Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login

This is a terrible advice! NEVER talk to the police. I have seen a lot of innocent people talk themselves into an arrest. Sure, none of them got convicted, but they spent a lot of time in the court system and thousands of dollars on attorney fees. This is my professional advise, and if you need more proof, here is a Detective giving the same advice on youtube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1t3vtr0kxk

Repsilat, you are mistaken. There is never any benefit to talking to the police (as a suspect). If you are a witness to the crime, and want to do your civic duty, be my guest. But as a suspect the cops are not at all interested in what you have to say. They are not interested in the truth, they are interested in probable cause to arrest you. All they are looking for is probable cause. In their mind it's arrest first, find out the truth later.

Why do you think it took them that long to connect a laptop to the Google Glass and see if any video was recorded. They probably suspected it was empty. They tried to brake the guy first, to find any reason to arrest him, so they can go to his house and search all of his computers. They asked him a ton of questions, and I can guarantee you, they were looking for any unrelated excuse to arrest him.

There is a saying: "You can't talk yourself out of being arrested, but you can talk yourself into being arrested."

Sorry for accidentally downvoting you. I meant to upvote :(

Talking to the police is cooperating in the prisoners dilemma. It isn't in your personal interest to do it, but the world is a better place if everyone does. Encouraging people not to talk to the police is actively making society worse.

I talk to the police, even when it isn't in my personal interest, because I'm not a huge dickhead. I believe in a moral obligation to uphold the qualities that helped make my life livable in the first place.

This seems like not only a poor analogy and poor understanding of the prisoner's dilemma but probably the hugest amount of wishful thinking I've seen perpetrated.

You are guaranteed that some party is going to be a betrayer. A criminal and an innocent person aren't even playing the same game stakes-wise. In the prisoner's dilemma, both parties have to be guilty to begin with. More importantly, it requires knowledge of each party's existence by the other.

Edit: Sort of an aside (it seems you may be focused on the idea of talking for the purpose of snitching?), but I think Immortal Technique brought up a good point when he said that ordinary people (well, he said blacks and latinos) shouldn't snitch on each other until cops start doing it first. There are very obvious reasons why cops don't do it (along a scale from Adrian Schoolcraft to Frank Serpico) and maybe citizens are right not to do it either.

You've taken the analogy more literally than it was intended.

I didn't mean to say that "if everyone (including guilty people) is honest with the police then guilty people will be caught." That would have been naive. My point is that talking to the police is a prisoners dilemma when considered as a game played only between innocent people.

My point is that the police can't do their job without information, and almost all information given to the police is volunteered by innocent people. Far fewer crimes would be solved if everyone clammed up when the police knocked on their doors, and that'll inevitably lead to more crime.

But innocent people would have no obvious reason to know the existence of each other in relation to the investigation of a crime - in fact, investigators would tend to think that indicated some knowledge of the crime and make that person a viable suspect, in which case you are not suspected innocent and it's not in your interest to talk to the police.

The prisoner's dilemma is specific for a reason - nothing in its description is ambiguous. Please do not call this situation a prisoner's dilemma when it is not. The prisoner's dilemma implies a game with specific rules, and by applying that name to some other situation, you are changing the rules of the game and making it into something else entirely.

Information to help solve crimes can still be provided to police with a lawyer present, which is something that everyone should do when being questioned. Full stop. It's not about being moral or immoral, it's about basic self-preservation.

It's easy enough to ground this in game theory to make the analogy more explicit.

Say there's a street with two houses. In the event of a crime, people in the houses can volunteer information to the police. They don't know ahead of time whether their information is pertinent to the investigation or self-incriminating. Crime goes down by half if one house regularly snitches, and crime is eliminated if both do.

The expected cost of self-incrimination when volunteering information (with all probabilities worked out) is 3. The cost of unchecked crime in the neighbourhood is 4, applied to each house. The payoffs, then:

- If neither house snitches, payoffs are -4/-4.

- If one house snitches, payoffs are -2/-5 (against the snitch)

- If both houses snitch, payoffs are -3/-3.

This is classic prisoner's dilemma. I thought the general idea was clear enough in my initial post, but at this point the analogy I was making should be impossible to miss.

I don't disagree with your third paragraph. A lawyer will decrease your personal expected negative payoff without compromising the societal benefit of coming forward.

'My point is that the police can't do their job without information, and almost all information given to the police is volunteered by innocent people. Far fewer crimes would be solved if everyone clammed up when the police knocked on their doors, and that'll inevitably lead to more crime.'

Right. So let's just remove the need for a warrant, and revoke the fifth amendment. You have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide, citizen.

That isn't really fair. I took great care not to say that people should feel compelled to give information, only that we should feel obliged to provide it voluntarily under many situations. (Certainly not all situations, either -- information given in confidence should be inviolable without a warrant, for one thing.)

Where is that Immortal Technique quote from? Love IT, have you seen his documentary? (of course now I've asked that, it will turn out to be that the quote is from the documentary :)


From back when that "Stop Snitchin'" campaign had everyone all uptight.

And yes I have. IT is amazing!

Excuse the delay. Thanks I'll have a read of that. Agreed, he hertainly is an inspirational character, have seen him in concert twice now and both times were fantastic

I would argue the reverse. Talking to the cops in a nice way, letting them search your car because you have "nothing to hide" etc etc may help you in the short term, but it further erodes all of our rights in the long term, and makes us all less safe and more subject to the whims of a police-industrial complex that it out of control.

I love this objection because it uses my own argument against me. I think any argument from here goes away from moral principles and towards politics.

My personal view is that rights are most greatly abridged in crises, and that the voluntary cooperation is less likely to beget oppression than is the unrest and crime prevented by cooperation. Moreover, I think a culture of forcibly requiring information is more likely to arise in a culture of reticence.

You're right that it's a difficult line to walk, though -- defending a cultural value of openness and strong rights to silence and privacy is a subtle point.

> defending a cultural value of openness

'Openness' amongst a community or society and openness with regard to the government are not one in the same.


I think the more important distinction to make is between compelled testimony and voluntary testimony.

I think we should encourage people to come forward of their own free will, both by making it safer to do so and by educating them on the benefits to society. In a sense I think this because I have faith in my local police, and see them as a part of the community, not as an "other."

Same as you, though, I don't believe believe in expanding their powers to compel people to come forward, because that obviously has scary negative consequences.

Will you still have faith in your local police and see them as a part of your community after the conduct a triple anal probe on you or your children and hand you with the invoice for the procedure?

While I generally support unions, the police fraternity mindset is troubling. There are no good cops as long as the blue code of silence is the de facto mode of operation.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact