Can we just ban people for being stupid? February 21, 2002 7:14 AM   Subscribe

Can we just ban people for being stupid?
posted by rich to Etiquette/Policy at 7:14 AM (24 comments total)

Really. I mean, the freakin' study only makes claims about white males. It does not make claims about anyone else because meaningful statistics weren't available. The post isn't racist - you're looking for things that aren't there. And Northwest Europe? Maybe because that is an economy very similar to the United States?

Maybe people are looking too hard for racism. And are intentionally trolling.

Mark your calendars, people. Rich actually just officially posted a metafilter cop metatalk post.

posted by rich at 7:14 AM on February 21, 2002

Outlawyr wasn't claiming the study was racist, but the intent of the post. I got the same impression, from the same typical indicators (not the white, but the others) Outlawyr mentioned. Of course, it's a bad idea to assume and accuse based on an impression, but it's not as though he's stupid.
posted by skyline at 7:31 AM on February 21, 2002

Could someone suggest a more accurate title for the linked article? I mean it describes perfectly the content of the linked pages. The "major media" references, I immediately construed to be quite the opposite of what Outlawyr suggested, namely that the US media's take on the economy is biased against "bad news" and refuses to acknowledge the obvious income inequality that has been generated in the US over the past two decades. As for NW Europe, I mean, c'mon against what economy should the data be meaningfully compared, Sub-Saharan Africa's?
The least anyone with doubts could do is ask the poster about his/her intent before flaming...
posted by talos at 7:49 AM on February 21, 2002

I understand he wasn't claiming the study was racist, but the way the post was worded. But still I don't see it. Because he said 'vast majority of people'? Because he said 'white'? Because he compared the United States to northwest Europe?

He couldn't present the statistic any other way, since that was the statistic. 90% of white males. That's what the study was able to provide data on.

Vast majority of people? again, it's a leap the study made, and a simple one for anyone to make - gee, if 90% of white males have seen a downturn, then it makes sense that it would apply generically across the country.

And what other area are we going to have a comparible study? Eastern Europe? South America? Africa?

Maybe I could see Japan, but when you think comparible economies and society, it's western Europe.

And besides anything - posting a one-liner 'oh so now you're a racist' is blatently looking for a fight and immediately sidelining any useful discussion about the study. It's fucking annoying, self-righteous, stupid and a typical example of the problems we have on metafilter.
posted by rich at 7:50 AM on February 21, 2002

I think it's reasonable to quibble with the use of the phrase "vast majority." But to second-guess the poster's motivations as racist is going overboard. Even if he was right, he wouldn't be doing his cause any favor by arguing it the way he has.
posted by bingo at 8:09 AM on February 21, 2002

I agree with Outlawyr in some respects. I often wonder why, with all of the questions in science, there is a strong urge, in the establishment (white males) to ask the question, "how and why are people not like me different". This searching for answers, and scientific rationalization of racism/sexism does smell like racism and sexism. As women and minorities have gained power in the United States (we still hold relatively less wealth and power than we should statistically) there has been a backlash by some groups, to try to counteract the power that has been taken away.

Now, perhaps rich was not saying anything racist, and was simply saying, 'gee, isn't that interesting, I haven't heard that anywhere else...'. But, people like Outlawyr and myself, who have studied scientific racism, are going to read more into rich's post because it is a study that raises the ire of the decreasing-in-power white man, that same white man who still has more power than women and minorities.

Anyway - I'm not talking about the post, I'm trying to explain where I think that Outlawyr is coming from.
posted by goneill at 8:10 AM on February 21, 2002

Goneill - (just a quick note, I didn't post the original front page post)

But I think you raise an interesting point - that you and Outlawyr studied scientific racism.. does this in any way make you more sensitive (or over-sensitive) to things that may not be racist, intended or otherwise, but can be disected into becoming a racist statement?

I think if you over-analyze anything you can find what you want to find. For example, the whole 'Law of Fives' makes you see five as a common denominator for everything.

I think Outlawyr may have been seathing about the 'black hoodlum' post and then just completely over-analyzed a fairly innocuous post.
posted by rich at 8:20 AM on February 21, 2002

But, people like Outlawyr and myself, who have studied scientific racism, are going to read more into rich's post because it is a study that raises the ire of the decreasing-in-power white man, that same white man who still has more power than women and minorities.

Good Lord. And my respect for Outlawyr and goneill simply plummets. Go live in your little world where information is concealed because it might "raise ire" of some group, simply because scientists are as a matter of course required to study cohorts.

NOTHING RACIST. NOTHING. You're trying to stir the pot, both of you, and it's shameful.
posted by dhartung at 8:29 AM on February 21, 2002

dhartung - i'm not trying to stir a pot. i'm trying to EXPLAIN something. I also can't speak for Outlawyr because I don't know him AT ALL. I've never read anything he has written before, and I've never spoken to him. I am just trying to explain where his perspective might differ from your own. I am explaining a different lense through which other people view the world. I do agree with rich that you can look and find racism/sexism all over the place, you can become obsessed with seeing it. I'm trying to explain where that comes from. And I am not trying to stir any pot dhartung, no pot stirring here, simple explanaition.
posted by goneill at 8:41 AM on February 21, 2002

posted by jpoulos at 9:05 AM on February 21, 2002

if a study is defensibly scientific, i don't think it can be racist. if the data supports the conclusion, what is there to be angry over? the sample size seems to be significant at 5,200 participants; the time to study seems significant, also, at 16 years. in fact, if you read the article, you will note that its restriction to white males was incidental:

Women were less likely to work outside the home in the late 1960s and so were not consistently asked the same set of questions as the men. Minority men were included in the original survey, but over half of them dropped out over the 16 years. That made meaningful statistical comparisons impossible.

the conclusions that morris makes also seem reasonable. she notes that "such factors as the decline of labor unions and the increased trends of downsizing and outsourcing by businesses has produced a climate in which the American economy is producing more low-paying jobs than high-end ones." you should know that while this does affect white men, it affects women and minority groups as well. indeed, this article seems -- if nothing else -- anti-globalism rather than pro-white. i may be missing some things, however, and if anyone can help me further understand what bias there may be in morris' work i'd appreciate it.

"scientific racism" seems like an oxymoron. to me, racism implies ignorance and bias; both factors are anathema to science. that is not to say that ignorance and bias do not appear in professedly scientific literature, but at such a point, the data used is tainted and reduced to yet another tool of the deceiver to prove their point. for an example, how about The Bell Curve? contrast that book with this followup: Measured Lies: The Bell Curve Examined. Murray and Hernstein both complained that "the data cannot lie", but it is easily noted that their conclusions do not follow in the book and the bias is rather plain to see.
posted by moz at 9:16 AM on February 21, 2002

Moz.. I agree.. and goneill - I think you gave a good 'explanation', but I don't see Outlawyr or delmoi coming over here and letting us in on what they're all on about. Which leads me to believe that they don't really have any good basis other than over-reacting and intentionally being inflamatory.

As it is, there is no good excuse for their behavior.

Moz - also, the racist accusation was levied against username and how the the post was worded by him/her.
posted by rich at 9:27 AM on February 21, 2002


as far as the racism in username's post, well -- i'd rather focus on the gaps in username's logic.

90% of white males suffered downward income mobility over last 20 years Why hasn't this detailed, well-done study by reputable entities gotten any play from the major media? The study linked above proves that things have gone downhill for the vast majority of people here in the USA. Now what I would like to see are the results of a similar study done for northwestern Europeans.

this study proved nothing, for it was one study and, regardless of the sample size, no study proves a thing; it only supports or disproves a thing. the "vast majority" reference in his post is unsupported (what are the census numbers for the US? why should i have to get off my lazy ass to do your work, username?). if username happened to be an extremely awkward and unfunny fellow, i could almost see the last sentence as a failed joke referring to the possible racist implication of the thread. as it stands, however, it just looks awkward and irrelevant.
posted by moz at 9:45 AM on February 21, 2002

Moz - I agree that the study has serious problems with it.. it's lacking all sorts of things.

But I think we both are agreeing that username's post didn't have any racist over or under tones.
posted by rich at 9:52 AM on February 21, 2002

i should say helps to disprove a thing; sorry.
posted by moz at 9:53 AM on February 21, 2002

There is just a TON of name calling and potential baiting going on today. I had the same reaction as outlawyer to the post, and that was partly because I had just finished scanning the Duke one. I was wrong, but hey I was sensitized. Outlawyr was too quick to cry racist, but really, several people were a bit hasty in returning fire as well. I think maybe a bunch of people are dragging out the verbal signboards and getting ready to picket posts. It's ugly.
posted by dness2 at 10:17 AM on February 21, 2002

I commend Rich for bringing this to metatalk, which is what should have happened as soon as outlwyr said 'so you're a racist?' And rather than derailing the thread, Outlawyr, if thats how you felt you should have started a thread stating your case here at MetaTalk. I don't see the study, the post, or certainly the poster as racist, but your personal attack on username was uncalled for flamebait thread derailment material which is not usefull.
posted by Mack Twain at 12:26 PM on February 21, 2002

Did anyone else see outlwyr's comment as a parody of the PC reactionary/troll-feeding that was sure to follow that flamebait post? I did, in fact I got a nice chuckle out of it. Where's outlwyr to back me up?
posted by luser at 1:52 PM on February 21, 2002

LUKE: What's in there?

YODA: Only what you take with you.

Luke looks warily between the tree and Yoda.
He starts to strap on his weapon belt.

YODA: Your will not need them.

posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:44 PM on February 21, 2002

Yea, kudos to rich for bringing his concern to MetaTalk, but isn't he just as bad with the phrasing of his topic? Calling each other "stupid" is just not on.
posted by cyniczny at 2:46 PM on February 21, 2002

Well, it was stupid.


And obviously outlawyr and delmoi never came here to explain themselves or defend themselves, I assume they agree with me.
posted by rich at 6:40 PM on February 21, 2002

"Troll" being a harsh term, I propose derailleur for the behavior noted.
posted by dhartung at 8:17 PM on February 21, 2002

I've already suggested to Matt that he ban assholes, starting with me. He said no. I doubt he'll start banning based on stupidity. If he did, we're all stupid about something. I know about computers but I'm no guru. I've got a bunch of useless information in my head, but I'm no rocket scientist. Do we actually have any honest to goodness real rocket scientists in here? They're probably smart when it comes to rocket science but stupid when it comes to something else.

It's too subjective of a criteria to base banishment on, so I'd have to say it was a stupid request, Rich. But I love ya, man. *smirk*
posted by ZachsMind at 10:22 PM on February 21, 2002

«Derailleur» est magnifique, M. dhartung. «Je ne suis pas un troll, je suis un derailleur!»
posted by rory at 3:54 AM on February 22, 2002

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