Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Walter E. Williams is recycling a column he wrote about 4 years ago. I was out visiting my brother that thanksgiving weekend, and picked this story to write on (because it was kind of a no-brainer to comment on and I was on vacation). Here's a bit from this weeks column.
Imagine heading off to work, you open your front door, only to be greeted by a full-grown tiger. The uninteresting prediction is the average person would slam the door or otherwise seek safety.

Why they do so is more interesting. It's unlikely that person's decision is based on any detailed information held about that particular tiger. More likely his decision is based on tiger folklore or how he's seen other tigers behave. He prejudges, or stereotypes, that tiger.

If a person didn't pre-judge tigers, he would seek more information prior to his decision. He might attempt to pet the tiger, talk to him and seek safety only if the tiger responded in a menacing fashion. The average person wouldn't choose that path, surmising that the expected cost of getting more information about the tiger is greater than the expected benefit and concluding, "All I need to know is he's a tiger, and he's probably like the rest of them." By observing this person's behavior, there's no way one can say unambiguously whether the person likes or dislikes tigers.
Once again we have the embarrassing prospect of a black man shilling for racism. If you want to think blacks are more dangerous than whites, go right ahead. Apparently.

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