Sometimes the Facts are Irrelevant

According to this article, 74% of Israeli Jewish high school kids say that Arabs are “unclean,” and 57% of Israeli Arab high school kids say the same thing about Jews. There are a lot of meaningful things that could be said here (all of them depressing), but surely none of them have anything at all to do with the factual question of the relative personal hygiene habits of the two groups.

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  • So some kids are wrong. But are they biased? That is, are there clues these kids should have attended to by which they could have corrected their error?

  • zelig

    In my experience, there are cultural differences in the frequency of bathing, so the assumption that there is some bias present sounds like political correctness.

    Each group may have different definitions of unclean. My understanding is that in the Muslim culture eating with one’s left hand is considered unclean.

    Is there any data suggesting that they are biased and wrong?

    Note that my point is restricted to the cleanliness factor only. I am not commenting on either group considering the other ‘uncivilized’ or ‘uneducated.’

  • Doug S.

    The students on both sides could be taking “unclean” to have a specific technical meaning related to proper observation of religious rituals; thus, it is not necessarily surprising that practitioners of one religion view the other as “unclean.”

  • Doug S. has it. “Unclean” has a distinct religious meaning to both cultures. I think most modern Westerners are unaware of it. Pigs and shrimp are always unclean. People may be permanently unclean, or only temporarily so, depending on such details as lineage, leprosy, menstruation, and nocturnal emissions.