Saturday, January 21, 2012

Race and self-enhancement

Robert Trivers claims in The Folly of Fools that blacks explicitly self-enhance but subconsciously feel that they are inferior. Consistent with this blog's analyses, Trivers cites research indicating that, when asked, blacks inflate themselves more than whites. But Trivers then describes studies that show that blacks implicitly associate whiteness with goodness and blackness with undesirability. They also perform worse on IQ tests when reminded that they are black. Whites, by contrast, associate whiteness with goodness and do a bit better on tests when reminded that they are white. Trivers explains this in terms of identfying with the oppressor: to reduce conflict, victims self-deceive and adopt the view of the exploiter.

In my view, Triver's goofy leftism runs him off the rails here. The fact is that whites are not the oppresors of blacks, and have not been for several decades. It is also a fact that whites are better suited than blacks to life in a civilized society. Perhaps blacks sense this inferiority subconsciously--which is revealed in these studies of subconscious attitudes--but their excessive self-enhancement is manifested consciously. This helps explain phenomena like clownish Afro-centrism. Or perhaps the truth is as simple as whites creating a dominant culture which minorites tend to absorb because it's the water you swim in. The culture doesn't portray whites as superior, but it is mostly made by whites. You might identify with the leader, not because he is exploiting you, but because he is the leader.

For whites, their subconscious self-enhancement is most simply explained as natural: if Trivers is correct, people naturally self-enhance unless there is something to override it.     


  1. Anonymous10:34 AM

    Maybe goofy leftism, maybe not.

    Trivers has been married to two Jamaican/ black women and thus has four half-black children. That's a prime motivator for messing up rationalist analysis on researching black behaviour.

    How many people would tell their half-black children that blacks aren't poor b/c of racism, but IQ If his theory of self-deception is correct, it is entirely understandable (human) for him to want his children to feel good about who they are. In fact, if his theory of self-deception is correct, such a man couldn't be able to convince even himself otherwise.

    Ftr, I like Trivers and his work. Colorful, crazy, interesting thinker, he.


  2. He may believe his own BS or know better but be afraid of being Watsoned.

  3. Anonymous11:03 AM

    The fact is that whites are not the oppresors of blacks, and have not been for several decades.

    I am not sure whites ever really oppressed blacks. Oppression implies that if the victims were set free they would flourish and prosper far better on their own, kind of like the folks who left Europe and settled the US.

    Whites definitely exploited blacks by forcing them to work and organizing and training them to do productive work that they couldn't figure out how to do without an outside agent coming in and training them and forcing them to do.

  4. I disagree that oppression is defined by consequences. One can be oppressed by being coerced to not do something that you think is suicidal and anything else you think is self-destructive up to it.

    The slave trade was an absolute abomination and not just to Africans but to Europeans who didn't want Africans in their environments.


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