Sunday, July 09, 2017

Ignoring Race

In dealing with psychotic people, I have almost got it into my head that one does not put the energy into contradicting a delusion or misinterpretation.  It is wasted energy.  A favorite psychiatrist was explaining to a beleaguered wife of a veteran with schizophrenia "Let him walk the boundaries thinking he's protecting the family.  Your children have grown, your neighbors understand, and he isn't hurting anything. You only have to step in and forbid him when he says he's going to go down to the town hall, or the police station, or those bastards at the VA and going to do something about it.  You may think you can nip those situations in the bud by intervening when he's just grousing or complaining.  That may work with children.  It usually doesn't work with children (he had five) but sometimes it does and it's our job as parents to try.  But it almost never works with adults.  Postpone all confrontations until you have to."

I still yearn to nip those situations in the bud, because as a person who wants to be reasonable and see the world act reasonably I want to change someone's thinking that 15 degrees that makes all the difference.  But my psychiatrist friend was right, it doesn't work.  Nor does it work very often with people who aren't psychotic, but have long ago made up their minds.  Which includes me, and perhaps you as well.

So I think ignoring the race-IQ, race & violence, race and impulsivity, or race and any ability is the way to go.  Liberals may focus on group outcomes, but libertarians, conservatives, and all true children of The West focus on the individual.  We should try to maintain that focus as long as we reasonably can.  This holds true for male-female, straight-homosexual, Christian-nonbeliever, old-young, and ethnic differences as well.  Insofar as it is possible, we should push all those thoughts aside.  Absent any solutions that are real rather than theoretical, there is simply no point.  There is no need to waste the energy.  The worldly world values intelligence, wealth, education, charm, beauty, connections, athletic ability and other values which the Christian is supposed to enjoy but regard lightly.  We are supposed to prize generosity, kindness, faith, wisdom, chastity, courage, hope, honesty, and a dozen other virtues instead*. To use Jesus's calling-on song Let he who has ears hear: the worth of a woman or man is not in these things.

The crunch comes when the discussions turn into actions.  When innocent police officers, or teachers, or school administrators, or employers are being blamed because the explanation for individual behavior is placed on systemic bias or residual racism, then we have to rise up out of the tall grass and cry False! **  As with the veteran with schizophrenia above, only when such things come to action - when they are going into the textbook (or from the textbook to the student); when they are going into legislation; when they are going into a public shaming of a decent person doing his job should we be bound to intervene.  In public debate we should be willing to match arguments when others have introduced race or gender or religion (even while pretending not to), but we should not be eager to bring these up. We should go down those roads when we have to.

I reluctantly think it is fair to bring up when racism accusations are part of campaigning.  I have lo0ng said "If we aren't racist.greedy/sexist then they have nothing to campaign on."  I suppose we should try and take anme-calling away from them as much as possible.

*In the scout law we see Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.  I don't see wealthy, educated, intelligent, or charming in there - though the real virtues may produce the worldly ones at times.

** I am not claiming that systemic bias or residual racism are never present.  It's just that they are too easy to appeal to without warrant.

8 comments:

Sam L. said...

Systemic bias and residual racism are wonderful accusations because they are so diffuse and all-encompassing. Trouble is, of course, in the rationalizing of arguments to attempt to support those accusations. Liberals/progressives don't like specifics/individual explanations; they like the amorphous masses.

Unknown said...

http://takimag.com/article/the_talk_nonblack_version_john_derbyshire/print#axzz4mSwecvbC

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Derb made some good but uncomfortable points there, but he also got some things wrong. When he applies the 1SD difference in IQ to every workplace he doesn't think it through. There is a minimum necessary cognitive ability for each task, as Laura pointed out commenting on Environment and Intelligence http://assistantvillageidiot.blogspot.com/2017/06/environment-and-intelligence.html

A group with a lower average IQ might have a greater number of people right at that cutoff and fewer in the ranges where intelligence makes things somewhat easier. Think waiting on tables, being a pediatrician, teaching kindergarten. The African-American average you see in each of those positions might be 5 points less than the white average, but not the 15 from the general population. Drop too far and you just can't even marginally do the job. I think that's a big deal to get wrong.

White people, generally, don't see a large percentage of black people - those who live in all-black areas.

He makes some other mistakes of similar nature, of what cues to look for that are dangerous, and so forth.

Grim said...

Rereading that article, I can see clearly why Derb got fired for writing it. His editors should have taken him aside and told him to submit something else. There's uncomfortable truth, and then there's "amulets" and "do not be a Good Samaritan to blacks."

On the question of jobs, I once talked to a guy who only hired people below a certain IQ for given tasks that were particularly repetitive. He said that he found that such people were perfectly happy to do the same thing all day, every day; anyone more intelligent would have been driven insane by the experience. Of course, those sorts of jobs can be readily automated now, making those people economically useless rather than productive contributors in whatever small way.

Automation's an improvement, of course. But now what to do with the people?

jaed said...

When innocent police officers, or teachers, or school administrators, or employers are being blamed because the explanation for individual behavior is placed on systemic bias or residual racism, then we have to rise up out of the tall grass and cry False! ** As with the veteran with schizophrenia above, only when such things come to action - when they are going into the textbook (or from the textbook to the student); when they are going into legislation; when they are going into a public shaming of a decent person doing his job should we be bound to intervene.

Hmmm. I'm pretty sure I disagree with this.

Suppose we often hear ignorant or foolish arguments concerning some matter. And we lurk in the tall grass and say nothing, because arguments are annoying and often fruitless and won't change anything.

Then, over time, the ignorant or foolish arguments become dominant, because no one seriously disputes them. It gets harder and harder to oppose them. Eventually, the ignorant and foolish arguments harden into conventional wisdom, and at that point, if we rise out of the tall grass because the arguments are becoming actionable... no one will listen. Because the arguments are opposing the conventional wisdom that's all everyone has heard since childhood, and opposing them seems like lunacy. "Because everyone knows..."

This is how we get global warming hysteria solidified into the culture, with all its attendant ignorance concerning climate cycles, the limits of modeling, and the practice of science. It's how we get people who have no idea that average IQ varies between population groups, and that this has expected consequences when we look at group results. (More troublingly, it's how we get people who can't figure out that "average IQ for group A is lower than the average for group B" doesn't mean "every B is smarter than any A"—because the idea hasn't been discussed in front of them, neither have the implications.) It's how the rising generation got the idea that slavery was invented and solely practiced by Americans. It's how we get all manner of ignorance, because we didn't point it out when it was small, and now it's grown large enough to threaten all of us.

Texan99 said...

If we're going to have affirmative action and, more generally, "disparate impact" jurisprudence, we won't be able to get away from variations in IQ by race.

For me the real danger is racism is the inability to judge an individual fairly and accurately because of a group-based assumption that is immune to learning by experience with an individual. If the group-based assumption is wrong, the situation is dire, but it's bad enough even if the group-based assumption is relatively accurate. Rules of thumb may be well enough, but they have to give way to particular information.

GraniteDad said...

"We are supposed to prize generosity, kindness, faith, wisdom, chastity, courage, hope, honesty, and a dozen other virtues instead*. To use Jesus's calling-on song Let he who has ears hear: the worth of a woman or man is not in these things."

And once again, Jesus is wiser than we are. None of these virtues is inextricably tied to intellect or impulsivity or anything like it. Jesus us calls us to what we can attain, with his help. I'm constantly amazed/embarrassed at scriptures that call out that what I base my self-worth on mean nothing to Jesus. How many books I read for the Book-It challenge in 2nd grade doesn't mean anything to him.

GraniteDad said...

Also, AVI's thoughts on Derb are spot on. I checked in on Derb recently as I love his writing style and his commentary has only gone downhill from there. Sad, really.