The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Thursday, May 29, 2008

Something to think about

Steve--

The only argument I'm developing is that I'm uncomfortable with assumptions and statements that I see in the national media, developed by surrogates disappointed in Hillary's performance and/or convinced of "massive" sexism dooming her campaign. I KNOW that my attitude would be "IF you could rank gender and race...then black men, etc." but I also know that I believe that is bullshit--amassing evidence is meaningless without a neutral context and perspective, which is impossible for me--or any human being-- to achieve.
The REASON it came up again is that, since the last time I spoke about it, I've heard a hundred different arguments in the media that sexism doomed Hillary's campaign, and repetition of the idea that sexism hurts more than racism. I have the perfect right to push back at what I see as a poisonous meme. In fact, it is my obligation, don't you think?
#
Dan--Your comparison is invalid from my POV. When someone says: "was slavery good or bad for slaves" I damned well did look at the question as dispassionately as possible. And the standards I brought to the question were not subjective. You can argue with the standards I selected, but they were Death rate/Life extension, inherited wealth, and infant mortality, standards that have long been used to measure the relative health, wealth, and standing of different ethnic groups, nations, and social tissues. On every measure--EVERY measure, slaves and the descendants of slaves suffered horribly. This just isn't true for women--they were worse on some measures, better on others. If I used those standards for blacks, and then applied them to the question of women, I can be considered rigid, but not, I think, hypocritical. (No, you were not accusing me of hypocrisy).

That said, I DO see benefits that have passed to the descendants of slaves. Furthermore, of course there is a perspective that suggests whites didn't actually benefit by slavery. I only buy into the spiritual/psychological aspect of this (and that only to a degree) but there are scholars (who I disagree with) who take this to the economic level as well, suggesting that slavery was never really profitable. I consider this absurd, but I'm sure that they can mount interesting arguments. They aren't idiots, they have the right to their opinion. My only question would be whether they are using that argument to suppress rights TODAY.
#
I listen if large numbers of people disagree with me about something, but that's not determinative. I've been criticized for not accepting the scholarship of feminists on this subject. There is something you guys don't seem to take into account: I am also discounting the scholarship of Afrocentrists, the majority of whom believe race is the determining factor. In fact, I've been screamed at and vilified by black people for not automatically accepting THAT point of view. Now...let me see...is there anything in common between the people who think gender is more pressing? Yep--they're almost all white. And while I can't make a direct comparison, the majority of black people seem to think that race is more determinative. I would consider these forces equal and opposite, and that they CANCEL EACH OTHER OUT. I have no obligation to lean one way or another, or accept either set of arguments without taking the other into account. I let both sides of that argument scream at each other across a table. I can feel the part of me that would like to take the position that race is more of a burden, but both logic and intuition tell me that it isn't that simple, and that it would be selfish bullshit to go in that direction.

But that doesn't mean that when I hear white folks screaming that gender is more of a burden than race, I don't have a flinch response, a sense that the very group that enjoyed ALL of the benefits I've wanted all my life for my people is now trying to twist the facts so that they can win a contest with their fathers and brothers...and just like the Afrocentric scholars, are perfectly capable of ignoring the humanity of others to further their own interests. If Obama had lost, I would have been HORRIBLY disappointed if he did the "a black man doesn't have a chance" routine. It is interesting that anyone would expect me to buy the same bullshit coming from the other side.

##
All of this relate to my personal values, and the way most people have expressed theirs through action, throughout most of human history. The average person places their life, and the continuation of it, above the lives of others with the exception of immediate family or the dearest of friends. This is why we respect acts of true heroism so highly--they are rare. So I look at the most basic things, across a population: lifespan. Death by violence. Infant mortality rate. And I believe that most place these "first and second chakra" issues above everything else, on average. It should hardly be surprising that I am not willing to
1) Discount the uncountable women who have told me they think there are real advantages to being female
2) Discount a value structure that has shepherded me through uncounted mazes of social and personal illusion
3) Discount all of the Afrocentric scholars who argue that race is more crippling than gender
4) Discount the fact that virtually 100% of those who think gender is worse are themselves white

without my bullshit meters going off. I sit firmly in the "we can't know" camp, while feeling the tide toward "black has it harder." It is a hunger, similar to the one I feel on fasting days. I would like my tribe to win. I just don't care as much about the other. But my hunger isn't me, and I don't have to be controlled by it. My protection is to guide my actions by the higher principle, and invite criticism if by word or deed I act contrary to it. I don't know what else I can do, really.

But I would be very suspicious of any belief system whose adherents seem to be determined primarily by place of birth or genetics.

51 comments:

Ethiopian Infidel said...

This might seem simplistic, but I'd think Black Women, who suffer from being members of BOTH a socially disadvantaged gender and race, are the most reliable arbitrators of the Race vs. Gender question. Interestingly, the vast majority of Black Women appear to identify RACE as the greater impediment to social accomplishment and personal happiness.

Steve Perry said...

Understand, that I believe black folks have it harder than white folks in this country pretty much across the board. And that black men catch more flak than white women.

Generally.

How much more or less? I'm not going there. And the specifics -- did this white woman get worse treatment that that black man? -- are impossible.

You don't need to debate the right-wingers who want to allow as how being black is an advantage. They are full of crap, and anybody with two neurons to spark at each other knows this. Wish them into the cornfield, they won't vote Democratic if they live to be a thousand.

One winds up picking scabs off a lot of wounds in such discussions, and I have to wonder -- to what end? You don't need to preach to the choir, and you are wasting your time trying to convert the heathens.

Anybody who is the victim of discrimination for things like sex and race ought to know what it feels like and some sense of support for others who suffer the same. But there is still a lot of I-got-it-worse-than-you, and you know what? It doesn't help make things better.

And it sometimes comes across as your father telling you how many miles he had to walk to school, uphill both ways, in the snow, beset by saber-toothed lions. Yeah, you think you got it hard? When I was your age ...

It's not just that the playing field isn't level, it's that the field is full of pits and stacked with boulders, and this black guy might at the bottom of a crevasse while that white woman is perched on a rock, or vice-versa, and trying to sort that out is a mug's game.

Obama is catching some shit because he is black, and what is wonderful is, he's climbed out of that hole and gotten as far as he has. Vermont, for God's sake -- whiter than the Johnson's Baby Powder factory. He's not going to get the hillbillies in West Virginia if he walks on water and does loaves and fishes.

Clinton is catching some shit because she is a woman, and lookit, we have a black guy and a woman, one of whom is going to be the Democratic nominee for President, good Lord willing and the creek don't rise, and holy shit, who'du ever thunk it?

You can't quantify it. But you keep trying ...

Anonymous said...

Steve: I'm not sure you have defined the problem well enough. There are certainly real significant physical differences and lots of evidence for real mental/emotional differences between the sexes. There is no real evidence of significant physical/mental differences between the races except maybe different proclivities to some rare diseases. So is if your real question is does sexism affect a womans life more than racism affects a black persons life you would need criteria unaffected by physical and mental differences between men and women and I don't think the ones you have chosen are. I am hard put to think of a set of criteria that are. The question I would ask is why do we care who has it worse. To me its like arguing whether dying from a bad heart or dying from cancer is worse. They are both bad. At least with racism and sexism we have a hope of fixing the problem.

Marty S

Kukulkan said...

Marty S:

"There is no real evidence of significant physical/mental differences between the races except maybe different proclivities to some rare diseases."

Maybe I'm misunderstanding what you meant. There is a wealth of real evidence of significant physical/mental differences between the races. Steve would argue that the evidence is not conclusive or persuasive, but the evidence exists. As far as mental differences, there is the widely discussed differences in racial IQ scores: East Asian higher than Caucasian higher than African. With respect to physical differences, tell me you discern no differences between the Watusi and the Pygmies. If your response is that both Pygmies and Watusi are African, consider the fact that within "races" there are real identifiable physical differences in discreet populations. Do you really suppose that each "race" will have identical variations?

If you meant that there is no real evidence of physical differences in brain structure between the races, that evidence also exists. It is for this reason that forensic anthopologists use cranial measurements to determine race of skeletal remains.

Real evidence of physical and mental differences exists - the question is what you believe the evidence means. Do I believe that men of different "races" have greater similarities in some areas than women of the same "race"? You bet.

Kami said...

I'm very glad that this discussion race and gender comes up on a regular basis here. Since I live in a very white (not all white, but close) community the only time I have anything beyond work-context time with Asian, Hispanic, Black or any other race community people are across the river when I'm with my husband, and we talk scotch, kids, dogs, vacations and stuff like that. We very, very rarely talk social dynamics, politics or religion. This has been, and I hope will continue to be, an education.

Marty, I'm not sure what you're trying to argue here. You wrote: "So is if your real question is does sexism affect a womans life more than racism affects a black persons life you would need criteria unaffected by physical and mental differences between men and women and I don't think the ones you have chosen are." Much as I like science it has its limitations and social situations are one of those areas where science sometimes weakens the ability to get at real, useful knowledge. You can't take the people out of the people question. Or am I misunderstanding? Basically it appears that you're asking to change the criteria to make things less biased. Unfortunately when changes in the criteria are altered to the point where bias is reduced to some level that science is comfortable with, sometimes we're no longer able to address the issue in a fashion that matters in real life.

suzanne said...

actually the only folks I see
obsessing about sexism
currently
are Clinton, her campaign, many of her supporters
and hence, the media covering that

I don't see Obama nor his campaign making racism a factor
(near as much as I suspect it is)

We all know both are realities a woman or a black person is likely to encounter in one or another ugly form
some more ugly than others

I don;t think Obama or his campaign
are wringing their hands and saying all their woes are because of it
I do see Hillary and her peeps
doing a fair amount of that.

There are more immediately relevant issue to be addressing
n this campaign,

Wish we could get to them!

kukulkan, IQ tests measure IQ scores
which are not the same thing as measureing intelligence

though you are right there are physicakl differences - beyond the obvious ones -
between men and women:
I'm thinking particularly of the differences in the structures in the male and female brain
and how they work

social/cultural equality is not the same as "the same"
everyone being "the same"
would be totally boring

Steven Barnes said...

Steve--

I think you grasp that what I'm doing here is squeezing puss out of sores in public. Speaking my mind is one of the ways I can externalize thoughts so that they don't poison me. I resolve as many of them as possible. These thoughts aren't chosen for political effect, or to entertain my fans. They are reflective of the pain I feel when certain buttons are pushed. I wish more than ANYONE that they didn't tweak so strongly. The frightening thing is that, so far as I can see, I tweak to them considerably less than the average black male.

Anonymous said...

To clarify when I used the word significant it was meant in two ways first eliminate the differences between races that there is some evidence for but even if true are not big enough to make a difference and secondly that they are unlikely to make a difference in the criteria which Steve has suggested. Also since I presumed we talking about racism and sexism in the U.S. I wasn't concerned about the Watusi and Pygmies.

Marty S

Josh Jasper said...

I listen if large numbers of people disagree with me about something, but that's not determinative. I've been criticized for not accepting the scholarship of feminists on this subject. There is something you guys don't seem to take into account: I am also discounting the scholarship of Afrocentrists, the majority of whom believe race is the determining factor. In fact, I've been screamed at and vilified by black people for not automatically accepting THAT point of view.

My arguments about this were never a more/less pressing than racism thing. I was just working from the assumption that (a) there's systemic discrimination by men, who retain power over women, and (b) while this system does hurt men, it's more likely to hurt women. You seem to be trying to argue that things are actually equal somehow between men and women. Of course, I don't think you've ever actually come out and said it.

I'm not in a position to decide if women have it worse then black people, or black men, or whatever I think it distracts from the issues at hand. Racism and sexism. And that's not even taking classism into account.

Kukulkan said...

Suzanne:

I never claimed that IQ measures intelligence. It measures performance on IQ tests. Performance on IQ tests is a mental attribute. Ergo, IQ results are evidence of mental differences between the races. I strongly suspect that if I was given a test of information vital to survival in Nigeria, I would fail.

Marty S:

If you were concerned with racism, why did you reference susceptibility to disease? I also do not "buy" your apparent contention that evidence of mental differences "even if true are not big enough to make a difference." There is evidence which indicates that with respect to race, if you take Caucasians and Africans with comparable IQs, the difference in income persists, but is greatly reduced. This suggests that some of the disparity in racial income might be explained by difference in IQ. My point here is not that Asians are smarter than Caucasians. My point is simply that real evidence does exist of significant mental differences between races. Saying there is no evidence is inaccurate.

Lester Spence said...


I never claimed that IQ measures intelligence. It measures performance on IQ tests. Performance on IQ tests is a mental attribute. Ergo, IQ results are evidence of mental differences between the races.

IQ results are evidence of differences between the races in taking IQ tests. We can not definitively say much more about it than that.

Pagan Topologist said...

I suppose this is a fan letter. I have just caught up on work since BaltiCon and am reading and catching up on reading here a bit. Entries like this one, Steve, are the reason I keep reading here. Your honesty and openness frequently challenge me and lead me to think of things in different ways. No, I have not gotten over my visceral hatred of neo-cons; maybe I never will. But, there is both compassion and clarity in your thinking, as expressed here, that I do not see anywhere else, at least in the venues where I live read, and relate.

I am talking just about your post, not the comments.

It will be good to see you again at Denvention.

David Bellamy

Pagan Topologist said...

To Ethiopian Infidel: As a white man, I would not be surprised if being female is an advantage to black women. Lots of white men including those with power to hire and promote in a workplace are intimidated by black men. I used to be, and maybe still am to an extent, except for men I know personally. It may well seem safer, psychologically at least, to hire a black woman than a black man, given similar qualifications.

suzanne said...

Ergo, IQ results are evidence of mental differences between the races.

more than registering differences between the races taking the test
they are evidence for the difference in training in
being hip to
the cultural biases in the tests
and how to answer in accord with the cultural biases of what constitutes
IQ as decided upon by the test makers

it's more a matter of education
than of innate ability

same goes for the Miller Analogy test
widely used for graduate school admission

Nancy Lebovitz said...

I believe that racism is generally worse than sexism in the US-- as you say, look at the lifespans.

However, Hillary has been subject to a long vicious campaign to destroy her reputation as a person fit for any sort of public trust. At least some of it seems to have been driven by her gender.

Obama hasn't been subject to comparable campaign. Some of that is simply because he hasn't been on the public scene for nearly as long. Some of it may be because he's a more attractive person.

Still, no matter what mud has been slung at him, I haven't seen an effort to make his name a shorthand for "person who must not be given power".

This doesn't address how many people who might vote for a Democratic candidate absolutely will not vote for a black man, nor how many absolutely will not vote for a white woman, but how the candidates are presented does affect the vote.

Brian Wood said...

Note to all: I am here to inform you that if you plan on arguing IQ's and IQ tests with Suzanne, you're going to lose. But you're free to take your best shot.

Kukulkan: You have some really screwed up reasoning. For one, what does the below quote have to do with anything?

"I strongly suspect that if I was given a test of information vital to survival in Nigeria, I would fail."

You come off as an uninformed white person, regardless of your actual racial background. You go into the differences between white and black IQ's, then out of nowhere, you say this:
"My point here is not that Asians are smarter than Caucasians."
But are not Asians smarter than whites? If not, why be so quick to infer whites are smarter than blacks?

Obviously, and I could be wrong, you have never been around blacks or asians in any kind of social setting past work or watching other than white cultures on the television set.

Steve Barnes: You don't know me and vice versa, but I have been following you for months. I've noticed you have been REALLY NICE about issues concerning the racial divide. Well, I'm not that nice. I'm a pitbull, if needed. I'm here to help educate outside statistical information, which can be wrongly manipulated and totally dehumanizes the whole process.

Ethiopian Infidel said...

pagan topologist,

A very astute observation. To pin the Dove's Tail, I'd also note that, since Ante Bellum times, White Americans where often taught to view Black Women as protective care-giving "Mammy" types, a legacy that lives on in such guises as the Aunt Jemima caricature and Nell Carter's Gimme A Break 80's sitcom character. Quite probably, such images lend a "Safe" persona to Black women who physically resemble this stereotype in many White American minds, which works to partially diminish the hostility produced by instinctive bigotry.

Michelle said...

Not to piss on a pissing contest or anything...

But really why should we care? Being a woman can be hard. Being black can be hard. Being a black woman can be very hard.

Do we have to let it? Individually do we have to let it?

We all agree it can be hard...folks don't seem to agree on the degree to which it can be hard. I say who cares, it can be hard...lets just make it not.

I know it's not that simple but sometimes all you can is look at a person and say, Yes life sucks. Go have a margarita. It might not make life better but it will make you feel good. And really, if you don't feel good life won't get better.

We don't need arbitrators in this subject. We need to just get straight to it and say let's just make life suck less.

Scott said...

Michelle -

I couldn't agree with you more. The first noble truth in Buddhism is: life is suffering. If this is in fact true, (and I suspect it is) then you can extrapolate your viewpoint to encompass all of us regardless of color or sex. I think to attempt to quantify suffering, struggle and pain is ultimately futile. Because all we REALLY have is our own perspective.

We are each a minority of one with our own challenges and struggles. Leveling the playing field is ultimately impossible because none of us is playing on the same field...it only appears that way.

Peace,
Scott.

Michelle said...

So let's talk about suffering.

How do we suffer less?

Throwing money at it doesn't always fix it.

Feeding it doesn't always fix it.

You can't stay in a victim cycle. How can you teach folks to move past it?

Steve Perry said...

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing ..."

Edmund Burke

Okay. But in the doing of something, care needs be taken so that potential allies are not alienated to point of becoming enemies. Two more old saws, then I'll shut up:

The medical teaching of primum non nocere -- "First, do no harm."

"Walk a mile in my shoes."

Polarized sun glasses get rid of glare. Polarized arguments often generate more heat than light ...

Dan Moran said...

No, you were not accusing me of hypocrisy.

No, never.

There are a half dozen things you've said to me over the years that I'll be repeating until I'm 90. Once in a different life I was bragging about some clever thing I'd done and you looked at me and smiled and said: "You can run out of cleverness. You can't run out of truth."

Probably the only person out there I've learned more useful things from is my own father.

Your comparison is invalid from my POV.

Yeah, I get that.

When someone says: "was slavery good or bad for slaves" I damned well did look at the question as dispassionately as possible.

OK, let's try it like this: Was/Is male privilege good or bad for women?

And the standards I brought to the question were not subjective. You can argue with the standards I selected, but they were Death rate/Life extension, inherited wealth, and infant mortality, standards that have long been used to measure the relative health, wealth, and standing of different ethnic groups, nations, and social issues.

I think you've come up with a superb scale for measuring differences among groups and are trying to apply it to an inappropriate domain.

Look, you've nearly convinced me that being black is, overall, harder than being female, in the United States, today. This goes contrary to a bunch of my personal life experience -- I've known a lot of women who've struggled directly because of being women, and I've known a lot of successful, competent black people. (A fair-sized chunk of the women I know who I considered damaged I met through various feminist causes -- which tend to attract women who care passionately about gender because they've been harmed by virtue of their gender. Harmed by men, specifically. Which speaks to the dangers of depending on personal life experience -- people put themselves in various situations that aren't necessarily typical.)

But the experience of asking black women their feelings on this subject has been eye opening to me. It was a good test and I'm glad you suggested it to me, and I'd like to explore it a little more thoroughly down the road. But I'll take it at face value for now: I can't with my bare face hanging out place my life experience ahead of the life experiences of the women I've asked about this.

On every measure--EVERY measure, slaves and the descendants of slaves suffered horribly. This just isn't true for women

Every measure you've selected. I like your metrics for the most part; they're a good (not perfect, but good) baseline for comparing cultures. But you're attempting to apply a ruler devised to compare cultures to the differences between men and women, and I don't think you can. Let's move past slavery and talk today, right now ...

Your metric doesn't take into account the fear the asshole you live with is going to beat you tonight. Nor the times he does beat you. Nor your inability to walk to the store after dark for fear of being mugged or raped. Nor the trauma when you do get raped, which on some college campuses has been measured at more than 10% -- I've got a daughter going away to college in September, and this number shocked me and appears to be real as of the mid-1990s.

http://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/frequency-of-sexual-assault

In 2005 there were 270K sexual assaults in the U.S. -- short of being killed, pretty much the worst thing likely to happen to a human being. (I've been mugged. I've been assaulted and put in the hospital for two nights. I was enraged, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't compare to the experience of any woman I've ever spoken to who got raped.)

That's 270K in the U.S. ... it's worse in much of the world, and vastly worse across most of human history. How do you compare this? I've heard your story, standing in the middle of the street in traffic and screaming at the bullies to come into the traffic and try to get you ...

When you fear the bullies will come and get you and take you to a house somewhere where screams will be ignored, and twenty men will rape you in succession, do you take that risk then?

How do you measure that, Steve?

Lester Spence said...

dan and steve. i'd like you both to do me a favor.

you are both ignoring the central fact that women have race (at least in the us) just as blacks have gender (everywhere). so dan when you say you know all sorts of successful blacks, i'm left wondering "does he mean successful black MEN?" when you say you know few successful women, are you saying you know few successful WHITE women?

similarly steve when you say that nothing that women went through compares to what slaves went through are you referring to WHITE women (or at the very least NON BLACK women)?

the central dispute that generated this discussion is between a man and a woman on the gender axis, but between a "black" and a "white" on the racial axis.

if you could clear that up for me, and for yourselves i think it would help the conversation a great deal.

Steven Barnes said...

Dan--

I have never, ever denied that there are many statistics that show women to be at a disadvantage. I've never denied one of them. All I've said is that there are stats I consider important to consider that aren't being factored in, and that life expectancy, violent death, and incarceration rates are among them. These are generally brushed off.
I am not certain, and we could have this conversation privately, but there is a very good chance that women I love have been as victimized by men as anyone close to you. I will not dishonor your loved ones by assuming that there has been GREATER tragedy in my family--but trust me, I care about the safety of women, and their ability to rise to their highest good, right down to my marrow.
Here's what I think, in simplest terms:
1) Those behaviors and customs and genetic advantages that lead to greater numbers of surviving children get passed along.
2) One of those is sexual dimorphism on a biological and social level. The Industrial Age began the breakdown of this dissimilarity.
3) Size and aggression selects men to handle primary threat situations. Men and women play a game of pretending women are less capable than they actually are, and that men are less nurturing and emotional than they actually are.
4) Advantages and disadvantages are distributed between these groups: men make more money but women control more wealth (today). Men have more power, women live longer. Men have greater strength, women have some advantages in long-term endurance.
5) Any group that abuses its women beyond point X gets a spike in infant mortality and a drop in birthrates, and will be out-competed by a group that, simply put, treats its women better.
6) The only way there is a real advantage to a group dominating its women is if women have nothing to contribute. The more you believe they have to contribute, the more a society cripples itself by oppressing its women.
##
Dan, you have a beautiful heart. And you are quite right about the horrific instances of abuse toward women. But in countries like Afghanistan, where women are REALLY oppressed, it does indeed show up in life expectancy and birth rates. If it doesn't show up there, then it may be horrific...but relatively incidental, and not systematic. Black people have criticized me for stating that we actually have dysfunction in the community, but how can we say that there has been 400 years of devastation, but no effect? That effect shows up in the stats.
The 78% of male income thing is interesting, and no matter how you jigger the figures, it still comes down that women are paid less. But differences BETWEEN racial or ethnic groups depresses life spans, and the differences you quote doesn't seem to affect that metric much. What that suggests to me is that, while you are ABSOLUTELY RIGHT about the statistics you quote, there are factors being ignored or left out.
I consider male mortality stats to be something to consider. If you don't, that's cool--a matter of a difference of opinion. But it isn't that I don't know about the stats concerning violence toward women. It is that I think they are 1/2 of a picture. Outnumbered ten to one, starting from nothing, black people have achieved damn near equality in 400 years. The basic disadvantage women have is that they are 30% weaker...and in fifty thousand years they are supposed to remain at a total disadvantage? 1000% disadvantage to...30% disadvanatage? Something is very wrong with this picture. It seems to be politically correct to assume that a 30% advantage in strength could keep men completely on top for fifty thousand years, but I don't buy it.
I'm not saying I think men and women's situations are equal. Measured by men's standards, women are in a hole. But measured by women's standards, men are in a hole as well. And it is the political nature of human beings to ignore any data contrary to one's own struggle. Like, for instance, endless mountains of dead male flesh on every battlefield in the history of the world.

Kukulkan said...

Suzanne:

IQ "it's more a matter of education
than of innate ability"

That is your interpretation of the evidence. I have not stated that the evidence means anything other than a difference in mental process. If education impacts mental ability (and there is evidence of this) then your point and mine are not incompatible.

Brian Wood:

"You come off as an uninformed white person, regardless of your actual racial background. You go into the differences between white and black IQ's, then out of nowhere, you say this:
"My point here is not that Asians are smarter than Caucasians."
But are not Asians smarter than whites? If not, why be so quick to infer whites are smarter than blacks?"

Wow. Please tell me where I ever stated or inferred that Whites are smarter than Blacks. Keep looking. Couldn't find it? Your apology is accepted. My point is that IQ tests provide some evidence of mental differences between the races. You brought the whole White is smarter than Black angle to the discussion. I did note that IQ results go Asian to Caucasian to Black -- but I never claimed this as evidence of intelligence or being smarter. My quote you mentioned was made specifically to indicate that eivdence of mental differences is not equivalent to evidence of racial differences in intelligence. The differences between mental processes of the sexes (mentioned by Marty S) does not mean that women are smarter than men or vice versa. It means the sexes think differently. My point is that IQ tests are evidence that there are racial differences in thinking as well.

Finally, there is a difference between evidence and proof. I have never said that Whites think differently than Blacks or Asians. I have simply said that IQ tests are evidence of such.

Steve Perry said...

IQ test are only as valid as the people who construct them, and those that are race-neutral (or culturally so_ are few and far between. You can be an intellectual giant and not know how to read. You can have a good memory and understand how to take test and score higher than the test can adjust for.

Cup goes with:

A) Plate
B) Saucer
C) Table
D) Toaster

In middle-class USA, the answer is B. In poor communities, the answer is C. Can you see why?

IQ is supposed to be a measure of innate intelligence, but it seldom is. Education as a baseline is factored in -- you have to know the meaning the words to compare or contrast them. You need to understand a shape's geometry to see how it is like another. Ways of thinking, logic, these are hard to determine without fudge factors.

Some people are smarter than others. No race is smarter than another.

Nancy Lebovitz said...

There are some female disadvantages beside less strength. Until recently, there was a very high risk of death in childbirth. This doesn't just mean loss of individual lifespan, this means there are fewer women with a chance to accumulate resources.

I know childbirth was seriously deadly in western civ until the development of antiseptics and anesthesia, but I don't know if it was quite as dangerous in earlier, less theory-driven cultures. I've heard it's considered a big deal in all human cultures.

Men are generally much more willing to abandon their children. This has longterm costs, but gives short term freedom of action.

The big one-- and something I don't have an explanation for-- is that women are much worse at organized violence. I haven't heard of women organizing for violence at anything larger than the gang level, and afaik, even that is rare compared to men.

Comparing lifespan for men and women may not be a good measure. Men and women are physically different enough that the risk of heart attacks starts much earlier for men. Afaik, this isn't a matter of environment, though I'm willing to be surprised.

Anonymous said...

As professional statistician I can tell you that trying to draw a conclusion from a number like women earn 78 cents on the dollar without a really major comprehensive analysis including all variables that affect income. Things like education, experience, number of hours worked, type of job, industry(different industries often have different pay scales), size of company etc. By the way with respect to hours worked does the 78 cent figure represent hourly wage or annual wage. Furthermore even if you did an analysis which computed the contribution of each of the important variables and found for example that women do earn less, but its because the fields they tend to go into you would still be left trying to understand why men and women go into different fields and does it reflect sexism in society.
As I see it,trying to measure racism and sexisms with numbers is futile. Most of us know racism and sexism when we see it on a one to one basis and the best we can do is work to eliminate it.

Marty S

Brian Wood said...

Kukulkan:

"Finally, there is a difference between evidence and proof. I have never said that Whites think differently than Blacks or Asians . I have simply said that IQ tests are evidence of such ."
Six in one hand and half a dozen in the other is the same thing.

You obviously don't understand the "lean" of your own argument/statement, which was, as you REstated: "I did note that IQ results go Asian to Caucasian to Black." And then you flatly state in the previous post without touching upon in this new one: "My point here is not that Asians are smarter than Caucasians." Without ALSO stating you are NOT saying whites are also not smarter than blacks. Racism isn't always what is stated or said. It also is what is NOT stated or said. Or, as in this case, what was just flat left out of the equation.

Your physical "differences" statement is a lean towards a racist statement. One of the things I was told when young, by my racist family, was that blacks are better at sports because they have an extra leg muscle or two that we whites don't have. Reading statements like that does nothing but give me a terrible flash back to my racist upbringing.

Looking for "clinical" reasons why the races are different is never going to do anything but seperate cultures further. As far as the human aspect (the metaphorical "appendix" of all statistical data) of any culture goes, there is NO difference. None. Write that in on one of your charts.


As far as Asians go: I was stationed in Japan for four and a half years. Their culture, unlike American culture, is based on how smart you are. Children go to school year round, six days a week. It is the cultural insistance on education combined with innate ability that equals smartness. And, of course, hard work. Very hard work. The reasons Asians score higher on American IQ tests is the drive factor. Also, which is even more impressive, is Japanese read books front to back, right to left. They have to flip that thought process once in America and once they learn English. Never mind the kanji systems; symbols and alphabetic. (I also was in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Korea, Philippines, and Okinawa)

When I was stationed in Little Rock between 87 and 95, there was alot of attention paid to the anniversary of the Little Rock Nine: the nine black students who were integrated into the all white school, Central High. As bad as white women have had it in a sexist male dominated society, I can't recall a moment where people were so outraged that white women were allowed education to the point that the govenor assembled the national guard to stop the white women to simply attend school, as was done to the Little Rock Nine in 1957. (Troops were then withdrawn, then federralized and sent back to this time protect the nine students) If nothing else, that speaks volumes to me that you are the enemy mentaliity whites have held towards blacks, the residual effects we are still witnessing today, fifty years later.

mjholt said...

If Clinton and Obama were both white men, Obama would be where he is and Clinton would be where she is. That is how their performances unfolded. They are both exceptional people. To recognize how exceptional, take a look at McCain, who is not exceptional.

suzanne said...

That is your interpretation of the evidence. I have not stated that the evidence means anything other than a difference in mental process. If education impacts mental ability (and there is evidence of this) then your point and mine are not incompatible.

No that is NOT my "interpretation
it is the results drawn from innumerable studies of IQ tests
in the 60's (I think but I may be wrong by a decade) when it became apparent there was a cultural bias
in the test construction.

Steve perry's example is a good one.
Also they found the "interpret the saying: a roling stone gathers no moss" question was biased as black students in segregated schools were
not being taught symbolic/metaphoric interpretation
Bl;ack students were likely to answer the question by talking about how moss can't grow on a stone that is rolling down a hill - a literal answer which was scored WRONG.

I am telling you what I learned in post-doctoral work in Psychology
and on the basis of 20+ years of working as a psychologist, including work as a psychometrist.

mjholt said...

Re IQ tests:
I had my defining moment about IQ tests over 40 years ago when our neighbor was told her daughter (a pre-schooler) had a low IQ because she couldn't identify a stop light. We didn't have any stop lights where we lived. None, zip, zero. She has never seen one.

It still took a huge amount of time and energy to keep this low IQ pronouncement out of the child's school record.

Kukulkan said...

Brian:

The reason I used the example of Asians not being smarter than Whites as opposed to Whites not being smarter than Blacks was an attempt to avoid the whole White/Black controversy. I think the statement Whites are smarter than Blacks a stupid statement. I've known plenty of White folks who are intellectually challenged and know extremely intelligent Blacks. Clearly, the statement Whites are smarter than Blacks is a useless statement.

"Looking for "clinical" reasons why the races are different is never going to do anything but seperate cultures further. "

I wholeheartedly disagree. I am not an ostrich. I do not hide from the truth. If there are clinical differences in races, then we need to know about them.

Suzanne:

Psychometric testing didn't stop in the 60s or the 70s. Many of the cultural bias accusations from that era are well-founded. The psychometricians keep devising new tests in order to eliminate cultural bias. Please explain to me the cultural bias of red and green. Show a person a red card or a green card and tell them to push button A for red and button B for green. A racial difference appears in reaction time. The difference also correlates with IQ.

Let's be clear - individual merit matters to me overwhelmingly more than race (I am not, however, completely free of racial bias - neither do I expect is anyone here). I would not let an Ashkenazi Jew (ethnic group with high IQ) perform surgery on me if she is a moron. I would let a Black woman perform surgery on me if she was intelligent and well trained.

Brian Wood said...

Kukulkan:
Lol. Okay. I understand NOW. But don't try to avoid the issue, black and white. Meet it head on. See, as I said, leaving it out of the equation can be misinterpreted the wrong way, too.

Meet it head on. Don't be afraid. (overall, in the country, my belief is that's one part of what is hindering a valid discourse and moving through obstacles: avoidance, in whatever form it may present itself)

Josh Jasper said...

Brian: As bad as white women have had it in a sexist male dominated society, I can't recall a moment where people were so outraged that white women were allowed education to the point that the govenor assembled the national guard to stop the white women to simply attend school, as was done to the Little Rock Nine in 1957.

History sometimes means that the times when oppressed people were oppressed don't happen simultaneously.

The women's suffrage movement predates the civil rights movement. At one point, women seeking the right to vote were imprisoned and force fed (dangerously and painfully) when they went on hunger strikes to protest. Some women were killed in those jails. At the time, spousal rape was not a crime, nor was beating your wife, within certain limits.

My point is not to say that this was as bad, or even comparably bad, but as a caution against you trying to say things were better or worse for women without knowing the whole history of the women's rights movement.

Anonymous said...

Brian;
I like your idea about not avoiding issues around racism and sexism, because only by understanding all sides and all issues can we resolve the situation. The problem is you put the word valid in front of discourse and everybody has a different idea of what is valid. People in the public eye have to resign their position or are fired for making a non-PC statement that one group takes offense at. Everybody dumps on Fox news as not being news just because it tends towards the conservative point of view, even though in my experience it has fewer incidences of discussions where only one side is represented than CNN or MSNBC.

Marty S

Dan Moran said...

Marty, I personally think everyone dumps on Fox news because the people who watch it are either:

1. Stupid, or
2. Made so by Fox

http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/714.html

Almost shocking was the extent to which Fox News viewers were mistaken. Those who relied on the conservative network for news, PIPA reported, were “three times more likely than the next nearest network to hold all three misperceptions. In the audience for NPR/PBS, however, there was an overwhelming majority who did not have any of the three misperceptions, and hardly any had all three.”

Looking at the misperceptions one at a time, people were asked, for example, if the U.S. had discovered the alleged stockpiles of WMD in Iraq since the war began. Just 11% of those who relied on newspapers as their “primary news source” incorrectly believed that U.S. forces had made such a discovery. Only slightly more — 17% — of those who relied on NPR and PBS were wrong. Yet 33% of Fox News viewers were wrong, far ahead of those who relied on any other outlet.


"in my experience it has fewer incidences of discussions where only one side is represented than CNN or MSNBC."

I'll have to take you word for this, since I don't watch television -- Fox or CNN or MSNBC. But it doesn't appear to be showing up in their results.

Lester Spence said...

The women's suffrage movement predates the civil rights movement. At one point, women seeking the right to vote were imprisoned and force fed (dangerously and painfully) when they went on hunger strikes to protest. Some women were killed in those jails. At the time, spousal rape was not a crime, nor was beating your wife, within certain limits.
Josh, again this is where specificity is important. The women's suffrage movement was a WHITE woman's movement. WHITE women seeking the right to vote were imprisoned and force fed, etc. But what was happening to black women and men during this time? What happened to black women within the women's suffrage movement? After white women gained the right to vote, did this right extend to black women in Alabama and Mississippi?
Similarly in fighting for black rights in the civil rights movement how were black WOMEN treated in comparison to black MEN?

Anonymous said...

Dan: Well I watch all three networks quite a bit, because I like to hear all sides of an issue. I feel that anyone who watches just one of the these networks gets a slanted view of the news. What I was referring to however is the practice which I find more common on CNN and MSNBC of getting a bunch of like minded people together in an interview and collectively bashing someone. So this morning CNN had a discussion about a McCain speech on Iraq. The discussion included Wolf Blitzer and two Democratic strategists. On Fox these type of discussion would usually be with a host and one Democratic and one Republican Strategist. If you watched Hardball with Chris Mathews on MSNBC during the campaign you would have seen endless Clinton bashing often with no one on her side.
Some times I think Mathews has spent as much time campaigning for Obama as Obama has.

P.S.
As for the survey you sited on the web as I said before I know just how wrong surveys can be and never believe them without knowing exactly how the data was collected and analzed.

Marty S

Dan Moran said...

Well, ignoring studies you don't like is one approach ... almost Foxian. :-)

Anonymous said...

I tend to ignore all studies whether they support my view or not. It is very hard to get a truly honest study. People tend to give you the answer they think you want. Sometimes consciously and some times unconsciously. One can do a study to determine if fish A or fish B tastes better. If you have them rank the fish from -5 for A is much worse than B to plus 5 A is much better than B then all things being equal since A better is associated with the plus sign and plus is generally considered good people tend to select fish A as better. Rerun the test with B associated with the plus sign and you will tend to reverse the result to favor B. Most people conducting a study give away the result they want somewhere along the way.

Marty S.

Dan Moran said...

They wanted the Fox viewers to not know the truth? And the Fox viewers cooperated? That's a cooperative bunch of viewers, Marty.

Anonymous said...

Dan: Even if everything in the study were not slanted by those who conducted the study, it was published in Oct. 3, 2003. The war began at the end March of that year. That means the study may have been done at time when people still thought the WMDs were there, but we hadn't found them yet. More conservatives then liberals were supporters of the war believed that the WMDs were hidden or had been transported out. Some of the responses may have reflected peoples beliefs rather than which news source they watched. If people of a certain belief watch one news source over another it doesn't mean their belief came from that news source. No one denies FOX is more conservative than other news sources. But the comments like yours about people who watch FOX, are similar to the types of comments white racists make about blacks based up equally flimsy data.

Marty S

Anonymous said...

One more thing about FOX viewers believing the misrepresentation of there being WMDs in Iraq. If you google the end of the search for WMDs you will find that the U.S. government announced the end of the search for these weapons on Jan. 12, 2005. That's 15 months after your researchers declared the search over and done with and called it a misrepresentation. Could it be that this quick decision about the WMDs reflects their biases and that all their study proves is conservatives are less likely to share the same beliefs as the liberal group that ran the study.

Marty S

Dan Moran said...

Marty, if the question had been: "Are we still looking for WMD?" ... why, Fox News viewers might be forgiven for saying "Yes" to that, since it was true. And you'd have a good point.

This isn't the question they were asked. They were asked: "Did we find WMD in Iraq?" ... and they got it wrong twice as frequently as the NPR/PBS crowd.

Open-minded (not a phrase I normally associate with conservatives, to tell the truth) ... and "wrong" ... are not the same things.

Anonymous said...

Dan: I followed your link to the site of the group who did the study and the followed a link to the actual questionnaire and some of the numbers. So lets start with when the data was taken. Approximately 47% of the survey responses were from Jan. Feb. and Mar. 2003 the war didn't start until Mar. 20 2003. So we had no idea if we would find WMDs or not when almost half the data was gathered. Counting responses gotten at that point biases the study and reflects the preconceived notions of those conducting the study.
To continue with the problems this is supposed to evaluate the media's effect on opinion so lets look at question 15.

"Q15. As you may know, the Bush administration has said that Iraq played an important
role in the September 11th attacks"

Here they clearly state the Bush administration's opinion. Conservatives whatever they have heard in the media tended to support Bush in greater numbers than others and so were more likely to answer such a question with an answer that supported Bush, but clearly this tells us nothing about the influence of Fox news. There were 13 question that asked about the three misrepresentations. Three of the questions referred to the president and his position. Also since there were 13 questions and only three misrepresentations thats an average of over four ways of asking the same question. Did answering just one variation make you count as wrong. That would be interesting in light of the following instruction from the questionnaire.

"The next few questions ask for your impressions of some things that you
may or may not know. Please just indicate your impression, whether or not you feel very
confident that it is correct."

Here they are basically asking people to guess if they don't know the answer. Once again conservatives if forced to guess are going to agree with the president whose stance on these issues was well known in greater quantities than others irrespective of their news source and so again I claim that since more conservatives watch FOX news it is arbitrary to assign their beliefs with respect to these issues to FOX news rather than to their conservative political beliefs.

Marty S

Dan Moran said...

Anyone still bothering to follow this thread, go look yourselves: Marty is flatly wrong.

http://65.109.167.118/pipa/pdf/oct03/IraqMedia_Oct03_rpt.pdf

Marty, you assert:

"Approximately 47% of the survey responses were from Jan. Feb. and Mar. 2003 the war didn't start until Mar. 20 2003. So we had no idea if we would find WMDs or not when almost half the data was gathered."

You appear to believe that people were asked to guess if the U.S. would find WMD in Iraq, and that these questions were then conflated with the questions asked post-invasion. You're pulling this theory out of thin air, because it didn't happen.

Before the war overwhelming majorities believed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Though it now appears this belief may have been incorrect, it does not seem appropriate to call this a misperception because it was so widespread at the time, even within the intelligence community.

The guys writing this report agree with you, Marty ... not that you appear to be aware of it. :-)

Bold below is mine:

"One of the most striking developments in the postwar period was that once US forces arrived in Iraq, they failed to find the weapons of mass destruction that had been a major rationale for going to war with Iraq. Nonetheless, in PIPA/KN polls conducted May through September, a substantial minority of the public said they believed that weapons of mass destruction had been found. A substantial minority even believed that Iraq had used weapons of mass destruction in the war. Polls from other organizations repeated these questions and got similar results."

May through September, Marty.

Anonymous said...

Dan: I don't know if anyone except you and I are following this discussion anymore, but I'm going to try to make my point one more time. My main point is the link you originally referred to discussed a study concerning belief in media misrepresentation and concluded that FOX viewers were more misinformed. Now since more conservatives would tend to certain beliefs than liberals the only way to draw a conclusion concerning the effect of the media versus the effect of political belief is as one additional question in their questionnaire.
Q18:
Do you consider yourself
A)Conservative
B)Liberal
C)neither
This would have allowed them to do a statistical analysis that would have take out the effect of political belief. As a competent statistician I would have included such a question. Based upon the questionnaire not containing such a question I can only conclude that the authors of the study are either incompetent or deliberately left the question out in order to get the conclusion they wanted.
On the issue of when data was collected and which data was used I refer you to page 4 of the document you sited in your latest post where it says

"To answer these and other questions we developed a more systematic set of questions that were included in a series of three polls, conducted over June through September, with a total of 3,334 respondents. This was combined with the findings from four other polls conducted January through May for a total data set of 8634 respondents."

Notice I actually gave them the benefit of the doubt in my post by including the May data with the June though September data. If you take their approach in the above quote that the May data more properly belongs with the Jan. through Mar. data then actually the part of the data which I would consider to be to early to label as due to media misrepresentation rises to 61% from my stated 47%.

Finally haven't gone into this before, but I could raise lots of statistical/political questions about this whole "world" opinion poll stuff. For instance what was the result of the world opinion poll for China. Given the percent of the world population represented by China if a significant percent of Chinese had a negative opinion of us or our foreign policy this could hugely bias the results of the poll, but should we really care about or base our foreign policy on what China thinks of us.

Marty S

Dan Moran said...

You seem intent on asserting that people were asked, prior to the invasion, whether WMD had been found in Iraq. They weren't. It's a strawman.

I don't know what your background in statistics is; I've written business statistical software, but I'm a programmer first and a statistician a distant second. But I see nothing wrong with a methodology that asks people questions on matters of fact, and correlates those responses with the media outlets from which they consume information. That's all these guys did. The miserable performance by Fox viewers says more about Fox and its viewers than it does about the nature of the polls.

Anonymous said...

Dan: I earned my living as a statistician. I have testified as an expert witness on statistical matters in federal court and the fish example I used in one of my posts was from a real case in Michigan. The result there was that an EPA recommended procedure, which I demonstrated in actual trials was biased, was removed from state law and one developed by myself and an independent consultant from Michigan State University was substituted. All I am saying is from a professional point of view there are several flaws in the study's methodology that prevent me from accepting any conclusion about FOX news based upon it. Let me try one more time to state clearly my main objection. If every thing about the study had been done identically. All the same people had been asked the same questions on the same dates, but the question What is your primary source of news was removed and replace by the question would you describe yourself as liberal, conservative, neither, the people would have answered the other questions the same and the results of the study would have shown that conservatives had the three misconceptions to a greater degree than liberals. The point is that conservative beliefs and watching FOX news cannot be separated out as cause of the alleged misconceptions because the study was not properly designed to distinguish between these two alternative explanations. I taught courses in Experimental Design. If one of mt students came back with a study designed this way he wouldn't have liked his grade.

Marty S

Dan Moran said...

Moving on myself, we're 6 posts down now ....

I accept and respect your expertise in the area of statistics; you've got me beat. I'd happily teach writing or computer science; despite having written statistics software, I wouldn't presume to teach statistics.

... that said, in the appeal to authority, the principal author of this study, Steven Kull, seems quite a talented fellow himself.

http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/about.php?nid=&id=#staff

Moving past that ... I don't think your objection makes a great deal of sense. Critiquing the study for eliding the respondent's political bent, when measuring the respondent's political bent isn't what they set out to do in the first place, seems thoroughly besides the point...

See you in more recent posts. :-)