SATURDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2022
...by your tribe's most trusted tribunes? We're breaking an array of promises with today's brief posting.
We said that we would discuss this persistently puzzling "philosophical" question: What is time?
Beyond that, we still haven't made our way back to the best books of 2022—to the genres featured in the New York Times, to the genres which got disappeared.
Also, we never got back to what Karine Jeanne-Pierre said about the release of Brittney Griner. That said, and just this once, we're going to let you ask us about our award-winning plans for next week.
Next week, we plan to review a claim which is frequently advanced by blue tribe elites. When the familiar claim is advanced, we're told that the claim is justified by academic research.
We've examined the claim once before, when it was made in the Washington Post by columnist Michele Norris. In the past few weeks, we saw the claim in a different essay in the Post, then again in one of the year's most widely praised books.
The book in question is Under the Skin: The Hidden Toll of Racism on American Lives and on the Health of Our Nation.
The book, by Linda Villarosa, has been widely praised as one of the best of the year. The New York Times picked it as one of the year's ten best books, as you can see right here.
At this point, a quick bit of background:
We take it as obvious that this nation's brutal racial history has indeed taken a wide array of hidden and non-hidden tolls on the nation's health and general well-being. We have no idea how well the various specific claims in Villarosa's book stand up to full review.
We won't be reviewing Villarosa's widely praised book. Instead, we'll be reviewing one particular claim which appears in the book.
The claim is made quite commonly, as we'll note next week. The claim appears in truncated form on page 40 of Under the Skin. Here's the way the claim appeared in 2018, in an essay by Villarosa in the New York Times:
VILLAROSA (4/11/18): In 2016, a study by researchers at the University of Virginia examined why African-American patients receive inadequate treatment for pain not only compared with white patients but also relative to World Health Organization guidelines. The study found that white medical students and residents often believed incorrect and sometimes “fantastical” biological fallacies about racial differences in patients. For example, many thought, falsely, that blacks have less-sensitive nerve endings than whites, that black people’s blood coagulates more quickly and that black skin is thicker than white. For these assumptions, researchers blamed not individual prejudice but deeply ingrained unconscious stereotypes about people of color, as well as physicians’ difficulty in empathizing with patients whose experiences differ from their own.
That UVa study is frequently cited when this general topic is discussed. But did the study actually show that white medical students and residents "often believed such incorrect and sometimes 'fantastical' biological fallacies" as the three that passage specifically lists?
To cite just the first example, did the study actually show that "many [of those students and residents] thought, falsely, that blacks have less-sensitive nerve endings than whites?"
Indeed, did the study show that any of the students and residents believed that particular statement? We'll even go so far as to ask this:
Did the study show that any of the people surveyed believed any of those claims at all? (We're not sure the answer is yes.)
We'll ask those questions in service to a larger question. That larger question goes like this:
Can you believe the things you're told by your tribe's most trusted observers?
As the nation slides toward the sea—in this era of tribal warfare and widespread madness—we think that's a fairly good question to raise at the end of the year. Can you believe the factual claims to which you're exposed? Can you even put your faith in the people conducting academic research?
Villarosa's book has been widely praised. As far as we know, Villarosa and her book deserve the praise they've received.
Then again, we can't swear that various claims in the book are accurate. By the way, in case you missed it, this is the greatest film of all time:
Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles
In the realm of factual claims, in the realm of critical judgments, can you trust and believe the various things you're told by your own tribe's elites?
Can we trust our own elites? Inquiring minds rarely ask!