"Hinky" in Action

In Beyond Fear I wrote about trained officials recognizing "hinky" and how it differs from profiling:

Ressam had to clear customs before boarding the ferry. He had fake ID, in the name of Benni Antoine Noris, and the computer cleared him based on this ID. He was allowed to go through after a routine check of his car's trunk, even though he was wanted by the Canadian police. On the other side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, at Port Angeles, Washington, Ressam was approached by U.S. customs agent Diana Dean, who asked some routine questions and then decided that he looked suspicious. He was fidgeting, sweaty, and jittery. He avoided eye contact. In Dean's own words, he was acting "hinky." More questioning -- there was no one else crossing the border, so two other agents got involved -- and more hinky behavior. Ressam's car was eventually searched, and he was finally discovered and captured. It wasn't any one thing that tipped Dean off; it was everything encompassed in the slang term "hinky." But the system worked. The reason there wasn't a bombing at LAX around Christmas in 1999 was because a knowledgeable person was in charge of security and paying attention.

I wrote about this again in 2007:

The key difference is expertise. People trained to be alert for something hinky will do much better than any profiler, but people who have no idea what to look for will do no better than random.

Here's another story from last year:

On April 28, 2014, Yusuf showed up alone at the Minneapolis Passport Agency and applied for an expedited passport. He wanted to go "sightseeing" in Istanbul, where he was planning to meet someone he recently connected with on Facebook, he allegedly told the passport specialist.

"It's a guy, just a friend," he told the specialist, according to court documents.

But when the specialist pressed him for more information about his "friend" in Istanbul and his plans while there, Yusuf couldn't offer any details, the documents allege.

"[He] became visibly nervous, more soft-spoken, and began to avoid eye contact," the documents say. "Yusuf did not appear excited or happy to be traveling to Turkey for vacation."

In fact, the passport specialist "found his interaction with Yusuf so unusual that he contacted his supervisor who, in turn, alerted the FBI to Yusuf's travel," according to the court documents.

This is what works. Not profiling. Not bulk surveillance. Not defending against any particular tactics or targets. In the end, this is what keeps us safe.

Posted on April 22, 2015 at 8:40 AM • 64 Comments

Comments

Clive RobinsonApril 22, 2015 8:56 AM

The problem with "hinky" is three fold,

1, some people will not behave "hinky".
2, others will appear hinky for no "criminal" reason.
3, training to spot hinky is difficult at best and few make the grade.

So as a system it's far from infallible.

However this is not in it's self a problem unless you suffer from the second issue, or the "officer" uses it to confirm prejudices (which is by far the norm not the exception).

As with all such low reliability systems it should be treated as just a minor indicator to make further enquires, and those employing it should be strongly monitored for prejudice.

Anony-mouseApril 22, 2015 9:05 AM

This is "what works" in the sense that it catches some bad people, but how many good people does it also sweep up?

My son is on the Asperger's spectrum, and despite years of working with him on social interactions he is still incapable of looking someone in the eye, and always looks uncomfortable and is fidgety ("hinky"?) in conversations with other people. Will he always be under suspicion? Is he in for a life of additional questioning?


ÉibhearApril 22, 2015 9:07 AM

Out of curiosity, was this part of the role of the passport specialist?

- You want a passport? Sure. Let me see your application form, and if it's filled out correctly and your proof-of-ID checks out, we can arrange it for you.

sounds like the correct conversation between a public servant providing a service to a private citizen, and this sounds wrong:

- You want a passport? Why?

BrentCApril 22, 2015 9:27 AM

The keys are "trained" and "experienced". Training to help the individual screener/LEO separate personal prejudices from objective observation. Experience so that the individual in front of interviewer is not the first person they have observed with non-relevant personal/emotional/other problems. Foolproof? Absolutely not, but a calm, rational, trained individual is the best first line of defense. Looking for 'triggers' which may . . . or may not . . . indicate an issue.

Peter GalbavyApril 22, 2015 9:32 AM

The problem with trying to use this in a wider context is that, with time, it becomes an ingrained systemic prejudice. You can imagine once the police were trained to "know" who the criminals were in a neighbourhood. Move forward to the present day and the vast majority of stop-and-search (in the UK, I am sure elsewhere) has become harassment and institutional racism.

K.S.April 22, 2015 9:46 AM

@Peter Galbavy

If population A commits 3/10 of all crimes, and population B commits 7/10 of all crimes, is it systematic B-cism to focus 70% of policing effort on population B?

M WelinderApril 22, 2015 9:49 AM

"- You want a passport? Why?"

There are actually requirements for using the expedited passport route.
In that context the "why?" is appropriate.

Bruce SchneierApril 22, 2015 10:20 AM

"So as a system it's far from infallible."

Of course it's "far from infallible." Same can be said for all security systems, even the good ones. It's the best we can do.

Joel HalpernApril 22, 2015 10:27 AM

If I am understanding the news reports properly, part of the problem with this approach is that it inevitably turns into a checklist. So there are "trained" folks with a list of things to look for, like people not meeting their gaze, or appearing nervous, or a number of other things that are perfectly normal for many travelers. And instead of reacting to these symptoms in a complex, analytic, observative fashion, the "trained" professional then sees if your score exceeds a threshold and pulls you out of line. From the point of view of the government, they are doing exactly what Bruce recommends. But it does not work. And then, it gets worse. Due to human biases and selective observation, there are distinct patterns in which people get scored / noticed by the system. So that it seems, from where I sit, to turn into profiling.

oliverApril 22, 2015 10:48 AM

Isn't that the modus operandi of the security people of El Al?
There has never been a highjakcing of an El Al airplane.
Go figure.

NobodySpecialApril 22, 2015 11:01 AM

@olivier - there are a few false positives.
This Palestinian guy looked nervous as he was questioned by a dozen IDF commandos with machine guns pointed at him - so we didn't let him on the flight.

BardiApril 22, 2015 11:26 AM

K.S. - Assuming all things being equal, you might be correct. However, in Ferguson, MO. it was found that the police were "directed" to detain and make criminals of blacks in order to "help finance" city operations, definitely skewing your statistics. As NoBodySpecial pointed out, a proliferation of false positives can skew people's understanding of what happens.

I remember after 11Sep01 seeing only airport personnel being fully screened by out-sourced "security personnel" (one day six pilots spread-eagle against a wall) and thinking that seemed odd (I flew once a week). On asking the manager I found that with a quota for greater screening (putdowns and strip-searches), they found tagging airport personnel was a much better choice because the airport personnel did not complain, whereas us passengers did.

SofakinbdApril 22, 2015 11:28 AM

@Anony-mouse

In conjunction with what @BrentC said, it is not one thing. It is a totality of circumstances much like detecting lying. You need a baseline on how people answer questions truthfully based on reflective type questions. Then you probe and ask harder questions. Aspergers may account for some things but it will not account for all things. When people lie there is so much to think about it creates increased cognitive load. There is more effort involved in lying than there is to tell the truth. The truth also doesn't change, it is the truth and that is all there is. The truth does not need the almighty's endorsement either, "I swear to god!" Lying on the other hand the stories do change. There is an excess of words to attempt to sell the lies, "I'm gonna tell you how it went" or "Actually this is what happened, really…" The cortisol runs rampant through a person, they twitch, they itch, they try to hold themselves tight and not shake or leak damaging non-verbal communication. The skin turns red. Have them draw the story they are telling, it is much easier with the truth. Have them tell you the story they just told you backwards, it is much harder to tell a lie backwards accurately. Maintaining eye contact increases cognitive load, if they are already taxed by lying it adds to the problems they have internally.

Think of it all like field sobriety tests. Some people cannot balance, no problem, some people cannot count, no problem, some people cannot do their ABC's, no problem, but everyone can do at least a few of the tests unless they are impaired. Unless your are dead, there is something, or a few somethings, you can test to determine impairment. The same goes here. You are looking for things that don't fit. Much like I believe you as a parent can tell when your own child is lying. It is not a checklist per se, but more of a collection of things to be aware of. It is easier to check for those from the outside observer, than it is to control them on the inside by the subject. This is why usually in interviews one officer talks and the other observes.

-Sofa

kingsnakeApril 22, 2015 11:41 AM

BS: "but people who have no idea what to look for will do no better than random."

The TSA, in a nutshell.

DanielApril 22, 2015 11:47 AM

Despite Bruce's claims 'hinky' is no better than random. It's fitting that Bruce should make this post the day after SCOTUS hands down Rodriguez v. US.

So let us tally the score in Rodriguez.

Magistrate Judge: Not hinky.
District Judge. Agreed. Not Hinky.
8th Circuit Court: No comment.
SCOTUS: 7 justices. No comment. Send it back to the 8th.
Thomas and Alito: What?! Are you guys all out of your cotten-pickin' mind: that's hinky if we ever saw hinky.

It's easy to cherry pick examples of where hinky works. But there is a lot of hinky that really is just police harassment.


boogApril 22, 2015 11:49 AM

Kinda wishing Bruce didn't include that "this is what keeps us safe" bit, I feel like it's what is causing many people to object to the article.


...it should be treated as just a minor indicator to make further enquires...
I think that's the point though. It's not being offered as an end-all solution to security - it's just a better alternative to some of the other things we keep trying:

  • Profiling: Like profiling, non-criminal people are likely to get caught up in questioning due to some appearing "hinky" - any observation we use as an indicator will result in some false positives. But it does make more sense to suspect behaviorally-suspicious people versus, say, genetically-suspicious people..

  • Bulk surveillance: Looking for people who appear "hinky" focuses on people localized to given scenarios who might act the part, rather than searching for what may or may not be a needle in a very large haystack of mundane information about millions upon millions of people who are all irrelevant.

  • Defending against specific tactics: We only defend against tactics that have already been tried (or in some cases, happened in movies). Each defense, devised in hindsight, only protects against few attack vectors. Observing behavior is typically a bit more real-time, and covers a much larger range of tactics, including those we haven't thought of.

And yes, training to spot "hinky" can be difficult - seems to me that should be justification for investing more in it than we do in these other methods.

rgaffApril 22, 2015 12:02 PM

This works when the officers aren't on some kind of power trip just trying to push people around... But anyone who hasn't noticed the frequency of the power trip kind hasn't seen much law enforcement in action, and therefore is not qualified to discuss it really... We learn by experience that avoidance of all government agents is the safest bet, except when unavoidable of course. And then keep the interaction as short as possible, and say as little as possible, but be calm and unhurried and polite and act happy OR ELSE! And everyone's naturally nervous in such situations, which can make you start to forget even the truth.

Martin WalshApril 22, 2015 12:45 PM

You'll likely be accused of cherry-picking here.

I was an exceedingly shy boy who one day tried to sell brownies for a school fund raiser. I entered one business near school and the owner demanded to know my teacher's name. I was so nervous I stuttered and stammered but couldn't even remember his name. The owner exclaimed "see...I knew you weren't from around here." I slowly drifted back, embarrassed and frozen.

Wanna guess how many foreigners are terrified of authorities? My Lithuanian grandfather who couldn't speak English hid in the attic for years every time someone came to the door...in America. He fled to avoid forced conscription in the late 19th century. He lived in fear, in America, that they were coming to get him.

In the movie "Grand Canyon" a young man is upset by something at home and just starts running. The police see him running, bolt from their car and tackle him to the ground. "Why were you running?!!" they demanded to know. "I...was...just running."

The fact is, there is no expertise on humans and your examples are cheap.

This parallels the refrain heard for years in security that I always knew was intended to detract from shit designs - it's those stupid people. If only they didn't click on anything, if only they didn't make any mistakes, ever, then our shit design would work perfectly.

Read about business owners who weren't born here, traveling across the country with large amounts of cash, albeit foolishly. They get stopped by the police and guess what? They're guilty! First sign of fear and from that moment on all the machinery of the shit design churns full-power to generate all the confirmation necessary. Like the Krell on Altair 4...Dr. Morbius!

Chris MApril 22, 2015 12:53 PM

The key difference is expertise. People trained to be alert for something hinky will do much better than any profiler, but people who have no idea what to look for will do no better than random.

I'm curious: what does this training look like?

From the linked post, it sounds like there's a lot of focus on expertise that already exists (e.g., the example of the employee who has gun knowledge from previous service in the military). But I'm curious about how you teach someone to leverage that expertise.

Martin WalshApril 22, 2015 1:06 PM

Expertise? Like the Boulder detective first on the scene at the Ramsey residence Christmas 1996 upon the disappearance of little JonBenet. She would later appear on national television claiming "I just knew they were guilty" Yeah, she could just feel it.

If the shit designed systems work so well, then why can't they catch the psychopaths that don't appear nervous, EVER? Do you think Madoff was nervous when he spoke to investors? I wonder if McVeigh was nervous when he rented the Ryder truck. When these systems fail they fail so horribly it is impossible to ever intelligently defend them, unless you're selling something.

Nick PApril 22, 2015 1:08 PM

The Israeli's at the airports are pretty good at this. I have serious doubts of American police doing this successfully. Like the above posters, I was harassed my whole life from about every person I met in power because I wasn't a conformist. On top of it, having to fight so much growing up makes me perpetually alert and cautious. Cops read that as someone about to commit a crime or who just did. My experiences with them have rarely been positive. Most just try to find reasons to treat me as a crook.

On top of that, most of my encounters with government enforcers have showed their corruption or self-interest. They typically were trying to find a way to pin something on me that could be turned into a money-making opportunity (aka fine). In many places, they have been seizing people's money without any charges or evidence at all. John Oliver covers that here. My Black and Latino friends get even more of that shit, esp depending on their cars.

So, to me, more subjective criteria is just more reason for them to bother me or take my money. There's a lot of people that fall into that category. To be fair, I've met plenty of honest, hardworking cops and government employees. They tended to have more objective, sensible reasons for stopping or interrogating me. Yet, the people wanting power with vague criteria (eg hinky) or poor accountability have rarely been those people. I'd rather have never met them.

Marcos El MaloApril 22, 2015 1:09 PM

I don't think False Positives are that big an issue, at least initially and from a civil liberties perspective. "Hinkyness" is being used to select for the next level of checks (as opposed to profiling based on skin color, dress, nationality).

However, an organization with sufficient resources can train operatives to not exhibit hinkyness tells. They can determine tells by probing defenses. So checking for hinkyness might work against solo efforts and small organization efforts but are not a good defense against sophisticated attackers.

This sort of screening might be better than profiling or random checks, but it certainly has limitations.

BullshitApril 22, 2015 1:44 PM

Why should countries be stopping their citizens trying to join some other militia? Oh yes, because it's Anti-American... Give me a break

tyrApril 22, 2015 1:47 PM


If you work for the government you are supposed to be
paying attention. In both cases the agent was paying
attention and noticed something. Now most of the rest
are time servers with the attention span of a gnat
and the over inflated sense of their own importance.

Suspecting everyone for stereotype reasons is just
another sign of clinical madness. Bank clerks with
furry things nibbling at their toes and paranoids
abound in government. Since there is no normal in
human behaviors there is no way to measure whether
any sign is an indicator of malicious intent. You
can still pay attention and locate the real anomalies
but you have to forgo the posing and megalomania of
the average bureaucrat while doing your job.

Take a good look at the pre-9/11 incident. Things
were noticed and people were notified, at that point
the ball was dropped by incompetents and others who
were not paying attention.

Next you have the Congress fed a drug which is labelled
as impairing your judgement and instead of shelving
the Patriot Act until the effects of Cipro wore off
they were railroaded into passing it into law without
reading it. Leadership that is not paying attention
can not make you safe from anything and lackeys who
are posing as two bit dictators will not make you
safe. They spend more time stealing things from your
luggage or passing selfies than they do paying any
attention to their real job.

If you have been around a potter wheel you will also
notice that if you try to spin bullshit it will splatter
all over you. This should be noted by those who are
trying to spin everything to push an agenda. There is
no necessity for cover for the truth, the truth is what
sets you free, the only thing you are spinning is your
chains. There is no substitute for results and no amount
of spinning will make one.

jdgaltApril 22, 2015 1:54 PM

The hard question is, how do we give police enough discretion to detect these cases without laying ourselves wide open to the kind of abuses by police that we see all over the news these days?

I'm against giving police any "discretion" at all unless they're first made fully liable for any unwarranted use of force, just as if you or I had done it plus an extra penalty for breaking the trust we give them.

lolApril 22, 2015 2:14 PM

this is literally a movie plot... I can't find it but there's definitely a movie where the pilots lose all control cause the tuururists steal a piece of stolen military hardware from an air base that allows remote control of the plane.... then of course the commandos get sent in to fuck shit up...

Tim!April 22, 2015 2:43 PM

@K.S. - the problem is that we don't (and can't) know that Population A commits 30% of the crimes and Population B commits 70% of the crimes. We know that Population A is arrested 30% of the time and Population B is arrested 70% of the time.

If the police are 100% efficient, the arrest figures will match the crime figures. But the police are not 100% efficient. In reality, the police are influenced -- explicitly and implicitly, consciously and unconsciously -- by other factors that distinguish A from B. The arrest statistics in fact differ significantly from the crime statistics.

МОРЧАСТИ ПОГРАНВОЙСКApril 22, 2015 2:50 PM

Your purpose and plans are always to exercise your right to leave your country. You can leave it at that.

The ACLU's recommended answer for CBP inquiries that go beyond the scope of your immigration status is "personal business." "That's "personal business." "Personal business."

More information about friends and plans may be summarized as, Blow It Out Your Ass.


ConcernedCitizenApril 22, 2015 2:54 PM

I think the problem is that this "doesn't work," nor is it that it isn't superior to some alternative like profiling. The difficulty is that it is a highly refined skill that takes a considerable amount of training and practice to master. There are likely some folks with good, natural intuition for when someone is "hinky" and the cases in Port Angeles and Minneapolis may well be examples. However, we can't rely on that for the vast majority of people screening at borders, airports, etc. The necessary training and testing would be an almost insurmountable burden given both the scale of the security infrastructure in this country and the quality of the personnel staffing it.

blaughwApril 22, 2015 3:24 PM

@Tim!

You are 100% right. I can't tell if @K.S. is racist, troll or 'other'.

Also important to note that arrest statistics are completely different from crimes reported statistics. Either will be biased by a bunch of factors, including the feedback loop @K.S. mentioned of the level of funding and coverage based on reporting.

Fact is, neither of those metrics are a valid way on their own to determine funding or coverage levels.

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasonsApril 22, 2015 5:13 PM

Let's see how the fourth amendment (almost wrote forth, old programming habit) would be re-written using the "Hinky" language...

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons (unless expressing "Hinky" like behavior), houses (unless they are located in a neighborhood frequented by "Hinky" types), papers (but not those papers that "Hinkies" use to smoke foreign materials that are a threat to national security), and effects (so long as no "Hinky" like behavior is exhibited)against unreasonable searches and seizures (but okay if "Hinky" idiosyncratic twitches, quirks, ticks, etc. are observed), shall not be violated..."

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasonsApril 22, 2015 5:23 PM

@ Nick P

I was harassed my whole life from about every person I met in power because I wasn't a conformist.

I can completely sympathize, as an auto-didactic eccentric (in an intellectual, not in a monetary sense) my life is replete with abuse and misinterpretation. I have to continuously explain myself whilst idiots are free to babble on about bullshit that they never have to defend. Just look at people in positions of power and respect; their ability to lie, steal, and cheat explains their rise to power more so than reason, ability and skill, and a sense of fairness. The curve of justice bends long and oft times the truth never becomes realized in real-time when humans are left to make rational (huh, that will never happen)choices.

Hinky NationApril 22, 2015 7:11 PM

> trained officials recognizing "hinky"

In a police state, ordinary citizens rapidly develop a keen sense of what is "hinky" and what isn't.

For example, how people lived under the Stazi as illustrated in the movie "Lives Of Others".

When you become the hunted, you develop some new survival skills.

NobodySpecialApril 22, 2015 8:28 PM

I have been stopped by the police for the suspicious act of "walking" in the suburbs of a US city.
Where are you going?
My motel over there (about a mile away).
Why don't you have a car?
Because the motel is only a mile away.

There was a sidewalk along the road, it was daylight, I'm white and middle aged. Admittedly I was wearing jeans rather than a suit and carrying a computer backpack instead of a briefcase.

A joke I heard from an American colleague:
Policeman asks - "do you know why I'm stopping you today?"
Citizen replies - "yes, because you failed highschool and this was the best job you could get"


WaelApril 22, 2015 8:50 PM

@NobodySpecial,

A joke I heard from an American colleague

Funny! Here is another one...
An English man went to the U.S. for a visit. He was about to cross the street but was looking at the wrong direction for traffic. A policeman stopped him and said: Man! You should look to the right! The Brit told him thanks officer, I am from the UK, we drive on the other side. Policeman said: Well, be careful, you didn't come here to die? The English man said: No officer! I came here yester die :)

Harry JohnstonApril 22, 2015 11:15 PM

@Daniel: I don't think that's the same thing. Rodriguez is about the use of traffic stops to discover crimes that are outside of the scope of the original legal justification for the stop.

Bruce's examples are all cases of security personnel finding something that they were actually supposed to be looking for at the time. I think that's a significant difference.

BrnVrnApril 23, 2015 2:44 AM

I would cut it in two:


  • I agree that security personnel has to be alert, involved and not blindly applying processes and checklists.

  • I wouldn't have put "Hinky in action" as the better illustration of involvement

John E. QuantumApril 23, 2015 7:01 AM

Normal people contemplating evil are bothered by their conscience, and exhibit hinky behavior. Psychopaths and sociopaths contemplating evil (and by the way these are the people most likely to bring their evil plans to fruition) by definition have no conscience and are much less likely to exhibit hinky behavior.

Citizen FirstApril 23, 2015 7:20 AM

reg: Hinky.

I find this to be an incredibly bad idea. How many studies have tracked the number "good" persons that still display "Hinky" behavior when being forced to allow unconstitutional searches of there persons?

I know myself I still get mad as hell having to wait in line to be violated. And the look on my face as I get to those Agents is the reason they always pick me for "extra scrutiny" screenings.

Richard HApril 23, 2015 8:28 AM

@oliver: "There has never been a highjakcing of an El Al airplane."

You recite that as though it made them unique.
It's not even true: see LY426 LHR-FCO, 23 July 1968.

"Go figure" indeed.

K.S.April 23, 2015 10:47 AM

@Tim! We can and do know what % of crimes any given segment of population commits. We know broken down by county and demographics about arrests, incarceration, convictions, rate of plea bargaining and so on. We also know what kind of crimes perps commit - burglary, drugs, murders and so on. All of this is accurately tracked and could be used in profiling. This is one fundamental, but unstated, principle behind 'hinky'.

This approach works well for Israel airport security, it should also work elsewhere... instead of blind and inefficient 'one security line and always random checks'.

Think of this as password cracking. We don’t insist on always sequentially brute forcing, because otherwise it would be unfair for all ‘password123’ users out there. We throw dictionary attacks at it, then we use an existing passwords database sorted by frequency, then we use algorithms that were trained on passwords database to speed up our cracking. When applied to human populations, this would fit the definition of profiling. So why do we use this method? Because it was shown to be the most efficient way to crack passwords and/or find the bad guys.

I also find it very interesting that while I intentionally used neutral Population A and Population B labels in my previous post, yet accusations of racism were leveled against me. I wonder if some people here are uncomfortable with the very notion, based on evidence, that different passwords are used at different frequencies? How such views could be epistemologicaly justified?

SofakinbdApril 23, 2015 11:45 AM

To be clear, the things I mentioned in my post do not apply to psychopaths. Psychopaths are a breed unto themselves separate and distinct from the rest of us. They don't react the same way, they don't fear the same things, they don't worry about getting caught. They know the words but not the music, semantic aphasia if you will. They know how to fake being sad, or happy, or whatever they need but if you scratch deeper than the surface the facade falls apart because they don't actually feel the music within. The best actors are essentially the best liars in that they sell the role they are playing. Same goes for undercover operatives. It takes a lot of training over long periods of time to get great at it.

rgaffApril 23, 2015 7:19 PM

@ K.S. He's saying that one population goes scott free more often per capita, therefore their counting stats are skewed to be lower percentage overall than the actual real crimes committed. It's hard to prove what you don't know too.

KevinHApril 23, 2015 10:47 PM

The question is, in these instances, what distinguishes "hinky" from merely "Muslim" or "vaguely-Middle-Eastern-looking"? That is, what is the difference between "smart, attentive policing" and "profiling that got lucky"?

The difficulty with these sorts of anecdotes is that all we really know is that the law enforcement officials (or bureaucrats) in these instances managed to flag one individual who was doing something bad. We don't know (a) that these officials don't actually unproductively harrass, intimidate, inconvenience, threaten, or delay *every* Muslim or Arab or Middle Eastern or non-white person they encounter (or even a disproportionate share of them); or (b) that these officials are equally likely to catch (or even ever catch) non-minority, non-Arab, non-Muslim terrorists.

Would these same officials have flagged something "hinky" with Ted Kaczynski or Timothy McVeigh?

On the flip side, what proportion of terrorists - Muslim or otherwise - don't exhibit sufficiently "hinky" behavior and are therefore missed by these purportedly shining examples of governmental wisdom?

Nick PApril 23, 2015 10:55 PM

@ KevinH

Good points. Such possibilities are why it would be nice to see a lot of data on various examples of suspicion and the results. The successes, maybes, and outright failures. Then, we can evaluate such techniques better.

keithApril 24, 2015 3:39 AM

@ Wael
"Funny! Here is another one..."

thank you, thou i read it with a southern counties accesnt till the end, when I realised it works best with a Brum accent.

thus I'm off for a nice kipper tie.

ScottApril 24, 2015 7:20 AM

I'm not convinced. It's not clear to me that "hinky" works better than profiling. The first example given, with Ahmed Ressam, would have also been stopped by profiling. The question is what are the false positive and false negative rates, and are we comfortable with them as a society. If you stop every muslim at the border there will be a lot of false positives, but if you stop every person who looks nervous there will also be a lot of false positives. The recent checklist of behaviors the TSA looks for is a perfect example of how this can be turned into something no better than profiling.

ReaderApril 24, 2015 8:59 AM

This is great, but it assumes that if "hinky" is detected, there's something the detector can do.

ReaderApril 24, 2015 11:18 AM

And when your life has devolved into nothing but hinky, how do you tell whether you're in a nest of crooks or if it's just local bullies with too much time on their hands?

Peter GerdesApril 24, 2015 11:33 AM

So why not use profiling?

Well, the reasonable argument you and others give is that terrorists will simply perform test runs and only send agents in who pass the profiling. Thus, by profiling you tend to waste resources.

However, this argument works equally well against any property that is the same on both dry runs and actual runs. So presumably things like, does the individual seem to have a reasonable story about what they are doing should be as useless as profiling. Yet, it is just such a consideration which you praise above.

---

The right response to this is that threats come from both sophisticated and unsophisticated groups. If properties that could be tested for and avoided are useful in catching unsophisticated attacks why shouldn't we think that ethnicity is one of these? I admit there is an argument that screeners will way overweight ethnicity but that is a different consideration.

AndrewApril 24, 2015 12:54 PM

@tyr you're contradicting yourself, although this attitude isn't uncommon:

Now most of the rest [government employees] are time servers with the attention span of a gnat and the over inflated sense of their own importance.

So, sterotyping of government employees, suggesting they are all incomptent time-serving and self-important.

Suspecting everyone for stereotype reasons is just another sign of clinical madness.

But wait, grouping people together as suspicious because of stereotypes of their behaviour is madness?

Bank clerks with furry things nibbling at their toes and paranoids abound in government

No, all bank clerks and goverment employyes are the same - paranoid!

Since there is no normal in human behaviors there is no way to measure whether any sign is an indicator of malicious intent.

Sorry, wrong, everyone is an individual, you can't tell whether any one person is going to exhibit some particular trait ot behaviour.

mooApril 24, 2015 3:28 PM

@ Peter Gerdes:

Assume for a moment that racial profiling was an effective technique at detecting and stopping terrorists. Is that a good enough reason to use it? I would say no, because I don't want to live in a society that treats some of its members better than others simply because of their skin color, or apparent ethnicity. We can be better than that. We should at least try to treat everyone equally. The injustice of systematic racial/ethnic profiling is an actual harm that we should try to eliminate or at the very least minimize.

"Hinky" detection seems better because it at least tries to judge people by their behavior rather than their appearance.

The actual rate of terrorists is so small that any screening method will produce a large fraction of false positives. Our choice of screening criteria determines wether those false positives are drawn disproportionally from certain subgroups of society or not. If false positives are unavoidable, lets at least try to be fair about it and impose them evenly across the whole population!

thevoidApril 26, 2015 1:41 AM

@Anony-mouse

This is "what works" in the sense that it catches some bad people, but how many good people does it also sweep up?

My son is on the Asperger's spectrum, and despite years of working with him on social interactions he is still incapable of looking someone in the eye, and always looks uncomfortable and is fidgety ("hinky"?) in conversations with other people. Will he always be under suspicion? Is he in for a life of additional questioning?

as an aspie myself, sorry to say, he probably will. this has been something that has weighed on my mind for a number of years now, and has even come up on this blog before (once was on a post about a 'nervousness detector').

especially as they use automated behavioral detection, i envision a future where i am always stopped, because some computer flagged me. "our algorithms say you are suspicious" (ie don't act 'normal').

people have too much faith in technology ("but the computer said so!"), and as everything goes to hell, and shit-for-brains run things, i fear being caught up in this myself, because i am really incapable of acting 'normal', even if i wanted to (i don't) and knew how.

i have a good deal of nervous control, but as i approach middle age i still get 'nervous' (but not necessarily anxious). sometimes i worry that people may even think i am on drugs eg coke, meth.

we do get better at some things over time, i couldn't look people in the eye until i was about 17-18. i am still not comfortable with it nearly two decades later, but (slow) improvement.

(and a minor point, it is the "Autism Spectrum" that Aspergers is classified as part of.)


@sofakindb

In conjunction with what @BrentC said, it is not one thing. It is a totality of circumstances much like detecting lying. You need a baseline on how people answer questions truthfully based on reflective type questions. Then you probe and ask harder questions. Aspergers may account for some things but it will not account for all things.

i like your analysis of these mechanisms, it is really quite good, but only applies to non-autistics (neuro-typicals or NTs). i will address individual points below.

we are very different, really a subspecies (probably not the right term, but a natural variation, like a black leopard). our brains are actually structured differently physically.

these tests really would work on NTs, and asking questions as you say does work quite well. in fact, i believe good questions and observation are probably all a good interrogator needs (no need to 'enhance' the interrogation).

they all however rest upon the assumtion that, as you say:

When people lie there is so much to think about it creates increased cognitive load. There is more effort involved in lying than there is to tell the truth.

which is generally true, however...

if we (aspies) are just talking to someone we are probably already in cognitive overload (unless we are talking about one of our 'special interests' in which case we go on and on and on...)

in fact, in the post above, when Bruce relates the story of the potential LAX bomber, i was thinking at first "is this about Autism/Aspergers" until i read further. his behavior really does sound like typical autistic/aspie anxiety from un unstructured social situation.

we are taxed even trying to hold the most basic conversation. stress and anxiety are generally the normal condition for an autistic (in a social situation) so yes, it can indeed account for everything you mention.

nobody has a baseline for autistics and we are fairly rare (or at least uncommon). and that is a problem for us. noone seems to have any knowledge of autism, and there really are too few of us overall for a system of averages to care.

we have trouble with situations where there is nothing really at stake. being profiled is exponentially worse for us than for an NT. any non-structured conversation is stressful, and anything more could easily overload us, especially being singled out.

just saw a doc on pbs about autism/aspergers. one autistic fellow related that the ending of The Jungle Book (the movie) was the saddest thing he ever saw, since Mogli leaves with the humans (i guess into their 'warm embrace'). it was sad to him because he was thinking "you don't want to go with them, trust me" (he certainly would have liked the book though, pretty much the opposite ending, and opposite view of humanity).

many of us see the whole of humanity as basically predatory. we're very often prey, so it is logical. probably one of the main reasons why PTSD is so often a comorbid condition.

the vast majority of people have an instinctual trust of humanity, and don't see this problem (and even if you are the suspicious type, you still have that instinct). NTs take this for granted, you don't know how much of your civilization is predicated upon a certain amount of blind instinctual trust. so you probably cannot understand this at all (though perhaps certain oppressed minorities may).

to us, being singled out by authorities may be about the same as a pack of wolves descending on us. i'd probably be less frighted by the wolves. i understand them, what they want, what the consequences are. life and death, violence. simple.

likewise, i find the rules of the underworld easier to understand, and i am less fearful around it (to be clear, i was born into/live around such elements, i don't associate by choice). i find very real threats to my life to be less stressful than unstructured conversations, and that is not an exageration. i will relive the conversation in post-traumatic flashbacks, but not the life-threatening situations.

and i fear cops more than gangs. maybe the cop is a decent guy, maybe he is an asshole on a power trip. i can run from the gangs. cops not so much. i also have a fighting chance against gangs. once again i'd prefer the wolves (or gangs, this from experience). especially since such threats such as gangs/wolves are localized. with cops you have a whole system against you.

The truth also doesn't change, it is the truth and that is all there is.

we're into philosophical territory here. i believe in an ultimate truth, but as a skeptic don't believe it is really attainable. there is also truth *as we perceive it*. yes, we do know when we are speaking contrary to belief, even if subconsciously, and it does show.

The truth does not need the almighty's endorsement either, "I swear to god!" Lying on the other hand the stories do change.

my idea of what is essential and what another's (NT) idea is are very different. we notice and pay attention to very different things. different things are important to us. "a normal person would have mentioned X" or "a normal person would have done Y" is not applicable to us, since, well, we are not normal. by definition.

and i have been accused of changing my story when i added data that i had not considered or thought necessary to relate originally. really their interpretation of the story changed with more data. they thought the new data should have been obvious for me to relate the first time since it changed the meaning for them, but we lack 'social empathy', and such 'obvious' things are anything but for us.

the biggest Autistic/Aspergers support site is wrongplanet .net. think about that name. (i say: men are from mars, women are from venus, and aspies are from vulcan.)

some of us also have Auditory Processing Disorder, and may completely mishear something. "interrogator: when i asked you X you said yes." this has happened to me a number of times, thankfully in non-critical circumstances, but it has been an issue and caused problems.

There is an excess of words to attempt to sell the lies, "I'm gonna tell you how it went" or "Actually this is what happened, really?"

and aspies tend to be Verbose, and unusually honest (we lack filters). sometimes we just like explaining every aspect of something, in *painful* detail (pun very much intended.)

these are *DIAGNOSTIC CRITERIA*.

back to social difficulties/anxieties, we are often anxious because we don't know exactly how to react, and we tend to over react, and...

for instance, if someone just stares at us, some of us may keep going on because we are nervous, because we don't quite undstand what is coing on, and don't know what else to do. we're not anxious because we know we are guilty, but because of (normal) anxiety we will be seen as guilty.

The cortisol runs rampant through a person, they twitch, they itch, they try to hold themselves tight and not shake or leak damaging non-verbal communication. The skin turns red.

that sounds like the reaction of an aspie/autistic to almost ANY social situation, let alone one where authorities (wolves) corner you. many autistics even shake under normal conditions, let alone under stress.

we get nervous just being in public, moreso when having to deal directly with someone. and being interrogated?

the interrogator is unlikely to overcome his own instinct/conditioning, and probably believes, like most of the populous, that not looking into someone's eyes automatically implies guilt, and we are treated as such.

and we know that this happens. and the fact that we don't know what to do makes us even more anxious. it's a vicious spiral.

Have them draw the story they are telling, it is much easier with the truth. Have them tell you the story they just told you backwards, it is much harder to tell a lie backwards accurately.

this is the one thing that MAY work on an aspie.

unless they are ultra-stressed and in fight/flight/freeze mode. brains on too much adrenaline don't always work properly. that can chemically effect one's brain, indeed one's cognition (we can have 'meltdowns' where the logic centers of our brain may actually be affected).

Maintaining eye contact increases cognitive load, if they are already taxed by lying it adds to the problems they have internally.

and you didn't read what Anony-mouse said. it is taxing for us aspies to look anyone in the eye, ever, for ANY reason. forcing us to keep eye contact is almost torture.

though somewhat strangely, i can look someone in the eye if i sense hostility. the rules are simpler, so i understand them, and know to reciprocate eg stare them down.

just a few months ago i read a scientific article where they causually mentioned eye-avoidance as characteristic of lying. i am a compulsive truth teller, yet have had difficulties in the past (particularly in childhood) with this. normal people seem convinced you cannot be telling the truth, unless you 'look them in the eye'. i'm approaching middle age, and still am uncomfortable with eye contact.

personally, this issue of eye contact pisses me the hell off. that i am constantly judged to be a liar and lowlife, etc just because i have trouble looking people in the eye. and then they feel fully justified treating you that way. if you don't look people in the eyes, in general, that is their automatic judgement ("he's hiding something." "he's up to something.") i would actually be better off staring them down, i really would be judged less badly, as humans/primates prefer assholes to oddballs.

on a (eye-contact) related note, the Wodabi tribe in africa considers looking too long into someones eyes a violation of privacy, and quite rude. they make short, sidelong glances at each other. i would get along well with them.

Think of it all like field sobriety tests. Some people cannot balance, no problem, some people cannot count, no problem, some people cannot do their ABC's, no problem, but everyone can do at least a few of the tests unless they are impaired.

and aspies are almost automatically overloaded if they are even in public. it is taxing to be in ANY social situation, let alone something like an airport, which would tax our sensory sensitivies as well. some also are uncoordinated as well, which perhaps could be read wrongly.

Unless your are dead, there is something, or a few somethings, you can test to determine impairment. The same goes here. You are looking for things that don't fit. Much like I believe you as a parent can tell when your own child is lying. It is not a checklist per se, but more of a collection of things to be aware of. It is easier to check for those from the outside observer, than it is to control them on the inside by the subject. This is why usually in interviews one officer talks and the other observes.

and if they have no idea that Aspergers exists, and how it functions?

we're always going to be 'off'. that's how (most) people react to us. their 'gut' tells them there's "something wrong with him/her." and these are exact quotes, and while sometimes the later one has been said in jest, often it is not. often enough it is said with a sneer.

normal people speak a certain sign language that we are deaf (or rather blind) to, and because we don't speak it, we are almost invarably judged badly. (and, btw, this is the REAL language people speak in. words don't usually matter, this sign language does.)

so we aspies are always 'hinky' to NTs, since we don't speak your 'secret code', or are not on what seems to us your 'psychic network'. so we are outsiders, and many react with (unsurpising) hostility. this is basic primate psychology really, instinct. there is a hostility to anything that doesn't fit in one's ingroup. and we don't know how to fit in a social group at all, so we are pushed to the fringe, bullied, etc. a lot of this is established science (evolutionary psychology).

wanna know why so many of us have PTSD? how many are on anti-anxiety medications?

do you know what it is like for whole groups of people to turn on you, because you don't smile at the right time? or some other, equally stupid, meaningless gesture?

the fact that i am a veritable saint? doesn't seem to matter. because 'they know' better, because their 'gut' tells them so.

the irony, some people who bother to get to know us, usually love us (i speak from experience). largely because we don't have those primate/social instincts, of which for instance bullying is a part. we tend not to lie, we don't play petty social games, etc. we're often 'childlike' in the positive sense of that word (whereas the rest of humanity seems to me to be 'childish').

but because we can be marginalized, the system will pile on us even more, remorselessly, because nobody will really care, since "there is something wrong with you/him/her/them." and since we're rarer than any other minority, noone's going to do shit for us. look how American Indians still get shat on, and there's many more Indians than autistics. and despite some still extant latent racism, Indians are seen more positively than autistics.

but unlike other minorities, we don't even have our own kind to fall back on, we have no support structures.

even medical professionals who are supposed to work with autistics are amazingly ignorant of autism. how much less understanding are you going to get from some rent-a-cop? (or even a real one for that matter.)

i don't envisage anything getter better, and as things get worse overall, once again it will effect we autistics exponentially. do you really think authorities care enough to train their agents properly? not bloody likely.

and i've seen little evidence that institutions can improve on people, and less so now than ever, so i don't see society ever 'wising up' and becoming any more thoughtful and tolerant.


i understand the greater point that Bruce is trying to make, as he's said before, basic detective work is still the best method. but as much i respect Bruce (and he's one of the few sensible people i've read over the years) i cringe when i hear this particular idea of his. i would think a mathematician wouldn't trust people's 'guts', which is what this all boils down to. be on the recieving end of this for a few decades and decide for yourself if their 'guts' have any fucking sense at all. maybe they are right sometimes, some people's might be better than others. but i KNOW i am a saint, by objective criteria. yet what do their 'guts' tell most of them? outsider! enemy! victim! prey! (or sometimes even: predator!)

as Anony-mouse said:

Will he always be under suspicion? Is he in for a life of additional questioning?

sadly, yes. and i would know.

"and many a one who fled into the wilderness, to suffer pangs of thirst amongst beasts of prey, did so in order to escape MAN." -Nietzsche


@Martin Walsh

If the shit designed systems work so well, then why can't they catch the psychopaths that don't appear nervous, EVER?

this is a great point, although the official psychological designation for what you are refering to are "sociopaths" (not psychopaths). indeed, they are incapable of fear or shame (or even pain, btw). they may plant bombs and such, though not the type to be _suicide_ bombers (they are about pure self interest).

some informal studies have found CEOs present at about 4x the rate of the average population.

on a personal note, this bothers me greatly, as sociopaths are generally well liked by the populus, because they can do all those social things. we aspies, who cannot, are generally despised, despite the fact that we have far superior character to socios, by the standard humans SAY they value (ie truth, justice, etc). humans value smiling, lying sociopaths more than blunt, truthful aspies.

miceApril 26, 2015 11:38 AM

I take a oppsite view I think from people on these blog about cops and police, theroll in society does postive things even thought iI could be classed like Thevoid,

The one thing I dont like about the topic is they only prove guilty, they dont prove innonce, the need a blackhat,whitehat system, sure for the intinal start they can be focused based on guilty, based on everone will be guilty of something, but then early on they need to have the other team apart of the inquiry to get abetter hit rate.

Thomas_HApril 26, 2015 6:16 PM

@ Sofakinbd:

The problem is that people with autism might very well behave exactly like a "hinky" person would. They often are not at ease in crowds and unfamiliar places, and getting their personal space invaded may make them react in an inappropriate manner. A patdown might set off a meltdown (all the way from whimpering to full-blown anger outburst), depending on how sensitive to touch they are. Often they can't make eye-contact properly, leading to shifty looking around the face of the other person or just staring in another direction. Furthermore, due to their inability to properly read other people, they are prone to misunderstandings about the other person's intentions (and may as such be a prime victim of evidence planting by unscrupulous law enforcement looking for an easy terrorism suspect).

Now that kind of behaviour also exists with normal people, up to a degree (I personally don't believe in the extreme "neurotypicals vs. aspies"-thing that some people with autism seem to wish to use to put themselves apart from "normal" humans - and thus mostly convince themselves that they really can't get any better), but with autistics all that potentially suspicious behaviour comes together in a single person at the same time.

On the other hand, autism also has its advantages. A lack of outward expression can hide nervousness (they feel excessively nervous yet don't show it) and may also make it nearly impossible for other people to actually read the autistic person's face. Simply not bothering with attempting to read the other person's social signals (body language) is a good way of reducing nervousness in public (much of the nervousness is caused by an inability to properly understand those signals), and in turn may reduce to tendency to fidget.

Nick PApril 26, 2015 9:23 PM

@ thevoid

Right on the mark about the risks of autistics' nervousness during unstructured conversation, auditory processing, and lack of coordination. These have real consequences throughout such a person's life. Let's look at each.

@ all re austics vs hinky; effects on other types

The lack of social understanding creates nervousness, "improper" body language in response to situation, and "improper" verbal responses to the adversarial speech. Each of these will be considered evidence of deceit or evil to a person like sofakindb. That commenter also mentioned how liars take longer to think. Nervous people, autistics, slow thinkers, ADD/ADHD, and mentally overwhelmed people all show the same trait even if innocent. Yet, to him or her, it was evidence of guilt right of the bat.

The auditory (and/or verbal) processing issues create other problems. The least of which is not hearing your name when it's called. Normal types experience this themselves enough that they often overlook it. The next problem is hearing something that makes no sense to normal type talking. It might be the autistic's physical reaction, their decision in response, or the misheard words themselves when repeated back to speaker. The normal type mentally classifies the autistic as weird, a freak, or even a potential drug users (extra bad if speaker is police). This can lead to immediate, negative action toward the autistic. The worst situation is a person with power over you (eg teacher, cop) interrogating you or giving orders under high pressure. Mishearing something they say can lead to disastrous consequences. Even worse, asking for clarification is perceived by many of them as not listening or a challenge to them. An attempt to fix the situation invites more aggression.

The poor hand-eye coordination mostly has social effects. Autistics with that symptom will have trouble doing things like playing sports, doing physical games in childhood, dancing, and so on. This often leads to immediate shaming and/or exclusion. It can result in a DUI with lost money if it happens during a sobriety test. It can get the person killed if it kicks in during a life-or-death battle and they don't recover from it. Relevant to the topic, people walking funny or nervously (due to knowledge of former) will raise red flags for observers looking for odd behavior. Then the other autistic weaknesses come into play.

So, being autistic will single one out for a lifetime of attacks by others based on hinky-style criteria. The damage from hinky-centered reasoning can be serious if the aggressor has some kind of power over the autistic being targeted. The psychological trauma caused by these events turns into post-traumatic stress disorder. This only gives observers of hinky more "evidence" that the person is a problem. It becomes a vicious circle with devastating effect on many autistics: one source pinned their suicide rate at 3x higher than national average. And that's despite them rarely commiting violent crimes or fraud compared to normal types.

And with these issues, we're not just talking autistics. I named many types of people, some personality and some circumstances, that would display similar behavior at an airport. All of them combined must be a significant chunk of the population. Advocating hinky is advocating treating all of them like they're evil and reinforcing whatever got them there in the first place. That seems like a lot of damage to do to people in this country with little evidence that it helps anything. That's why I'm against it.

thevoidApril 27, 2015 3:34 AM

@Thomas_H

Now that kind of behaviour also exists with normal people, up to a degree (I personally don't believe in the extreme "neurotypicals vs. aspies"-thing that some people with autism seem to wish to use to put themselves apart from "normal" humans - and thus mostly convince themselves that they really can't get any better),

i think you are over generalizing here. aspies are people too, and have human frailties, so maybe some use it as an excuse. but in many ways we do not 'get better'. i dismissed many of my social incapacties for years as being merely psychological, until i found out about Aspergers. and if that was all there was too it, then maybe you could argue that it doesn't exist. the *sensory sensitivies* however are VERY real, AND DO NOT GO AWAY. Auditory Processing Disorder doesn't go away (and that is one of the characteristics that clenched the diagnosis for me-- besides the main criteria). maybe we get better in social situations, we can look people in the eyes (to a degree), etc. but our brains ARE structured differently, and there is scientific evidence for this.

i have been saying many of things said re 'aspie vs neurotypical' for many years before i knew i was an aspie, and before i ever heard those terms. i am clearly non-normal. any one of my NT friends could tell you that. now they have a term for it too. and there are many things i classed as being 'normal', as opposed to characteristic of myself/my family. now i have a term for that too (neuro-typical). i and others have always recognized these differences, long before any of us knew what Aspergers was. my mother has always said she is "wired differently than normal people". she's on the edge of retiring and knew nothing of any of this until i told her.

now i use these terms fairly regularly regarding this subject matter, and except for the actual words used, the phrases are still quite the same as before. instead of "my brain works like X" i know i can say "an aspie's brain works like X". frankly it was quite a shock to me to find that people think pretty much *exactly like me*. before i just thought it was me and my family. so did people who know us.

while there is some middle ground, some whose symptoms are not so extreme, there is no doubt that aspies exist, and that we are not 'normal', as anyone who knows us will testify. neurotypical is just a way of saying non-aspie (although it is used to mean non-sociopath sometimes as well).

On the other hand, autism also has its advantages. A lack of outward expression can hide nervousness (they feel excessively nervous yet don't show it) and may also make it nearly impossible for other people to actually read the autistic person's face. Simply not bothering with attempting to read the other person's social signals (body language) is a good way of reducing nervousness in public (much of the nervousness is caused by an inability to properly understand those signals), and in turn may reduce to tendency to fidget.

this is true of some of us at least. while there are common characteristics, there are many things that can present at either extreme. for example, some can have oversensitivity, some undersensitivity. except that i am a bit hyper, i don't present as obviously as others. in fact, superficially, i may present as a sociopath, due to my lack of reaction to many things. Delayed Processesing isn't always so, but it can be a benefit.

SofakinbdApril 28, 2015 10:10 AM

@thevoid

There is difference I think for what you describe. Lets assume yes all of what you said is true. It is very easy to explain it with a little deeper investigation. Just as being blind means things take longer to get around and do certain things or being deaf means you miss out certain things, the same applies to being autistic. You probably will trip the sensor more, once they investigate and affirm the diagnosis, or the medication again there will be no problem. It may require chats more often but that seems ok. I have a club foot and a handicap placard. When I park I call it "taking the stares" because many people look. It is very fortunate that "looking" handicapped is not one of the criteria for obtaining that placard. People with heart conditions and situations like my own would never be allowed if that were the case. My orthopedic surgeon felt differently and I'm very grateful. People don't understand that but only rarely do they comment or I get stopped by the police. When that happens the police very the placard is issued to me, I have the paper in my wallet that says it is mine legitimately and everything is fine. If I were high-functioning and autistic and had a meltdown over the perceived attack the same net result would probably occur, everything would check, although it most certainly would take longer and I may miss my event or plane because of it.

A meltdown may occur, but that is the cost associated with having a condition. It would not mean you have policy to leave all autistic out of the scanning would it? It is also very clear that authorities need better training in dealing with mental health issues, and obviously they aren't going to have a semester of psychopathology to learn the in's and out's of the DSM-V. However, they could be doing much better still. Autism is another subset with unique constraints but it is manageable all the same.

thevoidApril 29, 2015 12:31 AM

@Sofakinbd

There is difference I think for what you describe. Lets assume yes all of what you said is true.

it is quite true, every single word of it. more for me than others, but unless indicated otherwise everything i said applies generally. until less than a year ago, i thought it was just me and my family, now i know there are many others like me who have had all the same experiences, down to almost every detail. read the wiki on Aspergers. go to wrongplanet. net where you can hear it in their own words.

It is very easy to explain it with a little deeper investigation. Just as being blind means things take longer to get around and do certain things or being deaf means you miss out certain things, the same applies to being autistic.

theoretically. but people naturally understand blind/deaf people, they don't understand autistics. you obviously haven't lived it. until you've experienced most of humanity turn on you because you "don't act right" i doubt you will understand it.

especially when the average person is conditioned from birth to believe things like "if you can't look someone in they eye you are lying." Nick P mentioned the idea of cops planting evidence, and this reminded me of situations from my childhood, when children would tell adults on me for things i didn't do (that i couldn't possibly have done simply as a function of time and space). they picked on me of course because i was different, and vulnerable. evolutionary psychology in play again.

i was always 'guilty', since i had trouble looking in their eyes, and was otherwise unable to defend myself. the adult would say "yeah you did it" with such certainty, and if, as commonly happened, i got angry for being accused of things i KNOW i didn't do, this just reinforced their pre-existing beliefs ("methinks thou doth protest to much", more common 'wisdom'.) wanna know why i (and others) don't trust people? that's a start, but only just.

see, they are so certain of what eye-contact means, it's automatic. they've heard it their whole life, and never question it. most people get their 'knowledge' from what they've heard, somewhere, that they cannot even identify. "society says." and after all, "if everybody says it, it must be true!"

so, how are you going to overcome a lifetime of conditioning? (on both parts, the issue of eye-contact, and the conditioning of us autistics that humans are merely predators.)

You probably will trip the sensor more, once they investigate and affirm the diagnosis, or the medication again there will be no problem.

and that is the fucking problem here. why should a whole group be singled out? ESPECIALLY a group that would be extremely traumatised by it? and most especially, one that's not even a target! read Nick P's post, he does a fine job of expanding on this, and i can't think of anything to really add to it at the moment.

and why should we have to get diagnosed? i am extremely high functioning for an aspie. sure it would be helpful to 'show my credentials' in cases where this could cause a problem in society, but i don't want anything to do with that society anyway, and that label could be used against me later.

and i don't trust people, i don't trust the system (which seems to inherit only the worst of its components--people). hell, i don't trust scientists (i read textbooks, and it is obvious to me many scientists are quite ignorant of even their own subjects. who first proposed the sun-centered solar system? it wasn't Copernicus, it was two millenia earlier. go read an astronomical encyclopedia, since you are unlikely to hear it from an 'astronomer'. don't get me started on the farce that passes for medical 'science').

and maybe that lack of trust starts with not having that social instinct, but it has been continually reinforced over a lifetime. it is LOGICAL.

It may require chats more often but that seems ok.

no, it is not ok. reread everything i said about this. read Nick P's post. you are completely ignorant of this subject, and it is obvious you wish to remain that way. MANY autistics have PTSD, and it's fine for you, to add to it? most humans are social, far from this being traumatic, you need it. it is the opposite for autistics.

I have a club foot and a handicap placard. When I park I call it "taking the stares" because many people look. It is very fortunate that "looking" handicapped is not one of the criteria for obtaining that placard. People with heart conditions and situations like my own would never be allowed if that were the case. My orthopedic surgeon felt differently and I'm very grateful. People don't understand that but only rarely do they comment or I get stopped by the police. When that happens the police very the placard is issued to me, I have the paper in my wallet that says it is mine legitimately and everything is fine.

that's not an accurate comparison.

first, i gather you don't look suspicious unless you are in the handicapped zone. we look suspicious in almost any interaction with other people. second, police likely have more experience with physically handicapped people than autistics. i said before, we are rare enough that a system of averages won't care.

and if you want a better analogy for autistics, imagine you have a broken leg, but some sort of test requires you to run, which you HAVE TO DO (or else). it would hurt like hell and get even more damaged. autistics are traumatized by social situations, and you suggest this isn't a problem?

i wasn't joking when i said i'd rather deal with gangs and underworld scum. chances are that i have been through things that would make most people shit their pants, and that doesn't traumatize me. i've gotten better as i get older, since i understand more what is going on and the true consequences, but i would have *post-traumatic flashbacks* of conversations for days afterward, reliving them over and over, including the fear and anxiety. reliving it would make me shake. i guess that's how people normally react to life threatening situations, but i wouldn't know because it's the social situations that have most disturbed me.

besides, autism is not actually a 'protected' handicap, like physical disabilities. there's debate in the autism communty whether or not we want to be classified as handicapped (there are ways where we don't actually meet the normal criteria of 'handicapped', despite all).

If I were high-functioning and autistic and had a meltdown over the perceived attack the same net result would probably occur, everything would check, although it most certainly would take longer and I may miss my event or plane because of it.

really? there are news stories of autistics being executed by cops during a meltdown, where the cops only made it worse. in fact, they do everything you SHOULD NOT DO when an autistic is having a meltdown. their tactic of trying to dominate the situation is only going to backfire. for instance, one thing you should NEVER DO is touch an autistic, ESPECIALLY during a meltdown. Nick P already dealt with this, and so did i. i called it a vicious spiral, he called it a vicious circle.

american cops are some of the worst trained in the world, and too many are trigger happy when 'they feel threatened'. american cops killed more people in the last month than the Brits have in England for 100 years. how am i supposed to trust that?

how many cops themselves have PTSD, and shouldn't be on the beat? but that's another issue.

A meltdown may occur, but that is the cost associated with having a condition.

[sarcasm]yep, just a price we have to pay for being born different. just like the 3x greater suicide rate Nick P mentioned.[/sarcasm]

so we have to pay a greater price? not only do we pay a price by being singled out more, we pay AGAIN having to deal with these situations.

but 'normal' people get a free pass? as William_H said above:

but with autistics all that potentially suspicious behaviour comes together in a single person at the same time.

despite the fact the we are LESS prone to violent crime?

and meltdowns especially will be misinterpreted. most people will think we are 'violent' and 'dangerous'. people have said of autistics having a meltdown that we are 'SCARY'. i am sure i fit in that category as well, despite the fact that i will not harm a fly (LITERALLY), even in that state.

on a side note, i can understand how people unfamiliar with us may interpret it badly. one case where i don't (entirely) fault *people* for their misunderstands. (not cops or other authorities who for the sake of their job should know better)

It would not mean you have policy to leave all autistic out of the scanning would it?

irrelevant. never even suggested that. i merely addressed the techniques you listed and explained how they are flawed (for autistics, but others as well, as Nick P mentioned).

It is also very clear that authorities need better training in dealing with mental health issues,

indeed. though even the people already trained to work with autistics are surprisingly ignorant of it.

and obviously they aren't going to have a semester of psychopathology to learn the in's and out's of the DSM-V.

AND WHY NOT? this is EXACTLY what need to happen. look at Denmark, and how much training you have to have in order to become a cop (hint: it's ALOT).

they are thrust out to deal with the populus, with powers over life and death, but don't need to be educated about that populus? ludicrous-- even from the perspective of their own safety.

However, they could be doing much better still.

AND THEY SHOULD BE. how can they say they are there to 'serve and protect' otherwise (and yes i know that the supreme court said that's essentially a lie).

Autism is another subset with unique constraints but it is manageable all the same.

maybe you should read up on the subject before blindly trying to defend this.

sometimes i forget what my 'condition' is like, because i am so high-functioning, and have adjusted, but my life is ENTIRELY DOMINATED by it. bright lights, like in almost every building are searing to my eyes, and give me headaches, and that is just one of my sensory sensitivies. perfumes people wear burn my eyes, throat and lungs. a whiff of many cleaning products can make me taste it, and i cannot get the taste out of my mouth. i use a particular soap, as it's one of the few that i can wash off enough that i don't smell it. i am incapable of tasting food otherwise since the smell of my hand (with soap on it), over-powers my senses-- and that at a fork/spoon distance. i cannot eat food i have touched if there is any soap residue on my hands AT ALL. i am a night-owl partly for these reasons as well (much quieter). whenever i go out in public, i time it to be when fewest people are around, and stores are not crowded.

i also have some nervous control, so i can control my reaction when touched, for a while at least, as long as it's not sustained. if it is sustained, i really 'want' to snap, and say "god damn it don't you DARE touch me you [expletives deleted]"

i have to help my grandmother get up sometimes, which requires physical contact (mostly just hands.) if prolonged, that can give me a nervous shake for hours, make me twitchy, and this is even in non-threatening situations with people and circumstances i am familiar with. (i've learned to shake hands too, but that is largely because that is easier to deal with that than what may result by refusing.)

and i am fortunate (i suppose), many others like me CANNOT do this.

i mention all this particularly because these are things i seriously doubt many understand, and are relevant. our surrounding environment seriously affects us besides the social elements.

now for myself, it is simple, i can usually work around things, and if i can't i do without. and since my desires really don't extend much past foraging mushrooms, rock hunting, reading books, and being left the hell alone (a just world would be nice too, but...) i don't have to interact with the system all that much. i'll never get on an airplane, and that's fine with me. i'd rather be in a forest anyway. it is HELL living in society and civilization. almost everything affects my sensory sensitivities. but not the forest. unfortunately i still have a mother and grandmother to take care of, so i am somewhat bound. (i intend eventually to be a farmer.)

others don't adjust so well.

i can take care of myself in every essential way (better in fact than the average person), but that is not the norm. many aren't as high-functioning, and though Aspergers is defined as a high-functioning form of Autism, even then many aspies have difficulties functioning.

so what you propose is essentially to sacrifice a whole group, for no real benefit. consider where your civilization would be without 'us'. Newton almost certainly had Aspergers (indeed this was just on Smithsonian Channel). people on the spectrum are represented at a far higher rate than the populus in Nobel Prizes too. and less violent crime. the one who is different is typically sacrified by society, so there is really nothing new there, but i mention this primarily so that you know the group you would sacrifice.

should they all give up on society too? that's society's choice. society doesn't give much of a damn about us anyway. for now we can avoid airports, but as the system's noose becomes tighter, we are less able to escape it. what happens when they start 'securing' everything else? what happens when they start to use their automated algorithms looking for 'suspicious behavior'?

Mr. ThreatMay 15, 2015 2:28 PM

So the guy was nervous while being questioned by cops. I hardly think that's an unusual reaction.

I've been repeatedly detained, searched, and extensively interrogated by US Customs, for no reason, as far as I can tell, other than that I'm naturally soft-spoken, and maybe a little slow and awkward of speech. So what's the deal? Am I doomed to go through life being treated as a second-class citizen every time I cross the border?

(Incidentally, customs agents in Asia, Europe, and Africa don't seem to think I'm "hinky".)

Bruce has mentioned before the need for checks and balances in government, the dangers of allowing one person or agency too much authority without enough accountability. That's why we have legal standards like "reasonable suspicion," which is more than "inchoate and unparticularized suspicion or 'hunch'". Or in this case, "hinky".

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