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Racism or Correlations of Race with IQ / Physical Attributes

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The Wrath
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People may want to know why China is succeeding so much better at reproducing the success of western capitalism than Africa. Here statistics provide a compelling partial answer.
I don't see how they provide any answer at all. Considering that China was the second-greatest civilization on Earth and had a long-standing cultural tradition -- millenia-long, not decades-long -- of trade, science and, gosh let's not forget that non-trivial factor of writing, I think the reasons, which are entirely non-statistical, should be quite obvious.
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That's true. This kind of information is only relevant on a statistical level, i.e. as an explanatory force behind group differences. People may want to know why China is succeeding so much better at reproducing the success of western capitalism than Africa. Here statistics provide a compelling partial answer.
Well, it can make one wonder, but it hardly has explanatory power. We know that the cultural/philosophical mix is the key determinant of success; and we also know that such cultural/philosophical similarities are clustered geographically, as are "races" and "sub races". So, speaking of race in a case like "why is China doing well" is to speak of an incidental by-product and to ignore the causes. It tells us no more than if we knew that people who's parents wore blue/grey commie-overalls for 3 decades are being successful.

Indeed, but notice that this too is usage of racial information. That is, you are using knowledge of IQ distributions to determine that you need a better IQ test than race. This didn't *have* to be the case. If the distribution of IQ was very narrow within each race, but significant *between* races it would be perfectly legitimate to use race as a proxy for an IQ test, and this would NOT be racist. However, studies of racial differences has shown very clearly that race is not an accurate IQ indicator.
That would be fine if the thread was a more general purpose one about how one might use non-causal, correlated factors in making decisions. (We have a thread like that somewhere.) However, since this thread is about race... the facts matter.

In this thread, those who have argued for the use of race, have also argued the more general case of the use of correlated factors. However, that's really a straw man, because nobody was arguing against the general case. Most of the focus has been on whether the differences in mean IQs observed between various racial groups is primarily cultural/philosophical or primarily physiological.

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The *correlations* themselves are not disputed by anyone.
What is this, liar's club day? Jesus H. Christ on a cross! The supposed correlations are in dispute. Either you or Viking need to pay attention to what I am saying, and actually rise to the challenge. I have disputed this correlation, I do dispute the correlation, and I will continue to dispute the correlation. There is no dispute at all that the claimed correlation is questionable and questioned. Right?

Since I think that you have a much better chance of grasping the issue, what proof do you have that being genetically connected to the (African) black race has a (negative) correlation with IQ scores? This is a scientific question, not a popular chit-chat question: in that contest, I assume you understand the underlying scientific issues. This supposed correlation is the most basic issue, one that has to be answered first: you cannot move on to explanations for the "fact" without identifying the right fact. I assume OPAR ch. 5 as my philosophy of science framework. Attention should be paid to reduction to the axiomatic, and a continuous chain of logical validations. My claim is about the science, so your response should also be in terms of the science. I patiently await your response.

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What is this, liar's club day? Jesus H. Christ on a cross! The supposed correlations are in dispute.

Well, I acknowledge that YOU dispute them, just as there are people who dispute evolution as a fact. But again, the correlations themselves are not in dispute, they are established beyond a shred of doubt as fact.

Since I think that you have a much better chance of grasping the issue, what proof do you have that being genetically connected to the (African) black race has a (negative) correlation with IQ scores?

I've given you several references already. If you're really interested in the topic you should actually read them.

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I think this is the kind of thinking that will lead to the next successful terrorist attack. Let's pay particular attention to the brown skinned guy in the line while the white guy carrying out the attack slips by. Any terrorist organization worth their salt will be planning on that idea and probably try to recruit "white" jihadists to carry out their next attack. Don't be surprised if individual intelligence beats out race again. There have been other domestic terrorists in the United States within the last 15 years that were not of arabic descent.

We will be playing the numbers while the "intelligent" terrorist will be playing us.

For those of you interested in the application of racial profiling to airport passenger screening, some professors of Operations Research have been addressing this question. Those of you who have access to an academic journal collection may be able to read this paper.

After a cursory glance of the first half of this paper, the main points seem to be:

1.) Terrorists are not necessarily stupid. If we use a predictable system based on elementary profiling techniques, the terrorists will be able to reverse engineer it. For example, suppose that a present system is in place that consistently only screens "high profile" candidates according to whatever criteria we wish to design (ethnicity, age, gender, strength, etc.) A savvy terrorist organization can then send many unarmed members on "test flights" just to determine the likelihood of its members being selected for secondary screening. Almost surely, terrorist organizations would eventually discover who is not considered a high profile target. As RationalBiker suggested, these will then be the next individuals who will execute the next terrorist attack on a plane. For example, Richard Reid and Jose Padilla are non-stereotypical al-Qaeda operatives.

That being said, it is important that an airport security screening procedure be unpredictable so that it is difficult to reverse engineer. One obvious remedy is to incorporate randomness. Perhaps individuals in high profile demographics can be subjected to secondary screening with high probability and individuals in lower profile demographics can be subjected to secondary screening with low, but not non-zero, probability.

2.) However great our passenger screening system gets, its effectiveness in preventing airline terror attacks will be dwarfed by any reasonable advancement in weapons detecting technology. For example, plastic explosives are incredibly difficult to detect. Recall that two Russian passenger jets were destroyed by lone terrorists using plastic explosives in 2004.

Although developing better passenger screening protocols will obvious be beneficial, we should not mistake this to be the essential problem given that we are truly interested in detecting weapons. Problem is, such sophisticated technology can often be slow, expensive or insufficient. Any improvement in any of these attributes is desirable.

Edited by DarkWaters
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1.) Terrorists are not necessarily stupid. If we use a predictable system based on elementary profiling techniques, the terrorists will be able to reverse engineer it. For example, suppose that a present system is in place that consistently only screens "high profile" candidates according to whatever criteria we wish to design (ethnicity, age, gender, strength, etc.) A savvy terrorist organization can then send many unarmed members on "test flights" just to determine the likelihood of its members being selected for secondary screening. Almost surely, terrorist organizations would eventually discover who is not considered a high profile target. As RationalBiker suggested, these will then be the next individuals who will execute the next terrorist attack on a plane. For example, Richard Reid and Jose Padilla are non-stereotypical al-Qaeda operatives.

I haven't looked at the paper yet, but it seems to be missing out on another major point: non-terrorist muslims are not necessarily stupid either. They will likely strongly dislike being the constant humiliating target of security checks, and if they are rational they will direct their angers at the terrorists that are causing this inconvenience in their life, making them far more likely to try to identify the terrorists in their communities.

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You will be pretty much taking a chance based on very small odds of success as IQ varies greatly within each population - not only between populations. The more crusial your decision - the least better off you will be making it NOT based on actual facts in front of you.

While it is true that there is great IQ variability within each race, that doesn't change the fact that there is a ~15 point spread between blacks and whites, which is pretty significant. And yes, of course, if it is a crucial decision, by all means get more information if you have the luxury of time. If you do not have the luxury of time however, which is exactly what I'm talking about (a condition you have repeatedly ignored), then it is proper to use information that may not be true, but will be true more often than it is not (assuming it is relevant). It holds true for other things like Onar has mentioned, and it doesn't automatically become a bad idea when it comes to race. Take his example of illiteracy for example. Is it immoral to take this statistic into account because it is not true 100% of the time? No, it is enough that it is true much of the time. And so it is with racial statistics.

David, as for your concern, Onar has said what I would have said, and more.

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... there is a ~15 point spread between blacks and whites, ...
That is an extremely vague statement, and is either untrue or not stating what you really mean.
... of course, if it is a crucial decision, by all means get more information if you have the luxury of time. If you do not have the luxury of time however, which is exactly what I'm talking about (a condition you have repeatedly ignored), ...
It has not been ignored. Actually you have not presented any example of a situation where one would need to know IQ and also be presented with an abstract blackness and nothing else. In fact, that's among the first thing you were asked.
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That is an extremely vague statement, and is either untrue or not stating what you really mean.
Well, what I can I say, I mean the true one. I'm not claiming every white guy is smarter than every black guy, if that is what you mean.

It has not been ignored. Actually you have not presented any example of a situation where one would need to know IQ and also be presented with an abstract blackness and nothing else. In fact, that's among the first thing you were asked.
From reading the rest of your post (and preceding ones), it seems as if you are basically denying the possibility of a situation that is important, yet requires fast decision making. For an example, you additionally require that the hypothetical subject be in search of IQ specifically. In my opinion, it is a little absurd to be on the search for IQ specifically, so any example would end up being a little absurd as well. I mean, forgetting race and probabilities, when is one looking for IQ specifically in everyday life period? If you can think of an example, take that, and add a nasty time constraint, and you have your example. But anyway, the difficulty of finding an example for IQ in particular is not an argument against the morality of using racial statistics in general, it is an argument against the likelihood that people are looking for IQ in the first place.

If you had asked for an example of where one is actually looking for that quality in real life by itself, then giving an example is much easier. Take behavior, for instance. Lets say you are looking for a nanny for your son, and you want it to be a male. Further, let us say you post an ad, but you overestimate the market rate for a male nanny, so you have 100 applications. Ideally, you would post another ad, lowering the wage offered. But let us say that is not practical, you don't have time, or it costs too much. All the apps come with face shots of the would-be nanny, so you know their race, but that and their name is all you know. Lets say you know of the prison statistic I provided earlier, and various other negative behavior that are more prevalent among blacks. Now, you only have time to do 10 interviews. If there are 70 white people, and 30 blacks, who do you interview first?

Is this not a case where it is proper to use race, since that is pretty much all you have? Now of course, you could argue that you should have asked for this and that information in the apps, and while that may be true, this is what you have asked for, as you only expected a handful of apps, and now you are in a hurry.

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From reading the rest of your post (and preceding ones), it seems as if you are basically denying the possibility of a situation that is important, yet requires fast decision making.

I also think that such situation is unrealistic.

But anyway, the difficulty of finding an example for IQ in particular is not an argument against the morality of using racial statistics in general, it is an argument against the likelihood that people are looking for IQ in the first place.

The morality of using racial IQ statistics which apply only to populations when judging an individual has been already discussed. It is immoral. If you want to check IQ of all the applicants and make your decison based on that - that is different.

Lets say you are looking for a nanny for your son, and you want it to be a male. Further, let us say you post an ad, but you overestimate the market rate for a male nanny, so you have 100 applications. Ideally, you would post another ad, lowering the wage offered. But let us say that is not practical, you don't have time, or it costs too much. All the apps come with face shots of the would-be nanny, so you know their race, but that and their name is all you know. Lets say you know of the prison statistic I provided earlier, and various other negative behavior that are more prevalent among blacks. Now, you only have time to do 10 interviews. If there are 70 white people, and 30 blacks, who do you interview first?

Is this not a case where it is proper to use race, since that is pretty much all you have? Now of course, you could argue that you should have asked for this and that information in the apps, and while that may be true, this is what you have asked for, as you only expected a handful of apps, and now you are in a hurry.

Going about finding a nanny in this fasion is absolutely irrational.

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Is this not a case where it is proper to use race, since that is pretty much all you have? Now of course, you could argue that you should have asked for this and that information in the apps, and while that may be true, this is what you have asked for, as you only expected a handful of apps, and now you are in a hurry.

I would have to agree that if you have NO other information and don't have the opportunity to inquire further the rational course of action is to use any statistical information that you may have, including race. But I would have to add that this is a somewhat strained example. If you lead a rational life you will not run into examples such as the one you gave.

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Yes, one wouldn't find oneself in such a position. it is interesting that it is so hard to come up with everyday examples. If people sent me nanny resumes with nothing but a photo, name and address, I would be foolish not to throw them all in the trash. I don't think you get my question about giving an example, Viking. So, let me put it this way: I can think of a non-exotic, real-world example where I would use a person's skin color as part of a decision-making process. My question was: can you?

I notice that you created an example using black males, presumably because you thought that females may not be representative of the prison population. That's a good thing. However, consider this: male blacks who live in a particular subdivision may similarly not be a representative sample of the blacks in prison; and, blacks who apply for nanny jobs are also unlikely to be a random unbiased sample of the population from which prison-going blacks come. So, their blackness is actually confusing the issue and distracting one from looking at the variables that really matter.

As for IQ tests, actually a fair number of firms use that, or some type of proxy for that. Some give very simple tests that would weed out very low IQ folk, other (like MSFT) have a reputation for giving people all sorts of puzzlers to see how they answer. Also, many interviews are -- in part -- an informal check of the interviewee's IQ.

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Surely it is possible for a rational person to make a mistake? If the person in question went about the nanny hiring process irrationally, it was all the result of the mistake of not accurately estimating the market rate for nannies. I don't think making one wrong guess automatically means that a person is living an irrational life.

sN, as for your concern over the lack of information on the apps, I suppose that is fair, so let me fix that. Instead of 100 apps, say you got 1000 apps, and the applications contain enough information to determine if a candidate is appropriate or not. Now let us say that instead of only having time to interview 10 guys, you only have enough time to read 100 apps. The pictures do not take any significant time to view, and lets say the race ratio is the same. Now, which applications do you read first?

While it is true that the blacks in this particular district may not represent the average blacks, the racial statistics is the best info the nanny-searcher has on them. Also, since reading 100 apps is plenty to find a suitable candidate, why should the nanny-searcher care about being equal-opportunity?

I'm a bit busy today and the next few days, so I'll have to leave it at that for now. I will provide more detailed responses later this week.

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Viking, Hopefully, you noticed that I said: "I can think of a non-exotic, real-world example where I would use a person's skin color as part of a decision-making process".

As for the revised app example, I have actually been in the rare situation of being swamped with job-applications (though not for a nanny). What one does in that situation is a type of triage. One does not take the first 100, nor does one simply look at all thousand pictures and take the white ones. One looks at some cursory info -- e.g., reject all with addresses more than X miles away, reject all untidy ones. Then one can do a "quick read" on the rest, to classify as "interesting" and "uninteresting". You'll be surprised how many resumes one can get through like that.

It's also pretty irrational for anyone in that situation to use national crime statistics.

Anyway, enough of this example. You're taken this as some type of debate. I was simply curious if there was any real example you could think of -- real, likely, anticipated, non-hypothetical -- where you think you would find yourself using a person's race for some decision of importance.

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Viking: Softwarenerd made a very important point for your example which you apparently did not notice. The kind of black males who would apply for that job are definitely not the kind who would be "represented" by such high crime statistics. The fact of the application itself is therefore more informative than that statistic because the criminals that do most of those "testorone" crimes are likely to be unemployed and not looking for such a job; they want to make a lot of money quickly, and they are the type that can murder someone for "disrespecting" them.

This is not the type that will look for a nanny job, no; and especially not from a white home (they are almost always racist because they believe their misfortunes are a result of "the white man"). Their applications will go to the rap music producer or to a gang leader. So yes, weeding out the blacks on your applications list is more irrational than you think, at least in your given examples.

I too would have loved to see a real-life example of how an intelligent Objectivist could find himself in such a crisis.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Anyway, enough of this example. You're taken this as some type of debate. I was simply curious if there was any real example you could think of -- real, likely, anticipated, non-hypothetical -- where you think you would find yourself using a person's race for some decision of importance.
Well, any example I do come up with will by definition be hypothetical. If you in addition disallow everything else being pretty much equal in these examples (this seems implied by the objections you raise), then I think it would be impossible to come up with an example that would work. I'd love to hear the example you came up with, though.
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  • 2 weeks later...
Well, any example I do come up with will by definition be hypothetical. If you in addition disallow everything else being pretty much equal in these examples (this seems implied by the objections you raise), then I think it would be impossible to come up with an example that would work. I'd love to hear the example you came up with, though.
My objection to your example was not that it was hypothetical, but that it was contrived (i.e. far fetched), i.e. "exotic". Think of it this way: how many times in your own life have you made an important judgement, based mostly on a person's race, and where you realize -- in principle -- that it was the rational thing to do in the circumstances? If not in your own life, are there such examples that you really know about, in the real world. That's all I was asking for.

As for my example, as I stated earlier, there actually are some marketing-data type situations where I have seen decisions made, based on very limited information. Race is only one such piece of information, there are many other demographics that one might use. However, this type of example may not be a fair comparison because, in essence, they are not judgements about an individual but about a group. So, in the right context, it could be rational for KFC to assume that the black part of a Yankee town will support a higher proportion of chicken restaurants to population, than the white part. [Even in this example, the company that sticks to broad populations -- e.g. "across the US blacks eat more chicken than whites" -- will make the wrong decisions. In these cases, the reason to stop the information gathering when one is still at the level of group rather than individual, is the cost involved; however, one can still narrow down to pretty small demographic slices without much extra cost.]

At an individual level, when first meeting a person, their age, sex, dress and ethnicity might cause one to stay away from some subjects of conversation until one knows them better. I can see that; but, that's not an important decision.

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  • 3 years later...

Well I personally feel that if I take ANY group of people on this planet and and somehow accurately measure intelligence and then compare that measure against another group, those two measures will differ.

Maybe only a very small difference but there will be some difference, even if the groups sampled are random.

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In addition, however, there have been no credible scientific to test the hypothesis. If you try to describe the experiment that you'd perform, you'll understand why.

I apologize but I don't understand your wording. Are you meaning that the IQ tests are not accurate measures of intelligence in general?

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