More Natural Hypocrisy

Back in April I posted on a video which suggested:

Most people believe that redistributing money within a nation is good, but that redistributing GPA within a school is bad, and if asked why these should be treated differently, have little to say. My point isn’t to say one can’t come up with reasons to treat these differently. … My point is that most people can’t think of such reasons, making it pretty unlikely that such reasons are the cause of their opinions.

Here’s a related video:

This new video suggests that most people think school and professional affirmative action is good, but that sports affirmative action is bad, and if asked why these should be treated differently, have little to say.  Hat tip to Mungowitz, who seems to agree:

I was amused to see the kids struggle with making ANY of the above [valid] arguments. The video does a good job of showing how our “support” for aff-action is a religion, not a considered conclusion.

Alas, what Mungowitz counts as valid rationales for treating these differently are pretty weak:

1. If anything, coaches already try to find white players.
2. … “Racism” is directed at the societal minority, which is NOT white people. …
3. Performance in sport (as in music, and the military) is objective. … But academics … are more subjective. A bad time in the 40 yard dash means you are slow. A bad SAT score could mean all sorts of things. …
4. Basketball is the key sport among urban populations, many of whom are black. Hockey, swimming, lacrosse much less so. This is sorting, not racism.

If the idea is to discourage discrimination in general, then we should entertain the possibility that whites could sometimes be victims of discrimination. And if it is valid to explain differing sport outcomes by noting that basketball is more popular than hockey in “urban populations,” it should also be valid to posit that math is less popular there, say relative to sport, to explain worse math outcomes. Finally, SAT tests seem to me as objective as typical basketball tryout routines.

The question is what evidence is sufficient to create a presumption of discrimination. In education, the main evidence usually offered is unequal education outcomes. But if that evidence is sufficient, then unequal sports outcomes should lead us to presume discrimination in sports as well.

Remember that we only have laws against discrimination by employers or schools, not by employees or students, and not at all regarding friends and romance. We aren’t trying to generally reduce discrimination – we are trying to achieve something far more specific.

I suspect this all is more about status than discrimination. That is, people feel we have made a decision to raise (certain types of) status for certain groups. And while one way to raise such status is to reduce related unequal outcomes that disfavor those groups, another way to raise their status is to allow and even encourage unequal outcomes that favor those groups. So while we are happy to presume that disfavoring unequal outcomes are “discrimination” to be prevented and compensated, we are also happy to overlook unequal outcomes that favor the group whose status we are trying to raise.

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