WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 4, 2023
Racists beneath every bed: In recent years, our blue tribe has developed a high-level skill. We've learned how to tag people as racist without being honest enough the use the actual term.
So it went when Professor Sabin described the shocking beliefs of the "white medical trainees" (the "white medical students") who participated in a widely-cited study at the University of Virginia.
Right at the very start of her essay about those white medical students, Sabin tagged the white students as racist without ever using the term.
As we noted yesterday, here's how her essay started:
SABIN (1/8/20): “Black people’s nerve endings are less sensitive than white people’s.” “Black people’s skin is thicker than white people’s.” “Black people’s blood coagulates more quickly than white people’s.”
These disturbing beliefs are not long-forgotten 19th-century relics. They are notions harbored by far too many medical students and residents as recently as 2016. In fact, half of trainees surveyed held one or more such false beliefs, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science. I find it shocking that 40% of first- and second-year medical students endorsed the belief that “black people’s skin is thicker than white people’s.”
Professor Sabin said she was shocked by the white students' false beliefs. She said that their disturbing beliefs about physiological racial differences almost seemed like long-forgotten 19th-century relics.
Everyone knows what's being said when our flailing tribe's excited tribunes offer such colorful statements. According to Professor Sabin, those (white) medical trainees had signed on to various disturbing racist beliefs.
In our view, Professor Sabin was rather selective in her description of the 2016 UVa study in question. We'll examine that question in more detail in tomorrow's report.
We think that Sabin did a poor job in her account of this UVa study. In fairness, though, we have to ask this:
Is it possible that Professor Sabin was justified in her obvious insinuation—in the insinuation that these so-called students, all of them white, had given voice to racist beliefs?
In fairness to Professor Sabin, let's consider one of the beliefs to which quite a few of these all-white students were reported to have agreed.
Below, you see the statement in question. Would a student have to be a snarling racist to endorse this badly racist claim?
"Blacks have denser, stronger bones than whites."
"Blacks have denser, stronger bones than whites!" That was one of the fifteen statements the unsuspecting medical students were asked to assess in the UVa study.
Quite a few of the students actually said that they agreed with this racist statement! It's easy to construct tribally pleasing denunciations of the type of young (white) person who would endorse such a claim. (References to Mandingo are strongly recommended.)
Our question goes like this:
If these whites would endorse a statement like that, why shouldn't we call them racists? One possible reason quickly appears—according to the authors of the UVa study, this was one of the four accurate statements the all-white medical students were asked to assess!
"Blacks have denser, stronger bones than whites?" According to the authors of the UVa study, that statement is actually accurate.
Is that statement actually true? Is it true that "black people" (presumably, on average) really do have (somewhat) denser, stronger bones than their "white" counterparts?
For ourselves, we don't have the slightest idea whether that statement is accurate. We'll guess that quite a few of those first-year (white) medical students were located in the same boat.
That said, the authors of this UVa study didn't give these unsuspecting, targeted whites the chance to say that they simply didn't know if the statement in question was true. As we noted in this report, participants were forced to choose among six possible reactions to each of the fifteen statements in question—and none of the possible answers involved the simple statement that the participants didn't know if the statement in question was accurate.
For ourselves, we'll now assume that the statement in question really is true (to some extent, on average). That said, we had no idea of any such fact before we examined the contents of the UVa study.
According to the authors of that study, fewer than 30% of the white medical students said they believed the accurate statement about stronger, denser bones. Again, their study gave respondents no way to say that they simply didn't know one way or the other.
In the face of this background information, our question today is this:
According to the authors of the UVa study, there actually are certain physical differences which obtain between blacks and whites, presumably on average. Having acknowledged that fact, won't you please riddle us this:
If bone density might differ (presumably on average, to some extent) between black and white people, why is it impossible to imagine that other physical characteristics may differ somewhat on average?
More specifically, why would a white medical student be assailed for not knowing whether some such difference obtained, on average, concerning the thickness of skin? Why are these (white) students assailed for holding disturbing, 19th-century beliefs if they simply didn't know whether the statement about skin was accurate, just like the statement about bones?
In fact, very few of the (white) medical students stand charged, within the study, with believing or endorsing the claim about thicker skin. According to the study's actual data, only 16 of the 222 medical trainees said they agreed with that statement—and given the peculiar way the study was designed, it isn't clear that any of these white trainees actually said they agreed.
We'll review that point tomorrow. For today, our point is simple:
It's ugly, stupid and self-defeating to behave in the way Professor Sabin did—to toss around her ugly insinuations about a bunch of (white) medical students, even as the professor displayed her own obvious moral brilliance.
After that, along came the Washington Post's Michele Norris—and she misread what Sabin had actually said.
As a result, Norris put a wildly inaccurate factual claim into the Washington Post. Apparently, she did this without fact-checking her (wildly inaccurate) claim by looking at the actual study's actual data.
Norris' editors didn't bother fact-checking her claim either. The claim was wildly inaccurate, but it was also tribally pleasing. The crazy claim went like this:
NORRIS (12/9/20): We are not just tussling with historical wrongs. A recent study of White medical students found that half believed that Black patients had a higher tolerance for pain and were more likely to prescribe inadequate medical treatment as a result.
"A recent study of White medical students found that half believed that Black patients had a higher tolerance for pain?"
That isn't what Professor Sabin actually said in the essay which Norris cited as her source. That doesn't even come close to what the actual data in the actual study actually show about the actual responses of the white medical students.
Meanwhile, the authors of the actual study placed so many thumbs on so many scales that there's no way to know if any of those (all white) medical students actually said that they agreed with the claim in question. Sadly but unmistakably, these are the gong-shows our blue tribe keeps choosing as we continue the pleasing behavior of spotting racists beneath every bed.
Ther woods are lovely, dark and deep. Quite routinely, our vastly self-impressed blue tribe is lazy and ugly and stupid.
We're also vastly self-defeating. Beyond that, understand this:
Sadly, no! You can't trust the various things your favorite reporters and journalists say. You can't trust your highly performative favorite professors, and you can't place your faith in their studies.
Tomorrow: Thumbs on scales in support of Storyline? Let's (try to) count the ways!