Monday, April 9, 2012

Legendary

Where I went to high school, we were all a bunch of left-wing liberals. We all shared the same blue state beliefs, which would have made social studies class discussions very uninteresting except that there was always ONE PERSON, one future young Republican, who disagreed with all of us.

In my junior year, that person was a guy named John. John didn't believe in services like welfare, medicaid, or any of that. "If you don't have money, get a job." Wow, when you put it that way, it's so simple.

Anyway, at the end of a semester of everyone arguing with John and getting more and more riled up, there was a formal debate on the death penalty. John was arguing in favor of the death penalty and someone less interesting, let's call him Ted, was arguing against it.

Early in the debate, Ted put forth the argument: "The death penalty is applied more frequently to black criminals than to white criminals."

And John replied, "Well, that's just because more crimes are committed by blacks."

Now unfortunately for John, our class had a visitor that day. And more unfortunately for John, that visitor was an African American female who was a highly placed member of the NAACP.

To say that she ripped him a new one would be an understatement. She basically angrily lectured to him for the entire rest of the period, and John just sat there in humiliated silence.

Best social studies class EVER.

124 comments:

  1. Awesome. I love it when someone hasn't done their research.

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  2. Yeah, because John was clearly factually incorrect.

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  3. Reality is social. You can be completely wrong but great rhetorical skills can still let you one-up someone who's right. And reality has no correlation with whether you get to sit smugly on the sidelines and blog about it later.

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  4. Ooh, tell us more. Show us how this NAACP member proved that blacks are not far more likely to commit violent crimes than whites.

    Did she actually prove him wrong, or did she just shout him down?

    My bet is that she got angry because John hit a nerve.

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  5. Unequal outcomes does not prove unequal treatment. Just because a man in a wheelchair comes last in a marathon, it doesn't prove the race organizers are biased against the physically handicapped.

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  6. Here's a little graph showing comparative homicide rates by race:

    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_mBasfSNyWbg/R_p6_jWHRLI/AAAAAAAAA0Y/TJsGLDJkfYM/S1600-R/Homicide+Offenders+by+Race+1976-2005.bmp

    "In 2008, the offending rate for blacks (24.7 offenders per 100,000) was 7 times higher than the rate for whites (3.4 offenders per 100,000)"

    http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/htus8008.pdf

    Examining NCVS data from 2008, I further calculate that blacks committed ~30% of violent crime in which the offender's race was known, despite being only ~13% of the population.

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  7. I'm not a Republican either, but John was right; proportional to total population, blacks commit more crimes than whites, Hispanics, and Asians. I believe your political biases are getting in the way of your critical thinking skills.

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  8. Agree... your dislike of someone shouldn't mean that you gloat about him being shut down by someone who clearly had a position of power in that classroom. At least he spoke up about his beliefs... which were, as has been said above, still factually correct.

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  9. But he didn't say proportionally (at least in what Fizzy has told us here), he said that Blacks commit more crimes. And that's wrong.

    In contrast, the assertion that the death penalty is applied more to Blacks (which "Ted" put forward) suggests that there's a basic inequity in the ways that someone is treated once they are found guilty of a serious crime. That inequity is important, as is paying attention to the difference between overall and proportional crime rates.

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  10. @ Bardiac,

    Did you miss Anon @ 8:07? Blacks commit 7x the number of violent crimes. This is compared to general population. If 25 blacks & 3 whites commit murder in a city with a population of 100k, wouldn't you expect many more blacks on death row if equal punishment were applied? That's what those stats indicate.

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  11. http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/race-death-row-inmates-executed-1976

    56% white, 35% black.

    Assuming all of those are convictions for murder, let's look at homicide rates:

    http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/homicide/race.cfm

    Whites commit about 46% of homicides. Blacks commit about 52% of homicides. So again, if you assume all death penalty convictions are for murder, then a white murderer is actually *more* likely to get the death penalty than a black murderer.

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  12. The argument that Fizzy relates is not about who commits more crimes, but about who is more likely to be put to death for it. And statistics show that people of color are disproportionately targeted for the death sentence, particularly if the victim is white. Not just that there are more black people on death row, but that any given person convicted of murder is more likely to be on death row if he or she is black. In a statistic from 2011, 42% of all death row inmates are black. That is disproportionate, and racist, and wrong. Those of you who are arguing in favor of "John" are arguing for the government killing lots of black people. Stop it.

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    1. 42% of people death row being black is not disproportionate, racist or wrong if black people commit crimes at a level commensurate with that statistic. If they in fact do not, please link to the data where we can see this for ourselves.

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  13. Ahahahah!!! Awesome.

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  14. Bleh. By the time I published my comment, I was behind in the discussion. Raw homicide data does not sort out death penalty-eligible cases from non-eligible cases. The racial bias has been documented. The disproportionate homicide rates among black people are a matter of concern, but are beyond the scope of the discussion described in the original post (and have dropped, so something is getting better, though there's still far to go).

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    1. The disproportionate homicide rates among black people are a matter of concern, but are beyond the scope of the discussion described in the original post (and have dropped, so something is getting better

      Yes, hard to imagine what could have caused that fall in homicide rates...

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  15. Oh my... Fizzy how did comments on this post end on this tangent?

    This post wasn't meant as a statistics lesson folks. I think it's quite clear that the message was that racism and racial profiling aren't acceptable regardless of political affiliation and that one must be careful what one says in a public forum.

    Your blog brought a smile to my over-tired-medical-student face as always Fizzy :)

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  16. I think it is pretty well accepted that the death penalty is applied unfairly based on race, as sli said.

    I was only 16 at the time, so I honestly don't remember the exact arguments the woman used, although she sounded very articulate and intelligent to my teenage ears. She wasn't just yelling for the sake of yelling, she was attempting to educate, but she was also definitely really angry at him and giving him the smackdown :)

    I do clearly recall his statement "blacks commit more crimes so that's why the death penalty is used on them more" without any attempt at statistically justifying it... basically, it was just based on his own racial prejudices and not facts. It was cringe-worthy, even before that woman intervened.

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  17. Who cares about the statistics? So maybe more blacks get the death penalty BECAUSE more crimes are committed by blacks. It's like saying, more blacks get diabetes because more blacks are poor/live on low income (thus eating junk food). The problem is: how do we fix it? How do we fix the disparity?? More educational programs? More free clinics w/educational programs??

    On the other hand, if you guys are arguing that more blacks get the death penalty solely based on racism, then duh, what else is new? Racism is everywhere. Again, how do we fix it...

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  18. It's always disheartening to see medical students who should be enthusiastically embracing evidence-based reasoning fall far short of that standard in everyday life.

    I was only 16 at the time, so . . .,

    You give your readers a significant clue to help explain the root of your present confusion. Read your statement again but try it with "fresh eyes." Let me walk you through it. Here is the glaring contradiction - "she sounded very articulate and intelligent" in conjunction with "She wasn't just yelling for the sake of yelling, she was attempting to educate." Yelling and sounding very intelligent and articulate mix like oil and water.

    You leave another clue = "to my teenage ears." You may have been a smart whippersnapper when you were 16 but I feel pretty confident that you're even smarter now than you were then. I'm also pretty confident that you can look back on some things that you did as a 16 year old and cringe at your stupidity and/or naivete. What makes you fence off this incident from that same judgment? The clues are all there for you to reevaluate the incident and conclude that your initial appraisal of this woman wasn't based on facts or sound reasoning.

    If not based on facts and sound reasoning, then what helped you form the conclusion that this lady had a winning argument? I would guess that you, along with almost all 16 years olds, were deeply infected with a.) social pressures to conform, b.) a sense of wanting to fight injustice, c.) you were fully bathed in liberal orthodoxy that drowns students in schooling environments, and d.) to quote Rumsfeld, you didn't yet know about the unknown knowns and unknown unknowns.

    You were taught, along with every other student who goes to school, a version of reality that aims to make good citizens but at the expense of producing critical thinkers. You can be excused for not knowing better because of your age at that time. You can't be excused for continuing to hold onto youthful impressions that are easily verified to be incorrect now that you're an adult in the real world.

    Your fellow student put forth a correctly formed hypothesis which was the most parsimonious possible - blacks commit more crimes and therefore due to proportionality they too will have a high proportion of death sentences. Secondly, your fellow student didn't commit the naive mental shortcut of assuming that all features of life must be equal across racial and ethnic lines for there is no reason to actually believe that proposition in the face of overwhelming evidence that it is false. Why should the student therefore assume that the frequency and severity of murder cases should be equal across racial lines? This is the laughable premise that your NAACP lecturer used. The fact that you accepted it as persuasive at age 16 is excusable but the fact that you might buy into that at your age today is not.

    The 16 year old questioner had a better head on his shoulders, even at that age, than your "expert" (expert on what? Black grievance?) lecturer did at her age. He was simply handicapped by decorum (young students shouldn't grind into dust ignorant guest lecturers) and lack of experience in intellectual battle. I sincerely hope that the injustice that this young man suffered at the hands of an irrational ideologue didn't scar him and prevent him from developing the habit of thought of questioning the premises he was taught when he sees real evidence in life which contradicts the propaganda he was bathed in.

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  19. "blacks commit more crimes so that's why the death penalty is used on them more" . . .

    Why the heck would that be cringe-worthy? I know, I know, he transgressed social convention and you as a woman are particularly sensitive to such transgressions, but you know, there are a class of men (and some women) who show higher fealty to the process of truth and reason than they do to social convention and it's quite likely that your fellow student was one of these people. When your NAACP "expert" has to resort to epicyclic reasoning dependent on a wide-spread conspiracy where the process can only be surmised but never measured in an objective fashion goes head to head with proposition based on parsimony,the fact that you thought the parsimonious hypothesis was "cringe-worthy" clearly signals that you were well marinated in the deep socialization required to modify your thinking such that if deviated so far from sound standards of logic.

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  20. I think it's quite clear that the message was that racism and racial profiling aren't acceptable regardless of political affiliation and that one must be careful what one says in a public forum.

    There are some debate worthy positions embedded in your statement.

    First, define racism and then we can examine whether all aspects of what you define are acceptable or not.

    Secondly, racial profiling is not acceptable. Why is that? Is gender profiling acceptable? Because I'm in the midst of medical students let me offer this example - Is it acceptable for women to choose to see female OB/GYNs instead of male OB/GYNs simply on the basis of the physicians gender and their own levels of comfort? This is a profiling that takes place without the patient having any information on the physicians other than their gender. Should this choice be taken away from patients in order to root out the "evil" of profiling?

    Why do "Campus Safety Escort Programs" exist to walk women around the campus during evenings instead of allowing women to walk alone? Does a woman react differently when she sees a group of her male friends walking towards her on a dark path late at night than when she sees a group of drunk and boisterous young men walking towards her? What is the basis for her differing appraisals? She doesn't know those young men as individuals, so if she bases her appraisal on stereotypes then should she reject that appraisal and treat those young men just as she would her group of male friends?

    Stereotypes persist because they embody information that is useful and correct more often than incorrect. Making judgments on the basis of stereotypes is what the profiling process does.

    Only liberal intellectuals could convince themselves that fealty to an abstract principle of fairness should be preferable to making the best decisions for oneself in an environment of imperfect information and when confronted with a choice between good, but not perfect information, and no information at all, the optimum choice is to favor using no information at all.

    that one must be careful what one says in a public forum.

    This is the most depressing thing I've ever read. Well for today anyway. This type of moral rot is what leads countries like Denmark, Canada, England and others to remove true statements as a defense in court proceedings and which can ultimately lead to people being fined and jailed for saying true things which defy social convention.

    I suppose the lesson is that social pressure to conform is a lesson that we must all learn and adhere to if we want to climb the social ladder. Principles like truth, reason, evidence trumping feelings, must be jettisoned to "going with the flow" in order to prosper, be popular amongst peers, etc.

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  21. twohatchettok, "pressure to conform" to what exactly?

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  22. twohatch, I see what you're staying, but "injustice that this young man suffered...didn't scar him"?? Hahaha...wow..very dramatic there. It sounds like he was crucified or something.

    It sucks that this young man didn't have the common sense to not say what he said especially when an NCAAP member was there.

    Oh, come on!!! You're going to compare racial profiling to gender profiling when you go to a doctor (an OBGYN at that??)??

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  23. There are different standards we must conform to at different stages of our lives. If your question is focused on the teenage years, then we've entered an ever-changing environment where the standards are always shifting but the direction of standards is only moving in one direction. I'm surmising that taking a position counter to the dominant racial narrative pushed in schools and society is a standard that no teenager ever wants to cross because approval from peers is more important at that age than when one gets older. Secondly, teenagers develop a self-identity in which they seek to overthrow the "out-dated" thinking of their parents (you know, they think that they are the first to discover sex, the first to want to make the world "better," the first to rebel against conformity, etc) so in a world of unequal outcomes as sorted by race, the desire to want to overturn that process is deeply rooted in most teenage culture and subcultures. Thirdly, teenagers are not that far removed from the age when issues of "fairness" were paramount in their lives, so they are at an age when they are becoming aware of unequal outcomes and that naive sense of fairness is still tugging at them and pushing them towards adopting a social custom of wanting to maximize fairness (which to their minds means equality of outcome.) To buck this social narrative could lead one's peers to judge one as being "cringe-worthy" with a high risk of social ostracization to follow.

    Here's a humorous example, or sorts, that comes to mind from a report I read a few years back: teenagers were boasting about how racially inclusive their generation was compared to the outdated attitudes of their parent's generation. They boasted of how they sought out friends who were black, hispanic, asian, gay, disabled, and so on, without realizing that this process of seeking out and categorizing based on group identity meant that they were racializing their friends in the extreme and treating them as tokens. No, what counted was the process which made a statement about them - "I'm not racist like my parents. I sought out friends who were black. I'm a better and more enlightened person than my parents." Why are they doing this? They do this because they're bathed in a social message.

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  24. Look at the recent Derbyshire fiasco as a very good example of "pressure to conform" and the consequences which follow from failure to conform. The opprobrium directed at him isn't based on well reasoned refutations of a.) his sources, b.) his reasoning and c.) the conclusions he reached based on a and b, rather he failed to heed to social convention that dominates on discussions of race.

    Does a teenage boy have the courage to forthrightly challenge a NAACP "expert" with his argument that there are more blacks on death row because there are more black murders and that there is a disproportionate occurrence of murders which warrant the penalty of death? The social convention we are all taught is that there is a wide-spread conspiracy amongst whites to unjustly punish blacks and that this compulsion to unjustly punish blacks is so important to white people in the positions to make decisions that they're willing to violate the principles they swore to uphold about justice being blind, their desire to help society towards a state of equal outcomes, and so on. The message here is that unequal outcomes in punishment cannot ever be attributed to racial difference, on a number of different metrics, and instead must be attributed to white malfeasance. We've all been fed that message as young people and many of us have internalized that message as adults without questioning the implications of what that means. Frankly, I know a lot of people and I can't think of one who purposely wants to overthrow their sense of justice in order to punish blacks more severely than they want to punish whites for the same crime, that is, in my travels I've found most people believe that blind justice is a dandy principle.

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  25. "injustice that this young man suffered...didn't scar him"?? Hahaha...wow..very dramatic there. It sounds like he was crucified or something.

    Obviously I wasn't present at this encounter, but here's the message I took in from Frizzy's description - Boy makes a logically coherent and quite parsimonious hypothesis to explain a sociological phenomenon. The response he gets is to be yelled at in public by an "expert" and to have his school age peers think his question was cringe-worthy.

    The teenage years can be quite scarring for many people. The teenage years place disproportionate emphasis on peer-approval.

    I think that this young man shouldn't have been applauded for thinking outside of accepted norms and rewarded for his originality and willingness to vocalize his position. I believe that when you reward good behavior you get more good behavior, when you reward bad behavior you get more bad behavior, when you punish good behavior you get less good behavior and when you punish bad behavior you get less bad behavior. This boy was punished for good behavior and, in that school environment, I assume that most people were rewarded for professing to belief and acting in accordance with social custom, so if they are rewarded for following group-think and conforming to socially accepted positions, then what lesson should they take from this example?

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  26. I think that this young man SHOULD have been applauded

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  27. It sucks that this young man didn't have the common sense to not say what he said especially when an NCAAP member was there.

    Private Truths, Public Lies: The Social Consequences of Preference Falsification

    As I noted upthread "there are a class of men (and some women) who show higher fealty to the process of truth and reason than they do to social convention." This attitude is very helpful in science but not so helpful in politics.

    I side with him against your position. If someone is blowing sunshine up my skirt I don't see a need to go along with a ruse just to avoid creating an awkward situation. Look, I understand quite a bit about group sociology and male and female mental models, and the powerful urge to conform, and so on, but just because I understand that these processes are in play doesn't mean I have to commit the naturalistic fallacy of believing them to be the correct order of affairs.

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  28. Oh, come on!!! You're going to compare racial profiling to gender profiling when you go to a doctor (an OBGYN at that??)??

    So profiling IS acceptable in some circumstances. OK, if that's the case, the let's all refrain from making statements like "I think it's quite clear that the message was that racism and racial profiling aren't acceptable regardless of political affiliation and that one must be careful what one says in a public forum."

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  29. A momentary derail - Male and Female OB/GYN issues:

    The New York Times recently reported on several sex-discrimination lawsuits filed by male ob/gyn's who lost their jobs against
    the medical practices that dismissed them.

    One New Jersey physician charges that he was fired from an otherwise all-female practice for not bringing in as many patients as his colleagues believed a female physician would have. A New York City doctor charges a hospital-based practice discriminated against him by honoring the requests of its patients to see female physicians.

    But is it discrimination? "A basic rule of medical ethics is that competent adult patients should be allowed to make decisions according to their treatment preferences, so long as those preferences don't cause injury to others," says Jonathan Moreno, Ph.D., a bioethicist at the University of
    Virginia.

    Legal Questions

    The West Virginia law firm of Steptoe and Johnson considered the patient-employer discrimination question in an issue of its Medicolegal Ob/gyn Newsletter. Conceding that law that directly addresses the subject is "hazy or nonexistent," the article points out that Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines do not permit employers to hire on the basis of sex "because of the preferences of...clients or customers."

    "No court would find Caucasian race to be a Bona Fide Occupational Qualification for being an obstetrician/gynecologist simply because some
    patients prefer to be cared for by Caucasians," the newsletter states.

    The courts have just begun to deal with the issue. A Federal court in New York City ruled in September that the hospital-based practice at Beth Israel Medical Center did not discriminate against Dr. Mircea Veleanu by
    allowing patients who requested a female doctor to see one.


    If you judge it morally wrong for a non-black patient to be refused to be treated by a black physician why are you morally neutral, or morally supportive, of a request from a female patient to avoid treatment from a male OB/GYN? What is it, in your mind, which makes race a special category unto itself deserving of its own special rules?

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  30. TwoHatchetTok: 10 comments, wow. You have a lot to say. In all honesty, I couldn't actually read through all those comments. The death penalty isn't something I feel strongly about, although I am officially against it, because from what I've heard from people I trust, it sounds like it's applied unfairly among races... but I don't even close to know the statistics.

    The reason I told the story was more just as a anecdote about how awesome it is when someone who's been pissing you off for a long time gets some payback. As such, I revealed my very liberal leanings, and if that bothers some people, so be it. But it was hardly the point of the post to make an actual argument about the death penalty. I think people who have a chip on their shoulder might read into it that way. The angry response of some people is a little bit much, I think.

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  31. "The death penalty is applied more frequently to black criminals than to white criminals."

    It was implied from this statement that sometimes the death penalty is applied unfairly based on race.

    When John replied, "Well, that's just because more crimes are committed by blacks", he simplified the issue of racism regarding the death penalty to mere numbers. It's almost as if he didn't even acknowledge that there is unfair racism when it comes to who gets the death penalty at all. That in itself is offensive. It is not something to applaud. And, to top it off, he said this in front of an NCAAP member. (Stop saying "expert", because that's also offensive).

    It's important to look at the context of the situation and be more objective. It's not about "standing up for what you believe in". John can believe whatever he wants, but no matter which way you put it he still indirectly dismissed that sometimes the death penalty is unfairly applied based on race.

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    1. Politically IncoherentApril 10, 2012 at 4:33 PM

      he said this in front of an NCAAP member.

      That's NAACP.  (Here's a handy mnemonic from the Soviet era:  Negroes Are Actually Colored Polacks.  It goes well with NCAA, Negroes Can't Achieve Academically, which is proven every day of the week by the fact that the best of the "diverse" admissions are on full rides, the rest of the top half are admitted with credentials well below the majority average, and the rest are on athletic "scholarships" as unpaid performers and clustered in "scholarly" degree programs like "housing" that nobody paying to attend would consider worthy of their time.)

      John can believe whatever he wants, but no matter which way you put it he still indirectly dismissed that sometimes the death penalty is unfairly applied based on race.

      I defy you to read the accounts of the murders of Channon Christian, Nancy Strait, Hussan Hussein or James Cooper and James Kouzaris and tell me that the perps do not deserve death.

      Delete
    2. Frankly, I'm not entirely sure that death is worse than prison with no chance of parole. Some might prefer it. People on trial for murder are frequently put on suicide watch. It's not like I think that murderers shouldn't be punished severely.

      Delete
  32. Frizzy,

    I couldn't actually read through all those comments. The death penalty isn't something I feel strongly about,

    Funny. If you had read the comments I would hope you'd have realized that I didn't express any concern about the death penalty either. I focused my comments on the treatment that the young man received in that lecture.

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  33. It's almost as if he didn't even acknowledge that there is unfair racism when it comes to who gets the death penalty at all.

    Why should anyone outright concede a contested point?

    Do you still beat your wife?

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  34. Frizzy??

    You don't usually read this blog, do you TwoHatchet? You just showed up for this argument, for some reason. Am I right?

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  35. cough*troll*cough...

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  36. Well this has taken an unexpected turn from when I read the post this morning lol

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  37. Is it surprising that people react strongly when you post something smug and wrong?

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  38. AC: It's not "wrong." It's a factual story about something that really happened. I didn't make any commentary whatsoever in the post about the death penalty or whether it is fairly applied or the veracity of John's statement.

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  39. Troll? To each their own I suppose. I engaged with the ideas that Fizzy presented. Some bloggers like it when their writing captures the attention of other people and other bloggers write so that they can create an echo chamber. I admit I have a tough time determining beforehand what the author's expectation for their post is. Sorry that I upset your delicate sensitivities there Anonymous, I just took exception to the Mean Girls vibe in the original post.

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  40. TwoHatchet: I don't mind that you commented a lot. Your comments were thoughtful, at least. I was just curious how you found the post because it seems like you're not a usual reader.

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  41. Your post was linked on one of the mega-blogs (those with the 1,000s of comments) where they've been discussing the Derbyshire incident as an example of how social conformity leads to people targeting the nail that sticks above the rest. I do remember that it was a passing comment from someone and no one took the bait (except me apparently) so apparently some of your readers are trying to increase your traffic.

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  42. I don't know if this post is really an example of targeting the nail that sticks above the rest. I think John actually really enjoyed arguing with all of us, and we didn't do anything to him beyond the discussions limited to the class. I mean, the whole *point* of the class was to argue about these issues. Like I said, it would have been boring if not for the stray conservatives. That woman wouldn't have said anything to him if he hadn't made a racist statement. If we ALL were making racist statements, I don't think that would have made her happier.


    I personally didn't like John for many reasons, but I'm sure he had plenty of friends. It was a big school.

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  43. Hey, you were there, I wasn't, so I'll take your word for what happened, but your initial description was this:

    We all shared the same blue state beliefs, which would have made social studies class discussions very uninteresting except that there was always ONE PERSON, one future young Republican, who disagreed with all of us.

    I hope how you can see that this paints a picture of a nail sticking above the rest.

    As for John's racist statement you clearly have a definition of racism in your mind but it's not clear to me whether you're fairly applying that definition or whether your definition has any resemblance to what I, and perhaps others, view as racism. Is it racist to cast blacks, or other racial groups, in a bad light by using true facts in support of one's position? Apparently Canada, Denmark and other countries believe it is and they punish people severely for doing so. I don't believe that fact-based evidence, that is "reality", can be racist. If blacks commit murder at a rate of 7x to whites, then stating so shouldn't paint one as racist. YMMV, which is why it helps to let your readers know what exactly falls under your definition of racism.

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  44. I need to see the stats on the amount of crime committed by blacks vs whites corrected for socio-economic status, etc. I am sure white trash commits as much crime as black trash. Poverty=crime. Not race.

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    1. Your desire to see crime data corrected for SES is quite reasonable.

      Where you jump the shark is when you make the categorical claim that "Poverty=crime. Not race."

      People taking similar stances to yours on other issues also placed all their bets of SES as being the key independent variable which would either fully, or mostly, explain the racial variance on other sociologically relevant factors and when proven to be in error, they come back in future debates and keep repeating, what is now their faith-based argument.

      Why can't race, either as a biological, genetic, or social category, have any explanatory power in these issues?

      Here's the score on SAT results with race and parental income being noted. Observe the disjoint between black and white. The richest black students still score lower than the poorest white students and this with SAT tests over-predicting black student performance at the university level.

      http://img204.imageshack.us/img204/1946/800px1995satincome21.png

      Here we see black students coming from households where the parents have graduate degrees under-performing white students coming from households where the parents are high school graduates.

      http://img826.imageshack.us/img826/5486/1995sateducation2.png

      I'm not saying that you are categorically incorrect with your statement of "Poverty=crime. Not race" but I'm betting that you are.

      Delete
    2. So what exactly is the point you're trying to make here? It sounds to me like you're saying, essentially, is that black people are genetically more likely to be criminals and genetically stupider.

      If that's not what you're saying, what other conclusion should we draw from your arguments?

      Delete
    3. "The richest black students still score lower than the poorest white students and this with SAT tests over-predicting black student performance at the university level."

      Wow, way to point out that black = dumb.

      Where are you getting your "facts"?? Could your source be partial to whites?? Did you make that graph? lol

      Delete
    4. http://www.thegrio.com/education-1/mass-black-public-school-students-outperform-peers-on-sat.php

      Your graphs are from 1995...that's more than 10 years old.

      Delete
    5. These facts are not in dispute. They're sourced directly from the Educational Testing Service's technical bulletins. They've been reported on by top researchers in education, such as Harvard's Stephan Thernstrom.

      The point is, and it shouldn't be a surprising one to any who have graduated from medical school, is that genetics matters. I know that physicians are not really scientists but you have been exposed to the scientific method and thus you should be standing far above the general public in terms of sophistication in understanding population genetics, the biological and genetic basis for behavior, differing disease profiles (increased incident rates of diabetes in native populations, increased incidence rates of Myelodysplastic Syndrome and Aplastic Anemia in people of Asian ancestry, increased incidence rate of ER- breast cancers in women of African descent, and so on).

      In short, I'm surprised to see people who've received the benefit of being exposed to the rigors of scientific method clinging to the extremist position of ENVIRONMENT ONLY FOR EVERYTHING.

      The data in the graphs clearly shows that there is an influence from both parental education and from parental income, so I don't doubt that poverty would also play a role in incidence of violent crime and its intersection with race. My rebuttal is primarily focused on the extremist environmental determinist model that Dr. Killpatient threw out like a stinkbomb where he posits that environment will explain all variance on the dependent variable.

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    6. I'm not sure I would trust the Educational Testing Service (ETS)...

      "In 1983, students of James A. Garfield High School in East Los Angeles, California, achieved unexpectedly high exam results on the ETS Advanced Placement Exam. ETS implied that the students may have cheated to obtain such results based on common mistakes across different exams. The students were required to prove their abilities and innocence by taking a second exam, which they did successfully.[46]

      Americans for Educational Testing Reform (AETR) claims that ETS is violating its non-profit status through excessive profits, executive compensation, and governing board member pay (which the IRS specifically advises against[47]). AETR further claims that ETS is acting unethically by selling test preparation materials, directly lobbying legislators and government officials, and refusing to acknowledge test-taker rights. It also criticises ETS for forcing GRE test-takers to participate in research experiments during the actual exam.[48]"

      Delete
    7. I'm not sure I would trust the Educational Testing Service (ETS)...

      Assuming that you're the same anonymous through out this thread, here is a summary of rebuttals to your points.

      The Grio link doesn't support your case. As the infamous Inigo Montaya said "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." The word "peers" in that article isn't referring to all the students in the state, rather it is referring to black students across the nation.

      Secondly, with respect to ETS, the incident you are pointing to is the one that formed the basis for the movie "Stand And Deliver" and the basis for the skepticism was the very high variance from previous tests that Jaime Escalante's class produced. Investigating anomalies should be encouraged rather than taken as evidence that there is skullduggery afoot.

      Moreover, as I already mentioned the SAT over-predicts the First Year GPA of black students in university, so in terms of test-bias this over-prediction effect is moving in the exact wrong direction for the conspiracy minded who think that the entire testing industry is purposely trying to depress the scores of black students.

      Here's a quote from their technical bulletin:

      As for gender by ethnicity analyses, the SAT overpredicted African American students’ FYGPAs; however, overprediction was greater for African American males, with mean residuals ranging from -0.24 to -0.20 compared to African American females, with mean residuals ranging from -0.13 to -0.04 for the 1994 version of the SAT.

      Think about what that is saying. The test is useful because it does a pretty good job of telling universities how well the student will perform in classwork. The test does a disservice to a student when it under-predicts their performance, that is, the student does better in classes than he should do according to his test score. Over-prediction means that the student is doing worse in classes than their expected performance based on tests.

      For your conspiracy to be coherent, the test designers have done the exact opposite of what they should have done - they've produced a test which gives an SAT boost to blacks instead of producing a test which makes blacks' performance worse.

      Delete
  45. TwoHatchet:

    "I hope how you can see that this paints a picture of a nail sticking above the rest."

    Yes, he was a nail sticking above the rest. But you were talking about *targeting* said nail, which we didn't do. We argued with him, yes, but that was the whole purpose of the class. If you read my statement that you quoted, I actually said that the discussion would have been very uninteresting if not for people like John. So in that sense, I was being positive about his presence, was I not?

    We can argue all day about what makes a statement racist. John simply recited a negative racial stereotype without providing *any* facts or data to back it up. So yes, I'd personally call that racist. I certainly wouldn't applaud him for it, like you said.

    Dr. Killpatient: Great point. Crime is probably most closely linked with socioeconomic status. I suspect the death penalty is too, which is yet another reason why it shouldn't be used.

    Really though, I had no idea the death penalty was such a hot button issue.

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    Replies
    1. Fizzy said: John simply recited a negative racial stereotype without providing *any* facts or data to back it up. So yes, I'd personally call that racist.

      He was in an unrelated class, without access to reference materials.  Yet all the statistics from the US Department of Justice back up the essential claim you say he was making.  In short, what he said was true and factual.  How can a FACT be racist?  You did him a serious injustice, and continue to do so.

      Your position comes down to radical egalitarianism as a religious tenet; you and the NAACP rep went after "John" because he dared to voice what is, in today's spirit of "racial and social justice", a blatant heresy.  To make a historical analogy, he was Galileo saying "eppur si muove", and you were wearing bishops' robes.

      Crime is probably most closely linked with socioeconomic status.

      I would be very happy to debate this with you, if you are open-minded enough to admit it when (not if) I prove you wrong.  You can start by giving the standard the data must meet to prove the claim; say, rural White Appalachians vs. Federal government employees in DC suburbs.

      I can understand WHY you would not want to admit it.  SES can be changed, at least to some degree; culture is nearly frozen and protected by social convention, and genetic endowment is fixed before birth.  Someone dedicated to caring for people is not going to be disposed toward simply throwing up her hands and admitting there is nothing that can be done.  But sooner or later all your patients will die, even if they outlive you.

      Delete
    2. As tempting as it is to spar with someone so open minded, I think I'll pass. Thanks anyway.

      Delete
    3. I thought you might be too afraid to look at evidence, like a Christian Scientist being shown the data which confirms that strep throat is caused by a bacterium or a young-earth creationist looking at the data which confirms the Big Bang.

      You're too deep into today's liberal dogma to consider any of its heresies on their merits. That's sad, because it might even save your life some day... but I cannot force you to believe even truthful things against your will.

      Delete
    4. Come on, you don't realize it's sort of funny that you told me that you'd only argue with me if I was open minded enough to admit that you're 100% right? Doesn't sound hypocritical to you at all? :)

      Delete
    5. I was saying that I could meet any reasonable standard of proof.  What I want is for you to commit to the standard in advance, not moving the goalposts so that your "anti-racist" standards remain intact no matter what facts prove.

      This really is shooting fish in a barrel.  The studies have already been done, they're out there.  There's no doubt about the conclusion, just human ignorance because our whole system has ruled the topic taboo.  I used the examples of Christian Scientists and young-earth creationists deliberately, because the analogy is exact.

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    6. Mr. Rational,

      not moving the goalposts so that your "anti-racist" standards remain intact no matter what facts prove.

      This signals to me that you've had experience debating liberals in the past. My suggestion is that this tactic will never work for liberals and conservatives see the world in two fundamentally different ways. Look at the meta-picture that developed from the recent Derbyshire incident. If you take his essay as a Black-Box the output could fairly be summarized as splitting liberals into the emoter's camp and the conservatives into the thinker's camp. You can't ask emoter's to change their very nature and accept the world on thinker's terms -that's alien to them. That's like an atheist and religious person debating and the atheist asking the religious person to begin the debate accepting that god doesn't exist and the religious person asking the atheist to begin the debate by accepting that god does exist. That whole Derbyshire incident was depressing to behold - the lack of reason and logic replaced by outrageous outrage dialed up to 11 all the while most of the outrageously outraged were heeding most of his advice.

      Delete
    7. This whole thing is beginning to read like a Ron Paul newsletter. Maybe Don Black can donate some money.

      Delete
    8. This whole thing is beginning to read like a Ron Paul newsletter. Maybe Don Black can donate some money.

      Is this a gambit in some type of long range plan of yours? Are you purposely trying to add legitimacy to the emoter (liberal) vs thinker (conservative) stereotype?

      If people you don't like hold an idea, does that mean that the idea is invalid?

      Hitler created nature preserves, championed sustainable forestry, put in place air pollution controls, he was a vegetarian, a non-smoker and a teetotaler. Is it time to back away from all of those positions because of Hitler thinking that they were groovy?

      The merit of a proposition rises and falls based on evidence and the quality of argument which uses the evidence in support of a conclusion, not on which groups support the proposition or conclusion.

      Step back and think how utterly asinine it is to hold the position that Environment means everything and Biology/Genetics means nothing. To craft a world view on an easily falsifiable premise based on Environment-Only means that most everything that people believe based on that premise is likely to be false and contrary to reality and therefore any solutions proffered to solve society's problems will always fail. It's like a patient presents himself with symptoms including frequent urination, being continuously thirsty, having rapid weight loss and suffering overbearing fatigue and you send him to an ophthalmologist to have his eyesight checked because you believe that poor eyesight leads to an "imbalance in one's life." If you can't properly diagnose what is before you because ideology is blinding you, then you'll never be able to solve the problems presented to you and your solutions will inevitably fail.

      Physician - embrace evidence-based reasoning.

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    9. I just was getting Ron Paul vibes from what you were saying. I thought you'd take it as a compliment :)

      I'm just not sure how a story about how satisfying it is when someone you don't like gets a smackdown evolved into 50 comments from you about environment vs. genetics. I'm not interested in debating this. I was NEVER interested in debating this.

      Delete
    10. Btw, TwoHatchet, since you've already put so much effort into contributing here, can I ask you a couple of questions:

      1) Are you male or female? (My husband and I disagree on this)

      2) What is your background that you have such a dedicated interest in this topic?

      Delete
    11. Male or female? Tell me more. Who thinks I'm a male and why and who thinks I'm a female and why? I will answer but I'll hold the "big reveal" until after I've read the delicious clues that you are batting about between yourselves.

      My interest in the topic stems from my professional work, so I do try to keep abreast of the social issues that swirl around race. I'm an academic in the biological sciences whose work occasionally intersects with medical schools.

      This thread simply provided a nice venue for me to blow off steam.

      Delete
    12. I'm pretty sure you're a woman. I'll tell you why I think so after you give the "reveal".

      Delete
    13. Fizzy wins the prize. You're correct. Now, do I need to masculinize my writing more or what?

      Let me guess. Was the killer clue from my comment in the other thread on medical specialties where I mentioned the attraction of the regular hours that Radiation Oncologists work?

      Also, please share why your husband thought otherwise.

      Delete
    14. Well, he mostly just skimmed all the comments, and when he was mentioning yours, he kept referring to you as "he" and I said, "I think it's a woman." It's mostly because he's used to going to political websites and hearing these types of arguments, and most of the people there must be male. So he just assumes anyone arguing something political must be a man. He also said "writing so many comments seems kind of Aspergers and most of them are men" :)

      I talk to women more online, so I tend to recognize female writing styles. I thought you were a woman because we tend to obsess more and write a lot. I also thought a man wouldn't be able to write so much without getting nasty.

      But your use of the word "delicious" was what cinched it for me :)

      Delete
    15. Tell your husband that those big political sites are mostly worthless for discussion, but they're good for dominance displays. People write stuff and hardly anyone engages.

      Asperger's for men and fully exploring the nuance for women. Hmm?

      Delicious. Land 'O Goshen, I'll have to watch that in the future.

      Delete
    16. TwoHatchetTok: I have years of experience debating true believers of all stripes, though those on the left would probably take umbrage at the label. The only thing they have in common is unwavering adherence to dogma over data; they usually save their effort by refusing to look at data.

      This has been Fizzy's modus operandi also.

      Delete
    17. Modus operandi? Why are people acting like I'm constantly engaging in arguments on here? My posts are all anecdotes. I challenge you to find ONE other post on here in the last year where I engaged in an argument in the comments. I'm not even really arguing now, mostly just making a random observations, such as that the libertarian arguments on here are reminding me of Ron Paul. (I assume you all support him.) I've lost sight of what this discussion is even about.

      THT: Only women and gay men use the word "delicious" when not referring to food. I thought it was unlikely a gay man would say what you were saying.

      When I first started this blog, everyone used to assume I was a man. I had to correct that misconception.

      Delete
    18. THT: Only women and gay men use the word "delicious" when not referring to food. I thought it was unlikely a gay man would say what you were saying.

      You may be correct about your observation regarding gay men, but if so, you are doing exactly what I was doing with liberals. We notice patterns. It bothers me that there is a tendency for people, of all ideological persuasions, to hew to positions which align with how they want the world to be rather than how the world is. On this particular topic, both Mr. Rational and I notice a very strong desire in many liberals to want the world to be Environment Only for Everything. On the matter of race that means that there is hope of solving the issues and closing all the variance and thus achieving a harmonious multicultural society not characterized by disparity on all sorts of metrics. Remove that hope and liberals want to crawl under their beds and ignore the world.

      I assume that you find it unlikely that a gay man would hold a position which ran counter to liberal orthodoxy. There isn't a reason he should, but you're probably right, most likely would.

      It certainly isn't in my interest to take positions which don't challenge the perception of women not being stellar performers in math, but the data and biological evidence on male variance, strongly suggests that the Discrimination Assumption isn't the villain here. I'm not threatened by reality. Why would a gay man be threatened by the positions I've laid out? I get why liberals would - their whole world view either comes crumbling down or they need to seriously adjust their positions to conform to reality, but what ideological threat do these positions have for gay men.

      Why are people acting like I'm constantly engaging in arguments on here?

      Because you're making contestable points. You're giving your readers "a hook" that they can take issue with and challenge. From where I'm sitting, John didn't deserve the gloating and the charge of racist based on this one incident that you described. That characterization pulled me into the conversation/debate. Don't do that! No hooks, no debate.

      Delete
    19. I think this particular post attracted more attention than it ordinarily would have due to Trayvon Martin. However, I wrote it months ago so it wasn't my intention to invoke anything. (I schedule all my posts far in advance.)

      A while back, I wrote a post about the issues that ARE meaningful to me, but nobody seemed too worked up about that, even though some of them were pretty controversial.

      My assertion about gay men is more about noticing patterns in conservative thinking than any stereotype about homosexuality. Obviously, you're a conservative. And in general, conservatives don't tend to support gay rights. At best, they're willing to stay out of their business, which is the libertarian policy. At worst, they want to ban gay sex like Santorum. Certainly, I don't see a conservative President ever doing as much for gay rights as Obama has.

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    20. I think this particular post attracted more attention than it ordinarily would have due to Trayvon Martin. However, I wrote it months ago so it wasn't my intention to invoke anything. (I schedule all my posts far in advance.

      I admit that I've been sucking the oxygen out of this thread, so apart from me, is it getting a lot of attention? You are right though that the Martin-Zimmerman affairs is, ultimately, at the root of what drew me here.

      My assertion about gay men is more about noticing patterns in conservative thinking than any stereotype about homosexuality. Obviously, you're a conservative. And in general, conservatives don't tend to support gay rights.

      I'm rejecting the whole formulation of group identity and group rights. I don't need political parties doing special favors for women which don't extend to men, for heterosexuals which don't apply to homosexual, and so on. I don't see anything in conservative politics which shouldn't appeal to gays in the same manner that it appeals to non-gays, that is, there are certain ideological positions that Republicans have which are not predicated upon group identity but which try to appeal to groups who are interested in specific issues, so gay or straight, shouldn't matter. I get that gays like liberals because liberals pander to them, as they pander to women, as they pander to blacks, as they pander to Hispanics, etc so when someone is stroking you and saying that you're special and that they're going to create special programs just for you, I see the appeal that this would have to the pandered-to groups, but I happen to think it's cancer for civil society and I reject it. So yeah, I am a conservative.

      At worst, they want to ban gay sex like Santorum. Certainly, I don't see a conservative President ever doing as much for gay rights as Obama has.

      What are "gay rights" other than special privileges? It's always a trade-off with these social engineers. Santorum wants to use the power of government to ban gay sex (assumption for argument's sake) so that his religious followers get a pay-off at the expense of gays' freedoms and Obama wants to strip all people of freedom in order to make special payoffs to his identity group supporters. Both are cancers to civil society, with Obama and liberal "Road to Hell paved with Good Intentions" approach being the worse choice.

      Delete
    21. Gay rights are special privileges? So the right to have sex, serve in the military, and get married are all special privileges? In that case, what have *I* done to earn these special privileges?

      Also, this post has received more attention than usual for me, although admittedly, about 50% or more was from you. But it did warrant hatemail, which I don't usually get.

      P.S. While I appreciate your response on my other post, I don't think it makes sense to respond to trolls, so I'm just going to delete his comment.

      Delete
    22. So the right to have sex, serve in the military, and get married are all special privileges? In that case, what have *I* done to earn these special privileges?

      The State really should never have been in our bedrooms, so I don't believe that legalizing the ability of gays to have sex with each other is a "gay right", rather gays were a targeted group that didn't benefit from a right to freely express their sexuality. All of the anti-discrimination laws which govern behavior outside of the bedroom are morally wrong, but what goes on between two adults in the privacy of their home was never the business of the state and especially the criminal justice arm of the state. It was wrong to criminalize that expression of sexuality in the first place. Gays always had the right to get married. Redefining marriage is what the "debate" has been about. Look, the case against is not as glib as the liberal case for gay marriage because there are no easy soundbites (equality!!!!) to banter around and it requires a more sophisticated argument which has nothing to do with "God told us so!" for whicyh there isn't room or time to lay out here in a comment thread - but to fire off one shot, if the rallying cry is about "but they love each other" then why not an adult daughter with children moving in and setting up a household with her widowed father. Go through the checklist and everything desired of a marriage is there except for sexual activity. That begs the question of why sexual activity between two people must be sanctified and subsidized by discriminatory privilege by the state. What is it about two people having sex that makes that sex so damn special that the state has to give two men in a marriage privileges that it won't give the adult daughter and her father? The case for normal marriage is well understood so I won't go into here. Gay marriage is a special privilege reserved just for gays because it redefines what marriage is.

      As for military, there too there are a number of reasons ranging from "the military's purpose is to kill and destroy, not to be a social engineering experiment or to be a mirror of society, so that anything which diminishes the ability of the military to kill and destroy works against its primary purpose" to basic civility, such that "we don't bunk men and women together because women would be uncomfortable, and some men too, being sexually objectified in the barracks and showers, so that same tension is present when a homosexual man is in the presence of other men, men who he finds sexually attractive. If we take efforts, on behalf of unit cohesion and morale, not to make women strip naked in front of men, then the same uniform standard should be applied to men and women who don't want to be considered sexual objects to the homosexual individuals in their unit."

      Lastly, military is a subculture, just like academia is a subculture, just like Corporate America is a subculture, just like feminist circles are a subculture, so having one subculture try to impose its will on another subculture is probably not a wise course of action to take. I can speak with some certainty that my colleagues here at work would be having conniptions if they were suddenly forced to adopt a slew of military subculture practices, especially if these practices were forced upon them.

      Delete
    23. Regarding gay marriage, the necessity is about gaining legal rights, not having a label. In the case of the daughter and father, they already have legal rights over each other by being relatives. If the father were in a terrible accident, for example, the daughter could make medical decisions. A wife can do the same for her husband, even if they've been married a week. But a gay couple who lived together for 30 years and raised a child together? No rights. Does that seem fair?

      Military men who are worried about changing clothes in front of gay men need to get the hell over themselves. We had a co-ed locker room in med school and I survived.

      Delete
    24. In the case of the daughter and father, they already have legal rights over each other by being relatives. If the father were in a terrible accident, for example, the daughter could make medical decisions.

      A daughter doesn't collect survivorship benefits from SS, a daughter must pay an estate tax (depending on size of estate) but a wife doesn't, a daughter doesn't qualify to be on her father's health insurance nor do his grandchildren.

      You pointing to some of the legal privileges that come from family ties between parents and children doesn't mean that they are the equivalent to marriage. So my question again, if gays get special privileges then why not "family marriages" why not multiple partner marriages, why not best friend marriages, etc?

      Now that you bring up children, that's a whole other issue that people are ignoring in the quest to appease gays. It's immoral to advantage the "desire" of a man or a woman to have a child at the expense of the unborn child's human rights. Human rights must always trump whim and desire. The problem here is that the political lobby of would-be parents is powerful and there is no one stepping forth to counter them in order to protect the rights of unborn children. It doesn't matter that there are UN Treaties which specify that these rights must be protected - it's just hard to tell people "No." France did it and the usual suspects raised a ruckus, but France was simply honoring UN specified Human Rights for the unborn children.

      Does that seem fair.

      As I noted above, the Left has some nice slogans that the Right can't match, but slogans don't make for arguments. Fairness isn't everything. Is it fair that the daughter who is building a life with her father and his grandchildren doesn't get the same "fair treatment" as husband and wife or two husbands or two wives? No, it's not fair. Or is it fair that the government discriminates against people based on the amount of income they earn. The entire progressive taxation schema is "unfair." Should that be done away with too in the interest of fairness?

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    25. I do think it's fair that people who earn more have to pay more taxes. And I say this as someone who earns a lot and pays a lot of taxes. I'm perfectly happy to give up more of my salary for indigent people to have health care and food to feed their kids.

      And maybe the daughter and father should have more rights then. I don't think the solution to someone not having rights is to take away another person's rights.

      Incidentally, I have argued with several people over the years on the internet, and I can honestly say I've never argued with someone who wrote comments on a crummy blog that sound like someone's graduate thesis. Has anyone ever said that to you?

      Also, I'm wondering why you haven't said anything about my Ron Paul comments when it's so clear you must be a supporter...

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    26. I do think it's fair that people who earn more have to pay more taxes.

      Similarly, I think it's fair that not everyone qualify for marriage benefits. Does that convince you to abandon your quest for gay marriage redefinition? I thought not. I don't have a problem with government discriminating in some ways. However, if the battle cry is that government MUST NOT DISCRIMINATE then progressive taxation has to go because we have government treating people differently and in this case actually threatening to use force and deprive people of freedom if they don't comply with being the targets of discriminatory treatment.

      I'm perfectly happy to give up more of my salary for indigent people to have health care and food to feed their kids.

      Here's the thing - a moral course of action should never be contingent on forcing everyone else to comply with that action. If it is a moral course of action to help a kitten injured on the street, you should do so, not refrain from doing anything to help the kitten until you organize a committee and FORCE everyone on your block to contribute to the effort of saving the kitten. The point here is that plenty of liberals like to strut and prance around about how they're happy to pay more in taxes but they never actually voluntarily send more to the IRS than they are minimally required to pay. They say that they're happy to pay more but there seems to be a catch attached, and that catch is that everyone else be forced to pay more too. These are two different scenarios. The objective evidence is that liberals are not content to pay more because they don't. The objective evidence is that liberals don't make up for not wanting to pay more in taxes by simply contributing more to charity, they don't, conservatives out donate them. This leads me to believe that liberals, as a group, tend to like uttering these types of statements because it boosts their egos in a pretty cost-free way - "Hey look everyone, I care, I really, really do. I wouldn't mind paying more in taxes. (so long as we force everyone else to pay more too (in sotto voice.))" I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with people playing status games and engaging in reputational conspicious consumption types of games, all I'm saying is that I never take such declarations at face value.

      And maybe the daughter and father should have more rights then. I don't think the solution to someone not having rights is to take away another person's rights.

      When we boil this down to its core, what we're left with are two classes of people - those who qualify for marriage benefits and those who don't and must subsidize those who do. If your solution is to continually expand the benefits, and those who qualify for them, then the result of that course of action is that the pool of those who don't qualify grows smaller and the burden is shifted disproportionately onto the shoulders of single people, divorced people and widowed people. Is that fair?

      There are sound sociological principles which support the role of marriage and the government's role in encouraging and subsidizing marriage and these reasons don't work well for gays or polygamy or for family-style (non-incest) marriages.

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    27. I can honestly say I've never argued with someone who wrote comments on a crummy blog that sound like someone's graduate thesis. Has anyone ever said that to you?

      I haven't participated on blogs much. I just have a lot of time on my hands right now so I'm blowing off steam and procrastinating. My concentration is short, I'm finding that when reading journals my mind wanders, and so this is a good way to keep myself busy and thinking rather than doing I don't know what. Clearly I'm just writing to babble and not be sway the opinions of millions, haha.

      Your observation might answer why I think of blog comments on other blogs as dominance displays and not a place to explore issues. I don't know what to say about the graduate thesis quip, how about, "I just wanna be me!!"

      Also, I'm wondering why you haven't said anything about my Ron Paul comments when it's so clear you must be a supporter.

      I don't know much about him, I never invested the time to learn because he never struck me as being plausible as a candidate and from what I've heard 2nd hand, his policy prescription, much like mine, would never get wide spread buy-in, so I've tended to focus my scant political interest elsewhere. Truth be told, I think most every politician is an idiot and that's because they're all bound together by adhering to a false vision of how the world really works. That said, I find it kind of pointless to be a cheerleader for policies which I know will not work no matter who the leader is.

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    28. "I just have a lot of time on my hands right now so I'm blowing off steam and procrastinating"

      I have the opposite of this. Full time job, two small kids, and in the middle of writing a textbook chapter. So for the good of my kids, I should probably conclude this discussion. But I'll leave you with a link from a very intelligent woman who used to be a conservative and is now a liberal:

      http://spacefem.livejournal.com/705654.html

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    29. That was a total bust. Intelligent people don't delete comments that challenge/question their viewpoint, they engage the issues. She just wants an echo chamber and a lot of affirmation from her readers.

      Also, I totally didn't buy her rationalizations. The emotionalism of her viewpoints was screaming through the fake veneer of reason that she threw up on the screen.

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    30. I doubt she'd delete comments on her blog. People have written some pretty inflammatory things on there and she's let it fly. You should know that LJ has a pretty strict spam filter and sometimes automatically filters wordy posts with links in them as spam. So if that's what happened, it's not her fault.

      She doesn't usually engage in big discussions on her blog though, possibly b/c she's busy with work and her baby.

      Delete
    31. You doubt, I know. Shrug. I left lengthy comments yesterday and there was no problem. She responded today. I left a much shorter comment today, saw it published, then went back an hour later and it was gone. Same in another thread.

      Her blog, her rules, but I have a hard time reconciling "intelligent" with "echo chamber."

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    32. If the comment you're talking about is the one where you linked to two books, that is *exactly* the kind of comment that LJ filters as spam. I can't imagine why she'd delete that comment anyway.

      I'm defending her b/c I've read her blog for over 10 years and there's been some pretty angry arguments in the comments that she didn't censor. That said, she might not engage you.

      If you *really* want a blog where you can engage in some evidence-based arguing, check out this one:

      http://skepticalob.blogspot.com/2012/02/religious-zealots-try-to-impose-their.html

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    33. The two links comment produced a notification that the filters sent the comment to spam. I wrote a short comment, which was published, and notified her to check her spam folder. No problems.

      In the thread that you linked I left a comment yesterday. It was published for a few hours, I know because I went back to the thread to check if there were any responses and that comment was there. Then it was gone. That's not a spam filter at work. Today that comment has reappeared.

      She's already stated that she doesn't want to engage. That's fine. Some people like to write posts so that they start a conversation and others like to write posts so that they can bath themselves in confirmation bias. Her blog, her choice.

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    34. If you *really* want a blog where you can engage in some evidence-based arguing, check out this one:

      http://skepticalob.blogspot.com/2012/02/religious-zealots-try-to-impose-their.html

      Oh sister! Tell me that was not her best calling card. I left two responses.

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    35. I can't promise someone will respond on an old post like that. The new ones generate lots of comments and discussion, but it may not be a subject matter that interests you as much.

      Delete
  46. I actually said that the discussion would have been very uninteresting if not for people like John. So in that sense, I was being positive about his presence, was I not?

    I concede this point.

    I'm curious about one thing regarding your class - did anyone's mind ever change on an issue that was hashed out in that class? I'm betting not.

    We can argue all day about what makes a statement racist.

    We could do that or we could simply define what is meant by racism (because people veer far and wide from dictionary definitions, either because they want to expand the definitions or because they believe them to be too broad) and then once everyone knows the parameters of the definition that you're using, apply the definition to John's statement. That creates a two-pronged test - 1.) does his statement meet your definition of racism and 2.) Do I agree with your definition of racism.

    John simply recited a negative racial stereotype without providing *any* facts or data to back it up.

    Stereotypes persist because they are more true than they are false, so implicitly there are "facts" which back them up. When someone uses a negative stereotype why are they under a different burden than when someone cites a positive stereotype?

    Secondly, why should the null hypothesis, in this case, I presume, one that doesn't require any evidentiary support, be one that presumes that there would be no racial differences barring active discriminatory corruption?

    Doesn't this double standard on evidence stifle open discussion and open argument? Is there a chilling effect on discussion when one's position is labeled racist because one doesn't support it but the opposing position, also, I assume, unsupported, is deemed normal, just, fair, and unracist? Isn't that poisoning the well in a high school debate class? Never mind the guest lecturer actually yelling AT a student for having the temerity to question her favored hypothesis.

    So yes, I'd personally call that racist. I certainly wouldn't applaud him for it, like you said.

    I'm not applauding his argument, though I might if I had more details, I'm applauding him bucking the pack and standing out by putting into play a hypothesis that he thinks has more merit but is politically unpopular in that class of liberal students.

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    1. "Stereotypes persist because they are more true than they are false"

      Are you serious with this?? Come on!

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    2. American Psychological Association publications:

      Stereotype Accuracy: Toward Appreciating Group Differences

      Social psychology has been dominated over the past 20 years with a focus on error and bias in social perception. By psychologists and lay people alike, stereotypes are assumed to be bad and inaccurate. The idea that stereotypes may have some degree of accuracy has been seen as anathema, and those raising the question of stereotype accuracy have been viewed as racist, sexist, or worse.

      Stereotype Accuracy breaks this taboo by presenting research related to stereotype accuracy, arguing that understanding stereotype accuracy is crucial to both social psychology and to its applications (e.g., to improving intergroup relations). The goals of this volume are to reduce commonplace errors in modern social science by challenging the off-hand and undocumented claims appearing in the scholarly literature that stereotypes are "typically" inaccurate, resistant to change, overgeneralized, exaggerated, and generally destructive.


      The simple, and intuitively correct, point here is that if stereotypes consistently gave up more inaccurate than accurate information, why would they persist and be used by so many people.

      Why do women walking alone fear men walking towards them on a dark night but exhibit less fear, or none at all, when they see an elderly woman or a woman pushing a baby carriage? Women are reacting to the stereotype that men are known to sexually assault women and elderly grandmothers are not known for doing this.

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    3. That stereotype about men being feared does nothing to prove your point. Is that something that's true more often than not? Of course it isn't! I would say that on a dark night, 99.9% of men are probably not going to sexually assault you. But by the arguments you're making, because it's a stereotype, men you run into at night will assault you more often than not (your words).

      Stereotypes are technique our brains use to generalize groups so that our brains don't have to go through the trouble of learning about an individual. Negative stereotypes likely persist because it makes us feel good about ourselves to be superior to another race, or can even further political goals, such as the way Hitler stereotyped the Jews (I'm not saying you're like Hitler, but this is a pretty notable example). Negative stereotypes are also self-perpetuating, like in the example of girls being bad at math. It's easier to just believe a negative stereotype that girls genically suck at math than to try to figure out other reasons why girls may underperform at math.

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    4. That stereotype about men being feared does nothing to prove your point. Is that something that's true more often than not? Of course it isn't! I would say that on a dark night, 99.9% of men are probably not going to sexually assault you. But by the arguments you're making, because it's a stereotype, men you run into at night will assault you more often than not (your words).

      More often than not, compared to what, is the key. You're comparing the subset of rapist men to the overall set of men, so by your reasoning, because the incidence of rapists is so low and your odds of not being raped are so high, there is no need to worry. If you compare the odds of a rapist man to the odds of a rapist woman, then the odds of assault are much higher. Think in terms of dog breeds. You see barking pit bull running towards you. The odds are, say, 20:1 that you won't be injured. On another day you see a barking Chihuahua running towards you and the odds are no matter what happens that you won't be attacked. By your reasoning, because you risk being injured by an unleashed and barking approaching pit bull only once out of 20 times, you should not pay heed to the risk and therefore do nothing. However, compared to other dog breeds, a pit bull poses more danger and that is information most people will find useful and they will modify their behavior as a result of knowing this.

      Stereotypes are technique our brains use to generalize groups so that our brains don't have to go through the trouble of learning about an individual.

      That's not actually how people use stereotypes according to research. People generally prefer to know information about the specific rather than willingly bypass the specific and rely on the general. Therefore, when people find themselves relying on stereotype it is almost always in situations where they cannot find information on the specific. For instance, a man approaching you on a darkly lit path - you cannot send an interrogator robot ahead of you to interview him, frisk him, mind probe him and then report back to you all the specific information gathered so that you can use that information to base your decision on what to do as he approaches. It is in this situation of lacking specific information that you tend to rely on stereotype about men being different than women, or men being different from boys, or old men being different from teen-aged boys.

      Negative stereotypes are also self-perpetuating, like in the example of girls being bad at math.

      Negative stereotypes which persist, persist because they're more true than they are false. Despite the best efforts of feminists to re-engineer female interests to be identical to those of men, and despite the best effort of teachers who been trained in feminist teaching methods and implemented those methods in math classes, the ratio of male to female math prodigies is still hugely wide.

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    5. It's easier to just believe a negative stereotype that girls genically suck at math than to try to figure out other reasons why girls may underperform at math.

      Try to put aside your liberal indoctrination and use your medical training. Why would you even presume that there cannot be any genetic basis for a gender based variation in mathematical reasoning? Check it out:

      Sexually dimorphic gene expression in mouse brain precedes gonadal differentiation

      The classic view of brain sexual differentiation and behavior is that gonadal steroid hormones act directly to promote sex differences in neural and behavioral development. In particular, the actions of testosterone and its metabolites induce a masculine pattern of brain
      development, while inhibiting feminine neural and behavioral patterns of differentiation. However, recent evidence indicates that gonadal hormones may not solely be responsible for sex differences in brain development and behavior between males and females. Here we examine an alternative hypothesis that genes, by directly inducing sexually dimorphic patterns of neural development, can influence the sexual differences between male and female brains. Using microarrays and RT-PCR, we have detected over 50 candidate genes for differential sex expression, and confirmed at least seven murine genes which show differential expression between the developing brains of male and female mice at stage 10.5 days post coitum (dpc), before any gonadal hormone influence. The identification of genes differentially expressed between male and female brains prior to gonadal formation suggests that genetic factors may have roles in influencing brain sexual differentiation.

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  47. It has been statistically proven by multiple studies that the death penalty is given disproportionately based on race. While John was in high school and may have not been able to provide solid facts to support his thesis, his comment was definately focusing on unjust racial stereotypes and was racist.

    TwoHatchet, the situations that you listed on the bottom of your argument can hardly be interpreted as stereotypes. Those fears are rational. Racial stereotypes only lead to more stereotypes as people have different expectations based on race. Gender stereotypes work the same way, as women are expected to be less competent at math than men. Studies have shown that women's math test scores were significantly better when the researchers made it clear that there was no intellectual difference between men and women. When told that female brains were not capable of math, however, the test scores tended to fall. Stereotypes lead to more stereotypes.

    I don't think that Fizzy meant to offend anybody... she was just posting a story. It's always nice to read a debate, though :)

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  48. . . . his comment was definately focusing on unjust racial stereotypes and was racist.

    So are just racial stereotypes OK? For instance, Asian mothers tend to place heavy significance on how well their children do in school. Is that OK to write or is that racist? Is it true or is it false or is it more true than false or is it more false than true? Is any observation of group level characteristics a de facto racist statement? Is it racist to note that blacks have a murder rate 7x higher than whites or that blacks have an interracial murder rate that is 13x higher than whites? Can saying something that is true also be considered racist?

    When people toss around the charge "racist" I tend to get confused because I don't really know what they mean. I happen to think that the accusation of racism is a pretty serious deal, which means that I would expect to see the charge of "racist" about as frequently as I see the charge of "murderer" or "rapist" but I actually see the charge of "racist" about as much as I see the charge "liberal." I don't know, it just seems odd to me that a kid in school would be charged as "racist" when people would likely think long and hard before they started accusing him of being a murderer or rapist or some other serious charge.

    Of course the likely explanation here is that racism means nothing because it now means everything. If it means nothing then what do you call people who burn crosses or commit genocide? Is it fair to put John in the same category as these people?

    TwoHatchet, the situations that you listed on the bottom of your argument can hardly be interpreted as stereotypes.

    They most certainly can. You're judging men as potential rapists when you don't know anything about the particular man that you're judging. Taking general level information and applying it to specific individuals will never tell you anything certain about the individuals but it can give you probabilistic information that is better than nothing. That's stereotyping and profiling.

    What you're objecting to, it seems to me, is the notion that it's OK to stereotype some groups because useful information is garnered but it's improper to stereotype other groups even though useful information is also garnered.

    Studies have shown that women's math test scores were significantly better when the researchers made it clear that there was no intellectual difference between men and women.

    What you're referring to is called Stereotype Threat but you're drawing the wrong conclusion from the research. What the research shows is that there is a depressive effect on a particular test when the researcher tells the group that is subject to a stereotype that this test will measure that effect. This puts a LOT of pressure on the group test takers to invalidate the stereotype and this pressure to perform causes stress and thus lowers performance. Once that pressure is removed in subsequent tests, then the score disparity between Group A and Group B returns. So the female and black disparity with other groups still remains constant absent artificial pressure being imposed on selected groups who suffer under stereotype.

    I don't think that Fizzy meant to offend anybody... she was just posting a story. It's always nice to read a debate, though :)

    I'm not offended. I'm having a good time disputing many of the points raised in this thread.

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    1. You're making a lot of arguments with sophisticated language and throwing around statistics to get around answering the very simple question I asked you:

      Do you honestly believe that black people are genetically more likely to be criminals (the "evil" gene) and genetically stupider?

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    2. What is the evidence suggesting to you? Let's put competing hypotheses to the test. After all, it is mathematically possible to explain the variance between the two groups by, in simplistic form, simply adding together the variance produced by each specified factor and the more factors that you throw into the pot, the more variance can be explained until either you run out of explanatory factors or until the variance is reduced to zero. If you run out of environmental factors and there is still variance present, then you're left with two possibilities, there are either some mystery environmental factors that you haven't thought of or there is a genetic or biological basis for the unexplained variance.

      I did this very exercise in graduate school. Let's replay and see where the process takes us.

      Try to break free of your liberal indoctrination and apply some of the analytic skills you learned in your science-based classes. Why do you automatically reject the hypothesis that there can be a genetic basis for behavior and intelligence which varies between population groups? We see in the literature that all sorts of traits vary between population groups, so what is it that makes these two traits immune from variance?

      You're making a lot of arguments with sophisticated language and throwing around statistics to get around answering the very simple question I asked you:

      You mean like when the husband of the sick woman that you're treating asks you, "Point blank doctor, will my wife die from this breast cancer? Yes or no? Don't give me anymore of this probabilistic language and statistics. Will she die from this breast cancer, yes or no? That's a simple question so just answer it, yes or no.

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    3. "In short, I'm surprised to see people who've received the benefit of being exposed to the rigors of scientific method clinging to the extremist position of ENVIRONMENT ONLY FOR EVERYTHING."

      While you're claiming that it's wrong and be extremist focusing on environment, you're clinging to pure science and genetics. Can't you accept the fact that both may play a role in determining the outcome of a human being? Both genetics AND environment?

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    4. Can't you accept the fact that both may play a role in determining the outcome of a human being? Both genetics AND environment?

      I've held this moderate position throughout. Look back on the crime issue - I noted that some of the variance would disappear, just like I pointed out in the education issue with the two graphs, family income and parental education do play a part in improving student performance, but they DO NOT close the gap because we see that the children of black parents with graduate degrees do about as well on the SAT as children of white parents with HS degrees. Look, I could get finicky and bump up the genetic component even higher because a person's intelligence has a more powerful effect on income earned than does the actual schooling, so those people with graduate degrees aren't really passing on a family benefit which derives from having attending graduate school, they're instead passing on to their kids the smarts that they were born with. Being persnickety though doesn't matter because I'm not angling to squeeze out the "last drop" of influence for genetics here - my point is to push back against the extremist positions of ENVIRONMENT IS EVERYTHING and ANYONE WHO THINKS GENETICS IS A RACIST.

      I'm completely comfortable with the moderate position of genetics + environment, but when I look at public policy and at "expert" prescriptions to address social issues all that I see before is a useless desert of ENVIRONMENT ONLY solutions, none of which even deign to acknowledge that there is a world of biology and genetics in play here. Extremists have captured the agenda and they're propagandizing to such an extent that they're literally brainwashing people to scream "racist" at people who take a moderate position in opposition to their extremist position. That's some pretty powerful brainwashing at work.

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    5. Ohh, ok, cool. I see what you're saying. Fair enough.

      But, I still think that John kid should have been more cautious in what he said. Maybe he should have worded it differently, but I definitely don't applaud his train of thought. He chalked it up to numbers (as if it was that simple); he should have phrased it differently and/or acknowledge that sometimes the death penalty is given based on race.

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    6. "You mean like when the husband of the sick woman that you're treating asks you, "Point blank doctor, will my wife die from this breast cancer? Yes or no? Don't give me anymore of this probabilistic language and statistics. Will she die from this breast cancer, yes or no? That's a simple question so just answer it, yes or no."

      Will your wife with metastatic breast cancer to her bones, liver, lungs die of breast cancer? My answer would be, "I'm sorry, but yes." Spitting out five paragraphs of statistics would be kind of a sleazy way to get out of answering an easy question in that case, wouldn't it? I would never ever answer a question a patient asked me with tons of complicated statistics.

      It's okay if you don't want to answer. I wouldn't either if I were you :)

      I'm sorry, if I knew more about the death penalty or info about genetics vs. environment, I'd argue it with you more. It's just not a topic I'm well versed in and I don't have time/motivation to look it up.

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    7. he should have phrased it differently and/or acknowledge that sometimes the death penalty is given based on race.

      No, he absolutely shouldn't have to concede a contested point just so that he can get along with the hypersensitive guardians of liberal orthodoxy. The burden is on the NAACP to explain why the clearer hypothesis is wrong and why her convoluted conspiracy-laden hypothesis is correct.

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  49. tl:dr I do love it when people get an unexpected smackdown.

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  50. I think TwoHatchetTok is a robot, spitting out automated answers from her graduate school teaching, books, and encyclopedias. Her computer system probably finds some key words, looks them up and spits out information.

    She talks about using analytical skills, but what she can't see is that she's confined herself to what schooling has taught her is the right way to put forth an argument. She can't step outside of that bubble. Not everything is meant for the sake of argument.

    Basically, she can't think for herself.

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    1. Oh, I don't know. I kind of enjoyed reading Hatchet's arguments. I mean, Fizzy's not so great with this style of arguing, so it's kind of like shooting fish in a barrel when someone wants to challenge her, but it was entertaining to read nonetheless.

      I also didn't think Fizzy's original post painted her in the best light. She came across as a mean girl, at least from where I was standing. It's sort of sad to me that nobody else said anything.

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    2. Thanks, Anon. Gutsy move, posting as yourself.

      I intentionally don't get into big arguments with people on my blog anymore, because I discovered very long ago that it's an exercise in futility. I wasn't trying to argue anything in my post, I think that's pretty obvious. I was just telling an anecdote. And if I didn't come off in the best light, then that's fine. I like being honest. Show me a person who's wonderful and kind in every story on their blog and I'll show you a liar.

      I do feel a bit like I'm some graduate class, attempting to read a textbook here. Not really interested in participating in that, especially since he/she refuses to admit the obvious conclusions of these statements.

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    3. Not really interested in participating in that, especially since he/she refuses to admit the obvious conclusions of these statements.

      Because we all see through your tactic - it's a game ideological liberals learn - label your opponent and then argue against the label, thereby relieving you of the obligation to argue against the evidence. You think that you gain a moral upper hand by taking the argument to the arena of ad hominem.

      I present my position and you can draw whatever conclusion you wish from the words I write.

      Look, I get it. You're so very invested in being a good liberal that you'd rather get infected with bubonic plague than get touched by this conversation for the thought of having to cede some ground to my point of view would create a situation where your friends would see you as a racist. That's the natural result of the toxic environment that your intellectual compatriots have created by foisting the extremist ENVIRONMENT ONLY position onto society.

      Secondly, I also get, as I noted upthread, that there are people with different values systems. Some, like me and likely your school chum John, value evidence and logic more than we value social lies, and there are others, perhaps you, who don't want to rock the boat, want to be thought of as a "good person" (because taking the moderate position of genetics+environment makes one a "bad person") and so you're more than happy to live by Public Lies and Private Truths and just wish people like me would shut up and not disturb the Public Lies.

      Anyways, what drew me to comment was not the death penalty, it was your tale of John's treatment and that you thought John a racist for proposing a more parsimonious hypothesis than the grand conspiracy based on epicyclic reasoning that you and the NAACP spokeswoman favored. I felt that is was a gross injustice to John to label him a racist alongside real racists who want to wipe out entire races of people, so I wanted to push back on behalf of John and those other people who also value truth and reason more than they value Public Lies.

      BTW, I checked your post today - I do like your cartoons. You have talent.

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    4. I actually find it sort of funny that now you're stereotyping me as a liberal :) It certainly is convenient to place everyone in little boxes.

      I think you're flattering John and putting him up on a pedestal I don't think he deserved. Whether his argument is true or not (I say not), he wasn't making it based on evidence, only stereotypes. You say he's a hero for daring to be different, but how do you know he didn't just come from a household where his parents made comments like that nonstop? I'd bet anything he did. And I assure you, he LOVED arguing with us. Except of course for that one day. And I never labeled him as a racist. He made a statement on that one day that I did find racist, but in general, he didn't say things like that.

      Finally, do I believe there's some genetic component to things like intelligence or predisposition to crime? Of course! Do I believe it makes sense to stereotype the entire population and descendents of a huge CONTINENT and say they're all more likely to be criminals? Sorry, that just doesn't make sense to me at all. Seems like an easy way to avoid dealing with the important environmental issues.

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  51. I don't think Hatchet was arguing genetics to the exclusion of environment either. Where are you getting that from?

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  52. I actually find it sort of funny that now you're stereotyping me as a liberal :) It certainly is convenient to place everyone in little boxes.

    Give me a break. How did you open your post? You wrote: "Where I went to high school, we were all a bunch of left-wing liberals. No where in the remainder of your post did you refer to having changed your political orientation, so I think I'm on defensible grounds here to claim that I'm not stereotyping you, rather I'm taking you at your word.

    I think you're flattering John and putting him up on a pedestal I don't think he deserved.

    I'm on the losing side of this argument because you knew him and I didn't. All I can base my argument on is on what you revealed about that incident. He's one guy in the midst of a group of liberals. The conclusion that emerges is that you guys were good thinking people and he was a racist. Hey, I don't know him, so it's quite possible that you guys witnessed him burning crosses and having his Klan hood pressed at the cleaners and thus there is some substance to you calling him a racist, but none of that is presented in your recounting of the events.

    Whether his argument is true or not (I say not), he wasn't making it based on evidence, only stereotypes.

    You wrote: "And John replied, "Well, that's just because more crimes are committed by blacks."

    This is an argument based on parsimony:

    . . .It is a principle urging one to select among competing hypotheses that which makes the fewest assumptions and thereby offers the simplest explanation of the effect.

    The competing hypothesis requires the presence of cops, witnesses, prosecutors, judges and juries being actively racist to the degree that they are willing to subvert the law and subvert justice in order to impose death penalties where they are not warranted. This is a grand conspiracy with many moving parts and all of the moving parts have to work like a well oiled machine for the result to be delivered at the end of the trial.

    You say he's a hero for daring to be different, but how do you know he didn't just come from a household where his parents made comments like that nonstop? I'd bet anything he did

    I don't doubt that there is a high likelihood that he picked up many of his beliefs from his parents for political beliefs have a high degree of heritability, which is why some liberals are now starting to worry about the differential birth rate between liberal and conservative parents. All that aside though, it still takes backbone to buck the trend amongst one's peers. Teenagers are notorious for "going along to get along." He clearly didn't. It doesn't matter how he developed his political philosophy, what matters is that as a teenager he was willing to stand up for what he believed when doing so was clearly unpopular. That should always be commended.

    And I assure you, he LOVED arguing with us.

    Well, that does add some shading to the picture that wasn't presented initially. Some people love being contrarians.

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  53. Except of course for that one day.

    Yeah, what student doesn't like being singled out and yelled at in front of all of us peers. I wouldn't be surprised if to this day he doesn't look back on that event and wonder why he didn't shoot back and put the NAACP blowhard in her place. Lot's of us come up with great comebacks hours or days after the moments we were left speechless by the audacious spectacle of someone insulting us.

    Look, maybe he was speechless or maybe he was wise in knowing that the teacher might not look too kindly as one of her students was rude to her guest. I had to sit through many classes where I knew the professor was an ass and was spouting ideological nonsense dressed up as knowledge. Even to this day I think how grand it would be to enroll under a false name at a different institution and pretend that I'm a adult-student and then purposely seek out some sociology course and just grind the professor down, but that's not really a wise course of action and the payoff versus investment is almost nil. The point here is that I wouldn't read too much significance into John's having to sit there silently while some blowhard "expert" is yelling at him for mounting a more sensible hypothesis than she favored. The one who comes off looking like a fool in this episode, as described by you, is the NAACP guest. If her case was more sound than John's she'd have had no trouble providing evidence which falsified his hypothesis. Knowing the crime statistics on this issue leads me to believe that she can't do that and her grand conspiracy case is, by itself, very weak. Pointing to actual incidents of racism in the judicial process is certainly possible, but it's nowhere near prevalent enough to skew the outcome to match what the crime statistics show.

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  54. Finally, do I believe there's some genetic component to things like intelligence or predisposition to crime?

    Glad to read this. However, the way you phrased it doesn't address population level distributions. It seems that you're saying that there is a heritability in play as the individual level and doing this is not controversial because it skates well outside the boundaries of "racism." You, and the medical students who read your blog should have had at least elementary statistics classes in your training. There is no essentialism in play here. To say that there is a variance between group A and group B is not to say that everyone in Group B MUST have a particular trait, it just says that more people in Group B have the trait than people in Group A. Secondly, just because we know that the trait distribution varies between groups doesn't mean that we can tell anything about a specific person based on this group level knowledge. Everyone with your training should be sophisticated enough to understand this and be able to explain it to people who think you're a racist because they're working under an essentialist, and uninformed, view of what constitutes race. I get that you physicians are handicapped by not being scientists, but you do have some exposure to how science is conducted. Some of you are speaking out. Here's a New York Times editorial entitled "I'm a Racially Profiling Doctor". Note the interplay between the ideologues who cling to antiquated notions of race and those who don't.

    Do I believe it makes sense to stereotype the entire population and descendents of a huge CONTINENT and say they're all more likely to be criminals?

    Does this follow though? I agree that the way you present that particular conclusion is offensive. What happens though if you take the position that we should always strive to clear the educational path for any capable student who is achieving and progressing in their education but we should not expect that the ratio of high achieving blacks will match the ratio of high achieving whites or high achieving Asians. Or let's remove race and substitute gender. There will always be more male math geniuses and male math dummies than there are female math geniuses and female math dummies because male variance on math is higher than female variance, so the further we look out beyond the mean, the greater will be the disparity. Does that say that all women are math dummies? Not to my reading it doesn't. What it says to me is that there are likely genetic reasons to explain why most of the students who fail math are boys and why most of the students who really excel are also boys, but that girls also do well, in fact, we should see a tighter clustering of math performance, and that's exactly what we see. Measured performance conforms to genetic theory. Feminist theory has an impossible task before it in explaining how active discrimination against girls results in some boys doing better than most girls and some boys doing far worse than most girls. How is it possible that girls, who are the targets of active discrimination in math classes are actually doing better than some boys?

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  55. LOL the # of these comments just keeps growing and growing XD

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  56. "I'm on the losing side of this argument because you knew him and I didn't."

    FINALLY you own up, TwoHatchet..

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  57. TwoHatchet: When I said it was amusing that you were stereotyping me as a liberal, I didn't mean you were eroneous in calling me a liberal. I meant that you were stereotyping all liberals as arguing a specific way. Now why would that be? I've read that liberals raised in all socioeconomic environments perform worse on the SATs, so I'm assuming it's genetic.

    I'm guessing you hate liberals. You seem to be very comfortable stereotyping groups you don't like or understand. Just my impression.

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  58. 106 comments! Fizzy, is this a record for you?

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  59. Yes, but to be fair, most of them are from one person.

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  60. Whoa... There's nothing wrong bout healthy discussion but this "debate" really went off-topic. The way I see it, TwoHatchet used an axe cleverly hidden in innuendo and pseudo-valid arguements to chop away anyone who isn't entirely in agreement with her "exposition" of ideas.

    Shame on you TwoHatchet. Really... shame on you. If you think your arguements are "that" good, go and put them to good use in actual politics where they really matter... or you'd rather use them to create pointless discussion in light-hearted blogs where nobody's interested in reading them?

    Fizzy, there's a lesson to be learned here: never, ever, feed the trolls.

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    1. There were a few trolls on here, but I don't think TwoHatchet was one. I think the problem was that this post was linked on another blog as an "example" of something fairly unrelated, so she came in arguing against a point I really wasn't trying to make. She's weird, for sure, but she was earnest in her arguments and I don't think her intentions were troll-like.

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