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Re: Carmi Turchick's Murray post re Discomfort of Strangers

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  • Charles Murray
    I should have known better. Of course my post about Carmi Turchick’s comments on Rushton would provoke an onslaught (I suppose I would have done same thing
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 31, 2004
      I should have known better. Of course my post about Carmi Turchick’s
      comments on Rushton would provoke an onslaught (I suppose I would have
      done same thing in her place), and now I either spend hours digging up
      citations on topics I haven’t followed systematically for many years,
      or remain cravenly silent. A middle ground:

      Regarding underlying racial differences in commission of crime. An
      easily accessible and excellent single source for a review of the data,
      though now 19 years old, is J.Q. Wilson and R.H., Herrnstein (1985)
      Crime and Human Nature, Chapter 18, “Race and Crime.” Chapter 1 is
      also relevant with its discussion of the various ways of measuring
      crime, their shortcomings, and ways of compensating for them.
      Wilson/Herrnstein's documentation of the technical literature is
      comprehensive, and the conclusion that the underlying rate is different
      even after allowing for discrimination is unambiguous.

      Does bias explain any significant proportion of this difference? Very
      little, apparently. Regarding arrests, the classic study is Michael
      Hindelang (1978) “Race and Involvement in Common Personal Crimes,”
      American Sociological Review 43: 93–109, demonstrating equivalence of
      arrest rates and victims’ reports. Regarding imprisonment, an
      accessible source is S. Klein, J. Petersilia, and S. Turner (1990),
      “Race and Imprisonment Decisions in California,” Science 247: 812–816,
      which found no race differences once objective differences in offender
      records were taken into account.

      Have things changed since then? I haven’t done a literature search, but
      my impression from regular perusal of the major journals is that
      relatively little new material has been published for much the same
      reason that not much work has been done for the last few decades on
      cultural bias in IQ tests: The interesting questions have been
      answered, and the remaining areas of uncertainly are small. I did
      (rashly) mention the accruing evidence that for certain crimes and in
      certain locations, blacks may be convicted at lower rates than whites.
      I had in mind journalistic accounts about black juries refusing to
      convict explicitly on grounds of race, despite extremely powerful
      evidence, and accounts of police being reluctant to arrest black males
      under a variety of circumstances that would leave them exposed to
      accusations of racism. The racial profiling flap a few years ago
      produced studies (some of them published in technical journals, I
      believe) that inform this issue—profiling being rational, if one is to
      maximize search time. There have also been some studies about the
      disproportionate use of the death penalty for whites, after
      circumstances of the crime have been taken into account. But I don’t
      have those cites available. Perhaps someone on the list has done more
      recent work in this area than I have and can help. One final
      observation: the evidence for pre-1990 is solid. How might one argue
      that systemic discrimination against blacks in any area of life got
      worse in the 1990s than it was in previous decades?

      Regarding Ms. Turchick’s long disquisition on drug use. I am in print
      myself using many of the statistics she uses regarding racial
      differences, or lack thereof, in incidence of use. The point with
      regard to the implications for understanding bias in arrest and
      imprisonment rates goes to information not addressed by those
      statistics. Put roughly: Of a hundred black and a hundred white college
      students who have a couple of joints on the weekend, are there
      differential arrest and incarceration rates? Of a hundred black and a
      hundred white drug dealers, dealing in similar drugs and quantities,
      are there differential arrest and incarceration rates? Of a hundred
      black and a hundred white males who beat up their women while high on
      crack or meth, are there differential arrest and incarceration rates? I
      didn’t know of any evidence to that effect before my post; I still
      don’t.

      Regarding IQ, Ms. Turchick’s comments rely on Leon Kamin, Steve Gould,
      Richard Lewontin, and their ilk. Let me return to the analogy with
      creationism I used in my earlier post: Those men, when discussing IQ,
      have precisely the same reputation among specialists in IQ that
      creationists have among evolutionary biologists. I suppose that doesn’t
      constitute proof that specialists in evolutionary biology and IQ are
      respectively right vis a vis their opponents, but I can at least assure
      the evolutionary biologists on the list that the analogy is exact—not
      only in the corruption of science committed by the other side, but in
      the open acknowledgment that passionate religious belief in one case,
      and passionate political belief in the other, has motivated their work.

      Regarding testosterone, I haven’t a clue.

      Charles Murray
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