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John Derbyshire On “Uncle Tim” Wise: Cultural Marxists Can’t Do Math
A friend passed this on to me: It’s an August 25th posting by “antiracist essayist, author, and educator” Tim Wise. Nazis Can’t Do Math, chortles the heading.
I note of the latter (p. 383) that: “In 1933 at Berlin University, Bieberbach was conducting spoken examinations of doctoral candidates in full Nazi uniform.”
Of Teichmüller I have the following thing to say (p. 256)—it should be of interest to anyone who likes his history to have more than one dimension, a category that probably does not include Tim Wise:
We are accustomed to think of Nazi activists as thugs, low-lifes, opportunists, and failed artists of one sort or another, which indeed most of them were. It is salutary to be reminded that they also included in their ranks some people of the highest intelligence.
But in fact Tim Wise was not talking about the NSDAP at all. He is deploying the word “Nazi” to refer to contemporary race realists in the U.S..
Wise’s tacit assumption: the Nazis thought race was real and important; therefore a person who thinks that race is real and important is a Nazi. He wants his nation to avenge itself against France, reduce the Slavic peoples to serfdom, and exterminate European Jewry. I guess.
That’s Uncle Tim for you, though. He is a Left ideologue of the most passionate and committed kind, who—like Marx and Lenin!—believes in deploying the lowest, vilest kind of vituperation against enemies of the Cause. Back in the days when it was possible for an intelligent person to be a communist (or a Nazi), he would have been a formidably good one.
For intelligent Wise surely is, though in a narrow and entirely verbal, lawyerly kind of way. He is a terrific debater, wonderfully fast on his feet, with his ripostes and evasions all thoroughly rehearsed and ready to hand.
Listen to him in this debate with Jared Taylor, for example. Jared is a friend of mine, a man I admire greatly, and no mean debater himself (let me tell you); but I have to give this one to Wise on points.
It’s all facile, though. Wise’s great mass of memorized facts and research results sound great on the fly, but they generally turn out to be factoids and one-offs (scientific method demands R-E-P-L-I-C-A-B-I-L-I-T-Y of results) when you have time to dig into them.
To take an example: In the debate with Jared, this snagged my attention, and stopped Jared in his tracks, at 56m10s:
Two years after, three years after [Murray and Herrnstein’s book The Bell Curve] came out, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, using the very same longitudinal database that Murray and Herrnstein had used for their research, which had demonstrated this persistent IQ gap between whites and blacks, looked at the same data and were able to take what Murray and Herrnstein didn’t mention in their book from the data, which was that when African Americans in the U.S. go to college they raise their IQ four times faster than whites who go to college and in the process close the average IQ gap between white and black in half in just four years.
Anyone who knows anything about psychometry will go “Whoa!” on hearing that. IQ just isn’t that malleable at college age.
People interested in arguing about race and IQ tend to have all read the same books, though, so I know the study Wise is talking about. It’s referred to in Nisbett’s Intelligence and How to Get It (2010), pp.146-7, and I’d assume that Wise, like me, learned about it from there. The actual study is archived on JSTOR here, but you need a sign-on; I can’t find a full version elsewhere.
So far as I know the study has never been replicated. The blogger at Unamusement Park cites a counter-study here. There are spirited critiques of Nisbett’s book on VDARE.com: Advocacy By Omission: Richard E. Nisbett's Intelligence and How to Get It by the late J. Philippe Rushton, and Selling Out And How To Do It—The Case Of Richard E. Nisbett, by Steve Sailer.
Those clear, eloquent certitudes that are so effective in debate all disappear like this in a fog of ambiguity when you look them up; but that’s the debater’s art. I say again: Wise is a terrific debater.
As a blogger he’s much less impressive. Partly this is the schoolyard vituperation, which he seems unable to restrain in writing. Mainly, though, it’s that he doesn’t organize his thoughts well.
In that Nazis Can’t Do Math piece that my friend passed on, for example, Wise seems at times to be arguing against the proposition that there is “a widespread black-on-white crime spree.” At other times he is taking on those who believe that whites are “being targeted by black offenders.” The two things are not the same, but Wise wobbles from one to the other as he goes along.
No doubt there are people who believe one or other of those things (or both: they are not mutually exclusive), but they are not major themes on the race realist websites, which I am pretty well acquainted with.
By far the commonest complaint on those websites is the conspiracy of silence about black-on-white crime, as in the Knoxville Horror case, and the contradictory inflation of white-on-black crime, as in the James Byrd case. Wise has nothing to say about that.
Among those of us in the race-realist camp who write about these things, the impression is that the cover-up has intensified under the Obama administration. Wise has nothing to say about that, either.
In a previous post, for instance, Wise takes the (black) economist Walter Williams to task for noting, “as many a white nationalist has over the years” (yep) that five-sixths of single-offender interracial violent crime is black against white. He adds that Williams used Justice Department data from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS):
According to the 2008 data Williams relied on (see Table 42), which is the most recent comprehensive data published by the Justice Department on violent crime victimizations . . .
Wise, in that post dated August 22nd, 2013, does not pause to tell us why Williams had to use 2008 data for interracial crime. So why did he? Because the Justice Department stopped publishing the data after 2008.
What happened in 2008 to make Justice stop publishing interracial crime statistics? Hard to figure.
(A reader of mine who actually worked in NCVS data collection told me the information about victims’ and offenders’ race is still gathered. It’s just not published.)
Also in that August 22nd post, Wise has some fun with the crime statistics. His goal here is to show that while blacks may be offending disproportionately against whites, they are not targeting them. So, he concludes, whites should stop thinking that blacks are dangerous! Uh . . .
Along the way he tells some little pork pies. “The biggest racial disproportion for violent crime, numerically—and year after year—is in the area of robbery.”
Is it? On those 2008 numbers, for example, we see 35.6 percent of 198,330 robberies are black-on-white: that’s 70,605. The corresponding number for white-on-black is 6,988. The proportion there is a tad more than ten to one.
For rape and sexual assault, on the other hand, the black-on-white number is 19, 293 (16.4 percent of 117,640). The white-on-black number is shown as 0.0 percent, which, on standard rounding methodology, means less than 0.05 percent of the 46,580 black victims, i.e. 23 or less. The proportion there is at least 839 to one.
So how does Wise figure that: “The biggest racial disproportion for violent crime, numerically . . . is in the area of robbery”? The only wriggle-out I can see there is his qualification of “numerically.” The numerical difference for robberies is 63,617 (70,605 minus 6,988); for rape/sexual assault it’s a maximum of 46,580 (46,580 minus zero). That’s a difference, though, not a disproportion. For a proportion, or a disproportion, you have to carry out a division.
Further down that August 22nd post Tim Wise, striving mightily to bend the data to his purposes, tells us about differential encounter rates.
The argument here is that blacks move among whites much more than whites move among blacks. We encounter blacks much less frequently than they encounter us, so of course we commit fewer crimes against them! If we moved among blacks more, we’d commit more crimes against them!
Er, possibly: but wouldn’t they also commit more crimes against us? And are we sure that the whites who avoid moving among blacks (why?) are just as criminally inclined as those who mingle?
In the later, August 25th post—the one headed “Nazis Can’t Do Math”—Wise tackles homicide, and comes up with a statement which is going to sound great in debate—expect to hear it a lot—but is mathematically unsurprising.
This needs a little arithmetical preamble.
Suppose a population of N persons has B blacks and W whites: B+W = N. Suppose the races commit murder at equal rates, say one in M per annum. So every year B/M murders are committed by blacks and W/M by whites.
Assuming no bias, the B/M black murders include (B/M) × (W/N) with white victims; number of murders times white proportion of the population. The W/M white murders similarly include (W/M) × (B/N) with black victims. Those two interracial numbers are the same: Both are (BW)/(MN). There are more whites to go committing murder, but there are fewer blacks to be random victims; and vice versa. It’s a wash.
Under these idealized assumptions, we’ll have the same number of black-on-white murders as white-on-black. Let’s say this number is K.
Then of America’s 42.0 million blacks, one in 42,000,000/K will be murdered by a white in any year. Of our 196.8 million whites, again on these idealized, no-bias assumptions, only around one in 196,800,000/K will be murdered by a black. Divide 196,800,000/K by 42,000,000/K, you get 4.6857 Ergo:
Any given black person in the United States is about 4.7 times more likely to be killed by a white person than any given white person is to be murdered by a black person.
Of course, those idealized assumptions—identical black/white offending rates, zero bias in choice of victims—are not the case. What is the case? If 4.7 is not the right number in that last paragraph, what is the number?
In Nazis Can’t Do Math, Tim Wise comes up with this:
Any given black person in the United States is about 2.8 times more likely to be killed by a white person than any given white person is to be murdered by a black person.
That’s the thing I expect to be hearing a lot. The 2.8 isn’t actually as impressive as the 4.7; but if you don’t know about the 4.7, it’s pretty striking.
The true number is less impressive yet, because Tim Wise has bollixed up his math again.
He’s working from this database, using 2010 data. He gets his 2.8 from dividing 277,000 by 100,000. The first of those numbers is the white population (196.8m) divided by black-on-white homicides from the database (704). The second is the black population (42.0m) divided by white-on-black homicides from the database (413), though he didn’t do a precise division, which would give final result 2.7, not 2.8.
All right: but for a real civilian (non-dysfunctional non-cop) danger figure you’d want to exclude a lot of those homicides. I’ll filter out the following: Justified homicides (felon killed by police or civilian), juvenile gang killings, gangland killings, drug-related violence.
That gets the black-on-white number down to 639, the white-on-black to 241. Wise’s 2.8 has now dwindled to 1.8. Remember, the equal-offending-rate, zero-bias assumption gives black risk 4.7 times white risk.
(And there is more to that database than meets the eye. If the only filters you apply are: Year 2010, Killer black, you do indeed get 704 white victims, as Wise did. However, if you apply filters: Year 2010, Victim white, you get 985 black killers. If you follow the math all the way through on that route, Wise’s 2.8 is ground down to 1.5. A free, signed copy of From the Dissident Right to any reader who can plausibly get it down below 1.0 by juggling filters.)
I still think Tim Wise is a first-rate debater. These attempts at number-crunching, though, left me with the definite impression that Cultural Marxists can’t do math.
Those who can, see sensationally higher crime rates for blacks, far beyond anything that can be explained away as artifacts of reporting methodology or arithmetic manipulations. The data from the 2008 Bureau of Justice Statistics, noted by Walter Williams (and me), telling us that five out of six single-offender interracial crimes of violence involve a black perp and a nonblack victim, stand stark and clear against all Tim Wise’s fudging.
We patiently await the corresponding figures for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, . . .
John Derbyshire [email him] writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjects for all kinds of outlets. (This no longer includes National Review, whose editors had some kind of tantrum and fired him. He is the author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism and several other books. His most recent book, published by VDARE.com com is FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle).His writings are archived at JohnDerbyshire.com.
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