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Saturday, April 7, 2012

John Derbyshire's "Talk"

The "talk" John Derbyshire gives to his children.  If that site is not working, Twitchy has it screen capped.   Update:  John Derbyshire's "talk" and advice to those who want to discuss race in America...      

This will get a lot of press.  I disagree with some of the points John Derbyshire stated.  I am very skeptical of the intelligence argument made and even data from Andrew Sullivan's promoted The Bell Curve does not support Derbyshire's conclusion.  There are difference in population groups, but Charles Murray's new work Losing Ground shows that cultural factors (in that work Murray limited himself to statistical studies of white populations) can result in amplifying negative behaviors.  But maybe Derbyshire and Sullivan are right.  The data and methodology can be argued.  So argue it.  If they are wrong, show they are wrong.  With data and facts rather than hysteria.

Or perhaps humor?

The views expressed are very common.  Many of the people who will denounce him (of all races) say some of the points Derbyshire states all the time in private.  I know because I have heard them say it.  I am not defending that as right, but I know this happens.  And I know a lot of you think and say similar things.  Matthew 7: 1-5 comes to mind.  Perhaps before reacting with over the top indignation and faux outrage, we could use this article to engage in some introspection and civil discussion?  

I have heard liberals who work in social services say exactly the same things Derbyshire is saying (it usually starts around the second or third drink after a trying week at work).  And racism on the left is generally worse than racism on the right.  That is my own personal observation.

And here is another open secret that anyone who travels knows--racism and xenophobia is by far worse in the rest of the world.  By worse I mean prevalent, open, notorious and its harmful effects much greater

Derbyshire's story has already been denounced by Rich Lowry, Ramesh Ponnuru, and Jonah Goldberg.   I am sure there will be a stampede tomorrow.

I hope the discussion about this is civil and objective.  Somehow I do not see that happening.

It may not be pretty to read, or come close to some ideal, but how much of what Derbyshire wrote is mostly true in a still too significant portion of America's population, black, or white? And why is the left intent on only dealing with it by screaming and freaking out, when only a calmer, more sensible conversation over time is the only positive way in which to deal with it? It's as if the left, not the right, is absolutely determined to ensure that racial division will always exist in America? Why is that?Perhaps it's just as seems to be the case with Chuckles. Racism is only truly worth addressing if and when you believe you can somehow attack people with whom you disagree politically. Honestly, just how noble is that? Not very, in my opinion, for what it's worth.

Some of what Derbyshire said in his article I didn’t agree with; some of what he argued I take no position on, because I’d need to see the evidence cited expanded on a bit and given a more rigorous test; but what is indisputable is that the article was set up as a talk he’d have with his kids about race, and the opinions he’s formed — and that he’d pass on to his children — were his, while the reasons he’s developed them he sourced w/ links. That is, he tried (within the constraints of the format) to show his work.That his article brought out some unsavory types in the comments — WHY WON’T DERBYSHIRE TAKE ON THE KIKES? — has less to do with his article and more to do with certain people who are always drawn to such pieces.
It was in many respects a brave article — and that can be true whether you believe Derbyshire a racist or not. But given that it was written in the context of bounties on George Zimmerman, or Spike Lee Tweeting out home addresses, or Al Sharpton — who is invited to Easter breakfast at the WH — actively working to incite violence and subvert the justice system, well, it expresses a kind of anxiety that exists in the culture right now.

Blogger The Crack Emcee said...
Another PC witch hunt? Great. People love being hypocrites nowadays.

I read it, I liked it, and if you don't, nuts. The truth hurts and outrage from idiots doesn't make them right.

Good luck, Derb - keep hitting them where it hurts.


  1. I am very skeptical of the intelligence argument made and even data from Andrew Sullivan's promoted The Bell Curve does not support Derbyshire's conclusion.

    Which "conclusion" does the 'data not support'? And please be specific.

    Question: Have you read 'The Bell Curve' yourself?

    Another question: Are you aware of the following facts?

    Black children from the wealthiest families have mean SAT scores lower than white children from families below the poverty line.

    Black children of parents with graduate degrees have lower SAT scores than white children of parents with a high-school diploma or less.

    1. I have read the Bell Curve (although it has been a while) and I have also read Losing Ground (I previously did a post on it about Romney, who happens to be from Belmont, and Santorum who sort of represents Fishtown before the decline). While I agree there are statistical differences between population groups that you can objectively measure, Losing Ground shows that differences can be a function of societal rewards and disincentives. I am very skeptical of the argument blacks are less intelligent, as some given that will never change. But if you want to argue that is not the case, back it up.

      The point of my post above was to encourage rational civil discussion on this topic, rather than just lashing out at John Derbyshire in some form of cheap virtue by those who engage in that. Your post is a good one in that it is rational discussion.

      I was not aware of those bolded statements you made. But if you have a link to your authority on that, let me know. Thanks.

    2. Losing Ground was published in the 1980s. It's probably not the book you think it is.

    3. Excuse me, Coming Apart is the study of Fishtown, PA vs. Belmont, MA.

  2. "Losing Ground shows that differences can be a function of societal rewards and disincentives."

    Race isn't a biological category, it is a sociological category. What is it about black culture that holds them back and fosters crime, violence, broken families, etc?

    Derbyshire was not primarily concerned with the IQ of blacks. He main concern was their behavior, especially their behavior in groups.

    I think your discussion of his article and its repercussions is the best and fairest coverage on the net.

  3. I asked you to be specific. You were in no way specific.

    Sorry to be so blunt:

    I am very skeptical of the argument blacks are less intelligent,...

    But this statement alone marks you as either 1) ignorant, or 2) stupid and cowardly.

    I tend toward #2, since you say you've read 'The Bell Curve', which I take to mean you've shown some curiosity on the subject. Perhaps not enough though. Because it is incomprehensible to me that someone could show even the barest curiosity on this admittedly very controversial subject, and still say they are "very skeptical" about whether Whites are, on average, more intelligent than Blacks.

    Also, I asked you to be specific, and you weren't. You just more or less repeated the same thing.

    Here is a link.

    1. eh, why don't you be specific. Answering a question with a question is rude. Why don't you be specific and back up your position?

      I am "stupid and cowardly" because I do not believe blacks are less intelligent than other groups? Okay, I guess I will have to live with that opinion from you. Hey, you have Andrew Sullivan on your side--he agrees with you. I do not think it is smart or brave to conclude from The Bell Curve that Blacks are "less intelligent" than Whites, or that Whites are less intelligent than Asians (at least not on the basis of genetics). I recognize that the testing shows differences, but there are lots of factors to explain that (environment, culture, etc.). And as noted in Losing Ground, there were huge differences between Whites in Belmont, MA and Whites in Fishtown, PA. Is that due to native intelligence or due to sociological conditions? Be specific.

    2. I should have said Coming Apart instead of Losing Ground. My bad.

  4. Wow your blog really sucks. You should consider giving up ever writing anything ever again.

  5. I don't really buy Derbyshire's framing as a "talk" with his children because this is really not the sort of thing you need to have a "talk" about, it is something that is dispersed and absorbed along the way. If you read the article and follow the links, it's obvious that the article is at least partly a satire of how we talk about race. At the same time, it's equally obvious that Derbyshire believes each and every one of these points.

    Some on the right are willing to accept racial differences based on skin color, but aren't willing to accept that distinctions between classes of whites are just as likely to be based on genetic factors. (Why wouldn't they be?)If DNA is destiny, then skin color should matter nothing at all to a "race realist." The only thing that should matter is IQ, wherever it is found, because in all of these studies, IQ is the one factor that guarantees economic success. So whether you're talking about a black person or some slack-jawed yokel out of Deliverance, you're talking about the same substance.

    But you're not going to hear that from the race realist/"human biodiversity" crowd, because while they are no doubt aware that there is a substantial underclass of low-IQ whites, and by their own theories of race and IQ it is a self-sustaining gene pool like any other, they need them. The cognitive elite is outnumbered. So rather than say, "stay away from black neighborhoods AND certain white areas AND certain parts of Chinatown," etc., it's just easier to gloss over the uncomfortable implications with statistics.

    Personally I am not convinced by the race and intelligence arguments I have heard. I find it hard to believe that if a group of IQ testers went back to Germanic Gaul in 100 AD and administered IQ tests to the tribesmen there, that they would score higher than Mediterranean, African or Middle Eastern peoples who were connected by civilization. And even if they did, what would that mean? I'm willing to accept that intelligence is a function of heredity, but how it works and whether or not our concept of IQ is valid - I'm skeptical.

    1. I agree with you comments about testing. I do not buy it proves anything, other than you did bad on the test.

      The statistical economic data is more reliable, but it does not explain "why" it just shows a result.

    2. I don't really buy Derbyshire's framing as a "talk" with his children...-Scobee

      I do. By doing so, Derbyshire illustrated just how empty is "the talk" black mommas give their poor misunderstood Trayvons.


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