16 August 2011

On Riots


Thomas Sowell:

After mobs of young blacks rampaged through Philadelphia committing violence -- as similar mobs have rampaged through Chicago, Denver, Milwaukee and other places -- Philadelphia's black mayor, Michael A. Nutter, ordered a police crackdown and lashed out at the whole lifestyle of those who did such things.
"Pull up your pants and buy a belt 'cause no one wants to see your underwear or the crack of your butt," he said. "If you walk into somebody's office with your hair uncombed and a pick in the back, and your shoes untied, and your pants half down, tattoos up and down your arms and on your neck, and you wonder why somebody won't hire you? They don't hire you 'cause you look like you're crazy," the mayor said. He added: "You have damaged your own race."
While this might seem like it is just plain common sense, what Mayor Nutter said undermines a whole vision of the world that has brought fame, fortune and power to race hustlers in politics, the media and academia. Any racial disparities in hiring can only be due to racism and discrimination, according to the prevailing vision, which reaches from street corner demagogues to the august chambers of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Just to identify the rioters and looters as black is a radical departure, when mayors, police chiefs and the media in other cities report on these outbreaks of violence without mentioning the race of those who are doing these things. The Chicago Tribune even made excuses for failing to mention race when reporting on violent attacks by blacks on whites in Chicago.

If there are genetic-based differences in behavior, then it stands to reason that various genetic markers would correlate with behavioral difference.  For example, Asians have a long history of doing better than average academically.  Doing better than average academically is a behavioral marker, and its higher incidence among Asians means that the genetic marker of ethnicity correlates with the genetic marker of academic excellence.

This is not to say that being Asian causes one to excel academically.  Correlation has never been causation, after all.  But that doesn’t make correlation useless.  If one is simply attempting to acquire basic information as inexpensively as possible, correlation is a useful tool.  In the case of the riots, knowing that blacks have a greater than average tendency to riot, loot, and generally act criminally is helpful because one needs only a very small amount of cheaply acquired information (skin color, age, and gender) to make a generally reasonable decision.

Furthermore, discrimination against young black males isn’t necessarily racism (at least of the hardcore variety).  Given the cost of acquiring information, this discrimination is more than likely behaviorally based since there is a strong correlation between a young black male and negative behavior.

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