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May 07 2012

My objections to profiling weren’t actually addressed…but OK

The argument goes on. Sam Harris has reacted to my post on profiling.

One line in my article raised a tsunami of contempt for me in liberal and secular circles:

We should profile Muslims, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim, and we should be honest about it.

Once again, I included myself in this profile—but that did almost nothing to stem the accusations of racism.

He keeps saying that. I don’t know why. The objection isn’t that Sam Harris wants to discriminate against people who don’t look like him, it’s that Sam Harris wants to discriminate against people on the basis of their appearance. The fact that his search criteria are so broad that they include him isn’t a point in his favor, either — it means he favors criteria that produce many false positives.

I really don’t understand why he’s finding that so hard to grasp.

Then he offers an example of how his version of profiling would work. I’ve highlighted a few words that I think are important.

Imagine that you work for the TSA and are executing a hand search of a traveler’s bag. He is a young man in his twenties and seems nervous. You notice that he is carrying a hardcover copy of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. You pick up the book and ask him if he likes it. He now appears even more nervous than before. You notice something odd about the book—the dust jacket doesn’t seem to fit. Your remove it and find a different book underneath. How do you feel about this traveler’s demeanor, and the likelihood of his being a terrorist, if the book is:

A. The Qur’an (in Arabic)

B. The Magic Mushroom Grower’s Guide

C. Overcoming Impotence: A Leading Urologist Tells You Everything You Need to Know

D. Dianetics

If you care more about A than B, C, or D, as I think you should, you are guilty of religious profiling (and calling it “behavioral profiling” doesn’t change this fact).

I have no problem at all with that kind of profiling. The matter that raises concerns isn’t that the young man looks Muslim: it’s that he looks nervous, and that he’s hiding something. TSA, please do notice when people’s behavior is peculiar!

But now I’m curious. Change the story a bit. What if the young man were confidently and openly carrying his Qur’an? Should we stop and search everyone with a Muslim holy book?

What if he were nervous, and it was a Christian bible hidden away? Should we then ignore his odd behavior and wave him on to the plane?

What if he were openly carrying that bible? Does proudly carrying a Bible give you a free pass through the screening? He could wear a cross and a flag pin on his lapel, and no longer Look Muslim, I guess.

Harris doesn’t seem to understand that his critics are not saying TSA should be blind and deaf to the people passing through security checkpoints…but that there should be some intelligence behind it, and that the criterion of “looking Muslim” is stupid and useless.

Then he raises a series of strawmen — that we think there is no link between Islam and suicidal terrorism, that we have some pious fantasy of Israeli egalitarianism in their security procedures, and implies that we have no problem with TSA searching toddlers. I said precisely the opposite about Islamic terror tactics; I have no sympathy for Israel’s convergence on fascism; I think most of what TSA does in those security lines is a waste of time and bad security policy.

My fundamental issue with his whole proposal is the shocking innumeracy of it all. Here’s the perfect example: he asks, what percentage of the people who would murder the children boarding a plane, and all who accompany them, are Muslim? And here’s his strange answer.

Some readers might think that this question would be difficult or impossible to answer. Let’s try another, then: What percentage of porn stars are also theoretical physicists? Is this a hard question for which to give a ballpark answer? No. In fact, I would be willing to bet my life that I could get within 10 percentage points of the exact figure without doing any research—and the same holds for the question about using children as bombs on airplanes in the year 2012.

Wow. He gives himself a very broad 10% window for his answer.

So the percentage of porn stars who are also theoretical physicists? I guess 0%. I’m sure I’m within 10% of the correct answer. I won’t go searching porn studios for answers to cosmology questions.

The likelihood of a toddler being used to smuggle a terrorist bomb on board a plane? 0%, again. I’m confident — we aren’t seeing 1 in 5 kids being plucked out of line so the dynamite in their diapers can be thrown away.

But then his peculiar question — what percentage of suicidal terrorists boarding a plane are Muslim — I’d answer with 100% (OK, 90%, so my guess covers a broader range), and I suspect he would, too. But it’s the wrong question. It’s a completely bizarre twisting of what the appropriate question should be. We aren’t screening the guys who look like terrorists at the airport to find out which are Muslim; he wants us to screen the people at the airport who look like Muslims to find the terrorists.

The right question is what percentage of the people who “look Muslim” (whatever that means; Harris hasn’t yet defined it), his screening criterion, are terrorists? And again, the answer is 0%±10%, the same as the percentage of physicist porn stars, or bomb lobbing toddlers. I would agree that just screening Muslims would increase the likelihood of finding a terrorist by some small amount, but it has the problem that I still don’t know what a Muslim looks like, so that pre-selection is going to be awfully leaky, and you’re going to generate such a huge number of false positives that your more rigorous secondary screening is going to get swamped, and you’re going to open the door to even more false negatives as your real terrorists avoid “looking Muslim” in line.

So once again, we sacrifice civil liberties and real effective security for TSA showmanship, as people who “look Muslim” to uniformed low-wage security guards with a GED get thoroughly frisked. I don’t get it. Sam Harris is a scientist; how can he so blithely overlook type I and II errors in a statistical sampling protocol? How can he ignore the ambiguity of his sloppy definition of his primary measure, “looking Muslim”?

401 comments

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  1. 1
    Khantron, the alien that only loves

    It seems like he just has an assumption that “profiling Muslims would stop terrorism, but we don’t do it because of political correctness.” And now this assumption is being challenged, which he likely didn’t expect, and he’s short circuiting. He might right himself soon, we’ll see.

  2. 2
    Andrés Diplotti

    Certainly this guy and this other guy don’t “look Muslim.”

  3. 3
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    How about we follow this through and profile Christians, because, well some Christians have murdered and justified it by an appeal to their religion? Not sure how we’d do so, but as a general rule ‘anyone who looks non-south Asian’ would probably work as a rule of thumb in Europe and European-derived countries.

    Wahay! Bring back institutionalised racism—we know it works, right?

  4. 4
    Walton

    Sam Harris is a scientist; how can he so blithely overlook type I and II errors in a statistical sampling protocol? How can he ignore the ambiguity of his sloppy definition of his primary measure, “looking Muslim”?

    Because he’s a moron and a hatemonger who has a vicious, burning, irrational hatred of Muslims. This isn’t news. He’s been spouting this shit for years: proclaiming the West to be “at war with Islam”, endorsing war and torture, and so on. His rhetoric, like that of Pat Condell and other Islamophobic extremists, is often disturbingly similar to that of the far right.

    One of the most shameful things about the atheist movement is that Harris is still regarded as one of its leading figures, gets invited to speak at atheist conferences, sells lots of books, etc. The atheist community should be distancing itself from him. He’s a bigot.

  5. 5
    dianne

    I’d worry about A or D, personally. I’ve never heard of a Scientologist terrorist, but the idea seems perfectly plausible.

    But then his peculiar question — what percentage of suicidal terrorists boarding a plane are Muslim — I’d answer with 100%

    And you’d be wrong. Samuel Byck wasn’t Islamic. Neither was Frank Corder. Or Andrew Stack. The most recent suicidal terrorists to board planes in the US have been Muslim, but running planes into buildings is not unique to Muslims.

  6. 6
    Phalacrocorax, z Třetího Světa

    He might right himself soon, we’ll see.

    I am much less optimistic. My guess is that he’ll keep digging till he reaches the molten core of the Earth.

  7. 7
    Jorge Silva

    Sam, you just lost your “horseman” status. PZ, how good a rider are you?

  8. 8
    Anthony K

    Once again, I included myself in this profile—but that did almost nothing to stem the accusations of racism.

    It’s like a dog staring at a doorknob, knowing the answer somehow lies within, but it just can’t quite figure out how.

    If you care more about A than B, C, or D, as I think you should, you are guilty of religious profiling (and calling it “behavioral profiling” doesn’t change this fact).

    Of course, when you start profiling Muslims, you’ll lose the ability to use jitters as a diagnostic tool, as every Muslim flying on a plane will have cause to be nervous about carrying a Qu’ran.

  9. 9
    PZ Myers

    Yeah, I know, it’s not just Muslims who try suicidal terrorism. But I did say I’d guess 90%±10%, and I suspect I’m still right.

    But that’s a serious objection I should have made. Again, we’re fighting the last set of terrorists. In the US, it’s the right-wing militias who are the bigger threat, and all it would take is one guy riding to posthumous glory by taking out a symbol of the evil Fed’ral Gubmint to fire up more copycats.

  10. 10
    madscientist

    % of muslims boarding planes who are terrorists is 0+/-10%? That’s like saying there is a god! First of all, -10% doesn’t make any sense whatsoever in this situation, and secondly if anywhere near 10% of muslims boarding planes were terrorists, we’d be well and truly screwed. Let’s raise some money and send Sam to some classes on statistics.

  11. 11
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    This isn’t news. He’s been spouting this shit for years:…

    I watched him debate Chris Hedges. They both lost.

  12. 12
    Khantron, the alien that only loves

    The obvious answer is C is the biggest threat. Clearly that’s code for right wing militia actions. Also an analogy.

  13. 13
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    Diane – he might very well be right. Remember that Harris stipulated ‘within 10%’ … I wouldn’t be so confident… Especially b/c he then changed it to 90% so as to cover any answer btwn 80 and 100%.

  14. 14
    PZ Myers

    I’m very good at cheating on these kinds of tests. Maximize the odds you’re right, even if you don’t know the answer!

  15. 15
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    Brownian – awesome point about the jitters

  16. 16
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @PZ – I’m with you … In fact I would have guessed that 10% of theoretical physicists are pornstars ( and vice versa) under these conditions…

    But I would not have then gone looking for Neil deGrasse Tyson’s hot steamy body on youpr0n.

  17. 17
    Pierce R. Butler

    jorgesilva @ # 7: PZ, how good a rider are you?

    Rodeo class!

  18. 18
    The Science Pundit

    There’s actually a formula for figuring out the odds for these things: it’s called Bayes’ Theorem. If we want to know what the probability that “Muslim looking” passenger is a terrorist (call it P(T|M)), we can look at the probability that the probability that a terrorist looks Muslim (call it P(M|T)), the probability that a passenger is a terrorist (call it P(T)), the probability that a non-terrorist looks Muslim (call it P(M|nT)), and the probability that a passenger is not a terrorist (call it P(nT)).

    The relation then is P(T|M)=P(M|T)P(T)/(P(M|T)P(T)+P(M|nT)P(nT))

    Even without knowing the exact values, it’s clear that the probability is miniscule. Obviously the probability that a “non-Muslim looking” passenger is a terrorist is also miniscule. And likely smaller than that for the “Muslim looking” passengers. But I can’t see that justifying racial profiling (and yes, it is racial profiling), especially when similar calculations for passengers acting nervously or suspiciously leads to small but not miniscule numbers.

  19. 19
    dianne

    As far as I know, there have been 20 or 21 Muslim terrorists on planes attempting to destroy the planes. I gave a sample of 3 non-Muslim terrorists within the last 40 years. I admit to not having made a comprehensive search, but the available numbers suggest that the percentage is closer to 80% (about 20-21 of 24 or 25). Yeah, I know, wild estimates, but at least reason to have some skepticism of the 90-100% number.

  20. 20
    Anthony K

    Brownian – awesome point about the jitters

    I used to know a fellow who drove a vehicle the police tend to associate with Asian gang members or street racers. Tinted windows, the whole deal. He was always getting pulled over, only to be let go when he rolled down his windows and they saw that he’s white.

    Fortunately for him, the fact that he didn’t fit their profile means they never asked him to pop the trunk, which would reveal the pound or two of pot he usually had on him to sell.

  21. 21
    humanape

    He’s a bigot.

    That may or not be true Walton but unlike you at least he doesn’t cry like a baby and go berserk every time somebody doesn’t agree with him about everything.

    a vicious, burning, irrational hatred of Muslims

    He’s not a wimpy suck-up like you Walton therefore according to you he’s irrational. As if it’s his fault that Muslims and only Muslims fly airplanes into buildings. Then of course there’s the daily suicide bombings, the cutting off of heads with a small sharp knife while the victim is fully aware of what’s going on, the death penalty for blasphemy in Kuwait and other Muslim theocracies.

    But it’s Sam who is irrational. Yeah, right asshole.

  22. 22
    PZ Myers

    Hmmm. Humanape seems to be looking for a hammer tap.

  23. 23
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Yawn, humanape appears to be a subhuman islamophobic troll who would wet their pants if they drove past a mosque like I do several times a week. After all, they (or someone else, more likely) might blow up the road in front of their place of worship, taking me with them.

  24. 24
    nevsayeed

    Note how Sam Harris evades the foreign policy context which Myers outlined before as the driver of terrorism. He thinks people wake up one day and for no reason at all decide to attack Americans. Not China or Brazil or Iceland or the many other suitable “infidels” closer to home, but American interests. No reason for this choice of target whatsoever.

    How can anybody take this political fraud seriously after he got dynamited by Robert Pape:

  25. 25
    Anthony K

    As if it’s his fault that Muslims and only Muslims fly airplanes into buildings.

    I fucking wonder how you manage to sign in, humanape, you’re so fucking dumb.

    Let me quote dianne from earlier in this thread. I understand reading is really fucking hard for you.

    But then his peculiar question — what percentage of suicidal terrorists boarding a plane are Muslim — I’d answer with 100%

    And you’d be wrong. Samuel Byck wasn’t Islamic. Neither was Frank Corder. Or Andrew Stack. The most recent suicidal terrorists to board planes in the US have been Muslim, but running planes into buildings is not unique to Muslims

    Go ahead, you fucking waste of skin. Call me an asshole for pointing out yet again what a stupid glob of sputum you are.

    The best contribution to humanity you could possibly make would be to get hit by a bus and give a few lucky commuters an unexpected couple of hours off of work.

  26. 26
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    humanape

    How to make sure all terrorists are Muslims, in one easy lesson:

    Just define any violent, ideals-led crime as something other than terrorism if it’s done by a non-Muslim. Because only Muslims fly planes into buildings (is this even true?), we’ll make that the benchmark…

    Shooting an abortion doctor because god told you to? Nah, that’s not terrorism. Firing indiscriminately into a bunch of teenagers to ‘make a point’? Nah, that’s not terrorism. Because only Muslims are terrorists.

    Fuckin’ muppet.

  27. 27
    Utakata

    Hey, humantroll…can you actually even make a reasonable arguement without the banhammering ad hominems? Lol!

  28. 28
    andrewriding

    Do they really carry the Koran onto planes they are targeting though? I know Muslims get pretty upset when copies of their holy book are burn or otherwise destroyed, and that they don’t have much of a filter for when intention fell elsewhere.
    Ex: If a suicide bomber goes to a school but in addition to the kiddies he blows up boxes of the Koran then he fucked up pretty bad and were he still around he’d at the very least suffer being severely chewed out by some elder for it, or more likely- well I’ve been vivid enough with the children and bomb already.

    So if I understand them correctly you wouldn’t expect them to be bringing the Koran within the vicinity of anything they intend to blow up or demolish anyway, thus it becomes a shitty way to screen for the terrorists. I imagine that if we instead screens Islamic-looking-people to make sure that they were carrying a Koran they’d find some passage to justify it for the terror acts, so this too is not a good way to screen them, except maybe if we desperately want them to intentionally conflagrate a few of their holy books. I can’t really spot anything that accomplishes though.

  29. 29
    mattandrews

    Jesus Christ, am I hallucinating or did Harris actually end his post with a “See? A guy with an Arabic-sounding name agrees with me!” quote?

    Prior to all of this, I just knew Harris as one of the guys that wrote best selling books about atheism. Given his level of unapologetic bigotry, I’m glad I didn’t support him by buying his stuff.

  30. 30
    Walton

    Well, human ape has said, among other vile things, that:

    The life of just one American soldier is worth more than the world’s entire population of Muslim scum.

    And he’s apparently serious.

    He is also an avowed homophobe, and a supporter of torture.

    (I’m strangely flattered that his blog now declares me to be a “wimp”. If I’m attracting this level of vitriol from racist bigots, I guess I must be doing something right.)

  31. 31
    Jorge Silva

    IMO this whole airport security thing is blown way out of proportion. Including the “Muslim terrorist threat”. Successful anti-terrorist policy is not creating terrorists in the first place. If half the resources devoted to this were put into say – avoiding accidental drowning of children in swimming pools (for the sake of argument) we’d probably save more lives.

  32. 32
    Walton

    (With his unbridled enthusiasm for war and violence, Human Ape always makes me think of this song. Personally, I’d rather be a wimp than a chickenhawk.)

  33. 33
    mabell

    Sam is indirectly trying to carve out a screening exclusion for people who don’t “look Muslim”. As soon as the terrorists figure out what that looks like, they are going to exploit it. Keep fightin’ the last war Sam!

  34. 34
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    I’m strangely flattered that his blog now declares me to be a “wimp”. If I’m attracting this level of vitriol from racist bigots, I guess I must be doing something right.

    And many of us here are clapping at some of your choices and political/legal philosophy. Your concern for the poor, displaced, and those imprisoned is to be commended. Now, if you would only stop preaching to the choir…

  35. 35
    kevinalexander

    Read Harris’ posts on self defense, methinks there’s more than a little paranoia there. It could be that Muslims are his bogey man du jour.

  36. 36
    nooneinparticular

    Well you guys are certainly right that racial profiling doesn’t make a whole lot of sense if you really want to stop terrorists from blowing up airplanes. Schneier’s rebuttal (apparently to be posted at Harris’ blog tomorrow) will probably outline in detail why this is so. I agree that Harris has for a long time now made it clear that he hates Islam.

    But he is right about one thing; it is foolish to think that one of the most likely, if not THE most likely- source of suicide bombers today is Islam. It makes no sense to deny it or to pretend that just because white Xtians have also done acts of terror that there is therefore some equivalency.

    To my mind the best way to reduce -there is no way to eliminate- the risk of an attack is active surveillance and interdiction, within the strictures of the constitution (HA! fat chance) targeting suspected terror groups focusing on Islamists and other groups (including those nasty xtian and militia groups) coupled with random searches at the airports and better trained TSA who can spot people who need to be checked out. Training to keep an eye out for jiggy people. People who look agitated or make unclear or suspicious statements.

    If that training also says; anyone who looks like they are an Islamist gets special attention, I’m fine with that. You will not catch all Islamist terrorists with this training alone (which is why interdiction and random searches are needed), but you are at least NOT ignoring what is plainly evident; Islam is the source of one of our biggest threats. By special attention I mean they get asked those questions that might induce the sweaty agitated response. I know that many false positives will arise from this (no kind of screening is immune). To bad for them. The New Year’s Eve bomber was caught by a border agent with just this kind of profiling screening.

    Before you-all start calling me names, throwing poo and shrieking that I’m suggesting some sort of racist profiling, please re-read the third paragraph above.

  37. 37
    Anthony K

    I’m strangely flattered that his blog now declares me to be a “wimp”.

    We’ll see what humanape does next.

    If he shuts his yap now that PZ’s hinted at bannination, he’s clearly a “wimpy suck-up.”

    The only way he can not be one is to stand by his bigotted guns and take whatever PZ’s willing to dish out.

    We all win, either way.

  38. 38
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    I figured out on 9/11, that we didn’t need to increase airport security, but rather we needed the other passengers to take threats of airplane hijacking seriously. Reinforced doors would slow the would be terrorists down enough for the passengers to take them out. Even a fat old fart like me could take a terrorist off his feet, as mass alone has certain advantages.

    Lets go back to just metal detector screening to keep guns off of planes. Worked for years, and wasn’t obtrusive and obnoxious.

  39. 39
    anuran

    It isn’t just this. Sam Harris has always had a particlar hardon for Muslims from his atheism writings on. He doesn’t even bother to consider the fact that most of the acts of terrorism in this country in the past ten years from flying planes into government buildings, political murders of obstetricians, and assaulting queer youth to bombing and shooting police have been committed by Christians.

    It’s not clear where his prejudice comes from. Maybe it’s racism against Sinister Swarthy Orientals. Maybe it comes from his Jewish upbringing. Even though he was raised secular many irreligious Jews – including my parents and siblings – are terribly bigoted against Muslims. Possibly he just drank the 9-11 Kool Aid. The fact remains that Muslims are singled out in his mind as being particularly evil.

  40. 40
    Anthony K

    Before you-all start calling me names, throwing poo and shrieking that I’m suggesting some sort of racist profiling

    If you’re going to play the martyr, have the decency to actually climb on a cross and expire.

  41. 41
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    nooneinparticular

    Islam is the source of one of our biggest threats.

    You’re neither gay nor non-white, or an abortion provider, someone who uses animals in lab-work, or, in fact, a Muslim living in a predominantly non-Muslim country, I’m guessing. You might have just seen other, more immediate threats as more noteworthy.

    It’s so easy to see threats from all those damned swarthy foreign types, isn’t it.

  42. 42
    nooneinparticular

    Context, Daz. Context is important. Here, I’ll put it back in for you.

    “But he is right about one thing; it is foolish to think that one of the most likely, if not THE most likely- source of suicide bombers today is Islam.”

  43. 43
    jonnyscaramanga

    @walton (#4) I agree. It’s really disappointing because in some ways I find Harris so articulate. Even if he’s not right he throws up thought provoking ideas that aren’t easily refuted. But then he goes and ruins it all with obvious prejudice (that, on this occasion, is easily refuted).

    Credibility blown.

  44. 44
    Usernames are smart


    Well, human ape has said, among other vile things, that:

    The life of just one American soldier is worth more than the world’s entire population of Muslim scum.

    And he’s apparently serious.
    — Walton #30

    Err, what if the American Soldier happens to be Muslim? Do’ooh…

  45. 45
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    PZ:

    In the US, it’s the right-wing militias who are the bigger threat, and all it would take is one guy riding to posthumous glory by taking out a symbol of the evil Fed’ral Gubmint to fire up more copycats.

    That’s exactly what I’ve been saying since your first post about this mess, but nobody fucking listened to me.

  46. 46
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    nooneinparticular

    Oh, my apologies. I didn’t realise that suicide bombing was the only possible form of terrorism. Even aircraft-related. All those hijackings not involving bombs that were constantly on the news in my youth were just … hijinks, a bit of fun.

  47. 47
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    That’s exactly what I’ve been saying since your first post about this mess, but nobody fucking listened to me.

    *voice of Frasier Crane*
    “we’ve been listening”.

  48. 48
    dianne

    To bad for them. The New Year’s Eve bomber was caught by a border agent with just this kind of profiling screening.

    According to your own link, the bomber in question was targeted for further screening because he was acting suspiciously. Not random stopping of every person who “looks Muslim” (whatever that means.)

  49. 49
    nooneinparticular

    Do be daft, Daz. Of course suicide bombing is not the only possible form of terrorism. But it was what I was talking about.

    Harris points out that it is a different kind of terrorism altogether because it is a suicide. That is particularly hard to defend against and the most likely source of this kind of terrorism today are Islamists.

    He’s right about this.

  50. 50
    nooneinparticular

    Now now dianne, I also said;

    “…better trained TSA who can spot people who need to be checked out. Training to keep an eye out for jiggy people. People who look agitated or make unclear or suspicious statements. ”

    And…

    “By special attention I mean they get asked those questions that might induce the sweaty agitated response.”

    This is precisely how Hassen was caught. It shows this kind of screening works. I said nothing about him “looking muslim”.

  51. 51
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    nooneinparticular

    Ah, right. So if we narrow down the kind of terrorist we’re looking for, so that we only include those who use a method that’s mainly been used before by Muslims, we can then claim that we need to act as if all ‘Muslim-looking’ people need to be watched closer.

    I get it now. Thank you.

    And let’s not stop to think that any serious plotters are likely to choose a person to carry out the operation who just happens to be oh, say, non-’Muslim-looking’. Nah, they’re too damn stupid to think of that.

  52. 52
    consciousness razor

    Do be daft, Daz. Of course suicide bombing is not the only possible form of terrorism. But it was what I was talking about.

    A show of hands virtual tentacles, please: does anyone give a fuck what nooneinparticular is talking about?

  53. 53
    nevsayeed

    A point worth noting is that when I was a Muslim years ago it was universally understood that suicide is a mortal sin for which one would be sent to hell and that Jihad meant defensive war like the Afghan Mujahideen’s fight against the Soviet Union because the Quran forbids aggression: “Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. For Allah does not love aggressors.” (2:192)

    Harris cherry picks verses from the Quran in The End of Faith especially from Chapter 9 which are about Muhammad’s defensive wars against the Quraish, a hostile Arab tribe, to make it appear as though Islam urges killing people without just cause. Now there are many bad things about Islam that need reforming with the end in view to eventually abolish Islam altogether, but the kind of selective quote mining that he goes in for is dishonest.

    For instance, Harris concedes in his book that Islam prohibits suicide when the Quran says “And do not kill yourselves. Surely, Allah is Most Merciful to you” (4:29), but he swiftly dismisses this restraint on suicidal violence as not observed by Jihadists. In other words, the Quran may be opposed to terrorism, but let’s not allow that to impede our vilification about its doctrines.

    In fact the Quran espouses a conception of Just War Theory very much like Christianity. It prohibits attacks on non-combatants and houses of worship and says “But if the enemy inclines towards peace, do incline towards peace also” (8:61).

    Do terrorists observe these rules? Of course not, but then nor do American presidents observe international law. That does not mean those principles of justice do not exist. And for too long Harris and his mates Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller have been allowed to get away with spreading misinformation about what Muslims believe.

    We need to grow out of religion to be sure, but we must also outgrow the rightwing mendacity about Islamic theology to justify our military adventurism.

  54. 54
    Curious Chloride

    Daz @26:

    Because only Muslims fly planes into buildings (is this even true?)

    Not really: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_Austin_suicide_attack

    The 2010 Austin suicide attack occurred on 18 February 2010, when Andrew Joseph Stack III, flying his Piper Dakota, crashed into Building I of the Echelon office complex in Austin, Texas

    Although for some reason, this was not considered an act of terrorism….

  55. 55
    jamesevans

    B. The Magic Mushroom Grower’s Guide

    That guy is still probably in for the worst of it, unfortunately.

  56. 56
    anathema

    Maybe I’m missing something here, but I don’t see why there’s this need to place a special emphasis on suicidal terrorism. Terrorism is terrorism. It’s awful whether or not the terrorist kills him or herself in the process.

  57. 57
    Jorge Silva

    WTF does a Muslim look like anyway? Maybe we should tag the bastards with a sign… how about a star? Hmmm… maybe not, a bit retro, let’s go with a crescent.

  58. 58
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Nerd:

    *voice of Frasier Crane*
    “we’ve been listening”.

    :D Thanks, Nerd.

    I’ll change my statement: None of the dumbasses have fucking listened to me.

    … Which isn’t a terribly huge surprise, now that I think about it.

  59. 59
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    someone who uses animals in lab-work,

    Aw. Here – free beagle puppies.

  60. 60
    Anthony K

    “…better trained TSA who can spot people who need to be checked out. Training to keep an eye out for jiggy people. People who look agitated or make unclear or suspicious statements.

    Which is now all Muslims, because they know they’re going to be targeted.

    Like how visible minorities feel around cops.

    So youve just fucked up that metric.

  61. 61
    nooneinparticular

    I suppose it would just be throwing gas on the fire to point out this .

    Oh well, in for a dime, in for buck.

    This suicide bomb plot (if it’s real, I totally understand skepticism about anything the CIA claims) was undone by surveillance of Islamists. A random search of this guy also might have caught him. Maybe not. A targeted search also might have caught him. Maybe not.

    Point is, this was yet another suicide bomb plot by an Islamist. Some focus is needed, here. As I said before, surveillance & interdiction, random searches and training are how best to reduce the risk of suicide attacks. I differ from the majority here in thinking that these techniques can be augmented by trained security people (most current TSA are not well trained) who can focus attention on certain people. As Harris has pointed out, the Israelis have done it with at least some success.

  62. 62
    nooneinparticular

    Conciousnness razor; oh please stop. Your hurting my feelings.

  63. 63
    Anthony K

    As I said before, surveillance & interdiction, random searches and training are how best to reduce the risk of suicide attacks. I differ from the majority here in thinking that these techniques can be augmented by trained security people (most current TSA are not well trained) who can focus attention on certain people.

    You differ from the majority here in not knowing what random means.

  64. 64
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Once again, I included myself in this profile—but that did almost nothing to stem the accusations of racism.

    Am I missing something? Where did he do that? He said:

    Although I don’t think I look like a jihadi, or like a man pretending not to be one, I do not mean to suggest that a person like me should be exempt from scrutiny.

    He seems to be saying he doesn’t think he fits the profile.

    Granted, I haven’t had to endure the experience of being continually profiled. No doubt it would be frustrating. But if

    So any self-inclusion is entirely hypothetical.

    someone who looked vaguely like Ben Stiller were wanted for crimes against humanity, I would understand if I turned a few heads at the airport.

    Can’t see any problems with that kind of profiling in light of history.

  65. 65
    Anthony K

    SC, he means himself when he mentions people who look like Ben Stiller.

    Which, unless he thinks that all Muslims look like middling comedians, clearly means Middle Easterners.

  66. 66
    consciousness razor

    oh please stop.

    Not until you fuck off or get a fucking clue, whichever comes first. I’m going to bet it’s fucking off.

  67. 67
    Amphiox

    Not really: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_Austin_suicide_attack

    Well, so much for humanapes pathetic lie in #21.

    This suicide bomb plot (if it’s real, I totally understand skepticism about anything the CIA claims) was undone by surveillance of Islamists.

    Islamists, not Islam. That’s VERY BIG distinction you seem to be deliberately glossing over.

    What you are claiming is the same as trying to catch abortion clinic bombers who are mainly Westborough Baptists by profiling all white Christians.

  68. 68
    nooneinparticular

    Brownian; you are normally good at reading. At least my time lurking here over the years have suggested that to me. So perhaps you can explain how you got…

    “You differ from the majority here in not knowing what random means.”

    from this…

    “As I said before, surveillance & interdiction, random searches and training are how best to reduce the risk of suicide attacks. I differ from the majority here in thinking that these techniques can be augmented by trained security people (most current TSA are not well trained) who can focus attention on certain people.

    I added some emphasis to make it clearer. Perhaps my writing isn’t clear to you. But if you have a problem with something I said, you should address what I said not what you wish I’d said.

  69. 69
    Amphiox

    Now now dianne

    The arrogant condescension, with pretty clear undertones of misogyny, are rather evident here.

  70. 70
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    I think brownian, just maybe, got it from this:

    As I said before, surveillance & interdiction, random searches and training are how best to reduce the risk of suicide attacks.

    Just guessing.

  71. 71
    joed

    @4 Walton
    I am not sure if “bigot” is the right word.
    But seems Harris has some blind spots about people and I don’t want him representing me either.
    Racial Profiling Muslims is a problem because they come from everywhere on Earth. Muslims include every physical description of humanity.
    Harris seems fixated on some stereotype of semantic middle east description.

  72. 72
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    SC, he means himself when he mentions people who look like Ben Stiller.

    I know. But it seems to me he’s putting that forward as a separate group, with perhpas some overlap with me who “look Muslim,” so not different enough to be exempted entirely, but not people he’s seen profiled or would expect to be profiled under his recommendations.

    Which, unless he thinks that all Muslims look like middling comedians, clearly means Middle Easterners.

    Huh? I think he means if people who looked like him (not like Muslims – I assume he means vaguely Jewish-USian) were profiled instead of Muslims for similar reasons, he would be cool with that. Otherwise, why the “if”? Perhpas I’m misunderstanding…

  73. 73
    joed

    uh, that be semitic
    not semantic.

  74. 74
    Anthony K

    But if you have a problem with something I said, you should address what I said not what you wish I’d said.

    You know you’ve written, like, a bunch of comments outlining your well-thought out master plan, right? Hell, in one of them you actually implored us to reread paragraph three, to get the nuance of your genius. So, I did.

    To my mind the best way to reduce -there is no way to eliminate- the risk of an attack is active surveillance and interdiction, within the strictures of the constitution (HA! fat chance) targeting suspected terror groups focusing on Islamists and other groups (including those nasty xtian and militia groups) coupled with random searches at the airports and better trained TSA who can spot people who need to be checked out. Training to keep an eye out for jiggy people. People who look agitated or make unclear or suspicious statements.

    I added some emphasis to make it clearer.

    “Islamists” isn’t random. It’s a potentially a pretty large group, depending on how you, or your magically super-trained TSA (good luck, as it seems pretty much impossible to get a reliably competent police force together these days) want to define it.

  75. 75
    noname

    Actually, most muslims do indeed not choose to make suicide attacks on Americans or other Western countries but on other more nearby infidels. These infidels are in most cases other groups identifying themselves as muslims aswell. The overwhelming majority of suicide terrorism happens in countries like Pakistan on other people living there. Suffi muslims seem to be the most common target, followed by Shia muslims.

  76. 76
    Amphiox

    Speaking of which, what DOES a Islamist look like?

    Here’s a link to a picture of the 9-11 bombers: http://whowhatwhy.com/2011/09/22/saudi-royal-ties-to-911-hijackers-via-florida-saudi-family-0/

    So which one of those guys looked like an Islamist? To my eye less than half of those guys look even the remotest bit Middle Eastern. Several look like dark-haired white caucasians, a few look Indian, and a couple even look African.

    Hell, Alnami (third in third row) looks practically like the Karate Kid….

  77. 77
    Anthony K

    SC, read together, this is why I thought he was implying that Muslims and himself look like Ben Stiller:

    But if someone who looked vaguely like Ben Stiller were wanted for crimes against humanity, I would understand if I turned a few heads at the airport. However, if I were forced to wait in line behind a sham search of everyone else, I would surely resent this additional theft of my time.
    We should profile Muslims, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim, and we should be honest about it. And, again, I wouldn’t put someone who looks like me entirely outside the bull’s-eye (after all, what would Adam Gadahn look like if he cleaned himself up?)

    It’s that “someone who looks like me” might be Adam Gadahn part.

  78. 78
    Anthony K

    Speaking of which, what DOES a Islamist look like?

    They’re the ones not carrying a copy of Dianetics with a dust jacket from The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

    Oh fuck, I hope the terrorists aren’t reading this…

  79. 79
    consciousness razor

    I am not sure if “bigot” is the right word.
    But seems Harris has some blind spots about people and I don’t want him representing me either.
    Racial Profiling Muslims is a problem because they come from everywhere on Earth. Muslims include every physical description of humanity.
    Harris seems fixated on some stereotype of semantic middle east description.

    “Bigot” is the right word. Understanding that Muslims don’t all look alike does not mean you understand that the vast majority of them are not terrorists. Both of those views are bigoted.

  80. 80
    robro

    andres @ #2 How about this guy? (The older one in the middle. The one on the left is terrible, but not a terrorist.)

  81. 81
    dianne

    Any focused search can be gamed. If children are known to never get searched then eventually someone will put explosives in their kids’ diapers because they know that they can sneak that through. If 70 year olds never get stopped, al Qaeda or Operation Rescue will just recruit 70 year olds. If nervous looking people get stopped, they’ll train their terrorists to act calm*. And so on. Only a truly random search can prevent people from gaming the system and sneaking something dangerous through.

    *On the rare occasions anyone’s asked me any questions in the airport, I tend to adopt a calm, cooperative, and just slightly condescending attitude. As if to say, “I’ll be nice and not make a fuss because I know you’re just doing your job even though I could destroy you with a single complaint if I wanted to.” So far, it’s worked (no one’s ever actually hand checked my bags or otherwise performed extra searching on me), except in Britain and Mexico where they do…random searches!

  82. 82
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    And, again, I wouldn’t put someone who looks like me entirely outside the bull’s-eye (after all, what would Adam Gadahn look like if he cleaned himself up?)

    Ah, thanks. I’d skipped past that paragraph for some reason. Yes, that does seem to say something different from the previous paragraph – even to contradict it. (I don’t understand how they’re supposed to make sense together. Even if this is accepted as the point, though, it still remains rather hypothetical, since he appears pretty confident that even if he’s not excluded he wouldn’t be a primary target.) But how in his advancing the idea that the profile should include vaguely Semitic-looking men the historical background to this didn’t occur to him I can’t imagine.

  83. 83
    Phalacrocorax, z Třetího Světa

    what DOES a Islamist look like?

    Any decent answer to this question should cover anything from the Uyghur East Turkestan Islamic Movement to the Somali al-Shabaab, not to mention the occasional extremist from Albania. I think ‘human’ is the narrowest possible description.

  84. 84
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Any focused search can be gamed.

    Harris has apparently never seen The Battle of Algiers.

  85. 85
    humanape

    Christians frequently accuse atheists of sucking up to Muslims. Apparently even Bible thumpers can be right about something.

    I first noticed this problem several years ago on another blog. I couldn’t believe it. These were atheists and they were defending one of the most idiotic religions ever invented.

    And to attack Sam Harris who has done a lot more than most people here to promote atheism. Very strange.

  86. 86
    Wowbagger, Designated Snarker

    humanape wrote:

    And to attack Sam Harris who has done a lot more than most people here to promote atheism. Very strange.

    Why do assume people who agree on the non-existence of gods would agree on ever other issue? That seems to me to demonstrate a collossal ignorance of fairly obvious human diversity.

  87. 87
    anathema

    @ Humanape:

    I don’t think that you are going to find many people here who actually like Islam. There’s a difference from defending Islam from legitimate criticism and defending Muslims from bigotry.

    The commenters here have defended Muslims against bigotry. We haven’t tried to defend Islam from legitimate criticism.

  88. 88
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Apparently even Bible thumpers can be right about something.

    Well, if you say so, it is obviously wrong, liar, bullshitter, and bigot.

    I first noticed this problem several years ago on another blog.

    The problem wasn’t with the blog, but you liar and bullshitter.

    These were atheists and they were defending one of the most idiotic religions ever invented.

    All religions are idiotic and invented. Just like your bigotted bullshit.

    And to attack Sam Harris who has done a lot more than most people here to promote atheism. Very strange.

    You are known by the bigots you keep. We don’t keep any, but you do, liar and bullshitter…

  89. 89
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    humanape, never failing to show his ass in any comment thread.

  90. 90
    Anthony K

    But how in his advancing the idea that the profile should include vaguely Semitic-looking men the historical background to this didn’t occur to him I can’t imagine.

    I think he thinks it’s not racist if you jimmy yourself into the group.

    And to attack Sam Harris who has done a lot more than most people here to promote atheism.

    Who the fuck is keeping this brain dead collection of organs alive, and how do we get a court order to stop them?!

  91. 91
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    And to attack Sam Harris who has done a lot more than most people here to promote atheism. Very strange.

    Because atheism isn’t a religion. We’re allowed to disagree.

  92. 92
    nooneinparticular

    Brownian, you’re being obtuse. Deliberately, I think. Anyway you helpfully highlighted something I wrote. To wit;

    “To my mind the best way to reduce -there is no way to eliminate- the risk of an attack is active surveillance and interdiction, within the strictures of the constitution (HA! fat chance) targeting suspected terror groups focusing on Islamists and other groups (including those nasty xtian and militia groups) coupled with random searches at the airports and better trained TSA who can spot people who need to be checked out. Training to keep an eye out for jiggy people. People who look agitated or make unclear or suspicious statements.”

    You bolded one part, but I bolded another immediately after the part you bolded.

    Makes it hard for me to understand you complaining about me not understanding “random”. Your obtuseness explains it, but doesn’t make it understandable.

  93. 93
    nooneinparticular

    amphiox @69 HAHAHAHAHA! You got to be fucking kidding me.

  94. 94
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    nooneinparticular

    Just how the hell do you propose to target a specific group—Muslims—yet at the same time make random searches? The two ideas are mutually incompatible.

  95. 95
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Your obtuseness explains it, but doesn’t make it understandable.

    Your obtuseness and paranoia in thinking such idiotic behavior by TSA makes you more safe is fuckwittery on you part. What don’t you understand the fact that you can’t be perfectly safe. Stay in your basement with you tin-foil hat. Or shut the fuck up like the rest of us adults.

  96. 96
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    I think he thinks it’s not racist if you jimmy yourself into the group.

    Oh, definitely. But I would hope for a pause-and-reflect moment at the point when jimmying yourself into the group means suggesting that the government should profile people with Semitic features.

  97. 97
    Tom Foss

    Even if there were a way to “look Muslim,” there’s no evidence to suggest that the average sheltered American Christian or TSA agent could be expected to recognize it. How many Sikhs were mistaken for Muslims post-9/11?

    Not to mention that, if TSA is targeting the Semitic-looking passengers, folks like the Christmas bomber are going to pass right on through. Heck, would “shoe bomber” Richard Reid have been caught by a “Muslim-looking” profile? Especially if he shaved/dressed like a hipster? Two of the most prominent post-9/11 would-be terrorists targeting airplanes would have easily passed through any “get the Muslim-looking ones” dragnet.

    It’s not just that there’s no “Islamic appearance,” it’s that (as others have said) even if there were, the system could easily be gamed. There’s nothing preventing al-Qaeda (for instance) from using its whiter or blacker members as suicide bombers, and using its browner ones as decoys.

    Harris’s system relies on an apprehension of Muslims that treats “Team America: World Police” as a documentary: the terrorists are all Middle Eastern Muslims in turbans and beards, and are fucking stupid on top of it.

  98. 98
    Walton

    consciousness razor,

    “Bigot” is the right word. Understanding that Muslims don’t all look alike does not mean you understand that the vast majority of them are not terrorists. Both of those views are bigoted.

    QFT.

    ===

    human ape,

    And to attack Sam Harris who has done a lot more than most people here to promote atheism. Very strange.

    What kind of argument is that supposed to be? Personally, I don’t give a crap about his record of “promoting atheism”, given that the other views he is promoting are bigoted, irrational and ignorant. I’m an atheist, but that doesn’t mean I have to like or agree with Harris merely because he happens to share my lack of belief in deities.

    It’s much more important to me to promote peace, nonviolence and social justice, and to oppose all forms of bigotry. Harris is not on my side on any of these issues. He’s an apologist for war, violence, torture and institutionalized racism, and I have no respect for him or his views.

  99. 99
    Anthony K

    Brownian, you’re being obtuse. Deliberately, I think.

    Fuck off. I couldn’t give two shits about what you think.

    Yes, I see you wrote the word ‘random’, while in general advocating a policy that’s for the most part anything but random, and all things considered, pretty much describes what the TSA is already doing, which is predominantly targeting Muslim-looking people (?) from predominantly Muslim nations.

    So, I’m terribly sorry I found your rambling dissertation that contains all sorts of vaguely contradictory statements (“Well you guys are certainly right that racial profiling doesn’t make a whole lot of sense if you really want to stop terrorists from blowing up airplanes” + “targeting suspected terror groups focusing on Islamists and other groups”) only to conclude that the the solution is to have TSA people better trained to spot “jiggy” people (bet they never thought of that), somewhat confusing.

    Fuck, throw me a bone here: how do we target the “Islamists” again?

  100. 100
    Anthony K

    Just how the hell do you propose to target a specific group—Muslims—yet at the same time make random searches? The two ideas are mutually incompatible.

    Daz, you’re being deliberately obtuse.

    But no fear; nooneinparticular will use a screen-length comments to explain that you do it using ‘training’.

  101. 101
    phoenicianromans

    And you’d be wrong. Samuel Byck wasn’t Islamic. Neither was Frank Corder. Or Andrew Stack. The most recent suicidal terrorists to board planes in the US have been Muslim, but running planes into buildings is not unique to Muslims.

    They were, however, all male. As were all 19 of the Sept. 11th hijackers.

    Strangely, Sam Harris doesn’t seem to be talking about how violent one gender is, and how much safer we’d all be if that gender were targeted for searches every time they entered an airport…

  102. 102
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    Well, noreasoningapplied is right about one thing. They certainly need training. Who not to target might be a better start though.

  103. 103
    Rey Fox

    And to attack Sam Harris who has done a lot more than most people here to promote atheism. Very strange.

    Oh fuck off, you authoritarian dickstain.

  104. 104
    Anthony K

    Who not to target might be a better start though.

    Careful. That’s what Harris has been arguing all along. But that’s also inconsistent with random searches.

    It’s their idiotic tendency to follow the the letter rather than the spirit of the rules that causes these fiascos.

  105. 105
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    But that’s also inconsistent with random searches.

    Aye, my bad wording. What not to target, ie breast-milk bottles for instance, might have been better phrasing.

  106. 106
    Anthony K

    Yes, that would be sensible, Daz.

  107. 107
    mas528

    I know Brownian touched on it
    earlier, but I’d like to explore
    other reasons to carry a Koran.
    What if the guy is a devout
    Muslim, dressed in an “islamic’
    manner, and is plain scared of
    flying? Perhaps he would pray
    fervently, perhaps with a
    companion.
    Do you think that maybe he/
    they would be taken off the
    plane and questioned? .
    and from the TV advertisement
    for new Sasha Baron Cohen
    movie there is something that is
    very pertinent here. It may only
    be funny to me, an English
    speaking white male; he does
    call out our stupid assumptions.

  108. 108
    phoenicianromans

    I used to know a fellow who drove a vehicle the police tend to associate with Asian gang members or street racers. Tinted windows, the whole deal. He was always getting pulled over, only to be let go when he rolled down his windows and they saw that he’s white.

    Fortunately for him, the fact that he didn’t fit their profile means they never asked him to pop the trunk, which would reveal the pound or two of pot he usually had on him to sell.

    I recall a friend of mine who I ran into after he got back from the States. While he was there, he was asked to set up a textile factory, employing a lot of Central American immigrant women to sew.

    He said he made a special point of always ensuring their immigration papers were up to date, since they regularly got inspected by Immigration who spent a lot of effort looking among these Central American women to see which was working in the country illegally.

    My friend, the white managerial type in the suit with the Kiwi accent, was never ever asked about his papers, not even once.

    This was a good thing – he was there on a visitor’s permit…

  109. 109
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    What if the guy is a devout
    Muslim, dressed in an “islamic’
    manner, and is plain scared of
    flying? Perhaps he would pray
    fervently, perhaps with a
    companion.

    I always read such comments as poetry.

  110. 110
    joed

    @79 consciousness razor
    but why would you think all muslims look alike.
    they don’t. You must be thinking of others.
    As I said, Harris seems fixated on some sterotype middle east semitic description.

  111. 111
    nooneinparticular

    Ok daz, slow down. Of course you can do both. Don’t be silly. And of course it is impossible to target all Muslims, as so many people have pointed out there is no way to define how a Muslim looks. But some people do look that way. Some people have passports that say they come from countries that support or are know to harbor these kinds of terrorists. Some people associate with groups that are known risks. These people OUGHT to scrutinized. This, I have suggested (repeatedly), is in addition to the other techniques.

    Look, I am not suggesting we move all the darkies over in a corner and strip search them hoping they are Muslims or something. Nor am I suggesting that we rely on profiling to find these kinds of terrorists. In fact I explicitly said that. But, as Harris rightly points out, the kind of threat that he (and I) were talking about; suicide attacks, which are particularly hard to defend against, are most likely to come from an Islamist. That’s a fact. That may change in future, but currently that is where the biggest threat lies. So it would be stupid and foolish not to give people who are obviously (and don’t pretend there is no way to tell under any circumstance) members of that group to closer attention.

    Not by strip searching. Not by pulling them aside and rummaging through all their luggage. Not necessarily, anyway. But by asking them questions. Scrutinizing them. Doing what some security groups (Harris mentions Israel but Germany, apparently, does similar profiling) have found to be successful. We can take the parts of that strategy that work well (paying attention to people from regions supporting terrorists and people who advertise their place in a group known to be a risk) and discard the parts that don’t work (relying on profiling alone or even principally, trying to guess who is “Muslim” and who isn’t, etc).

    I’m not saying TSA is even capable of this (I sincerely doubt it, I like Schneier think it should be abandoned and we start over).

    You and others here are upset by me suggesting that we ought to focus on Islamists. As I said, Harris is wrong about profiling. He is being innumerate, as PZ says. Harris also despises Islam so much I can understand why people think he has lost credibility on this subject. But just because he fails in some of his arguments doesn’t mean he’s wrong in all of them. Islamist ARE our biggest threat in this regard. To deny it is just crazy. I have read some of what Schneier has written on the subject and what I have said here is a (poorly worded) subset of what he has said (he has a lot more to add about the history and theater of the TSA).

    One final thing, although I use the term “Islamist” and “Muslim” somewhat interchangeably, one is a fanatical subset of the other. I should think that needn’t be explained, but just in case.

  112. 112
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    For those who didn’t watch the video…

    Muslims do not commit a majority OR plurality of suicide terror attacks. That dishonor goes to the Tamil Tigers. They are philosophically Marxist and ethnically Hindu. If you repeat that Muslims are the greatest source of suicide terrorism, you are simply lying.

    Of course Muslims have killed more people using jets as guided suicide bombs…but that’s counting victims and deliberately restricting them by tactic. That’s not identifying who is a threat…which is the purpose of screening.

  113. 113
    susanrobinson

    I agree with Sam on this one. We should profile Muslims because their demographics in general are currently very limited, and the demographics of suicide bombers are currently very limited. If and when the demographics become much more varied, then the profiling would no longer be logical.

  114. 114
    nooneinparticular

    Crip dyke; Tamil Tiger suicide attacks in the US? Are you sure about that?

  115. 115
    Anthony K

    What if the guy is a devout Muslim, dressed in an “islamic’ manner, and is plain scared of flying?

    Oh, afraid of flying isn’t a problem. In Harris’ world, this guy would be ensured a gloved finger up his ass long before he got anywhere near the Danielle Steele rack at the airport magazine shop.

    Of course, the TSA’ll be so busy sweating this guy in a human pyramid with the rest of his family, they’ll completely miss the guy with a copy of Jugs, hands still stained from the Clairol Nice ‘N Easy home hair colour kit, and the ties to al-Qaeda, not to mention Ricky “They’re taxing me to death plus Doreen just left me” McTeabag.

  116. 116
    Rutee Katreya

    And to attack Sam Harris who has done a lot more than most people here to promote atheism. Very strange.

    Promoting atheism doesn’t make you magically not be racist. Especially not since atheism is still racist.

  117. 117
    Rey Fox

    We should profile Muslims because their demographics in general are currently very limited, and the demographics of suicide bombers are currently very limited.

    Have you read even one word of any of these posts?

  118. 118
    Ze Madmax

    nooneinparticular @ #111:

    One final thing, although I use the term “Islamist” and “Muslim” somewhat interchangeably, one is a fanatical subset of the other. I should think that needn’t be explained, but just in case.

    The fact that you use those two terms interchangeably suggests you’re stupid. The fact that you don’t seem to care about the fact that you are committing a gross (and dangerous) overgeneralization confirms that you’re stupid.

  119. 119
    Koshka

    nooneinparticular #114,

    Are you deliberately misreading?

  120. 120
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    nooneinparticular

    Your first paragraph states that (though you don’t explain how) it is possible to make random searches whilst not being random in your choice of who to search—what country they come from etc. Do you not see the illogic in this?

    And how do you spot a Muslim? If you’re not advocating the ‘swarthy middle-eastern’ approach, then the only Muslims you’ll spot are those coming from mostly-Muslim countries. And we’re back to the idea that terrorist groups are too fuckin’ stupid to figure this out.

  121. 121
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Are you deliberately misreading?

    Of course. If it was reading, it would realize its bigotry….

  122. 122
    susanrobinson

    Rey Fox, yes I have read some of “these” posts. They lack the logic of Sam’s position. If the vast majority of Muslims and also of suicide bombers were Scandanavian looking, I would favor profiling light hair, light skin and eyes.
    I wouldn’t use the current common “Muslim” characteristics as the only reason for extensive or invasive type search, just for more initial scrutiny.

  123. 123
    Anthony K

    One final thing, although I use the term “Islamist” and “Muslim” somewhat interchangeably, one is a fanatical subset of the other. I should think that needn’t be explained, but just in case.

    And I’m being obtuse. For fuck’s sake:

    1. If one is a subset of the other, why the fuck are you using them interchangeably?
    2. If one group is ‘fanatical’ (I assume likely to blow up yourself + planes marks the ‘fanatical’ one, but who knows in nooneinparticular’s world), why the fuck are you using them interchangeably?
    3. Yes, your sloppy use of terminology (one is one sixth of the Earth’s population, the other is a tiny threat-issuing fraction of that, but meh? who’s got time to be specific?) sure as fuck needs to be explained.

    Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with you?

  124. 124
    nooneinparticular

    119. Of course not. Crip dyke suggested that anyone claiming that Islamists are responsible for most suicide attacks are “lying”. I am making that claim. Of course, I said they are the biggest threat to US. I mean, the U.S. It is possible crip dyke thinks I am not a USan. Sadly, I am. So when I said they were a threat to “us”, I mean us USans. It may not have been clear to her (him?)

    Clear now?

  125. 125
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    susanrobinson

    See comment #2 ↑

  126. 126
    oddree

    … to uniformed low-wage security guards with a GED get thoroughly frisked…

    Wow PZ, your contempt for people with merely a high school education is kind of astonishing.

  127. 127
    nooneinparticular

    Daz. Not much more I can say. If you can’t understand that more than one policy can be in place; random screening as a general deterrent with targeted screening for a defined subset, I can’t help you.

  128. 128
    anathema

    @ Susanrobinson:

    And HOW do you propose we go about doing this? We can’t tell whether or not someone is a Muslim by just looking at them.

    And even if we could . . . profiling Muslims would still be a problem. Because most Muslims aren’t terrorists. If we focus on singling out people who “look Muslim” (whatever that means) for special attention, then we are also giving terrorists who don’t look Muslim a free pass. If we single out people who “look Muslim”, we end up selecting for terrorists who don’t look Muslim.

    Even if most terrorists are Muslim, most Muslims are not terrorists. We don’t get to infringe on the rights of all Muslims for the sake of that minority. The majority of terrorists are also male. But we don’t single out men for special treatment here. Because that would be a waste of our time, as most men are not terrorists.

    I don’t know why there’s this special focus on suicide bombers either. Not all terrorists are suicide bombers. I don’t think it particularly matters whether or not a terrorist kills himself or herself in the course of an attack. I might be missing something here, but I don’t think there’s any reason to single out suicidal terrorism as something especially awful. Terrorism is terrorism. It’s all awful.

  129. 129
    'Tis Himself

    susanrobinson #113

    We should profile Muslims because their demographics in general are currently very limited

    Apparently you’re unaware that Muslims extend from Sub-Saharan Africa to Bosnia to Turkmenistan to China to Indonesia. There are no “ethnic” Muslims. The majority of Muslims don’t even wear turbans.

  130. 130
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    Rey Fox, yes I have read some of “these” posts. They lack the logic of Sam’s position. If the vast majority of Muslims and also of suicide bombers were Scandanavian looking, I would favor profiling light hair, light skin and eyes.
    I wouldn’t use the current common “Muslim” characteristics as the only reason for extensive or invasive type search, just for more initial scrutiny.

    that loud screaming sound you hear up there is the point sailing far over your head.

  131. 131
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    defined subset

    And I don’t see how you can define such a subset, unless you’re using the same racial stereotype that Harris appears to be advocating, and that you have claimed that you are not using. “Looks like a human being” is not a subset.

  132. 132
    acrisisoffaiththebook

    This post strikes me as a very reasonable and compelling response to Harris’ article. “So once again, we sacrifice civil liberties and real effective security for TSA showmanship, as people who “look Muslim” to uniformed low-wage security guards with a GED get thoroughly frisked.” Indeed.

  133. 133
    Anthony K

    They lack the logic of Sam’s position.

    It’s a good thing for Sam’s logic that the terrorists we’ve dealt with are capable of years of training to fly passenger jets, but can’t scratch together $40 for some hair dye.

    Or recruit one of the millions of Muslims who don’t look like Ben Stiller.

  134. 134
    keddaw

    According to the video in #24 the ideal group to target would be people from countries where large numbers of US troops are stationed (including the US?) But I digress…

    If there were a 9/11-sized terrorist event* in the US each year the odds of any given US citizen dying would be in the region of 100,000-1 (http://reason.com/archives/2006/08/11/dont-be-terrorized) which is of a similar magnitude to being killed in a car accident, drowning, being run over, or being murdered.

    So can we have a little perspective and not go shredding the Constitution, ignoring hard-won civil rights and generally behaving like frightened children willing to do anything if only the mighty government will check under our beds for the boogeyman?

    *Not that there could be any of that size since planes have secure cockpit doors so can’t be used as guided missiles now and passengers are more aware and likely to try to intervene.

  135. 135
    nooneinparticular

    Brownian

    Sorry to piss you off. I said I used the term somewhat interchangeably*. I believe that for the most part, in context I was clear. As these are extemporaneously written, it’s possible that I wasn’t clear on occasion. I try, for the most part, to try to understand what a person is saying rather than parsing every word for a purist consistency. I apologize if I confused you.

    *A pedantic note which will probably be taken as offense…. by definition, a subset of one group IS interchangeable with another, when taken in context. A Californian IS an American, though not all Americans are Californians.

  136. 136
    Weed(less) Monkey

    oddree

    … to uniformed low-wage security guards with a GED get thoroughly frisked…

    Wow PZ, your contempt for people with merely a high school education is kind of astonishing.

    I don’t think it is. We should be able to expect at least some knowledge and education from people that pose as authorities. Otherwise they can simply be thugs that do not know what they´re doing.

  137. 137
    anathema

    If the vast majority of Muslims and also of suicide bombers were Scandanavian looking, I would favor profiling light hair, light skin and eyes.

    Well, most suicide bombers are also men. Should we profile men too?

    Should we engage in profiling for other acts of terrorism, or only suicide bombers?

    Should we profile Christians who go into abortion clinics, because most of the people in America who carry out terrorist attacks in abortion clinics are Christians?

    I should also point out that some Muslims are Scandinavian-looking. Newsflash: white people can be Muslims too. You still haven’t given us any decent criteria for how to profile Muslims. Even if we profile everyone who doesn’t look Scandinavian, you still aren’t going to be profiling all Muslims. And you certainly aren’t going to be profiling terrorists. (After all, Anders Breivik was a Scandinavian.)

  138. 138
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @nooneinparticular

    You have made clear comments stating that Muslims were responsible for the majority of suicide attacks …full stop.

    You may if you like retract that claim and make a more specific one about specific times/places/manners, but I’m not obligated to assume that whatever wrong thing you say should merely be assumed to carry some hidden, implicit wording sufficient to make any false claim ttrue. If I said the majority of lesbians own subarus, you should jump on that false fact. Then if I said, oh but I only mean car owning lesbians that are outdoor enthusiasts, yous know the upper middle class softball-and-kayaking crowd,that wouldn’t save my earlier statement from allegations of idiocy, even if it came in the midst of a kayaking discussion.

    Your facts are correct or they Aren’t…

    Not only that, but all it takes is for the US govt to be seen by the Tamils as favoring the Sri Lankan govt and the Tamil targeting may very well change. Just an example, but a strategy that requires retraining before the US State Dept can take any contested action is an unworkable strategy…

    (also: ‘she’ works fine when I’m not doing drag.)

  139. 139
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    … and the demographics of suicide bombers are currently very limited.

    What the fuck is with the hard-on for suicide bombers? Please, someone explain to me why they’re inherently worse than other terrorists.

  140. 140
    Anthony K

    I try, for the most part, to try to understand what a person is saying rather than parsing every word for a purist consistency.

    Don’t you try to put this on me.

    If you’re not aware that people in these types of arguments conflate “Muslim” and “Member of actual terrorist group who is also Muslim” all the time (hell, Harris’ position depends on this conflation), then shame on you. If you are aware and just didn’t give enough of a shit to make your position clear, then shame on you. And all the while using a smarmy, condescending tone, and blaming others for your lack of clarity—shame on you.

  141. 141
    Walton

    He said he made a special point of always ensuring their immigration papers were up to date, since they regularly got inspected by Immigration who spent a lot of effort looking among these Central American women to see which was working in the country illegally.

    Indeed. Ethnic profiling is rife in immigration enforcement. Not only by ICE itself, but by local cops: increasingly, thanks to the misnamed “Secure Communities” program, undocumented people stopped for minor traffic offenses, or stopped at random for no crime at all, end up being handed over to ICE and put in detention. (See this report for evidence and specific examples, some of which are horrific.)

  142. 142
    tim rowledge, Ersatz Haderach

    Apparently you’re unaware that Muslims extend from Sub-Saharan Africa to Bosnia to Turkmenistan to China to Indonesia. There are no “ethnic” Muslims.

    Don’t forget the euro/anglo/’mercan looking converts too. Don’t forget that converts are often the most fired-up and ‘enthusiastic’ members of a religion.

    And certainly no one should assume that only suicide bombers need to be found. Unknowing mules have been used plenty of times. Even small children, or at least their accoutrements such as prams and pushchairs and diaper bags.

  143. 143
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    What the fuck is with the hard-on for suicide bombers? Please, someone explain to me why they’re inherently worse than other terrorists.

    Because they’re non-Christian and, you know … foreign. And some of them have brown skin.

  144. 144
    Anthony K

    by definition, a subset of one group IS interchangeable with another, when taken in context. A Californian IS an American, though not all Americans are Californians.

    You’ve already exceeded your stupid quota for the day. Shut up now.

  145. 145
    Rutee Katreya

    We should profile Muslims because their demographics in general are currently very limited, and the demographics of suicide bombers are currently very limited.

    Really. What’s the most populous nation that has Islam as its majority religion?

  146. 146
  147. 147
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @Dr Audley…

    Yes. Freuding exactly.

    I have been talking about this subset of terrorists on this thread, but I should have said this long ago. If Eric Randall Rudolph had blown himself up at the Atlanta Olympics a lot of people would have been better off.

  148. 148
    Khantron, the alien that only loves

    Whoever is saying that “the current demographics of suicide attackers are such and such, and so we should search such and such, means you’re protecting against the last attacks. Which would be all well and good if you had a time machine, but you want to protect attacks that happen in advance you have to adjust your tactics. Expect them not to use such an such again, because they know security is ready for that. Obviously.

  149. 149
    anathema

    What the fuck is with the hard-on for suicide bombers? Please, someone explain to me why they’re inherently worse than other terrorists.

    I’m starting to suspect that suicide bombing is especially bad because it’s a form of terrorism that Muslims are more likely to carry out. If they focus on one particular form of terrorism that’s more likely to be used by Muslims, they have an excuse for profiling Muslims. If they focus on terrorism in general, they no longer have that excuse.

  150. 150
    nooneinparticular

    crip dyke. I don’t accept your characterization of me, full stop. I believe I was clear, and reading back I think in context I was, though I accept that some may have read something else and for that I regret it. As all of you know writing posts “on the fly” we run the risk of being unclear. Editing is not as easy under these circumstance.

    This is a knock-down drag out take no prisoners place (which is why I like it so much) and I’ll take my lumps when I deserve it.

    For the record (and for the last time); Islamists ARE Muslims. Not all Muslims are Islamists. Islamists are currently the biggest (but not the only) threat of suicide attacks on airplanes under control of the US TSA. Harris is dead right about this. In addition, the current security theater that TSA does, does little to ensure that suicide attacks won’t occur. We need surveillance, interdiction, random searches and (now this is where you guys hate me) targeted searches of people suspected to be members of groups who are the biggest risk. The biggest risk comes from Islamists who are Muslims. But I am NOT (and did not) suggesting blanket searches of anyone who might look “Muslim”. That’s impossible anyway and makes no statistical sense. Nevertheless, given the fact that Islamists are our (U.S) biggest threat for this kind of attack it makes no sense not to, in addition to other security measures, focus on this group of people for additional scrutiny to the best we can (which is where the training would come in). It is the last chance to prevent an attack and it is profiling and I am suggesting that in this limited sense it MAKES sense.

    Been fun. Time to make dinner.

    Ta.

  151. 151
    Rutee Katreya

    I mean really, who’s counting the demographics? Is this according to white people who lump arabs, turks, egyptians and the like together? Shall we lump together all the white people? It’s ridiculous. Race is socially constructed, so it’s not like you can ‘objectively’ measure this shit.

  152. 152
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    Ah, so now we not only have to recognise Muslims (but not by swarthy middle-eastern-ness) but somehow a subset of Muslims.

    Do they wear badges or summat?

    Practicality doesn’t seem to be your strong point.

  153. 153
    What a Maroon, el papa ateo

    *A pedantic note which will probably be taken as offense…. by definition, a subset of one group IS interchangeable with another, when taken in context. A Californian IS an American, though not all Americans are Californians.

    So it’s legitimate to say that virtually all Americans live within a four-hour drive of the Pacific Ocean?

  154. 154
    Marcus Ranum

    I flew through Jeddah airport a couple months ago – the main airport used by muslims flying to hajj. If I were to stereotype what a “muslim looks like” I’d have probably flagged less than half the people there. There was even a pretty good-sized contingent of hippie-looking types who’d be more likely candidates (since I’m dealing in stereotypes here) for a dope bust than “muslim terrorists” There were huge lots of people from Africa in colorful tribal cotton. It’s a ginormous airport* and I probably wasn’t the only atheist there but I bet I was the only person whose visa read “atheist” on it.

    Harris has jumped the shark on this issue. But rather than shutting down and acknowledging “oh, dear, I seem to have said something a bit stupid” he seems to think the way out is to show that he can jump two sharks instead of just one. He’s heading toward punditry at an alarming rate. Can we give his horse to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, instead?

  155. 155
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    The biggest risk comes from Islamists who are Muslims.

    Tell us how to determine them, without regular Muslims, or shut the fuck up as a bigot. Your bigotry is noticed, making what you say as less than cogent…

  156. 156
    What a Maroon, el papa ateo

    If you want to single out people who “look Muslim”, your best bet would be to target people from the Indian subcontinent or southeast Asia.

    Somehow, though, I doubt that Harris wants to see the TSA targeting Indian and Thai tourists.

  157. 157
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Funny how the bigots think they are so much smarter than us, but when the chips are down, they can’t show how to do a better job than nothing but a metal detector. Their paranoia won’t rub off either, making their posts nothing but them telling the world they are bigots.

  158. 158
    Marcus Ranum

    I wonder if Harris thinks that extra screening should be used on people who look like John Allan Muhammad.

  159. 159
    nooneinparticular

    One more thing, Brownian

    “Don’t you try to put this on me.

    If you’re not aware that people in these types of arguments conflate “Muslim” and “Member of actual terrorist group who is also Muslim” all the time (hell, Harris’ position depends on this conflation), then shame on you. If you are aware and just didn’t give enough of a shit to make your position clear, then shame on you. And all the while using a smarmy, condescending tone, and blaming others for your lack of clarity—shame on you.”

    No.

    I AM putting it on you.

    You have, deliberately I think, misread what I’ve written. I am not responsible for how other people parse the word “Muslim”; I believe I was clear in MY use of the word and if my use confused others I did NOT blame them. I specifically said it was my fault if my writing was confused in this detail. I take YOU to task for getting all pissy about something I DID NOT SAY and then hiding behind the flimsy excuse that my use of words was confusing to you.

    And stop bitching about tone. sheeesh.

  160. 160
    eigenperson

    #150: So your position is that we should profile against “Islamists.”

    Now, tell me what an Islamist looks like.

    And keep in mind that it should be an immutable characteristic, because otherwise you will only be devoting your extra attention to the group “Islamists who are not currently attempting to avoid security screening by disguising themselves.”. And that group is NOT very likely to commit a terrorist attack.

  161. 161
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    So, nooneinparticul has just spent three hours or so telling us that we need to profile, not Muslims, but fanatical Muslims. Just guessing, like, but I assume that this is already being done, where they’ve been spotted. And s/he doesn’t bother telling us how to spot the ones that haven’t been. End result: sod-all gained.

    And it doesn’t appear to be what Harris is saying, either. He says ‘Muslims’. No caveats.

  162. 162
    timmyfriday

    If the difficult problems PZ points out (The wobbly concept of “looking Muslim” and the contingeny of terrorits exploiting the the criteria to lessen their chances of detection), I see a decent
    Bayesian argument for Sam Harris here. If M represents a muslim, and T a terrorist, then

    P(T|M) = P(M|T) x P(T) / P(M).

    The likelihood term P(M|T), which PZ estimates as 90% really is important in this calculation, so if the difficulties can be avoided, an optimisated solution accounting for this likelihood is possible.

    The next question I would ask is from signal processing theory. Should we optimise for raw number of detections at the expense of type II errors, or to avoid type I errors at the expense of a few failed detections?

  163. 163
    Marcus Ranum

    We need surveillance, interdiction, random searches and (now this is where you guys hate me) targeted searches of people suspected to be members of groups who are the biggest risk.

    What is the criterion for suspecting someone to be a member of the groups who are the biggest risk? Do you think perhaps TSA should ask “are you a member of a group at risk for terrorism?” of all passengers about to board? Perhaps the TSA could ask them all to carry little flags?

    It’s very very easy to say “suspected to be members of groups” but the implementation is the hard part. That’s the point that the proponents of profiling keep trying to dodge. It sounds plausible in fantasy-land but there is simply no way it will work in the real world.

    What mix of apparent ethnicities could trivially pass as a buddhist monk, after a shave, and the addition of a dippy smile and a $150 cotton robe from ebay?

  164. 164
    eigenperson

    #162: The P(M|T) term is not actually very important at all, because the P(T)/P(M) term is well under 0.0001%. So P(T|M) < 0.0001%, whether P(M|T) is 100% or 0%.

    The salient point here is that the P(T|M) term is tiny — and therefore, approximately equal to P(T)! So you do not gain very much by profiling Muslims. However, you do lose a lot because (1) you give terrorists a way to avoid the extra screening, and (2) you are being a prick.

  165. 165
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Daz:

    Because they’re non-Christian and, you know … foreign. And some of them have brown skin.

    Of course!

    Which is probably the same exact reason why white men who plant bombs aren’t labelled as “terrorists”– good ol’ racism.

    For instance! That Planned Parenthood bombing that I’ve brought up several times now? Yeah, about that:

    Prosecutors have charged Francis Grady with arson and intentionally damaging a facility. He is scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday.

    Milwaukee Public Radio

    Francis Grady is white, American, and (possibly) attended anti-choice protests at the very clinic that he’s been charged with bombing.

    However, another failed bomber (Richard Reed) is serving a life sentence in a supermax prision because he plead guilty to several criminal counts of terrorism.

    Oh yeah, he’s not white, not American, and a member of al-Qaeda. He also did less damage with his bombing attempt than Grady (who managed to damage the Planned Parenthood building, whereas Reed damaged bupkis).

    So why is one considered a terrorist and one charged with arson? It couldn’t boil down to the targets (and airplane vs a health clinic) and good ol’ American bigotry against Muslims, could it?

  166. 166
    Amphiox

    For the record (and for the last time); Islamists ARE Muslims.

    Irrelevant, and already explained.

    Pitiful troll not worth engaging any more.

  167. 167
    What a Maroon, el papa ateo

    For the record (and for the last time); Islamists wolves ARE Muslims mammals.

    Fear the squirrels!

  168. 168
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart

    Not being of the American persuasion, I wouldn’t want to venture too much of a strong opinion, but yeah. Mind you, we have the EDL, BNP and so forth, so it’s not like it would be too much of a cheap-shot.

    (Incidentally, is there an etiquette for dealing with long nyms on here? Just the bit before the descriptor as I’ve used above, just the given name, other?)

  169. 169
    What a Maroon, el papa ateo

    So why is one considered a terrorist and one charged with arson? It couldn’t boil down to the targets (and airplane vs a health clinic) and good ol’ American bigotry against Muslims, could it?

    Oh, c’mon. Since 9/11, Muslim terrorists have killed, like, um, some large multiple of 0 American citizens on US soil.

    That’s got to count for something, right?

  170. 170
    Anthony K

    You have, deliberately I think, misread what I’ve written. I am not responsible for how other people parse the word “Muslim”; I believe I was clear in MY use of the word and if my use confused others I did NOT blame them. I specifically said it was my fault if my writing was confused in this detail. I take YOU to task for getting all pissy about something I DID NOT SAY and then hiding behind the flimsy excuse that my use of words was confusing to you.

    Have someone who’s not stupid read that paragraph back to you.

  171. 171
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    Ronald McNut

    I will not make obvious puns on people’s names. I will not make obvious puns on people’s names. I will not make obvious puns on people’s names. I will not make obvious puns on people’s names. I will not make obvious puns on people’s names. I will not make obvious puns on people’s names.

  172. 172
    Marcus Ranum

    Since TSA apparently catches large numbers of otherwise harmless people who accidentally try to bring weapons on planes, wouldn’t the prior probability be that someone caught with a weapon is less likely to be a terrorist than merely someone absent-minded?

  173. 173
    Ze Madmax

    mrbong @ #170

    You can both experience moderate islam first hand.

    In Islamabad? Maybe. Lahore would probably be a better idea, and even then, only in the more affluent parts.

    But of course, a Poe is likely to perceive Pakistan as an example of “moderate Islam.”

    (Not to mention, wearing such a shirt would be a bad idea in a good many places in the U.S. as well)

  174. 174
    Tom Foss

    If the people identifiable as radical Islamist terrorists are making it to the airports, then the security systems have already failed. IIRC, Bruce Schneier advocates using intelligence and so forth to prevent the terrorist attacks from ever getting to that stage.

    Seems like it’d be more accurate and useful than trying to identify them once they’re already at the gate.

  175. 175
    What a Maroon, el papa ateo

    Ronald McNut

    I will not make obvious puns on people’s names.

    I would. But he’s probably a Poe.

    But anyway, Ronald, PZ’s not gay, so you’re asking him to lie. Perhaps the shirt could read “I support gay marriage”?

    And to save yourself some money, why not send him to, say, Anoka MN?

  176. 176
    Anthony K

    (Not to mention, wearing such a shirt would be a bad idea in a good many places in the U.S. as well)

    Or in heavily Christian Kampala.

    But, that’s us, having no clue about the real world.

  177. 177
    Amphiox

    Lahore would probably be a better idea, and even then, only in the more affluent parts.

    Singapore.

    And most apropos to this thread, concerning airline security in America, and further exposing the bongbong’s pathetic intellectual dishonesty, another excellent place to experience moderate Islam would be New York City.

  178. 178
    What a Maroon, el papa ateo

    If the people identifiable as radical Islamist terrorists are making it to the airports, then the security systems have already failed. IIRC, Bruce Schneier advocates using intelligence and so forth to prevent the terrorist attacks from ever getting to that stage.

    A propos of this….

  179. 179
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    The problem with suspected Poes is, by definition, it’s hard to tell the difference.

    Why do some people have this idea that their country is best described by pointing out that it’s not as bad as [insert dictatorship/theocratic hell-hole]? Personally, I’d want to set me sights just a tad higher.

  180. 180
    What a Maroon, el papa ateo

    The problem with suspected Poes is, by definition, it’s hard to tell the difference.

    Yep, but in this case the alleged name seems to give it away.

  181. 181
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    Don’t be too sure. I once, no word of a lie, worked with an Ian d’Iote. He never used just his initial.

  182. 182
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Daz,
    Well, crap, I shouldn’t assume that everyone here is an American. My bad.

    (And feel free to call me Audley or AZD or whatever. I don’t mind if it’s shortened a bit.)

    I’ve already responded to Mr Bongo over at TET. I’m gonna go ahead and assume he’s a troll ‘n run.

  183. 183
    Rey Fox

    Rey Fox, yes I have read some of “these” posts.

    Well then you should bloody well know that the demographics of both suicide bombers, and (HELLO) Muslims are nowhere near limited. You might want to try reading a few comments as well.

  184. 184
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    Audley

    No sweat. The topic is mostly US-oriented. Twas a reasonable assumption.

    And it’s 4:30 am here. Time for bed.

  185. 185
    ibyea

    @Audley
    mrbongo just infected the molly thread.

  186. 186
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Ibyea,
    So he’s dropping a copy-pasta screed in a bunch of threads? Someone’s really desperate for attention!

    Kind of pathetic, really.

  187. 187
    Amphiox

    In the most recent set of droppings, mrbongo actually managed to stay coherent enough to specifically state that his problem was with PZ’s opposition to profiling as explained on this thread.

    Poor soul doesn’t appear to realize that Pakistan and Islam as it is practised there actually has no relevance whatsoever to the subject here.

  188. 188
    Ingdigo Jump

    Between this and the SCA, we need to admit that it’s a bad idea to be ‘accommodating’ to conservative atheists.

  189. 189
    Anthony K

    Is this Islamabad? Wherever that is, people from there should be profiled, I guess.

    Who knew Muslims were so murderously tetchy about NASCAR?

  190. 190
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    nooneinparticular

    119. Crip dyke suggested that anyone claiming that Islamists are responsible for most suicide attacks are “lying”. I am making that claim.

    Clear now?

    So why are you complaining that I’m misrepresenting you? I clearly couldn’t have misrepresented you that badly if you agree that you are making that claim.

  191. 191
    Anthony K

    Audley, I’d seen that segment, but thanks for the reminder.

  192. 192
    ibyea

    @Browmian
    Holy crap! People were murderous over NASCAR!

  193. 193
    barbyau

    How can he? Well he’s a straight white man isn’t he? Profiling and treating the others differently seems to be what many straight white men do.

    I guess Sam’s never considered the idea that a brown Muslim might act nervous when traveling because they have every expectation to be hassled at best and detained for hours/arrested at worst. It’s nerve wracking to have a system in which any white person that points at you and says they are scared of you will land you no end of strip search and questioning (sans attorney).

    Of course he hasn’t considered that. That is not in the straight white man’s experience. And since he never experiences it, it doesn’t exist.

    I’m a brown female gay atheist and I get scared in various parts of this country when I travel. I have no doubt that air travel while appearing Muslim must be a nightmare.

  194. 194
    Anthony K

    Holy crap! People were murderous over NASCAR!

    That’s mrbongo’s real world for ya.

  195. 195
    Akira MacKenzie

    A personal challenge to mrbongo, who just generally has no fucking clue.

    My name Akira MacKenzie (at least that’s what I call myself here, but I also answer to Van Stiles, Achán hiNidráne, and Col. Horatio Lightningbolt) and I lay down the gauntlet–well, an old Isotoner glove I found in the street–to Islamophobic Internet troll mrbongo!

    I hereby forthwith and hitherto etc. etc. declare that I will pay mrbongo 300 kajillion Akira MacKenzie Fun-Bucks If he/she flies to Milwaukee, WI, goes to Zeidler Park at 1:38 PM on a Thursday, drops his/her pants to his/her ankles and shuffles through the park repeatedly shouting “I AM A NINNY!! at the top of their lungs until they’re arrested.

    Please put your stupidity and seeicanstringwseveralordstogethertoo to the test, mrbongo! You have to be pantsed in order to receive the Fun Bucks. In fact, bring your hamster dressed in S&M gear. You’ll both get a taste of just what milquetoast Rotarianism is really is like!

    Offer void in Utah.

  196. 196
    phoenicianromans

    My name is Ronald McNut

    Cue Bill Hicks talking about the Rodney King beating and musing on the testimony of one Officer Koon:

    “Is life too fucking wierd or what?”

  197. 197
    Muz

    nevsayeed’s video is great. It makes the point beautifully; suicide bombing is first and foremost a tactic against vast conventional military power. It just so happens we’re most familiar with the Muslim propaganda surrounding these things.

    It always amazes me how politicians and hawkish folks take colateral damage from conventional warfare as something they can just apologise for saying they’ll do better next time. The way some talk about it is a lot like an abusive domestic relationship; the beefy asshole is sorry and wants forgiveness, but it’s still your fault he had to hit you in the first place. You need to see he’s always in the right, no matter what he does. You shouldn’t have pissed him off. You don’t deserve justice or retribution because you’re his moral inferior by default.

    Sorry, this stuff is always personal and it will always come back one way or another. It’s just a matter of what means are necessary to do some damage.

  198. 198
    Valindrius

    It’s beyond me how anyone can concur with Harris when he has explored nothing of import and provided no citations. As far as I can tell, it’s all anecdote, ‘common sense,’ intuition, and vapid analogies thus far. There’s no explanation as to why he thinks it’s mathematically feasible, why he’s willing to rely on mystical scrutiny mechanics to prevent abuse when they’ve failed in the past, how he’d prevent this setting a dangerous precedent for every other domain, how he’d overcome the problems CAPS had with adaptable enemies, why he’s willing to generalise a tiny minority to the whole in this case but not others, etc.

    If he had already assessed critical factors using evidence then surely he would have provided the citations by now? I can only presume that the continued lack of them demonstrates that he formed his conclusions using nothing more than his own perceptions. I regard that as incredibly arrogant, especially since he’s aware of the mind’s fallibility.

  199. 199
    criticaldragon1177

    PZ Myers,

    What’s it going to take to get Sam Harris to actually give up on this? These arguments of his are pathetic.

    Most of the terrorist attacks since 9/11 in the United States have have not even carried out by Muslims, and there hasn’t been another successful 9/11 style attack since than despite the lack of the type of profiling he advocates.

  200. 200
    jimashby

    It’s a sad fact of life for many years now that the vast majority of terrorists insist on being Muslim. It’s unfortunate that this leads to discriminatory profiling. But this is not a cumbayah utopia. It’s Earth . . . and a very dangerous place to be an airline passenger. I wish I could tell you how to balance liberal ideals with cold reality. But I can’t.

    If there’s a numerical correlation between religion and terrorism, I think it’s foolish to ignore it. Muslims need to recognize it as a long-term consequence of not policing their own.

  201. 201
    Amphiox

    It’s a sad fact of life for many years now that the vast majority of terrorists insist on being Muslim.

    But this is irrelevant. The vast majority of Muslims are not terrorists.

    And anyone who knows anything at all about positive and negative predictive values, sensitivity, specificity, and the harm accrued from false positive test results knows that this means that racial profiling of Muslims is not only USELESS, but a WASTE OF TIME AND RESOURCES that, as a result, actually makes us LESS SAFE.

    I wish I could tell you how to balance liberal ideals with cold reality. But I can’t.

    Liberal ideals are actually only of minor relevance here. This is a cold, hard, practical matter. Profiling of Muslims is NOT the most effective way of spending limited resources for the sake of airline passenger safety, and will actually waste these valuable resources that could have been devoted to more effective ways of keeping airline passengers safe. Profiling Muslims should not be done BECAUSE IT MAKES US LESS SAFE.

  202. 202
    kieran

    The question that comes to my mind is, Has Sam Harris any experience with security? Could this be a case “Nobel Syndrome”? Assuming expertise in one area transfers to another. Has he ever worked a door of a pub or night club as a bouncer?, Organsied security for a large event or worked with the TSA in developing pyschological tests for passengers?
    If you are relying on racial profiling to make selections, you assume that your adversary is stupid. The raised nail gets hammered you won’t notice the one that looks and sounds like all the rest.

  203. 203
    Hammer of dog

    Probably been said but another problem with physical profiling is that people who “fit the description” and know they fit the description might very well be nervous just for that fact. THis nervousness might translate to further rationale to subject said person to more unwarranted scrutiny. It also further increases the number of false positives.

    I am seriously disappointed with Mr. Harris. Didn’t he defend torture also? How does someone with a career pretty much based on rational thoughts make such egregious errors of reason?

  204. 204
    lotharloo

    The right question is what percentage of the people who “look Muslim” (whatever that means; Harris hasn’t yet defined it), his screening criterion, are terrorists? And again, the answer is 0%±10%, the same as the percentage of physicist porn stars, or bomb lobbing toddlers.

    If we continue this argument, then it follows that random security checks at the airports should be abolished because the percentage of terrorists among the passengers is so slim that random security checks will not find them.

    If this is your position then I have no problem with it. However, if you think that random security checks are important, then it follows that profiling improves it. You can’t have it both ways.

  205. 205
    anathema

    It’s a sad fact of life for many years now that the vast majority of terrorists insist on being Muslim

    Seriously? I’d like to see you provide actual numbers to back this up.

    Because I’m pretty sure that most terrorists aren’t Muslims. Especially not in the United States.

    And even if most terrorists were Muslim, most Muslims would still not be terrorists. Profiling Muslims would be about as useful as profiling men. After all, most terrorists are men. But no one is suggesting that we profile all men in the way you seem to be suggesting we profile Muslims.

    It’s Earth . . . and a very dangerous place to be an airline passenger.

    I’m pretty sure that I’m in more danger when I’m in a car than I am when I’m on an airplane.

    I wish I could tell you how to balance liberal ideals with cold reality. But I can’t.

    Interesting. See, we silly idealistic liberals have been pointing to things like the fact that many terrorists aren’t Muslims, that the percentage of Muslims who are terrorists are vanishingly small, that profiling will simply select for terrorists who don’t fit the profile, and that it makes no sense to profile people because they “look Muslim” because you can’t tell whether or not someone is a Muslim by looking at them.

    But we are obviously completely disconnected from reality. Not like you, who’ve provided so many facts to support just how effective profiling people because they “look Muslim” will be at preventing terrorism. Which is totally not based on an idealistic view of the world where the enemy is easily recognizable and different from everyone else.

    Yup. We liberals are the idealistic ones who just can’t deal with the cold hard facts.

  206. 206
    Valindrius

    Fortunately, Amphiox has dealt with the most important issues in a far eloquent, succinct manner than I could achieve.
    However, I wanted to point out that Earth is most assuredly not a ‘very dangerous place’ for passengers as the risk of terrorist attack is infinitesimal. I believe US domestic and international flights account for about 700 to 800 million passengers per year.

    How many of those passengers are obliterated by terrorist attacks per year? Consequent to this, the odds of destruction via suicidal terrorist are, and always were, ridiculously small. It’s why I never have problems using the London Underground and London’s buses despite the lack of intrusive security measures, the throughput relative to terrorist destruction make any concerns rather irrational.

    I’m bewildered after reading his views on torture. His clarifications suggest that he merely intended to contest an absolutist opposition to torture which is pretty useless as I can’t think of many true absolutists.

    Equally, he creates a fantasy world with idealised situations and admits that he isn’t dealing with the ‘pragmatic’ arguments against torture. Flowing from that, I think his views are pretty bloody useless as any argument wholly or largely focused on the abstract with no solutions for the practical problems presented by reality is a bit useless. I think he’s guilty of that lack of realism here too.

  207. 207
    Valindrius

    Darn my sleepiness and poor internet connection, I managed to post late and bungle the quotations. I intended to quote jimashby for the first portion and Hammer of Dog for the second. I really must get used to the formatting here.

  208. 208
    Ze Madmax

    lotharoo @ #204:

    However, if you think that random security checks are important, then it follows that profiling improves it.

    No it doesn’t. The key element is the fact that RANDOM security checks are unpredictable due to their RANDOM nature, which means that it’s almost impossible to predict whether any given person will be checked (because the checks happen at RANDOM, you see).

    Profiling* eliminates the benefit of RANDOMness by providing specific characteristics that people focus on, and can therefore be avoided by any wannabe-bomber with more than two working brain cells. Security is focusing on men? Send women. Security is focusing on dark-skinned Semites? Get someone who’s light-skinned!

    *I’m assuming that by profiling you are referring to focusing more attention on individuals that “look” like they would fit a particular ethnic/religious stereotype, because that is the point of contention here. Nobody has said anything against other sorts of profiling (e.g., paying closer attention to people with known links to terror groups), because fucking duh.

  209. 209
    nermd

    “… I have no sympathy for Israel’s convergence on fascism; …”

    not very intelligent, nor very scientific – i would even call it ignorant.
    Without doubt, their are a lot of things wrong in Israel, their is racism, their are irrational beliefs and their are irrational ideas about ones own security – nothing you wouldn’t find in any other western country. To be honest, i think most European nations would have already annihilated its neighbor if they would be in place of Israel. I dont have anything against criticism but i cant stand the use of the word fascism in such a context, it totally belittles the meaning of the word.
    [to make my interest in this issue clear: Maybe i am a little bit sensitive on this issue, i come from Austria and this whole country is still full of authoritarianism and antisemitic ideas. And i have seen it numerous times - and it makes me sick - the one thing that unifies the whole country, from the fucking Nazis to (parts of) the radical left is the idea that the biggest evil in the world is Israel]

  210. 210
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @Jim Ashby:

    I have already pointed out that the vast majority of terrorists are not Muslim or at least suicide terrorists – that’s what we had statistics for earlier upthread – the majority of suicide terrorists in the world are in fact Tamil tigers… so you can climb down off your erroneous horse now.

  211. 211
    frankboyd

    The only thing that’s worse than the mawkish self-pity of pampered yankee lefties is their dishonest attempts to pretend that they’re somehow brave.

    The TSA circus that the US institutes is an example of that hysteria, but I’m not really willing to take this from a pompous fraud who decided to cut and run and hide at the moment when real issues of principle were at stake.

    Basically, it’s simple. The rules of Pharyngulite atheism are: “Stand up against religion as long as you can do it without risk or controversy, and above all when it means you can piss on the working class. But when ammo is live, by all means run for cover”.

  212. 212
    rorschach

    Dear Sam Harris,

    when in a hole…

  213. 213
    rorschach

    And I am not a fan of this kind of arrogant BS either, at the bottom of his post :

    I must say, receiving emails like this comes as a relief when my fellow secularists are falling all over themselves for a chance to put their feet in my mouth.

    or alternatively,

    In trying to understand the reaction to my essay, I think I have uncovered most of the assumptions at work in the minds of my critics. I believe that every one of these assumptions is false. To my surprise, a few people who have a reputation for being very intelligent, such as the biologist-blogger PZ Myers, appear to believe all of them:

    I’m so glad I stayed in bed during Harris’ talk at the GAC.

  214. 214
    aggressivePerfector

    The error that Harris makes is called the base-rate fallacy, which I have written about, here, here, and here.

    Its an appalling error to make, but one that is depressingly widespread. That so many scientists and educated people continue to make this error, in various different forms, backs up by strongly held belief that probability and statistics just aren’t taught properly and are not given an appropriate level of respect by society in general.

  215. 215
    Nick Gotts

    Sam Harris is a scientist; how can he so blithely overlook type I and II errors in a statistical sampling protocol? How can he ignore the ambiguity of his sloppy definition of his primary measure, “looking Muslim”? – PZ

    Easy: Sam Harris is also a bigot. As we know from cases such as William Shockley and James Watson, scientists who are also bigots tend to say very stupid things.

  216. 216
    Nick Gotts

    Actually it’s easy to tell whether someone is a Muslim: just check whether they are facing towards Mecca.

  217. 217
    Louis

    KG,

    That’s a good point. The best way to do this is spin them in a circle, blindfolded, a few times…

    …then ship them to a remote peninsula, strip them of their legal rights and access to representation, submit them to techniques that by any standard are torture, claim it’s all in the name of “national security”/”democracy” whichever works best, use an episode of 24 as justification, flout international law whilst tutting at other countries who flout it too (far worse, I’ll grant), do something called “extraordinary rendition”, then submit the rest of the travelling populace to Kabuki theatre as if trading the appearance of safety for actual liberty was a good idea.

    What? Did I get that wrong?

    Louis

    P.S. On the “pro war left” side I’m reading a book called “What’s Left” by Nick Cohen which, in part, makes a pro-war case for the Iraq war from a Leftist perspective. That’s really a minor part of the book, but it’s an interesting slant. I haven’t read the whole book yet so I can’t advance a 100% cogent criticism, but he’s made some decent arguments so far. I’m not saying I agree with all of them, but it’s a notch or twenty above the usual hawkish horseshit.

  218. 218
    SallyStrange

    The only thing that’s worse than the mawkish self-pity of pampered yankee lefties is their dishonest attempts to pretend that they’re somehow brave.

    The TSA circus that the US institutes is an example of that hysteria, but I’m not really willing to take this from a pompous fraud who decided to cut and run and hide at the moment when real issues of principle were at stake.

    Basically, it’s simple. The rules of Pharyngulite atheism are: “Stand up against religion as long as you can do it without risk or controversy, and above all when it means you can piss on the working class. But when ammo is live, by all means run for cover”.

    I’ll take your choice to focus exclusively on attacking the character of those who Harris’ innumerate, bigoted suggestions as an admission that, as we pampered Yanks like to say, you got nothin’.

    hee hee, pampered. If only.

  219. 219
    frankboyd

    Awww – lookit the purty lil’ wannabes who think that spitting at Sam Harris makes their own sordid passivity look good.

  220. 220
    Louis

    May I be the first to venture a hearty LAWL at you Frankboyd? Cheers.

    I’m not overly excited about Sam Harris (whose work I am generally a fan of), I just think he is wrong on this issue. Exceptionally wrong, and for bad reasons. Am I (and others) somehow not allowed to say this?

    Louis

  221. 221
    DanDare

    I estimate the probability of anyone boarding a plane at present to be 0% with no error bars. The plane attacks have had maximum effect. Not just death and destruction but an ongoing cost for plane security and social division, suspicion and unrest, which Sam seems to be helping along.

    There are plenty of other easier targets that would be more effective now.

    Its interesting that after the London bus bombing we didn’t react anywhere in the world with bus entry scanners, profiling passengers on buses or forcing commuters to have bags searched, leaving behind drinks and nail clippers.

  222. 222
    DanDare

    D’oh “boarding a plane at present” should read “boarding a plane being a terrorist at present”

  223. 223
    'Tis Himself

    Who is this frankboyd character and why is it throwing random sneers at people who don’t agree with Sam Harris?

  224. 224
    rorschach

    Who is this frankboyd character and why is it throwing random sneers at people who don’t agree with Sam Harris?

    I suspect it may have a fondness for authority.

  225. 225
    Lars

    nooneinparticular wrote:

    as so many people have pointed out there is no way to define how a Muslim looks. But some people do look that way.

    Oh FFS. Just kill me already. Reading of thread aborted. Idiocy meter overloaded.

    Here’s hoping that nooneinparticular is a sockpuppet of humanape, for two reasons: First, it means there’s actually one less of them. Second, when humanape is banned, nooneinparticular will follow. Keeping my fingers crossed for the possibility.

  226. 226
    se habla espol

    What the fuck is with the hard-on for suicide bombers? Please, someone explain to me why they’re inherently worse than other terrorists.

    The suicide of the suicide bomber is the real offense. It deprives the ‘Murkin Peeple of their inalienable right to be entertained by the circus of the ‘justice’ system, culminating in the Righteous Execution of the defendant.

  227. 227
    duanewinner

    So I suppose that Sam Harris believes that Timothy McVeigh and anybody who looks like him should get a pass because they chose to drive instead of fly?

  228. 228
    Jadehawk

    pampered yankee lefties [...] Pharyngulite atheism

    huh. apparently not only are there no women on Pharyngula, there are no furriners, either.

  229. 229
    Louis

    Jadehawk,

    Especially there are none of us brown, European, elitist, really, really, leftie furriners. No sirree. Not here. Not even looking.

    Louis

  230. 230
    jimashby

    For those clueless apologists for Islam who claim that the vast majority of terrorism is NOT by Muslims . . . put this in your pipe and smoke it. LoL.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_terrorist_incidents,_2011

  231. 231
    jimashby

    I’m posting this link again because I forgot to click the check boxes for follow-up comments.

    The news coverage is NOT slanted. The vast majority of actual terrorist events are done in the name of Allah. That’s why non-Muslim terrorism is so notable when it does occur. We’re inured to Islamist terrorism.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_terrorist_incidents,_2011

  232. 232
    christophernicholas

    “I have no problem at all with that kind of profiling. The matter that raises concerns isn’t that the young man looks Muslim: it’s that he looks nervous, and that he’s hiding something. TSA, please do notice when people’s behavior is peculiar!”

    I don’t know,I think in an atmosphere of racial profiling, a Muslim might hide his copy of the Koran, and feel very nervous and apprehensive, because he’s afraid of being racially profiled. Therefore there would be nothing at all peculiar about a muslim man concealing his faith or being nervous about TSA screenings – it’s a perfecly normal response to profiling.

  233. 233
    Ingdigo Jump

    From my sampling it seems angry stupid people love Harris…therefore we should profile Republicans as being his greatest fans

  234. 234
    karlvonmox

    Here I am, navigating through this cesspool of shit that is the pharyngula comment thread to actually try to make a point – part of me always thinks Im wasting my time when I do this.

    I think the obvious point everyone is missing here is that Sam Harris isnt advocating just profiling people who “look Muslim” in any way and giving everyone else a free pass. It should be only one tool in the arsenal to screen for potential killers. The fact of the matter is that most of the Islamic world is caught in a pre-enlightenment state and that many people in this world are deluded with ideas about martyrdom and honor killings. This fact should be taken into account in security screens.

    I also find the cries of racism, bigotry, and “islamophobia” (whatever that means) to be unimpressive. Evaluate the arguments on the content, don’t make stupid claims about the character of the person making the arguments.

  235. 235
    stevenbey

    dianne #19:

    As far as I know, there have been 20 or 21 Muslim terrorists on planes attempting to destroy the planes. I gave a sample of 3 non-Muslim terrorists within the last 40 years.

    However, two of those examples used private planes, which means that they don’t apply to the airport screening scenario. This brings your figures to a 21:1 ratio or 95% Muslim terrorists.

    And before anybody flames me, I’m just commenting on the numbers, not for or against profiling.

  236. 236
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Evaluate the arguments on the content, don’t make stupid claims about the character of the person making the arguments.

    What do we do when you make tone trolling comments? Not call you a tone troll, which you clearly are?

  237. 237
    rorschach

    For those clueless apologists for Islam who claim that the vast majority of terrorism is NOT by Muslims . . . put this in your pipe and smoke it. LoL.

    For those dimbulbs like jimashby who obviously have a problem with basic reading comprehension, just LOL.

  238. 238
    allytude

    He is kidding, right? Let us for a minute assume that only “Muslim- looking” people are terrorists. Suppose they do profile and check them more than “non-Muslim looking” people. How long before terrorists hire non-Muslim looking people to carry bombs on planes. If there is a policy to exclude one set of people based on how they look, wouldn’t they be the ones who carry bombs in next- y’know like shoe bombing failed, so they carried underwear bombs and so on. Lot good profiling would do then.

  239. 239
    Nick Gotts

    Not included in that “list of terrorist incidents”, naturally, are those carried out by states – the US drone attacks which have killed many civilians in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and elsewhere, the Israeli killings of civilians in Gaza, the unsolved killings of Iranian nuclear scientists, the Chinese authorities’ extra-judicial killings of those protesting against corruption, or the terror attacks carried out by a number of Arab states against their own populations. Because of the latter, 2011 would still probably show a predominance of attacks by Muslims, but certainly not by Islamists. However it’s also worth noting that the rapes, tortures and murders going on in continued conflicts in Uganda, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo are also missing – not newsworthy, evidently, although they may well outnumber all those listed in terms of deaths.

    In short, “terrorism” is a politically- and media-constructed category, not an objective one.

    That’s not directly relevant to actual attempted attacks by airline passengers but then, nor is jimashby’s stupid lie that those opposing Harris’s bigotry are “apologists for Islam”.

  240. 240
    trianglethief

    jimashby:

    Incidents “labelled, or investigated as” as. It’s already been covered in this thread that a bomb attack on a Planned Parenthood was labelled as arson despite being part of a pattern of obvious terrorism conducted against abortion providers.

    That and I can already tell you from the most cursory of glances that not even a damn tenth of the terror incidents that ARE labelled as such have been listed there.

    Also holy fucking hell at citing Wikipedia for this, you outrageous twerp.

  241. 241
    PZ Myers

    I looked at that very interesting list posted by jimashby. It seems most of the terrorist incidents are bombs going off in Pakistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan, where there is a war going on.

    There is a scattering of pipe bomb and letter bomb incidents in the US. Are those all by Muslims? How does he know?

    Most shocking of all, Ireland is represented with surprising frequency. Surprising, that is, that it’s all Muslims warring with one another for turf in Ireland.

  242. 242
    rorschach

    The fact of the matter is that most of the Islamic world is caught in a pre-enlightenment state and that many people in this world are deluded with ideas about martyrdom and honor killings.

    And the fact of the matter is also that those “deluded people in the Islamic world” just do not adhere to a single phenotype, which brings us back to the initial point that has now been made a million times, which is that unless you widely employ waterboarding at airports, you can’t fucking tell by looking at them whether someone is a terrorist.

  243. 243
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    Most shocking of all, Ireland is represented with surprising frequency. Surprising, that is, that it’s all Muslims warring with one another for turf in Ireland.

    Did you know that Guinness is the national drink of Islam?

  244. 244
    trianglethief

    Although upon further consideration my contribution is utterly pointless because the comment I was responding to is ridiculous at a molecular level and obviously exists in some kind of alternate reality bubble of impenetrable stupid.

  245. 245
    rorschach

    Did you know that Guinness is the national drink of Islam?

    It’s dark and has a beard, so yeah.

  246. 246
    DanDare

    #139

    What the fuck is with the hard-on for suicide bombers? Please, someone explain to me why they’re inherently worse than other terrorists.

    Suicide bombers are not constrained by trying to keep themselves alive so they can ignore lots of things that would stop those concerned with self preservation.

    If you just have to get your body, with bomb, to the target and explode there, then jumping off a roof 50 stories up to hit the bus or whatever is easy. If you want to walk away afterwards, you need a different plan.

    That makes suicide bombers very hard to stop, and hence a greater concern.

  247. 247
    Nick Gotts

    Let’s consider what would be the broader consequences of singling out Muslims – or “people who look like Muslims”, which would mean those from certain parts of the world or dressed in certain ways for special security procedures at airports. We can be pretty certain it would not prevent any terrorist attacks on planes, as avoiding the use of terrorists who match the stereotypes would be straightforward, but setting that aside, we can confidently predict:
    1) That it would cause a great deal of resentment in those so singled out. That’s not going to turn a significant number of the victims into terrorists, but it could well make them less willing to pass on suspicions or information to the authorities.
    2) That it would lead to an increase in attacks on Muslims, and people wrongly identified as Muslims. When bigots see the targets of their hatred singled out by the authorities, they see it as a vindication of that hatred, and the likelihood of that hatred issuing in violence is increased.

  248. 248
    Lars

    Agreed KG @247.

    Except I have one little quibble with “That’s not going to turn a significant number of the victims into terrorists”.

    If it turns one single person into a terrorist, that may well be significant. Depending on what the person proceeds to do, of course.

    As I said, a quibble.

  249. 249
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Let us for a minute assume that only “Muslim- looking” people are terrorists.

    Duh, stands to reason that only “Muslim-looking” people commit terrorism. Because, as many people will be very quick to tell us, muslim is a religion and not a race and therefore has totally nothing to do with brown and tawny looks or such.
    Since we haven’t been able to figure out how a muslim would not look like, it is reasonable to assume that every person could be a muslim.
    Since only people can be terrorists, only muslim looking people can be terrorists. And christian looking people. And atheist looking people. And conservative looking people.

    For the record, the above is snark.

  250. 250
    Ingdigo Jump

    Maybe if Harris spent more time listening to the clear and obvious objections to his authoritarian wet dream of the week and less time repeating himself he’d know why people disagree

    Each of of his posts is like he can’t accept people disagree with him and he presumes we just didn’t understand him so he repeats himself slower and louder. Objective morality apparently blinds you to the fact that someone can understand you and still disagree…apparently the moral landscape is a quagmire

  251. 251
    thpoc

    I have been following the larger part of this discussion, and I would like to put out some words in defense of Sam Harris.

    The comment has been made that Harris has said and written many thoughtfull things, done a lot for atheism etc.
    This gives the man a get out of jail for free card, a benefit of the doubt.

    I think too many people treat the bit about “looking like a muslim” a bit too facile. Sam ís a philosopher and within this tradition looking like something is, in philosophical terms, as far as you can get in your ability in determing what is what is not.

    We do still live in a world where many things are still what they look like. What is a muslim if he/she doesn’t walk like a muslim, talks like a muslim, acts like a muslim?
    To be a muslim suicide-bomber, one at least needs to be a muslim and believe in all of the theology. AND beliefs have a way of outing themselfs in many ways (one acts according to what he beliefs).
    THIS is what is needed to be researched and taught whoever is responsible for our security on the ground.
    And no doubt some people would cry out at the idea of such research or education, no matter what.

  252. 252
    Matt Penfold

    The comment has been made that Harris has said and written many thoughtfull things, done a lot for atheism etc.

    True.

    This gives the man a get out of jail for free card, a benefit of the doubt

    Any such benefit is limited, and in any case should not extend to outright bigotry.

    I think too many people treat the bit about “looking like a muslim” a bit too facile. Sam ís a philosopher and within this tradition looking like something is, in philosophical terms, as far as you can get in your ability in determing what is what is not.

    No, it is something he advocates putting into practice. It is not some philosophical construct he is talking about.

    Oh, and he only did a undergrad degree in philosophy. To call him a philosopher is inaccurate. Dan Dennett is a philosopher, did you confuse the two ?

    To be a muslim suicide-bomber, one at least needs to be a muslim and believe in all of the theology. AND beliefs have a way of outing themselfs in many ways (one acts according to what he beliefs).

    And that is not something that we can tell simply by how a person looks.

  253. 253
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    This gives the man a get out of jail for free card, a benefit of the doubt.

    Actually no, as we are also skeptics. Question everyone and everything.

    THIS is what is needed to be researched and taught whoever is responsible for our security on the ground.

    Why are you believing this hasn’t been looked into? And maybe the parameters don’t work out, with too many false positives and false negatives. The apologists seen particularly dense today.

  254. 254
    Anri

    Suicide bombers are not constrained by trying to keep themselves alive so they can ignore lots of things that would stop those concerned with self preservation.

    If you just have to get your body, with bomb, to the target and explode there, then jumping off a roof 50 stories up to hit the bus or whatever is easy. If you want to walk away afterwards, you need a different plan.

    That makes suicide bombers very hard to stop, and hence a greater concern.

    Thought experiment time.

    With your current level of resources, please determine which is easier to stop:
    A) Your pick of suicide bombers.
    B) An F-18 airstrike.

    Select carefully.

    . . .

    As far as the business of stating that most terrorist acts are comitted by Mulsims, that just appears to be a simple matter of defining terrorism as ‘killing people while Muslim’.
    Flying a plane over a building and blowing it up = not terrorism.
    Flying a plane into a building and blowing it up = terrorism.

  255. 255
    Ingdigo Jump

    We should give a pass to Harris because he is of a greater class than us. If you fanbois want to help him you’llstop inflating his percieved class and help him BE right rather than feel right via sheilding him from criticism and responsability

  256. 256
    barfy

    The only reason we have TSA screening everybody and their dog, is because our constitution states that we should be secure in our persons and property.
    Huh? What??
    Believe it or not, the Supreme Court has decided in its infinite delusionalism, that ‘random’ or ‘everybody gets it’ is the justification for pat-downs and stripping.
    Therefore, the Justices find these blogging posts silly and irrelevant.
    According to the constitution, everybody is equally guilty in the eyes of the law in the need to screen.
    Therefore, arguing about whether Koran carrying Muslims is more of a potential target than a bible toting octogenarian from Peoria is a moot point to the blind eyes of justice.

  257. 257
    Thomathy, Gay Where it Counts

    The easy answer to PZ’s last two questions is that Sam Harris is racist. That’s also the hard answer. It’s the only sensible answer unless Harris can contradict it by lucidly clarifying his inane position on airport screening.

  258. 258
    Louis

    Patrick Keilty (A northern Irish comedian) made the joke after 9/11 and 7/7:

    “I bet you miss us. We used to phone you up first and let you know where the bombs were.”

    Not the least controversial joke ever.

    Now, I’m happy to note the nastiness of Islam, of some Islamic sects and indeed of some, if not many, Islamic people. No group is sans morons. None of this speaks to screening people for “looking a bit Muslim”. No one needs to “apologise for Islam” to note that Harris’ idea as presented is a bad idea for the reasons mentioned by many above.

    Louis

  259. 259
    Matt Penfold

    Patrick Keilty (A northern Irish comedian) made the joke after 9/11 and 7/7:

    “I bet you miss us. We used to phone you up first and let you know where the bombs were.”

    Not the least controversial joke ever.

    One thing IRA violence taught the UK is that profiling based on stereotypes does not work. There was a time when every young man from Catholic working class districts of Northern Irish towns and cities was automatically considered a terrorist suspect. It is what contributed to the British courts locking up a number of innocent men for many years.

    The IRA was not run by idiots. As soon as they realised the British were concentrating on Catholic working class men they started to recruit women, people who had been to university, and generally anyone who did not fit that profile. A favourite was to recruit people who could pass as being English.

  260. 260
    thpoc

    @ Matt Penfold 8 May 2012 at 8:55 am

    No, it is something he advocates putting into practice. It is not some philosophical construct he is talking about.

    Oh, and he only did a undergrad degree in philosophy. To call him a philosopher is inaccurate. Dan Dennett is a philosopher, did you confuse the two ?

    I do disagree there. Indeed he is ultimately trying to conceive on what to do in practice. But for to know what to do in practice one needs a theory. Sam is arguing that some are holding onto the wrong theory and/or are wrongly bridging the gap between theory and practice for PC reasons.
    We can go back and forth on this, but ultimately I think it comes down to a benefit of the doubt in reference to his earlier works.

    Oh, and did you confuse someone who studies philosphical works and history with someone who is actually a philosopher?(not mutually exclusive)
    To be clear, ‘philosopher’ is not a protected academic title from where I come from, anyone can use it. In general, one can be deemed a philosopher when enough (reputable) people do, I find this to be case regarding Sam.

  261. 261
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    is what contributed to the British courts locking up a number of innocent men for many years.

    Which I would wager to say then increased IRA recruitment or at least sympathy.

  262. 262
    Matt Penfold

    I do disagree there. Indeed he is ultimately trying to conceive on what to do in practice. But for to know what to do in practice one needs a theory. Sam is arguing that some are holding onto the wrong theory and/or are wrongly bridging the gap between theory and practice for PC reasons.
    We can go back and forth on this, but ultimately I think it comes down to a benefit of the doubt in reference to his earlier works.

    Since this is not the first time he has exhibited anti-Muslim bigotry, there cannot, and should not, be any benefit of the doubt. It is not case that he is being misunderstand. It is case that people are understanding him and not liking what they hear.

    Now at the moment I am willing to give the benefit the doubt with regards your support for Harris. Maybe you are just a bit stupid, or cannot comprehend what is saying.

    Still, since you are such a supporter of Harris, maybe you can tell us how to identify a Muslim simply by looking at them. Harris claims it is possible, but has been rather short of details as to how it is to be done. Can you rectify his failure ?

    Oh, and did you confuse someone who studies philosphical works and history with someone who is actually a philosopher?(not mutually exclusive)
    To be clear, ‘philosopher’ is not a protected academic title from where I come from, anyone can use it. In general, one can be deemed a philosopher when enough (reputable) people do, I find this to be case regarding Sam.

    Not very useful when there is Dan Dennett. Harris’ attempts at philosophy are pathetic compared to Dennett’s.

  263. 263
    Matt Penfold

    Which I would wager to say then increased IRA recruitment or at least sympathy.

    You would win your wager.

  264. 264
    Anthony K

    The comment has been made that Harris has said and written many thoughtfull things, done a lot for atheism etc.
    This gives the man a get out of jail for free card, a benefit of the doubt

    Atheist community, take note: this is what this “horseman” bullshit got you: a legion of clapping hero-worshippers who defend their objects of reverence with the exact same reasoning Catholics use to excuse and defend mother church.

    If it is this religion you call atheism that Sam has done so much for, then he hasn’t done anything but start a new minor cult.

    Take frankboyd and the other “How dare you question him when he’s done so much” apologists with you back to the temple.

  265. 265
    Louis

    Matt Penfold,

    DING DING DING! We have a winner. ;-)

    Behind the comedy, there’s the point. This “Detain anyone who looks a bit X” is not new. We did it for decades, we screwed up and got bombed. It didn’t work then and it doesn’t work now for precisely the same reasons.

    But as the old adage goes, those who do not learn from history…

    Louis

  266. 266
    Lars

    Sam is arguing that some are holding onto the wrong theory

    Then he’s doing a rather shit job of it, isn’t he?

    and/or are wrongly bridging the gap between theory and practice for PC reasons.

    Are you trying to argue that doublethink is good, or are you just trying to be confusing? What do you mean by this?

  267. 267
    Anthony K

    We can go back and forth on this, but ultimately I think it comes down to a benefit of the doubt in reference to his earlier works.

    There is something to be said for benefit of the doubt based on past experience, yes. But Sam has had ample opportunity to clarify his argument. At this point, standing there, chanting “let’s hear him out” with stars swimming in your eyes just reeks of pathos.

  268. 268
    Louis

    Brownian,

    And people wonder why we were so very rude to Alain de Botton…

    Louis

  269. 269
    Matt Penfold

    Louis,

    It is also worth noting that we became sensible about identifying terrorist suspects we started to have success. In fact it is probably no exaggeration to say it was instrumental in making the IRA realise it was never going to succeed by using violence and that it had better look for a way out.

  270. 270
    Anthony K

    And people wonder why we were so very rude to Alain de Botton…

    I’m this close to barfing on my keyboard.

    It’s like we’re the bouncers in front of the stage and the groupies are competing to catch Sam’s eye so he’ll pick them to go backstage and blow him.

    “Sam! Sam! Pick me! I never doubted you!”

  271. 271
    Matt Penfold

    Let us not forget Harris has advocated the use of torture, so his track record in being a moral person is not good.

  272. 272
    Amphiox

    Let us not forget, the explicitly stated ultimate objective for the 9/11 attacks was to provoke America into a disproportionate and undirected response against Muslims that would alienate them and win sympathy and new recruits for Al Qaeda and the rest of the Islamists.

    And this is PRECISELY what the profiling of Muslims will do.

    So I have to ask Harris and his various apologists:

    Sam, why are you helping the Islamists? Why do you want Al Qaeda to win? Why are you being a sixth column here and advancing the enemy’s explicitly stated goals?

  273. 273
    Anthony K

    Let us not forget Harris has advocated the use of torture, so his track record in being a moral person is not good.

    Sam Harris is a fucking Toby Keith song minus the God bullshit.

  274. 274
    Anthony K

    Sam, why are you helping the Islamists? Why do you want Al Qaeda to win? Why are you being a sixth column here and advancing the enemy’s explicitly stated goals?

    America never met a threat it couldn’t build in its mind big enough to toss out all its vaunted ideals over.

  275. 275
    thpoc

    @ Brownian 8 May 2012 at 9:41 am

    Atheist community, take note: this is what this “horseman” bullshit got you: a legion of clapping hero-worshippers who defend their objects of reverence with the exact same reasoning Catholics use to excuse and defend mother church.

    Really now, who is providing unfair generalisation? you are acting like a jerk. clapping hero-worshippers? An ungrounded and very unfair comparsion.

    If it is this religion you call atheism that Sam has done so much for, then he hasn’t done anything but start a new minor cult.

    You almost sound like one of those conservative christians.

    Take frankboyd and the other “How dare you question him when he’s done so much” apologists with you back to the temple.

    I’m not morally judging anyone, please stop frameing me for someone I’m not. You’re being very offensive (in the offense).

  276. 276
    Lars

    Let us not forget, the explicitly stated ultimate objective for the 9/11 attacks was to provoke America into a disproportionate and undirected response against Muslims that would alienate them and win sympathy and new recruits for Al Qaeda and the rest of the Islamists.

    Wow. I didn’t know they had explicitely stated it. I always thought of it as sort of a self-evident thing that nobody wanted to talk (or think) about.

    So there can be no doubt that Al Quaida’s 9/11 attack was a success. Possibly beyond their wildest dreams.

    Thanks for the info. From now on, I’ll try to not feel unduly cynical for pointing it out.

  277. 277
    Matt Penfold

    I’m not morally judging anyone, please stop frameing me for someone I’m not. You’re being very offensive (in the offense).

    This may explain why you are trying to defend the morally indefensible.

  278. 278
    Anthony K

    An ungrounded and very unfair comparsion.

    I provided grounds: you used precisely the same line of argumentation, multiple times, that Catholic apologists used to excuse and defend the Catholic Church—that based on all Sam/The Church has done, he’s/it’s earned himself/itself a get out of jail free card.

    I don’t care in the least whether or not you like it, or think I’m a jerk, or want to play tit-for-tat by retorting that I sound like a conservative Christian.

    You’re perfectly welcome to use non-stupid defences of Sam Harris’ argument, should they exist. “But, but, he’s done so much!” isn’t one of them.

  279. 279
    Anthony K

    You’re being very offensive (in the offense).

    Oh, is offensive only okay when it’s anti-PC? You gonna call Sam on being offensive to Middle-Easterners?

    Seriously, fuck off, half-wit.

  280. 280
    Lars

    I’m not morally judging anyone

    No, you’re merely defending bigotry by appealing to pity. Is that really the best you’ve got?

    (Outsider tip: To the uninitiated, Harris actualy isn’t adorable enough to turn off people’s rationality.)

    Give him a free pass? Give anyone a free pass? Laughable.

  281. 281
    Matt Penfold

    Oh, is offensive only okay when it’s anti-PC? You gonna call Sam on being offensive to Middle-Easterners?

    Do you think Harris even knows most Muslims do not come from the Middle-East ?

  282. 282
    thpoc

    @ Matt Penfold 8 May 2012 at 9:38 am

    Since this is not the first time he has exhibited anti-Muslim bigotry, there cannot, and should not, be any benefit of the doubt.

    Can you point that out to me, url? book/page/line?

    It is not case that he is being misunderstand. It is case that people are understanding him and not liking what they hear.

    So say the people who just know they are right, naturally.

    Now at the moment I am willing to give the benefit the doubt with regards your support for Harris. Maybe you are just a bit stupid, or cannot comprehend what is saying.

    Ah yes, the switcheroo, and ad-hominem.

    Still, since you are such a supporter of Harris, maybe you can tell us how to identify a Muslim simply by looking at them. Harris claims it is possible, but has been rather short of details as to how it is to be done. Can you rectify his failure ?

    He is no expert on (airline) security, and like any scientist should do, hedges his bet on the details on how this is done. That’s why he has contacted Bruce Schneier.
    Again, in theory many mentally hold thoughts and believe have a tendency to trickle outwards, mentalists experts would agree.

    Not very useful when there is Dan Dennett. Harris’ attempts at philosophy are pathetic compared to Dennett’s.

    So it comes down to you not holding Sam up to be a philosopher.

  283. 283
    thpoc

    @ Matt Penfold 8 May 2012 at 10:03 am

    Let us not forget Harris has advocated the use of torture, so his track record in being a moral person is not good.

    Really now.. “his track record in being a moral person is not good” ???

    Get off that high horse!

  284. 284
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    [META]
    Just catching up on the thread and the phrase ‘reds under the beds’ kept popping into my rather cynical head. Only problem is, I can’t think of a decent rhyme for ‘Muslims’.
    [/META]

  285. 285
    Anthony K
    It is not case that he is being misunderstand. It is case that people are understanding him and not liking what they hear.

    So say the people who just know they are right, naturally.

    Really? You think this is a non-stupid retort? You know it can be used just as effectively against your claim that Harris is somehow being misunderstood, right?

    You were right. “clapping hero-worshipper” was unfair. You’re something even more despicable.

  286. 286
    Lars

    He is no expert on (airline) security, and like any scientist should do, hedges his bet on the details on how this is done. That’s why he has contacted Bruce Schneier.

    Fictional (?) newsflash:
    “Ken Ham is no expert on (biological) evolution, and like any scientist should do, hedges his bet on the details of how it is disproven. That’s why he has contacted Michael Behe.”

    Can you see why this argument sort of … stinks?

    So it comes down to you not holding Sam up to be a philosopher.

    An excercise: If you say that Sammy is a philosopher, and Matt doesn’t accept that, whose is the burden of proof?

  287. 287
    Anthony K

    Really now.. “his track record in being a moral person is not good” ???

    Get off that high horse!

    Decrying torture supporters is being on a high horse?

    You’re a fucking pathetic excuse for a human being.

  288. 288
    thpoc

    @ Matt Penfold 8 May 2012 at 10:30 am

    Do you think Harris even knows most Muslims do not come from the Middle-East ?

    By posing this question, you reveal yourself to be (in the least) to be on the ignorant side.
    If this question was retorical, it was again simply a vulgar jab at Harris.

  289. 289
    Matt Penfold

    Can you point that out to me, url? book/page/line?

    Support of Gert Wilders, Huffington Post:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sam-harris/losing-our-spines-to-save_b_100132.html

    Opposition to ground-zero mosque:

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2010/08/13/ground-zero-mosque.html

    So say the people who just know they are right, naturally.

    No, so say people who understand what Harris is saying and are horrified by his bigotry.

    Ah yes, the switcheroo, and ad-hominem.

    Not an ad-hominem since I did not only suggest you are stupid. I suggested you are stupid and gave reasons why. That you do not understand the concept of the ad-hominem but use it anyway is more evidence you are none too bright.

    He is no expert on (airline) security, and like any scientist should do, hedges his bet on the details on how this is done. That’s why he has contacted Bruce Schneier.

    He has made the suggestion we should target Muslims, it is for him (and you as his defender) to deal with the objection we have no good way of identifying who is a Muslim and who is not. That both you are he refuse to address this issue, which is key, is intellectually dishonest.

    So it comes down to you not holding Sam up to be a philosopher.

    He isn’t, so why would I ?

  290. 290
    Anthony K

    An excercise: If you say that Sammy is a philosopher, and Matt doesn’t accept that, whose is the burden of proof?

    “So say the people who just know they are right, naturally.” So there.

    Honestly, Sam should be punched in the face for providing a role model for slimy fucks like thpoc.

    Anyone who disagrees is on a high horse!

    What a fucking dolt.

  291. 291
    Amphiox

    Evidently, thpoc’s definition of “high horse” is a My Little Pony.

  292. 292
    Anthony K

    Do you think Harris even knows most Muslims do not come from the Middle-East ?

    By posing this question, you reveal yourself to be (in the least) to be on the ignorant side.
    If this question was retorical, it was again simply a vulgar jab at Harris.

    Learn to make an argument rather than an assertion, you fucking little wankstain.

  293. 293
    dianne

    Only problem is, I can’t think of a decent rhyme for ‘Muslims’.

    Try Islam or Arabs. There should be a decent rhyme to be made there. And you’re right. This does have something in common with the old red scare. Which had something in common with the witch scare in Salem…

  294. 294
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    Get off that high horse!

    There’s a difference between a high horse and the moral high ground. Methinks you should learn what it is.

  295. 295
    Ingdigo Jump

    Twilight Sparkle hates muslims?

    Do they profile against pink ponies in Equestria?

  296. 296
    Matt Penfold

    By posing this question, you reveal yourself to be (in the least) to be on the ignorant side.

    Why ?

    Harris claims we can identify Muslims, and I want to know how. Do you want another go an answering that ? You you refused to earlier, presumably because you know to do so will tell us that you are racist.

  297. 297
    thpoc

    @ Brownian 8 May 2012 at 10:38 am

    Really? You think this is a non-stupid retort? You know it can be used just as effectively against your claim that Harris is somehow being misunderstood, right?

    Sure, but you started it.

    You were right. “clapping hero-worshipper” was unfair. You’re something even more despicable.

    Simply quoting this for emphasis of your (online) character. Where is PZ and his Hammer?

  298. 298
    Anthony K

    Incidentally, how many of these is thpoc nailing?

    Seriously, you cannot even argue against an asshole who thinks these:

    It is not case that he is being misunderstand. It is case that people are understanding him and not liking what they hear.

    So say the people who just know they are right, naturally.

    Do you think Harris even knows most Muslims do not come from the Middle-East ?

    By posing this question, you reveal yourself to be (in the least) to be on the ignorant side.

    are reasonable retorts.

  299. 299
    Ingdigo Jump

    Frankly the ground zero mosque should be exhibit a on Harris is an asshole. The facts were wrong it was unlawful unethical and was started and promoted by propagandizing biggoted scum. There was no reason to get on that bandwagon (pulled by high horses?) Save that Muslims are scarry.

  300. 300
    Matt Penfold

    Simply quoting this for emphasis of your (online) character. Where is PZ and his Hammer?

    Taking aim at you maybe ?

  301. 301
    Lars

    He has made the suggestion we should target Muslims, it is for him (and you as his defender) to deal with the objection we have no good way of identifying who is a Muslim and who is not. That both you are he refuse to address this issue, which is key, is intellectually dishonest.

    (my bold)

    This is arguably also the main point of the original post by PZ.

    And until it has been addressed, the discussion is pointless. Literally.

  302. 302
    Matt Penfold

    Frankly the ground zero mosque should be exhibit a on Harris is an asshole.

    The fact he thought it was a mosque is proof he is not always bother much with evidence and facts.

  303. 303
    Ingdigo Jump

    Anyone else remember the athiest law center? Where the founder’s atheism was very suspiously targeted at jews? Anyone wanna guess how that turned out?

  304. 304
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    Do they profile against pink ponies in Equestria?

    Only the radical pink ponies. The ones wearing the ‘Hi, I’m a radical pink pony’ badge.

  305. 305
    Anthony K

    Sure, but you started it.

    Started what? What the fuck is wrong with you?

    You were right. “clapping hero-worshipper” was unfair. You’re something even more despicable.

    Simply quoting this for emphasis of your (online) character. Where is PZ and his Hammer?

    You’re defending Sam “We should use torture” Harris, and you think me calling you despicable is objectionable.

    thpoc, from what I know about you from the kinds of things you say, you are the most disgusting sort of human imaginable. You spew nonsense in defence of your object of worship, and you have no sense of integrity whatsoever. The fact that you defend a torture apologist and bigot in his advocation of the further suspending of civil liberties based on one’s appearance, ethnicity, and place of birth, while whining about being called a “clapping hero-worshipper” marks you as the most morally reprehensible kind of self-centred narcissist.

    Unless this is an elaborate display of satire on your part, you’re the kind of person totalitarians and dictators use to do their dirty work. I have no respect for you whatsoever, and frankly, I think the world would be far better off if ethically-devoid authority followers ike you existed in far fewer numbers.

    You can quote me all you like. Where is PZ and his hammer, anyway?

  306. 306
    Ingdigo Jump

    Frankly even if it was a mosque everything else about the flustercluck was biggot bait. He bit down hard on that bait. Remember Harris has basically said that not only shoild we peofile Muslims but th at their rights and protectioons are at the whim of the majority. He sided with bullies against freedom of thought and religion.

  307. 307
    Anthony K

    Remember Harris has basically said that not only shoild we peofile Muslims but th at their rights and protectioons are at the whim of the majority. He sided with bullies against freedom of thought and religion.

    And he implores moderate Muslims to call out their fanatical fellows in faith but gets all pissy when fellow atheists call him out.

    He’s a scumbag, and so are his little worshippers. thpoc, fuck yourself hard, you fucking little shitstain.

  308. 308
    thpoc

    @ Matt Penfold 8 May 2012 at 10:50 am

    Taking aim at you maybe ?

    I’m not the one calling some very nasty names. Unlike Harris, what i’m reading from you and your friend brownian here is outright hatefull, elitist.

  309. 309
    Lars

    Fuck off now, little bore. Your life as a chew toy was short, but worthless.

  310. 310
    Anthony K

    I’m not the one calling some very nasty names

    Does that bother you? Would you rather be tortured, like your pal Harris advocates?

    At least I’m treating you like the piece of dir you are based on the things you say and advocate, rather than on the colour of your skin or how much you look like Ben Stiller, fuckwit.

    Unlike Harris, what i’m reading from you and your friend brownian here is outright hatefull, elitist

    hateful? elitist? Now who sounds like a Christian conservative?

    I’m sorry you’re a disgusting excuse for a human being. I’m not sorry for calling you on it.

  311. 311
    Matt Penfold

    I’m not the one calling some very nasty names. Unlike Harris, what i’m reading from you and your friend brownian here is outright hatefull, elitist.

    You ain’t seen anything yet you nasty little bigot.

    You do not spend much time around here do you ? PZ does not ban people for being rude to others. He does though ban people who show themselves to be despicable human beings, so you would seen to be a candidate. He is kind though, and let’s the rest of us play with such people for while.

  312. 312
    Anthony K

    Unlike Harris,

    who advocates torture. That’s not hateful?

    You clearly don’t know what words mean. Get yourself a dictionary and beat yourself over the head with it until you cease being you.

  313. 313
    Matt Penfold

    Harris’s advocating torture is yet more evidence he does not always bother about evidence and facts. There is no evidence torturing people extracts useful information, whilst engaging in torture yourself makes it impossible to condemn others who use it. You also lose any moral high-ground you may have had.

  314. 314
    thpoc

    @ Matt Penfold 8 May 2012 at 10:47 am

    Why ?

    Because it is evidence you have not seriously listened or read enough of his work. He does not think that.

    Harris claims we can identify Muslims, and I want to know how. Do you want another go an answering that ? You you refused to earlier, presumably because you know to do so will tell us that you are racist.

    I think I’ve already said that any conclusive verdict is not possible by a simple superficial look, and that further evidence could be collected through behavioural signs. That’s exactly the point where I’m defending Harris.

  315. 315
    Anthony K

    But Matt, what if there was a bomb in the middle of New York and torture was the only way to find out where it is and how to disarm it? What if 24 was true? What if pigs flew?

  316. 316
    Amphiox

    thpoc, here’s a shiny new steam drill for your core excavation expedition.

    Seriously, first rule of holes….

  317. 317
    Matt Penfold

    What if pigs flew?

    Bacon would become much scarcer ?

  318. 318
    Amphiox

    Pigs will fly long before torture extracts useful reliable information more expeditiously than alternative means.

  319. 319
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Map of Islam. Stretches from sub-Sahara Africa to Indonesia, and north into Russia. And you profile this distrubution of people how? Time to put up or shut up.

  320. 320
    David Marjanović

    PZ, how good a rider are you?

    Heh. There’s photographic evidence of that! He famously rode the Triceratops outside the Creation Museum!

    huh. apparently not only are there no women on Pharyngula, there are no furriners, either.

    And all of us tower so high above the working class that we can shit on it from above.

    Did you know that Guinness is the national drink of Islam?

    Thread won.

  321. 321
    Matt Penfold

    Because it is evidence you have not seriously listened or read enough of his work. He does not think that.

    Well he clearly thinks there some identifying features of Muslims that cannot be easily disguised, otherwise he would have no grounds for suggesting we can easily identifying Muslims. I note you are still unable to tell us what these features are.

    I think I’ve already said that any conclusive verdict is not possible by a simple superficial look, and that further evidence could be collected through behavioural signs. That’s exactly the point where I’m defending Harris.

    Except Harris is not saying that. We cannot rely on behavioural clues since people can be trained to avoid giving of such clues. Given this, you cannot mean what you say.

  322. 322
    Anthony K

    I think I’ve already said that any conclusive verdict is not possible by a simple superficial look, and that further evidence could be collected through behavioural signs. That’s exactly the point where I’m defending Harris.

    Provide evidence for this defence. Look, I’ll show you how. From his piece:

    Although I don’t think I look like a jihadi, or like a man pretending not to be one, I do not mean to suggest that a person like me should be exempt from scrutiny. But other travelers fit the profile far less than I do. One glance at these innocents reveals that they are no more likely to be terrorists than walruses in disguise. I make it a point to notice such people while queuing for security at the airport, just to see what sort of treatment they receive at the hands of the TSA.

    Granted, I haven’t had to endure the experience of being continually profiled. No doubt it would be frustrating. But if someone who looked vaguely like Ben Stiller were wanted for crimes against humanity, I would understand if I turned a few heads at the airport. However, if I were forced to wait in line behind a sham search of everyone else, I would surely resent this additional theft of my time.
    We should profile Muslims, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim, and we should be honest about it. And, again, I wouldn’t put someone who looks like me entirely outside the bull’s-eye (after all, what would Adam Gadahn look like if he cleaned himself up?) But there are people who do not stand a chance of being jihadists, and TSA screeners can know this at a glance.

    Now you quote the parts that show that he’s not talking about looks.

  323. 323
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    Well, if pigs flew, none of them nasty Muslims would get on the plane with ‘em. End of problem.

    and that further evidence could be collected through behavioural signs.

    What are these behavioural signs, oh Wise One? Suddenly dropping to their knees and praying eastwards, perhaps?

  324. 324
    thpoc

    @ Matt Penfold 8 May 2012 at 11:13 am

    You ain’t seen anything yet you nasty little bigot.

    You do not spend much time around here do you ? PZ does not ban people for being rude to others. He does though ban people who show themselves to be despicable human beings, so you would seen to be a candidate. He is kind though, and let’s the rest of us play with such people for while.

    I’m not planning to spend more time then is necessary, that’s for sure. I do worry for this blog if this is the way how discussions are held and those who hold an altering point of view are being treated. I doubt though you are acurately portraying PZ’s viewpoint.

  325. 325
    Matt Penfold

    Pigs will fly long before torture extracts useful reliable information more expeditiously than alternative means.

    I recall BBC interview with an US interrogator of senior German PoWs during the Second World War. He was horrified the US was torturing people, and said he and his colleagues found the way to get useful information from even most ardent Nazi was painstaking preparation and use of intelligence. You had to make the subject think you knew more than did, and he said one hour of interrogation could talk eight or more hours of preparation.

    It is also worth noting that the head of the British interrogation program of suspected German spies had an absolute ban on use of violence. Only one prisoner was ever assaulted when in his charge, and the person responsible was gone by the end of the day. The prisoner received a personal apology from the commander. During the entire war not one German spy was able operate from UK soil, such was the quality of the intelligence gained.

  326. 326
    Matt Penfold

    I’m not planning to spend more time then is necessary, that’s for sure. I do worry for this blog if this is the way how discussions are held and those who hold an altering point of view are being treated. I doubt though you are acurately portraying PZ’s viewpoint.

    You can leave whenever you like. It is not as though we want you here.

    As for what PZ thinks, why not check for yourself ? He lists the reasons you can get banned around here, and despite your deslusion to the contraty, being rude to the likes of you is not one of them.

    Here are PZ’s own words:

    This is a liberal blog. We believe in social justice and equality for all. We are sex-positive: gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgendered, heterosexuals, and asexuals all hang out here and are welcome. We are pro-woman and pro-feminist, and we also think men are just peachy (I am one, after all). You don’t get to criticize people for what they are, so don’t bother with your gendered, racist, classist, or ableist insults, but please do tear into bad ideas. Leave your jingoism behind, this blog has an international readership and if you assume your nationality is favored, you are going to get an unpleasant surprise. Wars solve nothing, violence is deplored, and if you’re a right-wing crank, fuck off already.

    and

    This is a rude blog. We like to argue — heck, we like a loud angry brawl. Don’t waste time whining at anyone that they’re not nice, because this gang will take pride in that and rhetorically hand you a rotting porcupine and tell you to stuff it up your nether orifice. If you intrude here and violate any of the previous three mores, people won’t like you, and they won’t hold back—they’ll tell you so, probably in colorful terms.

    We do have a general guideline for handling new people. If you’re a first time commenter, you get three strikes: you can make three comments, and the regulars are supposed to restrain themselves and try to get you to engage rationally before they are allowed to release the rabid hounds. They are hoping you will oblige them and give them an excuse to let slip the leash, so be warned.

    QED

  327. 327
    pentatomid

    I’m not planning to spend more time then is necessary, that’s for sure.

    THEN GO THE FUCK AWAY, YOU DISGUSTING LITTLE SHIT.

    You are defending an irrational islamophobic torture apologist. In my book that makes you an irrational islamophobic torture apologist. In other words a disgusting little shit. Now, in the immortal words of Smeagol: Leave now and never come back!

  328. 328
    Anthony K

    I’m not planning to spend more time then is necessary, that’s for sure.

    You’ve popped in to assert that Sam gets a get-out-of-jail-free card for all he’s done in the past and that your reading of his post is the One True— interpretation.

    You’ve provided no evidence for these assertions.

    I’d say you’ve already overstayed your time here.

    I do worry for this blog if this is the way how discussions are held and those who hold an altering point of view are being treated.

    Thanks for the concern. Religious people hold altering points of view. Muslims do too. You’re totes okay with how Sam Harris wants to treat them. Get some fucking perspective, you whiny pissant.

    I doubt though you are acurately portraying PZ’s viewpoint.

    You mean, you doubt that PZ dislikes people who use terms like fuckwit more than people who are just fine with torture?

    Ask him again to banhammer me for calling you a “clapping hero-worshipper” before I noted the full depth of your despicability.

  329. 329
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Because it is evidence you have not seriously listened or read enough of his work.

    LOL, using the Courtier’s Reply here?

  330. 330
    Ingdigo Jump

    Also for fucks sake we ARE going easy on Sam because of his past. You think a pastor saying what he does would be treated so well?

  331. 331
    anathema

    @ thpoc:

    Which is worse, calling someone names or advocating bigoted actions?

    Let’s see, the outcome of calling someone names is that you might hurt that individuals feelings.

    The outcome of advocating bigoted actions is to make bigotry more acceptable. By profiling people who “look Muslim” we risk alienating a group of people who we need to have as allies. We do further harm to a group that is already being discriminated against. By engaging in apologetics for torture, we make torture look more acceptable. Surely I don’t have to explain to you why torture is wrong too?

    Yeah. You don’t really have the moral high ground here.

  332. 332
    Amphiox

    Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.

    Ben Franklin, I believe.

    This is particularly true for those who would sacrifice OTHER people’s freedom for their OWN safety.

  333. 333
    Anthony K

    Yeah. You don’t really have the moral high ground here.

    thpoc’s response: “Get off that high horse!”

    Yeah, it’s just deplorable how we’re treating this poor, maligned individual for holding alternative views.

  334. 334
    thpoc

    @ Matt Penfold 8 May 2012 at 11:28 am

    Well he clearly thinks there some identifying features of Muslims that cannot be easily disguised, otherwise he would have no grounds for suggesting we can easily identifying Muslims. I note you are still unable to tell us what these features are.

    Ofcourse, someone trying not to look like a muslim would have discarded all of the identifying features like an islamic headscarf, cap or beard, etc.
    One could go into areas where suspicions could be raised on the basis of the the knee-height stain or dust marks, evidencing a quick bathroom-prayer before boarding combined with other signs of nervosity. Ethnicity (not the same as race) would also play a role, where someone from latin-america would be less likely to be muslim where someone from saudi arabia or pakistan more likely.

    Except Harris is not saying that. We cannot rely on behavioural clues since people can be trained to avoid giving of such clues. Given this, you cannot mean what you say.

    Let’s hear Bruce Schneier on this, and have some proper research.
    I’m willing to throw the whole profiling bit out of the window if it’s merits are so low other strategies become more important.

  335. 335
    Anri

    Do they profile against pink ponies in Equestria?

    (mutter mutter they should mutter Pinkie Pie mutter mutter)

    *Ahem* what? Oh, serious conversation? Okay.

    There seems to be a whole lot of ‘but what if’ in Harris’ reply, and very very little ‘it works because of…’. I think this is pretty telling.

    There’s no shortage of experts saying that racial profiling fails at improving security. That’s not news.
    Unfortunately, there’s an equal shortage of people being willing to accept that it doesn’t work. Folks are bending over backwards to try to work up ways and situations in which its just gotta work without dealing with the fact that it really doesn’t.

  336. 336
    Utakata

    @Amphiox

    “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

    …and yes that was Benjamin Franklin. So you’re correct on all counts.

    And lol at the Sam Harris groupies trolling this thread…I guess they’re quite determined to get their asses owned. :)

  337. 337
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    You clearly don’t know what words mean. Get yourself a dictionary and beat yourself over the head with it until you cease being you.

    I don’t know why, but that made my day.

    ***

    Frankly even if it was a mosque everything else about the flustercluck was biggot bait.

    It sure was. I’m writing a post about Ayn Rand Nation (critical of some aspects, but overall the book’s worthwhile), and I was just rereading the part about how the Randians turned against their key “principle” of the sanctity of private property to oppose it. Pamela Geller, by the way, is a Randian.) When it came down to bigotry against key tenets of their philosophy, bigotry won.

  338. 338
    thpoc

    And with those last few comments, I’m gone. I have mis-characterized PZ and this blog I guess. This has been very informing on the attitudes and opinions of some people out there.

  339. 339
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    SC:

    Aw. Here – free beagle puppies.

    Right, cute widdle beagle puppies >>> life-saving medical research.

  340. 340
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    And with those last few comments, I’m gone.

    …and nothing of value was lost!

  341. 341
    Matt Penfold

    Ofcourse, someone trying not to look like a muslim would have discarded all of the identifying features like an islamic headscarf, cap or beard, etc.

    Many Muslims already do not wear headscarves, caps, beards or any other feature your stereotype of a Muslims wears.

    One could go into areas where suspicions could be raised on the basis of the the knee-height stain or dust marks, evidencing a quick bathroom-prayer before boarding combined with other signs of nervosity.

    Or just evidence someone was kneeling the floor. You keep on about the this idea terrorists are nervous. Again, I think this can only come from your terrorist stereotype rather than reality.

    Ethnicity (not the same as race) would also play a role, where someone from latin-america would be less likely to be muslim where someone from saudi arabia or pakistan more likely.

    Actually for these purposes, race and ethnicity are pretty much the same thing. I note this dishonest attempt to avoid being labelled a racist though. I am also surprised I would have to point out that a good many terrorists who have been motivated by their Islamic beliefs would not be covered in your profiling strategy, possessing European passports. For example, all the bombers in the London bombings were UK citizens, not dressed like Muslims and so not of interest using your criteria.

    Let’s hear Bruce Schneier on this, and have some proper research.
    I’m willing to throw the whole profiling bit out of the window if it’s merits are so low other strategies become more important.

    Well let’s listen to the experts. From what I have seen and read they think the type of profiling advocated by Harris and yourself to be counter-productive. It not only would not catch the people you need to be catching, it would also alienate many people. Many of those who have been arrested for planning Islamic inspired terrorist attacks have been caught because of information passed on by other Muslims. Seemingly you are not all interested in cultivate such sources, preferring to treat them as suspects.

  342. 342
    Utakata

    @ Anri

    …that just reminds me of so many sources who still think the polygraph test still works and use it, despite it has mostly been debunked.

  343. 343
    Matt Penfold

    Ofcourse, someone trying not to look like a muslim would have discarded all of the identifying features like an islamic headscarf, cap or beard, etc.

    Many Muslims already do not wear headscarves, caps, beards or any other feature your stereotype of a Muslims wears.

    One could go into areas where suspicions could be raised on the basis of the the knee-height stain or dust marks, evidencing a quick bathroom-prayer before boarding combined with other signs of nervosity.

    Or just evidence someone was kneeling the floor. You keep on about the this idea terrorists are nervous. Again, I think this can only come from your terrorist stereotype rather than reality.

    Ethnicity (not the same as race) would also play a role, where someone from latin-america would be less likely to be muslim where someone from saudi arabia or pakistan more likely.

    Actually for these purposes, race and ethnicity are pretty much the same thing. I note this dishonest attempt to avoid being labelled a racist though. I am also surprised I would have to point out that a good many terrorists who have been motivated by their Islamic beliefs would not be covered in your profiling strategy, possessing European passports. For example, all the bombers in the London bombings were UK citizens, not dressed like Muslims and so not of interest using your criteria.

    Let’s hear Bruce Schneier on this, and have some proper research.
    I’m willing to throw the whole profiling bit out of the window if it’s merits are so low other strategies become more important.

    Well let’s listen to the experts. From what I have seen and read they think the type of profiling advocated by Harris and yourself to be counter-productive. It not only would not catch the people you need to be catching, it would also alienate many people. Many of those who have been arrested for planning Islamic inspired terrorist attacks have been caught because of information passed on by other Muslims. Seemingly you are not all interested in cultivate such sources, preferring to treat them as suspects.

    Oh, and why the fixation on one person ? That is rather suspect, since surely it would be better to garner a consensus of what experts in the field think ?

  344. 344
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    This has been very informing on the attitudes and opinions of some people out there.

    Translation: “OMG some peoples out there disagree with me! How very could they!? And they used wude words!”

  345. 345
    Matt Penfold

    …that just reminds me of so many sources who still think the polygraph test still works and use it, despite it has mostly been debunked.

    Not that the results have much meaning, but someone can be trained to beat a polygraph in that they will pass it. Just as people can be trained to be a profiling system based on silly notions such as checking if they have dirt on their knees. That one would be simple to beat. Either don’t pray or put down a clean prayer mat, which is what most Muslims do anyway.

  346. 346
    Utakata

    @Matt Penfold

    Thanks for pointing that out.

  347. 347
    Worldtraveller

    Hey, I got one: (Warning, possible triggers.)

    Let’s say you see a young woman going through the security checkpoint. She looks like she might be asian, or maybe middle eastern (cuz to the well trained, highly professional TSA, they can tell…).

    In addition to looking furrin(TM), she seems a bit nervous.

    Ding! We have a Potential Terrorist(also TM). So aside she goes to be felt up by a Tub Stacking Asshole.

    Hey, as it turns out, she was nervous because she was a rape victim and knows this might trigger a reaction because she’s been trying to work through it a lot lately with a counselor. Now, she’s crying uncontrollably, shaking, in the middle of a nervous breakdown. None of this, of course, brings sympathy from the Tub Stacking Assholes, it’s just confirmation that she Meant To Do Something Bad (Again, TM).

    I live with this fear every time my wife and I have to fly, and I might potentially wind up in jail and on a no fly list after beating the crap out of some ham handed, overbearing thugs who are doing absolutely nothing to actually protect us.

  348. 348
    Matt Penfold

    Actually, one method of beating a polygraph would also be useful to avoid looking nervous at the airport. It is simply to take a beta-blocker. I am pretty sure that someone capable of planning to blow up an airliner could get hold of beta-blockers.

  349. 349
    Ingdigo Jump

    Also anyone else annoyed how Sam basically conforms to a criticism of atheist/freethought? “You’re all for free inquiry and free thought….as long we all come to your conclusion”

  350. 350
    Anthony K

    This has been very informing on the attitudes and opinions of some people out there.

    Go get waterboarded by your hero, moron.

  351. 351
    Ingdigo Jump

    Also if Sam is really too busy to read all the intelligence experts on torture maybe he can just watch the cartoon version

  352. 352
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Ing:

    Also anyone else annoyed how Sam basically conforms to a criticism of atheist/freethought? “You’re all for free inquiry and free thought….as long we all come to your conclusion”

    So he sounds like just about every atheist troll we get here?

  353. 353
    Anthony K

    Also anyone else annoyed how Sam basically conforms to a criticism of atheist/freethought? “You’re all for free inquiry and free thought….as long we all come to your conclusion”

    It’s only the Muslims who are to police their own, I guess.

  354. 354
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    @Matt Penfold #345
    In fact, if you’ve ever studied any type of meditation techniques, fooling a polygraph is trivially easy. I’ve had enormous fun with the Scientology missionaries and their “E-meters” that way.

  355. 355
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Right, cute widdle beagle puppies >>> life-saving medical research.

    Says someone who doesn’t know what sort of research they’re used for, whether any of it was “life-saving” or well performed or even justified given existing knowledge, how they are treated, or anything else. And who feels no need to attempt to make an ethical justification for any specific research they might be subject to. “Life-saving medical research” makes a great talking point. About what I’d expect from you. I suppose you’d make the same argument about poor humans.

    (This will be my one and only response to you.)

  356. 356
    gyalmo2012

    I sympathize with Sam’s argument. If he is guilty of anything at all, it would be that he shoves the truth in our face. And some are uncomfortable with the truth. PZ speaks as if profiling does not already take place. I wonder what PZ would have to say if he finds out that TSA’s procedure allows for a certain percentage, however tiny, of air travellers to be overlooked regardless of their appearance. What if that tiny percentage includes young apparently Muslim looking men? Profiling based on history, if not the openly admitted official policy, surely must be implemented into day-to-day operating procedure. Its just common sense. I am totally for it and I will be really surprised if it is not happening already. Screening everyone is ridiculous and a huge waste of resources and that’s why I think prompted Sam to write “in defense of profiling”, not his hatred for Muslims, as some commentators seems to believe. Now, to increase efficiency, I don’t see any other way but to implement profiling one way or the other. If we agree that there is no walking around profiling, then the next logical step is profiling based on historical experience. And that would mean profiling based on ethnicity. What other criteria do we have?

    So what Sam is saying is we should do it and we should be open about it since we are doing it. I agree we should do it, but I am not sure if we should be open about it. What PZ is saying is that even if we do it there is no guarantee that we will be safe so that’s why it’s better to be politically correct. So my question to PZ is, shall we stop screening completely since there is really no guarantee whatsoever? I think I know the answer.

  357. 357
    Ingdigo Jump

    FFS at least READ our objections you fucking asshole. It’s not that “THE TRUTH HURTS” it’s that Sam is “WRONG” and still promoting “TEH TRUTH” because he’s an “ASSHOLE”

  358. 358
    Ingdigo Jump

    Also hwo come the “the truth hurts” assholes never do this on issues where the truth hurts THEM?

    Oh brown people being pissed on, well truth hurts.

    bellcurve, truth hurts

    sexism, let me explain why you’re wrong…

  359. 359
    pentatomid

    Dear gyalmo2012,

    Please read all blogposts by PZ on the subject and all associated comment threads before spouting vacuous crap, as it is obvious you haven’t the slightest idea what you’re talking about.

    Yours sincerely,
    Pentatomid

  360. 360
    feralboy12

    If he is guilty of anything at all, it would be that he shoves the truth in our face. And some are uncomfortable with the truth.

    Gah. If there is one thing that can make me disregard an opinion without even reading it, it’s insisting that the opinion is “truth” and that any disagreement means one is “afraid of the truth.”
    I don’t like tossing opinions in the trash without consideration, but that’s what you’re doing here to most of us. So piss off.
    Maybe you’d like to buttress your statement with some copy & pasted dialogue from A Few Good Men. It’s, like, totally relevant, you know, and there’s precedent for it here. Just don’t expect nice treatment, because you don’t really deserve it.

  361. 361
    Ingdigo Jump

    Also logical fallacy: Poisoning the well.

  362. 362
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    When someone uses “politically correct” it means they don’t understand the argument, and are just spouting nonsense from a script. Rethink what you want to say. Then, ask if it sounds like a bigot speaking. If it does, it means you need to think further.

  363. 363
    Anthony K

    Gah. If there is one thing that can make me disregard an opinion without even reading it, it’s insisting that the opinion is “truth” and that any disagreement means one is “afraid of the truth.”

    Yeah, that and “Its just common sense”. It’s the signature of an idiot.

    You know what’s uncommon sense, but can’t be gamed by those who know what the TSA is looking for, gyalmo2012?

    Totally random searches. Works at least as well as profiling, if not better.

    Lap up some of that truth, asshole.

  364. 364
    Anthony K

    Oops, my mistake. That paper does not advocate for totally random screening, but Square-root biased sampling:

    Strong screening lacks efficiency, he reports in his paper, because it wastes resources examining the same innocent people over and over every time they go the airport. Completely random screening misses the bar because it’s more likely to miss a bad-guy.
    Square-root biased sampling means that people who are deemed more likely to be a terrorist for some reason—maybe because of their last name, appearance, or some other measure—are still screened more than other people, but not every single time they meet a security checkpoint. In fact, they would be as likely to be screened as the square root of their chance of being a terrorist. Deemed 100 times more likely to be a terrorist?—You would be screened 10 times more.

  365. 365
    Utakata

    @gyalmo2012

    So the essense of your tl,dr version simply states that you support bunk because Sam thinks it’s correct and you are wondering why no one else is buying it? Ironically this seems more evidence on Harris’s views on determinism than anything else.

    @Nerd of Redhead

    I always presume that anyone use “politically correct” in that type of arguement is a guise to white washing their bigotry and/or anyone elses. Also see: doublespeak.

  366. 366
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    SC:

    (This will be my one and only response to you.)

    **sob!!**

    gyalmo2012:

    If he is guilty of anything at all, it would be that he shoves the truth in our face.

    You didn’t read the OP, did you? Or any of the other comments?

  367. 367
    vaiyt

    Which only works better than random screening until the terrorists start selecting for people less likely to be searched, then you start getting 10 times more false positives.

  368. 368
    Ingdigo Jump

    Butt-head: Huhuh, look at his face!
    Beavis: Heh, look at that crack in his chin!
    Butt-Head: I think it’s a buttcrack!
    Beavis: Well I guess that would make sense, since like, there’s just a bunch of diarrhea coming out of his mouth.
    Butthead: Yeah. Uhuhuhuhuh, it’s like when God was passing out buttcracks, this guy got in line twice.
    —Beavis And Butthead riffing on Sam Harris

  369. 369
    Ingdigo Jump

    Yes I know it’s not the same one, still funny

  370. 370
    Anthony K

    vaiyt, are you referring to that article in 363 I linked to?

    I suspect that would still be a problem, yes. Here’s the original paper, if someone with more time than I have this afternoon would like to give it a read-through.

  371. 371
    Amphiox

    Wow, another Harris defender crawling out of the woodwork and putting its foot in its mouth. They really do seem to be treating him like some religious figure whose word should never be challenged.

    I’ll try to make it simple for them;

    1) there is no, and Harris has presented no, evidence that racial profiling of Muslims even works at all in improving air passenger safety. Harris is, like any theist, making a claim WITHOUT EVIDENCE.

    2) even if it did work, by its very nature it means hassling thousands of innocent people (some of whom win’t even be Muslim, but simply erroneously profiled as one) to catch one terrorist. That is an enormously inefficient and costly method of tackling this particular problem, and as such would not be preferred over any other screening technique that is less onerous and more efficient.

    3) even if it did work and cost nothing, a very solid ethical argument can be made (see my Franklin quote) that WE SHOULD STILL NOT DO IT, the same way that we should not be giving the death penalty to shoplifters, even if that might reduce petty crime rates. The slight increase in air passenger safety is NOT WORTH the long term ethical cost of what condoning such a practice as racial profiling will ultimately mean for and do to our society. In other words it may be better off to accept being a little bit less safe than to just slightly increase our total security by employing such odious means.

  372. 372
    Nick Gotts

    Hey, one fuckwitted bigot leaves, there’s always another to take their place – and this time one that thinks “politically correct” is still clever 20 years after the right started using the term as an all-purpose thought-stopper. Hi gyalmo2012!

    Looks like I missed the delightful thpoc, unless gyalmo2012 is just its sockpuppet.

    Again, in theory many mentally hold thoughts and believe have a tendency to trickle outwards, mentalists experts would agree. – thpoc

    One can only concur: yes indeed, many hold experts would mentally believe thoughts have a trickle to theory in tendency, and mentalists again agree outwards.

    And just remember, folks – if you kneel down to get something out of your suitcase and get dust on your knees, you’ve only yourself to blame if you get a body cavity search or a shot through the head. But you’re quite safe if you’re from Latin America – unless you’re a Brazilian electrician.

  373. 373
    Anthony K

    And just remember, folks – if you kneel down to get something out of your suitcase and get dust on your knees, you’ve only yourself to blame if you get a body cavity search or a shot through the head. But you’re quite safe if you’re from Latin America – unless you’re a Brazilian electrician.

    Ho hum. The real tragedy was thpoc being called a “clapping hero worshipper” by me.

    What a fucking asshole.

  374. 374
    Travis

    I read the comments up to 209 last night, and just finished reading up to 371 now. For a long time I thought atheists and skeptics were generally reasonable people, and really did value critical thinking. That was my general experience. But after seeing the misogyny displayed in the recent past (and continuing I suppose) and the responses to PZ’s criticisms of Harris I certainly have been disabused of that notion. Now I see there is a subset (and I really wonder how large it is, a comment thread is not a representative sample so I worry it is much larger than seen here) of very authoritarian atheists out there that display many of the traits we see in creationists. They are absolutely unable to understand the objections raised by those that disagree with them. They whine endlessly about being treated poorly while ignoring any substantial points that were made, and are also often too lazy to read a few comments to see if anyone has made the same points already and understand the criticisms of those ideas.

    I would go back and make some critical comments related to those but quite frankly I do not see the need. My criticisms have already been made multiple times by other people. I just need to vent a bit.

  375. 375
    Matt Penfold

    Ho hum. The real tragedy was thpoc being called a “clapping hero worshipper” by me.

    He is probably off somewhere wondering why PZ has not yet banned you.

  376. 376
    Ingdigo Jump

    read the comments up to 209 last night, and just finished reading up to 371 now. For a long time I thought atheists and skeptics were generally reasonable people, and really did value critical thinking. That was my general experience. But after seeing the misogyny displayed in the recent past (and continuing I suppose) and the responses to PZ’s criticisms of Harris I certainly have been disabused of that notion. Now I see there is a subset (and I really wonder how large it is, a comment thread is not a representative sample so I worry it is much larger than seen here) of very authoritarian atheists out there that display many of the traits we see in creationists.

    YES this THANK you.

    The realization came to me from both the topic of sexism and Hitche’s death. The eulogies of Hitchen’s from his friends caused my head to spin because I could swear that qualities they were praising would be ones that they would chastise from Pastors. Which isn’t to diminish his work, per say…but you’ll find me as being highly critical of his memory now.

  377. 377
    Travis

    Ing,
    Maybe I was a bit isolated though. Other than seeing a few interviews with Hitchens, and I have to say I did enjoy his biting criticism, I did not know much of him. Harris is someone I have paid even less attention too. In both cases I do not have some weird attachment to them so I see no need to defend them from criticism nor understand why some people are utterly unable to accept critical comments directed towards them. I do not see anyone as being above criticism and so I really do not understand the above comments indicating that Harris should be given the benefit of the doubt. What a weird concept.

    Also, I do not hang out on many forums and blogs other than this blog and Respectful Insolence, and occasionally Greta’s or Coyne’s writings so I do not get a good picture of the atheist world outside of these places until the rest of the atheist world comes here.

  378. 378
    Rutee Katreya

    Which isn’t to diminish his work, per say…but you’ll find me as being highly critical of his memory now.

    Oh merciful christ, finally. I was waiting for people to stop being nice to him, what with his racism and sexism, and if it took his death to get this recognized, fine.

    If he is guilty of anything at all, it would be that he shoves the truth in our face.

    HAHAHAHAHAHA

    Oh god, the idiocy XD
    Why do racists pretend they’re edgy and saying stuff NOBODY WOULD DARE SAY. Yeah, because racism is totally not the norm. Because being an asshole to people of other races is something most people would neeeeever do.

  379. 379
    rg57

    “I have no problem at all with that kind of profiling. The matter that raises concerns isn’t that the young man looks Muslim: it’s that he looks nervous, and that he’s hiding [a book]”

    Well, I have a problem with it. I can’t stand air travel in the USA. It does make me nervous, because I know a significant percentage of your officers are paranoid nut cases. And of course I don’t want the whole airport to know what fiction I read.

    It’s the people who are calm who should raise concern. They are the ones who have practiced.

  380. 380
    frankboyd

    Nah, nah, cut the crap. P.Z. Myers ran like a spanked poodle when it came to sticking up for free speech against a real threat, and no one should be allowed to forget it. He poured bile on the late great Hitch for holding out against Islamic bullying (you know something with real teeth). He was the first to denounce Richard Dawkins when he wandered off the reservation, despite the fact that the only reason most people have heard of Myers is his friendship with Dawkins. And now he’s pissing and moaning about Sam Harris for actually giving a damn about real threats over bs ones.

    When Sam Harris started the security fund for Ayaan Hirsi Ali, did Myers make so much as a gesture of support? Did he hell. Meanwhile both Harris and Hitchens were at the forefront of warning about a genuine far-right resurgence, something that Myers wouldn’t know squat about until it walked all over him.

    The droning, mawkish self-pity and self-importance of the papered pseudo are one of the boring spectacles imaginable.

  381. 381
    frankboyd

    For the record, I’m opposed to the ludicrous circus that your stupid TSA puts everyone through, and it’s one more proof that much of the “land of the brave” is anything but. But even that’s better than the abject, crawling cowardice of those who try to pretend that there’s no problem with Islamic fascism. Yeah, try telling it to the people of Darfur, if you can find any.

    But, hey. Those are just poor, dark-skinned people who live overseas. Not really human beings to rich American pseudo-lefites.

  382. 382
    pentatomid

    But even that’s better than the abject, crawling cowardice of those who try to pretend that there’s no problem with Islamic fascism. Yeah, try telling it to the people of Darfur, if you can find any.

    But, hey. Those are just poor, dark-skinned people who live overseas. Not really human beings to rich American pseudo-lefites.

    Hmmmm… You have either not read or not understood any of PZ’s posts or the comments on the matter, have you?

  383. 383
    Rutee Katreya

    But even that’s better than the abject, crawling cowardice of those who try to pretend that there’s no problem with Islamic fascism.

    All fascism is bad, yeah, but people pretend Islam is particularly worse about it (As they pretend Islam is somehow worse at many other things).

    Yeah, try telling it to the people of Darfur, if you can find any.

    Case in point. You do realize that Sudan’s military dictatorship wasn’t particularly Islamic in nature, right? Or at least, not moreso than the various banana republics that arose in South America? That the genocide was an unjustified response to rebellions that arose for racial equality?

    Further, you’re aware that there are still a number of people there, yes? That it was a humanitarian crisis and an attempt to genocide doesn’t mean that they killed literally everyone (even had they tried, they would have failed.) Also, they’re not exactly done now, as rebuilding is ongoing. That you know so little about the region tells me you’re only invoking them to win an internet argument, not that you’re involved in an effort to help them. Asshole. It’s one thing to not know, but to know, and to only consider them important to win an internet argument? Fuck you, and the horse you rode in on.

    But, hey. Those are just poor, dark-skinned people who live overseas. Not really human beings to rich American pseudo-lefites.

    You know, it’s pretty ironic to say this in defense of racism against poor, dark-skinned people who live right here. For reals, that’s my weekly dose of it, I suspect. Also, I don’t think you get much further left than actual communism, though that’s hardly the bulk of the commentariat, just me (AFAIK).

    ah, nah, cut the crap. P.Z. Myers ran like a spanked poodle when it came to sticking up for free speech against a real threat, and no one should be allowed to forget it.

    Support, plox? Protip: Saying Hitchens is racist is a statement of fact, not ‘failing to stick up for free speech’.

    He poured bile on the late great Hitch for holding out against Islamic bullying (you know something with real teeth).

    Dude, Hitch is American. Islamic bullying doesn’t have real teeth against him. The public is against them, to the point where it barely tolerates their houses of worship. And he wasn’t really ‘great’ by any worthy measure (So few are.) He was just a loud atheist, and unfortunately quite a racist and sexist one.

    And now he’s pissing and moaning about Sam Harris for actually giving a damn about real threats over bs ones.

    Dude, Al Qaeda isn’t really much of a threat anymore unless you are a particular kind of brown person. 9/11 was their first, and their last great show of force against the western world.

    When Sam Harris started the security fund for Ayaan Hirsi Ali, did Myers make so much as a gesture of support?

    Ur doin’ this gambit wrong, kid.
    Protip: Activists do not generally see a lack of omniscience as a con. Unless you have evidence that Myers actually stood against this, it isn’t the evidence you want.

    Meanwhile both Harris and Hitchens were at the forefront of warning about a genuine far-right resurgence, something that Myers wouldn’t know squat about until it walked all over him.

    Do you read this blog at all?

  384. 384
    'Tis Himself

    Damn, PZ, when did you piss in frankboyd’s Wheaties®? Perhaps you should stop talking about Sam Harris’s islamophobia because frankboyd is having a serious attack of the vapors with his hero Harris’s racism not being properly appreciated.

  385. 385
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @383. ruteekatreya :

    All fascism is bad, yeah, but people pretend Islam is particularly worse about it (As they pretend Islam is somehow worse at many other things).

    Islam is particularly worse and more extreme in a lot of areas. The Koran explicitly states men can beat their (multiple) wives, Mohammad believed in child rape and arranged marriages including from captured women whose husbands he killed in battle or ambvush. Islam is a politico-religious ideology that was designed to be and traditionally has been spread by violence at the point of a sword.

    Now I guess we can quibble over what’s meant by “Fascism” exactly – strictly speaking there’s one very narrow technical definition where it was one political movement in 1930′s Italy led by Benito Mussolini long since extinguished and so on or we can look at the broader sense of the word as colloquially used.

    But modern Islamo-fascism, yeah, definitley worst and most extreme and horrifically cruel and brutal ideology around today.

    Yes, Christian fundamentalists are awful and maybe they do harbour ambitions of becoming almost as bad but I don’t think I’ve ever heard of any of them advocating FGM, “honour”-killings, blinding women with acid for leaving forced marriages, idol worshipping and encouraging homicide-suicide bombings and so much more that is advocated and practiced by the Islamists.

    Dude, Al Qaeda isn’t really much of a threat anymore unless you are a particular kind of brown person. 9/11 was their first, and their last great show of force against the western world.

    Bzzzzzt. Incorrect.

    Al Quaeda’s *first* major attack on the Western world was the 1993 World Trade Center bombing which occurred on February 26, 1993, when Ramzi Yousef parked a rented van full of explosives in the parking garage beneath the World Trade Center. The explosion claimed six victims, and over one thousand people were wounded.

    Al Quadea subsequently attacked US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 murdering more than 200 people and injuring more than 5,000 others.

    They attacked the USS Cole in 2000 killing 17 US sailors.

    Then *after* the 9th of September 2001 they were involved in :

    - the Bali bombings of 2002 murdering 88 Aussies among 2002 people.

    - The 2004 Madrid bombings which killed over 190 people.

    - The July 7th London bombings killing 56 people.

    - The bombing of the Danish embassy in Pakistan on June 2, 2008. A car bomb killed six people and injured several. Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, a high-ranking member of Al-Qaeda, issued a statement after the bombing, claiming that the attack was a response to the 2005 publication of the Muhammed Cartoons.

    - The 2009 Little Rock recruiting office shooting when Muslim convert Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad opened fire in a drive-by shooting on a United States military recruiting office in Little Rock, Arkansas, killing one US soldier and wounding another.

    Among a great many others and excluding numerous foiled plots. Also AlQuadea is still active and working on attacking us all everywhere.

    See :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_al-Qaeda_attacks

    Yeah, I know its wikipedia, its also correct. Don’t you guys remember the news?

  386. 386
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @383. ruteekatreya :

    All fascism is bad, yeah, but people pretend Islam is particularly worse about it (As they pretend Islam is somehow worse at many other things).

    Islam is particularly worse and more extreme in a lot of areas. The Koran explicitly states men can beat their (multiple) wives, Mohammad believed in child rape and arranged marriages including from captured women whose husbands he killed in battle or ambvush. Islam is a politico-religious ideology that was designed to be and traditionally has been spread by violence at the point of a sword.

    Now I guess we can quibble over what’s meant by “Fascism” exactly – strictly speaking there’s one very narrow technical definition where it was one political movement in 1930′s Italy led by Benito Mussolini long since extinguished and so on or we can look at the broader sense of the word as colloquially used.

    But modern Islamo-fascism, yeah, definitley worst and most extreme and horrifically cruel and brutal ideology around today.

    Yes, Christian fundamentalists are awful and maybe they do harbour ambitions of becoming almost as bad but I don’t think I’ve ever heard of any of them advocating FGM, “honour”-killings, blinding women with acid for leaving forced marriages, idol worshipping and encouraging homicide-suicide bombings and so much more that is advocated and practiced by the Islamists.

    Dude, Al Qaeda isn’t really much of a threat anymore unless you are a particular kind of brown person. 9/11 was their first, and their last great show of force against the western world.

    Bzzzzzt. Incorrect.

    Al Quaeda’s *first* major attack on the Western world was the 1993 World Trade Center bombing which occurred on February 26, 1993, when Ramzi Yousef parked a rented van full of explosives in the parking garage beneath the World Trade Center. The explosion claimed six victims, and over one thousand people were wounded.

    Al Quadea subsequently attacked US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 murdering more than 200 people and injuring more than 5,000 others.

    They attacked the USS Cole in 2000 killing 17 US sailors.

    Then *after* the 9th of September 2001 they were involved in :

    - the Bali bombings of 2002 murdering 88 Aussies among 2002 people.

    - The 2004 Madrid bombings which killed over 190 people.

    - The July 7th London bombings killing 56 people.

    - The bombing of the Danish embassy in Pakistan on June 2, 2008. A car bomb killed six people and injured several. Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, a high-ranking member of Al-Qaeda, issued a statement after the bombing, claiming that the attack was a response to the 2005 publication of the Muhammed Cartoons.

    - The 2009 Little Rock recruiting office shooting when Muslim convert Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad opened fire in a drive-by shooting on a United States military recruiting office in Little Rock, Arkansas, killing one US soldier and wounding another.

    Among a great many others and excluding numerous foiled plots. Also AlQuadea is still active and working on attacking us all everywhere.

    See :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_al-Qaeda_attacks

    Yeah, I know its wikipedia, its also correct. Don’t you guys remember the news?

  387. 387
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    What the ..? That wasn’t supposed to come through twice. Stupid computer. Sorry.

  388. 388
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    The paranoid bigots lie StevoR just keep on showing us why they are fuckwitted idjits. Silence saves them from embarrassment, but they are too stoopid to use that technique.

  389. 389
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @388. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls :

    Lies? Nerd of Redhead? Would you be kind enough to give me just one example of where I “lied” in what I wrote above?

    Everything I stated was factual.

    “What defenders of Islam refuse to acknowledge is that critics of this religion—especially those, like Ayaan, who were once Muslim and are now guilty of apostasy—have security concerns of a sort that critics of Judaism or Christianity haven’t had for centuries. Charges of “Islamophobia” in this context are nothing more than liberal masochism and denial. And the most ominous sign coming from the moderate Muslim community at this moment is that the majority of its members continue to deny that Islam warrants any special concern.”
    - Sam Harris, the post linked first in the OP here.

    BTW. “Islamophobia” is made-up nonsense word. It is actually irrational NOT to be concerned by Muslims if you are a decent human being given what the Muslim faith is & the threat it poses everyone incl. other Muslims.

    It is NOT “bigotry” to oppose people who want to cut your head off or blow you up based only on who you are.

    I don’t give a flying fuck about anybody’s skin colour or sexual orientation and so by falsely calling me a bigot you, Nerd of Redhead is the one who is lying.

    And you owe me and apology for it whether you are reasonable and fair enough to actually offer it or not.

  390. 390
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Islamophobia” is made-up nonsense word

    Nope fuckwitted idjit. It means irrational fear of Islam. Which is what you have bigot. You remind of another Islamophobic bigot who got banhammered for idiocy. He was scared of being under Sharia law. But he couldn’t provide a scenario on how that happened, unless he brought his paranoia to the table, and a Muslim opening a ritually clean deli (Kosher deli if Jewish) was the equivalent of imposing Sharia law on him.

    We don’t and won’t share your paranoia and bigotry. Take them on the road.

  391. 391
    Rutee Katreya

    Islam is particularly worse and more extreme in a lot of areas. The Koran explicitly states men can beat their (multiple) wives,

    Read the bible lately? Or ever? That one lets you beat *your own kids* as well.

    Islam is a politico-religious ideology that was designed to be and traditionally has been spread by violence at the point of a sword.

    Traditionally where? Do you know why so many people revere Zheng He?

    Also, how is this different from Christianity?

    Mohammad believed in child rape

    Yeah, he did. You’re aware that westerners didn’t stop until quite a long time until after his death, I trust? That even now a lot of places maintain ages of consent only just barely higher than Muhammed’s youngest wife?

    But modern Islamo-fascism, yeah, definitley worst and most extreme and horrifically cruel and brutal ideology around today.

    The Congo is Christian, you know, and it’s hardly alone in this…

    ambitions of becoming almost as bad but I don’t think I’ve ever heard of any of them advocating FGM

    “honour”-killings,

    Do you know ANYTHING about your neighbours in South America? Seriously now, this isn’t exactly distant history. Do you even know your own history?

    Al Quaeda’s *first* major attack on the Western world was the 1993 World Trade Center bombing which occurred on February 26, 1993, when Ramzi Yousef parked a rented van full of explosives in the parking garage beneath the World Trade Center. The explosion claimed six victims, and over one thousand people were wounded.

    Gosh, it’s almost as if I don’t consider 6 dead a great show of force. That can be less than a turf war between two street gangs. As a global attack, that’s laughable.

    - the Bali bombings of 2002 murdering 88 Aussies among 2002 people.

    - The 2004 Madrid bombings which killed over 190 people.

    - The July 7th London bombings killing 56 people.

    This is a lot closer, and still not really there.

    Among a great many others and excluding numerous foiled plots. Also AlQuadea is still active and working on attacking us all everywhere.

    Dude, totalling that over 8 years gives fewer deaths than just Meriken killing each other in one year. I’m a LOT more scared of my fellow Meriken, and not just because I’m brown and a host of other minorities; I also drive.

    The paranoid bigots lie StevoR just keep on showing us why they are fuckwitted idjits.

    INDEED.

  392. 392
    pentatomid

    The Koran explicitly states men can beat their (multiple) wives

    There’s a great number of christian cults that believe violence and abuse directed at women and/or children is justifiable. This is far from unique to Islam.

    Mohammad believed in child rape and arranged marriages including from captured women whose husbands he killed in battle or ambvush.

    Also not unique to Islam and the overwhelming majority of muslims around the world would not support such actions today, just like the majority of christians wouldn’t go about supporting the slaughtering of canaanites.

    “Islamophobia” is made-up nonsense word. It is actually irrational NOT to be concerned by Muslims if you are a decent human being given what the Muslim faith is & the threat it poses everyone incl. other Muslims.

    Fuck off. Look, noone is denying the attrocities committed in the name of Islam (like terrorist attacks etc…). However, to say that there’s something intrinsic in Islam that makes muslims more likely to become terrorists or that Islam is intrinsically more dangerous than any other religion is just plain stupid. The recent political climate is what has creates terrorists and given the right pressure, extremists of any religion would become terrorists in a heartbeat.
    You keep saying: the Koran says this, mohammed says that… Have you forgotten the violence and slavery that is condoned and indeed ordered by the old skydaddy in the bible? Now tell me that this is in any way less violent. Less dangerous. Really? You’re delusional.

  393. 393
    Rutee Katreya

    Oh, also, the elephant in the room whenever discussing Islam and conversion at swordpoint: You idiots don’t follow our own armed forces very well, do you? Also applies to the killing of civilians.

  394. 394
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    Nah, nah, cut the crap. P.Z. Myers ran like a spanked poodle when it came to sticking up for free speech

    Good grief you’re an idiot. Free speech does not mean free to say anything and no one can ever criticize it.

    You fucking moron.

  395. 395
    Eurasian magpie

    and a Muslim opening a ritually clean deli (Kosher deli if Jewish)

    The Arabic word is ‘halal’ btw.

  396. 396
    Eurasian magpie

    Yes, Christian fundamentalists are awful and maybe they do harbour ambitions of becoming almost as bad but I don’t think I’ve ever heard of any of them advocating FGM

    Not this again…Some facts for you concerning FGM which is a horrible cultural practice (source: Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: A statistical exploration):

    While religion can help explain FGM/C distribution
    in many countries, the relationship is not consistent.
    In six of the countries where data on religion
    are available – Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia,
    Ghana, Kenya and Senegal – Muslim population
    groups are more likely to practise FGM/C than
    Christian groups (see Figure 10, page 11). In five
    countries there seems to be no significant differences,
    while in Niger, Nigeria and the United
    Republic of Tanzania the prevalence is greater
    among Christian groups.

    Looking at religion independently, it is not possible
    to establish a general association with
    FGM/C status.

  397. 397
    David Marjanović

    StevoR, will you please stop pretending that a billion people is a monolith like the droid army or the clone army in the Star Wars prequels?!?

    How stupid can a person be!?!

    Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.

    Fuck “deserve”. They will lose both inevitably.

    …that just reminds me of so many sources who still think the polygraph test still works and use it, despite it has mostly been debunked.

    And even banned in lots of countries.

    the fact that the only reason most people have heard of Myers is his friendship with Dawkins

    This is the 21st century, you dolt. People don’t hear of Myers, they read his blog.

    much of the “land of the brave” is anything but

    On that I agree.

    the abject, crawling cowardice of those who try to pretend that there’s no problem with Islamic fascism. Yeah, try telling it to the people of Darfur, if you can find any.

    Baaaaaad example. In Darfur, both the murderous hordes and the victims are Muslims. Both are Sunni, even.

    Please define “fascism” for us.

    Islam is particularly worse and more extreme in a lot of areas. The Koran explicitly states men can beat their (multiple) wives, Mohammad believed in child rape and arranged marriages including from captured women whose husbands he killed in battle or ambvush. Islam is a politico-religious ideology that was designed to be and traditionally has been spread by violence at the point of a sword.

    Except for “multiple” (unless you count the FLDS), all of this holds for Christianity as well.

  398. 398
    Ingdigo Jump

    Kelloge of cerial fame practiced female genital mutilation in his asylum…for the purpose of controlling sex drive. He also mutilated male genitals and generally just tortured people to cure them of masturbation. Not a muslim. America is just a generation or two away from institutionalized maiming and torture in the name of christian culture. Your shit has yet to stop stinking

  399. 399
    Nick Gotts

    What the ..? That wasn’t supposed to come through twice. Stupid computer. – StevoR

    I agree that there was a lot of stupidity involved in that repeated load of shit. But none of it was down to the computer.

  400. 400
    frankboyd

    Case in point, the Myers loyalists write things like this:

    Case in point. You do realize that Sudan’s military dictatorship wasn’t particularly Islamic in nature, right?

    What can one do with such people, except to underline what they say? Al-Bashir is also the head of something called the “National Islamic Front”, which has significant power in the national government, and links to the Muslim Brotherhood. In the first genocide against the Christians and Animists (where two million were murdered, not that any of this lot give a damn about that.), a group of Imams sanctioned the jihad with the following fatwa:

    “”An insurgent who was previously a Muslim is now an apostate and a non-Muslim is a non-believer standing as a bulwark against the spread of Islam, and Islam has granted the freedom of killing both of them.”

    Of course, the most recent one can’t be anything about Islam because they’re both Muslims, right? Wrong – and another example of how first word pseudo-lefties don’t give a damn about anything outside of their toys and their apartments. There’s always been a distinction between the hardline Salafists of the NIF and the more relaxed Islam of the Fur people.

    I notice this fool is saying that the Hitch was an American. Sure, but he was true lefty, an internationalist who actually took the side of the genuinely oppressed in places like Darfur and Kurdistan – a big no-no. He should have remembered that the oppressed are only there as talking points and photo-ops, you wouldn’t want to take on their cause or do anything serious now would you? Remember, it’s a fashion accessory, not a moral principle.

  401. 401
    Rutee Katreya

    Al-Bashir is also the head of something called the “National Islamic Front”,

    [Citation Needed]

    a group of Imams sanctioned the jihad with the following fatwa

    That was issued 8 years prior, not about what became the genocide in Darfur.

    (where two million were murdered, not that any of this lot give a damn about that.)

    Look, you can’t bluff me on this; you only care about them to help your hate for muslims. You gave this game away immediately. I hate terrible people like you. Shit, you don’t even realize what it means that a number of the genocided peoples were, you know, Muslim.

    There’s always been a distinction between the hardline Salafists of the NIF and the more relaxed Islam of the Fur people.

    Say I grant you that they hate the Furs’ brand of Islam. You do realize that your attempts to tar all muslims apply to, you know, the Furs, right? It’s not like you had the decency to distinguish (yet another reason you are an asshat for trying to invoke Darfur).

    And lest you forget, my point is not that Islam can never be terrible, merely that Islam is not uniquely terrible. Because it isn’t. Every religious belief that has survived to the modern era has been invoked for mass murder at some point or another, and all of them have been within the last century.

    Sure, but he was true lefty

    Skillful dodging of the point raised in saying he was Meriken. You claimed he was under threat by ‘Islamic bullying’. Except he isn’t, because such a thing is not a threat to Meriken. Meriken barely put up with muslims existing. They don’t have the power in Merika to actually do anything like this.

    And no, Hitchens and Harris are terrible leftists. They claim to stand for the oppressed, but much like you, they only claim this so that they can happily oppress people right here. They’re both quite content oppressing brown and black people, which they allege will help the brown and black people elsewhere, but this is a pretty transparent lie.

    He should have remembered that the oppressed are only there as talking points and photo-ops

    Heh. Trying to co-opt people like me for your little internet arguments means you know we’re right, you just refuse to admit it.

    Remember, it’s a fashion accessory, not a moral principle.

    It’s neither; it’s my life, asshole. You picked the wrong liberal to mess with if this is how you think you can go about it. Some of us aren’t liberal because it’s how you win internet arguments; we’re liberal because it is our lives being affected by jackassery such as yours. Oh sure, today you stand against TEH MUSLIN because you pretend to care about oppressed black people elsewhere, what’ll tommorrow’s be? Standing against hispanic people because you’ll pretend to be for the poor? Do you have any idea how easy it is to say “I AM AGAINST MUSLIMS”, dude? And you act like this is a brave stand on your part? Pathetic.

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