The Race and IQ Question: the turn to philosophy

Finally, I’ve found it! A philosophy site is discussing Derbyshire’s article. I’m sure they’ll offer a formal rebuttal. Let’s see what they have to say.

First, a history of slavery, segregation, and (yes) racism, means that African American communities suffer from some social problems at higher rates than whites.

Hmmm… no evidence given for their favoured causal explanation of black social problems. Also focuses on problems in “African American communities,” downplaying the reality of interracial crime. Still, let’s give them this, for the sake of argument.

But that doesn’t change the fact that the majority of black people – statistically, and not just based on politically correct fuzzy thinking – are employed, not on welfare, have no criminal record, and so on and so forth.

Ok… that’s true, but Derbyshire never said it wasn’t. If you say that motorcycles are more dangerous than cars, I can’t refute you by saying that most motorcycles are kept in good repair. It’s irrelevant.

So the kind of thinking that enlightened racists see as their way of staring a hard reality right in the face turns out to be just a silly rationalization using weak statistical differences.

Wait…what? Weak statistical differences? These are weak statistical differences? Then what, in the name of god, would a strong statistical difference look like? If airline A crashes once in every 1000 flights and airline B crashes once in every 1,000,000 flights, it’s not a very good defence of airline A to say that most of their flights don’t crash. “Both airline A and airline B land most of their flights successfully.” Please.

In 2010, for instance, the violent crime rate was 403.6 per 100,000 people. Or .4 percent. And of course, those of us who don’t live in neighborhoods with high crime rates and don’t fit other high risk demographics have an annual chance of victimhood that is much less than .4 percent. And over an entire lifetime, our risk of being murdered is also about .4 percent. In other words, one’s chances of being a victim of violent crime is already so low, that even accounting for higher crime rates among African Americans, one’s chance of being a victim of violent crime by an African American remains very low.

Are you serious? Your reply to Derbyshire is to say violent crime is nothing to worry about… ever? The odds of being hit by lightning in a given year is one in a million, or 0.0001%, but that doesn’t mean I should spend every lightning storm wandering around outside lifting a golf club to the heavens. [That’s based on reported rather than total estimated strikes – the odds rise to 1/775,000 for estimated strikes – but the violent crime rate is also based on reported crimes, so this seems like the fair comparison.]

Violent Crime... nothing to worry about!

Second, there is the issue of character: because this, after all, is what really motivates these attempts at establishing an enlightened racism that gives individuals the benefit of the doubt while acknowledging the truth about general cultural differences. And here the idea is that black people generally have worse characters than white people: that they are more hostile, unintelligent, promiscuous, rude, and so on and so forth.

First, the appeal to motive is a logical fallacy; second, there’s no evidence that the “enlightened racists” have the motive here claimed.

If someone offers data purporting to show that the mean IQ of blacks is lower than that of other races, one can’t respond by saying that their motive is to show that the mean IQ of blacks is lower than that of other races. “Sorry, Mr. Newton, but your theory of gravity is flawed. It’s motivated by the desire to offer a theory of gravity.”

I think it suffices to respond in the following way: people tend to mistake their discomfort with the cultural differences of a group with that group’s inferiority.

This is not an argument. It’s the equivalent of saying “you only think motorcycles are more dangerous than cars because you grew up being driven in a car.” This might suffice in reply to an emotion, but not to a factually based argument. If I say “black people commit more violent crime than white people” it’s pretty weak to respond “you’re just uncomfortable with the cultural practises of blacks, like committing violent crime.”

But they should reflect on whether that discomfort really provides them with the evidence of inferiority they think it does. If they respond with sociological data about education and birth rates and all the rest, we only have to respond that like crime rates, they’re exactly the sort of consequences one would expect from a history of oppression

Since Derbyshire was offering advice for keeping safe, it doesn’t really matter what the cause of the black crime rate is. A murder that was caused by historical oppression still leaves you dead.

[these data] fail to justify racist stereotypes. For example, in 2009 for Americans 25 years and older, 81.4 percent of African Americans and 90.4 percent of non-Hispanic whites had a high school diploma; and 17.6 percent and 31.1 percent respectively had bachelor’s degrees. Hardly the kind of statistical differences that will allow us to determine the education level of a randomly picked individual based on race alone.

How is this relevant to Derbyshire’s argument about crime rates? No-one claimed that you could determine the education level of a randomly picked individual based on race alone. One cannot refute an argument by saying something true about a different subject.

So here is the hard truth that advocates of enlightened racism need to face: their sociological data and ideas about black character, intelligence and morality are post-hoc rationalizations of their discomfort with average cultural differences between whites and blacks.

This is not an argument. Seriously, this is the best a philosopher can come up with? “Your data is a rationalization of your prejudices!” I suppose data connecting smoking and cancer is a rationalization of scientists’ prejudices against smokers.

I’m still looking for a logical “anti-racist”. Any takers?


About Pechorin

A Hero of Our Time
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5 Responses to The Race and IQ Question: the turn to philosophy

  1. Pingback: A “philosopher” (ohh!) takes a stab at Derbyshire « The Sharpening Stone 磨刀石

  2. I like the post. As I don’t yet know much about logical fallacies, it forced me to look up the appeal to motive fallacy in detail, then I came back to continue reading your post and you had explained it better than the wiki. I made another post here if you wanna check it out. Doesn’t add much, but I felt it too long for a comment:

    Thanks for posting that Youtube video btw… it sickens me, and makes me glad that I don’t live in the US anymore.

  3. John says:

    Apparently that wannabe-philosopher has never heard of conditional probability. What a fag. To think that our educational system is producing millions of these jokers.

  4. Pingback: In Search of a Rational Anti-Racist, part 1: Greek Doctors, Arabs, and Early Modern Philosophers | Pechorin

  5. The judge reassured her that if she so much as sneezes the wrong way, she will wind up behind bars for a year..

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