Criminal profiling is crap – a paper

Criminal profiling is crap - a paperThe TV show Criminal Minds is fiction, and so is "criminal profiling."


Many believe that criminal profilers can predict a criminal’s characteristics from clues. Five academics say that’s crap. They say there’s no sound theory behind profiling, and no strong empirical evidence for it, either. Why do some believe in it?

Four reasons:

  • We hear anecdotes and stories that say it’s effective.
  • If we hear it works a lot of times, we’ll believe that it works.
  • Some people are called "criminal profilers," so they must be criminal profilers, right?
  • Whenever profilers are correct, those predictions are overly emphasized.

 What else might make profiling seem real?

  • Reasoning errors.
  • Making meaning out of ambiguous data.
  • Imitating good ideas.
  • Supposing something’s true based on fiction.

They conclude by saying that criminal profiling should not be used because it doesn’t have scientific support.

Want to read the entire paper? Go to Brent Snook’s site, here>>

Look for this entry to download the PDF file:

Snook, B., Cullen, R. M., Bennell, C., Taylor, P. J., & Gendreau, P. (2008). The criminal profiling illusion: What’s behind the smoke and mirrors? Criminal Justice and Behavior, 35 (10), 1257-1276

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