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Monday, September 11, 2017

Cultural bias, confirmation bias, pathologizing, and value judgments

Got the following response from an anonymous commenter this morning on the post about the difference between whites and blacks in their level of inhibition:

From your perspective your inhibition is good. That is a cultural bias. Second you're making sweeping generalizations based on your observations. People tend to have confirmation bias, e.g., they tend to see things that reinforce their beliefs. All of these so-called problems you are mentioning focus on pathologizing the behavior (there's something wrong). What you are really saying is the the white way/response is superior. In fact, different cultures communicate and behave in different ways, there is no superior/inferior. Ascribing superior and inferior to aspects of a certain race is by nature racist. So the problem here is not Black behavior, but the fact that you need to compare and make a value judgement.

This comment is a great example of liberal arguing technique. In the post, I never once used the words "superior" and "inferior" -- these are the commenter's words. 

At no point does the commenter even try to refute any of the individual examples I use; he merely attaches labels to my thoughtcrime. Which are the "sweeping generalizations" based on my observations which are wrong? Am I wrong about the difference in rates of violent crime? There are plenty of statistics which back that up. Am I wrong that blacks are less likely to hold onto a monetary windfall? The statistic about over half of professional football players declaring bankruptcy within two years of leaving the NFL is not something I concocted. 

He brings up confirmation bias, which does exist. But again, nowhere does he try to point out where my confirmation bias has steered me wrong. 

I never even used the word "good" -- that's the commenter's word. Obviously, there are both positives and negatives associated with a lack of inhibition. I pointed out that blacks, when you interact with them, generally seem much more genuine in their emotions than whites do; that blacks give more effusive compliments; that blacks tend to make better comedians; and that blacks are less likely to choke on the athletic field. Those are all "good" things; yet the commenter preferred to ignore anything not fitting his narrative. 

He also says I'm "pathologizing" certain behaviors. Apparently, in his mind, there's nothing wrong with a murder rate eight times higher than the white rate. The only problem, apparently, is that I see that as a bad thing. 

He also states that "there is no superior/inferior." This is the crux of modern liberalism. There is no good, there is no bad, there is no smart, there is no dumb, there is no beautiful, there is no ugly. There can be no value judgments -- except about people who notice differences. They, of course, are not only bad, they're dumb as well!

(Why is it that those who disparage "value judgments" always seem to be making one themselves?)

Another point: I'd never use a term like "superior" to describe a race, simply because no race is "superior" in every category. I made that clear in that post. 

A higher level of inhibitions in a population does provide a certain amount of social lubrication. When people have more of a sense of wanting to save for a rainy day, and of thinking twice before acting, that will make for a more law-abiding society with a higher GDP -- the kind of society that other people want to immigrate to.

The fact is, lots of people of color tend to want to emigrate to majority white countries these days, whereas whites tend not to want to emigrate to majority non-white countries. But, perhaps that's the sort of "sweeping generalization" I should avoid.

The commenter cannot refrain from using that most meaningless of terms, "racist." (By the way, am I "racist" against whites for saying that they tend to be less genuine in their friendliness, or that they're more likely to choke on the athletic field?)

Finally, the commenter says that I have a "need" to compare and make a value judgment. I have no "need" to do this; I just do it because racial differences are interesting, and part of what makes them interesting is that there are so many people like this commenter who want the subject to remain taboo. 

It would help the commenter's argument if he could prove me wrong on a single point. Since he can't, he just recites liberal boilerplate instead. 


Anonymous said...

'(Why is it that those who disparage "value judgments" always seem to be making one themselves?)"

BEAUTIFUL, you caught the fish with your bare hands, right there.


Mark Caplan said...

If a Leftist were capable of critical thinking and rational argument, knew basic history and science, and grasped the pathologies embedded in non-Western cultures, he wouldn't be a Leftist.

John Craig said...


John Craig said...

Mark --
Well put.

The funny thing is, Leftists mostly think that they do grasp all that.

The Ambivalent Misanthrope said...

I smell someone steeped in academia. Confirmation bias? Yeah. Someone has been collecting fancy research concepts to sound 'superior.'

John Craig said...

Ambivalent Misanthrope --
I was thinking the same thing; academics seem to specialize in pretentious phrases to cover up a lack of ability to think clearly.

Fled The Undertow said...

Hey John,

Have you read the excellent essay by Greg Johnson, "In Defense of Prejudice"? It's the best "breakdown" explanation of value judgments I've ever read, and shows how we make scores of such judgments every day. We HAVE to in our first-world society. It's a great read.


John Craig said...

Fled --
Just read it. Yes, fantastic, thank you. I was unable to open the link you sent, btw, so in case anyone else who reads this has trouble, here's another version of the same link: