... are about the most dangerous things in the world to mix.
Presumably these 1 in 250 false positives will be arrested, lynched, and/or they will learn not to attempt boarding an airplane in Minneapolis.
380 people a day are "arrested, lynched", etc. - wrongfully, and you view this as an autonomous element to your analysis?
Therefore, we can expect that after a reasonably short time the error rate of such a system will improve dramatically--it'll be 1 in 1000, then 1 in 10000, and eventually 1 in 1000000. The more we harass these sorry chaps with inopportune faces, the faster the system will improve.
If only theft deterrent systems in shopping centers and stores worked that way! For every person that is wrongfully accused of shoplifting, it costs a business an average of $100,000 - this is from Home Depot's internal accounting (hence, not publicly available). You may take it (the number) with a grain of salt, if you wish, as I cannot "prove" this online. So, unfortunately, the system of "accuse until they go away" doesn't work very well in practice. Even if it did, it is ethically questionable.
There is no pseudoscience so shady that it cannot be promoted by suitably perverse statistics.
I disagree. To date, I've been able to refute almost every statistic generated by the National Organization of Women, one of the leaders in "shady pseudoscience". Unfortunately, most people do not understand statistics, and hence fall victim to the aforementioned. But that is not a fault of science, only human intelligence.
...this line of reasoning would suggest why organizations like the CIA have a much lower rate of false positives on polygraph examinations than would be expected from scientific studies of the polygraph test.
It might also suggest that would-be spies and wrong-doers have found a way to subvert the system, such as raising the baseline comparison by taking drugs, or causing themselves pain - which increases heart rate, etc. Passing a polygraph test is as easy as digging the tip of your toenail into your toe while sitting at the table.
As I said, statistics and assumptions are one of the most dangerous things to mix. However, I believe Bruce Willis put it best in Die Hard - "Assumption is the mother of all fuckups."
Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
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