimination.

Jaxk's avatar


Your obviously trying to make some political point. I neither reject profiling nor support it. When a crime is committed, the police will take a discription of the suspect and use that (profile) to weeds out suspects. That seems to be a reasonable tactic. When we are talking about terrorists on airplanes, everybody gets screened. If they want to profile likely terrorists it merely means they pay closer attention to those that might fit the profile. I’m not sure it works but I’m not sure there is any major inconvenenience either. Hell I’ve been singled out for special body search every time I’ve flown for the past few years. Both ways. So to answer your question would depnd on what you intend to gain and what you expect to do with that profile.

Homicides are more likely to be committed by blacks. 7 times more likely. I would have the same objections if you were sugesting that we round up all the blacks to reduce homicide. A profile with no application is useless. So tell me what you expect to do with this profile.

LostInParadise's avatar

I brought up the question largely to show the absurdity of profiling. On that point we are both in agreement.

I have seen an interesting argument that profiling is counerproductive. It goes like this. Suppose there is some element of the populaiton that is more likely to commit a certain type of crime. Its members, the argument goes, would also be less likely to be deterred by profiling. Those in the majority outside this particular group would be more likely to commit a crime if the pressure is put on the minority group. The net effect then would be to increase crime incidence.

Ron_C's avatar

Speaking of profiling for mass murders; what about billionaires like the Koch brothers that bankroll organizations whose goal is to limit freedoms, destroy unions and the middle class, and insure that the ultra-right rule the government indefinitely.

When you consider anti-social behavior, white privilege, sociopath behavior, they belong at the top of the heap. Those billionaires are responsible for more deaths in the U.S. and abroad than any serial killer that ever existed.

woodcutter's avatar

We could profile all medical providers who work out of hospitals. I read an article showing about 195,000 preventable deaths annually due to patient neglect and other mistakes but we don’t single them out. Is it because they are trying to help people when they screw the pooch all those times, VS some random white dude who is intentionally killing them? Then after we single out these unintensional killers we could put them in prison treating prisoners. It would be a win / win?

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