Sunday, August 16, 2009

What is racism? Recently, One Standard Deviation wrote about how human biodiversity doesn't accept any of the premises found in the following definitions of racism:


1(a): a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.
1(b): a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
2: a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
3: hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.


I would like to go in another direction. Some words come to have strong emotions attached to them. "Racist" delivers the message that you are an illegitimate person. You are outside the bounds of respectability. You should be drummed out of polite society. It's the emotional equivalent of calling someone a criminal.

That being the case, it's my position that 1(a) and the first part of 1(b) are underhanded attempts by liberals to demonize ordinary people who see the evidence differently, and especially to marginalize hereditarian researchers. Believing the races are genetically different is a belief about facts, and an incorrect belief about the facts is not illegitimate. If I believed that phlogiston causes combustion, that makes me mistaken, not evil.

And frankly, I don't even see how a belief that one race is better than another is criminal either. If someone believes that blacks are the best race, I would ask myself how they come to that conclusion and how do we determine what is best, but it's only the contempt for other races or mistreatment correlated with, but not the same as, beliefs in superiority that are destructive and wrong. If you treat me fairly, what do I care if you think my race is not as accomplished as yours? So you have a goofy belief? So what.

And in 1(b) the belief that genes determine cultural achievement is made illegitimate. You're on outlaw if you think that way. I say nonsense. It's the same as before: it's not immoral to have a mistaken belief. And what if it turned out to be true? Then it would be criminal to believe true things, by that definition.

In my view, the only things worth passing judgment on are: 1) having ill will toward a race of people; and 2) favoring the unjust treatment of them. So all the haters of any race are racists in my book. Of course, the problem is that liberals see hatred in every conceivable thing, so even this more narrow definition is commonly abused. People hate when they say they hate. If you hate and deny it, you're like everyone else and accept that hatred is wrong. You just have a problem you need to fix. To wish ill will on others and to embrace it proudly is true racism.

Exploiting another race is also unacceptable. Slavery is bad; second-class citizenship is bad. Equality under the law is what every non-racist favors. Now all this is clear. What is less clear is that the desire for special treatment and double standards by minorities is racist. Favoring one thing for my race and another for yours is racist. Racial preferences for mine and racial discrimination for yours is racist. Favoring the interests of my race over the interests of yours is racist. That being the case, racism in America today is most concentrated among non-whites. Our current president is a high-profile example of a racist. He believes the law should favor blacks over whites in college admissions and jobs. This for us, that for you. Racist.

10 comments:

Jewish Atheist said...

Speaking as a liberal, I don't think most liberals are necessarily aware of people who "see the evidence differently" but do NOT harbor "ill will" towards other races or or favor "unjust treatment" towards them.

You have to realize that until a generation ago, there was a LOT of ill will AND unjust treatment. So when a liberal hears someone talking about, e.g., the Bell Curve, he will probably assume that the person also harbors ill will and favors unjust treatment.

Such assumptions are unfair, but you also have to be honest about the fact that they're not always -- and perhaps not even usually -- incorrect. You, Sailer, Half Sigma, and others appear to be largely interested in HBD without harboring those feelings... but you are dwarfed in number by your readers and commenters who clearly do.

So yeah, it's unfair that you are (ironically) stereotyped... but let's not pretend that all the actual racists out there are just perfectly fair-minded and friendly people with genuine interests in social science and statistics about humans.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

"It's not immoral to have a mistaken belief. . . . the only things worth passing judgment on are: 1) having ill will toward a race of people; and 2) favoring the unjust treatment of them."

I almost agree with you, but in practice I think it's difficult to separate mistaken beliefs from unjust treatment. If you have an incorrect belief about a person, you might treat that person in a way that would be just if your belief were correct but which is in fact unjust. The best of motives can result in immoral behavior when combined with false information. (Of course I'm not trying to say all or most racists have the best of motives. But some do.)

If you believed that one race were inherently superior and had the right to rule others, wouldn't that affect how you behave and how you vote? And wouldn't that behavior be just if you were right and unjust if you were wrong? Only if your beliefs didn't influence your behavior at all (which would be odd) could they be considered morally irrelevant.

luis said...

What JA is trying to say is that not all readers have your brains, Ron. You have said it yourself: judge the individual, not the group (I don't remember if those were the exact words).Unfortunately, that's a rather abstract concept for many readers. You've said this is not your intention, but there's bound to be an idiot who reads HBD blogs, become outraged at what he reads, encounter a NAM in public, and do or say something stupid.
You have to also understand, it's hard to convince NAMs(particularly blacks) that HBD enthusiasts are not hateful towards NAMs, and here's why I think so:
Blacks have been treated poorly for a long time. A discriminated group, with fairly fresh memories, has a difficult time distinguishing between criticism and hatred. Another example: Jews. They've been persecuted for centuries and are understandably extremely sensitive towards any criticism by a non-Jew.
So you cannot expect NAMs to meekly read/listen to your findings, ideas and values without feeling vexed.

Anonymous said...

Ron,

I don't know what you teach, but it is clear you care about academic standards and merit based certifications as appropriate. I hope you will consider a post on the current proposal to allow some universities to exempt students from preliminary actuarial exams. This would be similar to allowing some universities to let their graduates be CPA's without taking the exam.

Consider this letter at the Actuarial Outpost site:
http://www.actuarialoutpost.com/actuarial_discussion_forum/showthread.php?t=172883&page=4

"My name is Matthew Arnold and I have recently been made an Associate of the Society of Actuaries. I'm going to be direct about my opinion: I think that it is a TERRIBLE idea. I have read the proposal and the argument for doing this seems to be to attract more people into the profession. I agree that removing formal exam settings may accomplish this, but try to think about why you want to attract more people into the profession. There is a demand for actuaries because of their demonstrated knowledge of risk. If formal exam requirements are lifted, the quality of actuaries will almost certainly decrease resulting in less demand for actuaries. Couple this with more "qualified" actuaries competing for the fewer jobs. I don't understand how anybody who's passed even one exam can think that a university can produce actuaries of the same quality. College professors are human and sometimes give preferential treatment to certain students. It is a harsh reality, but we all know this to be true (even at the best universities). I decided that I wanted to become an actuary in high school because of the exams. I saw it as a way to gain control of my future through merit. For the first time at age 23, I am beginning to question my decision because of this proposal. I can only hope that my peers who have earned their credentials alongside me will voice my sentiments at least as strongly.

Matthew Arnold, ASA"


I think it represents an overall trend in lowering standards and is dangerous.


“Feedback will be collected through September 10, 2009.
This date was selected to provide the Boards of the CIA, CAS, and SOA with member comments prior to each organization’s fall Board meeting. Comments received after this date will still be considered. Please submit your feedback along with your name and organizational affiliation to fem@actuarialdirectory.org.”

As the professional competence of actuaries underlies the integrity of so many of our public institutions and private businesses, it seems that exempting actuarial students from preliminary exams would be a step in the wrong direction.

Sorry for the off topic comment.

Jim Bowery said...

The word "racism" is a memetically engineered biological weapon.

VA said...

The second and third comments seem to imply that it is right, or even possible, to police people's thoughts, based on the (unproven) notion that those with 'incorrect' and 'bad' thoughts about racial differences will go out and harm or ''discriminate'' against nonwhites.
Obviously the idea is that only Whites can be guilty of this 'racism.'

The first few comments make sweeping statements about 'injustice' done in the past, apparently basing their ideas of the past on multiculturalist propaganda which magnifies White guilt while absolving nonwhites of any culpability at all. This is just an absurd and unrealistic idea of human nature. Nobody is 100 percent wrong, nobody is 100 percent right, but if you believe the propaganda, Whites are always the villains and minorities always the victims. This is a profoundly childish and manichaean view of the human race.

If there are injustices being done today, in a day when Whites are guilt-ridden, and practically handing their countries over to nonwhites, then the injustice is 'on the other foot' as it were.

Remember, there is more than one side to any story, and were it not for the people who blog about HBD we would only hear the one side which is the one side we hear in the old media.
-VA

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

"Whites are always the villains and minorities always the victims. This is a profoundly childish and manichaean view of the human race."

Yes, it's a pretty rotten thing to believe, and it could lead to unjust treatment of whites -- provided it's not true, that is. If it is true, though, then believing it, and shaping policy accordingly, is the right thing to do.

As it happens, I think it's not true, and I think the HBD people are right -- but that's my point. It matters whether they're right or not. Their argument should not be that their beliefs are okay because any and all beliefs are okay, but that their beliefs are okay because they're true.

I don't think anyone's beliefs should be censored or suppressed, but there's nothing wrong with a little ridicule and demonization -- provided it's deserved.

Anonymous said...

Ron,

This: "I would like to go in another direction. Some words come to have strong emotions attached to them. "Racist" delivers the message that you are an illegitimate person. You are outside the bounds of respectability. You should be drummed out of polite society. It's the emotional equivalent of calling someone a criminal."


............is the tactic the left uses to marginalize counteraguments to the dishonesty-offensive by attacking the character of the person making the arguments. Thats all it is, and its why they use "it" endlessly and shamelessly.



Real racism, in my opinion, would be: "Lets go conquer nation X and enslave (or kill) the inhabitants there and take their land from them.


The things the left calls racist now are just objections to their socialist plans and tactics to buy voters (set-asides), import voters, and noticing that the races are indeed gifted in different areas (common sense).

Silver said...


So yeah, it's unfair that you are (ironically) stereotyped... but let's not pretend that all the actual racists out there are just perfectly fair-minded and friendly people with genuine interests in social science and statistics about humans.
-- jewish liar

You're right, JL. Some of us think that what all those cool social science stats do is illustrate numerically what most of us already long felt -- how thoroughly ridiculous the present diversity set up is (and how much worse it will be in years to come) and what a fantastic idea it would be to reverse or dismantle it. Frightens the pants off some people, but good ideas remain good ideas nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

"So when a liberal hears someone talking about, e.g., the Bell Curve, he will probably assume that the person also harbors ill will and favors unjust treatment."

So liberals assume. No shit. Makes an ass out of you and me...But seriously, if you thinking that HBDers are bigots and that gives you the vapors, fine by me. I enjoy seeing people like you getting their knickers in a twist. Also, as a lover of diversity, you obviously must live in Detroit. Anything else would be hypocritical.