General Question

lefteh's avatar

Is it irrational or prejudicial to fear black people more than white people?

Asked by lefteh (9331 points ) July 29th, 2008

Look at statistics here.
There are more white people than black people in the country, yet more murders are committed by black people. Now, there are obviously hundreds of socioeconomic reasons behind this fact. Let’s try our to leave those out of this conversation, and simply consider that fact. My question is simply what is written above.

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76 Answers

tinyfaery's avatar

Its irrational and prejudice to assume anything about an entire group of people.

aaronou's avatar

The statistics certainly make you think a bit more, but to still categorically sterotype an entire racial group as potentially dangerous would be a bit erroneous. Perhaps it is not entirely irrational, but still prejudicial. Clearly there are many blacks that are not criminals, and even many whites that are. In thought, at an airport I may suspicious of a middle-eastern looking male because the chances are higher of him being a terrorist than the white man standing next to him. But when I know nothing about these individuals, it would still be a measure of prejudice to assume any judgment. Some would say, “well, it’s better safe than sorry” (hence many of the measures of homeland security have allowed for this philosophy). Yet, the truth is that fearing anyone based purely on their appearance has to involve prejudice in order to arrive at that fear. It’s true that there is a much higher percentage of middle eastern terrorists than caucasian terrorists (though being from Oklahoma city I always remember Timothy McVeigh), or more african american murderers than white murderers. But the statistics generalize, they do not speak about individuals. So, how do we know who to fear? We don’t.

jcs007's avatar

This question is so sensitive that I could click on part of it and my computer will explode with hate… So I have to say now: I am in no way prejudice against anyone. In my eyes, you are innocent of anything until you prove otherwise.

Based on the statistics you linked to, it is rational to fear black people more than white people. Let me say it again: this rational fear is based on those statistics. You can’t consider the fear prejudicial if you base that fear off of numbers.

If you consider the social fact that prejudgement is wrong, then this fear is incredibly prejudicial and incredibly irrational.

Let’s put it this way: If you give a computer these statistics and it has to mark people with x’s (for “I fear you”) or smiley faces (for “Ur OK. I likez u”), then it would be logical to mark the black people with x’s rather than the white people. HOWEVER, if you give a person these statistics, well, things start to get messy. Let’s see what a person takes into account along with these statistics:
1. their own morals
2. their own code of ethics
3. society’s generally accepted morals
4. society’s version of a code of ethics
5. religious beliefs
6. beliefs given to them from others
7. past experiences
8. any other values
My point here is that you can be rational if you just use numbers (unless you are a computer. in which case, I am afraid since computers shouldn’t be reading posts on Fluther). But since we are all human, you can’t claim to be rational and not prejudice in this case.

tinyfaery's avatar

Looking at these statistics the only time a black person is more likely to kill is in relation to drugs or because of an argument, in all other cases, whites are more likely to kill. Plus, you are more likely to be killed by someone of your own race. So maybe if you were black, it would be more rational to fear a black person than a white person.

wildflower's avatar

I think it’s a bit irrational to base fear on skin-colour. Would you fear a black man in a suit more than a white man wearing gang colours? Anyone who says yes, should seek help.

mcbealer's avatar

watch the movie Crash
‘nuff said

trumi's avatar

Lefteh isn’t racist, just asking the question based on Ron Paul’s argument.

Now, as far as those graphs are concerned, I think a very important one is 3/4 down the page. It says that only 10% of these crimes are committed by a black person upon a white person.

elchoopanebre's avatar

What a quagmire.

chaosrob's avatar

Human relationships and motivations are complex on an individual basis. Taken in large enough sets, human behavior is nearly stochastic. Given that the math for managing a chaotic system is still relatively young and almost never admits of certainty, I’d be very surprised if these statistics actually had any concrete, meaningful relationship to the people they’re mapping.

I’m also concerned when someone uses data sets like this to “prove” something about human motivations. An analysis of this kind automatically comes with a set of assumptions in it. These need to be challenged and examined before the data could conceivably reveal any useful trends.

Was law enforcement more focused on blacks than whites? Were the crimes linked to factors that rarely impact whites? Is there a cultural component among blacks that makes murder unacceptably acceptable that was already addressed and suppressed in white culture? What public service messages were whites given that blacks aren’t receiving? There are so many variables here, it’s irresponsible to assume that these graphs can actually suggest any conclusions or courses of action.

If anything, rather than making me afraid of black people, this data makes me wonder what we’re doing to (or not doing for) these Americans that makes crime seem more tolerable than in other neighborhoods.

If a car won’t start one morning, you don’t write it off and let it rust in your driveway. You pop the hood and see what’s going on. Why don’t we do that with these people?

nayeight's avatar

It is irrational and predjudice to fear black people. Now if your comparing who should fear more that depends on your area, race, age, social status, situation, etc. but that would only change whether or not is rational. It’s always predjudice to fear a group of people because of their color. How did you come up with this question?

marinelife's avatar

Yes, it is irrational and prejudicial to fear any group of people. People are individuals. It is a sad part of our human legacy dating back to tribalism where everyone from outside the group or village was suspect.

flameboi's avatar

it is, but is not our fault, society in general has pushed us to this… (sad)

marinelife's avatar

@flameboi We have evolved socially to the point where I do think it is our fault if we let our cognitive selves be ruled by our dinosaur-brained selves. We need to actively seek dialogue with other who are different from us. When we do that, we begin to see the common humanity instead of the strangeness.

nayeight's avatar

I agree with marina 100%. We are responsible for these predjudice thoughts and actions and we have to stop them or it will only get worse. To add on to what chaosrob said, if we never do anything to fix the cars that are broken, oneday we’ll have far more broken cars than we do working ones. This “fear of blacks” mentality reminds me of that CNN special on blacks in america. There was a woman who did a experiment on the employment of black men. She had several black ex-cons apply for jobs and their employment rate was like 0% and then she had several highly qualified, never convicted black men apply for the same jobs and their employment rate was 0–1%. She asked the employers why they did not hire the qualified black men and they gave really ignorant answers like “they dressed poorly” and “we didn’t feel safe around them”. I tell you one thing, if I wasn’t a woman I would be screwed. Fortunately for me black women aren’t viewed as “threatening”.

lefteh's avatar

@trumi: Ron Paul didn’t come up with this question. As old as he is, it has been around for centuries before him.
@nayeight: How did I come up with this question? I looked at the numbers and abandoned any sense of taboo.

Blacks represent the minority of population, but the majority of recorded violent crime. Using simple logic and removing the human factor, it is nearly indisputable that such a group should be feared. Consider this example: You are a mailman, and there are twenty dogs in a certain front yard. You have never delivered to this home before, and have had no prior interaction with the dogs. However, mailmen that have come before you have often been bitten. Most of them report that they were attacked by black dogs. Upon arriving, you learn that out of the twenty dogs only three are black. Would you not fear these dogs more than the rest? I remind you that this is only a logical argument with no human factor.

When you add the human factor, you get a much different situation. It is my personal belief that a large amount of the foundation for racism comes with ignoring this level to the question. I would fear those black dogs more than the rest, but I would not fear a black man walking down the street more than a white man. This is because I hold that each human is inherently unique and independent from others in whichever groups they might be long, be they racial, sexual, or otherwise. Perhaps those numbers reflect racism in the system, as nayeight suggested, and are not to be trusted. Perhaps otherwise. Perhaps they are accurate, and are a function of the lower median incomes and education levels that plague the black community. No matter what the cause is behind the numbers, a simple bottom line emerges: one cannot justify fearing an individual based on actions taken by like individuals with no relation to the one in question.

marinelife's avatar

The logic is flawed, lefteh. Who are the victims of most of the crime? We tend to sin in our own groups too. Also, I wish you would stop with the black dog analogy. Do you know that black dogs are the hardest for rescue groups to find homes for?

Also, I applaud your courage in posing the question. I agree we need to tear down the taboos and talk openly more. If I was black, I would fear a lot. The police, for one. Prujudiced employers, for another.

lefteh's avatar

Please, explain why the logic is wrong.
That’s why I asked this question. Simple logic says that when a minority in population is the majority in offenders, the group is worthy of fear. What is flawed here? With this statement, I’m not specifically talking about black people, dogs, or anything. Just take it as logic.

marinelife's avatar

My point was that if the majority of the victims of that minority’s crimes were that minority, then it is not logical to fear them. See?

If the black dogs only bite mailmen, then it does not make sense to fear them if I am not in uniform with a mailbag. (Darn, you made me use the black dog analogy again.).

lefteh's avatar

Great point, Marina. However, would you not still consider the black dogs (sorry…) to be more violent?

chaosrob's avatar

My points remain unaddressed. The data itself is suspect, as is the context in which it was gathered and interpreted. You can’t draw such a sweeping conclusion from such a simplistic, superficial analysis.

marinelife's avatar

Perhaps I would consider the mailmen to be more provoking . . .

Indy318's avatar

The fear of black (not just people) can be linked to our childhood and natural innate tendencies. As I dicussed in my Human Nature class, the fear of the color black is implanted unknowningly into young children. Your mother always tells you not to play in dirt and to clean your hands (espically when they have messy black stains on them). Well children begin to think that black is a negative and unwanted characteric. They fear thunderstorms (which blankets everything with darkness and prohibits them from playing in outside with things they enjoy). Also children have a natural fear of dark and unfimilar places, such as the basement and under your bed. What happens is that as children grow, their parents fail to distinguish between black the color and people of dark complexion (African Americans). The irrational fear of black becomes implanted after so many negative lessons relating to the color black.

Black has always been a color that has acquired negative connations. Even the explicit dictionary meaning of black is negative-

Indy318's avatar

Ahhh! I’m having problems typing on my iPod.
As I was saying… The difinition of black is quite negative- described as evil, wicked, soiled, or threatning. People fail to break the connection from black, a color that has been linked with a negative experiences, and black people. So I believe its both irrational and prejudical to link blacks with such negatives connotations. Parents should distinguish between the color black (dirty and unwanted) and black people or else it will cling onto their conscience later on in life.

marinelife's avatar

First, left has all those same connotations. Second, although we use the term black, black people in AMerica are for the most part not actually black so I am not buying that.

Michael's avatar

I would like to make a few points.

First, it is not true that “Blacks represent the minority of population, but the majority of recorded violent crime” as Lefteh wrote. The statistics he cited are rates not absolute numbers. Though the rate of homicide is much higher among the African-American population, the raw numbers are still far larger among Whites (due to higher overall numbers). The majority of violent criminals are White.

This leads me to my critique of lefteh’s “dog analogy.” Lefteh says that most of the attacks came from black dogs, but that is not the proper analogy (since, in reality, most homicides are committed by Whites, though, again, the rate is higher among Wlacks). Instead, the mailman should be told that black dogs bite mailmen more often than white dogs (still the analogy is not perfect, since, as has been pointed out, the race of the victim matters a lot here). In this case, would it be “logical” for the mailman to be wary of the black dogs?

Actually, no. Think of it this way. Let’s say black dogs will attack mailmen 20% of the time, whereas white dogs attack only 10% of the time. Well, in a yard with 3 black dogs, you have a 49% chance of getting attacked by at least one of the dogs (I’ll explain the math later). In a yard with 17 white dogs, you have an 83% chance of getting attacked by at least one of the dogs. So, walking into a yard with 20 dogs, 17 white and 3 black, which should you actually be more concerned about? The white ones.

This basic principle is why racial profiling is a poor law enforcement strategy, and why it is actually irrational to be afraid of Black people just because there may be a differential in crime rates.

Michael's avatar

Here’s the math from my previous answer:

3 dogs, each with a 20% chance of attacking you. That means there’s an 80% that any individual dog will not attack you. The chances that all three of them will refrain from attacking is calculated as 0.8×0.8×0.8 = .512. That, 51.2%, is the chance that you will not be attacked by any of the dogs. Therefore, the chance that you will get attacked by at least one of the dogs is 1 – .512 = .488 (or 48.8%).

The same calculation is applied to the white dogs: 0.9 to the 17th power gives you the chance that you will not be attacked by any dogs (0.167), so the chance that you’ll get attacked by at least one white dog is 1 – 0.167 = .833 (or 83.3%).

lefteh's avatar

Am I interpreting the stats wrong?
Are you saying that the majority of violent crimes are committed by white people?

From Wiki: A subsequent United States Department of Justice report which surveyed homicide statistics between 1974 and 2004 stated that of the crimes surveyed for which the identity of the offender could be determined, 52.1% of the offenders were Black, 45.9% were White, and 2% were Other Races.

I read that as 52.1% of the homicide perps were black. Therefore, the majority of perps were black. Am I incorrect?

marinelife's avatar

@lefteh Maybe I should be afraid of men instead:

“According to statistics published by the U.S. Department of Justice, men committed 87.5 percent of murders in 1999. The ratio of male to female homicides was approximately nine to one. Almost three-fourths of male homicides and 80 percent of female homicides were perpetrated against men. Males were more likely to choose a gun as their weapon, but women preferred a cleaner means of killing, such as arson or poisoning (Fox and Levin 2001).” Source

marinelife's avatar

By the way, here are the statistics that I was referring to:

“While African Americans constitute only about 12 percent of the U.S. population, they are overrepresented in the homicide category for both offenders and victims. Department of Justice statistics delineated that African Americans were seven times more likely than whites to commit homicides and six times more likely than whites to be murdered in 1999. Most homicides are intraracial. In a 2001 publication, James Alan Fox and Jack Levin stated that 86 percent of white homicide victims were killed by whites and 94 percent of African Americans were murdered by members of their own race.

Stranger killing tends to be intraracial, with 68 percent of whites and 87 percent of African Americans killing strangers within their own race. Data for 1976 to 1999 showed that 42.4 percent of African Americans and 55.5 percent of white victims were in an intimate relationship with the offender at the time of their demise. The murder of intimates was also intraracial.”

By this logic, you should not be afraid of black men.

Michael's avatar

@ Lefteh, no, that seems correct. There are, indeed, slightly more homicides committed by Blacks than by Whites, but you originally said, “violent crime,” which includes far more than just homicide. If you look here: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/cvusst.htm and click on the 2005 “Victims and Offenders” file, you will see in table 40 that 55% of crimes of violence are committed by Whites while only 25% are committed by Blacks.

lefteh's avatar

@Marina: Using the same logic I laid out earlier, absolutely, you should fear men.
Your point about most of the violence being within the race is still entirely valid, and lends a hand toward proving a fear of black people to be irrational.

@Michael: Thank you! I could not seem to find any absolute numbers for violent crime in general. That document is very useful — so much information. I had yet to have seen a statistic showing that the majority of violent crime is committed by whites.
However, it still seems that blacks commit (reported) violent crimes in a number that is out of proportion with the population, does it not? 55% to 25% in violent crimes, yet 74% to 13% in population.

This is a great thread…exactly as I hoped it would be. Though, it is rather hard to word some of these sentences in a way that is not perceived as prejudicial. It seems as if I am playing the role of advocating the fear of blacks based on these numbers. That is not the case; I’m simply trying to understand the justifications behind the fear that many others have.

tinyfaery's avatar

@lefteh Most people need no justification for their fear; no one considers statistics when they cross the street to avoid a group of black men. Its irrationality and ignorance that make us fearful, not reason and knowledge.

marinelife's avatar

I have a lot of trouble removing socioeconomics from the equation, because it does have a significant role. Education has a significant role.

chaosrob's avatar

This is another bad assumption. There is no reasonable justiication for your fear response to a category of people. It’s a brainstem response left over from an earlier time. You don’t need it anymore.

nayeight's avatar

Seriously can we stop with the dogs and statistics? Why don’t we just all go out into the world tomorrow, find a black man, and give him a big hug? Don’t forget to tell him your absolutely not afraid of him.

lefteh's avatar

Of course people don’t consider statistics on the go.
But when these stats are put into the public’s ear by people such as Ron Paul, it certainly furthers the fear.

chaosrob's avatar

Ron Paul is a libertarian nightmare, and he’s been sent back to the fringes where he belongs. I recognize that discussing issues like prejudice is valuable, but nothing is served by looking at issues of race through Ron Paul’s bitterly racist frame.

lefteh's avatar

I agree completely. But my point is that people like him have spread the concept that blacks should be feared, and that leads to widespread prejudice.

tinyfaery's avatar

I’m fairly sure Ron Paul was preaching to the choir, so to speak. Does anyone really change their ideals based on what a politician says?

lefteh's avatar

It’s not specific to Ron Paul.
The idea that it is acceptable and rationale to fear blacks due to the fact that the statistics show that violent crime is committed out of proportion with their population has been pushed into public debate by Ron Paul and many others.

chaosrob's avatar

And wrongly so, since the data and the methodology used to gather it are suspect, and the conclusions are specious. Helping continue a debate in an incorrect and debasing frame solves nothing.

lefteh's avatar

I don’t understand what you’re saying. Are you saying that we should not discuss the basis behind the argument of Paul and the others simply because it is unfounded?

marinelife's avatar

@lefteh I agree with chaosrob about this. By perpetuating that position as a legitimate way to frame the debate, is is still being perpetuated. We have to reject it as an acceptable discussion because it is based on flawed logic and insufficient data points.

chaosrob's avatar

@lefteh And, honestly, this is a pretty common ploy to “justify” pushing a bad position when your argument can’t otherwise be supported by the facts. It’s the sort of thing I’d expect from a racist or a Paul fanatic who isn’t finding any of Paul’s nonsense acceptable in mainstream discourse. “But it doesn’t matter that it’s insensate crap from a known bigot, we have to consider the idea, don’t we?”

No, we don’t. Not all ideas are created equal. Some ideas are simply so unsupportable and logically invalid as to negate their value as a contribution. The notion that statistics support condemning an entire race as criminals is one of them.

lefteh's avatar

@Marina and chaosrob: You’re simply answering my question. I’m not on the other side of this…my question was whether the collective accepted the argument laid out in the details. It is clear that the two of you do not. I don’t disagree with you on that. I do, however, disagree that we should avoid discussion of the argument you’d “expect from a racist or a Paul fanatic.” Racism and fear of other races is clearly widespread. I don’t think anybody will contest that statement. I feel that exploring one of the many sources of this mindset is beneficial.

chaosrob's avatar

@lefteh Again, the distinction between “exploring” and “flogging the point of view of a bigot” is fairly clear, I would think. I’d say you’d sufficiently explored the unsupportable, racist point of view. Where are you on the rest of the question?

delirium's avatar

In the defense of the question… This is not intended to be a racist question. What its really asking is if a person should live in fear of the statistics or put their trust in humanity no matter what the math says.

Its easy to take this question and just look at it as being intentionally cruel, but it is just asking in a way of making people think about it. I know that lefteh and I have discussed this before and both tend to find ourselves at the same conclusion: People come first, no matter what the numbers say.

Its not expected for anyone to come to the decision that fear is better. Its just wondering how everyone reaches the conclusion that its NOT okay to fear someone because of race and statistics.

Its particularly an interesting question in a time where many people admit that they fear a muslim person more than anyone else. That fear is unjustified, yet people admit to it. It is yet as taboo as other kinds of racism, but it isn’t different.

I’ll be the first to admit that I fear men more than women. I try not to, and I always make an effort to not let that cloud my judgment, but at the end of the day, if I were in an emergency/needed help, I’d ask a woman first every single time.

It is interesting to look at the numbers and see where we (as a society, and a people) fail to suspend judgment, especially when the numbers say that the person we are judging should be the least dangerous of all.

I don’t think that anyone here thinks its appropriate to judge someone for their religion or their skin color or their sex, but I also don’t think anyone here is entirely innocent. This question represents important introspection, even if it is a taboo subject.

lefteh's avatar

You’ve always had a knack for explaining what’s bouncing around my head.

delirium's avatar

That’s why you love me. ;)

and because I introduce you to things like fluther!

marinelife's avatar

@del What I have been trying to say (and I think chaosrob too although I can’t speak for him) is that the statistics as presented here are incomplete and, as such, misleading.

There is nothing to base any decision on here, because what is here is something taken completely out of context. It does not make sense prima facie, therefore any decision made based on it is flawed.

lefteh's avatar

What do you think is missing?

I’m not saying nothing is missing, I’d just like to know what you don’t see that you think would help complete the picture.

marinelife's avatar

This fact that I listed above: “Most homicides are intraracial. In a 2001 publication, James Alan Fox and Jack Levin stated that 86 percent of white homicide victims were killed by whites and 94 percent of African Americans were murdered by members of their own race.”

Since 86% of the murders of whites are committed by whites, therefore the whole thing about more blacks being murderers should not matter to whites, since blacks are most unlikely to be their killer. In fact, since there is an 86% chance of being killed by a white person and only a 14% chance of being killed by a non-white person (and since Hispanics and Asians are not broken out, the chance of being killed by black person is actually less than 14%) why on Earth should whites be afraid of blacks?

Knowing this fact completely negates the initial statistic that you posed in the question. That is why the question, as posed, is misleading and incomplete.

Lefteh, I continue to be puzzled here. You are exhibiting an obtuseness and lack of logic that seems totally different from your usual level of intellectual rigor (as displayed in your answers on Fluther.) If you are just acting as devil’s advocate, then I for one feel like I have jumped through enough hoops for you. If it is something else that I am not getting, I would love to be enlightened.

lefteh's avatar

@Marina:

Firstly, the fact that most homicides are intraracial is clearly stated with both words and a graph on the link that I provide in the question itself.
Secondly, I am not acting as devil’s advocate, nor am I acting as the angel’s advocate at this point. I’m not sure what went wrong or where it happened, but I am now simply attempting to refocus debate on the the initial intention of the question. It is not a question of racism. I do not expect anybody to jump out and say, “Yes, of course racism is justified by those numbers!” As delirium stated above, “What its really asking is if a person should live in fear of the statistics or put their trust in humanity no matter what the math says.” I’m sorry if you perceive this as obtuse and illogical. Perhaps we’re simply not on the same page.

marinelife's avatar

@lefteh OK, obviously I am obtuse since I am not getting this at all. I did not go by the link. I went, as your instructions said, by “simply what is written above.” Simply what you wrote is what seems incomplete and misleading to me. If you ask that question and you include only this part of the statistics “There are more white people than black people in the country, yet more murders are committed by black people.” Further you ask to leave socioeconomic issues out of it, you are setting up a false basis for a conclusion that whites should be afraid of blacks.

It is irrational and prejudicial, especially if you basis on these very selective facts.

Now, tell me what I am not getting. Also, thank you for responding and bearing with my frustration.

lefteh's avatar

I think I may see where some miscommunication has occurred. When I said “simply what is written above,” I was referring to the question itself: “Is it irrational or prejudicial to fear black people more than white people?” The stats that I pulled out of my link were just stats that jumped out at me. I expected that people would go to the link and absorb the data there. My wording and what I chose to include in the details of the question is probably an error on my part. The reason I asked socioeconomic factors to be left out is that I wanted to focus on the numbers. I am interested on what is more prevalent to many of you: statistics or humanity. Again, I expected no one to believe that those numbers justify racism. That is the last thing I would want or expect. It is clear, however, that there is some factor that makes us look beyond pure statistics. By the way, I do not specify in the question whether it is intended for members of any specific race. Maybe, using statistics alone, a case could be made for a black man to fear other black men more than white men. But as I said earlier, there is something in each most of us that keeps us from relying on numbers alone. That is what I am interested in. Perhaps now (and sorry to quote this again, I’m not trying to belittle you), this will make sense: “What its really asking is if a person should live in fear of the statistics or put their trust in humanity no matter what the math says.”

chaosrob's avatar

You keep explaining all the rationales you intended to place around your question without acknowleding that these are helping to frame the question in an invalid way. If you were intending to learn something other than what you explicitly asked, your research methodology might need some work.

lefteh's avatar

@chaosrob:
I do not think the question is framed in an invalid way. You’ve made it clear that you do, and I’ve made it clear that I do not. I feel that I have made it even more clear in my previous post. Furthermore, conversation here evolves, as I’m sure you know. It does not stay static. I’ll beat this damn horse again, I guess. In fact, I’ll just copy and paste from what I already said. I am interested on what is more prevalent to many of you: statistics or humanity. Again, I expected no one to believe that those numbers justify racism. That is the last thing I would want or expect. It is clear, however, that there is some factor that makes us look beyond pure statistics.

Lastly, kindly explain what research methodology you’re talking about. I am confused, seeing as I did not do any research (unless you count Googling for OJP stats).

delirium's avatar

Just to note, this wasn’t intended to be a question for research, but one where the asker hoped for an intelligent humanistic conversation on the subject. Perhaps he was overestimating his audiences capacity for discussion.

marinelife's avatar

@del Hey, don’t insult the people in the cheap seats. Lefteh has to own what he put out. It seems to me that if you start out assuming you are going to generate certain answers, but you get back a different set of answers, you may need to rethink the question. :)

@Lefteh (Scrubbing eyes tiredly and trying again) Thank you for bringing out what your aim was again. (There are a lot of words going back and forth here so having what you consider the key phrase in an earlier post reemphasized is a good thing.)

When you say you want to know if people can “look beyond the statistics” (or the math) and make a humanist decision, what does not work for me (and I’ll wager chaosrob as well) is that that statement implies that the statistics support fearing black people. Since the statistics cited do not support fearing black people, no looking beyond them is required. Therefore, to fear black people is irrational and prejudicial.

To genuinely determine the answer to your intended question, the statistics would have to support the fear, requiring someone to use other factors, “humanistic” if you will, to make a determination. What I have been trying to say is that the standard of your test is not met.

I also want to reiterate that I have tremendous liking and respect for both of you. I am sorry that we have not been able to come to a meeting of the minds about this, but from my viewpoint at least no harm, no foul. Also, hosannas for at least posing a thought-provoking question that requires more effort than What is your favorite cereal.

lefteh's avatar

So our fundamental difference here is what the stats themselves, removed from humanity and cultural stigma, represent. To me it says that there could be an argument made that certain groups are more dangerous than others. Of course, once you apply the humanistic facet, you cannot characterize an entire group of people based on numbers. To you, if I understand correctly, the numbers themselves do not reflect any sort of conclusive trend of violence.

Also: Your respect is entirely reciprocated. No harm no foul. Sometimes multiple big minds don’t line up.

delirium's avatar

<3’s all around from me as well. :)

I get snappy when its late and I just ruined a pie.

And I do agree that the question itself could be phrased better. Maybe lefteh is too used to me automatically understanding his intent and needs to flesh it out differently for a different audience. ;)

chaosrob's avatar

@all I love argument, in the classic sense of the word. Conversations like these, to me, are about using the best mental tools we can bring to bear on a question and burning away the irrelevancies until you discover something true. If I challenge something, it’s (usually) not personal, it’s just digging down another layer toward an answer.

marinelife's avatar

@all I cannot tell how much better this thread feels than most allengreen threads!

The statistics as presented there do not indicate a tendency toward being dangerous. Here is where socioeconomic factors come in. Here is one example and an excerpt:

“This paper provides an estimate of the impact of educational attainment on juvenile conviction rates using information at the Local Education Authority in England. The empirical analysis uses aggregate conviction rates over time for three cohorts of young people, born between 1981 and 1983, and their corresponding educational attainments, poverty indicators, time away from school and school resources. Results using mixed-effects models show that the increase in educational attainment between cohorts is associated with reductions in conviction rates for most offences (burglary, theft, criminal damage and drug-related offences) but not for violent crime. Reductions in poverty are associated with decreasing conviction rates for violent crime, criminal damage and drug-related offences, whereas increasing unauthorized time away from school is associated with higher convictions rates for theft. The results are important, as they complement current empirical studies by looking at the impact of education on cohort-specific conviction rates over time and at the impact of education on different types of offences.”

Another: “Poor people make up the overwhelming majority of those behind bars as 53% of those in prison earned less than $10,000 per year before incarceration.”

Some statistics might suggest a group was dangerous, but probably not an entire race, but these statistics do not suggest that.

gooch's avatar

Should we be more afraid of Latinos or Asian people? Where are they grouped in the research? Are they considered white? Per Capita stats would be interesting. I don’t truly fear anyone but I am leery of all strangers. Actually most people are killed by someone they know so I guess this fear is irrational.

marinelife's avatar

@gooch Yes! If we go by statistics alone we should be mortally afraid of our loved ones!

chaosrob's avatar

@M My loved ones freak me out a little anyway, so this makes perfect sense.

marinelife's avatar

@cr Thanks for my daily Fluther chuckle. It was so fraught on here today, I wasn’t sure it was going to happen! Especially good for me since I fly back to Seattle tomorrow for another three-week stint of Mom care. She is now at home, weak but still imperious, my sister reports.

delirium's avatar

Ah, mom care. I know how that goes. I wish you much energy.

marinelife's avatar

@del Thanks, it has been simultaneously grueling and rewarding.

americanandfree's avatar

Be careful of whomever drives up next to you in Walmart in a van, sitting alone in a truck, better yet, don’t go out. I work in a prison more blacks than whites, definately. Drugs, guns and murder. Whites child molesters, murderers, etc. Bad seeds, maybe. Just beware criminals, I think have lost alot of pride and think if you work hard they are entitiled to a piece of it. Don’t live your life in fear, just beware. Put your faith in whatever you believe and love alot. Things will work out. Use common sense.

bea2345's avatar

Bear in mind, also that poor people and minority groups tend to be overrepresented in the criminal statistics. Poor people cannot always have the best lawyers and minorities, too often, are targets for prejudice. These statistics have to be taken with a grain of salt. Blacks are more likely to be arrested, convicted and jailed for violent crime than whites.

That being said, as a woman, and black, I regard all strangers, especially male, with reservations. There is no way I would enter an elevator at night or in a lonely building if the other passengers were male, never mind their colour.

Noel_S_Leitmotiv's avatar

No, It’s not irrational. The statistics speak for themselves.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

act from fiction, truth from diction. I for one do not see the question as racist, I think it is a question on a lot of people’s mind but they are too chicken to entertain because they are afraid if they did they would be seen as racist. It all comes down to facts or shall we say statistics. Statistics are not science when you factor the human element in there.

More Black people, men and women, end up in jail than other races, fact. Many Black people cannot afford private lawyers and have to rely on overworked P.D.s (public defenders), fact. Had they had private lawyers they might have been able to clear themselves like O.J. 1, and Robert Blake. Had it been a regular Black man in any of those kinds of situation, it would have been sayonara. More black people have to be arrested of more or convicted and thrown in lock up. So if you can control who gets arrested and tried it can influence how many people of a given group ended up in jail. To highlight an example for those who can’t follow using just the logic in Nazi Germany in 1932 the Nazi controlled who ended up in the death camps, and since they focused most on the Jews, no brainer, most in the death camps were Jew, for no other reason that the standing government had the power to arrest then and did. How many Black men were arrested just for being black, and or black in the wrong place at the wrong time? And since they are believed dangerous, easy to be seen as guilty? So the facts as they are may not be true pure facts, it is not like measuring rain fall you had no way to influence. That is how I see it.

It maybe less prejudice but certainly seems more irrational.

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