Thursday, April 28, 2005

Race Against Time

Last week, in a Hot Needle of Inquiry post entitled "Memetic Accelerant", Jinderella said:
    It really makes me angry when LGF is criticized for being a "hate site". That just demonstrates a complete and total misunderstanding of the value and importance of LGF, and of its essential function in the WoT.
Charles Johnson is routinely vilified by people on the left for writing what the rest of us consider simple truth. For questioning whether Islam is in fact the "Religion of Peace"; for bringing to light stories about honor killings, Jew-hatred, terror, and thuggery among Arabs, Charles is branded a "racist" and a right-wing extremist. There are some things which simply cannot be said in polite company.

Larry Summers, the President of Harvard University, discovered this fact to his detriment. He had the misfortune to suggest the possibility that there might be innate differences between the sexes that would explain their disparate performance in the sciences. Never mind the fact that his statement was backed up by reputable peer-review studies in the fields involved: he had spoken heresy within the Church of Orthodox Secularism, and for that he had to be punished. He may yet be excommunicated.

Most of the forbidden topics seem to involve race in one form or another. If one attempts to explain the disparity in academic performance between whites on the one hand, and blacks and Hispanics on the other by anything other than white racism and oppression, one is deemed a "racist" and will be thrown into the outer darkness. By the same logic, of course, Asians and Jews must have been favored races in the past; how else to explain their uniform superior performance in academic subjects? But saying this, too, is evidence of racism.

One piece of evidence for the ongoing racism of the dominant white culture is persistent residential segregation. Despite numerous federal laws; despite decades of busing, set-asides, minority preferences, and civil-rights lawsuits, residential segregation by race remains, and in some locations has intensified.

The only acceptable explanation, the only one which may be discussed in polite company, is, of course, racism among whites. What else could it be?

An alternative explanation is simply that people generally prefer to live among those who are most like themselves. At its extreme, this tendency is racism: "We hate those damned [insert racial epithet here]; they're no better than animals!" But milder versions of the same behavior are probably instinctual, and are well-understood by most people at an intuitive level. We are most comfortable among those who speak the same language that we do, who look similar to us, who have customs we can understand, and with whom we share context about many everyday matters, so that communication is easier.

Natural Intelligence has developed an application called the "Ethnic Simulator" that models the residential behavior of people in the hypothetical ethnically diverse city of Metropolis. Go here to read the details about the Ethnic Simulator and download a freeware copy of the application.

The premise of the Ethnic Simulator is that ethnically distinct groups have a modest preference to live among their own kind. In Metropolis there are five ethnic groups –- Blues (the majority), Greens, Reds, Grays, and Yellows. The application allows the user to set the percentage of preference of each group for its own kind. The default is 50% -- that is, each ethnic group would prefer that at least half of its neighbors to be of the same group.

For the Blues, who are in the majority, meeting that requirement is easy -- they don't even have to think about it. But the Yellows, who are the smallest minority, have to scramble to find other Yellows as neighbors.

When you run the Ethnic Simulator, it begins with a uniformly mixed population. But the preferences of the groups cause clumping to occur very quickly -- within about ten years. Within fifty years distinct ethnic neighborhoods have emerged, and if you let the simulation run for centuries, large sections of Metropolis have become "ghettos" for one group or another.
Phase 0
Phase 1
10 years
Phase 2
50 years
Phase 3
100 years
Phase 4
700 years
Phase 5
8000 years
Interestingly enough, if you set the preferences for the larger groups to zero (that is, they are indifferent to the ethnic origin of their neighbors), and give only the Yellows a preference (and a modest one at that), you will find Yellows clumping in their enclaves fairly quickly. The preference of the Yellows would be entirely understandable -- they are a tiny minority and want to stick together for solidarity's sake -- but it produces a result that the conventional wisdom would identify as "racism".

You can see why this result is not fit for polite discussion. If residential segregation of ethnic groups is not due to the racism of the oppressive majority group (i.e., whites), then the very pillars of multiculturalism are shaken. Talking about this would definitely be classified as "hate speech".

But the Ethnic Simulator does not prove that racism is not the explanation, just that there is another equally plausible explanation. After all, the premise is not unreasonable. Take the issue of interracial marriage -- why does it lag so far behind the percentage of the races involved in the general population? If race were not considered, one would expect 12% of white people to marry blacks, and 88% of blacks to marry whites. Does racism explain this? Or do people simply have an inborn preference for those most like themselves?

The dominant paradigm that explains all these issues — call it "political correctness", "multiculturalism", "progressive thinking", or what you will -- is an Evolutionary Stable Strategy (ESS), that is, a strategy such that, if all the members of a population adopt it, no mutant strategy can supplant it. In order to maintain its supremacy, it has to ruthlessly extirpate all alternative strategies. No deviance from the received wisdom is allowed, and the penalties must be severe enough to completely discourage such deviance.

In a comment on Gates of Vienna yesterday, Papa Bear said:
    What lends strength to "political correctness" is the human desire to not be judged a bad person by others. People go around thinking "I must not express opinion X, because it will cause all my friends to think less of me and ostracise me". For PC to stand, there must be control of media and public opinion, so that people with politically incorrect views are made to think they are in a small minority of opinion, regardless of reality.
Papa Bear has hit the nail on the head: the shame of being judged wrong, or even evil, by our compeers is enough to keep us in line.

But alternative memes are afloat now in the wider culture: ESS, beware!

Also posted at Gene Expression.


Katie said...

Well ain't that a bitch. Preach it sister.

Malintzin said...

Interesting simulation exercise. But no group has remained culturally isolated and/or homegeneous among other groups for...8000 years, let alone 100. We, for example, do not refer to Asians in America, but to Asian-Americans, because that is what they are.

What I mean is: I doubt we would see the simulated group distributions past the third time-frame used. By then, the differences would have diminished noticeably. Just consider the history of any country in Europe. Who can now distinguis between Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Berbers, Jews, etc. in say...Spain. OK, perhaps the speed at which the new groups are arriving are different. But then, whatever happens past the first time-frame depends on what is done. It is not deterministic.

Baron Bodissey said...

Malintzin, you misunderstand the point of the exercise. The linear extrapolation of a single variable is not meant to model anything near reality.

What it is intended to demonstrate is that distinct human subgroups can form residential clumps relatively quickly based on their feelings about their own group, i.e., that they want to live among a modest number of them. The segregated neighborhoods can form when only the minority has that preference, when the majority is indifferent.

It does not prove that racial prejudice is not the cause of residential segregation, just that there is at least one plausible alternative.