anon - why doesn't everyone who wants/needs a job (ie money) spend time working for nothing? (if you're paying for an internship, I'm assuming you're not getting paid...) I don't see how that's an obvious "solution."

Expand full comment

Here is Heather MacDonald's piece on racial bias in the judicial system:http://www.city-journal.org...

Expand full comment


I think you got attacked for this posting because it seems to assume that racial biases do in fact significantly disadvantage certain racial groups, like blacks. That is questionable. It can't, for example, simply be inferred from unequal results.

If however you were just throwing out a hypothetical then fair enough.

Expand full comment

The trouble with this view is that in reality, once your black employees have proven themselves, other companies will go to great lengths to poach them.

So then why don't black applicants pay for internships so that they can prove themselves as reliable and productive? If "proving oneself" is a viable signal, this is the obvious solution.

Expand full comment

"since no one else will poach my black employees"

The trouble with this view is that in reality, once your black employees have proven themselves, other companies will go to great lengths to poach them. The "racism" employers engage in is based on fear of hiring an incompetent employee who who will be abnormally costly if not impossible to get rid of.

Expand full comment

They would be underqualified, because there would be less incentive to study, because they would get turned down more (and it would be rational to turn them down, because they would perform worse, because they have less incentive to study, hence it would be rational to turn them down, etc...)

Now I don't know how stable 'rational racism' is, but it's not trivial to undermine, as long as signalling remains noisy.

Expand full comment

"Big conspiracies exist, but big competently run secret conspiracies do not exist."

I feel like you're being lawyerly here, not scientific. Like you're representing team whitey, and it's your job to craft arguments in favor of team whitey, rather than to try to create the best models of our reality.

Coordination, competition, and signaling between agents and varying scaled levels or organizations and systems, game theoretic solutions, I think this is part of the language of understanding race and other identity populations in the context of social reality.

If you're telling me three white guys never disciminated against a black guy post-1950 without an articulated plan -that seems silly. I'm sure that scenario has happened with a variety of trait populations and directions. So how high can these types of coordinations scale up? I have no idea -but I'm interested in what experts and empirical inquiry have to say about this.

And I find lawyerly approaches annoying

Expand full comment

Desegregation is absolutely necessary for racism and bigotry to end. Eventually complete desegregation will completely end racism and bigotry, but it will take generations growing up completely desegregated to do it.

I have blogged about the physiology behind racism and bigotry.


For two people to communicate, they must exchange mental concepts. To do this, the first person must translate the mental concept into the data-stream of language. The neuroanatomy that is used to do this is what I call a “theory of mind”. The data-stream of language, gestures, facial expressions, body language, tone, eye movement is transmitted, received by the second person and then up-converted back into mental concepts by the second person's “theory of mind”. Fundamentally the only things that can be communicated are mental concepts, and it requires consilience in the two theories of mind for that communication to happen.

My hypothesis of what causes xenophobia is that when two people try to communicate, if their two “theories of mind” are not sufficiently consilient, then the error rate goes up. I think that when two people meet, they do in effect a Turing Test, to see if the other person is “close enough” to being “like me” to trust. If the error rate is too high, then no, the person cannot be trusted and xenophobia is triggered via the uncanny valley effect.

The initial feeling of xenophobia is a feeling and is morally neutral. If two people with non-matching “theories of mind” attempt to communicate, over time they begin to learn more about the other, and they each modify their “theory of mind” unconsciously so that they begin to understand the other. Eventually the feelings of xenophobia go away because the other can be fully understood.

This is not what bigots and racists do, they avoid the other, and so never learn about the other, never allow their “theory of mind” to recalibrate itself so as to understand the other and so the feelings of xenophobia remain and instead they make up quite nonsensical and false ideas to justify the feelings of antipathy they have for the other. I give a number of examples in my blog. There was a good exampel of that here, pretending that blacks from sub Saharan Africa are more closely related to chimps than Europeans are. That is complete nonsense. There are multiple speciation events between the last common ancestor of chimps and humans.

Suggesting that sub Saharan Africans are more closely related to chimps than Europeans are is complete nonsense and is a lie made with no information or data that it is correct (because it is factually not correct). Because the justification is incorrect, we know the hatred of blacks cannot be due to the false justification, we know the hatred must have come first and then the lie was made up to justify the hatred.

This is the problem of racism and bigotry. The bigots feel that the objects of their bigotry are not fully human, and so they must come up with rationalizations to justify their feelings. In the limit, the objects of xenophobia are just that, objects and not humans. As non-human objects they don't have the properties of “real humans”, “real humans” that are “like me” and so they don't desserve to be treated like “real humans”.

The problem of racism is that bigots are unable to perceive the objects of their bigotry as human. The fault lies in the bigot.

Expand full comment

Yeah, I know, a good social scientist can accurately predict the future, if he dosent care about losing his job.Even without coercion, large groups tend towards groupthink. The group tends to be less sane than the individual, tends to lose touch with reality, a problem that tends to set in when the group is seventeen or more. Add coercion to this problem, and the group will be totally bonkers.

Expand full comment

Maybe blacks as a population are in a heritably genetic way less intelligent and there is also discriminatory coordination against blacks.

Coordination tends to be visible. Even conspiracies that are piously denied by the participants have to have centralized authority if they are large conspiracies with large effects, and this centralized authority invariably sticks out like dogs balls. Big conspiracies exist, but big competently run secret conspiracies do not exist. The last visible instance of centralized authority sticking it to blacks was baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis, whose authority ultimately derived from the federal government - he made himself baseball Commissioner as settlement of federal case against the team owners.

In the 1950s, laws were passed commanding equal opportunity, not equal outcomes, and big bureaucracy created to find instances of unequal opportunity and punish them. Every single prosecution of this bureaucracy was based on evidence of unequal outcomes, not unequal opportunity. Although many loud claims were made of unequal opportunity, no evidence of unequal opportunity was ever presented in court and subjected to cross examination, except evidence relating to times decades previous when unequal opportunity was enforced by Jim Crow.laws.

From this absence of evidence, despite vigorous search for evidence, and frequent loud announcements that such evidence had been discovered, we should conclude that in the 1950s, blacks did have equal opportunity, everywhere, all the time.

Expand full comment

What does that have to do with him? He's 1 person in a 300 million person country. This is where the micro-macro bridge of social identity gets interesting to me. 1 person caring about thousands of schools across the country and a "identy x wall street". It's not unique to race but it's a part of the general micro-macro bridge, which I think is the most interesting part of all this to study.

Expand full comment

I like the way you think. Although the lighter=feminine hypothesis makes sense to me, a strong contrasting trend is the masculinization of whites/europeans relative to asians and Spaniards/Europeans relative to Amerindians and mulattos. In other words, it doesn't map perfectly to how races tend to be masculinized/feminized relative to each other. Creative experiments like the one you suggest would add to our social scientific knowledge.

My default presumption would be that the smartest subpopulations influence the larger population to find them more attractive, across the gradient of what we'd naturally find more attractive. So to the degree white men are finding darker skinned asian women more attractive than lighter skinned white women, perhaps that's due to an intelligent attraction game by these asian women at the macrosocial level. All speculative, but I think testable empirically and a helpful lense (coordination game theory) to evaluate social behavior.

Expand full comment

You know of the racial differences in intelligence. Why not mention that in an article like this?

Yeah, I know, a good social scientist can accurately predict the future, if he dosent care about losing his job.

Expand full comment

test-takers match black faces more quickly than white ones with words representing violent concepts.

Anthropologist Peter Frost has documented, that women are 10% lighter on average than their own brothers. Thus, lighter skin registers subconsciously as a slightly feminine trait. Not only that people tend to get darker as they age.

The people who did the test above should have tested a set of blacks and whites were the whites were darker than the blacks.

Expand full comment

This displays an interesting view of the results of selection pressure, since it seems to assume that an environment that is regarded as benign by the writer would not create just as much selection pressure as an environment regarded as not so benign

Not necessarily and in this case probably not so. Suppose that two environments A and B exert exactly equal amounts of selection pressure, but in different directions. Suppose that species X, which evolved in A over millions of years, divides into two initially identical subpopulations Xa and Xb which live in A and B respectively. It is likely that Xb will evolve more rapidly than Xa.

For example, let A be the ocean and B be land. After a while, land-dwelling cousins are likely to be much less similar to the common ancestor than sea-dwelling cousins. For a specific example, the sea-dwelling last common ancestor of parakeets and tuna is likely to be much more similar to the tuna. We can reverse sea and land: the land-dwelling last common ancestor of gerbil and dolphin is likely to be more similar to the gerbil.

Expand full comment

But all three of the grandchildren in my story are equally related to our grandparents.This shows that sub Saharan Africans have been evolving for the same amount of time as other races – but it is unlikely that they have been evolving at the same rate.

This displays an interesting view of the results of selection pressure, since it seems to assume that an environment that is regarded as benign by the writer would not create just as much selection pressure as an environment regarded as not so benign.

While it seems true that sS Africans have evolved in an environment were females can provision their offspring pretty much through their own efforts, you ignore things like the natural pathogen load that was present that was no where near as sever in these so-called not-so-benign environments. You also seem to fail to understand that the selection pressures would be just as severe in each environment, just in different areas.

Of course, being selected for an environment high in pathogen loads and where there has been little in the way of complex civilization does not help you when you come upon humans who are selected for high future time orientation and thousands of years of exposure to complex civilization.

Expand full comment