Media Hype, Racial Profiling, and Good Science

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

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

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

The Toronto Star claims to have proved this phenomenon by evidence. This evidence needs to be examined by science. Gold then begins to explore the definition of racial profiling. Sometimes the term is used when a handful of officers are bigots. Sometimes it is applied when it seems that the police service promotes racism through its training materials. There is no evidence that American policing material is connected to Toronto Police. Profiling is the activity and racial a subspecies of profiling. Criminal law literature hosts a variety of profiles.

As well, police profilers generate ad hoc profiles. Profiling is a “junk science” involving vague and non-specific characteristics that can be manipulated. There is no scientific merit to profiling. Racial profiling is one-dimensional profiling where the race replaces all other characteristics. Profiling implies to tell us something about an unknown suspect by identifying characteristics. Racial profiling claims to predict the race of a suspect. Claims should recognize the difference between reactive and proactive policing.

Reactive policing is when police seek out a specific gender and race because witnesses described the culprit as such. Reactive policing is irrelevant to profiling. Proactive police activity should be the only data used. Statistics on police-minority interactions need to take into consideration the demographics of a given area. Also, are police targeting specific activity due to community concerns in a certain area? It may surprise people to know how much police activity is reactive and how little is proactive. The Toronto Star fails to recognize such issues.

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

After which Gold suggests that data collection needs to be done under comparable conditions. Gold then moves onto another publication “Wortley and Tanner,” and the definition used by them. The term greater levels are brought up, and Gold asks “compared to what? ” Wortley and Tanner utilized surveys to collect their data, which results in an opinions and claims survey. Gold calls such data collection, “Anecdotes in bulk. ” After this, Gold goes on for some time about assumptions and making the leap from report to reality based on anecdotal evidence.

Gold implies that the Toronto Star failed to take into consideration population distribution and population concentration of identifiable groups. The Toronto Star assumes that all groups are even distributed amongst throughout the general population. The Toronto Star compares data of an ethnic population to number of arrests for violent crimes in higher. Violent crimes will be a reactive policing perspective with witnesses identifying physical traits of the culprits. Such data cannot be used for profiling. This was mentioned earlier on in Gold’s essay.

Gold then gives an example of a specific case in the United States where profiling failed the Police investigation. Constant failure to identify criminals using a profile would become apparent with an increase in unsuccessful outcomes. For the conclusion, Gold regurgitates the term “junk science” and how it is unsuccessful. Then applauds Wortley and Tanner for their cautionary note to have such figures scrutinized by experts and peers before releasing results to the public and that quality control needs to be applied to media discussions on the topic. Strengths:

Gold does a good job comparing “good science” with “junk science,” and how inaccurate the use of “junk science” will be. Gold quickly defines terms that he continually uses throughout the rest of his essay to assist the reader in following his train of thought. At the beginning of the essay Gold lays the groundwork for what he will discuss throughout the essay. He, quickly lays down his assumption of what racial profiling is and how unlikely that it is used by police. Gold lies out his essay with sections with subtle conclusions being drawn by the end of each.

This helps to keep the reader on track as he attempts to dispel the phenomenon known as racial profiling. Hold spends most of his time attacking the foundation of each group or agencies bases for profiling. He uses references and his knowledge of statistical analysis to debunk each idea. Also, Gold uses various examples of how ineffective the outcome would be given each scenario. Gold illustrates how some groups confuse proactive and reactive policing as the same thing, when in fact they are not. He does his best bring that idea several time throughout the essay.

Gold is forthcoming with the fact that he was retained by Toronto Police to make submissions on this same very topic. That mention shows that Gold is trying to be honest with the reader. Also, I believe that it aids the read into recognizing that Gold would have had to do a far amount of research to make such submissions. The fact that Gold is privately employed and not a government employee may make the reader feel that he is less-biased on this particular topic. Weaknesses: At some points during the essay Gold seem to gone off on a tangent.

At one point he offers solutions to bridge the gap between government agencies and communities. This is done more than once, and was not relevant to the topic being discussed in the essay. There are a few points where Gold appears to be talking in circles with verbal jargon. I didn’t feel those points in his essay resulted in any valid point to validate his argument. It was almost as though Gold digressed or lost focus for a moment. There are points within the essay where Gold appears to put his personal thoughts in brackets, thereby taking away from his credibility.

For most of the essay Gold is trying to prove that the Toronto Star wrote an article without merit or proper research. Near the end of the essay he brings up another writer “Wortley and Tanner. ” I believe that it would have been more effective he had integrated both writings earlier on in the essay. It appears as though “Wortley and Tanner,” are almost an afterthought. Conclusion: I think Gold effectively made his point with this essay. He is credible and knowledgeable, proving his point with examples, scenarios and data.

He shows an appreciation for other points of view and illustrates how they may be incorrect based on their data collection. He affectively dissects the definition of the issue and how come groups confuse racism with racial profiling. As well his recognizes the differences between proactive and reactive policing. Gold shows how reactive policing gets generalized by most groups when in fact the investigation is driven by information from independent sources. I believe the weak points in Gold’s essay are overshadowed by his strong points, resulting in a fair and reasonable conclusion to his argument.