This is the latest in a series of guest-essays by El Inglés on controversial topics. In this installment he considers the politically charged issue of race, examining it in the context of heuristics.
We should all be grateful to him for coining an excellent new acronym, DIPC: Deeply Internalized Political Correctness.
Racists ’R’ Us
by El Inglés
Given that the cry of “racist” is the most frequently-encountered obstacle to those who would oppose the Islamization of their countries, the spurious nature of this allegation must be laid bare. There is no one way of doing this but, prompted by the Baron’s recent forays in this area, I would like to offer my own two cents on the subject.
In considering racism, let us first consider something else. A heuristic, insofar as I understand the general meaning of the term, is a cognitive device by means of which rules of thumb are applied to complex problems in which restrictions on information, time, or analytical capacity preclude the use of pure deductive reasoning or drastically reduce its utility. This definition might suggest that a heuristic is an esoteric and complex beast in its own right, but nothing could be further from the truth. On the contrary, human reasoning is fundamentally heuristic in nature, and non-heuristic reasoning is relatively uncommon, difficult, and unintuitive.
Why this should be the case becomes clear when one considers the nature of the problems facing human beings (or indeed any other cognitively advanced creatures) trying to survive and thrive in their natural environments. I mentioned above the three fundamental restrictions of information, time, and analytical capacity. Let us consider these restrictions in the context of a game that many of us will be familiar with. Chess is probably the archetypal, best-known game of analytical reasoning. Though other games such as Go and Shogi exceed it in complexity, they cannot approach it in popularity, so let us examine it here.
Chess is a game in which the rules are simple, and the moves available to each player easily determined in any given situation on the basis of those rules. However, the game is one of mind-boggling complexity due to the effectively infinite combinations of move sequences and therefore games. It is also played, at least under match conditions, with time restrictions which allow a certain total time for each player to make a certain number of moves within. We can therefore classify chess as a game in which all information is available (the rules are known), time is limited (the available time is much less than a player would use to formulate what they considered the optimal moves given the luxury of no time restrictions), and the analytical capacity of any normal human is woefully inadequate to the task of seeing more than the murkiest glance of what lies a few moves ahead (as anyone who has ever played will know).
It is humbling to note that even in a game as open to deductive reason as chess, heuristics have a hugely important role in playing it. To be sure, the better one is, the further one’s ‘sight’ into the future of the game can be extended, on the basis of one’s own goals and the goals of one’s opponent. The better the player, the less heuristic his play. However, a vast number of heuristics are very well-known by all serious chess players, and will be applied by players far better than rank beginners.
Build a strong interlocking pawn structure to dominate the centre of the board. Exchange a bishop (heuristically assigned 3 points in value) for a knight (also assigned 3 points) or vice versa, but neither for a rook (5 points), and certainly not for a queen (9 points). Knights are stronger in the early stages of the game, bishops stronger in the end game. Keep your king behind a shield of other pieces if possible, and so on and so forth.
In contrast, adding two three-digit numbers together is a task to which heuristics are not usefully applied, because the answer can so easily be obtained through deductive reasoning. This problem has no restrictions on information (given the well-understood rules of arithmetic), or time (under normal circumstances), and the analytical capacity required to solve it is possessed by all psychologically normal human beings (assuming they paid even a modicum of attention at school).
It will be clear upon a moment’s reflection that the subset of all analytical problems amenable to algorithmic solution in this manner is rather small in comparison to the full set. Indeed, human reasoning processes are overwhelmingly heuristic in nature due to the omnipresence of the above three restrictions, which sometimes force us to make decisions on issues of real importance with meagre information, on time-scales of no more than a second, and with analytical capacities simply not up to the task. Stuck in the middle of nowhere in the rain, I am offered a lift by a stranger. Do I accept? I will be more likely to if the stranger is a woman, because my heuristic reasoning processes tell me that women are less dangerous than men. I cannot deduce that any specific woman will not be dangerous, but applying fairly simple heuristics will allow me, on the whole, to make sensible decisions in this type of situation.
If it sounds like I am stereotyping women as being not physically dangerous, that is because stereotype is simply an unfairly derogatory word used to describe heuristic processes applied to subjects deemed politically sensitive. Virtually all human reasoning is heuristic and cannot be otherwise. This is not only true because of the significant limitations on deductive processes as applied to most problems. It is also true because these heuristic processes have, through the action of natural selection upon their results, been incorporated as the main building block of our reasoning processes, whether we like it or not. To be sure they are not, and could not be, perfect, but evolutionary principles and ongoing research by psychologists both suggest that they are an exceptionally powerful decision-making tool.
Anyone who doubts this conclusion can try going through life flipping a coin each time he needs to make a decision and see how he likes the results. Heuristics work well enough, and better than anything else available with respect to 99% of what human beings face.
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Heuristic reasoning then is the extraction from past experience of general rules of thumb and the application of those rules to future decisions. It is fundamentally probabilistic in nature, dealing with the likelihoods of various eventualities occurring in response to various decisions on the part of the agent in question. Its utility in comparison with other decision-making mechanisms improves as the three restrictions outlined above increase and make deductive decision-making hard if not impossible.
Race and Heuristics
Human beings are, always have been, and always will be required to make a vast number of decisions every single day of their lives, virtually none of which are tractable via deductive reasoning alone, if it all. Phrased differently, this means that virtually all the decisions we make will be heavily reliant upon heuristic reasoning, and this includes any and all decisions that touch upon the thorny subject of race. Were it to be observed that behavioural and attitudinal differences did not in fact exist between racial groups in any given society (whatever the causes of those differences might be), then it could be argued that there were no such decisions to be made at all, as race would be about as relevant to the functioning of our societies as lactose tolerance.
However, it is of course a fact that such differences do exist, and that they can be very considerable indeed. Crime rates, incarceration rates, school drop-out and expulsion rates, levels of educational and professional achievement, attitudes towards the type of behaviour acceptable in public: in all these respects and more we can observe very considerable statistical differences between racial groups in societies in which different racial groups coexist.
In my own country, we have a small Jewish minority which, predictably, has very high rates of educational and professional achievement and low crime rates. We have other high-performing and law-abiding minorities such as ethnic Chinese and non-Muslim Indians and the generally productive and civilized behaviour of the native population and Eastern European immigrant population. Descending the scale slightly further, we have the significantly underperforming and over-incarcerated South Asian Muslim population, originating predominantly in Pakistan and Bangladesh, and then finally the hugely underperforming and massively over-incarcerated community referred to as Afro-Caribbean (the word black seemingly having fallen out of favour in our post-racial Utopia). This last group can broadly be split up into Africans, who are its leading lights (apart from the Somalis), and the Jamaicans who constitute the bulk of the Caribbean community and are by some margin the most criminal, dysfunctional racial group in the country (again, apart from the Somalis).
This brief racial taxonomy of the UK is not disputed by serious people, based as it is on easily verifiable Home Office statistics. But it is not, of course, brought up by decent people if they can possibly avoid it, and even when it does force its way through into the consciousness of the chattering classes, its significance is denied. Of course there are statistical differences in the behaviours of different races, if one is vulgar enough to believe in the existence of such groups in the first place. But we must treat people as individuals, must we not?
In truth, to make this objection is the jump the gun rather. To ask whether we must treat people as individuals is meaningless until we have established that we can in fact treat them as individuals. Converting a decision best made via heuristics (i.e. treating people as members of groups) to one best made through the application of deductive reasoning (i.e. treating them as individuals on the basis of individual information) requires that the three restrictions on deductive reasoning are weak and that we have the information, the time, and the analytical capabilities to render heuristic reasoning the worse of the two options.
We are all required to make decisions in our lives that have the potential to impact, sometimes very significantly, the welfare of ourselves, our families and loved ones, our communities, and our countries. Insofar as the term racism is used to describe all applications of race-based heuristics to these decisions, I claim that its use is essentially vacuous, in that it takes an integral and essential part of the human decision-making apparatus and presents it as being something intrinsically undesirable.
If one heard it claimed that the mechanism via which the lungs reoxygenate the blood were wicked, or that the structure of the human rib cage were immoral, one would surely dismiss the speaker as a fool or worse. So it must be with those who argue that the application of the only useful form of human reasoning on many race-related questions is, by its very nature, ‘racism.’
Applying Race-Based Heuristics
In saying this, have I argued then that the application of race-based heuristics can be considered inappropriate? Have I, in effect, abolished racism? Or have I established that it exists, but was actually a noble endeavour all along? I hope to demonstrate here that I have done none of these things, by considering how profitably, fairly, and accurately race-based heuristics can or cannot be used to make decisions in a variety of realistic contexts. Let us start with two relatively straightforward examples to demonstrate the basic ideas.
1) Dark Street at Night
If I am walking home down a dark street in London and have to either cross the path of three black teenage males or three Chinese teenage males, I will choose the latter option every time, due to my lack of interest in being mugged, stabbed, or killed. This is, obviously, an application of heuristic reasoning. Should I decide not to apply it, what are my options? Can I just treat the three black youths as individuals? The answer must be no, simply because I do not have any information about them as individuals. They are unknown to me, except insofar as they can be identified as belonging to a group that is statistically unusual in certain regards. Time and analytical restrictions that may exist are rendered irrelevant by the massive information restrictions already present.
Note that my decision to avoid the three black male teenagers is not based on the fact that they are black. It is based on the fact that they are black, male and teenagers. If they had been black, male, and old age pensioners, I would, without hesitation, have chosen to pass them by rather than the three Chinese teenagers. If they had been black, female teenagers, I would not have been that concerned one way or the other. Of the three most important heuristics for those who would avoid being victimized by criminals, race is the least important, as sex and age are far more useful in this regard. However, race is still of great heuristic value where are other variables are held equal.
In a low-information situation such as this, particularly one in which the consequences of a poor choice may be extreme, I would suggest that we are forced to rely on heuristics and that doing so is therefore morally unimpeachable. No sane person with the slightest familiarity with modern Britain will choose proximity to black teenagers on a dark street at night over proximity to Chinese teenagers, even, I am reasonably confident, if they happen to be black themselves. Those suffering from that peculiar insanity known as DIPC (Deeply Internalized Political Correctness) may do so, but they will not do so because their heuristic processes are any different than anyone else’s. On the contrary, they will do so only because they have made a deliberate effort to ignore the heuristic alarm bells going off inside their own heads, in adherence to their suicidal and self-destructive world view.
These people’s decisions are their own, as are the consequences of those decisions. The point to be made here is simply that to describe the application of heuristics geared towards self-preservation as racist would be to strip the term of all meaning. If trying not to get mugged or stabbed by unusually criminal racial groups is racist, then I am a racist, I sincerely hope all my family and friends are, and I would think little of anyone who was not.
Note that no less a white supremacist than the Reverend Jesse Jackson has himself said that he is relieved, when hearing footsteps behind him on the street, if he turns round to see a white man standing there rather than a black man. Same heuristic, same answer.
2) Job Interview
Imagine a scenario in which a U.S. bank were to receive 10,000 applications for 250 places on its graduate trainee scheme in a given year. Assume also that the demographic breakdown of the applicants were representative of the graduating classes of the best universities in the country, and therefore disproportionately Jewish, Asian, and white, with disproportionately low numbers of blacks and Hispanics.
Given the widely varying educational and professional achievements of these groups, we might think that it would be valid to apply a simple heuristic and bin the résumés of the blacks and Hispanics, hire the Jews, Chinese, and Koreans and fill the rest of the vacancies with whichever white candidates had managed to tie their ties properly on the day of the interview.
However, though this heuristic would surely yield better results than selecting candidates at random due to the type of statistical achievement difference already discussed, it seems to lack a certain je ne sais quoi. Let us consider how we might improve upon it slightly.
Any reasonably well-written résumé will contain a great deal of pertinent information about the candidate in question, ranging from grades and universities attended to extracurricular activities and personal statements. Many recruitment processes are now quite complex and time-consuming affairs, which allow a great deal of candidate information to be gathered and analyzed over a period of several months commencing well before the relevant positions are due to start. This is testament to the degree of investment companies make in their personnel and the costs imposed on them by poor decisions in this regard. More significantly, it also renders meaningless such simple (though occasionally indispensable) heuristics as we use to try and avoid getting attacked in the streets. Information, time, and analytical capacity all exist in abundance in such a case.
Also relevant here is the moral dimension of the question. It may be the case that some young black males grow tired of having people cross the street to avoid proximity with them, but if people choose to act in this manner to optimize their safety on the basis of previously discussed heuristics, it is hard to see what criticisms can be made of them. In contrast, taking the résumés of black and Hispanic candidates who have just graduated from four years’ hard study and feeding them straight into the shredder seems like it would be rather bad form, ethically speaking. A set of very simple heuristics relating to the productivity, capabilities, and behaviour of a certain racial group cannot be applied with equal justification in two such different settings, and one assumes that it is not in fact applied in recruitment processes to any significant extent in 21st-century America.
These two examples are, I hope, relatively uncontentious. I now propose to examine two more examples, both considerably more controversial, to try and see how we might apply the above principles to more thorny issues.
1) Refusal of Service
Various polities at various times have allowed the proprietors of retail and similar businesses to turn away potential customers on the basis of race. If this is done of the basis of naked racial hostility, it is hard to see how it might be justified. If, however, certain racial groups seem to be statistically more likely to engage in criminal or otherwise undesirable behaviour and the heuristic decision-making processes of the proprietors suggest that they should therefore refuse service to at least some potential customers of those races, what might we make of this?
By way of a concrete example, I can offer an experience of my own. I used to live and work in Japan, and, while there, decided on a whim one night to go out to a nightclub. Having taken the train across Tokyo and arrived at the entrance, I was informed by the burly but impeccably well-mannered doorman that I could not, as a lone white male, go in. He explained to me that the number of fights and other problems caused by non-Japanese males was so great that they could only enter if accompanied by a Japanese female, who would presumably be their girlfriend and therefore reduce the likelihood of them trying to steal someone else’s. This was quite clearly the application of a decision-making mechanism similar to that discussed in the Dark Street at Night example above, in which race-based heuristics are used along with others, in this case sex-based heuristics.
Was the policy immoral? I am inclined to think that it wasn’t. It is fairly obvious that nightclub proprietors not only have the right to try and avoid the damage caused, directly and indirectly, to their businesses by physical violence, but also an obligation to try and provide a safe environment for other patrons. The entrance granted to foreign males accompanied by Japanese females was evidence of a good-faith attempt to try to finesse the policy with another simple heuristic designed to recognize people unlikely to cause trouble and find a reasonable compromise. It was hardly suggestive of racial animus, and my irritation was felt only towards those who had necessitated the policy in the first place through their drunken oafishness.
Lest anyone think I am providing an across-the-board moral justification for the use of race-based heuristics in deciding who to serve and who to turn away, let us remind ourselves of the sort of country Japan is. Over 98% of the population is ethnically Japanese, with the remainder consisting mainly of long-term Chinese and Korean communities and a very small indigenous Ainu population in Hokkaido. In other words, Japan is exceedingly Japanese and the Japanese seem to be very keen on keeping it that way. The aggregate social and economic costs of allowing nightclubs to refuse entry to a white Englishman or a black American are very limited, and the Japanese are undoubtedly of the opinion that anyone unhappy with the arrangement can go and live somewhere else.
The same could hardly be said of a country like America. Even assuming it were legal, the significance of a hypothetical New York nightclub turning away black Americans would be orders of magnitude greater than a Tokyo nightclub doing exactly the same thing. The black population of America is there, overwhelmingly, because its descendants were carried there in slave ships to satisfy the demand for slaves in a portion of white America. White America in effect willed black America into existence and treated it somewhat less than kindly for a very long time. Heuristic reasoning might lead some businesses in America to want to bar certain ethnic minorities as and when it seemed appropriate, and it may well be that the heuristics in question are at least as accurate as the ones that occasionally lead to foreigners being turned away from Tokyo nightclubs. But there is more to be said. The America that allowed these policies a legal existence in some southern states is long gone, and may simply not have been a viable entity in the first place. I am inclined to suggest that a significantly multi-racial country cannot enjoy a general peace and prosperity if it allows the refusal of service on grounds of race. Of course, it may be that a multi-racial country cannot enjoy such peace and prosperity even if it does not allow such refusal, but that is a question for another day.
Immigration is a thorny subject in general, and what I am about to say on it would be considered rather unpleasant in some quarters. Before I get into the nitty-gritty, though, let me distinguish between screened and unscreened immigration. Screened immigration is that type of immigration in which potential immigrants have been carefully vetted in some fashion to ensure that they meet certain race-independent standards of achievement and ability, the most obvious type being that which allows highly skilled professionals to enter a country to work, temporarily or permanently, on the basis of advanced degrees or similar qualifications. Unscreened immigration is that type of immigration in which immigrants enter the target country having been vetted either barely at all, or not at all. It would include most, if not all, family reunion, all illegal immigration, asylum (in which potential immigrants will have been investigated, but on an entirely different basis), and immigration allowed to fill perceived gaps in the market for unskilled labour.
The key difference between the two types of immigration is that screened immigration results in an influx of an unrepresentative sample of the source country’s population, whereas unscreened immigration effectively recreates the population profile of the source country in microcosm in the target country. If we insist that immigrants must have an IQ of at least 150 and a PhD in the physical sciences, then in certain key regards, we can presumably expect the behaviour and attitudes of fifty Taiwanese to be similar to that of fifty Nigerians in certain key regards, such as attitudes to the law and professional productivity.
However, if we insist that immigrants need only be in good physical health and able to tie their own shoelaces, then our sample of fifty Nigerians can be expected to display, as a group, marked differences in comparison with our fifty Taiwanese. Note that screening is not an on/off affair; rather, degree of screening can possess a continuous range of values, with more intensive screening resulting in ever less representative immigrant populations. Ignoring cultural and ideological factors (such as Islam) and focusing only on race, I conclude that any country can be made to produce immigrants as productive as those of any other if the degrees of screening are adjusted to engineer this result.
I reiterate here that certain races tend to be socioeconomic high performers while others languish at the bottom of the social pile, disproportionately poor, criminal, and dysfunctional. Taking America as an example, it is hardly a secret that Ashkenazi Jews, East Asians, and whites tend to drift towards the top in that order, while blacks, native Americans, and Hispanics tend to drift towards the bottom. However, very similar trends (insofar as the groups in question actually exist in the relevant countries) can be witnessed in the UK and Europe, in Canada, in areas of Southeast Asia with large Chinese or Indian populations, in the South Asian populations of East and Southern Africa and other places besides. Some would doubtless argue that these performance gaps can be at least partially explained by cultural and environmental factors, and I have no doubt that this is the case. Still, the fact remains that the statistical regularities across time and space are so profound as to provide the basis for some robust and powerful heuristics.
As argued in the above examples, simple race-based heuristics constitute the only appropriate decision-making mechanism when one or more of our three restrictions of time, information and processor power is significant, which will certainly be the case when faced with an unknown potential immigrant. Furthermore, there is a factor which makes the use of these heuristics much more reliable than in the Dark Street at Night example above. Even someone as hard-headed on these issues as me might feel a pang of guilt at trying to avoid someone at night due to their race, knowing as I would that the chances of any given person attacking me would be very low. In the case of immigration, however, which deals with very substantial numbers of people, such uncertainty disappears. We can predict with almost complete confidence the behavioural profile of a hypothetical immigrant population, down to crime rates and annual income, on the basis of extant data. Allowing 10,000 Jamaicans into the UK without screening will result in a swelling by 10,000 of the current Jamaican population, whose alarming violent crime and incarceration rates will exert an even greater effect on the rest of the country as a consequence. How could it be otherwise?
On this basis, I conclude that unscreened immigration of low-performing races, most obviously blacks, into the UK, should not be permitted under any circumstances, as it will result only in the recreation of their source countries in miniature in the target countries. Other considerations permitting, and assuming immigration was considered desirable in the first place, high-performing races would not require screening to perform at the native level, though screening would still result in higher human capital per immigrant. Screened immigration from low-performing races could be acceptable in principle, but the lower-performing the race, the greater the degree of screening that would be needed.
I suggested in the earlier Refusal of Service example that if there were extenuating social considerations, the application of even valid heuristics might have to be legislated against. Are there any such factors at work in this example that might force me to adjust or abandon the conclusion just stated? I am convinced that there are not. The black population of the UK is put at 2%-3%, but its pathologies are already a readily observable feature of, and topic of much discussion in, modern Britain. I am at a loss to determine what broader, compensatory social goals might be achieved by allowing unscreened blacks to continue to immigrate to the UK, even under the asylum system, which reminds us time and time again what the path to hell is paved with. It might be that blacks and other ethnic minorities would feel uncomfortable if the application of race-based heuristics with respect to immigration became obvious. But it would be surreal to suggest that immigration policy should be designed to make immigrants feel good about their status in UK society, irrespective of the costs imposed by immigration on that society. The long-term prognosis of a country that effectively handed control of immigration policy to immigrants in the name of maintaining their self-esteem would be a frightening thing to contemplate.
I have tried in this essay to present the rudiments of a way in which questions pertaining to race can be discussed in a useful, measured and non-hysterical fashion, one which takes into consideration important and undeniable racial characteristics without veering towards giving a stamp of approval to base and unfair prejudice. In closing, I would like to consider the question of what, if anything, racism might mean in the context of the analytical framework I have described at such length here.
Certain types of behaviour that would normally be considered racist have not only been defended in this essay, but unashamedly advocated as prudent and responsible behaviour. If asked in response whether I thought myself a racist, I would reply that the insane obsession over racism so overpowering in the West, yet so conspicuously lacking in other societies, has left me suffering from racism fatigue on a personal level. The intellectual incoherence of the prevailing orthodoxy, coupled in unholy fashion with the ferocity with which it is enforced, has left me wholly uninterested in the question of whether I might indeed be a racist. I have tried to navigate the minefield of thinking about race in a humane yet level-headed fashion, and am happy to let others draw their own conclusions about what I have written.
That said, the question of what, if anything, racism is still demands an answer, so I answer as follows: “racism” is what results when the exceedingly fuzzy and complex boundary between the reasonable application of race-based heuristics and downright racial malice is crossed. There is no answer beyond that. Those of us who take such a position may never be able to convince the legions of hysterical witch-hunters that we are not wicked beyond redemption. But people of good faith, tired of the intimidation and moral blackmail brought to bear by self-publicizing “anti-racists”, may prove to be more receptive to such ideas.