BREAKING: Our tendency toward single explanations!

MONDAY, APRIL 9, 2018

It's all anthropology now:
As we noted on Saturday, a new report has reported, for the ten millionth time, that black students are suspended from school, and otherwise disciplined, more often than their white counterparts.

Kevin Drum has offered a post about the new study.
More specifically, he ponders the cause, or the causes, of this "disciplinary divide:"
DRUM (4/9/18): So is this disciplinary divide a result of racism? It’s impossible to say. Hispanic students are underrepresented, which suggests something else might be at work. But again: you simply can’t draw any conclusions from this report aside from the fact that there is a difference—which we already knew—and that more detailed study is needed to determine the causes.
There's more, but that's the gist.

We note that, in that last sentence posted, Drum refers to possible "causes" (plural) of this phenomenon. That said, the opening sentence posted above may seem to suggest that racism could be the cause (singular), and of course that's always possible, since everything always is.

In comments, almost everyone began searching for the cause (singular) of the differential discipline. Anthropologically speaking, it seems that our remarkably weak human brains tend to work this way.

The differences in rates of discipline tend to be rather large. As someone who's actually worked in schools, we can think of many factors which could contribute to this, some of which have been mentioned by people in comments.

(One example: Black principals in all-black or largely-black schools may sometimes tend to be more inclined toward "discipline" than educators elsewhere, partly as a cultural factor, partly out of apparent necessity. There can be a lot of despair, unhappiness and anger in struggling neighborhoods and schools.)

We're talking about millions of students across a continental nation with vastly different racial/ethnic cultures, differences which have been created over hundreds of years of tortured human history. It's very unlikely that any one factor can explain the differences here, but that seems to be the way our swamp-evolved minds tend to work.

We humans are fairly good at building things. Our technologies tend to work fairly well, though they could always be more advanced.

We just aren't especially good at puzzling out conundrums. Especially at highly fraught times like these, this horrible anthropological fact tends to come to the fore.

We tend to look for the ideologically pleasing single cause. We rarely seem to appreciate how little we actually know.

Absent potent moral/intellectual leadership, we simply aren't an impressive species. (Source: Human history, all over the world.) At present, our "intellectual leadership" comes from corporate cable news and other such ludicrous sources.

28 comments:

  1. Bob Somerby, Saturday, April 7, 2018, discussing a Washington Post op-ed:
    "The editorial discusses a new study about public school suspensions. You haven't heard about this new study"

    And he said this: "You never hear about this at your favorite web sites"

    (http://dailyhowler.blogspot.com/2018/04/breaking-no-one-cares-about-any-of-this.html?m=1)

    Sorry, Bob. Kevin Drum said this in his post: "This GAO report was brought to my attention by German Lopez at Vox, " (https://www.vox.com/identities/2018/4/5/17199810/school-discipline-race-racism-gao)

    The Vox report appeared on April 5.

    Oops.

    ReplyDelete
  2. FBI Raids Trump Lawyer Michael Cohen’s Office, Home, And Hotel Room
    (https://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/fbi-raids-michael-cohen-office)

    According to The NY Times: "The F.B.I. on Monday raided the office of President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, seizing records related to several topics including payments to a pornographic-film actress."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Alan Dershowitz: "If FBI Raided Hillary's Attorney, ACLU Would be ‘Jumping Up and Down’"

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2jt4erlnIE

      Delete
    2. David, you treasonous bastard. If a President Clinton had asked Comey if he was loyal to her and fired him, she would already have been impeached. If a President Clinton had gone on twitter to attack the FBI and CIA and the "deep state" repeatedly, she would already have been impeached. I like these "if" games, you know shithead traitor.

      Delete
    3. Hey David, you treasonous bastard. Just a couple of days ago President Pussygrabber killed a person is his tower because he was too fucking cheap to install smoke detectors and sprinklers in the apartments. I am sure you approve.

      Delete
    4. Hey David, you treasonous bastard. If President Clinton had refused to disclose her tax returns, had blown off the emoluments clause by not putting his business in a blind trust and then had installed her daughter and son-in-law in important positions in the WH, both of whom cannot even pass a security clearance but yet were given access to top secret information daily, she would already have been impeached.

      If President Clinton had lied to the country repeatedly even a small fraction of the time President Pussygrabber had, she would already have been impeached.

      If a President Clinton had committed obstruction of justice in broad daylight repeatedly like President Pussygrabber had done, she would already have been impeached.

      If a President Clinton had signaled to persons in her organization who had already plead guilty to felonies that a pardon was waiting for them, just as President Pussygrabber had done, she would already have been impeached.

      I love these "if" games, you know what I mean shithead?

      Delete
    5. If Clinton had tried to govern left of center, she would already have been impeached.

      Delete
  3. Kevin Drum is essentially saying the same thing you're saying about the study, Bob. "Good for you, Kevin"...(which is what Somerby won't say).

    Not content to try to needle Drum despite agreeing with him, Somerby then proceeds to diss Drum's commenters: "In comments, almost everyone began searching for the cause (singular) of the differential discipline."

    Some did, some didn't. It wasn't "almost everyone." It's a discussion, Bob. Sometimes, people throw out extreme or provocative ideas to see where they land and how people will respond. Did you participate in the discussion over at Kevin's blog?
    One can only imagine the Somerby contribution: "You liberals are dumb, lazy, and immoral, and if you disagree with me, it's just your lizard brain talking."

    Interestingly, Bob Somerby puts forward a suggestion similar to Drum commenter William C:

    Somerby: "(One example: Black principals in all-black or largely-black schools may sometimes tend to be more inclined toward "discipline" than educators elsewhere, partly as a cultural factor, partly out of apparent necessity."

    William C: "black teachers/administrators traditionally are very strict disciplinarians, especially with black students. This chart shows that effect. A school with 75%-100% poverty is most likely all minority, and its got a great chance to be run by a black administrator."

    ReplyDelete
  4. Somerby projects despair onto the kids he taught. Oddly, there is often less despair among the people you think ought to be feeling it than one would imagine.

    I wish Somerby wouldn't keep calling his speculations "anthropology." He doesn't know what the word means and he is not doing anything like anthropology, especially when he expects certain people to necessarily feel certain ways based on his own ideas about them.

    As a teacher, he should have discovered this the first time he encountered a student delighted to have gotten a C on a paper or exam, when you expected despair over not getting an A. Or the first time he had a student in tears over a B+ because only an A is acceptable to him. Students react to their own lives in very different and often unpredictable ways.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Maybe one reason Black principals in all-black or largely-black schools sometimes tend to be more inclined toward "discipline" might be that Black principals know that discipline is in the best interests of the students.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe it would have been better for the country if President Pussygrabber had a black principal or two to kick the shit out of him a few times, he might not have grown up to be such a sociopathic sack of shit. I'm sure you would agree, Comrade.

      Delete
    2. The ol’ “Strict Daddy” approach. Give the naughty kids a surrogate father to teach them TANSTAAFL.
      Set them on the path to that shining city on the hill.

      Delete
    3. Which would you rather do -- excoriate conservatives or help black children?

      See https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/04/government-report-racial-bias-school-discipline-charge-unfounded/

      Delete
    4. You're not q conservative anymore, Comrade. You're a fucking radical as is your party. The party of extreme radicals. Look in the fucking mirror, traitor.

      Delete
    5. There is a special stupidity working when David assumes that his choices are mutually exclusive and then throws out a link from the bigots at the National Review - a rag that like David went from neverTrumpers to rabid fans - thinking he is being persuasive.

      A really special stupid.

      Delete
    6. "excoriate"?
      I'd rather bury Conservatives under 80 feet of concrete and steel. It'll make it way easier to solve our other problems, including helping black children.

      Delete
  6. "Absent potent moral/intellectual leadership, we simply aren't an impressive species."

    Whoa, Bob, 'leadership', eh? Now, that's what they call 'authoritarian mindset'. Tsk. Well, you always have the Pope, I suppose.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hopefully, no one remembers just this week, when the Russian bot called the President "Donny the Magnificent".

      Somebody needs to send "Mao" back to the coding room. One of his binary loops has gone haywire.

      Delete
    2. It ought to be disconnected.

      Delete
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