Media Hype, Racial Profiling, and Good Science

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Argument Analysis of Gold Essay “Media Hype, Racial Profiling, and good Science.”

Paul PENNER September 25, 2011


Gold begins his essay right away, without any sort of formality. The essay begins with Gold laying a foundation for the requirements of “good science.” After which Gold spells out the requirements of articles to sell large volumes of newspapers. This latter generates the term anecdotes. The term anecdote is analyzed, scrutinized and concluded as unacceptable due to the evidence relying more on beliefs than facts. Thus creating a vicious circle.

Gold than highlights the fact that there exists large numbers or web pages, lawsuits, publications and presentations specifically directed at the issue. Varying levels of government in the United States has passed legislation about the issue. Individuals known as experts of have been successful writing books and employed as expert witnesses or consultants on the matter. Departments of been created to address the issue and conferences devoted to the topic. The American experience has been deemed applicable in Canada.

Gold delves into the high social costs involved in the existence and beliefs of the racial profiling anecdotes. The solution is more important than the conception. Gold offers that communication, building trust, transparency and any inappropriate behavior dealt with seriously by the government are requirements to the solution. Gold then goes on to say that the community must also realize that the guilty may use any method to escape punishment.

Gold comments that racial profiling is a phenomenon that is supposed to exist in Policing. The Toronto Star claims to have proved this phenomenon by evidence. This evidence needs to be examined by science.

Gold then begins to explore the definition of racial profiling. Sometimes the term is used when a handful of officers are bigots. Sometimes it is applied when it seems that the police service promotes racism through its training materials. There is no evidence that American policing material is connected to Toronto Police. Profiling is the activity and racial a subspecies of profiling. Criminal law literature hosts a variety of profiles. As well, police profilers generate ad hoc profiles. Profiling is a “junk science” involving vague and non-specific characteristics that can be manipulated. There is no scientific merit to profiling. Racial profiling is one-dimensional profiling where the race replaces all other characteristics.

Profiling implies to tell us something about an unknown suspect by identifying characteristics. Racial profiling claims to predict the race of a suspect. Claims should recognize the difference between reactive and proactive policing. Reactive policing is when police seek out a specific gender and race because witnesses described the culprit as such. Reactive policing is irrelevant to profiling. Proactive police activity should be the only data used. Statistics on police-minority interactions need to take into consideration the demographics of a given area. Also, are police targeting specific activity due to community concerns in a certain area? It may surprise people to know how much police activity is reactive and how little is proactive. The Toronto Star fails to recognize such issues. The data collected by the Toronto Star also fails to make the distinction.

Gold then moves into to the claims and conclusions aspect of the essay. Stating that data collected needs something to be compared to or measured against, some sort of baseline. The Toronto Star used general population figures from the last available census. Apparently, using uses such as a baseline in unacceptable in the expert statistical analysis. Gold attempts to illustrate that fact that the Toronto Star blundered their way from the statistical analysis without using any accepted criteria. After which Gold suggests that data collection needs to be done under comparable conditions. Gold then...
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