The Post-Racial Hall of Mirrors

Two days ago, while on a quest to find one of the vanishing breed of waterbed stores, my wife and I had to drive through a slum section of Wilmington, Delaware. The streets were full of black people, and I had a strong “Ugh! Don’t want this kind anywhere near me!” reaction. Only it wasn’t to their blackness. It was because, with a few teenage exceptions, they were graceless and ugly and fat. Women wearing sack dresses in garish floral prints that would look bad even on a mattress liner, men in wife-beater T-shirts, rolling oceans of sloppy adipose tissue, not a smidgen of self-respect or good taste in sight. Awful…

I might not have written about this, except that later in the day I was reading a blog discussion of the Bradley Effect and its possible impact on the 2008 presidential race, and someone’s comment noted that it could be caused not only by hidden racism but by fear of seeming a racist even if one is opposed to Obama but knows oneself to be innocent of actual racist sentiment.

Then I flashed back to my experience in the Delaware slums a few hours previously and realized there is a third and subtler possibility. If I were a left-liberal rather than a libertarian, might I have confused my own reaction to the black people in that slum with racism, and felt eager to expiate it with displays of pro-blackness like telling posters I’m an Obama fan? Is it possible the Bradley effect is largely a rebound phenomenon driven not by “hidden racism” but by unjustified white guilt?

The more I thought about this, the more likely it seemed.

I have a very simple definition of anti-black racism: an anti-black racist is one whose behavior towards individual blacks is prejudiced by unjustified beliefs about blacks as a racial group. Let’s call this “I-racism”.

There are much broader definitions of racism floating around. Notably, something I’ll call “PC-racism”. It works a lot like the Catholic concept of sin. In the PC-racist belief system, all whites are, if not born racist, presumed to have absorbed racism from their early environment. It lurks in white brainpains, ineradicable, ready to leap out at any moment. Believing you are not racist is not only false, but in itself evidence of racism. Individual whites can atone for it only by ritual displays of confession, humility, and self-abasement. They are required to cringe before accusations of racism and can only demonstrate good intentions by zealously cooperating in the detection and persecution of racism in other whites.

Individual absolution from PC-racism, even for the most anti-racist whites, is always conditional and temporary and can be revoked at any time by any black person, or any white person more zealous in the eradication of racism, on the basis of any behavior these privileged ones choose to define as “racist”. Collectively, whites can never be freed of the stain of racism.

I’m not an I-racist. In order to be clear how strong a statement this is, you need to know that I have at least one factually-justified negative belief about blacks as a group, namely that the average IQ of self-identified blacks is about a standard deviation lower than for self-identified whites — and since IQ is a predictor of important things such as rates of school graduation and criminal deviance, this actually matters. But while this belief has consequences for how I expect blacks to behave en masse, it has no consequences for my dealings with black individuals. The individual is not the mass, and I’m not stupid enough to confuse them.

Note that I also believe, on similar factual grounds, that East Asians and Ashkenazic Jews have significantly higher average IQ than whites and that this matters for exactly the same reasons. So if I am a “racist” in any sense, I am also a racist against my own putative interest, that is against non-Jewish whites. See how silly it gets when “racism” gets used for any belief about racial group differences, whether justified or not?

Many years ago, I was with a girl named Eve for a while. This was before anybody had the concept of ‘geekgirl’ but she was one, all right. Computer programmer, very bright, very funny; wrote software for missile-control systems. And she was black; not just what blacks call a high-yaller, but a broad-hipped, kinky-haired, full-lipped African-looking woman with dark skin. I liked her for her brains and her poise and her sense of humor and her precise, considered way of speaking, but I thought she was beautiful, too.

(Having said “many years ago”, I’ll also note that neither of us was being particularly brave or transgressive. Our peer group, science-fiction fans, had no taboo against interracial dating, and none of us gave a damn what the mundanes might have thought about it.)

One night we were happily tangled up with each other and I said to her “Eve…I’ve decided that the fact that you’re black does make one significant difference to our relationship.” I felt her tense up. “Oh?…” she said. “Yes,” I said, peering at her owl-eyed in the dim light. “It makes you more difficult to see in the dark.”

She paused for a long moment, giggled, and jumped me, and I mean “jumped” in a good way. Well, of course; that was exactly the intended short-term result. But Eve also got the message that I had enough confidence in both her and myself to tease her like that. When we parted, we stayed friends. Years later, I bought a couple of very tasteful pieces of jewelry she’d made as a birthday present for my wife.

I’ve described Eve and my dealings with her in some detail partly to make a point about the underappreciated difference between racism and classism. My bad reaction to the slumdwellers in Wilmington was, basically, because they were lumpenproles. Eve, on the other hand, was a product of about the same level of family affluence and education as myself, and jammed up the same end of the IQ bell curve as me. These qualities mattered in exactly the way her skin color didn’t.

OK, it may be in some absolute egalitarian sense unfair of me that I choose my friends that way, but we all do it and it’s not racism. Joseph Biden got slammed for describing Barack Obama as “clean”, but he wasn’t hounded out of public life for it because even the racial-grievance crowd knew that what he meant by it was a sort of class description rather than an implied slur on other blacks. That was an unusual moment of sanity, unfortunately; all too often, Americans confuse classist reactions with racist ones just because a lot of the relatively poor are also black. That’s the mistake I might have made, but didn’t, in Wilmington.

Most Americans don’t have anything like the basis of fact I do about group differences in IQ, criminal deviance, sports performance, etc.; attempts to talk about these things in public tend to be met with frenzied downshouting and denial. So most Americans actually fail the I-racist test the other way than I do; they might incorrectly jump from facts about the mass to prejudices about individuals, but they don’t have the politically-incorrect facts to start with.

I don’t think there are many white Americans left who are I-racists; the rest of us condemn them, and rightly so. But I also think very few of the rest of us could summon up the nerve to make the joke I did to Eve in those circumstances; I almost didn’t dare do it myself, and certainly wouldn’t have if she weren’t so ferociously intelligent. The social stigma attached to racism is too great, even when we don’t fear directly offending a lover or friend. White Americans today are in general too terrified of being seen as racists to go near that kind of humor.

But it goes deeper than that. Most of us, especially left-liberals, have been successfully indoctrinated in the PC-racism of perpetual and collective white guilt. We believe simultaneously that we must atone and can never really atone enough. We’ve been taught to look in the mirror and see a racist even if we ourselves are innocent of any desire to oppress blacks; still more, we’ve been taught to look at other whites and see racists even though we know nothing about their intentions or their behavior towards individual blacks.

Publicly, PC-racism has become an entire hall of mirrors, everyone pointing publicly at racism that has become increasingly imaginary, and whites too often believing each other guilty merely because decent people are supposed to believe that and atone, atone, atone. And this is what brings us back to the Bradley Effect and the 2008 elections. Because the hall-of-mirrors model may not change the frequency with which pollsters hear lies, but utterly changes the meaning of that number.

If most Americans are “hidden racists”, then the Bradley effect will be stubborn and negative and completely pretty much independent of any individual qualities Obama has or proposals he makes.

On the other hand, if most Americans already live in the post-racial hall of mirrors, Obama can in fact gain much by positioning himself as a bargainer with whites, trading redemption for votes. In this scenario, the Bradley effect is susceptible to sudden collapse or even reversal as whites realize they can be what they have wished to seem.

It’s pretty obvious that Obama himself has counted on the hall-of-mirrors model being the correct one; none of his rhetoric about race would make sense otherwise. This would explain neatly why as his poll numbers have dropped to parity with and then below McCain’s in the last week, he has ignored Democratic heavyweights (the news story I saw didn’t specify who, so I’m not chasing down the link) warning him that the Bradley effect is putting him in severe danger of losing. In Obama’s world, he’s not going to be sunk by white anxiety but rather elevated by white desire for redemption (thus the savior-like imagery his campaign trades in).

As far as that goes, I think Obama’s instincts are right on this and the unnamed Democratic heavyweights are wrong. He is in severe danger of losing — in fact, I now think he’s going to lose — but he’s right that the Bradley effect isn’t his big problem. That one lies closer to home.

Obama probably thinks his big problem is that Americans aren’t ready for his policy prescriptions, or that the damned surge actually worked, or that the Republican attack machine is getting traction. I think it’s that he’s shown extremely poor judgment in his choice of friends (Ayers, Dohrn, Wright, Rezko), the management of his campaign (Joseph “The Plagiarist” Biden?), and his response to the Palin phenomenon. And, as I suggested some time ago, that he peaked too early. Mass worship is a fickle thing; you’re a messiah one week, then next week they’re all off chasing a shoe or gourd or something.

But whatever my other differences with Barack Obama, I agree with him on one thing; the hall of mirrors is a trap. It’s time to shatter them all and banish the guilt. So we can actually see each other.

And, Eve…if you happen to read this? I still think of you fondly. Drop me a line sometime.

93 thoughts on “The Post-Racial Hall of Mirrors

  1. As an aside, I have a personal policy of lying whenever I have been polled by a political pollster. My reasons are many, varied and not important, but I’ve often wondered what percentage of the population has this same inclination.

  2. Interesting. This is what I mistakingly referred to in a response post the other day as the “Wilder Effect”. I was thinking of former Virginia governor and now Richmond mayor Douglas Wilder. Wilder, as you may recall, is the first post-reconstruction African-American governor of a former Confederate state. A little before my time, but as I recall, Wilder’s exit polling was significantly higher (5-10%) than his actual margin of victory. But whatever you call it, it has been a measurable effect in state-wide races where African-American candidates run. From a purely statistical perspective, I have to humbly disagree with your thesis that Obama has moved past this. Given a large enough sample, (and Presidential elections tend to be pretty large) voter behavior is fairly consistent and predictable. If Senator Obama isn’t exit polling at least 5 points statewide in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and possibly even Michigan, he may very well lose those states.

  3. With the obvious exception of Iowa, didn’t Obama poll consistently higher than the outcome in almost every primary? I recall, at the time, thinking it was the Bradley Effect, but I had completely forgotten about it until now.

  4. Be careful reading too much into Wilder’s election. Virginia is not only part of the South, its statewide elections are held in off years, e.g. he was elected in 1989, not 1988. It was my impression from the dozen years I lived there (starting in the early-middle part of his term) that state politics was an insiders game; obviously holding the elections in off years reduces participation. Sounds like a nightmare to do polling in, although you cite exit polling which I’m not very familiar with compared to pre-election phone polling.

    Also note that Wilder had one BIG advantgage over Obama, he’s a Marine who served in Korea and was awarded a Bronze Star. While double checking that, I came across this article, “It’s Not Race, It’s Arugula” ^_^ (http://tinyurl.com/62xxeu); here’s the Wilder/Virgina section:

    This is the pattern Barone found in Obama’s battles with Clinton. “When I first noticed Obama’s weak showings among Appalachians, I chalked them up, as many in the press will be inclined to do, to an antipathy to blacks,” Barone allowed. But then he went back and compared the results from the Virginia primary race on February 12, with those in the gubernatorial election of 1989, in which Democrat Douglas Wilder defeated Republican Marshall Coleman to become the country’s first black governor since Reconstruction. In the Appalachian precincts of western Virginia–which border both Kentucky and West Virginia–Wilder, a moderate Democrat with an air of authority, greatly outpolled Obama everywhere in the region. “Jacksonians in southwest Virginia showed no aversion to Wilder. Take Buchanan County, which runs along both West Virginia and Kentucky. In 1989, it voted 59 percent to 41 percent for Wilder.” In February 2008, it voted for Clinton over Obama by 90 to 9. “Wilder lost what is now the Ninth Congressional District (long known as the Fighting Ninth) by a 53-percent-to-47-percent margin. But that is far less than the 59-percent-to-39-percent margin by which George W. Bush beat John Kerry in the district in November 2004 or the 65-percent-to-33-percent margin by which Clinton beat Obama there in February 2008. Jacksonians may reject certain kinds of candidates, but not because they’re black,” Barone concluded. “A black candidate who will join them in fighting against attacks on their family or their country is all right with them.” [...]

    Obama is definately in trouble with Jacksonians, this has been obvious for a long time. But what that says for the rest of the country is not at all clear to me, being a Jacksonian from a Jacksonian part of the country.

  5. Not that I was reading too much into the Wilder election, just citing it as an example that fit the pattern described by the “Bradley Effect”. I currently live in Virginia (Hampton Roads) and I think it will go McCain any way. RCP average has McCain up here +2.3. Within the margin of error, but it has held steady for there for about 2 and half weeks.

  6. I don’t believe in what’s referred to as the Bradley Effect. I do, however believe that there are three separate factors that led to Tom Bradley’s 1982 loss to George Deukmejian, two of which definitely do apply to the Obama candidacy.

    1. Bradley’s support was overstated due to the fact that polls AT THE TIME were often ridiculously inaccurate and slanted to the left. This is what led to the right-wing tradition of contempt for polls. In my home state of Nevada, we had a non-binding referendum on the Equal Rights Amendment, and the polls showed “yes” and “no” running neck-and-neck; in reality, “no” won by a 2 to 1 margin. Polls also, for whatever reason, tended to be slanted to the left. In the landslide Reagan victory of 1980, many polls showed Carter ahead, AFTER his disastrous debate performance that sealed his fate.

    Nevertheless, this does not apply to as great an extent today. Polls are far more accurate today than they were in 1982. Notably, in 2004, polls not only showed Bush ahead, but were fairly accurate about his margin of victory. Similarly, in 2000, polls correctly showed Gore’s last-minute surge in Florida that ended up with a dead heat there. If conservatives think they can ignore polls, they are deluding themselves.

    For the record, while I do not hold POLLS in contempt, I am still as contemptuous as ever about POLLSTERS. Pollsters are the political equivalent of accountants in a business. They are useful at gathering statistics, yet invariably they mistakenly believe this qualifies them as leaders. Take a look at Frank Luntz sometime and you’ll see what I mean. With his somber tone and sadder-but-wiser expressions, he will always say something to the effect of “look at how my focus group reacts when Sen. Shitforbrains mentions Issue X. The audience reacts in such-and-such a way. Clearly, the Republicans have to change their stance on Issue X.” In fact, many issue X’s in which pollsters–correctly–guaged popular opinion ended up being significantly less important later on. Most recently, you had the Iraq War, which was supposed to lead to a landslide Democrat victory in 2008. Because Bush acted as a leader instead of a bean counter, we’ve essentially won the war, and it works in the Republicans’ favor.

    Nevertheless, I repeat: in this day and age, conservatives CANNOT count on left-leaning polls. (Except for Newsweek, but you get the drift).

    2. Bradley faded in the late portion of the campaign due to the fact that he was well to the left of California, at that time a fairly conservative state. Of course, so had been the then-incumbent, Jerry Brown. However, Brown won the governorship in a landslide Democrat year, 1974, and furthermore was the son of a previous governor. 1982, while somewhat Democrat simply due to the fact that it was in a GOP midterm election, did not have the same kind of dynamic, nor did Bradley have the “legacy” going for him. His main assets were his mayorship in LA, and, more importantly, the impression that he was a “new kind of black candidate.” That is to say, he didn’t constantly press the racial card. He was running as a mayor, not a black. And this did, indeed, help him, to the point where he was able to take the lead against Deukmejian.

    The problem, though, is that Americans had good reason to be suspicious of black candidates, for much the same reason that, until the mid-’70’s, they had been suspicious of white Southern candidates. Remember, this was only a decade and a half removed from the Watts Riots, and less removed than that from the Black Panthers. Californians did want to put race behind them, but they wanted to be sure they weren’t electing an anti-white candidate.

    And, although Bradley avoided the race card, he never really distanced himself from it, either. He was a down-the-line leftist on policy matters, and never said anything to distinguish himself from more extreme blacks. He didn’t speak out against bussing, an integrationist scheme that was causing distress to white and black families alike in the name of a utopian ideal. He didn’t disown the Bakke decision of the Supreme Court, which had stated, totally falsely, that the Civil Rights Act allowed anti-white discrimination. So as the election approached, the promise of a “post-racial” governorship faded.

    In this regard, he is markedly similar to Obama.

    3. Nevertheless, he might still have won, had it not been for his catastrophic error in judgement: his support for Proposition 15, which would have banned sales of handguns. This was before California became a gun-control state (one of the few). This was a radical left position, and Bradley should have known better than to support it. The “noes” won overwhelmingly, and Bradley was a casualty of his blindness on this issue.

    Why, though, the discrepancy between poll numbers and election results? I didn’t live in CA at the time, so I didn’t see the election close-up, but I can make an educated guess. The handgun ban supporters probably concentrated their efforts close to Election Day. I would guess that they had TV ads featuring Bradley’s endorsement. What lefties didn’t realize until at least the late ’90’s was that gun owners’ tendency to swing hard right varies directly with how pissed they are about gun control.

    And that, in short, is the real Bradley Effect. Bradley was sunk because he was stuck in the ’60’s mentality that the future belonged to the cities; that gun owners were ignorant hicks, who, although they might occasionally stop banging their cousins long enough to cast a vote, could never decide an election.

    Bradley was sunk by his anti-gun bigotry.

  7. I struggled a bit with similar issues, and came to two major conclusions:

    1. If there is some definition for which I am a racist, and there is no way for me to stop being a racist… why should I care? If you think about it in classical AI terms, the reward function is a constant; no matter what the action, Racist(You) = 100%. So, what’s my motivation to do anything about this? (Oh, they’ll talk big about how you might be able to earn your way to Racist(You) = 99%, but again, who cares? And their actions show they aren’t serious about that, either. Racist(You) = 100%.)

    I am not a racist by any definition I care about.

    2. I dislike any culture or subculture that celebrates failure and demonizes success. A black man walking up to me provokes nothing in me. A white person decked out in ghetto dress, with the ghetto swagger, and ghetto slang, most assuredly does provoke something in me.

    I am very comfortable with this metric.

  8. While not a serious proponent of conscription, one positive effect is to put people in contact with a sufficiently significant cross-section of society as to diminish the racial reactions significantly.

  9. There’s a form of racism that McCain-Palin is drawing on, which is Pro-Someone-Like-Me racism. They’re not necessarily anti-black, or anti-anything; they’re Pro-Themselves. There’s as much pro-discrimination as anti-discrimination out there. I’ve had some of my left-leaning female co-workers say they really like Sarah Palin, because she reminds them of, well, them. This is probably the overwhelming factor in American politics: People tend to vote for the candidate that’s “most like themselves”. They feel comfortable in crowds of “people like me” and not in crowds where they’re in the minority. I suspect this has been true since we were hanging out with “people like us” in caves 40,000 years ago. Good luck in getting it to go away….

  10. >There’s a form of racism that McCain-Palin is drawing on, which is Pro-Someone-Like-Me racism. They’re not necessarily anti-black, or anti-anything; they’re Pro-Themselves

    Calling this “racism” is another way of stretching the word “racism” until it becomes essentially meaningless except as a rhetorical club.

    Are you seriously proposing that anyone who votes for a politician they feel shares their values and outlook is a “racist”? If so, there have probably never been any significant number of non-racists in the history of democracy.

    When the abuse of the term “racism” has reached this point, it probably needs to be tossed out of the conversation entirely.

  11. finding fellow human beings beneath your contempt because you don’t like the way they dress or act may not be racism, but it sure ain’t friendly, either.

    pig / lipstick <— seems ta fit ya

  12. I’d have to ask “what is race, anyway?” I tend to see “race” as distinct from “ethnicity.” Ethnicity is genetic, but race is a social construct. Most scholars in a bunch of different fields, from biology to anthropology to sociology, hold this view. There are other influences on a person’s psychological makeup than genetics. Since “ism” means a belief in something, the only serious method to get rid of “racism” is to stop believing in race.

    Eric: Here’s another view on the IQ and race debate.

    As another aside, I noticed that you mentioned many of the people in the ghetto neighborhood you ended up in were overweight. I’ve been hearing a lot of discourse on obesity in low-income areas. It seems that obesity has turned into a symptom of poverty. I find it interesting that you can be poor and still consume too many calories.

  13. >Eric: Here’s another view on the IQ and race debate.

    Remember the “frenzied denial” I referred to earlier? You found an example.

    >It seems that obesity has turned into a symptom of poverty.

    I’ve written about this before, and am not the first to do so.

  14. Eric, I think that an important ingredient of your error is racial prejudice — not the hateful, snarling, open bigotry which you (correctly, I think) allude, but rather a vague, sophisticated, low-key prejudice that is chameleonlike in its ability to adapt to new surroundings and to hide even from those firmly in its grip.

  15. I’ve lived in some pretty wretched neighborhoods. I’ve been in places where I was maybe one of two Caucasians in a 30 mile radius who wasn’t behind the wheel of a police cruiser.

    I have seen black guys pulled over by white cops because they were driving a fancy set of wheels, and ‘probable cause’ was “He’s driving that? He’s gotta be dealin’.”

    I have seen crime in those pestilent neighborhoods. I know that the MAJOR reason why blacks show up at about 2.5x their demographic weight in prison populations comes from the fact that the black-on-black crime rate is about 8x the black-on-white crime rate, which is, in turn, about triple the white-on-black crime rate. They get hustled in for doing crimes against each other, then sob stories come out about racist judicial systems. (I suppose we should consider the system just when we have the right proportion of 63 year old Jewish grandmothers in the prison population?)

    I’ve seen it in play. I’ve been robbed at gunpoint before.

    I’ve seen ‘modern urban black culture’. I choose to live elsewhere, thanks.

    I’ve seen entire neighborhoods where hope is defined as “dey ain’t fired me from my cashier’s position at Wal-Mart.” I’ve seen neighborhoods utterly demolished by pay-day loan vendors. Whatever bizarre concatenation of regulations lets those businesses exists needs to be fixed.

    I’ve seen overt racism. And then I’ve seen a culture of victimhood. When your life is miserable, the easy path out is to blame someone else for it. Acknowledging you did it to yourself by your own action or inaction is much more difficult. And, hey, their ministers tell them that white guys are to blame, collectively. And their politicians try to peddle the line that they’re being dissed…and both of them rely on having this pool of victims for filling the pews and the polling places.

    And I have no policy answer to this. None. Nada. Zilch.

    And this happens yet.

    http://www.fredoneverything.net/Kreager.shtml

  16. > It seems that obesity has turned into a symptom of poverty. I find it interesting that you can be poor and still consume too many calories.

    Well, yeah. Turns out it’s cheap to produce, transport and market high-fat, high-sugar “convenience” foods. Advances in agricultural and food technology mean that producing affordable calories is no longer a problem. However, it would be a stretch to describe this stuff as nutritious. Oh, and it’s becoming increasingly apparent that high-fat and high-sugar food is actually physically addictive.

  17. David, I’ll have to differ with your definition of “ethnicity”. In fact, the way I see it, you’re 180 out on those definitions.

    Race is what we inherit from our forebears. Ethnicity is how we are raised. Being Hispanic (for example) isn’t something you are necessarily born into. My ex, born into a Hispanic family, was adopted at a young age by a White couple. She wasn’t raised Hispanic at all. Although her biological family tree was indeed Hispanic, and I assume she could self-identify as one, she wasn’t Hispanic.

    That, essentially, is what ethnicity is. Self indentification.

  18. Jim: You projected “beneath your contempt” out of my message; it is not actually there. I do not have to answer to crap other people make up to make me feel guilty. Which is, indeed, exactly my point.

  19. “they were graceless and ugly and fat”

    So… it’s not their blackness that revolted you, it was that you just happened to find them all ugly? Who could blame you? After all, their lips are so big and their noses are so wide. But you aren’t an I-racist. After all, this judgement is entirely justified on measurable physical criteria (as defined by you, of course!) Plus, your reaction of disgust didn’t influence your behaviour; you were just quietly disgusted to yourself. Which would *never* influence your behaviour. No, you aren’t “I-racist” at all!

  20. >I have seen black guys pulled over by white cops because they were driving a fancy set of wheels, and ‘probable cause’ was “He’s driving that? He’s gotta be dealin’.”

    It always bothers me when this sort of thing is automatically dropped in the “racism” bin. If the context is what I suspect it was (ghetto neighborhood, hoodie and gold chains on the driver) it seems like a pretty rational response based on knowledge of the neighborhood.

    If this happened in a business district to an older black guy wearing a suit, then I’d yell “racist pig” at the cops right along with the lefties. But I’ll bet it didn’t. Cops know about civil-rights lawsuits.

    Of course, there is a spectrum of possible intermediate cases. My point is that “racism” is something we can’t honestly tag the cops with in the absence of fairly detailed knowledge about the circumstances.

  21. That you are “very comfortable” judging others by their appearance, rather than their behavior speaks volumes.

    By extension, you’re comfortable with well-dressed criminals because they have an air of success.

  22. Assuming you’re talking to me, look again. I talked about behavior.

    Your desperate need to jump to conclusions about me speaks volumes.

  23. >So… it’s not their blackness that revolted you, it was that you just happened to find them all ugly? Who could blame you? After all, their lips are so big and their noses are so wide.

    Dimwit here has some problems with reading comprehension, otherwise he’d have noticed the part where I dated an African-looking woman because I thought she was beautiful. OK, I’ll say it directly so he might get the point: I had sex with her because I found her seriously hot, dark skin and kinky hair and full lips and the whole package — and yes, Eve did have a wide nose by Caucasian standards, too.

    Mostly I write off as a form of overly-simple psychologizing the theory that PC-racism-peddling liberals are projecting their own ugly feelings about blacks on others. Creepy rants like this, though, make me believe it. I’m glad I don’t live in the cesspool that passes for this dude’s head.

  24. No, I read the part where you said you dated an African-looking woman. I filed it under ‘Some of my best friends are gay…’. In other words, it was not enough to erase the fact that you opened by saying that a whole neighborhood was ‘ugly’ (which is, after all, a genetic evaluation).

  25. Huh? How is “ugly” a genetic evaluation? Why do you find it inconceivable that all the people within Eric’s field of vision as he drove through were indeed ugly, at least by his aesthetic standards? For that matter, suppose his standards did include genetic components – since aesthetics are by definition subjective, if someone (not Eric) were to find black skin ugly, what would be wrong with that? Must people change their perceptions just because there are people who are born with skin that colour? If there were people whose skin was naturally the colour of vomit, would we all be morally obliged to retrain ourselves not to feel disgust at that colour?

  26. Milhouse, you are correct. If I find people with ginger hair generally unattractive, does this make me gingerist? Probably, but surely this only becomes a moral issue if, for example, I refuse to employ them on these grounds. Similarly, someone could find darker skin or paler skin more aesthetically attractive in general (and even then, I’ll bet they’ll have plenty of exceptions!) I wouldn’t call out the Anti Bigot Brigade just because of this, any more than I’d kick a man for preferring, in general, brunettes to blondes or vice versa, or attack a woman for preferring men with hairy chests and so forth.

    We really should grow up a little and understand the difference between accepting statistical data on the one hand and not using it as an excuse to be bigoted against an individual on the other.

  27. >No, I read the part where you said you dated an African-looking woman. I filed it under ‘Some of my best friends are gay…’. In other words, it was not enough to erase the fact that you opened by saying that a whole neighborhood was ‘ugly’ (which is, after all, a genetic evaluation).

    I see you’re making a really determined effort to corner the market on thick-as-a-plank today. You also didn’t process the “with a few teenage exceptions” part. Those would be the ones with the same genes as the adults who hadn’t yet overeaten themselves into a state resembling a beached whale. Behavior, not DNA, as I was fully aware at the time, thank you very much.

    And “Some of my best friends are gay…”, that was just hilarious. If you’re a typical twentysomething white liberal of this inhibited post-AIDS-scare era, I’ve very likely had more black girlfriends than you’ve had girlfriends, period. No, I don’t have a thing about black women, I just happen to have spent my tomcatting years in subcultures where (a) sleeping with a lot of women was neither forbidden nor difficult, and (b) if you slept with a lot of different women some of them would have been any color you cared to specify. So there’s a chorus line of the more richly melaninized of my old girlfriends and lovers in my head right now, Eve up front and center, laughing – at you.

    (Hmmm…honesty compels me to add that I do have a neophilic streak, so the overall percentage of women in my history who were black, Asian, or otherwise not like the girls I grew up with is probably rather higher than it would be for most guys. But my neophilia was never specific to black women.)

  28. I wonder how much of the disgust is really disgust with modern “society?” This post:
    Ken Burnside Says:
    September 16th, 2008 at 12:25 am
    points to one of those situations where out of control young black men commit the most horrible violent crime possible. The normal reaction is probably to just dump them into the “N” word pile and move on in frustration. At the core though is it really frustration with the two men or society?

    They simply don’t know what it is to be a man. Society has removed that option for them before they ever had a chance. While a typical bleeding heart would follow that thought with “it’s not their fault because of their environment” I’ll pass on that and say “yes, it is their fault, they did it. The solution isn’t to turn those two lose on society, in fact they should fry, the solution is to do what it takes to prevent that with the next generation.”

    Then the frustration really sets in. The problem is at both ends. Society, via “white guilt” doesn’t make black criminals pay a price for those actions. Well, in fact it doesn’t make criminals of any color pay a real price. “Better 9 guilty men go free rather than 1 innocent man be punished” is the drivel I’ve heard. Unfortunately those 9 guilty men set free create 36 new victims from truly innocent people. So sacrifice 36 to save 1? Not a good bargain.

    The leftest socialist state has removed, via welfare, large swaths of the population, disproportionately black, from the ladder to success. Collecting welfare provides to opportunities for advancement. Turning a blind eye to modern fatherless society just makes the situation worse. The result is poor black youths in an environment where nobody has any self-esteem and they don’t have anyone around to teach them what it is to be a man. They turn to “lord of the flies.”

    I don’t have a solution. Maybe there isn’t one. A turn back to a family based culture is likely the only solution maybe. 3 generations in the same house so when father is off at work, mother too for most families, the grand parents are around to provide a basis for the kids to learn from.

    Pointing all of this out isn’t racism. Take a black kid, at 2 years old, and dump them in with a family, of any race, in an affluent family based neighborhood will likely result in a successful individual. That’s true for any color though isn’t it? Take the scion of a wealthy family and have him raised in Watts and you’ll likely not get a stock broker.

    So the neighborhood was a ghetto. Ghettos have never respected race, ethnicity, religion.

    I don’t see it getting better as long as fatherless families are celebrated and the government artificially supports people, thus creating a dependency on that very government. It’s not restricted to black people but they’re hit harder due to leftest “white guilt” giving them a pass.

    What a horrible situation we’ve made for ourselves.

  29. >Similarly, someone could find darker skin or paler skin more aesthetically attractive in general (and even then, I’ll bet they’ll have plenty of exceptions!)

    This can vary in really odd ways. Most skin colors are sexually neutral for me, including most of the different shades either African or Caucasian women carry around. But there is one range of very pale skin tones that is instant thalamic releaser for me, much more so than some others that are colorimetrically very close to it. Why this is I have no idea, and my only clue to what it might mean in a genetic sense are that (a) almost all the girls I’ve known that had it were Russian or Ukrainian Jewish and (b) it almost always goes with glossy black or very dark brown hair. And as far as I know I don’t have any Russian Jews in my ancestry, either.

    Releasers are funny that way. They’re not under conscious control and they don’t seem to have anything to do with whatever learned prejudices you have. They’re just there. Probably genetic.

  30. Backing away from Eric’s musings on what triggers his libido, to social constructs.

    One of the things in the Bell Curve, that ‘horribly racist diatribe’ that never got mentioned in its critiques.

    1) By statistical measure, the heritability component of g is about 0.6 to 0.8.
    2) While g is about 60% correlated to later SES indices, and is a cause of same, above a certain level, it nulls out.
    3) The largest swing on g came from early childhood environments; in particular, reading to kids before the age of 6 or 7, and encouraging them to read, does more to help the wiring in their brain than anything you can do afterwards.
    4) Black children adopted into middle class homes SUBSTANTIALLY outperformed those who weren’t in IQ tests. They still show up as being about 0.8 SDs under their white counterparts as a group. The ones who don’t get that break score about 1.2 SDs under.

    As to ‘pulled over for what they’re driving': Eric, from the perspective of the community, it is seen as racist. And I can understand WHY it’s seen as racist. When you or I see a patrol cruiser, we think of something completely different than when a black man sees one. They aren’t looking for something to charge us with. For some black communities, and some police departments, that’s not true. (That being said, the unparalleled success and complete, utter silence about New York City’s “Broken Windows” program is telling about reportage in this area.)

    For a black man in a ghetto? The first assumption is that he’s not there to help them – he’s there to bust somebody…and that person is either him, or someone he knows, and the reason will seem stupid and arbitrary.

    And yes, a reformulation of the ‘black urban culture’ to repair elements tied to familial structure would help a lot. I don’t see any way it’s going to happen.

  31. >Eric, from the perspective of the community, it is seen as racist.

    Given a sufficiently warped perspective, putting Aunt Jemima syrup on your pancakes could be seen as racist. Adopting this perspective is not helpful to anyone, however.

    In any case, you appear to have changed the subject. I thought you were listing things you considered evidence of racism. Would you, in fact, consider a cop stopping a black guy ,in a Ferrari, wearing shades and three pounds of bling-bling, in a ghetto neighborhood to be racist behavior?

  32. > finding fellow human beings beneath your contempt because you don’t like the way they dress or act may not be racism, but it sure ain’t friendly, either.

    So? If people dress to emulate a culture that glorifies lawlessness and violence, why should I be friendly to them? If they act in a way that violates my ethics, what reason do I have to befriend them?

    I’m a ZAP adhering anarcho-capitalist, and I don’t give a flaming crap how much pigmentation people have, but I’m also not tactically stupid enough to ignore the flags people wave. If someone signals “hey, I’m a member of the thug culture” (for instance, with a full belly tattoo of the words “Thug Life”), I’d have to be a complete moron to ignore that. That person represents a higher than average level of threat to my person and belongings.

  33. In any case, you appear to have changed the subject. I thought you were listing things you considered evidence of racism. Would you, in fact, consider a cop stopping a black guy ,in a Ferrari, wearing shades and three pounds of bling-bling, in a ghetto neighborhood to be racist behavior?

    Would I consider it an overly broad interpretation of their mission statement? Fuck yes.

    Is it prejudicial? Almost certainly.

    Is it racist by any sane standard? Depends on circumstances and behaviors before and after the stop.

    I do think that whether or not it’s racist, the fact that it’s prejudicial is a problem that needs to be solved. The fact that prejudice and racism have been lumped into an ontological hammer does nobody any good, but it’s the world we’ve got to deal with.

    You see, you left out two important parts of this gedankenexperiment.

    What was the driver doing before he was pulled over? If he were obeying the speed limit and not doing anything egregiously hazardous – and playing bad music very loudly isn’t hazardous – then yes, being pulled over is race driven. The standard that all people are equal before the law even applies to guys wearing bling and driving ‘rods. He sure as hell wouldn’t pull a white guy over for driving a Ferrari while wearing shadesand 3 pounds of jewelry in Malvern.

    What did the cops do after he was pulled over? If they gave him a warning to fix whatever the problem was and sent him on his way? Then we’re fine. If they had him stand out and lean over the car for a body pat-down? If they asked to search the trunk and glove box for contraband? Again, would a white guy dressed the same way driving the same car get treated the same way in Malvern?

    The concept of ‘probable cause’ and ‘reasonable justification’ get bent horribly in bad neighborhoods. And I understand why it does. I do not condone it, nor do I have a better answer…but cops are expected to execute judgment quickly, in often times explosive situations. Sometimes that means deciding on things before they have full information at hand.

    Unfortunately, the black urban community DOES see anything that’s prejudicial as racist, and not without cause.

  34. “the average IQ of self-identified blacks is about a standard deviation lower than for self-identified whites — and since IQ is a predictor of important things such as rates of school graduation and criminal deviance, this actually matters.”

    Yeah, well maybe your capacious IQ, associated with your white genes, is the predictor for you making cracks such as the one above. It cuts both ways. It is an occult world-view to see the genes in others as predisposing them to jack cars, but not to see your genes as predisposing you to say that the genes in others predispose them to jack cars.

    I think your genetic determinism is self-referentially inconsistent. Your own “theory” does not appear to apply to you; It applies only to those whom you have a “factually-justified negative belief” against. Priceless.

  35. >It is an occult world-view to see the genes in others as predisposing them to jack cars, but not to see your genes as predisposing you to say that the genes in others predispose them to jack cars.

    Actually, to the extent heritable IQ predisposes me to truth-seeking and sound judgment, my genes may do exactly that. I see no actual reason to disbelieve your theory.

  36. >The fact that prejudice and racism have been lumped into an ontological hammer does nobody any good, but it’s the world we’ve got to deal with.

    Ken, I think I must be carving up these categories in a different way than you do. Your use of “prejudicial” here makes little sense to me.

    I think the drug laws are insane and have perverse results. But let’s agree to ignore that for the sake of discussion. If you are a cop, it’s your job to bust dealers – preferably before they go all gangsta and some bystander gets killed by a stray bullet during the next turf war. If you have observed that black guys wearing three pounds of bling-bling in the ‘hood are effectively always dealers, then busting them on suspicion hoping you can take them off the street is a rational response to facts.

    To me, “rational response to facts” and “prejudicial” are mutually exclusive. OK, technically one might deny this, but the way “prejudice” is normally used (especially in racial contexts) seems to imply a preconception based on unreasoned and emotional dislike, or at least some kind of learned falsehood. That’s not what is happening in our hypothetical here.

    Let’s consider two other hypotheticals. In one, every red-haired person I’ve ever met had punched me in the face. In another, an elderly relative told me repeatedly when I was a small child that red-haired people are sneaky and nasty and will try to punch me in the face if I let them get close.

    I think we can agree that if I fear and hate red-haired people in the second case, my behavior is “prejudice”. I don’t agree that, under the first hypothetical, flinching away from redheads could or should be considered “prejudicial”. Doing so effectively robs the word of meaning, lumping together valuable learning responses with behavior rightly to be condemned.

    “Racism”, in my view, is a particular category of prejudice associated with particular alleles of traits like skin color. When those traits are interpreted by a belief which is both true and justified (“in this ‘hood black guys wearing three pounds of bling are always dealers, and I know this because I’ve been on this beat for years and seen it”) the accusation of racism, and/or prejudice in general, is unhelpful. Actually, quite destructive.

    Is your notion of “prejudicial” different? If so, how? And why?.

    (Further note: Both “true” and “justified” are important. A cop who decides without good evidence that all black guys wearing bling-bling are dealers and therefore to be busted is behaving with prejudice, even if that correlation is perfect.)

  37. Miles,

    so in what sense is fast-food obesity different from alcoholism? It’s the result of abuse of something that’s cheap, addictive, feels good, and is bad for you. If we consider alcoholism a character fault, why shouldn’t we consider obesity a character fault too?

  38. Ken, I think I must be carving up these categories in a different way than you do. Your use of “prejudicial” here makes little sense to me.

    Eric, prejudicial means that the subject is viewed as though they’ve already committed a crime, even if there is no direct, obvious evidence of them having done so.

    When a guy with 3 lbs of bling drives a new Lexus into the ‘hood, there is a non-zero chance that he’s part of the entourage of a celebrity.

    Wearing 3 lbs of bling is not a crime in and of itself. Pulling him over for wearing it is treating it as a crime.

    That is prejudicial. And yes, it can be justified, that you’re making a high odds gamble that a person who fits such a profile is likely a gangster in training. But it’s not how many you get off the street that matters to the guys in the ‘hood. It’s how many times you gambled and got it wrong – or maybe got it right and had that person’s buddies say he was taken in for no reason.

    The pervasive problem is that a society of laws only works when its participants buy into it. Right now, the presumption is that if you’re black and a cop notices you, it’s because they’ve decided you’re guilty, no matter what you’ve done. If you get to a courtroom, the assumption is that any judge is going to judge you by the color of your skin, and the cop’s testimony is going to matter more than yours, regardless of the merits of the case.

    Only chance you’ve got is to say it’s racism.

    For what it’s worth, the first OJ Simpson trial verdict was cheered in the ‘hood when I lived there.

    Why? Because sure, OJ ‘did it’. But lots of white people ‘did it’ and got away with it. The fact that OJ could do it and get away with it meant that the system worked the same way regardless of race…and was thus, a sign of hope.

  39. >Wearing 3 lbs of bling is not a crime in and of itself.

    Correct, and in this hypothetical it’s not being treated as a crime. It’s being treated as what the courts call “probable cause”. Having an opened beverage can in your hand while driving is not a crime. In many states it is, however, grounds for a cop to pull you over and require that you blow into a breathalyzer.

    >Pulling him over for wearing it is treating it as a crime.

    Eh? Supposing the cop’s belief is true and justified, this claim makes neither legal nor moral sense. Stopping the playa’ on sound probable cause is not an arbitrary exercise in police power, it’s what cops are supposed to do. It’s their job (see “maintaining public order”). (Interpret this bearing in mind that I still think the drug laws are insane, so I think there are other reasons this hypothetical should never happen.)

    Now, if you want to take the position that cops shouldn’t be allowed to pull anyone over on probable cause, you can prevent your “crime” from ever happening. That would be a pretty drastic remedy, however. Under common law, police have two jobs: responding to crimes in progress, and maintaining public order. You’d be abolishing a power that is functionally important for both.

    If you think you’re arguing that driving while black should not in itself be considered probable cause, then of course I agree with you. But I’ve designed this hypothetical for a much narrower situation, one in which the skin color of the driver is part of a logical conjunction in which all terms must be true for the consequence to fire.

    If you’re arguing that no black person should ever be stopped on probable cause regardless of other factors (like an opened beverage can in hand), but white persons can be…I don’t think I even need to finish describing the problems with that.

    Finally, you keep bringing in the opinion of the guys in the ‘hood as though it matters. It doesn’t. The rule of law means that we’re not supposed to accept tribal special pleading, no matter who it comes from or how disadvantaged they think they are. I’m quite surprised that you’d argue this way, it seems weirdly mushy and bleeding-heart coming from you.

  40. ESR:
    “Actually, to the extent heritable IQ predisposes me to truth-seeking and sound judgment, my genes may do exactly that. I see no actual reason to disbelieve your theory.”

    How can you ever know that your genes predisposes you to truth-seeking and sound judgment?

    If a gene makes a guy jack a car, a gene can much more easily make a guy think that a gene makes a guy jack a car.

    A criminal act, such as car jacking, is a very complex, coordinated physical undertaking. The crook needs to buy and load a gun, lie in wait for his victim, say “stick ‘em up”, take possession of the vehicle and drive away. In contrast, you and ol’ Chuckles Murray just have an idea popping into to your heads, to the effect, “that the genes in these blacks make them commit car jacking”. Did yours and his genes make you both think that? It is the theory espoused by you that genes are the all-powerful controllers of human behavior, but I do not think that you believe that your genes control your behavior (verbal behavior) with the efficacy in which they are said by you to control the behavior of blacks.

    If my genes are sufficient powerful to make me believe that genes do not make blacks jack cars and your genes are sufficiently powerful to make you believe that genes make blacks jack cars, who is correct?

    There is no guaranty that what your genes make you believe is more tied into reality than what my genes make me believe. There is no independent criteria of correctness available for this genetic silliness.

    It seems to me that only a being who utterly lacked genes could begin to distinguish what is objective from what is not.

  41. Eric, my position is far from being bleeding heart-liberal on this. I am vastly more ruthless on this issue than any liberal you’ve ever met, because I’ve lived in those ‘hoods. I see exactly how the liberal policies don’t work. But I also see why the ‘hood feels they’ve been lied to, repeatedly, by every political entity out there. At least the Democrats pay them danegeld for not rioting (much).

    My question is this: Is the law being applied equally to citizens regardless of their skin color or apparent SES level?

    You see, you seem to have missed the important part of the gedankenexperiment.

    What is the guy with the three bounds of bling doing before the cop approaches him?

    Are they doing something that endangers the peace, or presents a hazard to others? This can be a tail light out. This can be running a red light. This can be being parked illegally.

    You never specified what action the putative ‘banger with the three lbs of bling was doing when the cop pulled him over.

    If he was just parked at a street corner? Prejudicial.

    If he’s parked at a street corner with one of the usual suspects? Then you have probable cause.

    Does he have a known criminal record? Then he’s worth observing.

    As to whether or not the attitude in the ‘hood matters…oh fuck yes it matters, if we want to have a functional society.

    Legalisms are structures between people. They’re like banking institutions – they rely on buy in and faith that they will be discharged equally. When they aren’t bought into, you get accusations like the ones we have now.

    Wishing the race relations issue away isn’t going to happen. Convincing the ‘hood gangsters and the people who are trapped there that there is a way out is probably THE most pressing sociological issue we face today as a country. This is an issue that if it goes tits up, goes tits up in horrific ways. Concentration camp levels of bad. And the ‘hood is halfway convinced it’s going to happen that way anyway.

    You talk about how you blew up the software industry by changing its mindset. So, how about a second act?

    So – here’s a challenge for you.

    How do you convince an underclass of people who are convinced that they’ve been dissed, fed welfare to the point where we’re now into our fourth generation of children raised without a father in the house, and who don’t read – and consider doing so to be selling out – how do you convince them that the laws of this country, and its promise that working hard at something you love is a way to better yourself – isn’t just a bunch of bullshit fed to them by the dumptruck load?

    And no arguing that they can’t take the message because of their lower IQ. Yes, they hit one SD below the average. That just means you have to work harder on the user interface for your proposal; the Western tradition says a failure to comprehend is a failure on the part of the teacher.

  42. kheper wrote:

    A criminal act, such as car jacking, is a very complex, coordinated physical undertaking. The crook needs to buy and load a gun, lie in wait for his victim, say “stick ‘em up”, take possession of the vehicle and drive away.

    They tend to be a crimes of opportunity.

    A survey of thugs in Riker’s Island, in for petty theft to car theft, showed that 80% of them hadn’t even planned which way to run after a purse snatching, or where they were going to take the car they just ‘jacked.

    History is largely the constant regaling of events triggered because someone thought “Sure, what the fuck. Seems like a good idea.” at the right (or wrong) place in time.

  43. History is largely the constant regaling of events triggered because someone thought “Sure, what the fuck. Seems like a good idea.” at the right (or wrong) place in time.

    Agreed. I still doubt that there are genes, exerting the kind of efficient control over the thinking and behavior of humans as is being pitched by ESR and Chuckles Murray.

  44. Agreed. I still doubt that there are genes, exerting the kind of efficient control over the thinking and behavior of humans as is being pitched by ESR and Chuckles Murray.

    On an individual basis, genetics is not pre-destination.

    However, one of the places where ‘smart’ shows up is the ability to plan ahead rather than react.

    And there is a range of ‘smart’ in humans.

    There are statistical controls that show that ‘smart’ is somewhere between 60 and 80% heritable. That’s what Charles Murray’s book goes through in laborious detail. That heritability is NOT distributed evenly among all populations.

    Whites average around IQ 105. Blacks around IQ 92. Asians around 110, Ashkenazi Jews around 118.

    Whites, more than any other group, particularly in males, tend to show the widest variance. You are likelier to find a white male with an IQ of 170 or an IQ of 45 than you are in an Asian or Black population.

    The question becomes – what do we do to ensure that society doesn’t treat people with an IQ of under 110 as a permanent underclass? Welfare sure as fuck isn’t working. Outsourcing the jobs they used to do to cheaper labor overseas isn’t working…and one can argue that the cheaper consumer goods should factor in the costs of displaced workers as part of their economic impact.

  45. >On an individual basis, genetics is not pre-destination.

    That’s right, kheper. You’re arguing as though the choice is either “genes control behavior” (we’re just DNA meat puppets) or genes control nothing. That’s a false dichotomy, and suggests you have grossly misunderstood Murray. What genes do control is not behavior but capability and predisposition. So, for example, there is no gene for “carjacking” but there are almost certainly genetic predispositions to (a) high time preference, (b) poor impulse control, and (c) tendency to aggressive behavior.

    Mix any two or three of those together, especially with a low IQ, and you get someone who is likely to commit crimes unless he or she either is very thoroughly socialized, and/or operating in a highly structured environment like the military. The specific crimes aren’t programmed, but the tendency to criminal deviance is there.

    >Whites, more than any other group, particularly in males, tend to show the widest variance.

    Which is why whites have more geniuses (even though East Asians average brighter) and more serial killers (even though blacks average higher on measures related to criminal deviance in general). In both cases we’re looking at the effect of the differing shapes of the right-hand tail in Gaussian distributions with different dispersions. Good article on this here.

  46. esr, one of the two of us needs to correct our understanding of “low” and “high” time-preference. To me, “high time preference” means “high preference for quick gratification”. Your usage seems to be the reverse. I’m pretty sure I’m the one in line with conventional usage, but please check my sanity.

    ESR says: You’re right, I got that reversed. Corrected.

  47. esr:
    “That’s a false dichotomy, and suggests you have grossly misunderstood Murray. What genes do control is not behavior but capability and predisposition. So, for example, there is no gene for “carjacking””

    I don’t think you or Murray grasp the philosophical implications of what you saying. And, I’ll dig up the cite. I purposely wrote about “carjacking” because Murray said he believed that there was a “carjacking gene”.

    You tell me if “predisposition” is a coherent concept or that it was invented to finesse an argument.

    “Predisposition” is a seeming causation, sufficiently watered-down and stretched, so that it can be used it to explain away instances that would refute the theory.

    “Predisposition” appears as strong as causation when anti-social behaviors need to be tied to the genes of blacks, but appears as weak as anti-causation when your own verbal behavior must be untied from your own genes.

    More to the point, shoving a concept as plastic as “predisposition” is down into the guts of a scientific theory can only make the theory sick, ie. make it logically weak; Logically weak theories can’t adequately the phenomena over which they’ve been put into service to explain.

    When you speak of blacks, it is as though they are under the strict, totalitarian control of their genes, yet whites are spoken of as though they are mysteriously exempt from control by their own.

    It is rather fishy that nature rigged itself up to give whites an instrumentality over their behavior which blacks can’t have and that whites or anyone else could have a objective, super-genetic understanding of the world, given the potency you attribute to human genes.

    I think you are postulating a full-blown, physical theory of human thought and behavior, based on genes, using it to explain how the universe through its bio-chemical laws makes ALL humans think and behave. But, for your theory to be consistent, the universe through these same bio-chemical laws must govern how you think and behave as well. That is the self-referential inconsistency.

  48. >Murray said he believed that there was a “carjacking gene”.

    I think Charles Murray is way too smart to utter such any such idiocy. Cite, please.

    >Predisposition” is a seeming causation, sufficiently watered-down and stretched, so that it can be used it to explain away instances that would refute the theory.

    No. It actually has a meaning, but a statistical one. To clarify, If you identify a group of people with a “predisposition” to disease or behavior X, you are saying that the incidence of the disease or behavior will be higher than in the general population by a statistically significant margin. Note that this does not predict the behavior of any individual in the group, just total outcomes over the mass.

    Alcoholism is a type case. The predisposition is pretty highly heritable. I have strong reason to suspect I myself carry it. But some close relatives of mine have alcohol problems, some do not.

    We’re closing in pretty fast on identifying genes for important behavioral predispositions. I was interested to note recently that the locus for thrillseeking has been identified; it controls a neurotrasnsmitter involved in the brain’s reward system for successful behaviors.

    >“Predisposition” appears as strong as causation when anti-social behaviors need to be tied to the genes of blacks, but appears as weak as anti-causation when your own verbal behavior must be untied from your own genes.

    This is nonsense. It doesn’t describe either Murray’s views or mine.

    >It is rather fishy that nature rigged itself up to give whites an instrumentality over their behavior which blacks can’t have [..] you are postulating a full-blown, physical theory of human thought and behavior, based on genes

    Again, this is nonsense. And a straw man. I hold no such theory, and you seem unhinged for suggesting that I do.

  49. “I think Charles Murray is way too smart to utter such any such idiocy. Cite, please.”

    I am working on it. When the Bell Curve came out, he gave an interview with the Laissez Faire Books. I think that is where it is.

    ” To clarify, If you identify a group of people with a “predisposition” to disease or behavior X, you are saying that the incidence of the disease or behavior will be higher than in the general population by a statistically significant margin. Note that this neither predicts the behavior of individuals in the group.”

    Blacks are genetically “predisposed” to commit crimes, but whites cannot be genetically “predisposed” to say that blacks are genetically “predisposed” to commit crimes.

    What if the percentage of the black population, committing criminal mayhem, is a mere fraction of those in the white population, insisting that the genes in blacks “predispose” them to commit criminal mayhem?

    Under your own rules, this should point to a genetic explanation for the verbal behavior of these whites. It should tie the genes found in the white population to its verbal behavior, and it should do so more rigidly than any genetic explanation, which could tie the genes found in the black population to any criminal mayhem.

    If genes can make a population “predisposed” to commit crimes, then genes can much more easily make a population “predisposed” to say that genes make a population “predisposed” to commit crimes.

    You have a functional set of genes in your body. How do your genes work less efficiently on you when you are speaking, than when a black engages a bit of car jacking?

  50. >My question is this: Is the law being applied equally to citizens regardless of their skin color or apparent SES level?

    Oh, certainly not. Blacks experience a weird mixture of negative and positive discrimination – hassled by police on one hand, jumped into university places they haven’t earned on the other. The likelihood that most of the former is now based on perceived SES rather than race is important, but I understand that to low-SES blacks this is an invisible distinction.

    But all that seems irrelevant to this hypothetical; a cop stop on well-founded probable cause is applying the law.

    >You never specified what action the putative ‘banger with the three lbs of bling was doing when the cop pulled him over.

    OK, let’s go down that route. I agree almost completely with your assessment of those three cases (parked, with a suspect, criminal record). For the sake of the underlying question we can ignore my marginal and picky disagreement. What does this gain us?

    >As to whether or not the attitude in the ‘hood matters…oh fuck yes it matters, if we want to have a functional society.

    Not surrendering to tribal special pleading matters just as much, if not more. You started by asking if the law is being applied equally; that was the right question. Are you now arguing that the law should be applied unequally so black people won’t have their feelings hurt? If so, I have another question for you: who are you, where is Ken Burnside, and what have you done with him?

    >How do you convince an underclass of people who are convinced that they’ve been dissed, fed welfare to the point where we’re now into our fourth generation of children raised without a father in the house, and who don’t read – and consider doing so to be selling out – how do you convince them that the laws of this country, and its promise that working hard at something you love is a way to better yourself – isn’t just a bunch of bullshit fed to them by the dumptruck load?

    You’re not going to like my answer. I’m far from sure it can be done at all.

    What we’ve been doing instead for the last 50 years is selecting the best and brightest out of the ghetto underclass and mainstreaming them through mechanisms like scholarships, job preferences, and Federal set-asides. While some of the implementations were wrong in practice and principle, this strategy was in general the right thing to do for the individuals involved and for the larger society.

    Unfortunately, the effect on ghetto culture has been dire. Their best and brightest have been leaving. For three generations. While this (probably) isn’t enough time for dysgenic effects, it’s sure as hell enough time for dyscultural ones to show. Even as material poverty has become close to a non-issue, the moral poverty has grown worse (or, to put it in less judgmental-sounding terms, the stock of social capital and trust within the ghettos has decreased).

    The problem is that we have two goals that don’t at first sight look opposed but turn out to be in fact. (1) Invite individual blacks to a position of equality and integration with the larger society, and (2) Reverse the deterioration of ghetto culture. We’ve done well at the first, badly at the second.

    >So – here’s a challenge for you.

    I don’t have an answer. I was able to do what I did after 1997 because the hacker culture had an answer without being able to articulate it; all I had to do was notice what was around me and narratize it. I don’t see an answer I can narratize here.

    >And no arguing that they can’t take the message because of their lower IQ

    I think I’m a bit insulted that you found this plausible. I wouldn’t dream of it.

  51. > Unfortunately, the effect on ghetto culture has been dire. Their best and brightest have been leaving.

    This phenomenon is not unique to blacks, and it’s deadly even when not combined with genetic disadvantages. The reason Cuba hasn’t revolted yet is that everyone smart enough to make a shoebox stay afloat for 90 miles is in Miami.

  52. >Blacks are genetically “predisposed” to commit crimes, but whites cannot be genetically “predisposed” to say that blacks are genetically “predisposed” to commit crimes.

    OK. First, the antecedent is wrong in an important way. I did not say, nor do I believe, that “Blacks are genetically predisposed to commit crimes”. Crime is not like alcoholism, the link between biochemistry and behavior is far less direct. I am pretty sure Charles Murray doesn’t believe this either.

    There are some personality traits and ability deficits which, in the absence of strong socialization or externally imposed discipline, tend to produce antisocial and criminal deviance. In this discussion I have identified the following: (1) hgh time preference, (2) poor impulse control, (3) a tendency towards aggressive violence, and (4) low IQ. I have noted that the combination of more than one or several of these is strongly predictive of criminal behavior, though only statistically so.

    I have stated that the black population has an average IQ about an SD below the white average. (Ken Burnside corroborated this.) I have made no statements about either absolute or relative levels of the other three traits in blacks. I have stated that low IQ is a predictor of criminal deviance.

    I have at no point stated that black people are predisposed to commit criminal acts. For me to say that, I would have to believe that even within subpopulations selected for equal IQ level, blacks would be criminally deviant at higher rates than whites. It is possible that this is true, but I don’t know that it is true and have certainly not asserted that it is true.

    Your theory about predispositions to verbal behavior and ideology is bizarre, but until we straighten out your broken notion of genetic predisposition there is no point in trying to address it.

  53. >And no arguing that they can’t take the message because of their lower IQ

    I think I’m a bit insulted that you found this plausible. I wouldn’t dream of it.

    No insult intended, but there IS a tendency among the very bright to blame the pupil. I am perhaps more sensitive to this than most based on what I do for a living, and I see a LOT of it in hacker culture, where “RTFM dammit” is still considered funny in a number of circles.

    (For those who don’t know, I design and sell 3-D space combat games. And I sell them because I can get people who are a lot less bright than I am to play them and have fun.

    I jokingly quip that as a Future Plutocrat of America, I feel that what’s good for Ad Astra Games is good for America. What’s good for Ad Astra Games is having every middle schooler in the country able to play and enjoy Attack Vector: Tactical.)

    You’re not going to like my answer. I’m far from sure it can be done at all.

    Oh, I’m convinced the problem will be solved. I am desperately hoping we find a solution short of horrific atrocity. I have seen one to date, and it’s only an atrocity, rather than an horrific one:

    Out where I live, there are towns surrounded with good farmland that are dying; The same ‘cull the bright ones’ effect happens in the Midwest. (“Once they seen the big city, ain’t nothing you gonna do gonna keep ‘em down on the farm.”)

    Government buys seriously depressed farmland. Welfare families get a 12 week course in “basic Agriculture 101″, a bunch of 1910 vintage farm implements, some mules, and a promise that the government will buy anything at a nickel a bushel under the local market price every two weeks of harvest season. I’d even throw in a 1912 Britannica.

    Will this appreciably aid the US GDP? No. Not at all. It will spread them out and give them something to do.

    Variants on this are setting up manufacturing jobs, etc.

    And it doesn’t take more than 30 seconds to see how this would be shouted down in the current media environment.

    Tying AFDC payments to mothers completing high school diplomas, and doubling them for having two parents in the household is a start.

    Dismantling the department of education is another one.

    Not surrendering to tribal special pleading matters just as much, if not more. You started by asking if the law is being applied equally; that was the right question. Are you now arguing that the law should be applied unequally so black people won’t have their feelings hurt? If so, I have another question for you: who are you, where is Ken Burnside, and what have you done with him?

    The laws being applied equally with regards to race is an ideal that needs to be kept. And yes, that means that the cops need well documented probable cause before stopping a guy with a ‘rod and lots of bling. It doesn’t mean they don’t get to stop for probable cause. It means they better be able to document probable cause; it also helps if the probable cause is something that’s clearly known by the community being policed.

    Again, I cite Guiliani’s “Broken Windows” policy for cleaning up New York City. He made it very very clear what was and was not going to bring the cops in to clean up messes; once people saw that he meant it, a lot of bad neighborhoods cleaned up inside of two years.

    But right now, probable cause is seen by the ‘hoods as “Some white pig’s justification for gettin’ a brother in trouble.” in a majority of districts, and that needs to be changed before anything else can happen.

    Get that problem solved and some of the rest will depressurize.

    I’d also boost AFDC payments for the mother completing a high school degree. I’d give more in AFDC payments for having a father-figure in the house; 95% of all gang members come from single-parent homes.

    The problem is that this solution writes off any male member of the black community between the ages of 12 and about 30. And that problem is political and doesn’t really reduce well to logical induction.

  54. esr:
    “There are some personality traits and ability deficits which, in the absence of strong socialization or externally imposed discipline, tend to produce antisocial and criminal deviance.”

    “I have at no point stated that black people are predisposed to commit criminal acts. For me to say that, I would have to believe that even within subpopulations selected for equal IQ level…”

    Are black people more predisposed to commit crimes than white people?

    This is not only about IQ. There are genes tied to aggression. Does the black population contain a higher percentage of criminals than the white population and is this tied to genetics?

    The people in the black population as a whole are more genetically predisposed than the people in the white population as a whole to become criminally deviant. Are you ok with that? (This could be said identically of a disease. to become diagnosed with cancer, for example)

    I still think that you are rigging up this argument to force the conclusion that the people in the white population are not predisposed or much less so by their genes to think or behave in any way, even though whites have genes.

  55. >Are black people more predisposed to commit crimes than white people?

    Um, not after you factor out IQ. That was sort of the point of The Bell Curve.

    >This is not only about IQ. There are genes tied to aggression. Does the black population contain a higher percentage of criminals than the white population and is this tied to genetics?

    Higher percentage, after factoring out IQ? Any difference in measures of social or criminal deviance due to “aggression genes” or other factors is probably lost in statistical noise, since (again, this was Murray’s point) we don’t see any significant residuals after factoring out IQ.

    >I still think that you are rigging up this argument to force the conclusion that the people in the white population are not predisposed or much less so by their genes to think or behave in any way, even though whites have genes.

    I still can’t figure out why you think that. But I can give you a concrete counterexample by exhibiting just one (1) instance of a trait where I think the difference in group medians ought to make a behavior difference visible in whites. I can think of at least two, offhand.

    One of the effects of higher IQ is that you can maintain more mental state and manage more information. So here’s a prediction: on average, non-Jewish whites will be better than blacks, but not as good as Jews and East Asians, at building and maintaining reciprocal trust networks. I’d say that fits the anthropological evidence pretty well.

    Here’s another one: the wider dispersion of many traits off the mean as you move from black to white populations suggests they’re being generated by a more chaotic process in whites. From this I predict not only a higher percentage of both geniuses and mental defectives in white populations, but (correcting for nutrition, sanitary conditions, etc.) also a higher incidence of insanity, infant mortality, birth defects, and far off-the mean physical abilities. In general a random pair of whites will be less alike than a random pair of blacks. This will not be true, or as true, of East Asians; on IQ and other traits they show a dispersion that is relatively narrow (like blacks, unlike whites).

    (Note: the easy explanation to grab for on that dispersion thing is that whites have more genetic variability than blacks or east Asians. Unfortunately, something else must be going on, because this isn’t true; the population of Black Africans actually has more total genetic variability than the entire rest of humanity combined. This actually turns out to be evidence for the African-genesis theory of human origin.)

  56. > A survey of thugs in Riker’s Island, in for petty theft to car theft, showed that 80% of them hadn’t
    > even planned which way to run after a purse snatching, or where they were going to take the car
    > they just ‘jacked.

    I would argue that a survey of thugs in Riker’s is not a random sample of thugs; even of thugs committing that type of crime. Presumably smarter thugs are those committing unsolved crimes, or those with more complex schemes than simple smash and grabs. Con men (con people?), fences, loan sharks, or, as Mark Twain observed, congress critters.

  57. >>Are black people more predisposed to commit crimes than white people?

    >Um, not after you factor out IQ. That was sort of the point of The Bell Curve.

    This is a bit more complicated than that, and part of a larger picture: the lily-white chavs in England, the Gypsies in Eastern Europe, the Koreans in Japan etc. it’s more or less the same problem.

    The traditional Leftist view is to blame crime on povert and blame poverty on “society”, and the traditional Rightist view is to blame both poverty and crime on character faults. And funny thing is that in some sense, BOTH are right.

    The important thing to understand is that human conduct is largely driven by habits. Most people do most things not because they have decided so in full, serious consciousness, but neither were forced to do so by their environment. Rather, they just semi-consciously follow their habits.

    Habits come from either doing something often (such as if f.e. our parents forced us to keep our room in order, it becomes a habit we follow throughout our lives), or observing others doing something often or leading a lifestyle, such as observing our parents working hard – or not. So on one hand a habit is something you DO, therefore there is personal responsiblity, on the other hand, it’s true too that most of our habits, either good or bad, were installed from external sources, such as our parents, so there is indeed some determinism and some amount of helplessness when in comes to habits. And needless to say, both poverty and crime come from bad habits.

    So on one hand the Right is right, poverty and crime both comes from doing bad stuff. On the other hand the Left is (somewhat) right too: how the heck is someone who is born in a family of hopeless welfare bums or even petty criminals supposed to learn good habits? And there can even be such a case when actually the parents try to behave well but they just can’t get any work because of discrimination. In this case they can’t really be blamed for this – and yet, the kid will likely learn bad habits. Again, there is personal responsibility too, at the end of the day, a habit just pulls us into towards doing or not doing something but we can always decide not to follow, we can break out for it – but I have to admit that it’s hard. I mean I smoke… and it’s of course related to the fact that both of my parents smoke. To me smoking is something, people just do, a natural thing. It came from my environment. On the other hand, only I and no one else can decide to stop it cold turkey. So there is a room for both deterministic, Leftist explanations and personal responsibility-based Rightist explanations if you go for the habit-explanation of conduct.

    Therefore, here you have a chicken and egg problem. On one hand as long as you are discriminated against you don’t very often have the opportunity to develop good habits – to work, to save, to plan for your future, to take care of your health, to force your children to learn good habits, and so on. On the other hand, as long as you do not have good habits, discrimination is perfectly justified: having bad habits means you actually DO bad things, so why would you expect others not to discriminate? BTW no habit usually means bad habit, as good habits are harder to learn than good ones – bad ones are “natural”.

    It’s hard to tell from which direction is it easier to crack the problem. (My guess would be a very disciplined education system could do it, including (light) corporal punishment.)

    I have a hunch, though: someone should ask the American Irish how did they break out from this vicious cycle: they had bad habits (alcoholism, brawling etc.), they were very strongly discriminated against, and yet they somehow managed to pull themselves together, learned good habits and then of course discrimination ended too. They should be asked about it – I think they might have a working recipe.

  58. ESR,

    why do you want to explain everything in genetic, biochemical, hormonal etc. in short, “hardware” terms, from crime to IQ to sexual hotness? Why do you tend to ignore human “software”? I agree in many things with you, disagree in a few things, but there is only one thing I found frequently annoying about your writings – that look at humans in crudely mechanistical terms, that love or affection for you is “thalamic release” or whatever other lame, mechanistic biorobot-metaphor you used above. It amounts to calling a printed Eliot poem a sheet of paper covered partially with ink: of course on the crudest level it undeniably _is_ that, but yet it completely misses the point. You’re a hacker, the last thing I’d expect a hacker to do is that when an interesting message box pops up on the screen, is to shout “It must be a malfunctioning circuit!” and then merrily grab a screwdriver and take the hardware apart. I wonder why a hacker isn’t more interested in looking at the software source code rather than the hardware (in the human case, the software is culture, habits, beliefs, ideas, knowledge, experience, convictions, superstitions and so on, and so on)…

    Anyway, to the point: genetic IQ does nothing to explain why f.e. Koreans in Japan are in a similar situation than Blacks in America, thus the similarities of these two situations imply that “software” must be take into consideration too – f.e. how habits are formed etc. etc.

  59. Shenpen:
    > If we consider alcoholism a character fault, why shouldn’t we consider obesity a character fault too?

    Do you consider alcoholism a character fault? I don’t. Some of the strongest characters I know are reformed alcoholics. I consider alcoholism to be a lurking trap into which any drinker, if caught by the wrong set of circumstances, can fall. Some are more disposed to it than others, of course. Similarly, obesity can be a very easy trap to fall into, particularly if you’re poor, ill-educated, and surrounded by cheap fast food joints. And once you’re in the trap, it’s hard to get out: it takes education, and self-discipline, and patience. Money helps, too.

  60. “>Are black people more predisposed to commit crimes than white people?

    >>Um, not after you factor out IQ. That was sort of the point of The Bell Curve.”

    Why would one wish to factor out the G factor when talking about what capacities one group has relative to another. That is lawyer talk.

    >I still think that you are rigging up this argument to force the conclusion [].

    >>I still can’t figure out why you think that [] So here’s a prediction: on average, non-Jewish whites will be better than blacks, but not as good as Jews and East Asians, at building and maintaining reciprocal trust networks”

    Whites being programmed as a population to have slightly less capability in reciprocal trust networking skills is not in the same category as blacks being programmed as a population to commit armed robbery, murder etc. I know that you will quibble with “being programmed” and “commit”. Many who have taken this “genetic angle” use such terms, no doubt for the purposes of popularization.

    Note well, I am not accusing you of racism. I am accusing you of something far worse: Greedily reducing human actions (of at least some human populations) to genes and not acknowledging that there are weird philosophical implications for doing so.

  61. >love or affection for you is “thalamic release” or whatever other lame, mechanistic biorobot-metaphor you used

    The point of talking about “thalamic release” is that it isn’t “love or affection”, and I know the difference, and I don’t fool myself that one is the other. If I had said that I feel “love or affection” for all women with a certain range of skin tones, that would have been incorrect (and if it were correct it would be pretty creepy).

    We are not solely our hardware. I think and talk the way I do because I understand that we are not solely our software, either. You find this mechanistic because, like most people, you’ve been marinated in accounts of human behavior that are excessively environmentarian and driven by the ghost-in-the-machine fallacy. As a corrective, I recommend you start by reading The Blank Slate and continue with The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture.

    (Yes, kheper, you should read these books too.)

  62. >Why would one wish to factor out the G factor when talking about what capacities one group has relative to another.

    So one can dispose of the nasty idea that superficial traits like skin color or nose shape or hair texture are important. Cripes, do I have to spoon-feed you everything? This isn’t bleeding obvious?

  63. Shenpen:
    >The important thing to understand is that human conduct is largely driven by habits.

    >why do you want to explain everything in genetic, biochemical, hormonal etc.

    >that love or affection for you is “thalamic release” or whatever other lame, mechanistic biorobot-metaphor you used above.

    That too is my gripe with ESR. But more along the lines, that he does not nor cannot conceive of himself as the mere bio-robot.

    Acts of violence are not spontaneous and impulsive. They are largely premeditated and usually justified far in advance of their commission. In the 5th grade, I clocked a very annoying kid in the mouth, was called to the office and the principal diagnosed this incident as resulting from my “poor impulse control”. For about 2 weeks, I planned on clocking this kid, should he annoy me again. This act was the precise opposite of “poor impulse control”; It was a well designed strategy of revenge. The principal denied my human agency.

    There had been a string of grisly urban robbery/murders, near where I live. The media and other “observers” blamed Hollywood (the modeling effect), defective genes, poverty, etc. When these culprits were apprehended then put on trial, it came out in court testimony that their crimes were exhaustively pre-arranged and even play-acted: who would hold the gun, how the gun was to be held, who would demand the money, etc. These crimes were not genes of African origin spastically expressing themselves. These were acts which fully conscious adults calculated and executed.

    I wondered how the media and the “observers” would react, if all of their conduct were described as being programmed by forces, outside of their control.

    When ESR postulates that there are these things called “genes” and these things make or “predispose” people to do things, he is literally propounding a physical theory about how the universe programs people through bio-chemical laws. He called me “unhinged” for pointing this out. Did the universal, bio-chemical laws program ESR to both postulate his theory then call me “unhinged” for critiquing it?

  64. >Cripes, do I have to spoon-feed you everything? This isn’t bleeding obvious?

    No, because you say that the genes, associated with IQ, are the all powerful wiring devices of human behavior. I don’t get from the Bell Curve or other writers that only genes, associated with IQ, are these drivers. (My question was very badly asked.)

    Many whom I call “genetic determinists” focus more on clusters of genes, not apparently associated with IQ, and they attribute these clusters to rotten behaviors, like crime.

    You seem to discount genes other than those associated with IQ.

    Is low IQ really the driver to behaviors which you do not like or are other genes which are said to produce aggression, risk-taking, and even specific sorts of behaviors responsible?

  65. Eric, in the above discussion, s/probable cause/reasonable suspicion/g. Merely fitting a profile is not enough for probable cause, but it can be enough for reasonable suspicion, which is what the cops need in order to stop someone, satisfy themselves that he’s not armed, and then have a brief chat while giving him a good looking over. Reasonable suspicion is not enough to justify an intrusive search beyond what’s necessary for their safety, or an arrest – for that you need a warrant, for which you need probable cause. The purpose of the reasonable suspicion stop is to discover evidence that may add up to probable cause.

    ESR says: Correction accepted, thanks.

  66. >No, because you say that the genes, associated with IQ, are the all powerful wiring devices of human behavior.

    Nothing I have written supports this ridiculous thesis, Your desire to attribute it to me is your problem, not mine, and is why I think you are unhinged.

    >You seem to discount genes other than those associated with IQ.

    That’s not true either. What I have said is essentially what Charles Murray argued in The Bell Curve, which is that for a wide range of social-policy decisions, IQ is so important that residuals from other psychometrics that might be genetically loaded are not significant. This is very different from the claim you state, which would require me to suppose that no genes other than those affecting IQ are important anywhere. I have already given at least three counterexamples to this silly claim.

  67. “Me >Are black people more predisposed to commit crimes than white people?

    You >>Um, not after you factor out IQ. That was sort of the point of The Bell Curve.”

    Me >you say that the genes, associated with IQ, are the all powerful wiring devices of human behavior.”

    It sounds to me that you attributing many behaviors (or predictors for these behaviors) to genes associated solely with IQ, and are using the Bell Curve to do so.

    I would like to know what is more criminogenic: a low IQ or other genes not apparently associated with IQ.

  68. >I would like to know what is more criminogenic: a low IQ or other genes not apparently associated with IQ.

    I think the evidence points at IQ, but I recognize that is subject to various disputes.

  69. esr:
    > To clarify, If you identify a group of people with a “predisposition” to disease or behavior X, you are saying that the incidence of the disease or behavior will be higher than in the general population by a statistically significant margin. Note that this neither predicts the behavior of individuals in the group.

    Is there no predisposition on the individual level? That is where genes express themselves and behavior occurs.

    1. If your body contains a cluster of genes, said to be tied in with car jacking, but you never engaged in it, would your never engaging in it count as evidence for, against or not against your theory that this cluster of genes predisposes a person to car jacking?

    2. If I have a cluster of genes said to be tied in with car jacking, but I was arrested repeatedly for it, would my long rap sheet count as evidence for, against or not against your theory that this cluster of genes predisposes a person to car jacking?

    My guess is that you would count 1 as not against your theory and 2 as for your theory. That is how elastic the term predisposition is. How can your theory be falsified? Only if no person with the cluster of genes engaged in an the act?

    And don’t give me any of those stale cancer or other disease related analogies, proclaiming that many who have the presence of such genes are never are diagnosed. What we are talking about seems to be deliberate, coordinated and in many cases rule-bound-decided actions, not tumors spontaneously forming.

    If there is something other than genes being brought to expression by environmental cues which determines human behavior, then why not say that it determines human actions? It would make both genes and environmental cues redundant or not all that important. (I have actually heard Charles Murray invoke free will!)

    The ghost in the machine slam is just a sophisticated ad-hominem. if there is a ghost haunting anyone’s machine, it is in the machine of those who insist that genes have a powerful efficacy on the behaviors of others but none (your counter-examples not withstanding) on themselves. (Your theory is broad enough to cover all humans, but narrow enough for you to slip through an exit port.)

    If the genes in the blacks of the black population predispose them more then whites to engage in a rotten behaviors, then maybe whites have to accept the jarring conclusion that the genes in them predispose them more than blacks to think that the genes in the blacks of the black population predispose blacks more than whites to engage in the rotten behaviors (and many other ideas to boot).

  70. >If the genes in the blacks of the black population predispose them more then whites to engage in a rotten behaviors, then maybe whites have to accept the jarring conclusion that the genes in them predispose them more than blacks to think that the genes in the blacks of the black population predispose blacks more than whites to engage in the rotten behaviors (and many other ideas to boot).

    OK, I’ve been patient with you, but I’ve had enough. You’re just loony or trolling, or so willfully ignorant that you’re not distinguishable from a loon or a troll. Go learn how genetics and gene expression actually work, and stop projecting nutty theories that I do not hold all over me. Actually read “The Bell Curve”, “The Blank Slate”, and any good text on gene expression and morphogenesis. When you have read all three, and if you can look back at your questions 1 and 2 and admit they were embarrassingly silly, I will re-engage you on this topic. Right now there is no more point in it than trying to discuss geography with a Flat-Earther.

  71. > stop projecting nutty theories that I do not hold all over me.

    There are inferential consequences to scientific theories and what people try to say with them. I was merely drawing this out. I wanted to know how many negatives a claim for the predisposition towards enacting a supposedly genetically-linked behavior can generate before you simply admit that there is no link. A bad analogy: If no person developed cancer from a set of genes putatively linking them with cancer, then the link would be severed. Period. Why these double standards for the Bell Curve crowd? Whether you admit it or not, there are writers who link genes or clusters of genes with specific behaviors.

    How can Charles Murray graft free will onto a scientific theory? Can’t you just recognize this for what it is: a criticism deflecting strategy? Honestly, does indeterminism belong in any scientific theory?

    Free will by definition determines human behavior independently of any other factor; thus, genetic and environmental factors become otiose in explaining human behavior. He knows this and you know this. It undermines the thesis! He is introducing a gap, an interruption where what he needs is continuity with humans, their behaviors, their genes and environmental cues. If blacks or anyone else choose to commit their crimes, there is no Bell Curve! Period. A spanner is thrown into the works.

    If I have a cluster of genes associated with a behavior which is said to be genetically linked, but do not enact the behavior, Murray’s invoking of free will to explain why I did not enact the behavior is a strategy to avoid admitting that he was incredibly wrong.

    >Right now there is no more point in it than trying to discuss geography with a Flat-Earther.

    1 & 2 were hypotheticals. These questions can be asked whenever a link is posited between genes and their expected outcomes. Period.

    You ascribe too much efficacy to genes, and the vast bulk of that efficacy you ascribe to people who do not look like you. You would never accept such an ascription of this efficacy to yourself and your behaviors.

    Ok. Flat boy is takes his leave to let you stew in your ego and your personality cult.

  72. OK, I’ll read those books. The Blank Slate looks like McGinnis’s stuff.

  73. Wow. Fuck all even. A cesspool of racism festering on esr’s blog.

    Where is Russ “Blacks are Lazy” Nelson when we need him most?

  74. I’m graceless and ugly and fat too, Eric.

    Fortunately, I manage to surround people who judge me by the content of my character.

  75. esr:
    >(Note: the easy explanation to grab for on that dispersion thing is that whites have more genetic variability than blacks or east Asians. Unfortunately, something else must be going on, because this isn’t true; the population of Black Africans actually has more total genetic variability than the entire rest of humanity combined. This actually turns out to be evidence for the African-genesis theory of human origin.)

    This fact, alone, should count against your insistence that the IQ tests accurately represent the world as it is and that whites really have greater extremes in genetic intelligence than do blacks. The IQ patterns, shown between blacks and whites, probably should be reversed or at least different, if IQ tests measured everything gene-based. I suppose that you will plead, “Intelligence was not as ruthlessly selected for in placid Africa than it was in rough and tumble of Europe and Asia circa 30K years ago.”

    It is possible for a population which is highly genetically variable overall to, on one trait, show less extremes with this trait relative to not-so genetically variable populations, but what are the odds?

    Your interpretation of the chromosome evidence is sketchy, at best. Only some sub-Saharan peoples show the massive diversity of which you speak. The Khoisan have accumulated the most and most ancient mutations in their chromosomes, making them the most genetically variable human population on the planet.

    http://www.scs.uiuc.edu/~mcdonald/WorldHaplogroupsMaps.pdf

    If you look at the pie-charts in the file above, Y haplogroup A and MtDNA haplogroup L1 are the most ancient, and they are (with some exceptions) localized to South Western Africa.

    Central Western, sub-Saharan peoples (whose ancestors were the ancestors to most American blacks) share a very prominent Y haplogroup sub-clade, which is unique to, arose in and swamped this region of Africa, ExE3b. Haplogroup E and its sub-clade ExE3b are of more recent origin, than A. But, MtDNA L1 is widely dispersed throughout Western Africa. Maybe this accounts for the greater genetic diversity of these sub-Saharan peoples relative to European peoples. (On a similar note, L1 shows up at a greater frequency in the Middle East than ExE3b. This is postulated to have been as result of the sex bias in the Arab slave trade. Women slaves were made concubines; Males slaves were castrated.)

    Look at the pie-charts extending from Iceland, to Spain, to Russia and to Western Asia. Do you see the radical dissimilarity among them? How can they be said, when taken together, to represent a single, distinct biological entity, ie. The White Race? North (and some East) Africans share far more haplos in common with Eurasians, than they do with sub-Saharan Africans. Are the peoples of North (and some of East) Africa white as well? You need a White Race for the Bell Curve to work out the way you want it to.

    Compared to sub-Saharan Africa, Y haplogroup-wise, Eurasia is a polyglot. But, most of these haplos came into existence %1 of the entire population of B engages in this act, are you damn sure that there is a genetic link here?” and “Have you ever sampled or can you even sample population B for the existence of your scary, little gene?” If the vast bulk of individuals who putatively carry this hypothetical gene, never express this behavior, why can’t we (as in normal science) take this as counting against the theory that there is a genetic link between this gene and that behavior (and maybe look for an explanation elsewhere)?

  76. >You need a White Race for the Bell Curve to work out the way you want it to.

    Many wrong assumptions here. First, that I want group differences to be significant. It’s not about what I want, it’s just about how things are when you look at statistics and outcomes. It would actually be far more convenient for me if group differences in IQ were not significant, because that’s a challenge to the assumption of natural equality that underlies libertarian thinking. I, however, do not let my politics get between me and reality.

    Second, a “white race” in a unitary biological sense is only needed to account for the observed differences under a complicated set of assumptions about the relative role of genetic heritability, cultural inheritance, and accidental environmental circumstances – basically, you have to over-weight genetic heritability pretty heavily. Not a mistake I make, though I’m sure it’s one you’ve been assuming I make.

    You are still completely confused about how gene expression works and what it can influence, so there is still no point in that part of the discussion until you have done your homework better.

  77. The part that was truncated was supposed to be (minus my gene expression):

    Compared to sub-Saharan Africa, Y haplogroup-wise, Eurasia is a polyglot. But, most of these haplos came into existence You are still completely confused about how gene expression works

    I am questioning whether a behavior can be just gene expression as some say or go a long way not to say by imply. I would like to know how they can be wrong in making claims about genes and behavior, especially in a politically loaded context when crime is invoked.

  78. kheper:

    1) Do you feel that people vary in their native intelligence as individuals?
    2) Assuming that the answer to 1 is ‘yes’, do you have a plausible set of explanations to justify the cause of this?
    3) What percentage do you feel intelligence is heritable?
    4) Does intelligence have an impact on earning potential?

    For the purpose of this discussion, I propose the following definition of intelligence:

    Intelligence capacity for learning, reasoning, understanding, and similar forms of mental activity; aptitude in grasping truths, relationships, facts, meanings, etc.

  79. > 1) Do you feel that people vary in their native intelligence as individuals?

    Yes. I feel intelligence varies among populations as well, and that this capacity it heritable.

    > 2) Assuming that the answer to 1 is ‘yes’, do you have a plausible set of explanations to justify the cause of this?

    Smart people tend to have smart children; Dull people tend to have dull children.

    Insofar as variations among populations (I do not think there are races as discrete biological units), on this blog, the differentials among populations are believed to have been inscribed, very archaically, somewhere in the late Ice Age. I do not think that I even object to that description.

    I am not convinced that the IQ tests measure the world exactly as it is, I question whether low IQ, just because it is low capacity of something, is in itself criminogenic, and I object to reducing what seems to be very calculated, rule-bound criminal behavior to genes (some of which are not convincingly tied to intelligence or anything else) as entirely fictive.

    > 3) What percentage do you feel intelligence is heritable?

    If the discussion concerns genetic intelligence, it would be %100, trivially.

    > 4) Does intelligence have an impact on earning potential?

    No question about that. A person with a high intelligence had his “dice loaded” (before he was born) in his favor, for not just income attainment, but for achievements in many domains. Intelligence is global and fungible.

  80. So you agree that intelligence is heritable – the Bell Curve and a number of other corroborating sources say it’s about 60-80% heritable, with the rest being a function of initial child rearing conditions (which can’t improve intelligence much, but can prevent it from being stunted) and nutrition.

    As a predictor of employment success, the single strongest correlating factor is intelligence. A moderately close second is, for lack of a better term, ‘willpower’ – the ability to stick to things no matter how bored you get. That may or may not have a herititability component. Unlike IQ, it’s more malleable in positive ways by nurture.

    As a predictor of recidivism in prison institutions, IQ tests are about the third strongest raw correlating factor, and when other factors are normalized out, they’re the strongest one by far. The second highest predictor is how many adults they had to model behavior off of.

    Are we saying blacks have a carjacking gene? No.

    Are we saying that IQ matters on the low end as well as the high end? Yes, it appears to be correlative.

    am not convinced that the IQ tests measure the world exactly as it is,

    What do they measure then? What is it NOT measuring that gives you reason to doubt?

    I question whether low IQ, just because it is low capacity of something, is in itself criminogenic

    Go read The Color Of Crime and the Bell Curve, please. I can present the arguments, but they do it much more thoroughly than I do.

    I object to reducing what seems to be very calculated, rule-bound criminal behavior

    I strongly suspect that you’ve never hung out with criminals. Or with cops who patrol the inner urban areas.

    I have. I lived in REALLY bad neighborhoods (and went from being a fry cook to selling financial services products using a suit i bought from money I borrowed from someone of less than sterling reputation.) I’ve been held up at gunpoint – often enough that I worked out that it was cheaper to pay protection money to the Disciples than to play the “Is my wallet gonna get jacked” lotto walking from the bus stop to my home.

    I then sold a number of single payment term life insurance policies to them. And for all I know, helped then launder money by teaching them about compound interest and CD ladders. I paid off the $200 I’d borrowed for the suit within a month, and made it back twice over selling financial services to the gangs.

    They knew I was an oddity. They knew I wasn’t going to fuck with anyone, and after two months, they knew I wasn’t going to rat anyone. I paid my protection money, and worked my way into a better job.

    The best way to describe the VAST majority of criminals is that they don’t know what they’re doing the day after tomorrow, they aren’t making any plans beyond chillin’ with their buds, they’re usually a little hungry for excitement, territorial, and seriously opportunistic. Calculating is about as wrong a term as you’ll get.

  81. > What do they measure then? What is it NOT measuring that gives you reason to doubt?

    Earlier, I mentioned that persons of sub-Saharan descent have a higher overall genetic variability than any other population, but persons of European descent generate much greater extremes in IQ scores. Are these scores accurately capturing how people are, innately?

    Is it possible that a component of an IQ score may be something as simple as test taking ability or motivation to take a test?

    > Calculating is about as wrong a term as you’ll get.

    What I wrote before:

    “There had been a string of grisly urban robbery/murders, near where I live. The media and other “observers” blamed Hollywood (the modeling effect), defective genes, poverty, etc. When these culprits were apprehended then put on trial, it came out in court testimony that their crimes were exhaustively pre-arranged and even play-acted: who would hold the gun, how the gun was to be held, who would demand the money, etc. These crimes were not genes of African origin spastically expressing themselves. These were acts which fully conscious adults calculated and executed.”

    Repeatedly rehearsing series of crimes before their commissions is other than impulsive. Violence appears impulsive to observers, who wish to see it as impulsive. The media enjoy scaring the tar out of people; The more fear they elicit and the more they convince that the things are spinning out of control by people who have been high-jacked by drugs, genes, or whatever, the more people become dependent on them for an illusion of comfort or for potential (usually statist) solutions in quelling these fears.

    Take the Iraq war, an invasion of another country. It was verbally justified months and months prior to its execution. Is collective violence uniquely dissimilar from individually inflicted acts of violence? No one (or few) would assert that people in the US, because of something about genes, attacked or supported the attack on another country. Criminals make such justifications, constantly; I was oppressed. My ancestors were oppressed. The rich and the middle classes rip of the poor, etc. This does not make genetic factors mutually exclusive in ordinary criminal behavior, but why do so many resort to it, reflexively?

  82. >BTW, are you familiar with evolutionary _moral_ psychology?

    Yes. Jon Haidt is an extremely lucid and honest thinker who I find consistently interesting. A lot of other people are doing good work in this area; I see them as a very important part of the whole evolutionary-psychology picture.

  83. Earlier, I mentioned that persons of sub-Saharan descent have a higher overall genetic variability than any other population, but persons of European descent generate much greater extremes in IQ scores. Are these scores accurately capturing how people are, innately?

    Is it possible that a component of an IQ score may be something as simple as test taking ability or motivation to take a test?

    In terms of sub-Saharan ancestry versus IQ – let me ask you this: Why would greater genetic variance influence IQ over decreased genetic variance? When there are selectors for traits, they’re going to be strongly selected for in the smaller pool and more widely spread.

    As to “Are we testing for the ability to take a test” – well, if you define the ability to take a test as “Read, process, internalize and follow instructions”, coupled with “infer patterns that are not part of rote memorization”, then the answer is ‘yes’.

    However, that’s not that different from a functional measure of intelligence.

    It appears that you are willing to accept that IQ tests are good at sorting the high range, but are dubious about their ability to sort at the low range. I strongly recommend teaching financial products to a bunch of Gangster Disciples, including explaining risk-reward and taking care of their families as an educational experience.

    When these culprits were apprehended then put on trial, it came out in court testimony that their crimes were exhaustively pre-arranged and even play-acted: who would hold the gun, how the gun was to be held, who would demand the money, etc. These crimes were not genes of African origin spastically expressing themselves. These were acts which fully conscious adults calculated and executed.”

    Yes, some crimes are pre-meditated and planned and carried out. They are not the norm for crimes, any more than Linus kernel hackers are the norm for computer users. The fact that most crimes are opportunistic doesn’t rule out the handful that aren’t.

    I am also willing to wager that in the circumstances you gave that there was one or two people in the group who committed the crimes who planned and got the others involved. I know that in the Disciples who ran the neighborhood I lived in, there were about 2-3 leaders (guys who told others what to do, arranged stuff, negotiated with other gangs, made sure people were shook down), and about 50 followers who’d learned that just doing what someone else said was less work and less hassle. It still didn’t keep them from getting into trouble.

  84. > Are we saying that IQ matters on the low end as well as the high end? Yes, it appears to be correlative.

    > It appears that you are willing to accept that IQ tests are good at sorting the high range, but are dubious about their ability to sort at the low range.

    A person commanding a 6 figure salary and another person burning, looting, spraying people in the streets randomly with Uzie fire, etc. seems like a categorical distinction to me.

    When I was in the 12th grade, studying behaviorism in Psychology class, we read about an experiment where rats were dropped in a box on to electro-fied grids, randomly shocked and poked with sticks. The rats developed ulcers, bared their fangs unexpectedly and were said to have become “aggressive in the absence of any provoking stimulus(!)”. Both the textbook and the teacher insisted that the experiment accurately pictured (or simulated) the conditions for people living in the ghetto, explaining why people there do what everyone thinks they do, burning, looting, etc.

    Do you see why someone might object to this characterization? Not only is this inherently racist, but it is just plain screw-ball. I wonder what a rat experiment simulating the conditions in the suburbs might be? No electro-fied grids, no sticks, but rats in chefs’ hats with BBQ tongs flipping steaks on little grills?

    (I was actually thrown out of school for 3 days after I mouthed off to the teacher, objecting to this rat/human identity thesis.)

    > I strongly recommend teaching financial products to a bunch of Gangster Disciples, including explaining risk-reward and taking care of their families as an educational experience.

    It has been pointed out repeatedly that during segregation blacks owned businesses, the illegitimacy rate was low, the crime rate was low, etc. The crime rate in large cities was higher in Irish, Italian and Jewish enclaves than in black enclaves, certainly vastly higher than in the rural black south.

    In this country, forced sterilization laws were in effect from 1919 to 1943. These laws were animated and justified, in part, by appeals to the “dysgenic effects of genes” radiating from inside the bodies of recently arrived immigrant populations. The number of those forcibly sterilized is unclear and unknowable. The US government figures are 66k, however some estimates push 200k. Only 200 to 300 blacks were forcibly sterilized throughout this entire period! The Irish, Italians and Jews were respectively the recipients of these procedures.

    Were the behaviors enacted by the Irish, Italians and Jews more dependent on their genes from 1919 to 1943 but less so afterwards, while the behavior of blacks were less gene dependent then but more so now?

    > Why would greater genetic variance influence IQ over decreased genetic variance? When there are selectors for traits, they’re going to be strongly selected for in the smaller pool and more widely spread.

    The odds? Greater genetic variance overall should result in greater outcomes on the measures of the extremes for all traits, in absence of any compelling explanation, as to why there is the contraction of the extremes on just this one, particular trait.

    Which is the smaller pool you are speaking about?

  85. > It was because, with a few teenage exceptions, they were graceless and ugly and fat.

    Eric… Have you ever looked at yourself in a mirror?

  86. ESR: You’re a dilettante sociologist/geneticist/etc finding “rational” excuses (over-rational to better exercise your pedantry) for your prejudices (which are irrational, by nature), which are many…

    Many “ugly” blacks basically invented blues, rock & roll, reggae, ska, jazz, swing and a lot of other music styles that some of them I like and others dislike (like rap & hip-hop)… Do they match your definition of “genius” ?

    You’re judging people based on “ugliness”, perceived attitude and supposedly “inherited” IQ. They’re all prejudices that you try to “rationalize” in such apodictic way it makes me sick.

    You’ve made a case that you’re not a racist, which is a prejudice (and maybe you aren’t racist by any definition of “racism”), but you’ve got some weird and ugly prejudices that you have to come to terms with and aren’t worth a blog entry full of nonsensical pseudoscience.

    (Excuse my not-so-good English anyway)

  87. Eric,

    You have to read yourself; of course, reading one’s own statements objectively is difficult to impossible. However, your description of the people in the Wilmington slums largely fits the people in SF fandom. And I know you go to SF cons and spend time with SF fans willingly – do you secretly hate all of us as well? If not, what factors, other than skin color (and the IQ you say is correlated with it), separate fandom from urban blacks?

    I mean, obesity, poor dress, underemployment, often poor social skills, nonstandard marriage/living arrangments, low self-esteem, lack of taste, etc., all can equally describe large segments of fandom (myself included).

    Whether you intended it or not, the contrast appears racist. And the story of “one of my best ex-girlfriends was black” doesn’t help. It only points towards an attitude that “people outside My Group are OK to date, but not to marry.” The best spin I can put on it is “individuals are individuals, and respond to each other as such.” So you’re not, as you say, an “I-racist.” But the contrast between the Wilmington slums and the fannish milieu points to an underlying, if unconscious, racism in distinguishing between groups. Call it “G-racism.” And that is probably more pervasive and less discussed than I-racism.

    Commenters Jim Thompson and Ian have your number, but you won’t see it.

  88. “I don’t think there are many white Americans left who are I-racists.”

    I’m guessing you didn’t grow up in a particularly rural or Southern part of the country. I certainly hope your assertion is correct, but it is not consistent with my own personal experiences growing up in rural southern Illinois (which, though not part of the Confederacy, is culturally much more similar to Kentucky and Tennessee than Chicago).

  89. It’s interesting, in light of your post, to compare the treatment of lower-class whites with that of lower-class blacks. Lower-class blacks are seen as unfortunate victims of prejudice. Lower-class whites are seen as congenitally-, mentally-, genetically-, and morally-inferior scum.

  90. DensityDuck,

    The prosecution patterns for crack (associated with lower-class blacks) vs. crystal meth (associated with lower-class whites) say otherwise.

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