Re: Definition of Racism (without rent-a-riot)

From: Mike Lorrey (
Date: Fri Aug 10 2001 - 12:30:43 MDT

Harvey Newstrom wrote:
> Mike Lorrey wrote,
> > Harvey Newstrom wrote:
> > > The methodology that observing a person's
> > > race will help predict their criminal behavior is wrong.
> > Why? If the statistics support it, then it is an entirely valid
> > prediction to make, as much as a weather man predicts rain wherever
> > there are clouds....
> I know this is a hard point to grasp, but it is basic statistics.
> Statistical numbers only apply to large normalized groups. They do not
> apply to individuals or small groups. A million coin flips will be 50%
> heads and 50% tails. We cannot pre-judge a single coin flip, or even a few
> coin flips. The statistical numbers do not apply. They cannot support any
> assumptions made about any individual.

Wrong. If the statistics say that, say, 10% of blacks commit crime while
only 1% of whites do, then it is a reasonable assumption to say that any
individual black person is ten times more likely to commit crime than
any white person, all other factors being equal.

Any given coin flip DOES have a 50-50 chance of being heads or tails.

> Your weather man predicts percentages of rain of an area based on
> statistical averages for that area. (Even then, weather reports are not
> that accurate!) He does not predict for a particular house or person
> whether they will get rain. He does not predict for a particular cloud
> whether it will rain or not.

Weather prediction is far more accurate the more you know about weather.
Saying that clouds don't cause rain and that its wrong to accuse them of
causing rain, AND wrong to conduct scientific research to find out what
DOES cause rain is itself wrong. Saying it is racist to conclude from
scientific study that clouds cause rain is wrong and simply politically
correct thinking.

> Applying group sampling statistics to the group being sampled is valid.
> Applying group sampling statistics to any individual is not valid.

It is not valid to say what an individual WILL do, but it is valid to
say what they are LIKELY to do, all other factors being equal.

> > > Is there any good reason to split hairs with these terms,
> > except to be able
> > > to practice prejudice and discrimination while claiming not to
> > be racist?
> >
> > Yes, there is. If you were following my essays on trust and political
> > enfranchisement here in the US, you'd recognize why. I most emphatically
> > do NOT say that the probability of committing crime is genetic. To the
> > contrary, it is part and parcel of the trust dynamic in society. Those
> > we trust least are more likely to breach trust. Part of it is a self
> > fulfilling prophesy of expectations about the behavior of those we trust
> > least, the rest is generally a self perpetuating attitude of resentment
> > in those who are poorly trusted.
> So how does this relate to race? Are you saying that one race should be
> trusted more or less than another race? If so, this is racist.

If that were what I was saying, then it would be racist. That is not
what I was saying, and I suggest you reread my posts on trust, that are
dated back to a week or two after Extro5.

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