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February 24, 2005


Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

* The most original and reflective response that I've run across to Christo's Central Park "Gates" comes from Searchblog.

* John Emerson writes that Michael Meyer is, along with Stephen Toulmin, his favorite contempo philosopher. I confess that I'm completely unfamiliar with Meyer's work, but John has certainly put Meyer on my radar screen.

* Luke Lea has written a moving personal-history posting.

* Gerard Van Der Leun's "Law of the Blogger" gives Kipling a run for his money. Plus, what it says is oh-so-true. Hunter S. Thompson's suicide prompts Gerard to recall an evening spent in the great man's not-so-great company.

* Razib points out that, sometimes, agriculturalist populations revert to hunting-and-gathering.

* Steve takes a look at state-by-state imprisonment rates, and notices some interesting patterns.



posted by Michael at February 24, 2005


Re: Steve Sailer's racial imprisonment rates.

That piece was atrocious. Not because of the data, I'll assume that's correct. However, I assume that Steve knows that correlation != causation, which means that the unspoken thesis of the article (blacks are predisposed to criminality) is deliberately misleading. The article is a sham, and I'm disappointed that Steve felt it necessary to descend to this sort gamesmanship.

Try correcting for known causitive factors like poverty and age and then at least we'd have an article that says more than blacks are disproportionately poor and young.

Posted by: Tom West on February 24, 2005 7:18 AM

Also the latent racism in the choice of words. The black youths were "lounging" while the Indian youths were just there. And the "best-behaved Hispanics" line is litte troubling. But still, a valid issue.

Posted by: sac on February 24, 2005 12:00 PM

I was going to say: was there even any ATTEMPT to measure the correlation between certain states' rates of poverty for ethnic minority groups and the imprisonment rates? Or should we all just assume that, because black people are more likely to be imprisoned, it means that being black causes you to behave criminally?

That was really despicable. Just plain bad interpretation of data.

Posted by: Michelle Murphy on February 24, 2005 12:02 PM

Instead of sticking labels (sorry, should I say "bad choice of words"?) as "despicable", "sham", "latent racism" - would anyone of you, PC lefties, care to propose alternative theory?

How would YOU explain the data in the article?

Do you take it as an absolute truth that poverty breeds crime? What would you make than of vast majority of people of different races (yeah, the R-word!), who are poor but not steal, kill or rape, under no circumstances? Could it be that they have some sort of moral brake, prohibiting such behavior?
What percentage of poor Poles, Hacidic Jews or Thai, f.ex., to overall segment of their socio-economic group are involved in nightclub shootouts?

If I'm not mistaken, Mr.West praised this place for allowing intelligent discussion. Why operate in sloganspeak suited for "progressive protest marches" than?

Posted by: Tatyana on February 24, 2005 2:15 PM

I stated that the issue is valid, but that the wording of many statements in that article were troublesome to me. The article as a whole is merely an introduction to the issue of crime/race as it merely points out numbers without delving into some of the issues mentioned in the above comments. He trumpets the idea that he is the only one talking about this and then just collects data, making the thrust of his article to be "blacks are more violent, stastically" without any further study. Questionable method, to say the least.

Posted by: sac on February 24, 2005 4:08 PM

Um . . . how would the data look if you took into account how many people are arrested rather than how many are convicted and go to prison? As I understand it, whites are convicted at a much lower rate than ethnic minorities . . . poverty of course affects whether you get a private lawyer or are stuck with a public defender.

I don't know about your neck of the woods, Tatyana, but in the Bay Area we have plenty of crime committed by Asian gangs, including drive-by's and shootouts -- my son personally knows a bunch of Samoan and Tongan gang kids, some of whom stole his keyboard and my PDA back when he was in high school . . .

The piece contains a boatload of unfounded assumptions, and I don't see the problem with calling him on that.

Posted by: missgrundy on February 24, 2005 4:11 PM

Sac there’s a problem with your argument over causation.

OK if being poor it the principle cause of crime, then you then need to explain the correlation between being Black and Poor – does being black cause poverty or being poor cause blackness or is it a coincidence of history? If its history then why, what caused this and so on and so on.

So Steve, by sticking to the label basic, is not being racist – he’s just trying to add clarity to his writing.

As possible explanation – I’d say that immigrants normally raise crime. If you drive in a foreign country you’re more likely to get a ticket than at home simply because you don’t know the rules as well.

In the same way, Blacks have a lower rate of criminality in the South because they’ve been there longest and so perhaps community institutions are stronger there than in, say Minnesota, where immigration is more recent.

Posted by: Giles on February 24, 2005 4:20 PM

I'm hard pressed to find woods in NY, missgrundy, but there are various Asian, Puerto-Rican, etc gangs here, too (ever heard of Bloods?) What's more, I might shock you if I say I've seen Russian career criminals "lounging" on boardwalk in Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn looking sufficiently scarier to me than noisy black youths on same boardwalk.

Whatever your personal experience might be, it doesn't change statistical data of the bigger picture, stated in the article. I think nobody questions quoted data here, do you?

As I understood, your explanation of the facts runs like this: blacks are poorer, they can't afford a lawyer and therefore get convicted more often.
I have some problems with this logic.
1)are you saying poor whites or Asians are getting private lawyers for free? In other words, lawyers discriminate on the basis of race?
2) or you're saying there are no poor whites, Asians and Hispanics (in smaller measures)?
3) or poor people of different races just not arrested? in this case please reread the linked article, it refutes discrimination very convincingly.
4)also, do you believe American justice system is corrupt to the point that -a) either jails are full of innocent people (since they were convicted without their guilt proven, as follows from your lawyer remark) b) even if a person is guilty of crime (s)he can always avoid jail by hiring more expensive/talkative/manipulative lawyer?
5) how would you explain the fact that same poor blacks getting convicted less @ the Old South states than in the liberal NorthEast: what, private lawyers in the South charge peanuts? or, may be liberal and progressive New York and Boston Lawyers are racists-in-hiding and let poor innocent blacks rot in jail?

Interesting conversation.

Posted by: Tatyana on February 24, 2005 5:09 PM

I don't think anyone is dusputing the numbers quoted by Sailor, it's just that he left it at that, with no attempt to bring up possible causes. That may very well have been his intention, which is fine, I guess. But it does leave his assertions up for much debate, again, a good thing probably.

Giles - exactly, all of those issues you bring up were NOT brought up by Sailor, which is my original point. Also, Sailor's wording still is problematic to me, specifically the "lounging" comment.

Posted by: sac on February 24, 2005 5:33 PM

Sac I still think its for the accuser to establish any sub correlations if hes going to argue that an article correlation is spurious - the writer of an article cant possibly address every disagreement anyone might have with his thesis. His article notes some interesting correlations and he then raises some interesting questions. Good.

As for the laguague, go back and delete lounging and insert "half a dozen lounging Indian immigrant youths" - does this make the Indians sound more dangerous to you? Makes them sound even less threatening (though possibly less helpful too!) to me.

Posted by: Giles on February 24, 2005 6:47 PM

Nope -- I don't think that the numbers can be disputed. All you have to do is count up the folks sitting in jail.

Getting good lawyers is just one part of the problem -- but those numbers say that whites (and maybe Asians, I don't know & don't have time to research it) across the board are convicted less often than blacks, ergo, fewer are in jail.

As a social scientist, I'm aware that anecdotal evidence is generally invalid; however, so is Sailer's point in this article.

Sailer's point, that there are "racial differences in crime rates," is not really a thesis, since there's nothing in it to prove or disprove, so if he doesn't dig below the numbers to elucidate the reasons, what's the point? He knows full well that as neutral as his thesis might appear, it's not a neutral statement. It's kind of like trolls stirring the pot in an online discussion --

Posted by: missgrundy on February 24, 2005 7:39 PM

It's fun when Tatyana plays the reactionary (err plays?)

"Do you take it as an absolute truth that poverty breeds crime? What would you make than of vast majority of people of different races (yeah, the R-word!), who are poor but not steal, kill or rape, under no circumstances? Could it be that they have some sort of moral brake, prohibiting such behavior?"
"How would YOU explain the data in the article?"

As far as i see it, the problem is that these sorts of studies are read by people as implying "genetic" variances rather than institutional, or cultural ones, and the authors draw ire by not making that distinction, (again the language Sailor uses, makes people wonder, rightly or wrongly: and our own biases makes us wonder ((i think in the literature it's called aversive racism)) aside: did he need to use the word lounging at all? did he realize the way readers might react, would it have been different if he said lounging indians AND lounging hispanics).
The same I feel goes for minority education rates, you do NOT find the same hindrances to education of newly immigrated Afro-Carribeans in the US, as you do among Black Americans. These are cultural/ institutional issues, and I see the African American "elites" like say Bill Cosby in this country recognizing them as such.

Anyways, when people stop applying their so called "moral brake" in social/ law situations, it's because they see those laws as illegitimate because they really go against their interests (when arnt laws like that), or maybe even that those laws are foreign to their survival. Take anyone after 10 years of being in a gang culture or institution and wonder where their moral brake has gone.

Amy Chua in her book World on Fire, draws corrolations between wealthy ethnic minorities, or as she says "market dominant minorities" in Southeast Asia, Chinese minorities in Thailand, Singapore, Burma and elsewhere, who hold much larger percentages of the country's wealth than the majority's, and she finds alot of violence and "tyranny of the majority" laws against those minorities who basically play the global economic game better. The same happens in some South American countries (with buisness towns becoming centers of kidnappings). (I dont think her thesis carries weight further than certain populations but it still is worth noting), and I suppose maybe with minorities in the US.

Posted by: azad on February 25, 2005 1:16 AM

As all reactionaries, I'm slow to get brilliant progressive ideas, although I'm flattered that I've provided some fun.

So please, Azad, instead of "dotted line" grammatically incoherent sentences above, could you forgive my old age (probably twice of yours) and try to form your thoughts so I could understand.

Apart from the [very minor] issue of lexics ("lounging") Sailer uses - and which I didn't dicsuss at all, I don't see any answers to the 'meat' questions I posed. Just water.

Are you saying newly immigrated Afro-Carribeans are better educated and therefore commit less crimes? Let's assume it's true (I don't see any data supporting the statement offered, but I'll let it fly).
First: here again, this assumption of poverty=>less education =crime. Please, prove it. I want to be convinced. Show me other than black immigrant groups following this pattern in same proportion to their population, and I'll beleive you.
Second: why do you think Black Americans are less educated than Afro-Carribeans? They live in same country as all other American minorities, their school districts follow same rules and regulations, they are priviledged with access to the same public libraries, colleges and free seminars as everybody else (and given much more insentives than everybody else). Still, in my son's good public H.S., the kind you have to put effort and invest work to get to, there were 55% Asians, about 5% Blacks, about 10% Hispanics and the rest - Whites (mostly Jews).

Any reactionary, looking at this picture will make a conclusion: if two Joes are given same potatoe each and one is making a soup out of it and another smashes his with his fist and than steals other Joe's soup, you can't solve this problem by giving the unruly Joe more potatoes to smash. Which is exactly what progressives (as opposed to lovely "reactionary" label) are doing.

Third: education itself doesn't provide moral boundaries and self-control of violent instincts.
On the contrary, it gives violence more amunition - like learning how to build a bomb in a chemistry class. Latest scandal with Mr.W.Churchill, a common criminal with university degree and position, another example.

Now we come to the most interesting of your statements (again, they are so fragmentary I apologise in advance if I misunderstood): if people brake the law those people are not to blame - it's the laws that go "against their interests".

Right. Let's demolish Western Law system and assume The Rule of The Jungle - we'll play by the street gangs law, than we're on equal terms. Besides, how about interests of victims? Are they count at all? And, let me ask again, why other ethnic groups have little problem complying with American laws and somehow they don't find these laws "against their interests"?

And, for the finale - sorry, I didn't get that "Chinese minorities" example. Are you saying there is "tyranny of the majority" law system in US designed to work against Black minority groups "who play economic game better"? Huh?

May be I need another coffee.

Posted by: Tatyana on February 25, 2005 10:31 AM

"You do NOT find the same hindrances to education of newly immigrated Afro-Caribbean in the US, as you do among Black Americans"

Actually it’s not just cultural - there's often a genetic element as well. Immigration is normally undertaken by those in the middle to upper skill range (which is perhaps 50% genetic). So Caribbean immigrants in the US are typically from better educated families because they're the sort of people who choose to go to the US.

Interestingly, the situation is the reversed in the UK - Caribbean are amongst the lest likely to have a higher education degree because Caribbean immigration to the UK has traditionally been working class. By contrast African Blacks are (or were until recently) the ethnic group most likely to have a degree – because most African immigration was from wealth well educated families. This isn’t to deny institutions and culture, but its worth bearing in mind that they often act as genetic filters.

Posted by: Giles on February 25, 2005 10:34 AM

let me ask another question (which you probably will leave unanswered, as the rest of them].

Did these people who are in jail now committed a crime? Or they're simply "convicted", which term makes their criminal deeds subject to all sorts of interpretation?

Oh, wait. You said you're social scientist. No further questions.

Posted by: Tatyana on February 25, 2005 10:37 AM

You know, Tatyana, you called a halt to another discussion you and I had, a while ago, because you said I was becoming "too personal" (hitting too close to home, I figured). And yet you have no hesitation to slam someone's sentences or profession. IMHO, people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones at others' sentences . . .

If you haven't already read him, John Ogbu -- though his work is not without its critics -- had some very interesting and provocative insights on why different ethnic minorities succeed while others fail.

To answer your question, undoubtedly most people who are convicted have committed a crime, or our system is very broken. What might be your explanation for why blacks are convicted in greater numbers? Here's a little data for you:

"Our current laws aggravate the racial disparities in our criminal justice system. Although African Americans comprise only 6.4% of the California population, they account for 66.5% of convictions for possession of crack cocaine for sale. Hispanics make up 25% of the convictions and whites only 3.4%. National data, on the other hand, shows that the majority of crack users are actually white, and that overall illicit drug use among different races and ethnicities is "virtually indistinguishable" (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2003)."

These figures do come from the ACLU website, a source I doubt you'll find credible. How many of those African-Americans are sitting in jail because of drug charges, which I find a waste of my money as a taxpayer?

Posted by: missgrundy on February 25, 2005 12:13 PM

Speaking as a male, I am even more disgusted with our criminal justice system's wildly unequal treatment of my male brothers as a whole, an indictment on society at large and it's preferential treatment of women.

What taboo so silences your outrage that my brothers waste away in cells without even a single raised voice?
Where is the outrage over THEIR unequal arrest/conviction rate?
Where is the outrage with THEIR unequal quality of legal counsel?
Where is the outrage with the cycles of violence perpetuated by our society in THEIR home environments? THEIR poverty?

Race-shmace! You sexists are so busy ignoring the real statistical elephant in the room. And all the while my brethern rot away in the cells you built for them.

Your silence speaks volumes. For shame.

Posted by: Ray Midge on February 25, 2005 1:17 PM

Oh, dear.

"No good deed goes unpunished"; confirms every time. I shouldn't let that "troll" hint pass.

No, missgrundy, I stopped previous discussion not because it was "hitting close to home" - because your arguments didn't hold water and you turned to the personal attacks as a tool in discussion. In your wettest dream you can't successfully argue with me; you simply lack the ability of staying on subject.

If you insist on "but you're fat!" type of argument:

English is my second language ("I was oppressed in childhood, man!") and my sentences are not perfect; however, they are understandable. Even when I speak, with my heavy Russian "rrr's", people seem not to have any problem comprehending. And I'm always grateful for corrections, I learn on my mistakes; you should hear me 10 yrs ago.
What's more, I try to adapt to rules of English grammar, structure and punctuation - for example, I know that if sentence starts with
"X draws correlations between N" it should continue with " ...and M" to make sense. Agree? Or you propose selective grammar affirmative actions based on politics - or race - of the speaker?

As to your profession: like the lawyers in crappy TV soaps say, "You brought it in - you open yourself".

Thanks for reading recommendation. I usually avoid wasting my time on lefty propaganda materials (I've overloaded on that in my youth), so if the author is not in that category, I'll give him a try.

Now, to your source of data. Yes, missgrundy, you guessed it right, I don't trust sources like ACLU. I thought you said you don't dispute data from S.Sailer's article - why not form an opinion based on the data you don't dispute and argue it? You said: "...anecdotal evidence is generally invalid; however, so is Sailer's point in this article." Why? Is his evidence anecdotal? So which is it - do you trust his data or not?

First you bring personal anecdote to contradict official (and liberal, as S.Sailer pointed out) sources, even though as a social scientist, you're aware that anecdotal evidence is generally invalid. Than you're offended that I mention your profession (after you have mentioned it).
Perhaps I should ask another question: how professional are you as a scientist?

I was not going to offer my own theory in explanation to the patterns S.Sailer's noticed; I simply don't have a coherent one. I'm not a social scientist.
Let me remind you how this is all started. 3 or 4 commenters called S.Sailer racist and expressed their disgust with his article. Not one proposed different interpretation of data he sited. This is all I've asked them - and you - to do, instead of calling names.

I sympathize with your outrage as a taxpayer whose money are wasted. I'm not sure in case of drug sellers they are, though. Also, if you'd show me that majority of criminals in jail are there for drug sale and no other crimes I would agree this is relevant; but you didn't so this argument is out.

In a gesture of goodwill (even though it wasn't my original intention), I'll answer your question "What might be your explanation for why blacks are convicted in greater numbers?"
Blacks commit more crimes.

Posted by: Tatyana on February 25, 2005 2:18 PM

Tatyana, rather than continue to hijack this thread with potshots at one another, I'm going to bow to your clearly superior argumentative skills and let your comments about my profession and lack of debating acumen stand for what they are.

Posted by: missgrundy on February 25, 2005 2:31 PM

Pity you didn't realised it before you hijacked this thread with potshots at me.

Anything to say to the point of discussion?

Posted by: Tatyana on February 25, 2005 2:40 PM

The biggest problem I had with the anecdote is that Samoans aren't usually considered to be Asian - pacific islander or oceania perhaps but at the end of the day Samoa is closer to LA than Hong Kong or Hanoi.

Posted by: Giles on February 25, 2005 2:40 PM

Giles, I think we're talking in racial context here and not geographical. Mongolians are even farther from Samoans geographically but they are still in same racial group.

Posted by: Tatyana on February 25, 2005 2:43 PM

Here's another interesting take on the Christo work, which finds a "whiff of totalitarianism:"

Posted by: beloml on February 25, 2005 2:51 PM

Tongans migrated 6,000 years ago which is comparable to native south american indians. So I'd say they're old enough to be distinct - cluturally and physically they certainly are.

Posted by: Giles on February 25, 2005 3:26 PM

OK, they are distinct.
As no doubt Ujgurs are distinct compared to Chinese and Mongolians. Ethnically and culturally. And their history is probably 6000 years. Or more.

How is this distinction matters in the context of S. Sailer's article?

Posted by: Tatyana on February 25, 2005 4:03 PM

missgrundy: "Getting good lawyers is just one part of the problem -- but those numbers say that whites (and maybe Asians, I don't know & don't have time to research it) across the board are convicted less often than blacks, ergo, fewer are in jail."

For the sake of the discussion, I'll take your assertion at face value (I've no reason to believe that they are incorrect, but I've not researched it myself.)

This could be caused by whites, etc. getting better lawyers or otherwise being treated better by the justice system. It could also be caused by a higher percentage of innocent (or unprovably guilty) whites being arrested in the first place, or by blacks not being arrested until the litany of crimes attested is so great that one is bound to be proven.

What is your evidence that the first cause is predominant?

On the underlying issue:

First: I don't care about the economic status of a person who is robbing me. Thieves, murderers, rapists, thugs -- they belong in jail.

Second: We understand that there is a very strong correlation between poverty and violent crime. We also understand that there is a strong correlation between persistent poverty and being a native (as opposed to recent immigrant) black; why is this?

An anecdote, to echo Tatyana's experience: In 1913, my great-grandmother, from a dirt-poor peasant family from East Prussia, came to the US. She worked for a time as a domestic in Washington, DC. When the abuse from employers and other domestics became too much, she left. Eventually, she ended up in southern North Dakota as a farm wife. Her children (those that are still alive) and grandchildren are solidly middle-class and upper-middle-class. Though an anecdote, this is a quintessentially American experience, not especially different from the stories of any of my other immigrant ancestors. Why is this story so much more likely to have happened to her than to those other domestics in Washington, DC? Why, in fact, is this the story of such a large proportion of nearly every ethnic group in the US?

To answer my own question, I submit that it was mostly because my great-grandmother decided to change her life and did what was necessary. I further submit that it is exactly the same thing that Tatyana and millions of other immigrants of every ethnicity have done--it's called hard work. And if you think that her opportunities were much greater than those of the black domestics in DC, I suggest you spend a few winters on a farm in North Dakota before the advent of tractors or cars.

My sympathy for those who choose not to work is limited. Yeah, they've had it bad -- things are tough all over.

Posted by: Doug Sundseth on February 25, 2005 5:05 PM

How is this distinction matters in the context of S. Sailer's article?

It was to responce to miss's point

Posted by: Giles on February 25, 2005 6:48 PM

Tatyana i am sorry for my abundant uses of ellipses, it's how we youngun's talk: lots of insinuation and reference to context...

Anyways, Giles does make an interesting point about the filtering mechanisms for immigration: Aside: Canada is set up to only filter educated immigrants, the US right now isn't.

I wasn't putting out any lefty ideas, I was offering a thesis (which you asked for, and written late at night)that history, family and cultural institutions matter in the trajectories and choices that are available in one's life. History directly affects the shape of one's family, their education levels, their levels of income, and those factors for families affect their children. Of course personal choice and responsability matter, but sometimes they are overtaken by other societal factors.

No, i was not insinuating that the US is taking part in "tyranny of the majority" over blacks, you have to be aware of your own biases when reading into what other people write, rereading my post my reference to Chua's book was probably a little off topic and concerned law and legitimacy in populations.

An aside on crime data, most black crime, is black on black crime, the data does back this up. Take it for what it's worth, the crimes stay within the communities.

"Now we come to the most interesting of your statements (again, they are so fragmentary I apologise in advance if I misunderstood): if people brake the law those people are not to blame - it's the laws that go "against their interests"."
Holy Mother, what a reading! I never said anything about blame or responsability I offered a reason why in certain social circumstances, the law stops applying because it is only marginally relevant to one's life. Kind of like citing international human rights laws to janjaweed gangs. A much less interesting point, I suppose.

I will try to be more pithy and less airy in my posts. I fault myself as being more of an idea person and less of a let's make it understandable writer.

Posted by: azad on February 25, 2005 10:39 PM

As requested: On Carribean socio-economic success:

Kalmijn, Matthijs “The Socioeconomic Assimilation of Caribbean American Blacks”. 1996. Social Forces, Vol. 74. No. 3. Pgs. 910-930.

A little opposed to the migration-filter thesis: one of the things that these sorts of ethnographers write about is that there are social support networks in areas in the US where Carribeans move to, which aid them in getting setup, taking care of children, showing them the ropes, which are a positive influence on their ability to assimilate and succeed economically.

Posted by: azad on February 25, 2005 10:44 PM

I thought I put out as many disclaimers as I could for my possibly faulty reading of your "insinuations" (by the by, you might want to check a dictionary on that one, I wouldn't use it describing your own writing if I were you - but accidentally, you might be right in your usage)

Anyway, regarding your thesis. I agree there are cultural factors forming an individual in addition to genetically predetermined ones. I'm not sure they play decisive role, though. Do you know of any studies explaining mechanism of why children from two families with similar criminal environment grow to become completely different persons, let's say, in one case, thief and in another - a priest? Or even why children from same family are so different in their morals and inclinations - they had same environment and same genes, mutation is relatively rare thing, than what is the factor?
What's more, as Doug pointed out above, to grow up a decent law-abiding person from poor family is not something extraordinary; it's quite a normal thing - and not only in this country, it's everywhere. And than - what about all those people from the gutter(and blacks among them, btw)who made their consious choice, studied, supported themselves and their families working two jobs and never get as much as speeding ticket in their whole life?

Look, statistically speaking, we see huge abnormality. To explain average 9 to 1 national disbalance by family history is a bit...weak. Give me something more substantial.

Small note as to the character of crime: do you think it makes a rape somehow different if it perpetrated by a black criminal on a black victim? A rape is a rape is a rape.

By association, speaking of situations when a law is related to people only marginally, i.e., when rape is not a rape but a normal modus operandi: yes, in the gang/labor camp/island in the sea an isolated system of values could appear that conflicts with normal population's system. This is a topic worth talking about (and I have some references to find). Still, what percent of the whole population are career criminals/gang leaders? Because a regular gang member, given change of environment, doesn't find himself pressed to kill to survive and channel his power lust thru normal outlets, not sticking knife into stranger. Or am I too naive?

[I like your emerging "writing to be understood" style; please continue]

Posted by: Tatyana on February 26, 2005 12:01 AM

I’m not sure that this is opposed to the social filter thesis :- what the article really says is that Caribbean immigrants behave – like any other immigrants! They form networks, support groups and so forth. Of course there are positive feedbacks – successful immigrants form successful but ultimately the networking is caused by success not the other way round.

A second piece of evidence for the filter theory might however be the relative breakdown of society in the Caribbean countries that have the most emigrants i.e. Jamaica. Most networks or groups of friends that I know of depend on a few extremely gregarious people with encyclopedic address books to hold them together– lets call them network hubs. (I also believe that this is probably, like very high IQ, a genetic feature but that’s not important). I suspect that once a few Jamaicans started emigrating to the US and doing relatively well, most of these “network hubs” found it in their interest to do so as well and as before this then feed on its self to encourage the rest to do so. But this has then resulted in a shortage of hubs in Jamaica – hence the breakdown of society there.

But getting back to the point – my belief is that most crime/drug abuse is caused by broken dreams or a general feeling that you haven’t got from life what you deserved. It may therefore be that the crime wave amongst American blacks was caused by the civil rights movement. The civil rights Acts promised American blacks that they would have better civil rights in the future – but the reality was that only southern blacks were really getting better civil rights; Northern American black’s rights in 1970 were not significantly affected – they already had the right to vote etc.

So Southern Blacks were brought up with the expectation that their lives would be better than their parents and this was indeed reality. They therefore suffered from relatively less unmet expectations and so have lower crime rates.

By contrast the Northern State Blacks were brought up with the belief that their lives would be relatively better than their parents when this was in fact not the reality. They therefore suffered from high levels of unmet expectations and have higher crime rates.

This idea also corresponds with timing – the explosion in black crime in northern cities started around 1985 – exactly the time when the first generation of civil rights age born babies were becoming young men

Posted by: Giles on February 26, 2005 12:29 PM

Giles is applying Ted Robert Gurr's thesis on "Why Men Rebel," in that rebellions are not caused by absolute conditions, but by the growing divergence of expected realizations (dreams, material expectations) and their realizations.

Humm that's pretty interesting...

Tatyana, I'm not a social scientist, I am studying economics, and philosophy, however the point of social science is to try to pin down those determining factors in people's lives. Clearly, personal drive, responsability, go into equations of how people act but they are very difficult to measure in people and populations. The "theories" that I am trying to relate to the subject matter in no way would explain 100% of what makes people act, I would be happy if it explained 35%. People are complicated and societies are complicated, the determining factors in one population might be irrelevant for another.

As such no I can't explain with any certainty why one person would act in a certain way and another in another, at best I would try to say within a population a certain determinant has a certain percentage chance of affecting individuals in a certain way. "Weak"? yes but so is most social science evidence.

One of the the things your comment reminded me of is some evidence about taboos in society and moral order creation, there's some evidence that there are certain percentages in populations that just don't imbibe the values of the social order.

Posted by: azad on February 26, 2005 2:16 PM

I hesitate to go so far off topic, but I plan to put more, better stuff on Michel Meyer up in the next week or so. My original piece (linked here) turned out to be more about me and my reasons for likeing Meyer.

Posted by: John Emerson on February 26, 2005 2:38 PM

Uh, Giles...

The explosion in crime rates started in the 1960s, not the 1980s...

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on February 26, 2005 7:30 PM

Let's introduce a few realities to ground this discussion, shall we?

1) For a bracing dose, start with this, which is more the rule than the exception when it comes to "hate crimes":

In the tape, Sims is seen entering DaVinci's Pizza on South Main Street last July. She soon confronts a customer who complained she was cutting to the front of the line. Sims spat on a store manager who tried to throw her out and then pointed to the customer and ordered her boyfriend, Mark Jones of Akron, to ``take care of this white mother (expletive).''

Jones, who is 6-foot-4 and weighs 320 pounds, pummeled the customer, Joseph Scarpino, 28, drilling him with seven unanswered blows to the head as a lobby full of customers looked on in shock.

Scarpino, 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, suffered a broken nose, a chipped tooth and a concussion. Jones, 35, was sentenced to four years in prison after his conviction last week in Summit County Common Pleas Court.

Videotape here, if you can stomach it: link.

2) The black share of those below the poverty line is 24.4%. But the black share of murderers is 48.5%.

If poverty was the primary predictor of violent crime we would expect those numbers to roughly track. They do not. Blacks commit murders (and rapes, assaults, robberies, and other violent crimes) at rates far in excess of the rate that would be predicted if poverty was a good proxy for "propensity to commit violent crime".

3) To stave off some of the typical rejoinders (some seen in this very thread...)

Blacks commit murders at approximately the same rate at which they are convicted for murders. No race bias is apparent. We know this from the NCVS, the survey of crime victims which asks them (among other things) for the race of the person or persons who attacked them. See here.

Once you account for multiple offenders at the same time, the NCVS and UCR data match very well with respect to race. Google it if you don't believe me.

Point: victims report that blacks are victimizing them at roughly the same rate that blacks are arrested and convicted.

One more data point: 89.2% of violent criminals in NYC are named by their victims as being either black or Hispanic.

4) Let's dispose of a few other fallacies while we're at it...

- past oppression does not mean current bad performance. Otherwise Ashkenazi Jews, Malaysian Chinese, and Indian Kenyans would be the wretched of the earth rather than the ultra-wealthy/educated groups that they are.

- Discrimination is not the same as mass murder. Blacks in the US had it a lot easier than people in Europe or Asia who were being rounded up in cattle cars or sent to re-education camps.

I know someone will bring up lynchings, so let's head that off at the pass. For reference purposes, the number of lynchings in the ENTIRE UNITED STATES over a period of 86 YEARS was 4742, of which 1297 were white and 3445 were black. Source.

We are talking a rate of about 37 white-on-black lynchings per year. By any measure that is dwarfed by (say) the black murder rate today, which is 48.5% of about 10000 murders per year.

(One should also note that many of the lynchings were vigilante justice for people who were actually guilty of crimes - not just random killings as is portrayed in the movies.)

4) One other observation - like lynching, the numbers for "coathanger" abortions (another leftist boogeyman) are similarly miniscule relative to the number of actual abortions that are happening today. These stories about white-on-nonwhite "hate crimes" and lynchings, about coathanger abortions, about black doctors and lawyers at the head of their class, and about "honor student" illegal aliens are all inversions of statistical reality promulgated by the mass media.

The truth is more like this:

"In 1995," McWhorter writes, "exactly 184 black students in the United States scored over 700 on the verbal portion of the SAT--not even enough to fill a passenger plane."...

It all comes back to the fact that on average in 1995, among black students whose parents made $70,000 a year or more and had at least one master's degree or above, SAT scores were lower than the SAT scores of children from white families making no more than $10,000.

Here's another stat/a> for those who think that "poverty" is the explanation:

1. Average SAT score in 1999 for whites coming from families making less than $20000 per year: 983

2. Average SAT score in 1999 for blacks coming from families making more than $70000 per year: 956

Thankfully, the internet means that we no longer need to succumb to the reality distortion field.

Post script: Note that the "white" statistics in the FBI links above include Hispanics, which artificially inflates the white rate. This is the source of much spurious national data on whites, such as the stats you may have seen on how "white" drug use is higher than black use. Always check to see if the person giving you the stats is breaking out Hispanics separately or not, as otherwise a bait and switch is being performed. One can't very well consider Hispanics to be an aggrieved ethnic minority if they are indistinguishable from whites when convenient, n'est ce pas?

To figure out true white crime/offense rates, you should take a look at the California DOJ stats. They have to break out Hispanics there, I

Posted by: reality_check on February 27, 2005 2:02 AM

Looks like not all professional social scientists are hallucinating after all...
Thank you, reality_check.

Posted by: Tatyana on February 27, 2005 10:17 AM

Tatyana, I guess your stringent standards about the use of anecdotal evidence only apply to your opponents -- I don't see you taking reality_check to task for his illustrative example.

I'm going back to my hallucinations now. Not that I took that as a "personal attack as a tool of discussion."

Posted by: missgrundy on February 27, 2005 12:31 PM

I don't see you taking reality_check to task for his illustrative example.

Perhaps that's because I wiped the floor with your tired set of lies.

Posted by: reality_check on February 27, 2005 4:49 PM

Civility, por favor, folks.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on February 27, 2005 9:38 PM

Oh drat, can't I be rude? At least irked?

Seriously, Steve should know that grown-up people know better than to equivocate “the number of people who have been sentenced” with “the number of people who committed crimes.”

If Steve’s spent as much time on this subject as he implies, he must know how the numbers change when indictments, instead of sentences, are counted.

Posted by: j.c. on March 1, 2005 8:16 PM

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