There’s a booming field on the left of using “science” to disprove reality.
The science they use isn’t actually science. They throw out references. Like the New York Times op-ed that insisted some speech is stressful enough to cause harm. Toss out some references and a study or two. Then pretend that you’ve disproven reality. Not to mention ethics, law and common sense.
Here’s another entry in this booming genre. “Why a Muslim ban won’t keep us safer”.
If you disagree, you hate science. And love reality.
They believe religious identity predicts risk and reason that adopting religious equality — meaning that religion plays no part in any kind of vetting — would endanger civilians. They see such a policy as overly idealistic “political correctness.”
What best predicts behavior? Behavior. This stands as a core tenet in my field, predictive analytics (a.k.a. machine learning, a branch of data science), the science of learning from data to drive decisions.
What does the data tell us? Screening by a demographic category such as religion detrimentally weakens security; screening instead by behavior strengthens it. Religious screening compromises the advancements in security we stand to gain from the latest in data science.
When used most effectively, predictive analytics assesses individuals by their prior behavior.
We don’t actually need all these words to tell us that a Muslim terrorist who previously blew people up is at the highest risk of repeating this behavior. That is indeed the best way to predict terror risk.
The question is how do we find potential terrorists among groups who have not previously run over a police officer while shouting Allahu Akbar. And that’s where we go beyond behavior to motive.
This is really simple.
Eric Siegel, who is a predictivologist in the booming field of predicting things, then takes this obvious concept and drives into an irrational ditch.
Religious screening operates like the bluntest of instruments. Banning an entire religious group from entry would eliminate some attacks, but so would banning, for example, all males between 18 and 35 (across religions).
I’m not a predictovologist, but the data indicates that Muslims are a more specific group than males 18-35. And the whole point is to drill down to specifics.
Also, and this is a mere technicality, Islamic terrorism tends to be carried out by Muslims, for obvious reasons. The intersection between males 18-35 and terrorism is incidental. The intersection between Muslims and Islamic terrorism is explanatory. As in the former explains the latter. Muslim terrorists kill because they’re Muslim. The Tsarnaev brothers didn’t look at their ages and decide to bomb the Boston Marathon.
But wait… there’s more.
Admittedly, data analysis itself hasn’t settled the debate as to whether being Muslim is intrinsically predictive of terrorism.
Perhaps Eric can help settle the debate by touring Tibet and then Syria.
Is being Muslim predictive of Muslim terrorism? The data remains unclear. Think of all the Muslim terrorist attacks being carried out by non-Muslims.
But data analysis does deliver one largely undisputed, critical insight: For no major religion do individual members present a particular danger.
I’m sorry, but the data is clear.
Muslims do not present a particular danger when it comes to Muslim terrorism. Muslim terrorism can come from anyone and at any time. The next Muslim terrorist act could be carried out by a Buddhist, a Christian or a Jew.
The data doesn’t lie. Reality does.
As a result, religious identity fails to expose malicious intent.
Unless the malicious intent is baked into the religion.
As for the opinion of my colleagues as an overall group, the majority of data scientists polled oppose Trump’s travel ban.
Which is where they differ from the public. But what do the ignorant savages who make up the public actually know? Data scientists have absolutely and unambigiously proven their case. Or have they?
Ultimately, behavioral data always prevails. But only a steadfast investment in this more sophisticated, behavior-based approach delivers the goods. During development, if behavioral data fails to out-predict religious screening, that is not a sign of failure — rather, it is a signal we must continue the efforts by collecting more behavioral data.
In the end, behavioral data will triumph! It must be so!
If currently, religious screening actually works better, that doesn’t mean we’re wrong. It means you need to give us more money while opening the door to more Muslim terrorists. And then when everything has been blown up, we will be proven right.
We are convinced that we are right. Therefore we must be right. And.. .science.
Whom are you going to believe us, or your sanity?