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Take the FBI's Geek Profile Test 639

Thanks to the miracle of e-mail and a few administrators outraged at the latest law enforcement intrusion into American schools, we present below the FBI's Geek Profile, the agency's secret checklist of potentially violent characteristics being distributed to educational institutions in the United States and Canada. I'm turning myself in.

Do you have above average intelligence? Are you sometimes a loner, a part of a small circle of friends perceived as outsiders?

Do you have "unstable" self-esteem? Are you fascinated by cults, weapons, games with themes of violence and death?

Do you come from a dysfunctional home? Resent authority? Reject criticism?

If the answer to most or all of the above is yes, then congratulations and welcome to the FBI's Geek Profile, its checklist of dangerous or potentially violent characteristics in school children.

In recent weeks this psychological "tool," polished by the FBI and other agencies and now being distributed to a school near you, has been creeping across the country.

Federal and local law enforcement authorities have used this sort of profiling for years to spot potential assassins, criminals and terrorists.

Now, following a small number of horrific school shootings, it's being made available to educators in the United States and, according to a number of northern e-mailers, Canada as well.

And it's not alone out there. Last month, the federal government announced that Mosaic-2000, a computer profiling system developed by the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (AFT) Division and a private celebrity - security agency, was being deployed to 30 or more U.S. schools to "target potentially dangerous people."

Neither federal nor school officials have said how this material will be stored, or to whom it might be made available. Nor is it clear whether students will be made aware of the fact that they are being labeled potential murderers, or whether they and their parents will have any opportunity to respond.

Such geek -profiling tools are increasingly popular despite the fact that the violent crime rate among kids in America has been plunging for years and is virtually non-existent in Canada.

This doesn't seem to bother educators much, perhaps because even if there isn't much violence to contain, geek profiling is proving an invaluable tool against rebellious, offensive, individualistic and outspoken students. Many participate in Net and Web culture, where they have vastly more freedom and creative experience than in schools, and who report the goal of this war on the non-normal isn't safety, but conformity and silence.

But why be deterred by truth or logic? Since the Columbine shootings in Colorado last year, students at American schools have reported an epidemic of suspensions, expulsions and forced counseling sessions for various offenses: wearing "inappropriate" clothing like trenchcoats or Goth make up, playing computer games like "Quake" and "Doom," spending too much time online, responding honestly to questions about whether they like school, making what administrators consider threats against classmates or teachers.

This week, more than a dozen principals, administrators and geeks e-mailed me a chunk of the FBI report circulating through U.S. and Canadian schools, purporting to detail some of the characteristics of "potentially violent" kids.

"Your term 'geek profiling' is dead on," wrote one principal. "The kids we are all beginning to look at are those that play violent video games, who are on the Internet all the time, and who don't participate in 'mainstream' school activities. Or who are seriously disenchanted with school or the structure of school. Of course, now, we can just label them as psychos rather than listen to what they say. But I can tell you, kids who spent a lot of time on the Net or playing computer games are prime suspects for evaluation and observation. Because we all know what they can get their hands on."

Here are the specific FBI characteristics, according to several principals. Potentially violent or dangerous students are:

Usually boys of average or above-average intelligence.
Often loners, or have small circle of friend who are outsiders.
Experience unstable self-esteem.
Often fascinated by cults, Satanism, weapons, themes of violence and death.
Experience a decline in schoolwork and marks.
Come from dysfunctional homes.
Have experience with chronic bullying and drug use.
Engage in attention-seeking behavior, and don't accept criticism.

In addition to the e-mail sent by disturbed principals and guidance counselors ("there's a fine line between bright and unhappy adolescents and mass-murderers," e-mailed one counselor. "I don't see it spelled out it in this FBI profile.") the FBI's "geek profile" was outlined to a Halifax, Nova Scotia newspaper ( by an official of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The FBI's checklist is as revealing for what it doesn't say as for what it does. Bullies and predators who prey on kids who are different or "non-normal" aren't considered dangerous, nor are teachers and educators who preside over uncreative, hostile and, to many kids, suffocating classroom environments.

No group of students, parents or citizens anywhere in the United States had been given an opportunity to vote - or even comment -- on the practice of injecting federal law enforcement investigative tools designed for responding to the most serious imaginable crimes committed by adults into daily classroom life.

Kids who call themselves geeks and nerds vary widely in social skills, emotional characteristics and family and class background. But many have experienced differing degrees of boredom, alienation, and experiences with bullying. They may like forms of gaming that might be branded violent. Many are often seen as loners, or rely on small circles of friends who share their culture.

Now they may have to deal with the suggestion that they're potential killers as well. It's possible - though statistically just barely - that some of these kids will turn violent and hurt themselves or their classmates.

But what's certain is that in the wake of the Columbine killings, they are the targets of ignorant and unfounded hysteria from the very people who are supposed to be protecting them, with the willing co-operation of those who are supposed to be educating them.

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Take the FBI's Geek Profile Test

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  • Couldn't this also be used as "Run of the Mill Programmer" Profiling Test?

  • They forgot to include "Is bullied mercilessly by others."
  • Have experience with chronic bullying...

    To which end of the bullying do you suppose they are referring?

  • by DanaL ( 66515 ) on Monday November 29, 1999 @05:19AM (#1497008)
    I heard in the news a week or two ago that Mosaic 2000 is being presented to some school officials in Canada (in the Toronto area IIRC).

    I'll be interested to see what is done with the results from these profiles, once someone is labeled a pontential killer, I wonder what they will do with them. Force them to become jocks?

    Incidently, there has been a few incidents of school violence up here recently. One shooting incident in Canada that made the national headline. A little while after Columbine, a kid in Alberta shot 2 of his classmates. More recently, in TO, there have been a couple of kids beaten (one to death). Another gang-beating in BC last year and 1 kid stabbed over a box of Pokemon cards a month or so ago in Montreal. That's about half a dozen deaths, probably way less than the number killed in car accidents. Haven't seen any Bad Driver profiling being proposed!

  • by Amphigory ( 2375 ) on Monday November 29, 1999 @05:19AM (#1497009) Homepage
    I was fascinated with cults and the occult. I was beaten at home. My family was highly disfunctional and I still, ten years later, seek counseling. I was a geek, a nerd. Whatever. I was bullied at school.

    And I was dangerous. That's right: I spent most of my high school years with a tenuous grasp of "killing people is just wrong" being the only thing that kept me from blowing the join up. I knew how. I had explosives. I had no reason to love anyone. All I had was a vague realization that there was a supreme morality and if I 'killed them all' as I wanted to I would have just reduced myself to their level.

    The problem is not the profiling: that's normal prudence. I desperately wish that someone had realized just how dark my world was and tried to help. I wish they would have locked me up in a mental institution and some of what was going on in my home would have come out. But it didn't. And I still pay the price in emotional anguish. I wish there had been a chaplain in my high school instead of a "guidance counselor". I wish someone had loved me enough to intervene.

    But no one did.

    Bottom line is that I have no problem with this "profiling" you whine about Jon. But I wish they would concentrate more on what to do with the kids once they find them. It comes down to love. And no one in our society is ready to make that kind of commitment.

  • by meckardt ( 113120 ) on Monday November 29, 1999 @05:21AM (#1497010) Homepage
    We should all thank the FBI for providing educators with such a valuable tool for identifying that 1 in a million kid who will kill his classmates. Now, we can throw him in jail before he perpetrates his deed.

    Oh, we can tell which one of the million kids is really the potential killer? Let's treat them all like potential killers, just to make sure!

    Mike Eckardt []
  • Boy, good thing I don't come from a dysfunctional home, or I'd be a dangerous criminal waiting to destroy my town instead of making a valuble contribution to society in my current job as a computer tech. I'll have to tell my co-workers.

    I think I'll call my parents tonight and thank them. :)

  • by Mandoric ( 55703 ) <> on Monday November 29, 1999 @05:22AM (#1497015) Homepage
    >>Usually boys of average or above-average intelligence.
    >> Often loners, or have small circle of friend who are outsiders.
    Not only that, but I know them over the 'net.
    >> Experience unstable self-esteem.
    Yep... Been there, done, that, and hate myself for it half of the time. ^_^
    >> Often fascinated by cults, Satanism, weapons, themes of violence and death.
    Well EXCUSE ME for being into swords. =p
    >> Experience a decline in schoolwork and marks.
    >> Come from dysfunctional homes.
    Dunno if _dysfunctional_, but it sucks.
    >> Have experience with chronic bullying and drug use.
    *Not drug use, but has been mocked derisively for years*
    >> Engage in attention-seeking behavior, and don't accept criticism.
    Lemme see here... I'm posting this long thing about myself, and I'll probably post an angry reply if someone flames me. =p

    Maybe this is why they were so freaked out the called the FBI and expelled me just because I said "remember... may 15..." a few times. =p
  • There's a saying that goes something like, "People usually deserve the government they have."

    Do we deserve actions like this?
    Do people care about attacks on our civil liberties?
  • Tell ya what. I'm the father of a 7 week old baby boy. Now with myself being a 'second generation' it professional (both my mother and father were programmers during the punch card era). Does this mean that my son will be singled out because the first day he was home from the hospital, he was on my lap as I was putting the finishing touches on a pc? I wonder if he'll be subject to profiling because I'll encourge him to think for hisself and to question everything. Will he be labeled as a threat because I have taught him to be an individual, and not a sheeple?

    If so... I'm moving to a remote island somewhere where seashells are legal currency. The hell with a country like that!
  • by merky1 ( 83978 ) on Monday November 29, 1999 @05:24AM (#1497021) Journal
    There needs to be a "If you answered no to all of these questions just because you don't want to be carted away" type of question. Anyone serious enough to want to kill would have no problem skirting this 'test'.

    I personally like going for the Charles Manson profile.
  • by rde ( 17364 ) on Monday November 29, 1999 @05:25AM (#1497025)
    But I can tell you, kids who spent a lot of time on the Net or playing computer games are prime suspects for evaluation and observation. Because we all know what they can get their hands on.
    Yeah, there's some nasty stuff out there. Anyone with a web connection can have their mind polluted by such pernicious crap as...

    Thoreau's Walden

    The complete works of Shakespeare

    Pretty much all of the surviving philosophical writings of the ancient Greeks

    Government legislation, bills being prepared, what congress has to say every day...
    I could go on all day, but I'm sure you get the point.

  • As usual, Katz never cites any hard sources for his assumptions. For statistics and analysis of crime rates among students, please take a look at the NEA's [] School Safety Facts []. Please keep in mind that the NEA (National Educators Association) is a teachers' lobbyist concern, and does have some slant in the favor of public school teachers.

    That said, I find Katz' immediate implication of 'educators' as proponents of the Mosaic 2000 program offensive. I can't think of many teachers who would support such an idiotic proposal, and also resent the implication that educators would support such an abomination to suppress free speech outside the classroom, using such media as the WWW.

    While I agree that there /has/ been a failing of late for teachers to meet the needs of some of their brighter students, there is only a finite amound of work these people can do in the course of a day. When you have a class of at least 20-25 students, it is very difficult for the teacher to focus on just /one/ student. What these people need is support, not half-informed pundits shooting their mouth off.

  • I agree that the recent witch-hunting has been overboard and reactionary. The stories I've heard recently are horrible. But for the administration of a school which is responsible for the student body, I imagine some sort of profiling is necessary to identify those students who might need some counceling or intervention.

    There were some items on the list that would make me take note if I were a school counsellor. Especially things like use of bullying, drug use, not responding to critisism, etc. Although a good half of the items on the list would target "geeks", the other half made some good sense.

    It's not the use of profiling but the blind misuse of profiling that needs to be examined. I know that a stupid school admin might have noticed that I played Dungeons & Dragons and immediately assumed I was dangerous, but someone with half a brain would notice that I (and most geeks) would obviously apply.

  • Have experience with chronic bullying...

    Isn't that what they mean with this?
  • This probably fits:

    • At least 90% of everyone in Alchoholics Anomymous and Al-Anon
    • At least 95% of everyone in the Computer Industry
    • At least 75% of all councellors, therapists and psychologists
    • At least 50% of all scientists and academics
    • At least 75% of all explorers and adventurers
    • At least 75% of all environmentalists
    • At least 95% of all discoverers
    • At least 50% of all successful teachers

    This is based on people I know, my own experiences and my knowledge of what these areas require of a person.

    What this profile essentially says is: "We won't trust you if you threaten our over-bloated ego, whether that be by you taking care of yourself, helping others, or contributing something of significance to society."

    Remember, we've only Jon Katz' word that this -IS- the profile used, and we're familiar with his rather partisan spins in the past. On the other hand, if this is genuine, whoever came up with the test should be put under observation immediately as a potential threat, for openly violent discrimination and inciting hatred based on discrimination.

  • by Rabbins ( 70965 ) on Monday November 29, 1999 @05:37AM (#1497048)
    I would just like to point out that violent juvenile crime is down about 30% since 1994. In fact, this is the 12th straight year it has declined.

    This is a statistic by the Justice Department which tracks murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.

    Also, firearm deaths in general are down more than 21% from 1993

    Now, the crimes are just receiving a lot more attention and sensationalism.

    Pisses me off when I hear all "These kids are unbelievable nowadays" attitudes. There are just more of them... bound to be bad apples in the mix.
  • Or more precisely uses violence as the first option when confronted in such situations. People can be defined by how they act and how they respond to various stimuli and actions. The "normal" response to bulling is to just break the bully's nose or something. People who are the more thinking type will automatically begin to apply techniques to allow them to get out of the situation before the bully can break their nose instead. Pople who feel violated now cannot not take action, but if you do you are punished it's a catch 22. What is a little disturbing is that there was a program on the WB network that was about violence. It tried to take the sterotype of various groups and claim that "violence is wrong kids" by illustrating the various problems with various factions involved. Needless to say I was unimpressed by the whole thing. Violence in it's primitive extends from things that society faults on that cause a break from being able to defend and win at. Homelessness, joblessness, dispair, crime, drug abuse, poverty, etc are all things that contribute to violence. Utopia will never be achieved so we have decided to pretend that they are gone and sweep them under the table.
  • In my experience they could only mean the receiving end... and thats how Katz read it too. Bullies and predators who prey on kids who are different or "non-normal" aren't considered dangerous...
  • Usually boys of average or above-average intelligence.

    Probably more often boys because they're taught more that violence is acceptable, and expected, for boys. Though I'd expect to see a girl involved in something like this soon.

    Above-average intelligence because they're more likely to be independent, be themselves, instead of just following everyone else.

    Often loners, or have small circle of friend who are outsiders.

    The fact that they're often into things that are considered unpopular, and often not doing the necessary things to be popular (buying the "right" clothes, playing sports, especially the "right" sports). So they're usually forced to be outsiders, though some do it willingly, realizing how pitiful the popular crowd really is.

    Experience unstable self-esteem.

    Getting picked on, taunted, made fun of, etc, tends to create this. I'd be suprised to see an outsider without this problem.

    Often fascinated by cults, Satanism, weapons, themes of violence and death.

    My question here is: what is a "cult" or "Satanism" to the people judging this? My experience tells me that anything other than big mainstream religion would fit. Wiccan? Oh, you're in a "cult"/a "Satanist". Heck, an atheist would probably be lumped in here.

    Experience a decline in schoolwork and marks.

    Treated like crap at school? Then you're not going to like being there or anything associated with it, and less likely to do the work. And it never helps when it's busywork or things you know and have known for a while.

    Come from dysfunctional homes.

    What's NOT a dysfunctional home? The Cleavers?

    Have experience with chronic bullying and drug use.

    As someone else pointed out - it doesn't mean you're DOING the bullying.

    Engage in attention-seeking behavior, and don't accept criticism.

    But what is "attention-seeking behavior"? Is flaunting the social norms this "evil" behavior? If you go to school with, say, blue hair, are you just doing it for attention and not because you just like it and it doesn't hurt anyone?

    Not accept criticism? How many people do that very well?

    I agree that this is a pretty good profile for the type of person more likely to have problems, and do bad things in school. What worries me is that they're most likely going to use it to identify the likely problem kids, and then treat those kids like they're the only part of the problem, while ignoring the intolerance, bigotry, ridicule, and bullying that CREATES people like this in the first place. They're not going to use it to find what the REAL problems are.

    I just wonder if we're ever going to have people with clues in the important positions that can do things about stuff like this. Too bad we don't see geeks getting into things like politics, school administration, etc.

  • As one who pretty much exactly matches the profile explained (I'm hoping the real list is *far* more detailed), I can personally attest that 99.998% of the people netted by this kind of testing are harmless, at least in the sense that most of them aren't exactly likely to assault their classmates with automatic weapons and home made pipe bombs.

    What this type of profiling will isolate is people who tend to think differently. People who don't possess the type of herd-mentality preferred by the powers-that-be. People less likely to simply roll over and follow orders without thinking about it. People who actually *think* from time to time.

    Safety, threat to the popular well being, has been the traditional excuse that the powers-that-be have used to take away freedoms, one piece at a time. The "evil spectre" of communism is gone. The arabs don't appear to be all that menacing of a threat any more. Those pesky Yugoslavians appear to have calmed down a bit. All they have left to make us afraid of is ourselves.

    So... Here's the game plan for the impending Immanentization of the Eschaton.

    1. The NSA^H^H^Hmedia will bombard us with a continual stream of incidents like Columbine.

    2. The people will begin to fear the only thing left to fear in the one-world/global-village mindset created by the internet, themselves.

    3. In fear of themselves, the people will *beg* the government to take away their freedoms, all in the name of safety.

    4. Checkmate.

    Roughly speaking, it's as simple as that...

    print "I would rather be free than safe.\n";


    Segmentation fault (core dumped)
  • I'm not sure what to think about this - I mean, the FBI is probably right about the characteristics that a potentially violent student might have. Katz seems to be damning the program one sentence, then goes on to quote a school official with a lukewarm opinion about it (at worst).

    To me, it seemss that the most important thing about this program is the school officials. The FBI doesn't seem to be saying anything here but to give a certain set of qualities to be on the lookout for. They aren't recommending courses of actions over-reactionary or otherwise. (I could be wrong - I've never heard anything about this outside of Katz's articles) The school officials are the ones that will choose between helping the "out of the mainstream" students by listening to their concerns, and choosing to alienate them even more by persecuting them. This program will probably not change anything - if a school has a bad set of officials, they will be quite able to screw things up whether the FBI helps them or not.

    Comments Welcome!


  • by Enoch Root ( 57473 ) on Monday November 29, 1999 @05:44AM (#1497062)
    Here are the three symptoms in childhood that allow profilers to detect potential serial killers:

    Mutilation and/or torture of small animals (frogs, etc.)

    Pyromaniac tendencies (likes to play with fire and burn things)

    Wet one's bed until an advanced age of childhood

    Wonder how many /.ers that fit?

    My point? Katz is kicking the bee's nest that is Slashdot to gather outrage. The fact of the matter is, this is not geeks he is talking about. He's talking about that bastard in highschool who collected knives and beat every kid around. He's talking about the guy who took it out on everyone else because his father beat the living shit out of him back home.

    Sure, that can be some geeks. But it's not the profile of all geek. Where's the love for science? Where's the obsession for details?

    Besides, it's ok to profile potential troublemakers. You indeed want to stop one kid from going to school and gunning down everyone, so the best way to go about this is to explain to teachers what's at stake; to give them an understanding that some people need support and help, and to be there for them if they need it, should they ask for it. What's wrong with that?

    Trouble is, like I said, geeks are not the target here. And the geeks, who seem to suffer a major social stigmata while younger, go about their lives without help just because they don't kill everyone in sight. Well, not most of the times, anyway. We're just bullied, we don't bully others. We all dream of slaughtering someone at some point in our lives, but there's a nagging something that keeps us from doing it. As we grow up, we realise it's ethics.

    "The wages of sin is death but so is the salary of virtue, and at least the evil get to go home early on Fridays."

  • Now the real question is...

    Now that these kids know that they are "potential terrorists," are they more likely to become terrorists? What if this "geek-profiling" was kept confidential?

    Does anybody else think there is potential for self-fullfilling prophecy for those people who were borderline and would not become "bad" people to now move towards such a profile just because that's how they are labelled?

    I personally do not fit into this profile, I do find myself spending hours infront of a computer though due to my great interest in technology and figuring things out, but I am interested to hear what others have to say.
  • by tweek ( 18111 ) on Monday November 29, 1999 @05:50AM (#1497074) Homepage Journal
    On a few points:

    "Your term 'geek profiling' is dead on," wrote one principal. ...., and who don't participate in 'mainstream' school activities.

    Since when does lack of participation deem someone a target? I knew alot of people who didn't enjoy the mainstream school activities when I was in highschool. I participated in a few (french honors, prom committies) but hte rest I found to be uninteresting. Most people know I'm a network admin for a Quality Assurance Lab. Recently Rational (a testing tool company) came in and did a week long course on their products. At the end everyone got certificates. I was the only person in the entire office who didn't attend (other than the boss). My boss asked me if I wanted to go and I flat out said that I had nor will I ever have any interest in manual, automated or regression testing. I told him that I see no link between it and my job other than the performance testing that users were doing on our LAN. He agreed and I got some work-related (slashdot ;>) tasks done that week because everyone was out of my hair.

    Schools nowadays have a ton of tasks to keep students busy but face it, there are going to be people who aren't going to be interested. Quite possibly they just want to get the whole thing out of the way and focus on learning so they can move on.

    Or who are seriously disenchanted with school or the structure of school.

    Let's face it, people who dislike school..simply dislike school. It doesn't make them irrational or insane. They just don't like it.

    Have experience with chronic bullying...

    Does this mean THEY do the bullying or are bullied themselves? This actually goes against what most of the slashdot community has been saying in the wake of the hellmouth series. Most of the people who fit this profile are usually BEING bullied.
  • I have no problem with geek profiling. Infact, I didn't exactly hide the fact that I knew alot about computers or had information at my fingertips from everything to the correct dress a girl should wear at prom to how to build C5 from bleach. That's the power of information, and I was willing to share the entire gammit of it with my classmates. Naturally the so-called "normal" people were attracted to the latter. Guess who was the violent kid though?

    You see, this has nothing to do with profiling. It has nothing to do with geeks, per se. It has to do with keeping the status quo - and that is that the "normal" kids - jocks, preps, and hip dudes can do no wrong. If they do, they're "just kids" afterall, and "boys will be boys". But when somebody who isn't defined as "normal" by the community is targetted, they'll take any excuse to get rid of him, isolate him, or otherwise punish him for not subscribing to the social formula They have laid out.

    Katz, you're close here - but you didn't hit the mark. There's a much bigger issue here, and one that cuts to the very core of the definition of what a society is. This is the politics of being different. It's hard, it's tough, and it's unfair. I could tell you volumes about my experiences in high school - it was basically a prequel to your hellmouth series. Bombs, scared kids, an outraged community, and a kid on the run. I had ATF agents *in my house*. It wasn't fun.

    Believe me when I say this: This has nothing to do with geeks. Anyone who is different is a target in this (and most every) society. It is the biggest fight you'll ever be in - the fight to remain yourself.

  • by rodentia ( 102779 ) on Monday November 29, 1999 @05:52AM (#1497080)
    I'll wager a significant proportion of slashdotterii fit this profile. I know I do and committed my share of violent, primarily self-destructive acts. But the key here is that the profile is being used to identify potential violent offenders, the better to react swiftly with the full force of the law as necessary. It would be naieve to imagine that the FBI, BCA, or ATF are profiling individuals for some "love."

    I was a principal suspect in a pretty serious local crime based on the heresay of a "concerned" law enforcement official. The BCA interviewed my parents and girlfriend while I was in school. The up-shot: come home from school to find myself homeless, my girlfriend no longer permitted contact with me. They apprehended the responsible party a few weeks later, but I didn't get the girl back and an already tenuous relationship with my parents deteriorated further. I won't bore you with the details of the black decade which followed, suffice to say there is a big hole where my twenties should have been thanks to the intervention of "concerned" adults.
  • Can't accept criticism? that's a new one to me -- but entirely true.

    Bullied? Oh hell yes. Not for being smart, but aggresively and persistently harrassed for about a year and a half. To defend my best friend. Who promptly never spoke to me again. Fscker.

    Nothing else to say except 'yes' to almost every single question.
  • I honestly think ADD et. al are used entirely wrong most of the time. I have a feeling it is easier for parents and doctors to label kids this way instead of getting at the root of the problem.

    Having said that...I have been diagnosed with ADD and believe it to be true myself. Even at 25. =)
  • by A Big Gnu Thrush ( 12795 ) on Monday November 29, 1999 @05:54AM (#1497085)
    Engage in attention-seeking behavior, and don't accept criticism.

    Well, the profile fits Katz at least. It might not catch potential murderers, but it may help us find and contain future "journalists".

    I support Katz profiling!
  • In the past, I've volunteered with some programs for gifted children. Of course all children are gifted if you know them well enough, and every parent trying to get his kids into such programs knows his kid is gifted.

    Very quickly we learned when we had a live, for real case of a G&T kid when you talked to a parent on the phone who was at the end of his or her rope -- the kid who'd aced the SATs as a sixth grader, had done original scientific, literary or engineering work, and was drifting aimlessly around middle school because there was nothing anyone there was teaching him.

    It eventually dawned me that what we really mean when we say a kid is "gifted" is that he or she is a special needs case -- a euphemism we usually use to indicate there's something wrong with a kid. There are many bright students, but what really sets a G&T kid apart is that he can't be served by the standard curriculum.

    Getting back to the FBI profile, I think it is fair to say that a kid who "meets the profile" given is probably not well served. In that sense, the profile is neither good nor bad; it is a tool. Ordinarily the key to such a tool would be what you do after you've selected out kids who meet the criteria. On the other hand, it seems pretty obvious to me that there is something extremely wrong if a school can't figure out on its wown that somebody should make it their business to get to know kids like this.

  • Well as long as you lack the propensity towards Naturist SwordPlay in local places of worship then I think we might all be quite safe.

    "Ashes to ashes, and dust to dust. Don't pull it out, or it will rust"

    --Highlander 2: The Sickening (There should have been only one)

  • This thing reminds me of a list from the "Weekly World News" someone posted in their office window several years back, of "How to tell if someone is a space alien." The list included such warning signs as "seems out-of-place" and "uses objects inappropriately (e.g. trying to eat soup with a fork)".

    I remember looking at that list and thinking I didn't know anyone I couldn't prove was from outer space based on that list, including myself and members of my immediate family (even the relatively normal ones).

    Likewise, I think most of the people I would have voluntarily associated with in high school had at least a couple of these characteristics, not to mention half the people I work with now. I suppose it depends in some measure on how you define your terms. Are you going to say a kid is "fascinated by cults" because he's a Christian Scientist (yes, some people think they are a cult)? How about "interested in weapons" because he works out at a dojo after school? "Unstable self-esteem" sounds to me like as good a definition of being a high school student as any you could come up with.

    OK, maybe the perpetrators of recent school violence fit this profile, but someone needs to run anyone using a profiler like this through an elementary course in set theory. Just because a few of the members of the intersection of SMART and DIFFERENT have decided to, um, take matters into their own hands doesn't mean that all, or most or even more than a statistically insignificant few, of the members of that particular intersection are going to do so.

    I wonder if anyone has really looked at how likely people who fit this profile are to commit violence. I wouldn't be surprised to see a result similar to one found over a dozen years ago when someone decided to see whether role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons made kids more likely to commit suicide. Not only could they not find one single suicide that was directly attributable to roleplaying, they found that the suicide rate among gamers was actually less than for the control group! Someone should start looking into this. It might turn out after all that being a geek is good for you!
  • Not just kindof scary... I cant believe this is happening. Except for being female (and that isnt a big except) I fit *all* the listed characteristics in highschool (and even now!), and so does my brother. Luckily I am now 24 and in the professional computer industry which (mostly) doesnt care about how you dress and what games you play (hell, Quake Tournaments are a Friday event for most of us programmers). But I have a step-sister and step-brother (yes I definitely did have a dysfunctional family and my mother finally divorced my father and is now happily remarried), and those step-siblings are still in HighSchool... I cant say how worried I am for them, for they take after my brother and I, they are always telling me stories about how they got suspended for wearing all black clothes to school or for having blue hair... I cant believe that this is happening without the public's permission! How are we just letting this slide? I dont want to have children in this kind of a society! (and I was kindof looking forward to bringing little geeks into this world...) =P

    *sigh* Someone remind me why I live in the US?
    (i use a handle because people dont believe my real name ;)
  • It takes extra effort for someone to help a person in trouble. It's just way too easy to get turned off by someone's outwardly rebellious behaviour. But usually, if you cared enough to be friendly with that person, you'd discover that he/she is simply venting frustration that comes from deeper trouble, or just trying to keep the mind off more troubling things.

    The problem is, there aren't that many people out there who cared enough to "dig deeper", so to speak. And unfortunately many people who don't care hold positions where they should care, like counsellors, and such. And because they don't really care, they may inadvertently "write off" the very kids who need their help, and as a result, the troubled kids are provoked to get worse and retaliate, which may cause them to become potential criminals, even though they wouldn't have been had somebody bothered to care for them rather than criticize or ignore them.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Be careful what you wish for.

    Schools already work very hard to identify these same students under the guise of suicide prevention. What they then do to them ranges from psychiatric brainwashing to "institutionalization" ie incarceration to even forcing hem to take mood-altering drugs.

    The people -- "psychological professionals" -- who are in charge of those of us who are detected are not good people and they're playing god with kids brains.

    It all comes down to not getting detected. The schools aren't capable of thinking of alternative personalities as what they are -- a right and a virtue -- and will alwas think of us and our kind as evil, dangerous, troublemakers.

    Every kid is dangerous. None, however, are as dangerous as the psychologists who want to help them.
  • I don't think most teachers are to blame for this, and I don't think that's what Katz is implying here. I know that when I was in high school, the people primarily responsible for the things that made it a truly horrible experience for me were administrators, or teachers who were ultimately seeking administrative positions.

    These are the ones who turn their backs to the hazing, who don't like students to be "too different", who want to run a nice happy little school with no troublemakers, even if that means messing up some truly bright kids for life. Often they get off on control, or have an obsessive desire to "mold minds" rather than teach.

    My little sister is about to enter graduate school to become a high school teacher. She wants to do it for all the noble reasons: she loves learning, she loves the subject matter (English), and she wants to bring that out in students. She does not want to control people and run a petty tyranny five days a week.

    I think almost everyone on slashdot agrees that teachers, in general, are not the problem. They're trying to work with what they have and they generally aren't in positions of authority. The administrators (principals, guidance counselors, etc.) are typically the ones who are to blame for things like this. There are some bad teachers, and some good administrators, but in general the nature of the jobs attract different types of people.
  • Love is a strong word there, to require of a social contract.

    It's the right word. When the world is that dark it can matter so much that someone, anyone, is paying attention and cares about your pain. Requiring a social contract is essential if you want to keep that person a part of society. This should, and usually does, come from the home, but in today's America that is far from assured. Is it the place of public schools to provide that support? Outside institutions?

    Any links/ideas to what "they" do after a geek is profiled? (and I would have hit the points outlined above dead-on in high school, although I didn't play Quake until college:) That, IMHO, is the important part.
    1. Usually boys of average or above-average intelligence.
      Okay, I'm male, and graduated #6 of 400 or so.

    2. Often loners, or have small circle of friend who are outsiders.
      I hung out in the computer lab at school, with kids mostly a year ahead of me, until my senior year, when I instead hung out in the print shop

    3. Experience unstable self-esteem.
      You would, too, if your mother forced you to go to counseling ever since you were 11, because she wasn't taking the seperation well, and when my dad was there, I rememebr him telling my mom to shut the kids up, as he was trying to get work done.

    4. Often fascinated by cults, Satanism, weapons, themes of violence and death.
      I played AD&D, ShadowRun, BattleTech, WH40K.

    5. Experience a decline in schoolwork and marks.
      Nope, never happened.

    6. Come from dysfunctional homes.
      See the section on self-esteem.

    7. Have experience with chronic bullying and drug use.
      Well, I wouldn't say it was chronic, but I did pick on a kid on our bus. And I didn't use grugs other than caffeine...although I did get annoyed with 'red ribbon week', when people were supposed to wear red ribbons to show they were drug free, and I came up with an alternate coloring system, to show what drugs you were on (birth control, caffeine, nicotine, pain killers, etc.)

    8. Engage in attention-seeking behavior, and don't accept criticism.
      Okay, so I heckled in class. So what? And I accepted criticism...although there was this one day junior year, when one of the ROTC kids in my class leaned over to me, and asked 'are you a loser?', and I grabbed him by the throat... then I started getting threats from a bunch of other ROTC pricks.

    Which, as you can see, means that I said 'no' to a question, therefore, it doesn't apply to me, damnit.

  • Canterbury Tales []

    Lysistrata []

    haven't done any classics since I was 16, so can't say how good the translation is.

  • my real name is out. I must change it yet again ;)

    No more lily'ing from my box for you =)

  • Try and find Lysistrata, the Sex Play.
    Voila [].
    Canterbury Tales
    here []
    Offtopic? Not a bit of it. These illustrate the fact that the web is a powerful force for good, and that loners who spend a lot of time surfing are at least as like to come out the other end as erudite, interesting members of society as sociopaths.
  • You forgot slashdot, which is more dangerous. Its a group of like minded people out to change the world by their work.
  • by goliard ( 46585 ) on Monday November 29, 1999 @06:17AM (#1497132)

    They need to be shown that somebody who can do something gives a damn.

    Actually, it's sufficient to be shown that anybody gives a damn - even if they can't do anything about it.

    Of course, it's nicer if they can rescue you from your misery. But we geeks are made of stern stuff. We can tough out anything, so long as we have corroborating evidence of our premises: just one other person saying "You are worth fighting for" is all it takes to make a difference.

    (And may this stand as an indictment: that there are clearly young men who have never once heard that message.)

    Here is the one needful thing; if you find yourself in a situation with such an anguished young person, this is what you can say:

    "What has been done to you is wrong. What is being done to you is wrong. It is wrong for anyone to hit you. It is wrong for you to have to live in fear of physical violence. It is wrong for you to feel hatred for yourself, and it is wrong for people to try to make you hate yourself. You are not crazy for being in pain. You do not deserve to be treated like this."

    Those are the words no one ever says.

  • That's what this is all about; the powers that be in government-controlled "education" centers want young people who can be formed into nice little sheeple, who won't challenge assumptions, and aren't suspicious of government.

    So, they are simply trying to identify people who represent a threat to their tyranny early on.

    Perhaps next, they'll have some kind of symbol that geeks will have to wear.

    We need a new amendment to the Constitution to seperate school and state.

    Interested in XFMail? New XFMail home page [].

  • "there's a fine line between bright and unhappy adolescents and mass-murderers"

    Best thing I read all morning...

    Your Working Boy,
  • A common saying is "the US is the most stable and secure country in the whoel world" or "the best country in the world for anythinge." Well, I live here and let me tell you it's crap. A government that we made that we were supposed to control controls us. If you read a book at a pep rally (which, by the way, you are forced to go to, and, oops, on the calader sent home from school it "accidentally" says there is a college fair that day) it is confiscated. Heaven for fucking bid you learn at school. I am rather pissed off about that. I'm moving somewhere to a neutral country as soon as I turn 18, I think. If the US is the best country in the world, then let me tell you, the world sucks.
    I'm gonna get moderated down for this, aren't I?

    If you think you know what the hell is going on you're probably full of shit.
  • by pb ( 1020 )
    This is just plain silly. I was hoping for a fun, simple test like The Geek Test, but no, it was a Katz article. :)

    I'm so glad I'm out of public school. Now I can hear about this stuff, but at least I don't have to do it again. Of course I was a nerd, dude, we're all on slashdot...

    However, I don't know about some of this stuff: I'm pretty outgoing, at least within my "band of outcasts", never really ran into drugs and don't do any of the illegal ones personally, and if I got bullied it was for being smart or ignoring stupid people (I was usually reading...).

    So how are we dangerous, again? That's the implication Katz wants us to see, and I think some schools or "educators" might be dumb enough to think that, but why would the FBI think that? They're a bunch of dangerous nerds too, and they should know that you can't prepare for terrorism, and you generally can't identify terrorists beforehand... They're just disgruntled people, and you don't have to be a nerd to get like that: you could be a (non-nerdy) postal worker, say... ;)
    pb Reply or e-mail rather than vaguely moderate [].
  • The problem is not the profiling: that's normal prudence. I desperately wish that someone had realized just how dark my world was and tried to help. I wish they would have locked me up in a mental institution and some of what was going on in my home would have come out

    Perhaps you were a case where this profile would have worked. But how many people will it finger as "dangerous" who are not?

    Your average serial killer is a young (20s-30s), single, white male, who is described by his neighbors and those who know him as "quiet" and a "nice guy".

    Should we start harassing everyone who fits the profile?

    Law enforcement developed profiles to help them in investigations of crimes which had already been committed. The idea was to take a bunch of people that COULD have done it, and narrow them down to ones who were more likely to have done it. They would then investigate those and when they found physical evidence they could prosecute.

    How does that apply here? No crime has been committed. They are trying to finger people who they think might commit a crime in the future. Profiles by their very nature will apply to a lot more people than commit the crimes - and now educators will be acting against ALL those people.

    What percentage of students commit violent crimes in schools? Fractions of a percent? hundredths? Thousandths? What percentage will be matched by this profile?

    I know I would have been, and I was no threat. (Unless you count being a lousy driver...)
  • The problem with trying to over-generalize any sort of profile is that it becomes extremely vague and all-encompassing. This is true in absolutely all cases. :)

    According to a recent article on CNN [sorry, can't find link], only 25% of families or so are 'traditional'. The rest are divorced, single-parent, on-welfare, both-parents-working, insert-your-favorite-dysfunction-here type of family. This makes the probability of coming from a 'dysfunctional' family pretty large, and throws the whole definition of 'average' and 'normal' out the window.

    Lumping things such as Satanism in with violent video games leads to trouble. Quake is great. But, since the FBI mentions it in the same breath as devil worship, it must be related, right?

    The profile fits almost all teenagers. Those it excludes are the abnormal ones.

    Trouble with authority?
    Isn't that what being a teen is all about? Questioning authority and establishing yourself as being competent enough to take charge of your own life? The alternative is a world of sheeple. Kids are encouraged to 'assert their individuality', 'express themselves', 'think independently'... But only within the predefined constraints set by authority figures... Sure road to frustration.

    Unstable self-esteem?
    Ummm... "I'm the coolest person ever, but I have a zit!!! The world is over!" Again, nothing more 'teen' than being overly self-conscious.

    Predominantly male? Aggressive tendencies?
    Well, who else would tend to be a discipline problem, if not a person flooded with testosterone for the first time in 15 years?

    Above average intellect?
    A person capable of independent thought at a young age? "Not in MY classroom, Mister!" Last thing that authority wantes (academics especially) is to have their hypocricy and lazy tenured-mentality exposed in front of kids. I've had plenty of teachers (HS and U) who would mark perfectly good answers as wrong, if they differed with their perspective. The message? "If you don't see the world MY WAY, you're wrong!"

    While a consuming fascination with weapons and death can't possibly be healthy (IMHO), weapons are pretty interesting. No other thing in history has utilized as much thought. We, as a race, have put more effort into finding new ways of killing each other than into anything else - except maybe religion. Being overly religious is sure to get you profiled as well, but at least then the ACLU will back you up. But, as long as we're profiling people based on their interest in weapons and killing - we should lock up the whole of the DoD. After all, if someone in there cracks... "Mein Furher! I can valk!"

    It's only right that a ripening mind would question and take interest in such a social paradox. In fact, bringing this state of affaris into focus is the very point of most civics courses. Questioning that which is wrong in the world is an obligation of all people who are 'coming of age'. We MUST question and contemplate things such as weapons of mass destruction, the abomination of the Holocaust, genocide in general, hate, prejudice and violence; and what these things mean in our world. We MUST encourage the youth to consider these things, lest they experience them first-hand, and not on the pages of a history book.

    To label someone as a deviant because they try to figure things out... The Original Sin comes to mind.

    We also have to stop and consider the source of the profile. The FBI. The self-appointed shepherds of American society. The directors of the FBI became professionals - and had their world-view solidified - in the years of the 'red scare'. They've taken on the responsibility for the American way of life (tm) and are determined to see everyone live behind a white picket fence. If we don't want to, we're obviously deviants. We need to have our trash rooted through in search of incriminating evidence. It's for our own good. After all, we're in the same demographic profile as Tim McVeigh and Geoffrey Dahmer.

    Think. Vote.
  • Maybe a definition of sociopath is called for here: we might find that an erudite and interesting member of society is already a sociopath, on account of perhaps stopping to think every now and then and *gasp* speaking their mind unto others, thus relieving them of their blissful ignorance...

  • by evand ( 2571 ) <esd@cm[ ]du ['u.e' in gap]> on Monday November 29, 1999 @06:38AM (#1497163) Homepage
    Slashdotters, hear me out:

    What Jon is reporting here today strikes me as completely insane. Far from the normal drivel of laws and regulations put out by our society, this particular "program" is designed (even if this is unintentional) to conform us to what is "normal."

    This is the design of the entire program. If you're scared to death of being smart, of knowing what you're doing on the computer, of playing the games that relieve so much tension built up thoughout the day, then you must conform. There is no other option. If you're not smart, you will become "average" in intelligence (or at least appear that way). If you don't know what you're doing on the computer, you will only be average at it. If you don't play computer games, you'll have to play other sports all the time like everyone else. In short, you will become the norm.

    Technically, though, how are geeks different from the much-celebrated "jocks" and cheerleaders in our society? Both groups are relentlessly dedicated to one particular thing (be it computers, sports and girls, or guys and makeup). Both groups spend large amounts of time working at their particular field of intrest (again, computers, sports and girls, or guys and makeup). Why, psychologically, do we as a culture shun one group and exult the other? The answer is simple, if you look hard enough past the propaganda.

    Geeks are a threat. People are scared of us. We can do things that they can't do; that they can't control. In their minds, everyone who plays Quake has the plans for an atomic bomb and is just waiting for a chance to use it. In their minds, everyone who can program or use the internet well is someone who can change their lives; delete their records and make sure that they never existed. These people think that being smart should be a crime, because it allows geeks to break free of the cultural bonds that bind them.

    This is why we must take action.

    The internet is the one last stand for the geeks. This is where we can say what we want. This is where we can express ourselves to the fullest extent without fear of retribution or ridicule. We can speak our minds, reach for the future, and declare, freely, that 2 + 2 does indeed equal 4. But they're trying to take it away from us.

    If the school counselors get us; if our parents decide that we should be off the computer permanantly, this last stand will dissolve almost overnight. The internet will be taken over for the uses of the media and the government, just like everything else in this country. Your news for nerds will be the news they want you to hear, and if you think that you'll be able to reply you're in a dreamworld. Will you find any sites like the EFF? I'd doubt it. When they have rwxrwxrwx access to all the files on every server, pages that proclaim our right to free speech will at best be deleted, and at worst modified.

    Does the above paragraph seem farfetched? It shouldn't. It's only a few steps away, once we geeks are taken off of the computer systems. Remember, the mass media will report only the news that it gets, and if the only news that it gets is that Mosaic 2000 is going to help reduce school shootings, that's all it's going to report. Because, obviously, we would never be so dangerous if we didn't have access to the internet. The nightly news isn't going to tell us about our encryption abilities being taken away from us. We'll just have to sit back, relax, and watch the telescreen... er... television...

    This is not the future I want to live in, and I'd bet that most of you don't want to live there, either. But what can we do? Older geeks, I beseech you. Do what we minors can't. Vote responsibly for people who are against this thing. Tell your senators what you feel as a tax-paying citizen. Speak out at school board meetings.
    Geeks like me -- any age under 18 -- FIGHT THIS! Talk about it in school. Mention it to your friends.
    Everyone, geeks old or new, can do other things. Write letters to the editor. Put messages about Mosaic 2000 and similar programs in your .signature. Hold protests.

    If we work together, we can stop this kind of action now, instead of when its too late. For if we fail, in the end, we will be just as helpless as Orwell's protagonist to resist; for once ignorance is strength and 2 + 2 = 5, we have no hope. Our only possibility will be to sit back, relax, drink some Victory Gin, and let the telescreen lull us to sleep. But somehow, I know that there is the spirit of the fighter in some of us. We will stop this thing, and not only will we have stopped it, but we will have assured ourselves a place where bounds are endless and where we are truly free.
  • 'You govern a kingdom by normal rules; You fight a war by exceptional moves; But you win the world by letting alone, How do I know that this is so? By what is within me! The more taboo and inhibitions there are in the world, The poorer the people become. The sharper the weapons the people posses, The greater confusion reigns in the realm. The more clever and crafty the men, The oftener strange things happen. The more articulate the laws and ordinances, The more robbers and thieves arise.' (Tao Teh Ching #57, Lao Tzu)
  • I don't think it takes a whole lot of insight here to realize that yes, most of the people who fit this profile aren't really psychologically healthy. What geek would be? Society in general is apparently trying to subvert any attempts to stray from the mainstream (while simultaneously paying millions for VanGogh & Dali paintings). Many intelligent people learn how to do to minimum to get along without notice in first grade. Then comes the concern when their unchallenged school career creates a host of "bizarre" side interests.

    This viewpoint isn't all that extreme-- the problem, I think, is in the blame. The "institution" (FBI, schools, etc) seem to think that the kids, and their behavior, are the problem to be fixed. I think that a very, very small portion of the population is disturbed to the point where they would naturally attack society without provocation, and most of these aren't really capable of functioning in normal society.

    As a group of perpetially bullied, no one here doubts the fact that it's society that inevitably awakes this sort of hatred to begin with. Look at what Amphigory wrote, look at your own experience. Most people here (70-80-90%? 95%?) that felt "outcast" would have no problem whatsoever with the rest of society if it hadn't been entirely antagonistic to them. What would there be to attack? Kindness?

    We're not talking about people who aren't intelligent, who can't handle the demands of what society claims to be (9-5 job, etc). It's the constant oppression from classmates, teachers, parents, etc, who never bothered to "accept" people unlike them.

    So what do you do to fix this problem? NOW. We can't change the underlying problem overnight, and we need some mechanism to recognize those that need help. Though I was straightedge in high school, I didn't act it-- I had teachers suggest drug counciling. Yes, I fit the profile (minus the hatred of the preps/jocks, but I had a pretty tame suburban schooling). Yes, at some point I was manic and suicidal. Yes, I played with making explosives at home. Yes, I studied the occult (I did a verbal report on satanism in the 11th grade- just to push the envelope). Did I need help? I don't think so, but I knew people who did, who probably acted more tame in school. People who were later charged with various crimes.

    Basically, I don't see the problem with teachers (or whoever) identifying people with these characteristics. Face it-- many of them (us) are the ones who cause serious problems, mainly because we're generally pretty damn clever, the lot of us. Intelligence and a mischievious nature cause ten times the trouble. People who can't read aren't going to be building too many bombs.

    The really scary part is what people do with this profile. Look at what Rodentia wrote. This greatly disturbs me, especially as the father of a happy 2.5 year old daughter (yes, we do end up somewhat normal, but I'm still dying my hair blue tomorrow... ;) What do you suggest we do with these people?

    I remember being in high school, thinking what crap it was that people always thought the geeks were mentally unfit. After growing up and meeting a wider range of people, I realized that yes, we were fairly disturbed.

    Personally, I am awed by some of the postings here, especially the personal experiences. Intelligence and a slightly unstable foundation (brain chemistry, home stress, bullying) seem to lead to remarkably eloquent miscreants. I like the results, but I hate the cause.

  • I'm not. I have abandoned all hope of intelligence springing from the US. This way I am never unpleasantly surprised by US stupidity, but sometimes, just once in a while I am surprised at a slight sign of reemerging intelligence.

    Yeah, right before the politicians grab baseball bats and beat the shit out of it and leave it bleeding in the gutter to die a slow death by committee.

    Intelligence is a scarce commodity in the US, and it's mostly applied to obtaining more and more money instead of educating people or making the living conditions in our country better.

    All hail the Dollar, king of the earth.

  • What I worry about is the freedom of interpretation by cluless administrators and teachers.

    What constitutes a "fascination" with Satanism?
    Being a cult member?
    Reading a book on it?
    Disagreeing with the Bible?
    Disagreeing with the personal opinions of a devout Christian? (remember Salem?, how about the Inquisition?)
    Playing a game dubbed Satanic by someone else?

    Where does it end? Where does it begin? Many educators will have varying definitions and guidelines for this list. It will be abused and used as a tool in supplicating students. Angry parents will come into shool demanding answers. The principal will wave the FBI's checklist in front of their faces "It was to pretect the students.", they will say. Just watch. (or do something about it)

  • It seems to me that these "profiles" will be useful beyond high school. I don't know a whole lot about psychological profiles, but this one would appear more likely to raise a flag on anyone that might fight back responsibly--the kids today who are going to be smart enough and mad enough to try to affect a change on society and/or government. If we didn't live in a free country, this would be a great way for a government to get a profile of everyone that might become a potential "enemy of the state."

    If they really wanted to create a profile to detect where problems in schools will occur, wouldn't it be the schools themselves that they'd be profiling? Why aren't they profiling the administrators? How they respond to problems? How they respond to kids that don't fit the norm? Where do they lay blame for various problems in their school? This is the kind of profiling that SHOULD be being done!

  • If you believe the print and tele media, there are people standing on every street corner in America selling guns for 10% MSRP.

    If you decide you want to buy for yourself, you go to a Federally-licensed dealer, fill out the Federal forms, wait for Sarah, and pay full retail.

    Purchase of certain weapons (full automatic rifles or pistols, sawed-off shotguns, single-shot walking sticks and other listed weapons) require additional Federal paperwork, permission from the head of local law enforcement, and you still go to a special Federally-licensed dealer and pay full retail (or higher, depending on piece).

    A lot of ink and electrons have been wasted on the subject of "gunshows". These are nothing more than sales conventions for licensed gun dealers. Makes for better price comparison shopping. But you are still dealing with Federally-licensed gun dealers, have to do the paper work, wait for Sarah, and pay nearly full retail.

    Or you can ask around to try to find a criminal who has stolen the weapon you want. Or find a "fence" (receiver of stolen goods) who has what you want. If you don't get robbed yourself (remember who you would be dealing with) or arrested by a police-operated "sting", you might pay less than retail for a weapon that, when found in your posession, fingers you as perpatrator of some dastardly deed in another city a few years ago.

    Easy to get? Easier than Great Britain. Harder than Switzerland.
  • by Seth Scali ( 18018 ) on Monday November 29, 1999 @06:49AM (#1497181)
    I'm not disagreeing with your main point, Jon-- the geek profiling is bullshit. I don't think administrators are out to get us geeks, but I think that severely misguided principals will wind up inadvertently fucking up a lot of kids this way.

    But let's see why the profile fits so well with most geeks:

    Klebold and Harris were both computer whiz-kids that also excelled in math and foreign languages (hence all the emphasis on speaking German). The "Trenchcoat Mafia" was nothing more than a group of unpopular kids that would hang out together. Klebold and Harris spoke frequently of guns, death, violence, etc. The two were very much anti-authority. I don't know about family life... But they fit the profile pretty well.

    Kip Kinkle was very much involved in guns. He also was an honor student, and unpopular (jokingly said to have been voted "most likely to start world war three"). He had a lot of resentment for authority, though he voiced his anger and outrage to those closest to him. He fit the profile pretty well.

    How about the Jonesboro shooters? A little more difficult-- these kids were 11 and 13. But they were both fascinated with guns and death. They both did well enough in school. And they were described as kids that nobody really even paid attention to-- nothing remarkable, but they certainly weren't popular. They don't fit perfectly, but they do hit some of the points on the FBI profile.

    Or how about Matt Myers? Killed Chris Eggleston in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Fascinated with murder and death. Trouble with the law. Nasty custody battle, wound up living with his grandparents. Part of a group of social outsiders known as the "Vampires". Fucking scary bright. He fits the profile perfectly.

    Taking a purely scientific view of the above data, we see the following:

    *The data presented is hardly enough to be statistically relevant. Bias in any one of the above cases is enough to invalidate the results entirely.

    *The data above is incomplete. How many other cases of a similar nature are there? What are the details of those cases?

    *Assuming that the data is unbiased and representative of the entire population, we still have nothing more that a statistical correlation. And even then, we are unable to determine the strength of this relationship.

    *Playing devil's advocate, we can say that the relationship is a strong relationship-- 90% or more of the killers fit the profile. This still doesn't imply causation. There are a number of other factors that might enter into the picture-- acting as if A implies B (especially on such a small set of data) is not only scientifically unsound, but foolish.

    So I guess you can say that the profile may have *some* statistical relevance; but it has very little scientific relevance.

    Then again, scientists probably fit the profiles themselves :-)

    Just my $0.02
  • by goliard ( 46585 ) on Monday November 29, 1999 @06:49AM (#1497182)

    OK, so we pretty much all seem to agree that things can really, really suck for young geeks.

    I suspect everyone here would agree that intervention is desirable, as amphigory neatly describes.

    I suspect we largely agree with the sentiment (expressed in another thread) that the intervention which the current system is prepared to do ranges from "inept" to "violation of human rights".

    Well, that's because the intervention is done by normals. They're never going to get how to help a geek in distress, because (a) they have never been through it and lack the empathy necessary for problem solving and (b) they are unaware of some of the issues peculiar to geeks (list available on request; my profile is better than the FBI's :).

    So the question before us is: So, should we, collectively and individually, be Doing Something?

    I'm a geek, right. I don't have any particular warm fuzzy feeling about social-program volunteering, and I don't suspect any other geek does. HOWEVER:

    If we don't help, aren't we part of the problem: an indifferent world that leaves these kids to rot in their misery?

    What I'm envisioning is an organization much like Big Brother/Big Sister -- only run by and for geeks. A sort of "Big Geek" service.

    A couple of notes on the idea:

    1. There is (allegedly) already another organization focusing on outcast anti-defamation; this would be an organization providing intervention.
    2. The reason for making it an organization, as opposed to individual efforts, would be so that it would build "brand" (name identity) so that school administrators would think to call it in.
    3. The intervention provided could be as simple as a kind of mentoring relationship. But maybe senior geeks would be moved to intervene more profoundly, offering on-the-job apprenticeships (get them out of the schools!), fostering (taking them in if home life gets untenable), help graduating from high school/applying to colleges early, etc.

    Would people actually participate in something like this?


  • by galadriel ( 42210 ) on Monday November 29, 1999 @06:49AM (#1497183) Homepage
    ) Any links/ideas to what "they" do after a geek is profiled?

    In my high school (college-prep, designed to attract justthose above-average intellect high schoolers), it came to the attention of my guidnce counselor that _something_ was wrong in my life...

    After all, when a kid repeatedly skips first period to cry in the clinic, something's wrong [it was mostly my home life].

    She called me into her office and told me that she'd spoken to my mother [the source of most of my anguish], and that clearly nothing was wrong. I had to "grow up" and go back to class.

    I guess what I'm saying is that [in my expeirience, in a school FOR GEEKS] even when guidance counselors can clearly see that something is wrong in a kid's life, they don't know how to handle it.

    They'll believe someone else over you--if you're a geek, they'll believe the popular kids, they'll believe your parents, they'll believe the teachers who have no idea what's really going on...but they won't listen to you.
  • by frankie ( 91710 ) on Monday November 29, 1999 @06:51AM (#1497187) Journal
    once someone is labeled a pontential killer, I wonder what they will do with them. Force them to become jocks?

    Nah, just transfer them to the new maximum security school next to the old industrial park. You see, these smart kids are disillusioned and angry because they've been oppressed and bullied by peers, teachers, and administrators since elementary school. So obviously the answer is to oppress them some more, until their spirit is properly broken. Then they'll behave like proper social units.

    I love the language used in the profile: does the student "have experience with chronic bullying?" Such lovely doubletalk -- they're not hunting for the INFLICTERS of arbitrary violence (who will grow up to be vice principals or middle managers). Mosaic wants to proactively punish the VICTIMS, before they retaliate. TheOnion did a fabulous satire on this topic []

  • by coyote-san ( 38515 ) on Monday November 29, 1999 @07:04AM (#1497199)
    Sadly, a strong argument can be made that the victums of bullying are potentially more dangerous than the bullies themselves. Emphasis on "potentially."

    We would call the logic sick, but it matches reality. Bullies already know how to handle anger and frustration - they go beat up somebody weaker than themselves. If they fought someone as strong as themselves they would called "fighters," not "bullies," and if they fought somebody stronger than themselves they would be described as having a death wish.

    But how do the victims of the bullies handle anger and frustration? Some will have their own, non-violent, outlets, others will become bullies themselves, but the rest will keep that anger inside. When it becomes too much to bear, they might only have a single model for how to deal with it - taking out the "weak." But instead of using their fists, they'll use their brain and be *far* more dangerous.

    So if we use history as a guide, it's appropriate to use a history of being bullied as a warning flag for future violence -- but we must also show absolutely no mercy to the bullies themselves. By this same logic, they are acting as recklessly as if they tossed a dozen loaded firearms into the schoolyard playground. Keep track of the victims, if necessary, but the bullies should be expelled on first offense, and locked up on the second offense. If that ruins the football season, tough shit.
  • Haven't seen any Bad Driver profiling being proposed!

    Sure you have, they're called insurance companies, and everyone uses em. Higher rates for males under 25 -- we're wreckless drivers, but when we turn 25, we somehow become better. Get married? Rates go down again.

    Cops profile drivers (and cars) as well. Drive a car with an aftermarket exhaust? Cops look at you a little longer. Windows tinted? Gotta be a drug dealer.

    Driver profiling has been going on for years.

  • I'll be blunt. Yes, that's me. 100%. I was bullied, I had a very small circle of friends who shared similar interests. I am a proud practicioner of an occult religion and rather proud to state that I am familiar with religions ranging from Catholic Christianity to semi-modern Druidic beliefs. My parents and I frequently fought, and still do. My self-esteem is sometimes unstable, yes. I'm of above average intelligence (Mensa, anyone?). I didn't graduate from High School - I couldn't have because of a lack of credits. The only thing I don't match is the total refusal of criticism.

    Yes, I contemplated killing people. Who hasn't? But I didn't. Why not? Because I knew that that would only bring me to their level, and I was above that.

    The problem is not finding these students. That's just a pathetic excuse to violate our privacy and eliminate trust. What needs to be done is to stop the students that would CREATE these people. We're going to live in a neverending cycle of difficulties and problems so long as bullying and harassment is ENCOURAGED by school officials (don't try and tell me it's not - it very much is. All teasing and bullying is always the victim's fault.) and those students are not only permitted, but urged to continue their absolutely deplorable behaviour.

    The people in charge need to shut the hell up for once, and listen to the victims, instead of creating new ones. I don't know about any of you, but if I ever have children, I will be damn good and sure to ensure that they do not have to deal with 'Mosaic2000' in any way shape or form. That's a blatant, outright violation of human rights, privacy, and a perversion of so-called preventative law enforcement.

    I'm seriously considering organizing a protest against Mosaic 2000. If you'd like to help out, please, drop me an email at

    --RISCy Business
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Two questions, one what happens if option B (run + tell) leads to being a total outcast, and doesn't solve anything.

    Two what happens if you are outnumbered say 3 to one. You may enjoy the pain, but alot of people really get distressed when thier head is being pounded into the ground. (and 12 year olds will do this, and it does give you a nasty headache and kids in grade 7 are much stronger than 7 year olds.

    This is just my personal experiance. You try being a pacifist at 12, it is not the most fun.

    The most dangerous are those that have a hard time controling thier temper/urges. Oh and the people who worked someone up are still partially responsible, that is if they are violating some right. In this case the right to safety.
  • So... Let me see if I've got this straight. Because I found God, a community of people who genuinely love me, and happiness, I'm a liar? I guess being a minister of the gospel who also does computer programming makes me even more of a liar? That is one of the stupidest and most offensive statements I've ever heard in my life.

    Oh yeah... As far as your cartoons: I agree that they're stupid. But there is more in heaven, earth, and Christianity, than is dreamt of in your philosophy.

  • Law enforcement developed profiles to help them in investigations of crimes which had already been committed. The idea
    was to take a bunch of people that COULD have done it, and narrow them down to ones who were more likely to have
    done it. They would then investigate those and when they found physical evidence they could prosecute.

    Is it possible the "quite" and "nice guy" just doesn't adequately fight back when he/she is accused? Perhaps that profile is just more likely to get a conviction then it is likely to find the real perpetraitor. Think about the people who conduct most law enforcement investigations... What does it take to become a sheriff's deputy in most cities/counties? A high school diploma. Who the hell are we kidding?! Our criminal justice system is a sham.

    Some of you may think I'm just flaming, but that isn't the case. I have a younger brother who as a JOKE started a fake gang called GPP(he was 16). He was with a friend one night when his friend decided to break into a car. My brother stood by and did nothing, and later that night turned himself in. The deputy he turned himself into then searched his vehicle and found a mallet. He brought the mallet back to where my brother was and questioned him on whether or not he could use it as a weapon, my brother (ignorant of jerk off cops like this) answered, "Yeah, I guess" so the officer tacked on a concealed weapons charge. My brother (being a first time offender) ended up on probation. The police harassment didn't stop here. THEY labeled him as a gang member. In effect, GPP was made into a REAL gang by the VENTURA COUNTY SHERIFFS Department. With a single entry into a computer database a JOKE was made into a REAL problem. Suddenly, not only did this gang have validity it had lots of HS freshmen who wanted to join it. Keep in mind, this is a upper class white community in southern california. The police continued to harass my brother, even though he complete disavowed himself of his relationship with GPP since it had ceased to be the joke it had once been.

    While still on probation the police came to his class one day and arrested him. They did this in front of everybody in the class. Apparently a kid at another HS in the city had been beat up by a gang of kids. The victim said that one of the people who did had "long blond hair". Apparently my brother is the only person in a city of 120,000 that has long blond hair. My brother spent several days in juvenile hall. He was still a minor and the police/school FAILED to notify my parents that he had been arrested. In the end, after months and many dollars in lawyers fees had been wasted the charges were dropped because of a lack of evidence.

    My point in relaying this story is that law enforcement officials have the power to ruin our lives with out ever thinking twice, when often they should. Giving some things a second thought as to "how much evidence do we really have?" or "how is this arrest going to affect the life of the person I'm arresting?"

    Law enforcement in Ventura County is a JOKE. I imagine that the story is the same in most places. The LAPD, and the NYPD are wrapped up in various scandals. How much does it take to get an overseeing agency to veto police actions????
  • What has been done to you is wrong. What is being done to you is wrong. It is wrong for anyone to hit you. It is wrong for you to have to live in fear of physical violence. It is wrong for you to feel hatred for yourself, and it is wrong for people to try to make you hate yourself. You are not crazy for being in pain. You do not deserve to be treated like this.
    Amen. I don't know how many hours, days, whatever I have spent in counseling trying to get my father to say that.

  • Let's save these overworked "educators" (aka administrators and bureaucrats, not the hard working teachers in the trenches) some work, shall we? Black T-shirt, white letters:


    Take it a step further, just for kicks. On the back:


    Of course the HHGttG will be lost on most people, but it's fun.

  • by scheme ( 19778 ) on Monday November 29, 1999 @07:47AM (#1497261)
    Assuming that the data is unbiased and representative of the entire population, we still have nothing more that a statistical correlation. And even then, we are unable to determine the strength of this relationship.

    Granted the data seems to only imply a correlation but correlations are often useful. While they do not imply that one factor causes the other they do allow one make fairly accurate predictions. For example, the presence of smoke and a fire are strongly correlated so if you see smoke you can usually predict that there is a fire.

    If you consider some philosophical stances (e.g. Hume), correlations are the only thing that we have since we can not prove causation for anything. We base science on very strongly correlated things. Nothing tells us the sun will rise in the east tomorrow but we are fairly confident that it will do so tomorrow since it has done so every morning. (For those that claim that physics tells us the sun will rise in the east, what insures that the laws of physics won't change tomorrow?)

  • Um, doesn't this description fit /most/ angtsy teenagers. Isn't rebellion one of the stages of maturation /anyway/?

    I'd have to agree with another poster in that these "tests" are really silly. What are they going to do /after/ they identify the kids though? That's the real question. And I sure hope the answer is not simple expulsion: "you're different and need help and we don't like you and/or we are too lazy/careless to do anything, therefore we are going to kick you out on your ass"
  • Do we deserve actions like this? Do people care about attacks on our civil liberties?

    Judging from past experience ... no, most people don't care, unless they are directly affected by this sort of thing.

    How many of you (justifiably) bent-out-of-shape folks are unaware that "profiling" of various kinds by the FBI (et al) has been going on for decades?

    How many of you were aware of it, but just didn't give a shit until they started "geek profiling"?

  • by chromatic ( 9471 )

    I mean, "Yes, we should be doing something." But also, "No, we should not react to feeling singled out by further withdrawing from the mainstream."

    I have enough interests and hobbies and activities that don't involve sitting in a darkened room in front of my computer that I actually know and get along quite well with people who aren't geeks. Some of these people will never understand the strange allure of Perl programming, and many cannot see the awful beauty of a quick and dirty hack. But we get along anyway.

    Now if I'm misunderstanding you, I apologize. I just think more kids than just budding geeks need people in their lives to spend time with them and to tell them that they're worth being around -- and that other people, even the ones that seem different and weird, are also valuable. Seems too important to limit it to just 'our own kind.'


  • Do you have below average intelligence? Are you sometimes a follower, feel a need to be part of a large circle of friends perceived as the "in crowd"?

    Do you think you have high self-esteem? Are you confused by cults because of your inability to understand the belief without beliving it yourself? Are you facinated with weapons, and wish you could hold a position where you could abuse them legally? Do you suck at games with themes of violence and death, and frequently blow yourself up with your own rocket launcher?

    Are you under the impression that you don't come from a dysfunctional home? Covet authority? Blindly accept criticism?

    If the answer to most or all of the above is yes, then congratulations and welcome to the FBI.
  • What part of "this is based on my experience" do you not understand? If I am basing something on my personal experience, I think it's safe to assume that the source I'm using is me.

    *rolls eyes and gets a double 6*

    As I'm quoting my own experiences, I think it's also safe to say I probably do, indeed, have the sources. They're lodged in that lump of grey matter between my ears.

    If you were to think of reading first and flaming later, methinks you'd find yourself flaming less and commenting (or even agreeing) more.

    Even if you -would- still end up disagreeing with me, I think that you might find yourself disagreeing in a more productive, less hostile, way.

  • by scheme ( 19778 ) on Monday November 29, 1999 @08:36AM (#1497298)

    Although I'm in opposition to the majority here and will probably get negative moderation for this, I think that Katz is overreacting. There are several problems with Katz's article.

    A major fault is that Katz doesn't provide any evidence to support his claims. He cites emails from several principles and administrators but doesn't give us a copy of the report, just a list of characteristics. We're not even sure if the list of characteristics is complete. The url for the halifax paper is link to a bank robber being caught not a "geek profile." In addition I'm curious why a canadian law enforcement agency has the profile and is giving it to canadian papers. Toss in the lack of coverage in other media sources and I'm sceptical as to the validity of the profile.

    My other problem with this is that Katz seems to see a lot of the reaction to the Columbine incident as being "anti-Geek." He also seems to believe that profiles aren't necessary. Although, one would ideally want schools to evaluate everyone individually, schools have limited resource so it makes sense to have a profile that selects those most likely to be violent/dangerous/in need of help and focus the resources on those people. In analogy, think about how many system administrator read through system log files every day and how many use logcheck, swatch, etc. to just screen out the important ones based on a profile.

    Katz claims that "bullies and predator" that pick on other children aren't singled out but several of the points in the checklist apply
    Come from dysfunctional homes.
    Experience unstable self-esteem.
    Have experience with chronic bullying and drug use.

    I think the second item is applicable and since most bullies usually have a dysfunctional family file the first one applies. In addition, bullying is often used to bolster a lack of self-esteem so the second item probably also fits. Katz's assertion about teachers is not valid since the profile is supposed to pick out potentially dangerous students. Whether schools/teachers are responsible for this is a valid question but is not importance in the context of a discussion on the merits of the profile.

    Katx also goes on to bring in Mosaic-2000. Doing so is irresponsible and does not contribute anything to the article. Given that the details of how the program identifies "dangerous" students and how this program will be used, claiming that this program will select geeks is not very credible.

    All in all, I think that Katz is overreacting or delibrately trying to provoke a reaction among the Slashdot community. His evidence is based on heresay, and links that don't check out. The lack of coverage in other media also discredits his article. The widespread coverage that the national media gave to Mosaic-2000 makes their silence on this profile all the more damning.

  • A slightly skewed view of profiling. Watching the local nightly news last week let me see a "warning" basically stating that *every* person in a car had to wear a safely belt (under4 in safety seat) and if you don't Police have full authority to pull you over and question you.
    This gives police the chance to act as a "border guard" and basically harass the hell out of minorities until they leave.

    To try and tie this to the topic, setting up profiling (no seatbelts = malcontent) tools helps to divide and conquer undesired people/behaviours. Of course when it was the dividing and conquering (outcast/bullying) that caused the undesired behaviour (outcast/being bullied) you can see how well this works as a solution.

  • Subject line sums it up. The NSA^H^H^H bit was an attempt at a complex linguistic-emotional juxtaposition known in english speaking cultures as a "joke."

    Where you concluded that the NSA created Columbine or that my teeth contain miniature radio transmitters is beyond me :)


    Segmentation fault (core dumped)
  • Amphigory would probably love to see us all forced into church
    Errr.. No. I wouldn't. God gave man the freedom to deny him, who am I to take it away?

    Don't be a fool -- you don't know me or anything about me, yet you slander me.

  • Actually, it is not teachers unions that push for low standards. Rather, it is local school boards. For example, half (50%) of the math and science teachers in the state of Louisiana are not qualified to teach the subject -- they are teaching on "emergency credentials", which merely requires that they have had 6 hours of the subject at the college level. Most of these are English or Social Studies teachers teaching out-of-area, but as many as 25% of teachers at some school districts were hired "off the street" as long-term substitutes -- no credentials at all other than that they're somebody's relative.

    The problem is that we, as a nation, do not want to pay teachers a competitive wage, and thus potential teachers such as myself look at the pay and go elsewhere. (Actually I put in two years in the teaching profession, but I view those two years as donated labor -- I currently make triple the salary as a software engineer than what I made as a teacher!). Teaching is an enormously stressful job, and finding people who will put up with the stress for the pay is difficult. You end up with the bottom of the barrel, unqualified people dragged in off the streets because they're unfit for any other employment.

    As for teachers unions and guidance counsellors: teachers unions generally are in favor of mandatory certification because of the problem of low standards in the "off the street" hires, many of whom aren't qualified to pump gas at a gas station and who are little more than glorified babysitters. I have no idea why they would be concerned about counsellor certification, except to say that counsellors should be certified in some way or manner (as vs. hiring Principal Bob's dumb nephew Arnie to be the school counsellor).

    I suspect that if anybody in power were really willing, they could reach a deal on certification of counsellors who have "non-traditional" backgrounds (like social work), something that would maybe require six hours of college coursework over the next twelve months regarding the various federal mandates and programs that counsellors must be expert in (groan). But the problem is that most of the people in power don't want such a compromise. Currently the counsellor position is used as a reward by principals for their cronies who back-stab teachers who want to teach rather than babysit, and allowing "real" counsellors into the profession would mean that they could no longer reward their cronies with counsellor jobs.


    Disclaimer: I was a member of the AFT in 1993, and of the NEA in 1995. Guess that makes me brainwashed, eh? (Not quite!).

  • by delmoi ( 26744 )
    haha, dude, you forgot to hit the 'post anonyomusly' button?

    and you're a +2 poster to boot! Thats the funnyest thing I've seen all day :P
    "Subtle mind control? Why do all these HTML buttons say 'Submit' ?"
  • I'm not saying that there is anything inherntly wrong with the people that the survey 'targeted', But I don't think you can really say that there 'run of the mill programers', For instance, do you really think that most programers are fron dysfunctional homes, and chronic drug uersers? Are they people who can't take critisism? certanly, some are, but I don't think that necisaraly defines the common one. Most of the coders *I* know arn't sociopaths. (Well, actualy most of the people in CS these days are simply idiots, unfortunetly :( )
    "Subtle mind control? Why do all these HTML buttons say 'Submit' ?"
  • Amen on the "intervention" part. My mother used to do psychiatric nursing, and she'd come home shaking her head over what went on in those facilities. Said she, most of the kids just needed someone to talk to, they didn't need to be bundled off to the "bad kids" home.

    I was lucky enough to attend a Catholic high school for a couple of years, back when they were run by actual priests and brothers (nowdays they're run by "lay" people and are even more preppy than the public schools). As non-conformists themselves (even then it was getting hard to recruit priests here in the U.S., due to the view that wanting to be a priest was "weird"), they took a benevolent and, might I say, CHRISTIAN attitude towards the "different" amongst their charges. And they would NOT tolerate bullying or harassment, perhaps because they'd recieved their own share when they were kids. But, alas, the "professional educators" have now taken over the Catholic schools, and most of that atmosphere of toleration of the geeky is gone :-(.


  • Unfortunatly modern american government is turning out to be government byt the lobbying group. The administration would never create a checklist that appeared to target women or hispanics even if they accounted for a majority of school crimes.

    As it is colombine was statisticalyy insignificat. I believe about 12 people die (or maybe are injured) in school shootings every day across the US.

    The reason that "geek" children are targeted is that their is no lobbying group with enough power to protect them. The clear answer is to create a group which represents engineers/scientists politically. Given the general wealth of these profesions and the power they weild considerable change could be enacted.
  • With a single entry into a computer database a JOKE was made into a REAL problem.
    Seems to me that the joke became a real problem when your brother's friend decided to break into a car...

  • but, are they black?
    "Subtle mind control? Why do all these HTML buttons say 'Submit' ?"
  • What this implies is students being bullied have a responsibility to keep it from being sufficiently common to be considered notable. Previously, going to school officials every time you got beat up was considered being a wimp. But with this, if you don't get the bullying stopped, you may be considered psychopathic. It's not that you can't take the pain, it's that if you do, you may be thrown out of school.

    Of course, any school administrator who uses this bit of profiling must know about a pattern of attacks on the student. Presumably, this could not continue if the administrator were actually trying to stop it, and so the administrator must be ignoring the problem. And last I heard, being an accessorry to assult is a serious crime, one that would carry very serious penalties if you were convicted of many counts of it.

    If you're being bullied, call your school administrators. If this doesn't help, call the police. If this doesn't help, call the ACLU. If you don't, you may be considered a criminal.
  • Mosaic is the first step towards a real police state. Punishment follows crime in a normal society. In a police state, punishment follows the ultimate crime, disobediance. The schools are the best place to enforce obediance and this is where police states put their greatest effort.

    It seems obvious that Mosaic will not prevent violence in schools. These indescrimant killings are copy cat crimes sanctioned by various historical traditions (family fueds, Bolshivic propaganda, fire bombing, etc.) but largely enabled and encouraged by the mass media. Still they are so rare as to be imposible to collect statistics useful enough to even narow down the pool of potential suspects. Even if the pool was narowed down, random events, by definition, can not be predicted. As pointed out above, the more violent and oppresive are ignored by Mosaic so that the victims can be further persecuted.

    The New York Times has an article running with erie similarities to this conversational thread. It shows where such Left leaning thoughts can lead, and tells why. Check out:

    The Stasi [] 99germany-stasi.html

    Ten years after the fall of the Berlin wall, the inner workings of the East German police state are mostly visible. Eight times the size of Hitler's SS per capita, the Stasi's primary tool was profiling. Knowledge is the conerstone of coersion. Police states are most distrustful of those who can have ability and these are the people Mosaic is designed to watch. No one is too small to be ignored.

  • by Seth Scali ( 18018 ) on Monday November 29, 1999 @09:52AM (#1497358)
    I will admit that strong correlations are extremely important, and there *are* philosophies that show that we can only be certain to a certain percentage (i.e., 99.9999999999999999999%). Without evidence supplied by statistical relationships, we can't do *any* type of research. Dismissing it as "nothing more than a statistical relationship" was not my intention-- my intention was to dismiss the application of the correlation, but it didn't really come out that way.

    My main problem is with the attitude that if we get rid of the smoke, we get rid of the fire (to use your analogy). For example, let's say Joe Geek gets targeted as a dangerous kid (he fits the demographic in a lot of ways). What would he do?

    * He would not mention the fact that he plays Quake to anybody
    * He would definitely stop hanging out with the small group of friends he has. He would sit in the middle of crowds, trying to look like he fits in even though he isn't talking to anybody.
    * He would stop carrying around "A Course In Combinatorics" and "Cryptonomicon" in his backpack and start carrying around books by Steinbeck and Ginsberg.

    After being observed by the administrators for a suitable period of time, it is determined that Joe Geek does not fit the demographic and is therefore not a threat. But in reality, Joe is just angrier at the school-- he's just not showing it. This only serves to make it all the more likely that he'll act out his anger in improper ways, perhaps even in violent outbursts.

    Correlation is a good thing, and it should not be dismissed offhand. It's one of the most powerful tools that a scientist has-- and used properly, it can give insight into the way things work and the why they work that way.

    But don't assume that "mainstreaming" a person will make him or her less "apt to kill".
  • Criminal psychologists study years and do massive research to come up with their own method of profiling; Even then it's mostly based on past experience.
    And now the FBI just hands out a 1-page checklist and expects school teachers to become just as good???? It's just plain irresponsible. The real profilers must be shaking their heads. I know I am.
  • My experience with school administrators and bullying was, basically, that a teacher dragged my attacker and me to the principals office, I said he attacked me, he said we were just fooling around, and because I said it was actually a fight, we -both- got suspended. (I was, apparently, not supposed to defend myself in any physical way when attacked).

    I have no reason to believe that this has changed, nor did I have enough 'evidence' of my being assaulted to possible succeeded in a lawsuit against the school, even if a minor could bring such a suit.

    (OTOH, I don't think I was ever really particularly singled out. My impression was that -every- male in that school got into at least two or three fights a year, whether they wanted to or not.)

    Of course, since the stakes have changed, I suppose there's an argument to be made that being suspended or expelled is better than being imprisoned.

  • Apparently, I'm on the verge of whipping out multiple AK-47s and laying waste to a large portion of my school's student body. Ick. I sure am glad the FBI reminded me of this. Otherwise, I might've forgotten to follow the pattern, and gee, that sure would've been bad.

    So, I guess, call the cops now, because it's inevitable. I'll begin slaughtering my classmates left and right any day now...


  • by archduke ( 107641 ) on Monday November 29, 1999 @10:30AM (#1497382)
    That's dead on. The assumption of guilt here is absurd & unbelievable. The state could arguably enforce a survey, assuming it was somewhat less bogus than this one, and compile statistics, but only as aggregates and totals in numbers of students, etc. Never should the state be allowed to associate the results to the individuals's names, as that violates this principle: It's also even more abberant in the fact that these are also the identities of minors, which should be confidential and undisclosed to begin with according to youth-protection acts. For the system to work, the state must abide by its own rules and charters. Also the assumption that hanging in a clique is dangerous! All groups are by definition exclusive from other groups or the masses, this is how we establish the bounds of a group. And what happenned to the right to assembly: to gather with other individuals for various cooperative social or political functions? This is one of the cornerstones of liberty.
  • No crime has been committed. They are trying to finger people who they think might commit a crime in the future.

    Apparently, not only are the students who match this profile no longer innocent until proven guilty, they can now be guilty even before a crime is committed at all.

  • by nano-second ( 54714 ) on Monday November 29, 1999 @10:42AM (#1497388)

    Jon Katz has now written too many stories on thsis topic, with too little new content. They are all emotional pulls about geeks and how highschool is unkind to them.

    Hellmouth 1: The Original story [].
    Hellmouth 2: The Sequel story [].
    Hellmouth 3: The Let's-Make-it-a-Trilogy story [].
    Hellmouth 4: The Mosaic-2000 story [].
    Hellmouth 5: The Here's Proof story [].

    And currently posted at a slashdot forum near you .... Hellmouth 6. (You're reading it!)

    While the first couple Hellmouth articles might have been informative and interesting, I think Katz has exhausted the topic. The articles seem to have very little to say, other than 'this is how geeks in highschool are being treated unfairly now'. They don't contain much new information, and certainly, Katz never seems to have any new insights. Obviously these articles connect to a lot of us, who do fit such "profiles" to some degree, and a lot of us had not-so-good high school experiences, but I am getting a bit sick of these emotionally overwrought fluff articles.

    There is nothing new about this "News".


  • by Amphigory ( 2375 ) on Monday November 29, 1999 @11:45AM (#1497431) Homepage
    Let me answer your post carefully and thourougly:

    > Yes, Amphigory has an agenda, but that doesn't mean that what he says
    > isn't true.

    And what is my agenda? And what I said was true. I have been "through
    the hellmouth".

    > Remember the way that in Animal Farm after the animals had
    > been living under the tyrant pigs for many years they started listening
    > to that bird who tried to sell them the "Rock Candy Mountain" idea
    > again. (Their reason being that after suffering all their lives and
    > dying miserable, surely there had to be something afterwards.)

    No... at the time I wished there wasn't a God, so that I could have
    killed myself. I wanted to die for good reason. But God saved me from

    > Amphigory would probably love to see us all forced into church (his
    > church, not the one I attend) at gun-point, "for our own good." Of
    > course, it is also quite possible that he is lying, people in the
    > biggest cult we've got going in this country (They call themselves
    > Christians, but seem to find the actual text of the New Testament to
    > be decidedly inconvenient.) are quite capable of lying to achieve
    > their ends, despite the Ten Commandments.

    You seem to think I'm a fundamentalist. Upon what do you base this? I'm
    not. I am an average, theologically conservative Christian who takes the
    text of the new testament /very/ seriously. Do you? How bout the part
    about "Brothers, do not slander one another"? (James 4:11) You impute
    thjat you are a Christian, well let me call you to task and say that your
    callous slander of me without facts or anything else is distinctively non

    As far as forcing people to attend to church: how on earth could you know
    that? I am actually very strongly against religious involvement in
    government, am against prayer in public schools, and am against this
    posting the ten commandments idiocy. But you didn't bother to find that
    out, did you? You just slandered me when I dared to be vulnerable. Very
    Christian of you, punk.

    > o you are right to question it, but I tend to think that behind all
    > unreasoning religious fanaticism lies a foundation of severe emotional
    > scarring.

    Which unreasoning religious fanaticism was that? Specific example,
    please. Would that be my belief that religion can help people? That's
    the only one which you could possibly be aware of from my post.

    > To be fair, I may send my own children to a religious school (of my
    > own choosing) rather than a public school, if they are going to get
    > religion at school, I'd prefer it to be the religion I was raised in
    > and not some wierd dogma that I find to be "cultish" in its
    > application. (Remember Reverend Jim of the People's Temple claimed to
    > be a Christian.) This is actually happening at some schools in this
    > country, see this article. This is what happens when educated people
    > don't pay attention to local politics.

    Once again, you imply many nasty things about me without knowing me or
    anything about me; without knowing my beliefs or anything about them.
    Your slanders genuinely wounded me. But somehow I guess that you're not
    sorry. You're too busy (to refer to Animal Farm: I've read it, go
    figure!) being a pig.
  • by Mr. Slippery ( 47854 ) <> on Monday November 29, 1999 @12:12PM (#1497447) Homepage
    The New York Times has an article running with erie similarities to this conversational thread. It shows where such Left leaning thoughts can lead
    Please don't say "left leaning" when you mean "authoritarian". The left (labor) / right (capital) axis is orthogonal to the libertarian / authoritarian one.
  • by chromatic ( 9471 ) on Monday November 29, 1999 @01:14PM (#1497467) Homepage

    I think we agree more than disagree. Where our views start to diverge is how we both answer the question, "To what degree are geeks different from non-geeks?"

    From your post, phrases like 'We are a people' and 'We need different... cultural tools' lead me to believe that your answer to that question is "To a very great degree, at a fundamental level."

    While I agree that there are differences between geeks and everybody else, I don't think they're that deep. We all follow Maslow's hierarchy fairly closely. I have a desire to be needed and respected and loved just as the quarterback of my high school football team does. My social group in high school got picked on, and we picked on other people, including some of the jocks.

    To follow the example you give, introversion is not limited to the geek set. I've met plenty of introverted people who had little else in common with me. Also, I think just about everybody goes 'off the rails' during adolescence -- I've met very few adolescents who didn't suffer through periods of questioning authority and one's identity. In my opinion, no one fits the Conforming Norm, and any program that fails to recognize this will have limited successes.

    The thing that scares me here is the idea of a Geek Identity movement. If people sit down and start to think, "Hey, those guys are a whole lot different from everyone else," doesn't that lend validity to the whole Geek Profile thing Katz is railing about? I mean, look at what's happened to the Goths -- they're hardly suicidal Manson freaks, but that's the stereotype. That's what scares me. It's bad enough that kids feel the need to kill themselves and others, but if superficial similarities are used to alienate kids like we were even further....

    You're absolutely right on the unstated premise in your last paragraph -- we're better off helping kids like ourselves. I certainly have sympathies for the little guy out there with a big stack of books, a guitar, a computer, and nothing else. Does that mean I ought to be Rob Malda's Big Brother?


  • by _outcat_ ( 111636 ) on Monday November 29, 1999 @08:58PM (#1497563) Homepage Journal
    Usually boys of average or above-average intelligence. I'm 17 and not a guy...but they told me my IQ is over 150, so, perhaps I fit somewhat this description...

    Often loners, or have small circle of friend who are outsiders.Well, yes, that fits me pretty well. I geek about with a bunch of techies.

    Experience unstable self-esteem. Don't you find it ironic that the greatest thinkers of all time question everything and are often in turmoil? Freedom comes with a price; freedom from being a sheep is no exception.

    Often fascinated by cults, Satanism, weapons, themes of violence and death. I am a Christian, but that doesn't mean I don't want to learn about what other people are thinking. I did a term report last year on several different worldviews. As for weapons? There's nothing wrong with hosing down a dead monitor with gasoline and trying to ignite something by firing BB's at it. It's geeky and cool, and doesn't hurt anyone. Death? Death is part of life.

    Experience a decline in schoolwork and marks. Decline since when? Not that I know of.

    Come from dysfunctional homes. Both sides of my family have manic depression. Enough said.

    Have experience with chronic bullying and drug use.Again, which end of the bullying are we talking about here? As for drugs, I suppose I do try to get caffeine pills and Mountain Dew from my older friends (who happen to have money...) ;]

    Engage in attention-seeking behavior, and don't accept criticism. I accept criticism from those who have credibility. As for attention-seeking, the trenchcoat, chains, and (formerly, regrettably) purple hair are not blantant attempts at getting attention. As a geek girl I'd say that the cheerleaders who come to school in tight jeans and midriff tanktops get a lot more "attention" than I do. But they are encouraged because it's NORMAL.

    There comes a point when one becomes self aware. If no one else around you is self aware, you are faced with no other choice but to break off, to become free from them in any way you can. For me, it happened when I was 10 and my mother had a stroke. None of my classmates at the time thought much more about anything than sleepovers, sports, and hairstyles. While they were talking about their new Jonathan Taylor Thomas posters, I was boiling inside, everything I believed on the brink of shattering.

    And I'm told by my principal and teachers that I'm just trying to get attention when I dress differently.


    I broke off from the norm years ago because the norm would not listen to me. I did what I had to; being on the "outside" is now a part of me. You can dress me in Tommy Hilfiger or Gap or whatever; you can dye my hair blonde, you can wedge my feet into tiny sandals and take away my computer; but you cannot change who I am.

    Who does this hurt and why? It hurts everyone involved. Families, the geeks themselves, and eventually the world might be missing out on some of the greatest minds of all time. And why? Because the government legislates that some things are OK for some, while others aren't.

    I'm not trying to promote religious jihad here..there are enough flames on Slashdot as it is. I'm saying that in order for people to function without chaos, there must be a set of absolute rules. Not this pseudo-bureaucracy, not anarchy, not communism--we've been shown already that they don't work.

    I simply cannot understand why anyone here would complain about this injustice done to geeks, yet flame anyone citing possible good in posting the Ten Commandments at a school. Absolutes sound mightily good right now to me. I know I'm tired of being at the short end of the administrative stick.

    Just my $.02.

Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later. -- F. Brooks, "The Mythical Man-Month"