Americans are bad at math

Black Entrepreneurs Matter

Human beings tend to be bad at putting numbers in proportion. A small number of people have a good intuitive understanding of numbers and probability, they are good at math. Most people however are bad at math and as a consequence are very easy to manipulate. An example is the overreaction to terrorism. The reason that happens is because terrorism is a very visual problem. Imagery mobilizes people, a tragedy needs a face for people to care. Consider something you never hear about in the news. The lockdowns are going to kill millions of people. The number of people facing hunger worldwide will double from 130 million to 265 million, because we have annihilated the global economy.

You might say that this was unavoidable, but it wasn’t. In Sweden, the economy actually grew by 0.1% in Q1. In the United States, the economy will shrink by 34% in Q2, according to Goldman Sachs. If you’re a typical person protesting in the street against the lockdown, be prepared to be faced with a stigma and hatred. “You’re spreading the virus by huddling together!” But you’re protesting against a man-made disaster that was completely unnecessary, a man-made disaster that is going to lead to millions of deaths.

So, how many people are protesting against this? Do black lives in Africa matter, or do you need to live within a first world nation to matter? Do you need to die from direct police violence, or does your death also matter when global supply lines on which you depend for your life have been shut down by governments?

Do you know what white supremacy looks like? If the white supremacists are stupid, it looks like a burning cross or a guy being choked on camera. If the white supremacists are smart, they kill millions of people in a manner through which genocide has historically been carried out: Artificial famines.

Nobody seems to want to pay attention to that. I’ll be the first to say that George Floyd was murdered, in the most horrific manner imaginable. But the people who did that will be going to jail, regardless of whether you protest or not. The people who triggered famines that will kill millions of people? They will receive promotions.

Please tell me: Who is rioting about this? Sometimes you hear a right-wing radio host mention briefly “oh yeah by the way the lockdowns are going to kill millions of people in Africa too”, but is this part of public debate? No, it isn’t. It’s merely one more argument, mentioned in passing by people capable of seeing how stupid these lockdowns are.

You might say that I am being intellectually insincere, I simply want to detract from the Black Lives Matter movement. I would disagree. I’ve tried for quite some time now, to get people to consider seriously how terribly black Africans are being screwed over by climate change. That stuff angers me, because it is ultimately being done in my name. I have gone to the protests, where we tried to get our government to take climate change seriously. Climate change is going to kill millions of people. Police brutality may be a problem that disproportionately affects young black men, but it’s not the defining issue of our generation.

The problem is, that middle class blonde girls in college don’t really start rioting. They don’t plunder stores, they don’t commit arson. They sit down in traffic and sing silly songs, so nobody listens to you. It became quite apparant to me, that this wasn’t going to change anything, because there was no real anger. There were just young blonde women, engaged in virtue signaling. The protests in America right now are a mix of two things: Young black men who are genuinely angry and young blonde women who enjoy virtue signaling. The thing that annoys me is that I know these rioters will be appeased because people are afraid of them, while those of us who peacefully protest are simply ignored.

There’s another thing I need to point out that people don’t like to hear. Why are young black men the predominant victims of police brutality? From Wikipedia: “According to the US Department of Justice, African Americans accounted for 52.5% of all homicide offenders from 1980 to 2008, with Whites 45.3% and “Other” 2.2%. The offending rate for African Americans was almost 8 times higher than Whites, and the victim rate 6 times higher.”

So, African Americans are eight times more likely to commit murder according to the US Department of Justice than white Americans. However, African Americans young men are just 2.5 times more likely to die from police brutality than young white men. If anything, this would suggest that the police don’t really discriminate. Studies tend to back that up, finding that police are hesitant to shoot black people in simulations.

You can’t really solve the problem of police brutality, if you never dare to ask the question of what causes police brutality. “The police is racist” Is not an answer, that merely moves the question to: Why is the police racist? One of the reasons the police mainly victimizes young black men, is because they spend a disproportionate amount of time interacting with young black men.

Let’s go back to the beginning. Black Lives Matter. Fair enough. What are the biggest causes of death for young black men? Police brutality? The answer is accidental deaths, followed by suicides, followed by homicide. Those deaths don’t really seem to matter to people. How often do you see people protesting against gun violence in American inner cities?

The real issue here of course is that police violence is a wedge issue. It’s a way to revolt against the power structure, while portraying yourself as the victim. It seems like the most dubious cause célèbre to go out onto the streets for. The problem is that nobody will point this out to people. If some guy shows up on TV and says “well, actually, the statistics show that…” He’s never going to recover from that. If you point out that this stuff doesn’t make sense from a statistical perspective, you’ll be perceived as racist, the biggest sin in the 21st century.

Another problem I have with this phenomenon is that people are very disingenuous. Consider this page, “mapping police violence“. “Police killed at least 104 unarmed people in 2015.” That’s outrageous! So then you start reading and you discover what the circumstances were:

A Hammond police officer killed Tiara, who was the mother of three of his children. The motive is suspected to be financial.

Umm, I’m pretty sure race was not the issue when the guy killed his own wife.

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer shot and killed her boyfriend Rayshaun, 30, in their Chula Vista apartment, telling police that she was defending herself and he had hit her. 

Again, that’s a family issue, it’s not exactly evidence of reinsurgent white supremacy when you kill your black boyfriend.

Christopher, 22,  was struck and killed by a police cruiser while crossing the street.  The cruiser was speeding on its way to a reported car crash. 

That’s a car accident.

Officers responded to a carjacking involving juvenile suspects. When the vehicle was pulled over and passengers got out of vehicle, Crawford was hit by the front end of an oncoming police vehicle, killing him.

That’s a car accident, during a carjacking.

Durham police received a call about an “armed suicidal male.” Authorities said they began firing at Biggs once he started walking toward the officers. He was carrying a toy gun.

That sounds like suicide by cop.

State police officers engaged in a high speed pursuit crashed and killed two pedestrians, Jason and Nuwnah.

Another accident.

And I could go on like this forever. If you make a list of unarmed black people killed by police and it’s a list of failed relationships, car accidents, suicidal men who point toy guns at police officers and heart attacks triggered by Tasers, it’s not exactly good evidence of institutionalized white supremacy. The other point I need to make here is that we don’t know the race of the offenders.

The problem I notice is that nobody on the left wants to challenge this. There’s nobody out there who is willing to put these issues into proportion to each other. Barack Obama isn’t going to say “guys, I know it’s tragic that George Floyd died, but it would be nice if you could focus your limited time for activism on the fact that my father’s homeland Kenya where most of my family lives is going to face famines of Biblical proportions in the decades ahead as the Earth starts getting warmer”.

Similarly, Justin Trudeau isn’t going to say “You know, it’s nice that gay people can marry now in our country, but let’s not forget that whether or not gay people can marry isn’t going to be what will determine how we’re going to live out our lives.” Left wing politicians don’t put different issues into proportion to each other. They just go with whatever is popular.

I want to propose Radagast’s rule:

When something bad happens to a minority group that faces discrimination and members of the minority group call it racist, people will be unwilling to argue that it’s not racist out of fear of being perceived as racist, even if the evidence shows that racism does not play a role.

The reason for that is a phenomenon known as Kafkatrapping. Kafkatrapping is when defending yourself against an accusation, is seen as evidence in favor of the accusation. Kafkatrapping is commonly seen around accusations of racism. When you try to argue that you’re not racist, it’s seen as evidence that you’re racist. Thus, it’s impossible to win and the only way to be left alone is with some teary-eyed apology video on Twitter.

I want to ask you a question: Let’s say sociologists start seriously studying police brutality. Their studies find that police don’t really discriminate against young black men. A scientific consensus emerges that the police is genuinely not racist. Will you hear this from Greta Thunberg? Will she say “Listen to the scientists, the police are not racist”? I’m afraid not. In fact, I don’t think anyone would care. You would hear about it on obscure conservative blogs every now and then, but American society won’t really internalize these findings.

What happens after the dust settles down

What happens after these riots are over? I think we all know what happens, it’s the same thing that happened to Detroit in the late 60’s. Riots break out. Middle-class white people who live near these riots are terrified. Who wants to raise children in an environment like that? The white people move to the suburbs, or they move to a different city. The black people who live there don’t really have the option to move. Low-skilled jobs are lost. What do small business do that were looted? They shut down. Local government tries to balance the budget by raising taxes, so anyone left in the neighborhood with any sort of assets leaves.

Then we have neighborhoods with high unemployment. People respond to this situation with robbery and drug dealing. This leads to gang violence. The police become afraid to do their job. Some of these police officers are incompetent, which will sometimes lead to innocent black men dying. People will respond to those deaths, by rioting again. Black men who simply want to live out their lives end up suffering a stigma, because of the rioters. The cycle will continue.

When people are irrational, they end up destroying their own society.


  1. I’m sure I don’t need to say most of this, but I will anyways.

    This whole All Cops Are Bastards thing strikes me as people desperate to believe in some sort of Bad Guy for whatever reason, most likely:
    -They’re conditioned by the media they consume that is designed to provide catharsis, and ambiguity mitigates that catharsis. It may seem condescending to figure that people could really have their worldview impacted like this, but consider the teenager that shot his mother for taking away his Xbox after he played Halo for 12+ hours per day–he didn’t actually figure that his mother would simply “respawn” having learned her lesson, but his immersion seemed to impact his grip on reality, likely due to effect on some other part of his brain, evident in how he seemed to respond to realizing the true gravity of having taken a life. Get too used to this kind of thing and it really can affect you; just look at the incessant comparisons to Harry Potter and Marvel properties that hip urbanites are making.
    -It’s the other way around and such media is so popular because people just can’t comprehend anything more complex. I was taken aback upon learning that numerous people had considered the character Christian from Midsommar to be some irredeemable asshole, and I have to wonder if some folks really are only able to see things in terms of heroes and villains.
    -They’re so existentially bored that they need to believe that they’re part of some grand struggle, and so parties that are conceivably in opposition are exaggerated and dehumanized so that people can feel like they are noble, that they are heroes (and of course, that they’re the underdogs so they can engage in narcissistic self-pity and deny their accountability).
    -It’s projection due to being on some level aware of just how restless, uncomfortable, and unfulfilled they feel but either not knowing what the real issue is and so pointing to something easy to notice, identify, and understand as something that would/should irk them and figuring that that must be it, or knowing on some level but simply denying it, and so externalizing it and growing angrier and pettier as victories may be made but the problem persists and grows worse.

    I think it should be fairly apparent that I ordered these diagnoses from least to most likely, which is why I’ve personally given up trying to own these people with facts and logic, considering that the argument you’ve disproved isn’t the one they were really making in the first place. All I can really do is try to help people I know on a personal level or try to diagnose the societal issues that are causing such huge-scale dissatisfaction and brainstorm on what could possibly be done regarding them.

    I would actually concede that it’s likely that officers do in fact act unfairly to black people to any degree, though. We both seem to have abandoned some of our rigid tradsperger’s beliefs that we’ve had in the past, but I feel it’s not unfair to maintain that humans have an inherent tribalistic nature and distrust of outsiders which could come through in times of duress, even among well-meaning cops. I doubt that there’s some sort of racist cabal behind the scenes, but I wouldn’t dismiss the idea that ultimately racist action does occur with some frequency.

    • >I would actually concede that it’s likely that officers do in fact act unfairly to black people to any degree, though.

      I actually agree with you, based on what I’ve heard anecdotally from black guys my age in the Netherlands when I was a teenager. They told me the kind of stories in a casual manner that made me think “wtf”. The thing is, none of this seems reflected in the American statistics.

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