Preventing visceral racism

I’ve been writing about race and politics a lot recently. Now I’m going to reveal the reason: in the relatively recent past I had a very disturbing, novel, and unwelcome educational experience. For the first time in the fifty-five years of my life I found out what it was like to feel racist, from the inside.

I think I now understand the pathology behind racism better than I did before, and have some ideas about what is required to prevent and cure it. And no, my prescription won’t be any of the idiotic nostrums normally peddled by self-described “anti-racists”; in fact what I have to say is likely to offend most of them – which I don’t mind a bit.

I’m going to obscure most of the details for reasons that I think will become clear as I write about this. I will say that the racial minority involved was one not commonly encountered in the U.S., and in particular not descendants of sub-Saharan Africans or any group much related to them. It is relevant that this minority X has facial features and skin tone quite unlike Europeans.

I was near surrounded by these people, for the first time in my life, at a sort of ethnic-pride gathering which I was attending for reasons not relevant to this essay. And found myself experiencing disgust. Not anger, not hatred, but a visceral feeling of revulsion similar to being exposed to sewage or rotten food.

Something in my hindbrain was pushing me hard in a direction perhaps best verbalized as “these people are greasy, filthy monkeys and I despise them and I loathe them”.

But. I’m an experimental mystic. I’ve been accustomed for decades to the knowledge that, often, thoughts and feelings that present themselves in my phenomenological field are generated by what Robert Anton Wilson called “the Robot” – eruptions of the instinct machine that underlies my consciousness. Sometimes I can notice these eruptions happening and not get caught up in them.

That happened this time. I was able to notice that, when paying attention with the top of my brain, I could not notice any rational reason for me to even dislike these people, let alone feel disgusted and revolted by them. I began to analyze my revulsion as though it were a specimen on a laboratory slide – because when you’re an experimental mystic and your exercises include killing the Buddha, that’s what you do in this kind of situation.

So let’s start eliminating hypotheses…

No member of minority X has ever individually done me any harm. Nor are they any sort of social problem in the U.S. – they’re not conspicuously prone to crime or welfare dependency, and they’ve never developed the habit of whining for privileged treatment.

Minority X does have some tendency to hang out in lower socioeconomic strata, and if forced to it I’d guess they’re at a bit of a mean-IQ disadvantage relative to the American average. But there are lots of other minority groups, of which those things could be said far more strongly, that I’ve never felt viscerally revolted by.

Now I’m going to explain my feelings about black people; bear with me, this is analytically relevant. The most important point is that black people in particular have never made me feel repelled in the way minority X does. I’ve had black girlfriends and might not implausibly have ended up married to one of them, whereas I cannot easily imagine circumstances under which I would be sexually attracted to a minority X woman; my “ick” reaction would be too strong.

Scrupulous honesty requires me to report here that there is a small subset of blacks to which I do have a twitchy hindbrain reaction something like “Animal; unsafe; avoid.” But I’ve noticed that blacks outside this subset have that reaction too. so I’m probably not reacting to “race” in this respect. It may be related that I perceive a lot more variety among blacks than I do among minority X.

Now the uncomfortable part: by any objective measure, blacks as a group are a problem of a kind minority X is not. Lower mean IQ, more crime and violence, more welfare dependency, lots of whining for privileges, etcetera etcetera. And I have had the experience of feeling like I was in physical danger when isolated with a group of black people (just once, on a night train in New Jersey, but that once was more than enough).

So, if feelings of racial revulsion are in general driven by some sort of tribal or individual threat perception (I asked myself), why didn’t I have a similar response a lot sooner with respect to blacks? Can’t have been familiarity from childhood exposure; I grew up in places, mostly outside the U.S., were there weren’t any black people. Didn’t meet one until my mid-teens.

OK, so it looks like we can discard sociological theories and rational threat responses. What else could be going on here?

To find that out, I started paying closer attention to my sensory experiences and gut reactions as I dealt with this group. Which individuals bothered me less, which more. And in what specific ways.

It only took a few minutes of this for me to identify specific sensory stimuli that were triggering my feelings of revulsion. I’m not going to describe the specific stimuli in detail because I really don’t want anybody to be able to figure out which minority is X. But I can identify three specific triggers.

One was: their skin color looks fecal. The other was: their bone structure doesn’t look human. And they’re just off-reference enough to be much more creepy than if they looked less like people, like bad CGI or shambling undead in a B movie. When I paid close enough attention, these were the three basic data under the revulsion; my hindbrain thought it was surrounded by alien shit zombies.

My forebrain, meanwhile, was all like “What is up with you, hindbrain?” Apparently my human-recognition template needed some updating.

The pressure on me eased a bit when I realized that what I was experiencing was a really severe case of Uncanny Valley reaction, and that more exposure to minority X might well stretch my template to the point where they didn’t seem so creepily repulsive any more.

One of the many, many things I learned from Robert Heinlein is encapsulated in this quite from Assignment In Eternity: “Man is not a rational animal, he is a rationalizing animal.” Most people, most of the time, construct theory to justify their gut feelings rather than actually reasoning from facts. If you do reliably reason from facts – and can continue reasoning even when you are angry, tired, upset, or feel threatened, then you are the homo novus of that story, and it is up to you to save the world for your less able human kin.

That story influenced my thinking a lot as a child and young man. And I am proud to say that this time, at least, I was homo novus. I didn’t let my Robot run me. I kept analyzing until I was able to isolate and identify the glitch in my wetware, and I coped. Thank you, RAH.

But…what if I hadn’t been so self-aware?

If I hadn’t been training myself in applied rationality and experimental mysticism so hard for so long, I might very well have rationalized. That is, unthinkingly accepted that revulsion experience against minority X as part of me and then begun to construct justifications around it. Like, reaching to invent reasons to hate minority X.

I now think this is how racism colonizes peoples’ brains (or one major way it happens, anyhow; I can’t rule out the possibility of other vectors). People fall into the Uncanny Valley reaction, don’t realize they have a wetware glitch, and then accrete layers of rationalization and hatred around that reaction. It’s much like the way primary mystical experiences make people vulnerable to capture by insane religions.

Now we get to the part where I piss off the “anti-racist” crowd.

We actually have an implicit cultural prescription for dealing with circumstances like this. It begins with feeling guilty. What you’re supposed to do, especially if you’re white, is transvaluate that revulsion into a sense of mortal sin, then expiate it with huge amounts of compensatory behavior like canonizing Trayvon Martin and hating anybody who even questions affirmative action, minority set-asides, or any other feature of our government-mandated racial spoils system.

But this is exactly backwards. The last thing you ought to do with feelings of irrational revulsion, whether directed at racial groups or anything else, is emotionally entangle yourself with them and assign extra importance to the memories that involve them. Doing that just invites additional self-damage to no good purpose. It’s what a Buddhist would call akusala, usually translated as “unskillful” or “unwholesome”.

Better to solve the problem by understanding what is really going on. Your brain is a pile of kluges messily wired together by evolutionary selection. As hard as you try to be rational, it’s going to glitch on you sometimes. When it does that, the right thing to do is notice that you are not the Robot and the glitch is not you.

I’m not saying guilt is entirely useless. It can be a valuable form of self-regulation when you make a conscious decision that causes unnecessary harm. But that’s not what we’re talking about here; you don’t decide to experience weird apparently-sourceless revulsions against some minority X, it’s just a thing that happens when the dice come up snake-eyes. You’re responsible – and guilty – only if you let the Robot run you.

For preventing visceral racism, and all the nasty things that flow from it, what we need to do is simple: be sane and be self-aware. I mentioned “akusala” for a reason; this is the kind of problem where guilt doesn’t help, but some grasp on the Buddhist psychology of non-attachment does.

180 thoughts on “Preventing visceral racism

  1. Interesting. I’ve certainly experienced a visceral “ewww” to people who fall in the uncanny valley to me, but perhaps because it’s never been triggered by anything as socially loaded as racial features, I never gave it that much thought.

    However, given that many of the people I know who have the sort of guilt you are talking about have never *met* members of the groups they shove that compensatory behavior at, I don’t buy that the two are necessarily related. More often, it seems much simpler than that: an attempt to resolve cognitive dissonance.

    Most people who have that guilt-compensatory behavior pattern have an ideology in which statistical differences between demographic groups are not possible, and yet those differences exist. Thus something is wrong with reality, it must have been manipulated somehow…and the obvious solution is to blame whomever benefits, they must be at fault! Finding out one is part of the demographic that clearly must have broken reality for their own gain sucks, so then one goes on to try to alleviate the guilt.

    Granted, my narrative is something of a caricature, but I think it illustrates the phenomenon well.

  2. When I stick my finger in the fire, it burns! What can I do to fix my compensatory behavior pattern?

  3. I think conscious awareness of the hardwired “us–them” distinction is useful and likely necessary: Failure to treat others as humans-like-me has historically been strongly connected with allowing the individuals in question to fall on the other side of that line, and I suspect that as with language acquisition, if a suitable implementation for a built-in library function isn’t learned, we’ll grow our own.

    Eric’s comments elsewhere regarding the hacker/sci-fi fan’s proclivity to grant personhood to sapient dolphins and AIs point out that while the division of the world into “us” and “them” is built in, we have wide latitude for moving the line around and that there doesn’t appear to be any critical window for it, but this is one of the distinctions that even most who push against *ism aren’t mindful of.

  4. I think I know the feeling. However, I have not experienced racism at a level usual in the USA. So my gut reaction is just that these people are plain ugly. Normally, this feeling subsides after I get to know them better.

    One thing your brain is good at too, is to discover individual distinctive features in a group of strange looking people. It just takes some time. I am sure that after a year or so among these people you would be ready to hook up with one of their women ;-)

  5. Yes, interesting. I also think Alien Shit Zombies needs to be a band.

    What you’re supposed to do, especially if you’re white, is transvaluate that revulsion into a sense of mortal sin

    I am not the first to notice this, but I find it fascinating how so many of the psychological mechanisms of old-time Christianity show up (under new names) in the thought patterns of contemporary secular leftists, who consider themselves quite enlightened and who sneer at Christianity, especially the old-time sort.

  6. Winter, have you personally spent any time in the United States? While I don’t deny that racism does exist here, the level of racial integration I saw in the Netherlands was substantially lower than what I see in most American areas (notably outside inner cities, which also have the large majority of violent crime), and the vitriol I’ve seen from several European countries toward Middle Eastern immigrants and especially the Roma would be considered appalling here if directed at anyone but whites.

  7. Amen Chris. I have lived in multiple countries now on multiple continents and I find the US, as a whole, the least racist country I have been in.

  8. @Christopher Smith I agree and the comments/thumbs up under this video show exactly why. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbIm0BWKDz4 The “arguments” and the general inability of the commenters to think toward a solution which actually solves the problem are mind boggling. Some commenters regret that Hitler is dead… literally.

  9. @Christopher Smith
    “Winter, have you personally spent any time in the United States?”

    Yes

    @Christopher Smith
    “While I don’t deny that racism does exist here, the level of racial integration I saw in the Netherlands was substantially lower than what I see in most American areas”

    Indeed. But that is not the same as the “institutionalized” racism seen in the USA. There is more integration in the USA. But also much more direct and open racism. See the diatribes put in the last few posts.

    I, personally, have not encountered that kind of racism, so I, personally, do not get the same reaction as Eric. There are (many?) people in the Netherlands, and in Europe, that do have encountered such racism. I suppose they might react just like Eric.

    But, actually, my comment was not about the USA, but about (the lack of) some kind of experiences that might influence your reactions. I suppose, if I had left out the USA part, people would have filled it in anyway.

  10. >I find it fascinating how so many of the psychological mechanisms of old-time Christianity show up (under new names) in the thought patterns of contemporary secular leftists

    You should read Mencius Moldbug, a gadfly blogger/thinker who describes himself as a “neoreactionary” and argues that leftism historically is evangelical protestant Christianity. There are some significant points on which I disagree with this reading, but he’s very smart and very articulate and very entertaining.

  11. But that is not the same as the “institutionalized” racism seen in the USA.

    Be careful about the the particular phrase “institutionalized racism”. In the United States, it’s typically used as rhetorical sleight-of-hand to assume that disparate outcomes (poor educational and job performance, high crime) are the result of a nefarious entrenched racial prejudice (and to be “corrected” as such) rather than the result of a self-perpetuating cultural and capital cycle, as discussed in the earlier post.

    If by that phrase you meant deep-seated racist attitudes embedded in cultures, I think that it’s dramatically less common here than you believe, JAD notwithstanding, and particularly that “open and direct racism” is significantly less widespread and accepted in the United States than in much of Europe specifically because we have had (varying degrees of, but more) interracial interaction.

    I, personally, have not encountered that kind of racism, so I, personally, do not get the same reaction as Eric. There are (many?) people in the Netherlands, and in Europe, that do have encountered such racism. I suppose they might react just like Eric.

    Which aspects are you meaning by “that kind” of racism? I personally have encountered individuals with the sort of offhanded they’re-less-than-human attitudes JAD has, but I’ve never experienced a visceral reaction that evoked disgust the way Eric described. I certainly have experienced a clear us–them reaction, but the in-group/out-group signal is quite distinct from the disgust signal, and the cross-wiring of “core disgust” to non-food phenomena takes a good bit of conditioning, and I’m curious what would be required to make “racial traits” fire it (e.g., why did the skin color trigger “feces” instead of “humus”?).

  12. @Christopher Smith
    “Be careful about the the particular phrase “institutionalized racism”.”

    You have to fill in your race. I see reports of organized efforts to prevent non-whites from voting in the USA. And reports of all kinds of tricks played to prevent “racial” mixing in neighborhoods. I see the vehement vitriol of the Zimmerman case.

    That is stuff I am not used to experience in my “garden gnome country” as the Germans seem to say.

  13. @ ESR – “alien shit zombies”

    Please tell me you’re writing the screenplay as we speak.

    As to the OP, what we call “racism” is an evolutionary trait that has both a physical and cultural component. The discriminatory brain wiring is tied to basic threat recognition (also applies to animal species) and the cultural bias is tied to social competition. To me, it’s interesting that contemporary societal pressure is trying to eradicate racism, without regard to any adverse secondary effects that may arise.

    I would also point out the inverse of your experience can also occur.

  14. Winter, you’re being led astray by the complaints of the Left. They claim that measures to make sure that someone voting is actually entitled to vote and only votes once are a concerted effort to prevent non-whites from voting. That’s the only way they can attack those efforts, and the attack bears little resemblance to the truth.

    The same goes for efforts to prevent racial mixing in neighborhoods. The facts are much simpler: people in the US can move easily, much more so than compared to Europeans, and they tend to do so when the racial composition of their neighborhood changes – because those changes bring other changes in culture that they find disagreeable.

    When you see “vehement vitriol” of the Zimmerman case, do you see it as mainly coming from those who think Martin was wrongly killed?

  15. >That’s the only way they can attack those efforts, and the attack bears little resemblance to the truth.

    Indeed. The U.S.’s election systems are shockingly vulnerable to fraud, but all efforts to fix this meet strenuous resistance because one party (I’ll let you guess which one) benefits hugely and asymmetrically from that vulnerability.

  16. One of the reasons your Robot might react to X the way it does is that different (sub-)cultures have different non-verbal communications: body language, gestures, facial expressions, etc.

    Your Robot’s IFF system is picking up on these cues, which in another culture would be legitimate threat indicators, and passing on to your conscious brain a feeling of revulsion. Look no further than Northern Ireland for an example of a fairly ethnically-homogeneous society in which non-verbal cues allow instant recognition of Protestant/Catholic to a remarkably high degree of accuracy, which astounds foreigners who fail to notice the subtleties that the locals must see to properly judge their threat level. Mind you, if you asked any of them about this, they probably couldn’t articulate it any better than most people can explain how their gaydar works.

    Also, when the words you hear from someone don’t match up with their non-verbal communications, the resulting “parity error” twigs as “untrustworthy” or “suspicious”. Arguably, the Uncanny Valley is a particular subset of this, in that the CGI is close enough for the Robot to classify the object as “person”, but not good enough to get those details right.

    I heard that a particularly insidious non-verbal mismatch was discovered in Iraq, where soldiers at checkpoints held up a hand, palm facing an approaching car, which in our culture means “stop”, but apparently to Iraqis means something completely different. The result was typically fatal to the occupants of the car. The soldiers were taught a new gesture that was not misunderstood.

  17. What about “positive racism” (for lack of a better term*)?

    Ie feeling a greater liking for one’s own ethnic group (Swedes in my case), without necessarily disliking others. Should I want to cure myself of that? If I’m positive about Northern Europeans and neutral about everyone else, is that something I should metaprogram out of my utility function?

    And should eg Ashkenazi Jews, Tibetans or African-Americans also cure themselves of their greater loyalty to their own ethnic group? Is ethnic genetic interest** always immoral or only when people of European descent engage in it?

    Full disclosure: I am not a Neo-Fascist trying to spread a hidden agenda here or anything, although I did spend some time hanging out in those circles when I was young and impressionable. It was a combination of complete disaffection with mainstream Swedish politics, the appeal of far-right aesthetics, and the fact that there were many well-read intellectuals there that I could engage with (the stupid skinhead stereotype is a thing of the past). But like I said, I was young and impressionable.

    * I don’t much like the word “racism”. Supposedly it wasn’t even invented until the 30s. Not exactly sure by whom, could be Trotsy or Boas. But one thing’s for sure, it comes pre-loaded with an agenda and a worldview every time you use it. I prefer more clear-cut terms that are not laden with implicit value statements. For example, it lumps negative racists together with positive racists. And since the word “racist” is in practice never used on non-whites (have you ever seen Tibetans or Palestinian Arabs described as racist?) then it de facto carries the unspoken assumption that racism is something whites do.

    ** http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_Genetic_Interests

  18. Is it my imagination, or is “the Buddhist psychology of non-attachment” referenced here the same thing as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy?

  19. I’m more concerned about institutionalized anti-racism. Taking note of a PapayaSF’s comment, we collectively labor under the precepts of what Starhawk called “shame-based religion.” This has significant long-term moral cost, as well as crafting more false idols of entitlements. It is better to focus on creating more opportunities and social expectations for affirmative self-responsibility.

    I own my hindbrain’s visceral urges. I am responsible and accountable for any actions arising from same – for good or ill.

    While short-term corrections to the effects of past racism might be a reasonable choice, they should not be multi-generational.

    FWIW, I spent my teen years and early career in Georgia in the 1960s. I know racism’s face, when the hood comes off.

  20. Winter: If I went off of what news coverage of Europe looks like, I’d assume that the Netherlands is full of people who want to set Muslims on fire and hang them from their scrotums with rusty barbed wire.

    Using them as pinatas from this state is beyond the pale. For now.

    I get this coverage from BBC, and from Al Jazeera, one proclaiming White Guilt, the other proclaiming Victimology.

    The “systemic acts to prevent Blacks from voting” include:

    1) Requiring them to show an ID that has expired since the last election.
    2) Requiring that any absentee ballots be postmarked by the Friday before the election, rather than up to two Fridays after the election.
    3) Closing polling places at 8 PM rather than holding them open until midnight.

    Oh, they get spun differently by the news media….but I know that item 1 is what the Netherlands uses, I suspect that the Netherlands doesn’t accept absentee ballots from up to two weeks after the polls close.

    What happens in the states where these have been put into place is this:

    95% voter turnouts turn into 55% to 60% voter turnouts on off-cycle elections, and 65% to 70% in on-cycle elections. These lower numbers match demographically similar voting districts out in the suburbs. Paradoxically, the only places that have this reduction are predominantly urban and black and are known for 99+% voting for the Democratic party.

    Minority voting in the suburbs increases…and doesn’t follow straight line Democratic ballot. Overall minority ballots increase.

  21. Indeed. The U.S.’s election systems are shockingly vulnerable to fraud, but all efforts to fix this meet strenuous resistance because one party (I’ll let you guess which one) benefits hugely and asymmetrically from that vulnerability.

    The new North Carolina voting law does the following:

    – Requires photo ID at the polling place
    – Outlaws paid voter registration drives
    – Eliminates provisional voting
    – Widens the pool of people who can challenge a vote

    If you believe that we’re at risk of voter fraud, you can make an argument for those four.

    – Eliminates voter pre-registration for 16 and 17 year olds
    – Eliminates straight ticket voting
    – Prohibits counties from extending voting hours in response to long lines

    But those are harder to justify.

    One of my general guiding principles, politically, is to accept risk in exchange for freedom. In this case I’m willing to accept the risk of voter fraud, whoever engages in it, in exchange for making it easier for people to vote. If you think it’s worth sacrificing legitimate voters in exchange for more security, well, that’s your philosophy.

    btw, Winter, one minor comment: it’s not about making it harder for non-whites to vote. It’s about making it harder for Democratic supporters to vote. For example, younger people tend to vote Democratic so North Carolina is getting rid of pre-registration.

  22. @Bryant: I agree in principle with the criticism of prohibiting extending poll hours, but there’s a serious vulnerability to ballot-stuffing there. In Texas, you have two weeks of early voting, and there’s never been fewer than 2 booths open when I’ve gone then.

    Banning straight-ticket isn’t just a good idea, I’d go so far as to ban listing party affiliation on the ballots. If you can’t be bothered to at least bring your postcard from the local party office with the list of the party candidates, much less actually look through the candidates’ positions, you don’t have any business affecting the outcome.

    Accepting risk for freedom is a good principle, but you’re misapplying it here. Voting is such a powerful act that minor inconveniences (such as making you select individual candidates) are a trivial price to pay, especially given the massive intrusions demanded for simple private transactions such as opening a bank account. The procedural hoops can be made low enough that legitimate voters won’t be noticeably burdened, though I’m personally in favor of bringing back a constitutional literacy test.

  23. What if racism isn’t a glitch or a series of kludges, but an adaptive evolutionary response?

    If the purpose of a (selfish) gene is to spread itself then the more unlike you a human is, the less likely they are to share your selfish gene. Since they are competing with you/the-gene for scare resources, eliminating them would spread your genetics and organisms/genes which spread their genetics become dominant.

    However, two warring ethnic-groups/gene-pools could deplete their numbers, in which case a third group could conquor them both. So xenophobia could also be mal-adaptive.

    The most highly evolved state would be an epigenetic environmentally sensitive xenophobia, in which the gene lies dormant when it is mal-adaptive but triggers when it is adaptive.

    Of course none of this HAS to be true or is necessarily even true at all.

    But the idea that it MUST be a glitch or a bug or a series of kludges is not self evident and the alternative should at least be considered.

  24. While it’s sort of well known that “They all look alike to me” is associated with racist sentiment, I have wondered before if that is revealing a more fundamental truth than the speaker intends. If your visual recognition systems are doing you the disservice of feeding you data that fails to distinguish people as distinct at a very low cognitive level, your forebrain is going to have an uphill battle to avoid treating the people as a de-humanized group rather than a group of individuals, until you spend enough time around them to train your brain and start receiving distinctions.

    Also, I think more people should read Mencius. It’s like reading the court historian of the 23nd Century Canadian Empire’s view of the modern world. It’s hard to find such a different viewpoint to see the world from. I don’t agree with anywhere near everything either, but it’s one of the most mind-expanding views you can find even so.

  25. @Christopher — crowded conditions make it harder to monitor activities. When you rush people, they do a worse job. Anything which squeezes voting into a more condensed time period is going to make the polling places more crowded, more busy, and more vulnerable.

  26. Try a public john in India and see how your hindbrain twitches *then*….

  27. There could be a parallel between racism and the AGW movement. In both cases, a boogieman is created, vilified, bludgeoned, and then used as a cause-celeb to promote a political agenda. Guilt and fear can be employed as powerful memes when trying massage voting patterns.

  28. Winter: I’d note that the reason people collect Race information is so that they can demonstrate that they *aren’t* being racist. A lot of government requirements exist to collect this as well. The idea behind it is that vast discrepancies between the race of people using a service and those encountering issues/filing complaints/failing/whatever are, absent any other co-founding factor, evidence of racial discrimination.

    As an aside, I volunteer as an EMT and am starting some work on medical research. When I fill out a Patient Care Report, there is a field for “race”. I always leave this blank (Anthro 101 will illustrate how race is a meaningless concept). My mentor for research later explained to me that race used to be related tightly to likelihood of contracting certain diseases. However, because of more diverse immigration, mixed-race families, etc., race is now a better proxy for socioeconomic status than it is for disease susceptibility.

  29. @Jay

    Don’t confuse evolution’s values for human values. Just because something pleases the blind idiot god doesn’t mean it isn’t a glitch from the individual’s perspective. A genetic predisposition to forget your birth control would probably be selected for, but that doesn’t make it sane.

  30. Jeremy Bowers wrote “If your visual recognition systems are doing you the disservice of feeding you data that fails to distinguish people as distinct at a very low cognitive level, […]”

    Depending on which distinctions you’re talking about, it may be the other way around: it’s not that your brain is making any effort to hide obvious distinctions between individuals, it’s that in order for you to distinguish people your brain needs to go to considerable effort to highlight particular things for you. Human face-recognition brain machinery is physically large enough that we can guess it’s doing a lot of computational work to make the magic happen, and when it gets damaged (e.g., in a stroke) patients apparently find it difficult to work around the problem by reasoning about, e.g., who has an objectively bigger chin. Teaching a computer to recognize individuals is not so trivial either. And once I took a genetics class where we sorted a lot of fruit flies by sex as a step in various experiments. The distinction is not so obvious — it’s hard to forget how confusing it was at the beginning of class. But with practice it gets pretty easy — a student I worked with made a variety of understandable jokes about, e.g., some fly hussy flaunting particular fly secondary sexual characteristics. The experience of your brain being reasonably objective may be more like the “difference? what difference?” frustration of the first-day genetics student; the experience of your brain artificially distorting reality may be the joke-cracking fly-sorting veteran to whom the objectively-small distinctions are made artificially and effortlessly clear by the brain doing a lot of work below the level of conscious thought.

  31. I think what you are identifying is one aspect of a more general mechanism, specifically our us-them mechanism. We are a gregarious animal, and have a need to build small local support groups. We use various, often arbitrary mechanisms to identify “our people” and separate them from “the other.”

    There are many other types of markers we use besides facial shape — voice quality, body language, religious behavior, dress, sports team affiliation, and they kick in at various levels of our cognitive stack, probably depending on the level of analysis required to identify their appropriate grouping.

    There is an interesting tension going on here. On the one hand we want to breed with people “like us” because this is the most effective means of transmitting out genetic code into the future. However, by interbreeding with “them” although we reduce the amount of our genes we transmit into the future, we do increase their likelihood of survival.

    Apparently, evolution has selected that transmitting larger amounts of genetic material with higher risk of failure is the better choice. No doubt it is experimentally right.

    I was watching an old movie recently about some Orthodox Jews in NYC. In it the protagonist marries a gentile woman, much to the chagrin of his hyper orthodox father. I was reminded of the word “shiksa” which is almost a charming adorable description of the gentile love of a Jewish boy. However, etymologically it essentially means “abomination”, which is quite a lovely thing to call your son’s girlfriend.

  32. If by that phrase you meant deep-seated racist attitudes embedded in cultures, I think that it’s dramatically less common here than you believe, JAD notwithstanding, and particularly that “open and direct racism” is significantly less widespread and accepted in the United States than in much of Europe specifically because we have had (varying degrees of, but more) interracial interaction.

    European “racism”/ethnocentrism is… weird. A Flemish-speaking Belgian may share drinks with and high-five blacks, East Asians, subcontinental Indians, and Arabs — but the moment a dirty stinking Frenchie comes within sniffing distance it’s on. There are a lot of old feuds on that continent, old hatreds, old wounds that have at best scarred over. The European Union may be seen as a convoluted exercise in continent-wide hatchet-burying. But it has a few decades yet before it’s decisively won the hearts-and-minds battle.

  33. @papayaSF
    >>I am not the first to notice this, but I find it fascinating how so many of the psychological mechanisms of old-time Christianity show up (under new names) in the thought patterns of contemporary secular leftists, who consider themselves quite enlightened and who sneer at Christianity, especially the old-time sort.

    It is possible that the contemporary secular leftists are culturally Puritan.

    In the sense that they have a moral code which they feel all others must adhere to. And are eager to use social opprobrium and political forces in concert to support the approved patterns of behavior. Also, putting a metaphorical Scarlet Letter upon those who transgress that moral code.

  34. Garrett, when I was training to be an EMT 30-odd years ago, race was noted and reported just as the patient’s age and gender are. It still has relevance in things like interpreting vital signs (a black man would be considered normotensive at a BP that would have a white man considered mildly hypertensive), as one example.

    The PC police have stamped all that out, though.

  35. Apparently, evolution has selected that transmitting larger amounts of genetic material with higher risk of failure is the better choice. No doubt it is experimentally right.

    Oh, come on. Haven’t you ever seen Antonio Banderas on the television and been turned on by his accent, even just a little? Foreignness has a powerful allure, and men and women alike frequently find themselves attracted to the “exotic” — precisely because we instinctively want to diversify our gene pool.

  36. […replying to myself…]

    “culturally Puritan” may mean that the Christian language of sin/repentance/need-to-change was brought along, even though the theology (and moral code) wasn’t fully brought along.

  37. Xenophobia is not racism. And by the very fact that you made a concerted effort to analyze your revulsion and were able to identify a specific behavior or quality of the group that induced your revulsion, you demonstrated that your revulsion was not race based but otherwise. Discrimination based on anything other than race is by definition not racist.

  38. @Jeff Read
    > Haven’t you ever seen Antonio Banderas on the television and been turned on

    I’d rather not answer that question in a public forum :-)

    But good point Jeff.

  39. I’m willing to accept the risk of voter fraud, whoever engages in it, in exchange for making it easier for people to vote. If you think it’s worth sacrificing legitimate voters in exchange for more security, well, that’s your philosophy.

    It’s part of your philosophy too, you just haven’t thought your philosophy through well enough to make it self-consistent yet. Let me demonstrate:

    Suppose we allow phone-in and online votes verified by the honor system. You call the number or hit the website for your district, you press the buttons corresponding to your choices, you’re done. No more travel to your voting location required, no more long lines, no more worrying about a busy Tuesday schedule, no more hassle with registration or ID.

    You don’t dispute that this would increase the number of legitimate voters casting ballots, do you? Nor that the only reasons to object are in the category “more security”? Nor that these are incredibly good reasons to object? Surely even though the added convenience may give us a greatly increased number of legitimate votes, the fact that they’ll be overwhelmed by trillions of 4chan bots’ submissions actually devalues every single one of them.

  40. >Is it my imagination, or is “the Buddhist psychology of non-attachment” referenced here the same thing as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy?

    There may be convergence. They’re both dealing with the same wetware, after all.

  41. Banning straight-ticket isn’t just a good idea, I’d go so far as to ban listing party affiliation on the ballots. If you can’t be bothered to at least bring your postcard from the local party office with the list of the party candidates, much less actually look through the candidates’ positions, you don’t have any business affecting the outcome.

    I’d go even further.

    Each office gets a blank line to be filled in–either by hand, or by machine (preferably a keyboard).

    And spelling counts. A vote for Dick Nixon is different than a vote for Dick Mixon or Dick Nickson.

    This does two things–it makes voting take longer, and it sorts out the morons.

  42. >I heard that a particularly insidious non-verbal mismatch was discovered in Iraq, where soldiers at checkpoints held up a hand, palm facing an approaching car, which in our culture means “stop”, but apparently to Iraqis means something completely different.

    Oh, fuck. I could have predicted that one if anyone had brought the scenario to my attention. In much of the Arab world (and Greece), palm towards you means “I throw shit at you”. It’s extremely rude, the kinesic equivalent of fighting words.

  43. I heard that a particularly insidious non-verbal mismatch was discovered in Iraq, where soldiers at checkpoints held up a hand, palm facing an approaching car, which in our culture means “stop”, but apparently to Iraqis means something completely different. The result was typically fatal to the occupants of the car. The soldiers were taught a new gesture that was not misunderstood.

    Generally speaking men with military weapons standing in a road pointing them at you is fairly cross-cultural.

  44. Fluffy Girl In a Mans World on 2013-07-26 at 13:12:21 said:

    @Jeff Read
    > Haven’t you ever seen Antonio Banderas on the television and been turned on

    I’d rather not answer that question in a public forum :-)

    But good point Jeff.

    Anthony B. is *physically* inside european norms, it is only the slight accent that hints of e[x|r]oticism.

    I suspect it’s as much the whole bad-boy thing he’s got goin’ on. Contrast with Kunal Nayyar (Raj, BBT).

  45. @Jay Maynard: “Winter, you’re being led astray by the complaints of the Left. They claim that measures to make sure that someone voting is actually entitled to vote and only votes once are a concerted effort to prevent non-whites from voting. That’s the only way they can attack those efforts, and the attack bears little resemblance to the truth.”

    When they say things like “I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter-turnout machine,” (Note: This is in reference to early voting hours, not voter ID, I am citing it as the clearest admission of what their general game plan is) what are we supposed to think?

    When the map of parts of the south where DMV locations are sparse on the ground and only open a few hours a week (to increase the inconvenience of obtaining an ID) is correlated to the areas with majority Black population, what are we supposed to think?

    When the Republicans lose interest in passing a Voter ID law the moment it is amended to provide for ways to make it less difficult to obtain IDs, what are we supposed to think?

  46. >When they say things like “I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter-turnout machine,”

    You’re supposed to notice that urban African-American voter-turnout machines are prone to serious fraud. The reasons have nothing in particular to do with race; I analyzed them in Game Theory and Vote Fraud.

  47. Ok, I’m having problems with this part:

    When it does that, the right thing to do is notice that you are not the Robot and the glitch is not you.

    You are an evolutionist, right? You believe the mind is the same as the brain or stuff like that? So what are we if not “the robot”?

  48. The robot is part of you. It is not all of you.

    The robot is you, yes. But the higher reasoning being that ignores the robot is also you.

    You are the whole of the two, the result of their interactions.

  49. >You are an evolutionist, right? You believe the mind is the same as the brain or stuff like that? So what are we if not “the robot”?

    You appear to have have confused at least three different questions. The term you want here is probably not “evolutionist” (though yes, I’m one of those too) but rather “materialist” or (better) “physicalist”. If by that you mean someone who considers “mind” to be nothing other than a pattern of information in states of matter/energy in the brain.

    I don’t actually consider the question of who “I” am to have a single answer. The right answer depends on what kind of question you are asking. For many purposes it’s not productive to think of a mind as having a single “I” at all, but rather as a collection of scripts evoked by different adaptive challenges. For others it is useful to identify “I” with the narratizing tendency that weaves perceptual events into causal stories. For still others it is useful to identify “I” as the conscious mind (and the Robot as everything else).

    The issues here are deep, subtle, and not easily disposed of in a blog comment.

  50. @esr
    >The issues here are deep, subtle, and not easily disposed of in a blog comment.

    You might say “don’t let your super ego sass your ego because your id is a pig.”

    But I guess that model of the mind is rather discredited these days.

  51. Courageous analysis, ESR! Not necessarily finished, but MUCH farther along.
    I once had a friend describe the difference between prejudice and bias. Bias means you’ve had personal experience. You might want to identify your bias. It could save your life.

  52. >Indeed. The U.S.’s election systems are shockingly vulnerable to fraud, but all efforts to fix this meet strenuous resistance because one party (I’ll let you guess which one) benefits hugely and asymmetrically from that vulnerability.

    And the other party is not inclined to go an inch out of its way to fix the problem in a way that would reduce the advantage to be gained by making their preferred fixes, even if such reduction would not be correlated with fraud. The same thing happens now with state houses gerrymandering congressional districts to within an inch of their life.

    It would be better if the major parties were each confident enough to trust the _Demos_, but neither of them truly are.

  53. And I’ve much the same experience you describe, Eric. Your determination to overcome the meat and stay in reason is precisely the same reason I read you so assiduously. I recognize in myself a bunch of cultural and tribal biases that you don’t hold, and the argumentation of you and your readers is one of the better tonics I’ve found for that. I read Jerry Pournelle’s blog daily for the same reason.

    Even though I do suspect that the both of you are significantly overconfident of your dismissal of those worried about climate change. ;-)

  54. @Random832: “When the Republicans lose interest in passing a Voter ID law the moment it is amended to provide for ways to make it less difficult to obtain IDs, what are we supposed to think?”

    I’ve been following this issue and have never seen any evidence of that. Most states have made it pretty easy to get an ID. In Pennsylvania, the lead plaintiff in a case against their ID law went to the DMV to prove how she couldn’t get one… but got one. Polls also consistently show that the public supports ID laws often overwhelmingly.

  55. >I’ve been following this issue and have never seen any evidence of that. Most states have made it pretty easy to get an ID. In Pennsylvania, the lead plaintiff in a case against their ID law went to the DMV to prove how she couldn’t get one… but got one. Polls also consistently show that the public supports ID laws often overwhelmingly.

    I’m in favor of ID laws. There have been states / counties that expanded DMV hours in rural precincts while cutting them back sharply in urban precincts (both in absolute and relative terms) in conjunction with voter ID initiatives, however, and things like that are just dickish.

  56. Eric, you may want to address the nature and power of behavioral habit in the context of this post.

    You experienced an emotional reaction in midst of a new social gathering, and then became concerned that it might reflect a latent and misplaced “racist” tendency. To prevent that habit from taking you down an undesired path, you exercised rational analysis and overrode it. This is one of the mechanisms of civilized conduct versus instinctive actualization.

  57. Accepting risk for freedom is a good principle, but you’re misapplying it here. Voting is such a powerful act…

    Voting is not the exercise of personal liberty, but of political power. This is why I despise the term “voting rights”.

    There is no more a “right to vote” than there is a “right to be a juror”. The rights in the courtroom are those of the parties to the controversy, to have their case heard by their peers rather than by an elite class of Lords. The rights at stake in voting are similar; to have the propriety of proposed government actions (laws, executive policies, etc.) judged by those same peers.

    And yet, proponents of “voting rights” somehow hold that the people who do not have the right to judge how much soda pop or alcohol to drink, how many calories to consume, what drugs to take, etc. for themselves; somehow have the “right” to make those same choices for us all (either directly via initiative/referendum/town-hall direct democracy, or indirectly by electing those who will do so). This Fundamental Contradiction of the Democratic Nanny State cannot be reconciled.

  58. My most vivid irrational “eww” experience was of a single person: A somewhat heavily built woman clerk at a post office window who had a neat little blonde beard under her chin. My brain just instantly registered that as “wrong” and I felt a bit queasy. I didn’t do any kind of sophisticated mind hackery about it, but as soon as I consciously noticed it I recognized it as irrational and did my best to carry on my mailing my letter—while saying to myself, “Huh, that’s weird!”

  59. … “physicalist”. If by that you mean someone who considers “mind” to be nothing other than a pattern of information in states of matter/energy in the brain.

    I stand corrected; yes, this is what I meant. And yet, immediately you continue with

    I don’t actually consider the question of who “I” am to have a single answer. The right answer depends on what kind of question you are asking. For many purposes it’s not productive to think of a mind as having a single “I” at all, but rather as a collection of scripts evoked by different adaptive challenges. For others it is useful to identify “I” with the narratizing tendency that weaves perceptual events into causal stories. For still others it is useful to identify “I” as the conscious mind (and the Robot as everything else).

    This equivocation drives me crazy (and I’ve mostly encountered it with evolutionists). Let’s use a word with so many meanings that no matter what we claim, we can always say we meant it some other way. (I can understand using a word to mean many things in colloquial speach – I think the word “is” has around 30 definitions in the dictionary – but not when trying to be, well, rational.)

    Anyway, completely off-topic; sorry about that.

  60. >Let’s use a word with so many meanings that no matter what we claim, we can always say we meant it some other way.

    That wouldn’t be “rational”, that would be dishonest.

    Language is a very blunt instrument for some kinds of questions and answers; reality is not constrained to be structured in such a way that it can be productively described by language derived from the categories of our daily experience. For a well-known example of this problem, study the wave/particle duality in quantum mechanics.

    Recognizing the bluntness of language is not equivocation, it is an important step towards sanity. To really grasp this, go study General Semantics.

  61. I, for one, think it’s time to stop being so mature about this and start the guessing game as to which race skeeved out ESR. I’m guessing something Southeast Asian fits the bill. The idea of a New Guinean pride rally near Philadelphia amuses me endlessly, too.

    Just kidding about all that. On a serious note, I always just figured racism came from an extended sense of family. Keeping my family safe is an evolutionary mechanism for survival. As an extension, the same goes for my tribe, my extended family. They’re generally going to look similar to me. I’m going to have some caveman rejection of the strangers who come along that look different.

    But whatever the cause, like you said, it’s about not giving into instinct but using this powerful brain we’ve developed – not letting some of its less savory aspects work us.

  62. @esr
    “Recognizing the bluntness of language is not equivocation, it is an important step towards sanity. To really grasp this, go study General Semantics.”

    And if it is part of an exchange between people, you need discourse and conversation analysis too. In general, the meaning is in the context.

  63. “If I went off of what news coverage of Europe looks like, I’d assume that the Netherlands is full of people who want to set Muslims on fire and hang them from their scrotums with rusty barbed wire.”

    I think my information about the USA is a little better than that. For one thing, I read this blog. For another thing, all our mass media are USA oriented.

    6 hour lines for polling stations (the Mugabe school of democracy), people who can vote legally but get visits from people who tell them they will go to jail if they do, polling stations that get moved miles unannounced. The list is so long.

    My philosophy is quite simple, anyone who tries to deny others their right vote is wrong. And if you know that people do voter fraud, there are laws against that and criminal courts.

  64. Winter on 2013-07-27 at 07:41:06 said:
    > My philosophy is quite simple, anyone who tries to deny others their right vote is wrong.

    Is it OK to deny someone the vote if they have no legal right to vote? (For example, if I worked in Amsterdam for a year, would it be OK for your government to deny me the right to vote in your elections?)

    Second question: is it OK to expect people to make a small amount of effort to exercise their vote, even if, as is the nature of society, the small amount of effort is slightly larger for some people than others?

  65. Recognizing the bluntness of language is not equivocation, it is an important step towards sanity. To really grasp this, go study General Semantics.

    A useful example to anyone who’s done serious programming is the concept of “equality”; phrases such as “marriage equality” are vacuous (and usually just emotionally manipulative) if you never define int(*compar), and yet most people arguing for “equality” in whatever sense usually throw a fit if you try to get them to explain what exactly it means to be “equal”.

    I don’t think this is necessarily a language problem per se, however: The human mind groups together various concepts under a label such as “equality” because the pattern-matcher recognizes some similarity between them, and our wetware has the nasty tendency to make questionable matches and then hare off on arguments from bad analogies.

    6 hour lines for polling stations (the Mugabe school of democracy), people who can vote legally but get visits from people who tell them they will go to jail if they do, polling stations that get moved miles unannounced. The list is so long.

    Union thugs and Black Panthers standing outside (or occasionally inside) the polling places with weapons, official party representatives taking vans of people from polling place to polling place to “vote early, vote often”…

    There are plenty of problems with elections, and pointing out shenanigans (and fraud) on the part of one party doesn’t mean that there’s a one-sided oppression going on.

    And if you know that people do voter fraud, there are laws against that and criminal courts.

    That might be a valid argument if individuals had the power to haul wrongdoers before a criminal court, but that redress was taken away from the American public in the early-to-mid 20th century. Now all criminal prosecutions are handled by professional prosecutors—who are all politicians—who get to decide whether to press charges in any particular case, even if nobody’s hurt (marijuana) or they’re implicated in serious felonies (Fast & Furious).

  66. @The Monster
    > There is no more a “right to vote” than there is a “right to be a juror”.

    I sympathize with your position Monster, but I don’t entirely agree. I think you are conflating “the right to vote” with “the right to vote for anything, and impose the majority’s will on all.” In the traditional American system what could be voted for was constrained by the constitutional mandate granted the part of government you are voting for. Further, the US Constitution is specifically anti democratic, requiring super majorities and the agreement of disparate divisions of government, along with various other mechanisms.

    It might have broken down a lot, but in principle if we agree that we delegate some of our individual liberty to the government via a constitution, then the right to vote on the control of that delegated liberty is a precious thing indeed, and certainly a right.

    Of course, you might align with our host in questioning if such delegation is actually necessary, but that is a whole other topic.

  67. Weirdly enough, racism is linked up in my head with *blasphemy*. Like, a very instinctive, fixed-in-early-childhood, “Oh shit, thought a bad thought, gotta unthink, gotta unthink.” I have little verbal mantras for removing bad thoughts — meaningless phrases, or the Periodic Table — that have sort of a cleaning effect on the brain. When I was a kid I would say the Periodic Table to get the bad taste out of my mouth if I accidentally thought of the words to a prayer in an inappropriate context.

    Maybe everyone does this and just doesn’t talk about it? I did once see the habit in William Gibson’s “Pattern Recognition”. The protagonist perceives bad taste (in clothes etc) as blasphemous/impurifying, has literal panic reactions to it that I recognize quite well, and uses a meaningless mantra to clear her mind.

  68. “6 hour lines for polling stations (the Mugabe school of democracy), people who can vote legally but get visits from people who tell them they will go to jail if they do, polling stations that get moved miles unannounced. The list is so long.”

    [citation needed]

    “And if you know that people do voter fraud, there are laws against that and criminal courts.”

    …which are meaningless when the party in power benefits from the fraud and the prosecutors are led by a political appointee. See the New Black Panthers case, where the prosecution had won> before dropping the charges, as one glaring example.

  69. 6 hour lines for polling stations (the Mugabe school of democracy), people who can vote legally but get visits from people who tell them they will go to jail if they do

    These were actual (isolated but [therefore?] trumpeted) incidents from the 2012 election cycle; a few places got their polling places jammed, and in one county somebody had been calling naturalized Hispanic immigrants with threats. As for the first, I figure early voting would virtually eliminate the issue, and the cynic in me says that cracking down on voter fraud would probably substantially alleviate it.

  70. “I have little verbal mantras for removing bad thoughts — meaningless phrases, or the Periodic Table — that have sort of a cleaning effect on the brain. When I was a kid I would say the Periodic Table to get the bad taste out of my mouth if I accidentally thought of the words to a prayer in an inappropriate context.”

    As a child I used to accidentally imagine/remember the sound of nails on a chalkboard in my head. I forget exactly what I used, but the solution was similar.

  71. @Jessica
    “Is it OK to deny someone the vote if they have no legal right to vote? ”

    I can not deny you a right you do not have.

    @Jessica
    “is it OK to expect people to make a small amount of effort to exercise their vote, even if, as is the nature of society, the small amount of effort is slightly larger for some people than others?”

    In the 2004 poll, Ohio is well documented. Note that the party in power then was the Republicans, both in Ohio and at the federal level

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2004_United_States_election_voting_controversies

    http://whatreallyhappened.com/WRHARTICLES/2004votefraud.html

    http://www.salon.com/2012/10/26/karl_rove_style_dirty_tricks_in_ohio/

  72. As others have said, at core that isn’t racism. Racism would just be a result of one possible misinterpretation of what you experienced.

    How do you react when you encounter people with extreme body modifications? Or people with mutations and/or birth defects? Amputees?

    I know the first time I encountered someone with ectrodactyly was quite an enlightening experience.

  73. Oh and in the case of encountering oddness that would lead to revulsion if you let it… I’ve found that simple good manners serve as well as anything else.

    Just say to yourself “This is a person and I will treat them accordingly” and then do just that. Before you know it the revulsion will diminish with familiarity and with you finding other things about the person that aren’t revolting.

  74. @Winter:

    You not being an American, not having knowledge with local conditions or access to more reliable sources of information… You don’t know (or aren’t willing to admit) what you don’t know.

    And that is giving you a terrible case of selection bias.

  75. @Jessica
    Even if the power represented by my vote were limited to just powers of government, I’m still not exercising my rights when I vote; I’m wielding power, precisely as I do when I serve on a jury (or, arguably, when I was a Notary Public and put my seal and signature on documents, thus providing a certain official status upon them in the eyes of the State of Kansas, which via Full Faith and Credit). No one has a right to sit in judgement of another. The rights in question are those of the parties. Those who judge exercise their (we hope just) power over the parties.

    The difference with voting is that I too am one of the people who have the right to be governed by laws adjudged as sound by that “jury of my peers”. When I vote, I’m exercising EVERYONE’s such rights, a tiny sliver of which is my right. But I don’t have a “right to vote”.

    >Of course, you might align with our host in questioning if such delegation is actually necessary, but that is a whole other topic.

    No, unlike ESR, I am a minarchist. I do not believe that true anarchy is stable; something will grow up with the powers of the state, whether it’s called “government” or “The Gambino Family”. What I share with the anarchists is the understanding that “The US Government” is not inherently one damned bit better than “The Gambino Family” just because it has “government” in its name.

  76. “argues that leftism historically is evangelical protestant Christianity. ” That doesn’t explain the high number of Jewish people who are leftists.

  77. In the 2004 poll, Ohio is well documented. Note that the party in power then was the Republicans, both in Ohio and at the federal level

    Wrong. If you’re talking about Cleveland polling places not having enough voting machines, that decision is made by the county election board, which in Cleveland (Cuyahoga County) is of course controlled by the Democrats.

  78. There was no “well documented” fraud in Ohio in 2004. You link to a pair of paranoid conspiracy theorists, and a WP page that just quotes everything anyone has said. The first name I noticed on the WP page was that of clinically insane former D congressman Dennis Kucinich. He’s not a reliable source that the sun rises in the east, let alone that his political enemies engaged in fraud.

  79. Kucinich believes that the Pentagon is beaming mind-control rays at us from space, and introduced legislation to ban this!

  80. >“argues that leftism historically is evangelical protestant Christianity. ” That doesn’t explain the high number of Jewish people who are leftists.

    No it doesn’t. I was just reporting Moldbug’s claim, not endorsing it. I think his reading of history is oversimplified, and underweights some of the most important features of Marxism – including its success at recruiting Jews. Moldbug’s grandparents were Jewish covert CPUSA members.

  81. @milhouse
    Salon is not a periodical of conspiracy theorists. WP contains links to other materials. These were just 3 links out of dozens from Google. These things were reported at the time by many media outlets world wide, with people on the ground. Sadly, the man who knew all about the Ohio voting machines died in an accident on the way to the hearing. So we might never know.

    So I have delivered incriminating witness reports and you have delivered only handwaving. Seems to be rather a weak position.

    But I have another question for you. From the tens of thousands of challenged votes on record in Ohio, how many proved to be fraudulent? And Republican?

    I interpret “unknown” as an euphemism for “almost none”

  82. Salon has published many hysterical paranoid fantasies over the years. In 2005 it infamously published an anti-vax piece by RFK Jr. The piece you linked to is long on insinuation and short on facts.

    The WP page is full of allegations and has no facts. And of course since all these allegations were repeated in what WP calls “reliable sources” it’s impossible to get rid of them; the admin cabal will put them back and block anyone who tries to remove them.

    There are dozens of links on Google for any insane theory you can name. You can find dozens of links claiming George Zimmerman is a racist butcher. That doesn’t make it a credible position to take.

    Many media outlets worldwide, with people on the ground, repeated insane rumours. Not a single one reported a verified fact.

    “Incriminating witness reports”?! Witnesses to what? Nobody saw anything incriminating, nobody reported seeing anything incriminating, you just had a lot of people repeating rumours.

    You interpret “unknown” to mean “almost none”?! Why would you do that? How do you know it doesn’t mean “almost all”? Who is using this “euphemism”, and what is their interest? The actual number probably is unknown, because most challenges were probably never investigated, since the number of challenged votes wasn’t enough to change the result, so it would be a waste of resources to investigate them.

    But in any event, let’s suppose for the sake of argument that it was your way, and most challenged votes turned out to be valid. What would that indicate? What percentage of challenged votes should one expect to turn out to be invalid? What percentage of challenged votes in the Netherlands turn out to be invalid? When one sees a vote that appears to have something wrong with it, and it’s for the opposite party, one challenges it. That’s how it’s supposed to work. Then if it ends up mattering, it can be looked at more closely and a decision can be made whether to count it or not. If no challenged vote turns out to be valid then the challengers are not doing their job correctly.

  83. >Salon is not a periodical of conspiracy theorists.

    Oh, stop. I’m hurting myself laughing over here.

  84. @ ESR – “Oh, stop. I’m hurting myself laughing over here.”

    That begs the question, “Is Winter more useful as archetype of statism or source of comic relief?”

  85. @ ESR

    I don’t actually consider the question of who “I” am to have a single answer. The right answer depends on what kind of question you are asking. … For others it is useful to identify “I” with the narratizing tendency that weaves perceptual events into causal stories. For still others it is useful to identify “I” as the conscious mind (and the Robot as everything else).

    As a lead up to my comments, I would like to say that I basically totally agree, other than to suggest that “the conscious mind” is also not one thing but comes from different parts of the brain depending on what you are trying to do (this is my conclusion, basically a result of introspection and thinking). Another speculation: I have suggested before that if you and your dog are both trying to decide whether it is safe to jump to that rock, you are both using basically the same parts of your brains. Further speculation: a lot of people seem to confuse the “narratizing tendency” with mind; I totally disagree and think that, often, much of the running commentary in a person’s head, in language, has little to do with the multiple things that person’s mind is doing. Another aspect: Have you ever been really thinking about something, considering aspects, gone to discuss it with someone only to realize that, you have temporarily forgotten the word for one of the key items you were considering and that you weren’t using the word while doing that considering? The point to this convoluted sentence is that the language part of the running commentary in your head often isn’t even part of conscious though, let alone the part of your brain that is, say, driving the car.

    Um… I realize I have packed way to much into the preceding paragraph for it to be coherent, but I am trying to say that, as you of course know, much of your reactions to things you see are not “conscious thought”.

    Now then…

    The following has been touched on, but I would like to hold up two of the aspects of your original post and suggest that they are really, by far, the most important parts of your original topic (if any one can remember what that was)…

    1. You don’t want to touch shit, smell it, and certainly don’t want to get any on you. If you trigger that (obviously evolutionary important) reaction, you get revulsion.

    2. Also important to evolution, but, perhaps much more so in in a subsistence-level society than ours is the (I suggest a hard-wired triggered) feeling that mutations are bad – in that subsistence-level society, you feel disgust, throw the mutant away and don’t waste resources on it. (Of course, in our modern society, mutants are “people with special needs”, which sort of makes me want to puke).

    Short version: hard-wired response: shit and mutants are bad; this is presumably part of where racism comes from, but in an individual instance, isn’t really directly racism at all.

  86. @ ESR

    Okay, in your OP, you said everything I said. I think the most important point I want to make is that your initial reaction was that you really didn’t like how these people look – the reaction is triggered by hard-wired stuff in your brain. This isn’t racism.

    Even if, for the rest of your life, you get the same reaction, it still isn’t racism.

  87. >Even if, for the rest of your life, you get the same reaction, it still isn’t racism.

    Not in itself, no. It’s when the firmware glitch gets a bunch of rationalizing theory accreted around it that it becomes racism. I was never confused about this.

  88. @ ESR

    Okay – hypothetically, what if essentially everyone here found that dealing with people of this race just makes their skin crawl and you were deciding whether to hire them in a customer-facing position. To make things more extreme, let’s suppose that this is a food-service position. You just do not think your customers are going to want to come back if these decent but repulsive people are serving them food.

    Would it be racist to decide not to hire any of this race to serve food in your establishment? (I am, of course, not talking about the law, with which both of us disagree.)

  89. >Would it be racist to decide not to hire any of this race to serve food in your establishment?

    No, no more than it’s “lookist” to hire pretty waitresses. Or “heightist” to only hire tall basketball players.

  90. Yeah. As it happens, I am re-reading some Larry Niven and one of the characters, that likes Puppeteers, decides not to eat at any Pupeteer restruant – he just doesn’t like the idea of people preparing his food with their mouths.

  91. I think we’re all wired to be somewhat racist from the get-go. It is up to the individual to repress the id and prove to oneself that you are a better more evolved person than that.

    On a somewhat related note, I saw this documentary on Netflix last night that may shed some light on racism, the ‘war on drugs’, and methods by which people rationalize and realize a system of high-class vs. low class to attain the segregation the id desires. Please watch ‘The House I Live In’ when you get a chance.

  92. Winter on 2013-07-26 at 06:15:10 said: I see reports of organized efforts to prevent non-whites from voting in the USA.

    Which are lies. There is considerable evidence of abuse of the voting process: districts where there are more registered voters than adult residents (per the Census); illegal voting by non-citizens; illegal voting by convicted felons; forged absentee ballots; a good deal more.

    The Left has been adamant in resistance to all measures that might prevent these abuses. Their constant tactic in opposition is to assert (despite a complete lack of evidence) a racist conspiracy to prevent blacks from voting. (No one has yet been silly enough to claim a conspiracy to prevent East Asians, South Asians, American Indians, or “Hispanics” from voting,)

    And reports of all kinds of tricks played to prevent “racial” mixing in neighborhoods.

    There are a few white working-class neighborhoods which tacitly exclude black residents by intimidation – largely because they are adjacent to black underclass neighborhoods that would swamp them with crime. One is Bridgeport on the south-side of Chicago; another is the suburb of Cicero just to the west of central Chicago. Both are about 40% Hispanic, these days. In addition, Bridgeport is adjacent to Chinatown, and Chinatown has spilled over into north Bridgeport without any trouble. (Chinatown was boxed in by rail lines and expressways; there’s about a half km of non-residential space between Chinatown and Bridgeport), and some coincidental barriers.

    Elsewhere, as near as I can tell, there is nothing to prevent “race-mixing” of any kind. There are neighborhoods which are 100% black – because no one else will live there. There are no 100% white neighborhoods at all.

    However, I have no doubt that you’ve read lots of stories about such “tricks”, because they’re stock-in-trade for the feel-good Euro Left, so they can look down on the U.S.

  93. Racism in the public square today is not about unfair discrimination as applied to individuals (that is usually addressed by a punch in nose), but is primarily about political grievance-mongering and vote-buying. The core problem is not one of bigotry but of corruption.

  94. Jeremy Bowers on 2013-07-26 at 10:26:07 said:While it’s sort of well known that “They all look alike to me” is associated with racist sentiment, I have wondered before if that is revealing a more fundamental truth than the speaker intends. If your visual recognition systems are doing you the disservice of feeding you data that fails to distinguish people as distinct at a very low cognitive level…

    It’s been scientifically documented that people of all racial groups have more trouble distinguishing members of other racial groups. Their perception of Xs is dominated by the common features which distinguish Xs from their own group; the differences among Xs are masked.

  95. It’s been scientifically documented that people of all racial groups have more trouble distinguishing members of other racial groups. Their perception of Xs is dominated by the common features which distinguish Xs from their own group; the differences among Xs are masked.

    It’s a little more subtle than that; the difficulty lies in distinguishing between individuals who have significant characteristics that are unfamiliar or unexpected. A Y who grew up in a community that included large numbers of Xs wouldn’t have extra trouble telling Xs apart. Conversely, take someone you know well from one context, dress him up differently and put him in a different one, and it’s likely you won’t realize who he is. Salience is determined by both broad and immediate contexts.

  96. @Rich Rostrom:

    There are no 100% white neighborhoods at all.

    There are some that come quite close. They tend to be inhabited by rich white liberals like Chris Matthews who like to lecture other people about white racism and white privilege.

  97. It’s a little more subtle than that; the difficulty lies in distinguishing between individuals who have significant characteristics that are unfamiliar or unexpected.

    Heck, take “race” right out of it. Think of anyone you know who has several siblings of the same gender. To you, the brothers or sisters might all look alike; you notice their similarities. But to them, they all look different, because they notice those differences. Our brains seem hard-wired to find conceptual common denominators by which to organize everything in the world into taxonomies. We need a certain critical number of instantiations of a concept before we begin to see the discriminating characteristics by which it can be usefully subdivided.

    As the old saw has it, the Eskimos have a lot more words for “snow” than most of us do. Skiers have more words for it than I have. To the rest of us “it all looks alike” indeed. Not a damned thing “racist” about this.

  98. While it’s sort of well known that “They all look alike to me” is associated with racist sentiment, I have wondered before if that is revealing a more fundamental truth than the speaker intends. If your visual recognition systems are doing you the disservice of feeding you data that fails to distinguish people as distinct at a very low cognitive level, your forebrain is going to have an uphill battle to avoid treating the people as a de-humanized group rather than a group of individuals, until you spend enough time around them to train your brain and start receiving distinctions.

    Don’t worry. To them — whoever they are — you all look alike, too.

    I was told by a Japanese friend that I resembled a certain handsome male celebrity. I took it as quite the compliment. Then I realized that “looking alike” probably simply meant that we were both white and had brown hair.

    My hypothesis is that we subconsciously construct a certain human norm based on the people we’re used to seeing every day, and we distinguish individual faces from each other based on their “vector difference” from that norm. Because people of a different race than we’re used to seeing are all very different from the norm, their vector differences from it are going to be close to one another, whereas faces close to the norm will have more spread-out vector differences from it.

  99. @esr ao
    “>Salon is not a periodical of conspiracy theorists.
    Oh, stop. I’m hurting myself laughing over here.”

    On a blog where every story contains at least several comments telling me about some world wide conspiracy, this sounds, how should I say this, odd.

    But for the rest, there are quite a number of eye witness reports about the shenanigans with which voters are “discouraged” to vote in the USA. The 2004 poll in Ohio was widely covered in this respect.

    All you have against these eye witness accounts is attacking the messenger and a lot of hand waving. But people you do not like can still be right. And some people think they are after them because, indeed, they are after them. I do not see any serious attempt to come up with any serious counter arguments.

  100. On a blog where every story contains at least several comments telling me about some world wide conspiracy, this sounds, how should I say this, odd.

    You’re equating the comments of the commenters with the articles posted by the site itself? (Also, which “conspiracy” are you referring to?)

    But for the rest, there are quite a number of eye witness reports about the shenanigans with which voters are “discouraged” to vote in the USA. The 2004 poll in Ohio was widely covered in this respect.

    Now you’ve moved the goalposts from “non-whites” to “voters”, but regardless, you’re talking about a country roughly the size of the entire EU, with comparable variation in cultural diversity, where there’s significant incentive for the media to report voter-intimidation and similar issues, but there are only a couple of stories (though accurate ones) in recent years, and those seem to be pretty much evenly spread among the voting demographics. Nobody’s denying there are problems; we’re denying that you can diagnose massive systemic racism from a number of incidents you can count in unary on one hand.

  101. there are quite a number of eye witness reports about the shenanigans with which voters are “discouraged” to vote in the USA. The 2004 poll in Ohio was widely covered in this respect.

    And I’m calling you on your bullshit. There were no shenanigans in Ohio in 2004. I challenge you to cite specific instances, with evidence. In particular, I remind you (as I did earlier) that the decision on how many machines to order and where to put them belongs to the local election board, which in D-dominated counties like Cuyahoga is controlled by the Ds. Also that universities are notorious hotbeds of fraudulent double-voting by students who vote both at home and at college.

  102. Winter wrote:

    My philosophy is quite simple, anyone who tries to deny others their right vote is wrong.

    So, you are working to repeal any kind of voter ID law used for Netherland’s elections? This prevents people who don’t have ID cards from their right to vote.

    I’ll note that you completely ignored the salient points of what’s being called “voter suppression” — all of which are used by your country — to trot out the disproven 2004 “Bush used election tampering in Ohio” argument from nearly a decade ago.

    We’ve got two states with voter ID laws, Indiana and Georgia. How come they’re not showing up on your Grand Conspiracy of Voter Suppression?

    Could it be that in both states, two things happened:

    1) 90% voter turnout (in elections where most districts turn out 50% in off-cycle and 60% in on-cycle) elections dropped to…50% off-cycle and 60% on-cycle.
    2) In spite of this “voter suppression,” total minority ballots went up, at a rate of about triple the population growth rate.

  103. For a bit of context, a five-year federal investigation running from 2002 to 2007 found no evidence of widespread or concerted vote fraud, certainly nothing that could tilt the balance of a Congressional election, let alone a federal one.

    From your point of view, attempts to tighten voting security prevent the Democratic vote-fraud machine from stealing elections. From another perspective, it looks like attempts to tighten eligibility requirements are an attempt to stave off the demographic collapse of the Republican party by discouraging certain people from voting.

    Does knowing that there isn’t a nationwide conspiracy to steal elections with fraudulent votes change anyone’s opinion here?

  104. I’ve linked to it before, but I thought it might be useful to remind people that the idea that we really have to care about what people have in their hearts with regards to bigotry as opposed to what people actually do isn’t particularly popular on the left.

    Note that nobody over there seems interested in whether or not people feel guilty, or whether they “transvaluate that revulsion into a sense of mortal sin”. I get where this comes from–a combination of the ideas that “nearly everyone holds bigoted notions” and “bigotry is a grievous sin” makes an easy recipe for guilt–but seriously, it’s ridiculous and at least some people who are nominally leftish seem to recognize it as such. (Really, I can’t speak for the entire left, but most of the “grievance factory” seems to consist of pointing out bad things and getting an angrily frosty response.)

  105. “For a bit of context, a five-year federal investigation running from 2002 to 2007 found no evidence of widespread or concerted vote fraud, certainly nothing that could tilt the balance of a Congressional election, let alone a federal one.”

    Landslide Al Franken was elected by 312 votes out of 3 million cast. 243 were awaiting trial or have been convicted of voter fraud in Minnesota as of August 2012.

    Tell me again how vote fraud couldn’t affect a Congressional election?

  106. @Winter
    > But for the rest, there are quite a number of eye witness reports about the shenanigans with which voters are “discouraged” to vote in the USA.

    But I am confused as to how this affects just decisions about voter laws. Even if we accept that Rs did indeed fiddle the vote with such tactics (though my impression is that the opposite is in fact true.) Even if it were the case, why does that mean it is unreasonable to require a photo id to vote, or have some centralized registry to prevent double voting? Just because some people are illegally suppressing some valid votes does not means that it is wrong to suppress invalid votes, don’t you think?

    Come to that, why does it even prevent laws that say that you have to have paid at least $1 net in taxes before you get to determine, by vote, how tax money is distributed, or some test of a reasonable grasp of the issues before you can vote?

    > All you have against these eye witness accounts is attacking the messenger and a lot of hand waving.

    What I remember clearly from the last election is a group of black uniformed thugs from the Black Panthers standing outside a polling place beating billy clubs against their hands. Given the extreme left wing agenda of the Panthers, I would really like an explanation from our Attorney General as to why he chose not to prosecute that widely seen, documented on video, type of voter intimidation.

    Anyway, all this voting is, as Monster rightly points out, bullshit and smoke and mirrors anyway.

  107. Race race race race, you people like this “race” word, it’s a race for the word race. Gosh. Also “minority”; that’s another weasel word.

    When you’re surrounded by a conspicuous amount of people of a clearly identifiable upbringing and that upbringing is different from yours… oh my god, you feel surrounded.

    Oh so weird.

    And they don’t certainly feel like a minority, there, more like a majority.

    Panic reactions, fight or flee reactions, are likely to happen, I mean, they better don’t, but it’s a possibility; heightened anxiety and psychosomatic reactions are even more likely to happen, and they probably will.

    That said. Is it the race? I have troubles mingling with a packs of Frenchmen, is that because of the color of their skin? No. I also hate those packs of Germans filling up the Riviera all summer long. And don’t get me started with North-Americans, you’re always walking on eggshells when there’s a North-American around, they’re nervous, and will probably snap. Yeah, Canadians, too. Does that depends on the color of someone’s skin? No.

    Those are cultural issues.
    (And absolute fear of everything is a North-American cultural trait)

    You guys mixed up races and sub-cultures. You told Asians they all look the same to you and they kinda bought it. Now they act like they are a single, new, culture. (also they roll out all sorts of fusion food that wouldn’t have happened otherwise, so it isn’t all bad, but)

    And let’s not even mention what you did to black people, and now they are not anymore anywhere conceptually near Sub-Saharans anymore. Actual Sub-Saharans are… pretty different. Different from North-American black subculture, and also “internally” different. They have nations. We get a lot of fresh Sub-Saharans in my country, they travel the sea, and it’s not an easy feat, and they all act different, depending on the culture they come from.

    We’ve got Senegalese people, we’ve got French Congo people, there are Nigerian and Ethiopian communities. They all have different stances on life, religion, and women. (some are Christians, some follow the Islam, but not the way an Arab would, not at all)

    So, it’s only cultures. Or in the case of the boring, homogenized, bear-reserve-you-call-a-country, sub-cultures. ‘Gotta respect them, to a point. After all, nerds used to be a subculture too. And girls used to get the creeps at the idea of getting trapped in a nerd social event, yes they did.

    I mean, those nerd guys SMELL BAD, and if you don’t pay attention, they are SO gonna rape you, aren’t they?

  108. @ Grendelkan – “Really, I can’t speak for the entire left”

    And please don’t forget to give me the shirt off of someone else’s back.

  109. @Jessica

    Given the extreme left wing agenda of the Panthers, I would really like an explanation from our Attorney General as to why he chose not to prosecute that widely seen, documented on video, type of voter intimidation.

    It’s worse than that. The Panthers were already prosecuted and convicted under the Bush Administration. All that was left was sentencing, and Holder (then-new head of the Department of Just Us) ordered the AAG working the case to drop it. It was not just “not to prosecute” but to “unprosecute”, if that’s even a word.

  110. Landslide Al Franken was elected by 312 votes out of 3 million cast. 243 were awaiting trial or have been convicted of voter fraud in Minnesota as of August 2012.,

    Not the first time either. Bob Dornan proved that he was defeated by fraud, but the GOP House majority decided to “play nice” and ignore it.

    Also remember that this is merely the tip of the iceberg. It’s almost impossible to catch and prove most voting fraud; for every one that did get caught and prosecuted, there are surely many that got away with it.

  111. There have been many convictions for vote fraud in recent years, and many more specific shady instances which apparently weren’t pursued: GOP poll observers barred, voters who when asked for their name pull a piece of paper out of their pocket and read from it, etc. This also strikes me as highly suspicious: Sixty percent of Milwaukee’s black voters have disappeared.

    Bring up any or all of the cases to a leftist, and all are dismissed as trivial, and “voter ID wouldn’t have stopped most of them, anyway.” But of course a secure voting system has to consider all possible avenues of fraud.

    I don’t think it was mentioned that numerous urban districts reported zero votes for Romney in 2012. The argument that this just reflects “demographics” seems unconvincing.

    Nearly every democracy in the world has a more secure system than the US. You know you’re not doing it right when Mexico beats you hands down for electoral security.

  112. @Jessica
    “Even if it were the case, why does that mean it is unreasonable to require a photo id to vote, or have some centralized registry to prevent double voting?”

    I am too busy at the moment to go into the general quagmire of USA voting. However, this particular misunderstanding can be addressed in a short note.

    My comments were only about report on the existence of vote suppression. I really have no opinion on this particular law to prevent voting fraud. Must be a bad formulation on my side.

    To be sure, I have to show an ID when I want to vote over here. But as every adult is required by law to have a photo ID, this is not exactly onerous.
    (before anyone starts, I am completely against that particular law on identification)

  113. @Jessica Boxer ” Even if it were the case, why does that mean it is unreasonable to require a photo id to vote,”

    It’s not. The problem is, we need to do things in the right order. In this case, that means we need a robust system for making sure that [i]everyone[/i] can get an ID, [i]before[/i] we make it a requirement to vote. This should be obvious from the relative scale of the two problems.

    What about using forms of ID that everyone already has? There’s no photo on them, but possession of your birth certificate and social security card (in addition to something like a utility bill for proof of residency) is adequate, at the DMV, to [i]get[/i] the photo ID, so why not just skip that step and have people show their birth certificate or social security card (proof of address was taken care of at registration time) when it’s time to vote? The latter even has a convenient unique ID number, to tie in with your centralized registry.

    “or have some centralized registry to prevent double voting?”

    Ah, but that would mean taking more control away from the states and putting it in the federal government, which conservatives are supposed to hate.

  114. @Winter
    >To be sure, I have to show an ID when I want to vote over here. But as every adult is required by law to have a photo ID, this is not exactly onerous.

    Just to be clear, it is this issue that is at the heart of the voter law controversy here in the USA. Everything else is really just a peripheral issue in support of positions for or against this.

    Bottom line is that Republicans generally want some photo ID to vote, Democrats do not. In my view, neither party position is held from a principled view, simply that they believe their positions, should they be adopted, would provide them an advantage.

    I am ambivalent on the subject. On the one hand I think there is a lot of merit to requiring some measure of proof you are entitled to vote — after all you can’t go to a Karaoke bar and sing “La Bamba” without one (yes, I did that this past weekend — sorry, it was the tequila that did it to me.) But on the other hand, I share your concerns Winter with the idea that everyone needs an identity card.

    Personally, I think our voting systems are shockingly out of date. It would seem to me a small matter to issue a mag stripe plastic voting card in the same way you get your voters registration.. And a small matter from there to allow people to vote over the net, and anonymously determine their vote had been correctly registered.

    Our voting systems today are based on various anachronisms, such as the difficulty of communication, the difficulty of identification, and the real anachronism that we need to “send” representatives to Washington because it took several days on a horse to ride there, and there was no alternative form of telecommunication.

    Were we to design a voting system today, using modern technology, it would be much less prone to fraud, and much more responsive. Of course given that too many people favor “democracy” perhaps the crappiness of our electoral systems is a good thing.

  115. Jay Maynard: Landslide Al Franken was elected by 312 votes out of 3 million cast. 243 were awaiting trial or have been convicted of voter fraud in Minnesota as of August 2012.

    According to who? All of the fraudulent voting convictions in the 2008 Minnesota election (see page 16) were due to felons voting. (Minnesota prevents prisoners, parolees and probationers from voting.) It’s hardly a massive conspiracy to steal elections (even in the most tightly-contested race in recent memory!); for comparison, over two million registered voters didn’t vote in 2008 because they lacked ID. Just to look at the scale here.

    Milhouse: Also remember that this is merely the tip of the iceberg. It’s almost impossible to catch and prove most voting fraud; for every one that did get caught and prosecuted, there are surely many that got away with it.

    Well, that’s a nice article of faith, but it seems a little witch-hunty. A five-year federal investigation turns up evidence of pervasive voter fraud? There’s pervasive voter fraud! A similar investigation turns up no such evidence? There’s invisible pervasive voter fraud! If you find yourself making this sort of argument, then your math is wrong.

  116. ESR: > For preventing visceral racism, and all the nasty things that flow from it, what we need to do is simple: be sane and be self-aware.

    I think you’re right, but do you really think it’s simple ? seeing that it apparently required “training [one]self in applied rationality and experimental mysticism so hard for so long” to pull that off ?

    And then maybe “guilt” is actually the 90% good enough solution for the less competent ?

  117. @ kn – “but do you really think it’s simple”

    Yes. Behavioral habits can be taught and acquired in a matter of weeks, particularly with young children and using standard educational techniques.

    When I was in grade school (public, 1960s), this sort of common-sense habit was taught routinely, though not explicitly as a racism avoidance technique. Sadly, professional politicians took over the public education system beginning in the late 1960s and now use this edifice for political indoctrination. A lot of kids naturally rebel against the political bullshit; and as a consequence, they also lose out on the common-sense training.

  118. @grendelkhan
    > for comparison, over two million registered voters didn’t vote in 2008 because they lacked ID.

    So 2 million people were denied voting because they did not make the most basic of preparations before exercising the right to impose their will on other people. I bet they had a real command of the issues.

    Sounds more like a feature than a bug.

  119. over two million registered voters didn’t vote in 2008 because they lacked ID.

    I question this. They actually asked two million people why they didn’t vote? Or does this mean there are two million names on voter registration lists that didn’t vote and can’t be linked to IDs? It could be evidence of fraud, or two million dead people who are no longer in the system as having IDs. It is in no way proof that two million people were denied a right to vote.

  120. They actually asked two million people why they didn’t vote? Or does this mean there are two million names on voter registration lists that didn’t vote and can’t be linked to IDs?

    Apparently they asked a sample of people who didn’t vote why not, and about 10% of them said it was because they didn’t have the right ID. Not that they were turned away, but that they never turned out because they didn’t have the right papers. From this they extrapolated that since about 20 million registered voters didn’t vote, 2 million of them must have had this reason.

    Which is nonsense for several reasons, e.g. that it assumes all the registered voters actually exist and are eligible to vote. But also, who cares? If someone couldn’t be bothered getting ID, or finding it, then of what value would their vote be anyway? What’s so great about increasing turnout when it’s low-quality?

  121. Well, that’s a nice article of faith, but it seems a little witch-hunty. A five-year federal investigation turns up evidence of pervasive voter fraud? There’s pervasive voter fraud! A similar investigation turns up no such evidence? There’s invisible pervasive voter fraud! If you find yourself making this sort of argument, then your math is wrong.

    If you go looking for sardines with a net that has six-inch holes, you shouldn’t be surprised when you hardly catch any.

  122. All of the fraudulent voting convictions in the 2008 Minnesota election (see page 16) were due to felons voting.

    In other words, the only fraudulent voters who got caught were the ones whom it was relatively easy to catch. People who cheated in ways that were harder to detect were 100% successful. There are lists of felons that can, if you bother, be matched against the list of voters. But there’s no publicly available list of aliens, for instance. And no amount of list-matching is going to catch people who vote in other people’s names, or who are registered and vote under assumed names, or who vote in two states.

  123. One wonders how many of those who “didn’t have the right ID” were illegal aliens, felons living under assumed names, or were otherwise ineligible to vote.

  124. They should do the purple finger thing like they do in Iraq. And eliminate postal voting except those who can prove a genuine and pressing reason why it’s impossible for them to vote in person. Have mobile polling stations to go to the housebound, witness them vote, and purple their fingers. And require proof of citizenship on registration. Right now there’s nothing preventing aliens from registering and voting, and they’re very unlikely to get caught unless they do something stupid like citing their alien status to get out of jury duty.

  125. Certain kinds of tattoos and piercings do that kind of thing to me too. I am more revulsed than I can account for.

    I don’t know whether I buy your interpretation of your experience, but I thank you for having the guts to think out loud about this subject.

  126. > Which is nonsense for several reasons, e.g. that it assumes all the registered voters actually exist and are eligible to vote.

    Why does it assume that? It only assumes that if you assume they threw away any that they discovered did not exist or were not in fact eligible.

    I.e. suppose the sample size is 1000, and 100 said they didn’t vote because of ID problems. It doesn’t matter if 100, 200, or even 500 of the 1000 didn’t exist or weren’t eligible, 100 is still 10%. You’re basically assuming, with no basis, the sample size must have really been 10000, and the 9000 that didn’t exist or weren’t eligible didn’t get factored in.

  127. @Random832
    > Why does it assume that? It only assumes that if you assume they threw away any that they discovered did not exist or were not in fact eligible.

    Actually the problem is that you post a link to a 200 page document and, using a standard Web commenting tactic, tell us that you are right unless we pick through 200 pages to analyze the methodology of the survey. As if these surveys aren’t often full of bias and poor methodology.

    If you want us to consider the evidence then don’t just post a link, post a summary of the data including the methodology, so that we can reasonably critique the information you want to share without taking a day out of our lives to read it all.

    And of course, post a link too, so that we can refer back.

  128. I didn’t post any such a link, I wasn’t the one talking about any study. That was grendelkhan. Anyway, there is such a thing as the burden of proof, and you can’t just always say it’s on the other guy – particularly when the claim Milhouse is making (and he seems to be talking about something specific; who’s not sharing a link now?) is that their methodology is so laughably and obviously bad that it involves arbitrarily throwing away one of the categories from the sample.

    And rhetoric like “low quality” voters is – well, I’d say shocking, if I hadn’t seen it here before. It’s like people can’t comprehend the possibility that someone [particularly someone on a lower income] might have a more significant expense (in travel costs and lost wages) than they themselves would in going to the DMV to get an ID.

  129. Milhouse:Which is nonsense for several reasons, e.g. that it assumes all the registered voters actually exist and are eligible to vote.

    Random: Why does it assume that? It only assumes that if you assume they threw away any that they discovered did not exist or were not in fact eligible.

    I.e. suppose the sample size is 1000, and 100 said they didn’t vote because of ID problems. It doesn’t matter if 100, 200, or even 500 of the 1000 didn’t exist or weren’t eligible, 100 is still 10%. You’re basically assuming, with no basis, the sample size must have really been 10000, and the 9000 that didn’t exist or weren’t eligible didn’t get factored in.

    What are you blithering on about? Are you really this thick, or just pretending? They say that since 10% of their sample of non-voters say they would have voted if they’d had ID, and since 20 million people didn’t vote, it follows that 2 million of those would have voted if they’d had ID. And the most obvious reason (among many) why that’s nonsense is that it assumes that all 20 million non-voters exist and are eligible. For each million of them who doesn’t really exist, or is ineligible, the number of non-voters-for-lack-of-ID must be reduced by 100K.

    And that’s just to start with, before we get on to other questions like how representative their sample was of the existing-and-eligible non-voting population. (e.,g. people who didn’t vote because they’re not really interested are disproportionately likely not to have been interested in doing the survey either.)

  130. And rhetoric like “low quality” voters is – well, I’d say shocking, if I hadn’t seen it here before. It’s like people can’t comprehend the possibility that someone [particularly someone on a lower income] might have a more significant expense (in travel costs and lost wages) than they themselves would in going to the DMV to get an ID.

    What’s shocking about it? If someone can’t invest the time and effort to get ID (and one wonders how they got a job, or welfare, without one) then how likely are they to invest the time and effort to become informed enough that their vote is worth anything?

  131. In fact, in addition to the purple fingers, they should bring back literacy tests, but written and administered with absolute rigor and fairness. Apply it to all voters when they register, or to a random (selected blindly) sample of them. And make sure the qualities it tests for are actually good proxies for someone’s quality as a voter, so no testing in Welsh unless the text to be tested on is published in advance and people have plenty of time to study it.

    Actually I like Heinlein’s suggestion of presenting a voter with a computer-generated differential equation to solve; the kind of people who run voter-registration drives can run classes to teach people how to do this, but those incapable of learning how are probably also incapable of forming an informed and valuable opinion on the issues at stake in the election.

  132. “””What are you blithering on about? Are you really this thick, or just pretending? They say that since 10% of their sample of non-voters say they would have voted if they’d had ID, and since 20 million people didn’t vote, it follows that 2 million of those would have voted if they’d had ID. And the most obvious reason (among many) why that’s nonsense is that it assumes that all 20 million non-voters exist and are eligible. For each million of them who doesn’t really exist, or is ineligible, the number of non-voters-for-lack-of-ID must be reduced by 100K.”””

    No, it assumes that the percentage of them who don’t exist or are ineligible is the same as the percentage of the sample , which is _independent_ of the 10% who were eligible and weren’t able to vote because of ID problems.

    If 50% of the 20 million don’t exist or are ineligible, so are (roughly) 50% of the sample. This is how statistical sampling works.

  133. Unless you have a link to the study and it clearly states that it was 10% of existing eligible voters rather than 10% of all registrations, then your assertion is based on nothing.

  134. > “(e.,g. people who didn’t vote because they’re not really interested are disproportionately likely not to have been interested in doing the survey either.)”

    Once again, you’re assuming those people would have been thrown out of the sample rather than simply recorded as “didn’t answer” (and thus counted against the 10%).

  135. > then how likely are they to invest the time and effort to become informed enough that their vote is worth anything?

    Because getting an ID is a large [to someone on a low income] one-time expense, involving: (in some states) a fee for the ID itself, travel expense to a DMV which may be distant, an unpaid day off work if it’s too far to reach on your lunch break, and of course there’s no guarantee the DMV is open long enough for you to actually get processed in the geographic areas where they’re only open a few hours a week so you risk having to repeat this multiple times.

    Meanwhile, becoming informed enough for your vote to be worth something can be done in your spare time for free.

  136. It is nearly impossible to live as an adult in modern America without a photo ID. You cannot drive, fly, travel by train, or use Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, or a hospital without one. You need it to get a job, buy a house or rent an apartment, establish an account with a bank or utility, cash a check, use a credit card, buy alcohol or tobacco or a prescription, or use a pawn shop. The idea that there are vast numbers of people who never do any of those things, and yet are eligible to vote, is absurd.

  137. For however many people there are who don’t have IDs and need help getting them, I suggest that the Brennan Center, the renamed remains of ACORN, and other lefty groups pitch in and help them get IDs, instead of spending their time and money blocking attempts to prevent voter fraud.

  138. “I suggest that the Brennan Center, the renamed remains of ACORN, and other lefty groups pitch in and help them get IDs, instead of spending their time and money blocking attempts to prevent voter fraud.”

    Are you kidding? That would be the perfect setup for those organizations to pump out phony IDs to fraudulent voters.

  139. @ESR there is I think another method, putting yourself into situations where the obviously human behavior of people of different races overshadows their looks. I mean the problem with the typical meeting a dark skinned guy alone at night visceral fear is that he is just walking. Any animal can walk. There is nothing specifically human about walking. You would feel more familiar and safer if he would be doing something more specifically human, such as talking on his phone. The more you do specifically human things with people of color, such as talking, the weaker is the dehumanization urge.

    But it seems it needs to be repeated. Like most Eastern Europeans I am prone to dehumanize gypsies / Roma. I did it much less when I actually had buddies amongst them, these buddies happened to be pretty messed up, but we were at least talking, they had an opinion of things and so on. But I have not talked to any Roma in 15 years now and their humanity is fading out from my brain. I just don’t remember how anything seemed from their point of view.

    I know it sounds like a silly liberal idea to just get everybody together and talk, and indeed it will not resolve most conflicts, the specific problem of visceral dehumanization it can resolve because anything that thinks and talks is human enough.

  140. @Random832
    > Meanwhile, becoming informed enough for your vote to be worth something can be done in your spare time for free.

    That’s not true at all. You need access to information sources, like a TV or newspaper or the Internet. Or, if you want to use the free resources you need transportation to the library, or perhaps a day off work to have the time to spend at the library, and of course, you need to pay property tax or rent to pay for the library.

    Which is to say pretty much all the arguments you use to claim that getting a photo ID can be hard can equally be made about getting informed.

    Except that getting informed is much much more difficult, and requires much more effort. Further, as that other guy pointed out, it is practically impossible to live in modern america without a photo id (unless you live in the gray, cash only economy, in which case you are probably not entitled to vote) but it is clearly possible to live in modern america without having the first clue what is going on around you, especially in politics.

  141. One of the reasons why District 9 was such a damned good film is that the design of the alien “prawn” race is intended to trigger atavistic squick in much the same way you describe — with their chitinous insectoid exoskeletons, large and uncharacteristically humanoid eyes, and Cthulhu-like mouthparts. By creating intelligent and sympathetic characters that creep us out with their appearance, Neill Blomkamp shows the audience how to overcome their visceral racism and see the person inside.

  142. True, but District 9 is also a hugely politically incorrect allegory about blacks in South Africa.

  143. No, it assumes that the percentage of them who don’t exist or are ineligible is the same as the percentage of the sample , which is _independent_ of the 10% who were eligible and weren’t able to vote because of ID problems.

    If 50% of the 20 million don’t exist or are ineligible, so are (roughly) 50% of the sample. This is how statistical sampling works.

    Bullshit. The sample members by definition existed! You can’t recruit phantom people for a survey!

    They gave them 14 options and asked them which of these were major or minor factors in their decision not to vote. 87% of them chose one or more of these 14 reasons. On average, each non-voter chose 2.4 factors. 7% of them chose “I did not have the right kind of identification” as a major factor, and another 3.4% chose it as a minor factor.

    Unless you have a link to the study

    Good grief. The link was posted here at the same time as the claim, you just referred to it yourself! If you haven’t read it how can you make claims about it?

  144. > Bullshit. The sample members by definition existed! You can’t recruit phantom people for a survey!

    Sample from the list of registrations; any found to not exist go in their own category; it’s not rocket science. I honestly hadn’t seen the link at the time, and this apparently wasn’t done, but it’s obvious how it’s logically possible to do.

  145. So, why haven’t any conservative groups done any studies about this?

  146. So, why haven’t any conservative groups done any studies about this?

    Why should they? What is to be gained from it?

  147. Heh. “Visceral, he said..”

    See, this is how I think I might have gotten crossways with Harold Covington, my favorite Internet Nazi. IIRC, I mentioned in comments to his blog that my racism is not visceral and emotional, but rather intellectual and aesthetic.(White women really are better-looking than all others, and the prices Mohammedan slave traders paid for them proves that.)

    Hell, I don’t get along with genetically-similar people any better than I get along with anybody else.

    Why, yes, I do think I’m somewhat autistic.

    .

  148. >(White women really are better-looking than all others, and the prices Mohammedan slave traders paid for them proves that.)

    There’s actually some evo-bio reason to believe this is true.

    Sexual-selective preference for lighter skin on women has been observed in all racial groups; biologists who have studied the matter believe this is because clear skin is a proxy for immune-system health, one which greater melanization masks. Markers for immune-system health are particularly sexy in women because they are good proxies for ability to survive childbirth in dangerous pre-modern conditions.

    Now let’s talk about blonde hair. Blondism is actually polycentric, arising from different mutations in three widely separated racial groups. It’s considered extra sexy in all of them, probably because hair darkens with age; thus, women who are blonde into adulthood are emitting a youth signal.

    Furthermore, the distribution of the alleles for blue eyes is suggestive. Population geneticists think blue eyes originated as a point mutation in Northern Europe about 60ky ago.It has since spread extremely rapidly, now being commonly found as far south and east as Afghanistan. Because blue eyes aren’t directly adaptive outside of regions with low light levels and a lot of mist, sexual selection is almost certainly involved here too.

    So, a woman with light skin and hair is emitting signals of fitness-to-bear that aren’t available to her more melanized sisters. Bonus sexual-selection points if she has blue eyes.

  149. True, but District 9 is also a hugely politically incorrect allegory about blacks in South Africa.

    Kind of. It’s actually one of the few films to actually qualify for the term “science fiction” (rather than sci-fi). It is not really an allegory so much as a semi-realistic snapshot of what would happen, all else being equal, if aliens were substituted for blacks in the South African apartheid situation — the very sort of what-if game science-fiction authors and fans love to play. Note that in the movie, blacks are more openly vicious in their anti-Prawn racism than even the whites — recontextualizing racism as a fundamentally human trait rather than something intrinsic to one particular human subgroup as exercised over other particular subgroups.

    Blomkamp grokked visceral racism to a degree that most political commentators on race can’t approach.

  150. I know some men are attracted to clear dark skin and thick dark hair because I’m one of them. Also, pale skin and hair can be taken as signs of sickliness rather than high fitness-to-bear.

    Maybe there are majority and minority strategies here, with the majority going for the fair-skinned blue-eyed blondes, and the minority hunting for fitness-to-bear “bargains” among the more melanized.

    (And then there’s the stereotype of the romantically-attractive man being “tall, dark, and handsome.”)

  151. Sexual-selective preference for lighter skin on women has been observed in all racial groups; biologists who have studied the matter believe this is because clear skin is a proxy for immune-system health, one which greater melanization masks. Markers for immune-system health are particularly sexy in women because they are good proxies for ability to survive childbirth in dangerous pre-modern conditions.

    That creates a dilemma, though; as blemished skin is much more pronounced on a light-skinned woman than on a dark-skinned one; I perceive the average black woman’s skin as clearer and more attractive than the average white woman’s in large part because of this. The same goes for age markers; the skin of white women is more susceptible to sun damage and hence wrinkles, so they are more likely to look their years. (The truth behind the saying “black don’t crack”.) So a particularly young and fit white woman could indeed trade on being obviously young and fit, while most of her sisters would have to scramble to mask their more visible deficiencies in the attractiveness department. (Generating a booming cosmetics industry in the process.)

    I will concede the point about blue eyes; especially since the farther you get from Northern European, the more exotic and intriguing blue eyes seem to be. Vanessa Williams might not have been crowned Miss America if not for being a blue-eyed black woman. Even within whites — blue-eyed blondes are ten a penny these days, whereas blue-eyed brunettes have become something of a hipster sexiness ideal, as exemplified by the likes of Zooey Deschanel.

    I suspect that Mohammedan slave traders could command higher prices for a white consort simply because to their clientele, white women looked more exotic. Today in the Western sex trade — licit and illicit — East Asians seem to hold this status of being particularly prized, for similar reasons.

  152. That creates a dilemma, though; as blemished skin is much more pronounced on a light-skinned woman than on a dark-skinned one; I perceive the average black woman’s skin as clearer and more attractive than the average white woman’s in large part because of this. The same goes for age markers; the skin of white women is more susceptible to sun damage and hence wrinkles, so they are more likely to look their years.

    That’s exactly the point – those are honest signals of youth. Same for large breasts. They sag as the woman gets older – if she’s got large perky breasts she’s young.

  153. I don’t want to stir the pot again, but as evidence for a previous comment that I made on one of the race posts, and as a general example of how some kids in school behave these days which completely mirrors my own experience in public schools in Los Angeles County over a decade ago…

  154. @esr
    >So, a woman with light skin and hair is emitting signals of fitness-to-bear

    So here is a curiosity. Please explain the success of LA Tan and its competitors, despite that minor side effect of their service — cancer and death.

  155. I think that this is a change that may have to do with post-industrial revolution economic changes. Prior to 100 or so years ago, a tan meant you worked outdoors, so white skin was a sign of a higher class. Similarly, back then being skinny meant not having enough food or being ill, and so some plumpness was a sign of health and wealth. Now, things have flipped: a tan (and being skinny) signifies leisure time, health, and wealth.

  156. That story influenced my thinking a lot as a child and young man. And I am proud to say that this time, at least, I was homo novus. I didn’t let my Robot run me. I kept analyzing until I was able to isolate and identify the glitch in my wetware, and I coped. Thank you, RAH.

    This is a technique that Gurdjieff — who was to experimental mysticism what Dennis Ritchie was to our trade — calls “self-remembering” and it’s a powerful starting point.

    But God damn it, “Gulf” was a Mary Sue wankfest shitfic, like much of RAH’s work. It is to the mind and spirit what fructose is to the body.

  157. So here is a curiosity. Please explain the success of LA Tan and its competitors, despite that minor side effect of their service — cancer and death.

    As PapayaSF said, but this one can be traced to Coco Chanel personally. She virtually singlehandedly transformed a tan from a sign of poverty into one of leisure.

  158. @Jessica/Fluffy Girl In a Mans World
    “So here is a curiosity. Please explain the success of LA Tan and its competitors, despite that minor side effect of their service — cancer and death.”

    Any signal of health and wealth will become erotic and attractive.

    A tan became a signal of the leisure class last century, which is predictive for wealth and health. Skin cancer was almost absent then (compared to other risks like smoking and drinking). We now see a counter movement that people reject certain levels of tan as a signal of low SE status and unhealthy habits (e.g., high alcohol consumption).

    In Africa, health and wealth are signaled with a high BMI (sub-obese), especially in women. The reason is obvious, AIDS, TBC, and a host of other chronic (parasitic) infections are rive, as is malnourishment. A certain level of fat is a sign of both health and wealth. Men in Africa are attracted to that (as I heard from women who visited Deep Africa).

  159. @Winter
    >A tan became a signal of the leisure class last century, which is predictive for wealth and health.

    Of course I understand that. But the original argument was that fair skin was an evolved preference, something built deep into the psyche. Generally speaking, it takes a lot for a sociological or rational construct to overcome the lizard brain. Girls, after all, like bad boys.

  160. @Jessica/Fluffy Girl In a Mans World
    “Of course I understand that. But the original argument was that fair skin was an evolved preference, something built deep into the psyche.”

    Sexual selection tends to be idiosyncratic.

    Any preference or honest signal can be used: Hair length (New world), Penis size (as they claim in Africa, less in Europe, less still in East Asia), Skin color (fair in Europe, dark in Africa), Lip and butt size (all humans), or hair color.

    I think that fair skin is just some idiosyncratic preference that simply was frequent enough and did not convey too much of a disadvantage (skin burn and camouflage?) to get imprinted in the population. The one plausible argument would be that the extra vitamin D obtained by fair skinned women helped settle this trait. Other arguments that it is adaptive seem to me just rationalizations.

    @Jessica/Fluffy Girl In a Mans World
    “Generally speaking, it takes a lot for a sociological or rational construct to overcome the lizard brain. Girls, after all, like bad boys.”

    The same is found in nesting birds. Ornithological studies can read like genuine soap operas:
    https://www.nytimes.com/1990/08/21/science/mating-for-life-it-s-not-for-the-birds-of-the-bees.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

  161. @Jessica: I’m not sure to what extent a tan really is preferred. The adwriters and other marketers say that it’s The Thing, but I’ve never been attracted to tans for their own sake or even particularly strong ones. One data point and all, but I’m wondering if this doesn’t fall into the same category as too-skinny-to-menstruate models.

  162. Fluffy Girl In a Mans World

    So here is a curiosity. Please explain the success of LA Tan and its competitors, despite that minor side effect of their service — cancer and death.

    Tanning indicates sluttiness. Men respond to both cues of suitability as long term mates (fair skin) and to cues of easily available sex (darker skin and revealing clothes).

    Oh, and you’re completely wrong about the cancer and death part too. Sun exposure prevents more cancer and death than it causes. Humans don’t produce vitamin D upon exposure to UV by accident.

  163. Hmmm, sorry to be after the battle here. Just to say I had a similar experience, one. It’s not fun, when you always saw yourself as a tolerant anti-racist. But I did learn a lot, that day.

    It was nearly midnight, I did work very late, & at least could take the last train to my home. Usually, most passengers on this line are like me : white. That time of day, it was different. two minutes after the train left Paris, I raised up my eyes from my book. And I was surrounded by blacks.
    A big fear did instant conquer me. I felt I was about to be target of violence. It did last a few minutes. Then the train did stop at the first station, StDenis. I then realized that I had been 100% irrational. All those black people were exactly like me : honest workers back from a hard working day.

    Lot of lessons learned that day :
    (1) I’m a racist, as everyone is. including people who think they are not. Even you, Winter. Look deeper. No; not here – even deeper.
    (2) Collective unconsciousness is strong. The only reason for my fear was “everyone knows blacks are inherently violent”. That’s false, of course(even if some of them are), but even if I knew it was false, it still did dominate my mind for a few minutes.
    (3) The only way to escape it is to aknowledge it’s there. As Raymond said. you need to have a great intellectual honesty to find the beast in you, and overcome it. I’m not sure many people are able to be honest enough with themselves.
    (4) Blacks in France have the crappiest jobs with the crappiest schedules. At the same time, most of them are recent newcomers who didn’t have a lot of schooling. It fits.
    (5) Maybe the most important : the basic mode of our brain is idea associations. We associate ideas together. That’s the root of racism(and plenty of other scourges), despite a great efficiency. A “not like me” has misbehaved. Therefore, all “not like me” are likely to misbehave the same way. That’s the standard reaction, directly coming from evolution. And so wrong in many cases still.

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  166. As with the commenter above, I seem to have come late to the discussion.

    First, I originally followed a link from Ace of Spades to your post on “Kafkatrapping.” I really enjoyed it, and stuck around and perused some of the other posts on the front page. This post in particular caught my attention because I am endlessly fascinated by the mechanics of how we think. As I get older I come to believe more and more that we act viscerally almost all the time and only very rarely think things through. This is not always a bad thing. However, I am not sure we realize how much we do on auto-pilot, and how little we actually think- even those of us who think of ourselves as “analytical.”

    In any event, great blog from what I have seen. I look forward to reading more.

  167. Heh. I was a kid in the South in the fifties, with a Black nanny. I never had any visceral racism against SSAs. I mean, no revulsion, or anything. I had my parents warn me off playing with a Negro kid, after we moved to Southern Florida, which is rathar Northern.

    It was only after I grew up and met some Negroes, not individually, but in groups, that I began to fear them. They generally really do dislike white folks, I believe.These days, it seems a lot of them are ready to act on that dislike.

    I don’t seem to have any visceral racism in me, maybe some aesthetic racism, but I go by statistics, like The Derb. I mean, a sub-continental ain’t likely to knock me down and kick me. I do resent his presence in my peoples’ country, though..

    My country was conquered by, and founded for, my fellow British Protestants. Who let all of you other assholes in?

  168. I mind the Mexican War, the last one we fought conducted entirely by founding-stock Americans. We went through those Mexicans like grass through a goose. There are towns in Georgia, such as Buena Vista, named after battles we won in Mexico.

    I really do believe that 1924 immigration restriction law was about 100 years too late.
    I don’t mind the Irishmen, so much as I do the German residue of that 1848 thing who washed up over here. They interacted with our native Puritan busybodies to found the Republican Party, a centralizing, nationalizing bunch which was contrary to the spirit of the Constitution, and downright un-American. Most of those Krauts fought on the bad side in the Lincoln War. I am happy to boast that all four of my great-grandfathers fought honorably against the United States of America in that war.

  169. > I am happy to boast that all four of my great-grandfathers fought honorably against the United States of America in that war.

    The harm the Confederates did by yoking states’ rights and Constitutional decentralism to the defense of slavery nearly matches the evil they did by defending slavery. Your grandfathers fought in a bad cause and have nothing to be proud of. Neither do you.

  170. Here in Australia, it’s quite widely projected in the mainstream media and by our politicians that we are a multi-cultural paradise, and that “racism” is an activity that a small majority of the popularity indulge in. Defining what constitutes as racism here unfortunately is fairly difficult but if I were to define it I would call the “taking of action and/or expressing any viewpoint/opinion on any medium that is deemed to be offensive or contrary to opinions or viewpoints held by another ethnicity and/or their lobby group/s”

    At the risk of being extremely unpopular for me personally I’d like a little more segregation. I don’t with them ill will or harm, I just have a personal preference for whom I have to live around and interact with which I would consider a basic human right. I have on a number of occasions in discussions with other people mentioned my observation that many of various races choose to segregate themselves. The looks of horror I was given were quickly followed by warning to keep that to myself and not be vocal in my “racist” opinions.

    Well, phooey to them. I’d rather be honest than well liked. Everyone harbours opinions or fears that would see them publicly branded an evil racist and as far as I am concerned that’s fine and not just learned behaviour, but a primal instinct too.

  171. The Map is not the territory. Yes alot of reaction is robotic. Just as most of us blacks look at whites as saviours, cousins of Jesus christ, providers. In South Africa , there is word which decsribes white people as Mlungu. The same word in Most central African countries means GOD. So with respect to what happened to most black people , most white people think this man will revenge. Most crimes or violence commited by black folks is because of ecomnomic reason or Police force. If you grow up in a fenced compund and your parents tell you to stay away from Negroes, you can only develop that philosophy and next time you meet them, you expect them to behave according to the doctrine. The two genetic vectors need alot of time to undestand each other.

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