The math giveaway: if A is really likely to be true (say, 90%) and B is very likely to follow from that (say, 80% likely), we feel very confident that B is true. Thus, when we learn that C is a very probable outcome of B (say, 70% likely to follow), we feel pretty secure in stating that C is very likely to be true. Wrong. It's only 50-50 at that point.
bsking's younger brother, Tim ("okay, I'm not that liberal") King brought an interesting observation to beer night tonight: liberals and conservatives mean different things when using the same terms. Yes, that may not seem surprising, but bear with me. Or with him. Conservatives tend to use political terms in a more narrow, specific way; liberals understand a term to include its downstream and related effects. Example: Conservatives understand racist to mean a somewhat measurable refusal to grant a person of another race their obvious rights and due. That is, to deny a person a job, or apartment, or award, or opportunity based on their race. This is also why conservatives believe that reverse racism can and does exist. Conservatives hear the word "racist"and hear only a single note.
Liberals hear the term racist to include the way we designed our schools, and elections, and rules of commerce, and cultural norms, and a hundred other structures a century ago and more. Not all liberals go very far down those roads - in fact, the JFK's and Hubert Humphreys and Jimmy Carters and even Bill Clintons didn't go very far down those roads at all. But they went farther than conservatives did then. About as far as conservatives go now, in fact. Ignore for the moment that Carter and Clinton, being deep partisans, have gone further down those roads since first being elected president. Conservatives like to notice, and even sneer, that Kennedy would be closer to the conservative platforms now. The flip side of that is that Kennedy or Johnson or Humphrey would be candidates conservatives would vote for now. (But not McGovern. Let's not get crazy here.)
Those liberals, when a note like "racist" was played, would hear a harmony note, or even a chord. There was considerable acknowledgement among them that merely looking at what had happened to Kaitlyn versus Keisha was inadequate. Notes have harmonics; notes strongly played fit into only a few chords, so those chords are likely; chords occur in sequences, so the elements of some song are bubbling up. The story of why Kaitlyn got the job but Keisha didn't was not written just this afternoon. That story started before they were born, and the first sentences need adjusting even now.
The people we call Social Justice Warriors go very, very far down those roads. They hear an entire song, and some hear a symphony. I was going to post a few weeks ago on the expansion of the phrase "white supremacist," but I figured that was rather a niche item and a passing fashion. Tim specifically brought that phrase up tonight as one that is being greatly expanded by liberals but remains very narrow and specific to conservatives. So much for my ability to read the culture and predict its fashions.
Let me state at the outset that I have a lot of sympathy for the early stages of this argument. When I hear a note, the accompanying thirds are not far out of my hearing, even though no one suggests them to me. Yet no song occurs to me from a single note, and certainly not any symphony.
I think it is ridiculous when conservatives try to maintain that nothing flows from individual racism. I get it that they are using this as a tactic, trying to get liberals to prove each step along the way, because accusation is easy but proof is hard. Yet still, I think the racism of my ancestors (I'm thinking of my grandmother here) likely did have an effect on how our systems were designed, and those favor folks like me. Probably true.
Yet not definitely true. There's some doubt here. Some cultural choices might be obviously Swedish or Scots-Irish, yet not actually favor those groups more than a percent or so. They might actually very fair and neutral standards. That is one of the claims of the defenders of Western Civilisation, actually, that we chose those standards but they are actually pretty neutral and fair. If your group thinks they aren't maybe you're just projecting what you'd do in our shoes. One of our cultural things is bend-over-backward neutrality, in fact. We don't fully succeed at it, but we come darn close.
But let's grant that downstream effect arguendo. What next?
Well, we think that C pretty obviously follows from B. And D is pretty darn likely once we get to C.
And let me guess: L is really, really likely to be true if K is true.
This is why I think the earlier liberals - the Humphreys and O'Neil's and early Bill Clinton - were sometimes wrong but not always crazy. The chords were actually possible, though not definite, from the notes given. I do think that conservatives, and especially libertarians are wrong when they calim that nothing flows from any note but the note itself. But not everything that has a C# in it is Mahler's Symphony in C# Minor. It might not even be "Mary Had A Little Lamb." It might just be an F# chord. It might just be that one note. I can go down that road a little, but not much. 70% times 70% is less than 50%.
I really think this is a problem of the Arts and Humanities, especially Journalism, stereotype. They don't do math. They only dimly understand such things. They are comfortable moving from island B to C and D and on to H and I, each looking likely, not seeing that they are now hopelessly off course.