Monday, January 17, 2011

A very thin case for racism

An op-ed in the LA Times makes a very weak argument for racism. The black author recalls a conversation with her son years ago:

"Oh, I just noticed the last couple of times I was on BART, I could feel I was making several white women nervous when I sat near them."

"How do you know that?"

"I could just tell."

"I'm sure it's your imagination," I insisted. But deep down, I knew. I knew something had shifted, both in how the world viewed my son and in how he viewed himself. He couldn't put his finger on it, but he knew something was up.

Well, sorry to be a cynic, but the statement "I could just tell" is really unconvincing. Translated into honest English: I have no evidence whatsover and i really don't know what I'm saying is based on reality, but I just feel racism coming from those people. It is purely intuition, and biased intuition at that—a completely unfalsifiable and unprovable position. Unless the kid has psychic powers, he doesn't actually know what he's saying is true.

Here's my intuition: this op-ed was an utter waste of valuable space in a major newspaper's Sunday editorial section.

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