Murray’s empirical wisdom confirms analytical truths “in the cannibal’s pot”
Political scientist Charles Murray made a presentation. (Photo credit: YouTube / Big Think)
My 2011 book, “Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America from Post-Apartheid South Africa, ”Is based on two axiomatic truths, and I extract from them (pp 40-41 & 126-128, 2011):
Overall, no color should be given to the claim that race is not a factor in the incidence of crime in the United States and South Africa. The vulgar individualist will argue that such general statements about the characteristics of aggregate groups are collectivist, and therefore false. He would be wrong.
Generalizations, provided they are supported by hard evidence, not hunches, are not incorrect. Science is based on the ability to generalize observations from a representative sample to a larger population. People make prudent decisions in their daily lives based on probability and generalities. Whether one chooses not to live in a particular crime-ridden county or country in no way implies that all individual residents are considered criminals, but only that a reasonable determination has been made, upon the statistically significant database, as to where places are scarce and where precious resources — life and property — are best invested. (“In the cannibal’s pot”, pp 40-41)
In short, generalizations about some group characteristics are, on the whole, valid. These, however, do not contradict the imperative to treat each individual as an individual.
In his infinite wisdom, but with a different, strictly empirical approach, sociologist Charles Murray has brought this same truth into the mainstream. In a bright little book, “Facing Reality: Two Truths about Race in America”, Murray advises precisely that:
… When the average differences between groups are real, it is absolutely essential to resist generalization; accepting the reality of documented group differences but insisting on thinking and treating each person as an individual is essential.
Then in “In the cannibal’s pot, “I explained that we, conservatives and libertarians, who oppose affirmative action, reserved markets and quotas because of our unhindered loyalty to a society based on merit and the free market, unfortunately do promoting “half-truths” as I put it. Here’s why:
Free market economists have long insisted that the rational self-interest of individuals in private enterprise is always not to discriminate. “The market is color blind,” said Milton Friedman. “No one who goes to the market to buy bread knows or cares whether the wheat was grown by a Jew, a Catholic, a Protestant, a Muslim or an atheist, by whites or blacks.” As Thomas Sowell said, “Bias is free, but discrimination has costs.” (ITCP p. 126-128)
Inherent in these arguments, I had argued, in 2011, is that, although they are not false, they are incomplete, simple half-truths:
No doubt, however, [our] good economists… still offer a half-truth. Rational self-interest indeed pushes people, whatever their prejudices, to put aside prejudices and to make the best use of their scarce resources. But just to say that “discrimination is bad for business” [and that a pure, free-market meritocracy would solve the problem of racial underrepresentation] is to present an incomplete picture.
This solecism is due to the color taken by the word “discriminate”. The market… is discriminatory as in discernment – it is biased in favor of productivity. Hiring people based on criteria other than productivity hurts the owner’s pocket. Thus, we can be fairly certain that in the absence of affirmative action laws, the market would reflect a bias in favor of productivity. (In the Cannibal’s Jar, p. 127.)
And the wink:
“In other words, what good economists [and good conservatives] are reluctant to suggest that a free market is one in which groups and individuals are represented differently. Parity in prosperity and performance can only be achieved by playing socialist leveler, ”I wrote. (ITCP p. 126-128.)
Murray’s work agrees and amplifies this point. He wrote on June 6, that “refusing to confront racial differences in means … leads in a straight line to believe that the only legitimate proof of a non-racist society is equality of outcome … the logical conclusion is that the state must impose equal results by all means. necessary.”
Before the publication of my essay, “Systemic racism or systemic garbage? “ on August 6, 2020, a shrewd editor, a young woman, inquired about empirical studies for the immutable truths therein.
“The thesis of systemic racism”, I countered in the room, “Is derived from the logical error of backward reasoning. ‘Reverse reasoning, exposed by mysterious author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle through his famous fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes… applies with reasonable certainty when there is only one plausible explanation for… the evidence. ‘ “
But, I reasoned, “Systemic racism is certainly not ‘the only plausible explanation’ for the delay in the plight of African Americans, although, as it stands, systemic racism is inferred only from one fact: in Overall, African Americans lag behind whites in various academic and socio-economic indices and achievements.
“Equalizing individual and intergroup results… is an impossibility” I added, “Considering that it is axiomatically and obviously true to say that such differences have existed since the dawn of time”.
It’s like that. The overall differences between the groups in intellectual achievement, athleticism, and inhibition control are here to stay.
Wise young woman that she is, my editor on “Systemic racism or systemic garbage?Found the analytical and logical method (which is in the Aristotelian and Misesian traditions) convincing.
Murray said the same, with reference to the mounds of empirical data:
We did not mean to openly say that different groups have significant differences between groups. Since we didn’t mean to say that, we were left helpless against allegations that racism is to blame. What else could this be? We were afraid to answer. We must.
Unarmed by the gun of truth, analytical and empirical – without relying on the immutable truths of aggregate group differences, as we take care to treat each individual on their merits – we conservatives are intellectually rendered defenseless.
Ilana Mercer writes a paleolibertaire weekly piece of reflection since 1999. She is the author of Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America from Post-Apartheid South Africa (2011) & The Trump Revolution: Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed»(June 2016). She is currently on Speaking, Gab, Youtube & LinkedIn, but was banned by Facebook and strangled by Twitter.