Having read his latest argument for Muslim profiling, which is largely and easily shot down by Bruce Schneier to the satisfaction of most people not named Sam Harris and his pseudo-liberal Gnu Atheist fellow travelers, I think I have to agree with Facebook friend Michael McRae:
the more I read of Harris, the more I think he develops his opinions half baked based on how he feels things should be rather than how they are.
And I am not proposing a mere correlation between extremist Islam and suicidal terrorism. I am claiming that the relationship is causal. There are many ways to see this, and not too many ways to credibly deny it (though Robert Pape keeps at it by skewing his data with the Tamil Tigers).
Your intuition on the efficacy of an airport profiling system is wrong. The psychology of security is complex, and there is a great deal of of research about how our brains systematically get security decisions wrong. This is an example of that. Profiling at airports gives us less security at greater cost.
Harris then tries to conflate behavioral and ethnic profiling, only for Schneier to bust him again:
You can disagree, but I assure you that the Israelis understand the difference between ethnic profiling and behavioral profiling. Yes, they do both together, but that doesn’t mean you can confuse them.Beyond the competency level of the TSA in general is the American idea of solving problems with technical fixes rather than spending money on human operations. We could possibly do real profiling, like Israel, but the U.S. Congress would refuse to spend the necessary money to do that intense of personal screening albeit while not profiling on religion. Let's also not forget that, again speaking of people, the NSA possibly, and the CIA possibly, could have prevented 9/11. The NSA could have done that with other cases, if it had the people to pay for all of the data sorting that's needed. Harris and Schneier both appear not to focus on this issue, but it's an additional part of the puzzle.
Anyway, back to the looking Muslim. Anybody who has followed revelations about al-Qaeda in general, and who knows that what Harris is getting at is "looking Arab," also knows that Osama bin Laden was recruiting non-Arab, non-Arab-looking Muslims for exactly this reason. And, as far as names falling under "sounding Muslim"? Jose Padilla didn't look Muslim and "Jose Padilla" doesn't sound that way. Neither does "Richard Reid."
Worldwide, off the top of my head, I'd say that a solid one-third of Muslims are of non-Arab ethnicity, to a degree that they wouldn't look Arab. I include Indonesians, Uighurs in China, Turks in Turkey and Turkic people in central Asia, sub-Saharan blacks and more.
And, because Islamophobia runs so strong and deep among A-list Gnu Atheists, Sam Harris' vapid maunderings show, or hint at, the degree of intellectual bankruptcy among Gnus. It's a long read, but, if you want to see how clearly Harris refuses to admit he's wrong, consistently moves goalposts and other things, read his whole blog post.
To put it another way, he's engaging in what Dan Dennett has repeatedly, in other areas of human mentality, called "folk psychology." And, as Dennett also noted, folk psychology is often wrong. (Of course, Dennett himself is a Gnu who lied about why he and Richard Dawkins devised the word "bright," but that's another story altogether.)