CLARITY ISN'T US: 72 percent of respondents agreed!


But what were they talking about? As we noted in Thursday's report, Jennifer Rubin was, as always, advancing preferred Storyline.

She was defining and denouncing the Others. The Others are racists, her preferred tribal messaging said.

Happy days were here again! In the Washington Post, Rubin's column started as shown, helpful headline included:

Just how racist is the MAGA movement? This survey measures it.

The connection between racism and the right-wing movement is apparent in a new poll from the Public Religion Research Institute. The survey asked respondents about 11 statements designed to probe views on racism. For example: “White Americans today are not responsible for discrimination against Black people in the past.” The pollsters then used their answers to quantify a “structural racism index,” which provides a general score from zero to 1 measuring a person’s attitudes on “white supremacy and racial inequality, the impact of discrimination on African American economic mobility, the treatment of African Americans in the criminal justice system, general perceptions of race, and whether racism is still significant problem today.” Higher scores indicate a more receptive attitude to racist beliefs.

The results shouldn’t surprise anyone paying attention to the MAGA crowd’s rhetoric and veneration of the Confederacy. “Among all Americans, the median value on the structural racism index is 0.45, near the center of the scale,” the poll found. “The median score on the structural racism index for Republicans is 0.67, compared with 0.45 for independents and 0.27 for Democrats.” Put differently, Republicans are much more likely to buy into the notion that Whites are victims.

Familiar days were here again! "The MAGA crowd" scored substantially higher on this "structural racism index" than our own tribe did! 

Briefly, let's be fair! According to Rubin's presentation, this didn't necessarily mean that members of "the MAGA crowd" were racists. It merely "indicated" that such people had "a more receptive attitude to racist beliefs!"

(A headline writer understood what Rubin meant. "The MAGA movement" is racist, the large bold headline said.)

"The MAGA movement," whoever that is, seems to be significantly "racist," the large bold headline had said. At present, our own blue tribe is devoted to advancing this message.

We push that message day and night, then start to push it again. 

Alas! According to top major anthropologists, two undying human traits were lurking in Rubin's column:

On the one hand, she was defining and demonizing Others, a basic human instinct. Also, she was speaking in strikingly fuzzy terms. Clarity wasn't her!

What shortcomings lurked in Rubin's latest? Briefly, let's count the ways:

For starters, who belongs to "the MAGA crowd?" Rubin never explicitly said, but based on her second paragraph, she seemed to be talking about "Republicans," full stop, when she offered this assessment.

More significantly, to what sorts of "racist beliefs" had these Others proven receptive? Incredibly, Rubin gave an example right there in paragraph one. 

Sad! In the survey which had shown how racist the Others actually are, respondents had been asked if they agreed with a string of eleven statements.

Rubin offered one example. The statement in question was this:

“White Americans today are not responsible for discrimination against Black people in the past.” 

In the survey, respondents had been asked if they agreed with that statement. Based upon the way they responded, the people conducting the survey could start to measure the extent of their racism!  

Briefly, might we be direct? It would be very hard to be much dumber than Rubin was in her opening paragraph. Consider the statement she featured.

How about it, friend? Do you believe that "white Americans today" are "responsible for discrimination against Black people in the past?" 

More to the point, do you even know what the statement in question means? What exactly would someone mean if he made that (rather fuzzy) statement? On its face, it would be hard to tell.

On Thursday, we imagined someone asking the question to which Rubin referred—and we went ahead and told you what the correct answer would be. As you may recall, that Q-and-A went like this:

QUESTION: Are White Americans living today responsible for discrimination against Black people in the past?

CORRECT ANSWER: I'm not sure what you mean.

That's the correct answer to that question. If any logicians still existed within our rapidly failing society, they'd quickly tell you that!

In the survey Rubin cited, respondents were asked if they agreed with this statement:

“White Americans today are not responsible for discrimination against Black people in the past.” 

Various people will hear that statement and think it means various things. Unless they're sharp enough to give the correct answer, they'll be responding to their idea of what the statement means. 

We'll be knee-deep in a type of Babel. But in the hands of people like Rubin, our mandatory tribal messaging will happily be advanced.

Rubin was very, very dumb to highlight that one statement from this survey. That said, the people conducting the survey were also remarkably flawed.

The survey came from the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), a well-intentioned human group. How hapless—but also, how tribal—is the PRRI? 

Consider their hapless report about their hapless survey. We'll start with this:

According to the RPPI report, 72 percent of respondents said they agreed with the statement Rubin quoted. 

At least, we think that's what the report says. The PRRI is so haplessly incompetent that, while they seem to provide that percentage, they never explicitly explain what the number means.

Nor do they provide a breakdown concerning the way different groups responded to that statement. How many Republicans said they agreed, compared to how many Democrats? 

The PRRI report doesn't provide that information, but of one thing you can feel quite sure:

Different people would have different ideas concerning what that fuzzy statement meant! In effect, respondents would be responding to a wide array of statements.

If we were willing to traffic in denunciation, it would be hard to have sufficient contempt for groups like the PRRI. Because we understand human limitation, we'll remind ourselves to respond as an anthropologist would:

We'll remember to assume that the PRRI was simply doing its best.

Concerning that survey—but also, concerning Rubin's column—the top experts have all told us this:

Our human brains are programmed for behavior like this. Our brains were built to create loathing of Others, thereby producing tribal solidarity.

This was once a survival skill. Today, it's a pathway to the latest of our endless human wars.

Our human brains were built to generate loathing of Others. Also, though, clarity simply isn't us! According to disconsolate future experts, our brains weren't assembled for that.

Next: Clarity isn't us! Blow on gerrymandering

Full disclosure: Nothing about this is going to change. It's all anthropology now!


  1. Somewhere along the line, Somerby loses track of the FACT that Rubin is reporting the results of a survey, not making statements herself about MAGA extremists. He also blames her for a headline that she most likely did not write.

    1. mh? As is typical with the Somerby haters' comments, this comment is inaccurate on both accounts:
      1) she very clearly endorses both the validity of the methodology and the accuracy of the inferences drawn by the people in charge of the survey (for example when she says, "It has long been understood that the MAGA movement is heavily dependent on White grievance and straight-up racism . . . Now, we have numbers to prove it.")
      2) Somerby is careful not to blame her for the headline: "According to Rubin's presentation, this didn't necessarily mean that members of "the MAGA crowd" were racists. It merely "indicated" that such people had "a more receptive attitude to racist beliefs!"
      (A headline writer understood what Rubin meant. "The MAGA movement" is racist, the large bold headline said.)"

    2. Somerby's methodological criticisms are not valid but are based on misunderstandings of how survey research is done. Rubin can draw whatever conclusions she likes in her Opinion piece, based on the study, as long as she doesn't misrepresent the findings, which she does not.

      Somerby is saying that the headline writer is mindreading Rubin. He doesn't allow that when it is Trump being mindread, but it is OK when it is Rubin, apparently.

    3. Hi, deliberately-misreading church lady. Your reply to my reply doesn't address the actual points I made. Nonetheless, Somerby's criticisms are perfectly "valid" in the sense that they are accurate and reasonable (that first survey question is ridiculous, give its LITERAL meaning). And Rubin can of course express any (fact-based) opinion she wants. I didn't say otherwise. I was pointing out the inaccuracy of the original commenter's statement that, "Rubin is reporting the results of a survey, not making statements herself about MAGA extremists."
      The use of "mindreading" here is a bit of an exaggeration. He's not talking about motives. He's talking about "script" and Rubin's overall message, which agrees with that script. Also, there are degrees of "mindreading." It is sometimes based on very weak evidence, and therefore the "mindreading" is much more speculative. That's not the case here.

    4. edit: "...given its LITERAL meaning"

    5. OK, Mike. You do not know what you are talking about any more than Somerby does, when it comes to methodological criticisms of studies. I do know what I am talking about because it was my job before I retired. You can stay ignorant and follow Somerby around or you can learn something. It is up to you.

      I am not any more religious than Somerby is, and I dislike being called Church Lady, which is an ad hominem and uncivil. So, I won't be answering any of your comments again. Splitting hairs is not the same as debating a topic and behaving like a jerk doesn't make you right about anything.

    6. "ad hominem" "uncivil" O.M.G. If that ain't the pot calling the kettle black. For YEARS, you have posted nothing but negative comments about every blog post Somerby makes, often misconstruing what he says, or nitpicking some minor point and blowing it out of proportion, or making ugly ad hominem insinuations about his sexuality, his alleged misogyny, racism, etc. You've implied that he writes what he writes because someone is paying him to write it. You've tried to put him down with nasty insults about his career and personal life. You've used different made-up identities, probably to make it seem like it wasn't just one person posting all of those Somerby-bashing comments. Basically, you've been trolling him. For YEARS. And now that someone is finally giving you a small taste of your own medicine, you cry foul. Give me a break.

    7. Why would anyone want to talk to you?

    8. Exactly, you have nothing to say to anyone.

    9. Apparently, I had quite a bit to say. Mostly substantive, with an occasional "church lady" thrown in for good measure.

  2. "For starters, who belongs to "the MAGA crowd?" Rubin never explicitly said, but based on her second paragraph, she seemed to be talking about "Republicans," full stop, when she offered this assessment."

    If you want to know who was included in which group for survey purposes, you follow the link and read what it says in the survey.

    It seems very silly for Somerby to complain when Republicans are considered the "MAGA Movement," since they pretty much all go along with it, and you won't find Democrats supporting it. The Republican party went full MAGA. But it may well be that Republicans self-identified on that question, since how else would survey takers know which category a person belonged to, other than by their stated beliefs?

    Somerby implies that Rubin herself classified those survey respondents, each and every one, lumping them into the MAGA category whether they wanted to be there or not. Why doesn't he tell us what the survey procedures were? He wishes to blame Rubin. All she did was turn their press release into a news report. She didn't conduct the study and she certainly didn't classify the respondents or define the criteria for inclusion in political categories. That's because SHE didn't conduct the study herself.

    Why does Somerby do this? Maybe this is why:

    "A conservative political commentator throughout most of her career, she became a vocal critic of President Donald Trump and in September 2020, she announced that she no longer identified as a conservative."

    That, and she is female and holds a job Somerby might have wished to hold himself, at one point in his life. And she graduated from UC Berkeley, an elite school, although he doesn't mention that part.

    Her article is behind a paywall, or I would track down the answers to this myself, as Somerby should have done before blaming Rubin for everything he dislikes about the survey, including that it identifies potential racism based on underlying attitudes about race and accurately describes MAGAts by their views.

    1. The survey methodology says that it only classified Republicans, not MAGA enthusiasts. There is no mention of MAGA at all in the questions or the analysis of results. The same questions were asked of different racial groups and different religious affiliations, with the intent of finding out attitudes toward confederate statues, and to determine whether those attitudes were part of religious or racial beliefs, as opposed to civic pride and patriotism.

      This is pretty important to interpreting the survey results. Why would Somerby ignore it? Rubin herself relates the overall Republican results back to MAGA, not vice versa (since the survey didn't ask about MAGA). Given that Republicans are more likely to endorse racist statements, it isn't surprising that the subset of Republicans who are also MAGA enthusiasts would be linked to support to the confederacy and its symbols. It is a fair conclusion.

      There is no basis for Somerby to suggest that there exists some large group of Republicans who are being maligned by being lumped in with MAGA supporters, when the Republican party still supports Trump and there has been no effort by Republicans to distance themselves from him. When the Republican Party disavows Trump, then he might have a point, but that isn't now.

      Meanwhile, the answers given by the self-identified Republicans who took this survey are showing the racist trend. It is fair to generalize from them to MAGA supporters, because they will certainly not be less racist than those Republicans, and because there are no longer many MAGAts among Independents, and there never were many among Democrats. Republicans own this measure of racism, and MAGAs are at the heart of the party, not some fringe group (like the John Birch Society used to be). Today, it could be argued that Q-Anon is a fringe group, but that isn't what Somerby is complaining about.

      I see nothing wrong with extending a result based on Republicans to MAGA. 42% of Republicans identify as MAGA. But the reasoning isn't from MAGA to Republicans, it is from Republicans to MAGA. As a group, Republicans are more likely to endorse racist beliefs. The MAGAs will be worse, not better on that measure -- but they were not tested as a separate group.

      Claiming that the subgroup of Republicans who support white supremacism and are most prevalent in the South, and most entwined with evangelical Christianity (which also endorsed more racist statements in this survey) will be less racist makes no sense at all. Somerby is arguing an untenable position by trying to exclude MAGAts from the survey's conclusions about Republicans as a group.

    2. Hi church lady! "If you want to know who was included in which group for survey purposes, you follow the link and read what it says in the survey." A responsible columnist should provide this info and not assume readers will have time and inclination to look up and read through the original source. This is especially true if her column isn't just online but in print, since the print version can't provide a simple link to follow, virtually guaranteeing that readers won't look up the original source.
      "Somerby implies that Rubin herself classified those survey respondents..." No. Somerby accurately points out that Rubin doesn't explicitly define "MAGA crowd" but implicitly equates them with Republicans.
      "Why does Somerby do this?" And here is where you go completely off the rails. Any honest, long-term reader knows why Somerby does this: because he's a political news critic. He points out inaccuracies, failures of logic, adherence to "script," and other shortcomings in political news. But because of your personal animus towards Somerby, you claim he engages in media criticism for "impure" reasons -- misogyny, envy, etc. This is baseless and ugly, and you if you were decent, you would stop it. Also, the misogyny thing is so stupid and so easily disproved, because he levels the same types of criticisms against male media media figures.

    3. For your own benefit, make a list of the white male media figures Somerby has criticized this year, and then list the black, female, and gay media figures he has criticized. You can apologize to me later.

    4. Lol. There are so many obvious faults with that line of reasoning, I can't list them all. Somerby clearly made a decision a few years ago that he would focus his efforts more on media figures on the left. There is obviously greater diversity on the left, so it wouldn't be surprising if the media figures he has criticized recently include a higher number of women, blacks, and gays. Before he narrowed his focus, he posted hundreds of times (maybe thousands) about Chris Matthews -- more than he's posted about Maddow! I also remember criticisms Tim Russert, David Brooks, and Chuck Todd. But the original accusation was about misogyny! Now he's racist and homophobic too?? You just can't help yourself, can you? The ugly, baseless insinuations just keep piling up. Btw, looking at just a very small number of recent blog posts, I see at least five white males being criticized: Biden, Trump, Tucker, DeSantis, and James McAuley. And of course he still frequently criticizes Lawrence O'Donnell and Joe Scarborough. I could go on, but I'm ending with this: even if he criticized women exclusively, so what? The real question is, are the criticisms valid -- are his claims accurate, is the reasoning sound, etc.? I would say most of the time, yes, they are, unless you want to deliberately misread his posts because you have an axe to grind.

    5. "Btw, looking at just a very small number of recent blog posts, I see at least five white males being criticized: Biden, Trump, Tucker, DeSantis, and James McAuley. "

      Only Tucker is a media figure, who Somerby also praises by saying that he says true things and has common sense, while also saying he is a poor lost boy. So I think you have proved my point.

    6. The fact that they are straight, white males and that Somerby nevertheless criticizes them proves my point that his criticisms aren't motivated by misogyny (or racism or homophobia). Not to mention the other things I pointed out. And btw, even a piece of shit like Carlson occasionally makes true statements and valid arguments. The fact that Somerby acknowledges this doesn't negate his criticisms of Carlson or prove anything about Somerby's political allegiances.

    7. He doesn’t actually criticize Carlson.

    8. Lol. You're incorrigible. That's why I love you, church lady.


  3. No, humyn brains are not "programmed for behavior like this", dear Bob. No, our brains definitely were not built "to create loathing".

    You need to get out more, dear. And watch/read things outside of your tribal hate-mongering propaganda.

  4. "Concerning that survey—but also, concerning Rubin's column—the top experts have all told us this:

    Our human brains are programmed for behavior like this. Our brains were built to create loathing of Others, thereby producing tribal solidarity."

    To date, Somerby has never cited or quoted any top expert who has said this. Somerby is making this up.

    Our brains were not built to create loathing of The Other (whoever they might be). That is contradicted by the bulk of human history (which shows that organized conflict started with agriculture, a recent event in human time). Our brains are built to affiliate with others. We are social creates who find comfort, safety and survival in groups. We are attuned to communicate with others and to form relationships with others. We form our identities by affiliating with others. If we did not do that, we would not have survived as individuals or as a species.

    It is not OK to make up a personal theory about humanity and pass it off as truth, referring to fictional "experts" who are never named, and then use those beliefs to justify attacks on others who have a better understanding of human behavior and reality than Somerby does. He is pulling this out of his ass, and that constitutes disinformation about humanity, to justify other sorts of disinformation, such as that MAGA Extremists are not also racist (more likely to endorse racist beliefs based on this survey), when they are.

    Somerby has the right to say what he wants on his own blog. We have the right to disagree, as long as comments are open. Somerby is making stuff up and trying to pass it off as supported by some form of expert. That is just plain lying.

  5. Give it up, Bob.
    The Republican Party today completely embraces racists.
    Even the old argument that it's "just for the votes" is getting harder and harder to rationalize.

    1. I want to castrate you. How old are you?

  6. The late Dennis Green had a fitting quote apt for the situation:
    "They are who we thought they were!"


    Here are the survey questions.

    You are a racist if you do not ascribe to the notion that the U.S. is endemically racist and that black people are victims of this endemic racism.

    You are a racist if you think that historical racial hurdles no longer exist or if you think they racial bias can be overcome.

    You are a racist if you are white and don’t like being told you’re a racist and don’t like affirmative action measures.

    The above beliefs make you a racist.

    Nothing having to do with a belief in inherent inferior or superior genetics traits as to race.

    If you do not FULLY ascribe to liberal sacred tenets on oppression and the fairness and efficacy of the remedies for it, you are a racist.

    That’s all it takes.

    1. There is no FULLY on the questionnaire. If you do not ascribe to these statements, that means you are more likely to endorse other racist beliefs. No one is calling people racists on the basis of this questionnaire. They are measuring the likelihood of holding racist beliefs (which are distinct from the beliefs in the survey and would include things like "black people are innately inferior to white people".

      So, your conclusion that "The above beliefs make you a racist." is mistaken and shows a misunderstanding of the purposes of the survey.

      racist -- definition: "a person who is prejudiced against or antagonistic toward people on the basis of their membership in a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized."

      None of the questions on this survey measure racism. They measure attitudes toward historical and current events concerning race. The survey correlates with attitudes about race that DO indicate racism (antagonism toward minorities). That means that if you are racist, you will also tend to answer the questions on this survey in a particular way.

      You and Somerby are both to quick to jump to "they are calling us all racists!" Rubin says that MAGAs are likely to hold racist attitudes on the basis of the way Republicans answered this survey, and that seems pretty justified to me. Rubin says: "Higher scores indicate a more receptive attitude to racist beliefs." That isn't the same as calling someone racist -- and note that she probably did not write the headline. Later she says: "Republicans are much more likely to buy into the notion that Whites are victims." Because there were questions about victimization on the survey, that is just a restatement of the findings of the study.

      This study was about attitudes toward confederate monuments. The connection between MAGA and support for confederate monuments is established by their own statements about them, not by this survey. This survey suggests that support for confederate monuments is stronger among those who are more likely to endorse racist beliefs (based on their willingness to answer this survey as they did).

    2. If I were going to measure who is a racist, I might use questions about behaviors, such as:

      1. Have you ever used the n-word in your thoughts or where no one could hear you say it?
      2. Have you ever used the n-word toward a person?
      3. Have you ever declined to hire someone because of their race?
      4. Have you ever decided not to use a toilet stall because it was just used by a person of a different race?
      5. Have you ever invited a member of another race to your home for dinner?
      6. Have you ever been on a date with a member of another race?
      7. Would you wear an article of clothing if it had just been handled by a member of another race?
      8. Have you ever requested a different doctor, nurse, dentist, or other service provider because of their race.
      9. Do you feel angry when you see black people being paid special attention for an accomplishment?
      10. Would you stop and help a black person who was having a problem on the street, such as packages dropped, looking for a lost object, crying?

      These sorts of things would be obvious indicators of antagonism, but it is also true that behavior can be predicted from attitudes and beliefs, which are less invasive and easier to measure.

      People do give themselves away in the things they say and do in everyday life. The idea that someone must burn a cross on a lawn in order to be called racist allows too much escape room for the people who would stand around and watch or even applaud such violence. The people who enable hostility and violence are as guilty as those who engage in it, and they too need to confront their own prejudice if they are to change.

      Somerby merely defends such miscreants. He wants such a limited definition of racist that all of the good, decent people who allow our society to privilege certain classes will go around thinking they have no blame when cumulative effects show that black kids are grades behind white kids, black people have way less net worth, black people die earlier and are less healthy than white people, and similar unequalities produced by an inequitable society. When everyone says "not me, I didn't do anything" then nothing will change for the better, because all those closet racists are also saying "we don't need to change a thing, our society isn't racist either."

    3. That's bad news for anyone who doesn't date, never has people over for dinner and sings Tupac songs to themselves.

    4. That's very Robin D'angelo. Having a person of another race over as a performative, virtue signaling act. Gross.

    5. That’s why there are 10 questions. Racially mixed couples are common in CA and no one thinks it is performative, including their kids. Thinking it must be performative is racist, in my opinion.

    6. Having a person of another race over for dinner is not a determinant of "who is racist" and who is not. Thinking that is is very Robin D'angelo. Meaning - bullying, naive, superficial and performative.

      Ask a black person if having a person of another race over for dinner is a determinant of "who is racist".

    7. Having someone over is not, but refusing to eat with someone is. Why do you think restaurants were segregated?

    8. Anonymices, who made the determination that it tends toward structural [a neat little qualifier] racism to not embrace the notion that Americans today are responsible or racism in the past? Or to not believe that white supremacy is a major problem today? Or to embrace the belief that racial minorities “over use” the charge of racism as an excuse?

      Who decided that these opinions tended towards a belief in the supremacy of one skin color over another skin color?

      People who think as anonymices did this.

      It’s self-referential thinking/political ideology dressed up as science. Dressed up in the assumption that not seeing current blacks as societal victims automatically moves you toward the KKK Grand Wizard.

      It’s sloppy thinking and it’s as self-serving as you can get.

    9. It's an easy way to paint one's political opponents as less than human.

      You haven't invited a black person over for dinner? Well, then you hate blacks according to a rule I just made up!


    10. "It’s sloppy thinking and it’s as self-serving as you can get."

      We've heard that the mental disorder known as 'superiority complex' may provide a reasonable explanation.

      To quote wikipedia, it's "a defense mechanism that develops over time to help a person cope with feelings of inferiority. Individuals with this complex typically come across as supercilious, haughty, and disdainful toward others. They may treat others in an imperious, overbearing, and even aggressive manner."

      Sound familiar?

    11. You might be a racist if the only racist act you can think of is burning a cross on someone's lawn or lynching them. Neither of those acts accounts for the differential outcomes for black people in our society and yet people such as Cecelia dismiss other concerns about racism as "performative" or arbitrary.

      Surveys such as this one are indicative of racism because they correlate with other measures of racism, including racist behavior. But, if Cecelia won't permit any behavior to serve as an indicator of racism, then she perhaps thinks racism cannot exist. This is Somerby's reasoning too. But we know that racism exists from the racist acts we read about in the news regularly, from the differential outcomes for minorities in our society, and from the experiences of minorities themselves. Denial of racism is not going to stop racism. It must be stopped by the people who commit racist acts, whether they agree that such acts are racially motivated or not.

      Whenever liberals complain about conservative behavior, the victimization stance (expressed by Mao) tries to turn the tables, but that changes nothing about the pernicious racist behavior of MAGA Extremists and Republicans like Cecelia.

      Denial of racism is part of racism.

    12. Anonymouse 11:43pm, you might be engaging in the ole reductio ad absurdum argument thingy when you say that what I said is the same as reasoning that nothing short of cross burning is indicative of racism.

      The anonymouse Oct 1st 12: 35pm, gave examples of questions that are better delineators of racism than the survey ones.

      Why such questions aren’t asked on the survey is because the purpose behind the study is to tar and feather anyone who doesn’t mouth tenets that focus on racism being a tore-up-from-the-floor-up problem that must generate particular public policy, rather than it being a human failing.

      Individuals don’t matter. The goal is to label groups of people as being racist because they don’t share a an opinion on society (complete with particular political policies) that you’ve turned into unassailable dogma.

      Someone said, “If we don’t think racism is structural, and that white supremacy is the foundation of our society, racism will never be addressed!”

      Yet another argument from absurdity.

    13. Alito doesn't like it when you call out his absurdities.

  8. When you are trying to find out what people think, you don't establish a priori "correct" answers.

    If they were developing this questionnaire and a bunch of pre-test subjects said "I don't know how to answer this," they would have revised the question.

    Somerby starts with the premise that researchers are all idiots and that they didn't pretest their survey. He has no idea of the work that goes into creating a scale before you use it for research purposes.

  9. "At least, we think that's what the report says. The PRRI is so haplessly incompetent that, while they seem to provide that percentage, they never explicitly explain what the number means.

    Nor do they provide a breakdown concerning the way different groups responded to that statement. How many Republicans said they agreed, compared to how many Democrats? "

    The entire questionnaire is the measurement tool, not any specific question in it. That is why the researchers do not break down single question answers by groups. They are using the entire body of questions as a single measurement tool for measuring whether someone is likely to endorse racist beliefs. One question alone doesn't do that.

    There are books written on how to create an instrument like the one used here. A lot of work is involved in making sure that the individual questions all measure the same thing and discriminate among respondents as intended. Tests must have internal validity, external validity and reliability, all measured statistically and meeting criteria for test evaluation. Somerby doesn't understand how any of that works, by his criticisms here.

    Somerby assumes that if he claims his questions haven't been answered to his satisfaction, then he gets to throw out the entire instrument and invalidate its findings. That isn't how things work either. He just sounds foolish and ignorant when he attempts this, as he has done several times here whenever a survey doesn't produce the response he likes. These researchers know what they are doing and Somerby does not. A reader can choose to disagree with a report's findings, but Somerby has not raised any valid methodological criticisms of it today.

  10. Saying "That question doesn't make sense to me, therefore the whole questionnaire is bunk" is about as valid as saying "I don't understand Einstein's explanations in his physics-made-simple book, so he must not understand his own theory of realitivity." Yes, Somerby did say that.

  11. When Bob starts with the notion that Rubin Op Ed (yes, this is the part of the paper where you go for opinions and writers tend to be given a wide birth on facts) is “scripted” whatever that means, you know that objectivity won’t really be attempted.
    Bob is careful not to deride her this time out as a “never Trumper” as he is as sad on that business as ( strutting as the touchy white guy from central casting) he has always been on the subject of race.

  12. How can Somerby argue that a question is poorly worded when 72% endorse it? That 72% of people obviously think they understand what it is saying, as do the people who disagree with it.

    1. I can explain. It's possible for a person, or group, to have thought they understood something without in fact understanding it.

      Given our current space-time configuration, an individual cannot be responsible for actions of others in the past (assuming 'the past' is prior to the individual's birth).

      A coherent notion of responsibility has to imply some circumstance under which an individual could have prevented, or altered, a given action.

      Since time travel to the past is not now possible, asking today whether white people are responsible for past discrimination against blacks is nonsensical. I happen to think the correct answer is 'no' since the question asks about an impossibility.

    2. There is no correct answer when you are sampling public attitudes.

    3. Spock(?) “I happen to think the correct answer is 'no' since the question asks about an impossibility.”

      Are you arguing for or against your own rebuttal?

      Somerby claims the correct answer is “I don’t know”, but then you argue that the correct answer is “no”, which is precisely what 72% of the respondents answered.

      Remember, the statement was “White Americans today are NOT responsible for discrimination against Black people in the past”, and according to the PRRI results, 37% completely agreed, and 35% mostly agreed. (

      (Note that the statement was worded in the negative).

    4. mh, you're quite right. Looks like I wasn't thinking logically.

  13. Straight white males are good decent people.

    1. Some are, but not Trump, Tucker, or DeSantis.

    2. "...and some (straight white males), i assume, are good people."

  14. “they never explicitly explain what the number means.”

    When you search the surveys, you get this result:

    “White Americans today are not responsible for discrimination against Black people in the past.

Agree Mostly
Agree Mostly
Disagree Completely
Disagree Skipped/Refused
    June 2022 37 35 17 9 3=100

    For the internet illiterate, do this:

    Go here:

    Then click on the 3 bars at the upper right hand corner of the page.

    You get a search screen.

    Click on “search survey questions” and then enter the word “discrimination” in the box, then search.

    The results that I am referring to are contained in the “June 2022 religion and inclusive spaces” survey.

  15. White Americans today are not responsible for discrimination against Black people in the past.

    What's that? I know that to be true, and am therefore a racist white supremacist?

    I don't care. And now I'm also "radicalized."


    1. "Radicalized"? Meh.

      Translated from Liberal "racist white supremacist" simply means "anyone who is not a card-carrying liberal".
      And this makes you one of the normal people, which is 80% of the population.

    2. It's a ridiculous concept outright. Like the idea that there is a Republican, in 2022, who isn't a bigot.
      Nonsense ideas like this are now being touted in our mainstream press.