Testing Derbyshire’s theory

Alan M. writes:

After all of the discussion at VFR regarding John Derbyshire’s article, “The Talk: Nonblack Version,” I tried an experiment. I watched myself in various situations where I was in the presence of blacks to see what was going on inside me. I observed my reactions when I was at work, shopping, in public transit, in airports, etc. I found that I already followed many of Derbyshire’s recommendations, based purely on my personal experiences. In trying to conceptualize my observations, some ideas from quantum physics came to mind regarding probability.

Here is what I observed:

(1) Based on a person’s race and sex, I have a general assessment of the probability of what the person might be like.

(2) As I gather more data—dress, demeanor, language—I adjust my assessment up or down. Essentially, as I observe, my assessment of the person moves from assessing a type with a broad range of possible behaviors to an individual with a much narrower range.

(3) There is a threshold where I will decide if I’m open to interaction—i.e. relatively safe vs. possibly dangerous.

(4) Ultimately, if I converse or otherwise interact with the person, he collapses from a type to an individual and I “treat them as I sees them”—a son or daughter of God who I will still be assessing and adjusting my actions based on those assessments.

I realized I do this with everyone—starting with a probability model based on past history and observable traits when at a distance, and ultimately dealing with the individual.

I called this the Derbyshire Uncertainty Principle (borrowing from a concept from Quantum Mechanics of the uncertainty of measurements at the quantum scale). I also thought of Schroedinger’s Cat reductio ad absurdum thought experiment where until you open the box, the cat exists in a state that is a juxtaposition of being alive and dead. Until you look, it is in neither state; but once you look it assumes the state of life or death. In observing a person, he goes in steps from a probability curve to an actual individual.

The challenge for whites dealing with blacks is the streak of hatred and violence towards whites that exists in their community. Derbyshire himself estimated that perhaps five percent of the black community has this hatred and acts on it. Without knowledge of the individual person, it is foolish not to think of the group’s attributes and take that into account with dealing with people.

That led me to a couple of other thoughts regarding the observer and probability:

As with quantum mechanics, the observer is not some neutral eye that doesn’t affect the observed. Who we are and our behavior affect the behavior of those around us. A minority in an environment that is predominantly of another race will be treated differently. Again, from experience, we know a white person in a black environment is asking for trouble. Add to that our typical liberal readiness to appear weak and submissive, and you have a recipe for victimhood.

Finally, there is group behavior and probability. Let us posit that the five percent figure above is roughly right. Given a random sampling of blacks, if there are five together, then you have a 25 percent or a one in four chance that someone in that group hates whites. If there are ten blacks together, there is a 50/50 chance that someone in the group hates whites and would act on it. Given that probabilityand the experiences we have of that group’s behavior, it is craziness for a white person to put himself in a position where he is interacting with a large group of unknown blacks.

So, in summary, it seems to me that Derbyshire’s Uncertainty Principle is nothing other than a description of how intelligent, rational people already operate. When dealing with uncertainty, we have to base our decisions on known experience and probability. The more certain we are of whom we are dealing with and that they pose no threat, the more we can let down our guard. The more we know the other as an individual, the more we can treat them as an individual and as a sister or brother. Wise as serpents, harmless as doves.

- end of initial entry -

Alexis Zarkov writes:

I have a couple of minor quibbles, and a major quibble, with Alan M.’s calculations. [LA replies: It seems to me that “a major quibble” is a contradiction in terms.] If you have ten randomly selected blacks together, then the probability that least one hates whites (using Derbyshire’s five percent number) is 40 percent, not 50 percent (50/50 chance). Here is how one does this calculation. If five percent hate whites, then 95 percent do not. So the probability that all ten do not hate whites is 0.95 raised to the power of ten (product rule). That’s 0.60 (rounding to two decimal places). Then we subtract 0.60 from one to get the probability that one or more (up to ten) hates whites. I think Alan M. simply rounded up from 40 percent. In his other example, he rounded up from 23 to 25 percent.

Here’s my major quibble. Most any group of blacks that one would encounter are not random samples from the black population. The group would likely have shared interests and attitudes among the members. Therefore the product rule does not apply. The product rule says that you multiply the probabilities of independent events to get the probability that all the events occur. So if one meets a group of ten in real life, the actual probability is either much more or much less than 40 percent. So I don’t think Alan’s calculation is very useful.

I also doubt Derbyshire’s figure of five percent—I think it’s much more. Let’s not forget that about a third of black men will get convicted of a crime and spend time in prison. Blacks are about half the U.S. prison population. Spending time in the white man’s jail is bound to produce resentment. Surely at least ten percent of American blacks hate white people.

Hannon writes:

Alan M. writes:

Ultimately, if I converse or otherwise interact with the person, he collapses from a type to an individual and I “treat them as I sees them”—a son or daughter of God who I will still be assessing and adjusting my actions based on those assessments.

I agree with Alan on this point and often have similar experiences where initial factors cease to have much importance once a personal connection has been made. For liberals, the idea of a group-to-individual process of consideration (of minorities) simply cannot occur because this would violate their principle of universal non-discrimination. When it comes to Republicans, Christians, defenders of marriage, etc., there are no steps in a thought process of any kind. All they see is evil.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at June 17, 2012 01:55 PM | Send

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