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Santa Cruz, California bans predictive policing in U.S. first (reuters.com)
836 points by rbanffy 10 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 603 comments





The problem with predictive policing is in the name. Inference (ML) predicts the future from the past. If the past is racist, then inference will create a racist future. Since racism is systemic[1], especially when it comes to policing, predictive policing is actively working against an anti-racist future.

There may be statistical ways to factor out systemic racism. There are two reasons I don't think that works:

1. I don't see how one evaluates the correctness of the process that controls for racism. What is ground truth for anti-racist policing?

2. These systems are likely snake oil and the vendors of these systems are (possibly inadvertently) profiting off racist policing. If cops arrest more black people per capita, then send the cops to black neighborhoods and have them follow black parolees. The system works (according to an objective function which maximizes arrests.) Remove racism and send the cops to white neighborhoods. Now the cops don't arrest as many people. The system fails. So I think it's likely that if you remove racist policing from predictive policing, you get the null hypothesis.

I'd be happy to hear a counterargument from someone who has actual statistics on this though.

[1] If you don't believe this, you're in the minority now: https://www.vox.com/2020/6/11/21286642/george-floyd-protests...


I agree that, in general, you're going to have biased training data (with a bias that's difficult to measure) and so inherently policing recommendations will be biased. This is particularly problematic when it comes to arrests for crimes that are inherently 'selective' in their enforcement. Eg; drug-related crimes, public intoxication, loitering, trespassing.

But the fact is... violent (fatal and nonfatal) crimes do happen at a much higher rate in poor neighborhoods. And black americans are calling the police at higher rates knowing full-well what that might imply [1](https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/hpnvv0812.pdf). Anecdotally, when I lived in south side Chicago, when speaking to residents (that did not live in a predominantly affluent area like Hyde Park) one of the key complaints was that there simply wasn't enough police to respond to violent incidents.

There's a worrying trend in the conversation these days that has shifted from "there's a serious problem with racism in how police go about their job" to "we need less police". Folks in neighborhoods living with the constant threat of gang violence don't have the luxury to sit in their aeron chairs and argue about defunding the police. They face the very real threat of themselves or their loved ones being shot on the streets and statistically not by police.


If we want to stop neighborhood gang violence in the long term, we need to work on why people join gangs, and what they are fighting over. We can't do that with police, who generally don't come into the situation until after it's too late and things have gone wrong.

But if most of our money is going to the police, then what resources are available to do the longer-term work on gangs and neighborhoods?

In software development terms (since this is HN), it would be like spending more and more money on QA and support because your products have so many problems. At some point a wise manager is going to say "wait, we should invest in better product development instead."

If you have infinite funding, you can do both. If you don't have infinite funding, you need to look at changing your allocation.


And what are the victims of violent crimes in those neighborhood do in the interim between the take resources from the already strained police departments and use them other for long-term measures? And I'm even assuming they even would have worthwhile results of course despite the premise that such programs would work is given in a matter of factly manner.

Put yourself in the shoes of an innocent PoC who's house just got robbed. Will not having cops available to your neighborhood to respond to the call make you feel more or less prejudiced against? Will they derive that much comfort in knowing that maybe, in one or two generations thing MIGHT be slightly less bad. And will the criminal elements, seeing the lowering in police response, not grow more bold and escalate?


People saying “defund the police” are not advocating the complete elimination of police forces; they’re advocating for the elimination of the 75-90% of things that police spend their time on that has zero or negative ROI for society. “Responding to legitimate crimes” is not one of those things.

Imagine arguing for a better world, instead of arguing about what your slogan means. You might be able to secure majority support for your policy proposal, instead of... checks YouGov poll again... 16% support, for the phrase "defund the police".

It’s also a nascent movement so it’s not surprising that many people don’t understand it. There are many successful policies that began with very low public support.

Yeah but the policy proposals spelled out earn actual majority support in polls, instead of tiny-minority support. It's a terrible self-defeating name/slogan.

I'm sorry but I find this kind of nitpicking in bad form. People are going out and taking action to bring attention to a problem in what is obviously the best way they can do so. If you have an idea about improving marketing, why not spend that energy helping/proposing something and volunteering?

Aside from that, I think there is more to consider than just what will appeal to public opinion; dry attempts to shift one’s words to match opinion polls is how many politicians lose elections by coming off as pandering. There is a sense of urgency and emotion in the original phrase that might be important in the broader picture and in the long term.


Except the areas that are dismantling their police forces. The expression means different things to different people

Could you be more specific, preferably with a link?

Minneapolis, for example. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/07/us/minneapolis-police-abo...

This solution urgently needs to be considered by San Francisco; the housing shortage will be immediately reversed and ASP will plummet, allowing POCs to populate the area, creating racial justice. https://www.zillow.com/minneapolis-mn/


But as the post above said:

> People saying “defund the police” are not advocating the complete elimination of police forces

And Minneapolis is absolutely not completely eliminating their police force.

Minneapolis council member Phillipe Cunningham said [1]:

> ”This isn't like, tomorrow we're not going to have a police department and we're going to have this huge gap," he said. "There will be intentional transition and investments and policies. I just want to make sure folks understand that there's not going to be suddenly no one to call when they need help.“

Councilman Jeremiah Ellison said [2]:

> “I don’t want there to be this confusion of just, that there’s going to be nobody doing anything, that there’s gonna be nobody solving murders. No,” Ellison said. “We’re going to absolutely make sure there are systems in place to address an active shooter situation, for example.”

In the link you just provided:

> Councilman Jeremiah Ellison, who represents North Minneapolis, said he would not frame what the Council was doing as defunding the police, but rather as “funding a different safety strategy.”

What concerns me is there are many people who are implying (if not outright saying) that people don’t want safety. And frankly that’s just silly. Every proposal I’ve seen has had community safety at its forefront. And a gradual shifting of funds towards alternatives to our (USians) current version of police does not mean that communities suddenly don’t value safety and stability.

Either way, Minneapolis is absolutely not going to eliminate their police departments, no matter how panicky certain news orgs try to make people. They’re going to actually, over time, dismantle their current clusterfuck which makes communities’ quality of life terrible, and actually implement real changes. What does this look like? We don’t know yet, but at least they’re doing more than empty platitudes. They readily say “We’re going to make mistakes along the way.” but at least they’re finally actually addressing the situation and willing to do the work.

[1] https://www.mprnews.org/story/2020/06/07/vetoproof-majority-...

[2] https://www.kare11.com/article/news/local/george-floyd/minne...


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZevgdbMIB0&feature=youtu.be...

This is from Obama's town hall on June 3rd. The speaker is on the city council in Minneapolis, which seems to be leading the charge on this issue.

*This isn't an example of an area that is actively dismantling their police force. But this person's view is that the target should be no police at all, not reduced police responsibilities.


Police should solve crime. Instead they are put in charge of everything that is not their job since there is no funding for mental health services, homeless, etc. etc.

Talking with police is interesting. I talked policing with a police officer who had worked in New Zealand, the UK and Australia. These are countries that are relatively close in culture and the differences in policing described by the officer were striking. A lot of this was in relation to what the police role was and how other services cooperated (or didn’t). It would be great to have a description of system differences from an officer who had worked in more systems.

Could you expand on that? I'm really curious about what the differences were.

One starting observation I'd venture is those countries (and Canada) base their policing on Peelian principles, which establish a basis of policing and the relationship with the public. The US police culture had different roots.

Edit: for reference, the list of principles that were issued to each new police officer in London from 1829 onward.

1. The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder

2. The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police actions

3. Police must secure the willing co-operation of the public in voluntary observance of the law to be able to secure and maintain the respect of the public

4. The degree of co-operation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force

5. Police seek and preserve public favour not by pandering to public opinion but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law

6. Police use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient

7. Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence

8. Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary

9. The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it

I find much wisdom there, and as I go down that list I find it hard not to think for each item of counter-anecdotes from the news about US policing in recent years.


The problem is that these principles work great in a homogeneous society where everyone has some kind of stake in the societal outcome. If you take people with a particular skin color and enslave them and otherwise systematically discriminate against them to varying degrees over the course of 400 years then these principles break down. It is going to take a long, long time -- probably multiple generations -- for American society to recover from 400 years of institutionalized racism.

The reality is that US police kill all races at shockingly high rates. Black people are killed at a higher rate, but they are a minority of those killed. The problem of the US police system is excessive use of force against all races, compounded by racism.

Take the UK for example. The UK also has a history of importing slaves, it also has minorities living in poor neighborhoods, it has a similar degree of income inequality as the US, but the rate at which UK police kill civilians is orders of magnitude lower. The UK has as many police killings in a quarter century as the US has in a month, despite having a fifth of the population.

The US police system’s approach seems to be to fight fire with fire, not prevent the fires in the first place. Hence the call to defund the police and invest in prevention. But I think defunding is only part, the police need to be retrained to prevent and deescalate, not to respond to all resistance with deadly force.


I think the problem starts long before the deadly force. It's not just the rate at which black people are killed, it's the rate at which they are harassed for minor offenses like jaywalking.

The below reddit link includes a video of a black man being cited for driving 65 in a 70 area, and it hits home.

He has been pulled over many times in the area so is cautious, but it turns out that is a problem too. https://www.reddit.com/r/videos/comments/h0xxva/comment/ftq6...


The UK isn’t a homogenous society like that and it also has hundreds of years of institutionalised racism to deal with. So I’m not sure that can be a reason why these principles wouldn’t work in the US.

Just to clarify: Canada could hardly be less homogenous and it works here. We call it a “cultural mosaic.” We even have a whole French province that demands special rules. We make it work... mostly alright. Our indigenous people’s are coming out of a few centuries of rough treatment though and there is a large and public reconciliation effort being made by the government and by many institutions. Hopefully the future will be better in that area

Dude you have it backwards because the police in the US historically functioned to support slavery.

I bet you didn’t intend it to be but your argument basically blames the victim, when it’s the oppressor who is guilty of a crime - not the oppressed.

It’s the fault of the oppressor for oppressing, that is the blocker to progress, not the response of the oppressed.

The police are what need to change because they were and are a core part of the problem.

Your other points may also have relevance, but are irrelevant until the root cause - which I describe above - is addressed.

If your point was that because of America’s history of racial violence and terror, we need to defund (as opposed to reform with Peelian principles) the police since they were a key component of that system, or something along those lines, then please forgive my mis-understanding :).


I have no idea how you could construe what I wrote as disagreeing with you.

It sounds like I misread it - my apologies.

The guy was quite down on his time in Australia, and the aggressive policing he was expected to do. He contrasted that with his time in the UK and (particularly) in NZ the role seemed to allow more tolerance and leeway and was described by him as 'progressive'. The NZ police aim seemed to be to get compliance without police charges or fines by engaging in a less combative manner. He described quite harsh measures taken for minor disruptive behaviour and property damage (eg graffiti) in Australia. He had a low opinion of the way children were managed in all three countries. Police had little option but to lock young kids in cells when found out and about late at night in NZ. He had previously had the ability to get social services in the UK could house a child for a night. This was theoretically available in NZ, but never was in practice. So when they found a kid out in the small hours, if they couldn't find their caregivers, the kid had to go to a cell. He was very down about this. I left with the distinct impression that in order of severity of policing (for want of a better term) it went from a relatively relaxed and easy going NZ to UK then a quite severe and punitive Australia. It would be interesting to know if this is borne out by others impressions/data.

Aside from a notable exception in the Australian Capital, it's worth noting that in Australia you have the Federal Police (AFP) which is responsible for policing federal offences, but the states are responsible for enactment and policing of most things that Americans would consider "everyday policing".

The main issue this represents in your story is that it's not correct for the most part to present an "Australian experience" of policing, as the laws and enforcement are state level matters (of which there are ~8). A level i think we're missing might be city-based law enforcement? Each state has its own laws, population, and police force. while it's true we're not going to have as much variation as say France vs Sierra Leone, policing in QLD/ACT/NSW/NT/VIC is liable to be fundamentally different. furthermore, we've got federal gun control, and in a federal welfare system that would almost look like a universal income to many American contexts (indeed, I recall one discussion I had recently with an online friend about where the UBI rates being discussed as impossible were effectively the ones our welfare system currently provides), notwithstanding the difference in practice between remote indigenous/rural/urban/ migrant law enforcement.

All this can make it somewhat frustrating drawing analogies between the American experience and the local one (and I'm not just talking about Americans drawing lessons from ours, I also mean Australians being influenced by portrayals of American law enforcement and issues in popular media/culture). I imagine that's just as frustrating as pretending that law enforcement is the same across a nation as diverse as America.


The officer had worked in Queensland, but I don’t know what branch or department. I hadn’t considered the various branches that they have. I also wouldn’t be considering his views (via me) as anything other than a possibly interesting anecdote.

So for those wanting to know a bit more context (I'm genuinely bemused that someone can get downvoted on HN for provided factual context that's relevant for comparing the various police systems, but whatever...), Queensland is a primarily tropical/humid-subtropical/semi-arid state marginally bigger than Alaska and ~three times the size of Texas. Its held to be "relatively conservative" (the most conservative by some, holding some 7 of the 10 most right-wing electorates in the country at last election) by Australian standards, and is weird from a demographics point of view because its a state (possibly the only one?) in Australia where the majority of the population lives outside of the metro capital city area, and from a politics point of view its remarkable because its the only unicameral state parliamentary system in the Australian federation.

The state had 32 years of unbroken rule by the national party of Australia, which ended, not coincidentally to the end of the rule or this topic, after an inquiry into police corruption at the end of the 80's. It is also no coincidence that the state was the founding site of Australia's one nation party. As you move further north you begin to have more isolation and contact with indigenous communities, but its also a diverse and complex state, hosting both the brisbane/gold-coast and cairns areas, hubs of tourism that ferment more "liberal-eco" attitudes in contrast to some of the rural/farming/conservative bents. There is a significant military/mining presence in the north, as well as a significant retiree community/attraction because of the climate/weather.

I'm trying to describe it as objectively as I can. Its also stunningly beautiful and I grew up there :P I'd joke and say to my american readers, it would be like using florida/texas/alabama/bahamas/california as representative of the practices of US policing, but that is an honestly terrible analogy.


Thanks for both of these comments.

NZ police hiring process is pretty selective. They encourage you to have a higher learning degree to fallback on if you get taken out physically. On top of that they select for personality traits and culture fit so they end up with quite a homogeneous group of people. (And no, that does not mean all white..)

My run ins with them are generally pretty decent, mj isnt legal in nz but if they catch you they're generally more annoyed youre not doing it at home. Because then they have to write you up.

Australian police are much more americanized, theyre far more interested in catching people out with sniffer dogs at train stations and the like. NZ you dont see this sort of thing because criminalizing drugs is well proven to be ineffective.

I would say the major difference is that nz cops arent armed by default. Their guns are locked in the boot of their car and takes some serious circumstances to get them drawn.

America it seems like all you need is a traffic stop at night.


I"ve lived in all 3 of those countries (although have never worked for the police). My experience is just as your friend describes.

The cops in Oz are truly awful! There was a recent scandal where cops were strip-searching teenage girls just for fun. Cops there will also spend more time fining people on bicycles that don't have a bell, than they would in any important crimes.

It differs a bit by state. Apparently NSW and Vic have it worst, although QLD is right up there. Of course in the nation's capital, Canberra, they have the soft ones.


The biggest reason why people join gangs is because they're there. It's a cultural problem above all else.

People like blaming it on poverty and lack of education funding and all kinds of other things. Yet compare former Soviet countries to the US. All of them spend less on education than the US does. Their populations are likely poorer than even the poor in the US. Their quality of life is lower, however, gangs aren't as big of an issue because they're not allowed to fester. The culture doesn't view gangs as something to aspire to. Being part of a gang isn't seen as "cool" by large groups of people nor is failing in education.

I do agree that a lack of education and subsequent opportunities is a large part of the problem, but it's probably not a lack of education funding that's causing it. Learning simply isn't considered "cool" by a lot of people. This puts them on a path with few opportunities, which leads to their kids having fewer opportunities.

What makes all of this even worse is that prisons in the US are breeding grounds for gangs. As long as things like that remain a part of society you won't be getting rid of gangs no matter how much money you throw at education.


While I acknowledge this (especially your last observation regarding the shameful state of U.S. prisons), and laugh at the ignorance of the claim that E.E. street gangs not having had easy access to firearms (they very much had, especially post-Yugoslav Wars), I still think that less policing has the potential to improve things.

Harsh policing would not change culture, even if it was done fairly, in the interest of community welfare. But U.S. policing is far from fair: U.S. police instill fear, rather than respect in the public, even in many moderately well-off areas that are free of street gangs. Legal and regulated prostitution, a definitive end to the drug war, would allow us to significantly defund the police, and pour those into efforts that could actually help. Moreover, this would decimate the revenue streams of many street gangs, which immediately reduces their "coolness factor".

There is some concern that most of the money freed up by this could end up poured into efforts that have a track record of not working. Alas, I think this is fairly likely, but it's no big loss: currently, all of that same money is being poured into different efforts that still definitely do not work. And if we get lucky, a fraction of the money may actually go to efforts that actually have a positive impact on cultural problems.


At least in Russia law enforcement and organized crime are fully integrated. People join police instead of gangs if the want to get into extortion and racket. When clans clash, you can see rooms full of money in a colonel’s house that would put a drug lord to shame. And prison culture might be getting less popular, but it still has a strong presence.

Ex soviet block street gangs dont have easy access to firearms. Yes real organized crime have all the cool toys but general street hustling punks not as much. Not so in the us

Street gangs are a problem in former Soviet states.

Here's some reading on them in Russia: https://www.londonmet.ac.uk/news/articles/svetlana-stephenso...


> The biggest reason why people join gangs is because they're there. It's a cultural problem above all else.

I'm going to challenge you to find a citation to back up this belief before you continue going through life believing it, because it's a dangerous one, rooted in ignorance, that causes racism.


> that causes racism. Elaborate?

to say that the reason people join gangs is cultural implies that it's a "bad culture" problem. the reality of why people join gangs is more complicated and includes overpolicing, economic deprivation, legacies of slavery and racism, and other factors. but if we say "it's just their culture" then we commit a fallacy that leads us to say "black people are doing this to themselves because of their bad qualities X,Y,Z", and we may also end up saying "black people are poor and disenfranchised for the same bad culture problems as lead them to form gangs". this is a classic fallacy, throughout human history, in which oppressed groups of people have their character impugned based on ignorant readings of the ways that they cope with and adapt to their situation, and thus are blamed for their own oppression

There is short term and long term crime prevention. Long term, you are absolutely, 100% right about how to decrease crime. In the short term though, it would be nice if my friends bikes would stop getting stolen and if aggressive drunk people on the local train couldn’t steal someone’s hat and then ask everyone on board “you gonna do something about it?” (neither are gang issues, I wanted to choose non-extreme but real examples).

Ideally we could spend 100% on the long term but that is impractical.


Why is the money given to the police the only allocation you are wanting to drain for this cause?

I don't think you can safely infer that absolute ("only") from the parent comment. Nevertheless...

1. Police are often a large percentage of a city budget, so if all city expenditures were decreased equally, it would inevitably look like the police were giving up more in absolute terms.

2. If the current solution to the problem is only more policing, then the only thing in the "solution to this problem" sub-budget that could be reduced is the police. In other words if X is the amount allocated to the problem and X is currently 100% police, it may be worth rebalancing X to a more diversified portfolio.


We can safely infer it because:

1. That's the only thing they suggested, and they framed it as either/or "If you have infinite funding, you can do both." (Implies we cant do both, because we obviously dont have infinite funding)

2. The overarching context of this conversation is about "defunding the police"

>If the current solution to the problem is only more policing

Is anyone seriously suggesting that? If so, its safe to discount these types of facile absolutist views ("we need more police to solve the problem" & "We need to eliminate the police to solve the problem")

Edit: I'd like to add thay I jusy reviewed my cities budget, and was surprised to see how large the law enforcement budget was compared to everything else. Thank you for bringing that to my attention.


Police spending is inadequately large because the threat of a police walk-out scares city governments than the threat of any other department striking.

Because budget is a tool for enforcing accountability when other tools have failed.

Most of our money doesn’t go to police. A search online reveals that in 2019 the US spent $300 billion on protection and security, which is police, fire department, and other related services. We spent $1.2 trillion on education.

> If we want to stop neighborhood gang violence in the long term, we need to work on why people join gangs, and what they are fighting over.

This may be utopian and fails the "perfect is the enemy of good" maxim. Meanwhile entire neighbourhoods if not cities (and sometimes entire countries) are anti-social, where the average resident has to suffer through a constant threat of violence.


What I think society needs is an rspec of government spending (I'm using rspec as it is clear, or should be, what that implies). Test driven government, in essence.

Society is varied across county, city, state and country lines, and we are in our infancy in understanding what policies work, when, where and why. Combine that with no overt expected outcome, i.e. do we expect this policy to have an absolute outcome (assert(absolute_wealth > X)) or if we want a comparative outcome (assert(relative_income > 0.77)), and we end up with arguments about spending that are judged by rhetoric rather than success or failure on what should be a knowable scale.

Being more overt in how society judges government spending, especially when the goal is a social good, gives us the best shot at spending more on effective interventions, and less on ineffective ones. I think it also helps mitigate the circus nature of politics, where politicians gain kudos simply for with their spending decisions, and are rarely held accountable to actual outcomes. Like TDD, it would by no means be a panacea, but it would be a step in the right direction.

While it true that a policy can be fantastic for society, but exacerbate inequalities (i.e. get better at extracted value from smart people), or be terrible for society but reduce inequality (just make sure everyone has nothing and job done), if we at least tested the policy along some overt lines, and threw out the very worst policies, I can't imagine social spending would have worse outcomes, if only until the loopholes are worked out.


Do we know in any definitive manner why people join gangs?

Relative safety and a lack of better options (perceived or real).

One of the reasons is: They can't trust the police to come out and take the people who cause trouble out.

Neighbourhood gangs, esp in chicago are territorial and they try to "protect the neighbourhoods." (I think they do cause more problems) This came up during the riots earlier this month. The police were stretched way too thin. Gangs did stop the looters and rioters from extending into their neighbourhoods. (Deeper within Logan Square and Little Village were an example)


why don’t they protect their neighborhoods from murder/drugs/fraud on a daily basis?

My thought is that they're like Uber they do the bare minimum enough to justify and recruit and then just do what they want.

Seems flimsy to me. I can't see how this would produce the type of funding for social programs and schools.

> There's a worrying trend in the conversation these days that has shifted from "there's a serious problem with racism in how police go about their job" to "we need less police".

The conversations aren't about less police, they're about defunding the police and putting that money to better use. If the police choose to reduce their numbers in order to afford riot gear, tear gas guns, armored personnel carriers, warrior training, and all the other BS well then there won't be armies of them assaulting the public.

> Folks in neighborhoods living with the constant threat of gang violence don't have the luxury to sit in their aeron chairs and argue about defunding the police. They face the very real threat of themselves or their loved ones being shot on the streets and statistically not by police.

Throwing police at the problem of gang violence hasn't solved it. It hasn't made the neighborhoods safer. If overwhelming violence quelled violence, why has the Taliban outlasted two first world armies back by trillions of dollars?


> Throwing police at the problem of gang violence hasn't solved it. It hasn't made the neighborhoods safer.

That is not true. We have solid data from New York during the Giuliani era and more recently Camden, NJ. Whether or not we agree with how they accomplished that is another matter.

For example in New York a massive increase in arrests for nonviolent crime and much more proactively policing in order to check for warrants etc.

The truth is that nothing works in isolation. In New York we also saw a migration of younger professionals back into the city which reduced crime by forcing out poorer residents via gentrification.

The reality is that in any nation with a high prevalence of gun ownership combined with a large portion of the population without enough to provide for themselves and often, due to criminal records, no other choice but to commit crimes to provide for themselves.


People keep referring to the NY Giuliani era, but I think it's time to read Freakonomics and discover the true reason of the crime decreasing and it was definitely NOT Guiiliani's master-skills in public administration. Whatever grace he ever had, he lost it when he showed the world his true colours recently.

Some of the reduction on crime may have come at the cost of racially biased stop and frisk.

This data shows 9 out of 10 people stopped were innocent. It also heavily showed that black and latino people were stopped much more frequently. https://www.nyclu.org/en/Stop-and-Frisk-data

I am glad that stop and frisk was ruled unconstitutional. https://civilrights.org/edfund/resource/nypds-infamous-stop-...


How stop and frisk was used in the Guiliani era was a lot different than the Bloomberg era. The practice went to court early on and was found constitutional. During Bloomberg’s stint it was expanded dramatically and that’s when it went back to court and was declared unlawful.

> The conversations aren't about less police, they're about defunding the police

cutting police budget = less police


If they're unwilling to stop buying expensive toys then yes the reduction will hit labor.

And that's not necessarily a bad thing if those dollars are invested in other types of emergency responders.


I think you make a good point about the need for law enforcement in high-crime areas, though I disagree strongly that the only solution to that problem is a police force as currently constituted in the US. I think it's worth pointing out that police often has abysmal clearance rates and response times and often do not provide effective relief from the real problems you outline.

However, what I wanted to raise was this:

> the fact is... violent (fatal and nonfatal) crimes do happen at a much higher rate in poor neighborhoods

I think this statement is worth examining.

We certainly know that poor neighborhoods contact the police more often and that the police arrest more people (and record more crimes) in poor neighborhoods. As I said above, I have ever reason to believe residents of poor neighborhoods suffer crimes more often and that each crime does proportionally greater damage to their lives.

I also think that, as people get access to more resources, they are reasons to believe they are less likely to contact the police in all circumstances. That, of course, is the other way to read the stats you linked about poor neighborhoods contacting police. Police clearance rates are often low and contacting the police rarely directly addresses the harm caused by a crime. Also, because we are most likely to be harmed by people in our social circles, wealthier people are more likely to be harmed by more powerful people. These are all reasons that wealthier victims of crimes might choose not to contact the police and generate statistics about them. It's difficult to point to data about what isn't recorded (of course), but I think the feminist movement has done some great work trying to document how under-reported rapes (and other sexual crimes) are.

I just want to encourage skepticism about the systems through which data is collected. Structural elements strongly bias the data that's collected and, if we're serious about changing the system, I think it's advantageous to be skeptical of every element of the system.


> > the fact is... violent (fatal and nonfatal) crimes do happen at a much higher rate in poor neighborhoods

> I think this statement is worth examining.

Are you trying to suggest that there are a large number of unreported, undiscovered murders in more affluent areas? Because that's one of the the kinds of violent crime that we're pretty sure happen disproportionately in poor or black communities. (you're more likely to be murdered if you're poor, and more likely to be murdered if you're black, with IIRC the richest 20% of blacks still being murdered more often than the poorest 20% of non-hispanic whites)


> Are you trying to suggest that there are a large number of unreported, undiscovered murders in more affluent areas?

No. I didn't mention murders - is there a reason you're focused on them?

I'm saying that the same forces the put poor communities of color at risk for crime also likely disrupt the collection of statistics in more wealthy & powerful communities. This is important because both sides of the ratio matter. I believe there's more crime in vulnerable communities and I believe that we likely over-estimate how much more. This generates statistics that support the over-policing of poor communities.


> No. I didn't mention murders - is there a reason you're focused on them?

I focused on murders because the grandparent DID mention them, and because murder rate is much less exposed to reporting bias than other crimes.


That makes sense, but that's also why I pulled out the absolutest statement about all violent crime.

I agree that murder is one of the crimes least likely to go unreported, but they are still subject to the same pressures (even if those pressures are less efficacious). I'd be interested to see, for instance, if the ratio of murders to missing people changes as you move up the socioeconomic ladder.


That's a ratio I'd also like to see.

But there's another ratio - violent crimes per murder. If there's 100 assaults for every murder in wealthy white communities, and 100 assaults for every murder in poor black communities, that ALSO tells us something.

Murders are harder to skew. That means that you should focus MORE on those statistics, not less.


I agree, but I don't think the answer is pull the police out of predominantly black neighborhoods, which seems to be the motivation for shutting this program down.

Better training, more black officers, more rules around the use of force seem like better options. Of course, I don't really know what the people in these neighborhoods want so I am open to some alternatives, but ranting about predictive policing doesn't seem to solve much unless the answer really is defund the police.


I believe in positive reinforcement. As far as I know there are already more black people in the police squads in black neighbourhoods, but it can't hurt to get more in, especially in exposed areas. I don't believe in responding to higher crime rates with less police, however. The only alternative to that, is vigilantism. That will only lead to people buying weapons for personal protection, which will again only lead to more violence... On top of that, the violence due to "self protection" often takes the form of pure vengeance, and thus it is far more often illegitimate. People claim that more guns make people more polite, but why are there also more violence in gang neighbourhoods then? From my own culture, blood vengeance was for a time a necessary part of life due to the complete lack of law enforcement. It doesn't mean that life was "better" in any shape or form in the viking age, however. Far from it! Nay, it was with the advent of well organized local militias and police forces that my society became safe.

I think the answer is to filter police who may have tendency to violence and racism out of the police force. There have been police who violate rights and the police departments keep them on even after the department or city pays huge settlements.

From my understanding police are able to leave departments and not necessarily have their complaint history follow them to new departments. So if they have racked up complaints then they could move to a new department and essentially have a clean record.


> I think the answer is to filter police who may have tendency to violence and racism out of the police force.

If this solution ended up filtering out most black police, would racism be more or less of a problem than it is now?


In the US, I believe the majority of states license law enforcement personnel so they couldn't easily move to another department.

From studies I’ve read it is noted that most of those calls could be handled by a social worker or other non-violent responder.

The problem is the police budget has dwarfed and subsumed all non-violent requests as well.


Not sure You can always separate out violent from non-violent events. The police are expected to deal with a whole community in a holistic way.

> No, you never can with absolutely certainty, the question is how you distribute the costs of uncertainty. Leading with paramilitary enforcers in nearly all situations has consequences that people are not happy with, hence the defund/dismantle/abolish movement.

> The police are expected to deal with a whole community in a holistic way.

Which they manifestly fail to do effectively, for structural reasons. A paramilitary force with minimal entry education requirements whose training disproportionately focuses on the proper use of force to secure compliance is not a good general purpose community response tool.


since when do they use paramilitary forces "in nearly all situations" ? I think you're jumping the gun a bit on that statement.

The problem is that supposedly non-violent situations can turn violent or threatening very quickly. So, all officers need to be trained in use of force.


> since when do they use paramilitary forces "in nearly all situations" ? I think you're jumping the gun a bit on that statement.

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/06/police-aca...

"The majority of law-enforcement academies in the United States are loosely modeled on military boot camps."

https://www.charleskochinstitute.org/issue-areas/criminal-ju...

"Over 8,000 law enforcement agencies have utilized the 1033 program to access more than $6 billion worth of military equipment such as night-vision goggles, machine guns, armored vehicles, bayonets, grenade launchers, and military aircraft ...

... One study found that use of paramilitary-style teams by law enforcement increased by more than 1,400 percent since 1980."

https://cjmasters.eku.edu/sites/cjmasters.eku.edu/files/21st...

---

Or, just apply your eyes and look at the photos of St. Louis police with sniper rifles trained on crowds of people during the Ferguson protests. One is here:

https://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2014/08/14/ferguson-and...


It's easy - when someone wants a well-check or reports mental health or substance abuse or maybe even rape, that should go to someone other than police.

Showing up with a gun to some events is guaranteed to make things worse.


A rape investigation should be done by a social worker? Are they trained criminal investigators? Is a social worker familiar with the rules of criminal evidence? The job of the police is to investigate crimes and present evidence to the DA.

For welfare checks or mental illness incidents, then of course a social worker or analogue could be a better choice. For investigating criminal acts, that’s specifically what police do.

If someone calls in a rape, what happens when the suspect is still there? Rape is a violent crime and showing up with a gun is absolutely appropriate. It’s ridiculous to suggest violent crimes should be investigated by people who aren’t trained in criminal investigation nor trained to deal with violent and dangerous suspects. Is the social worker going to carry handcuffs? Are they going to be trained in apprehending suspects? If so, then that means the social worker is now a cop.

Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water here.


It would be perfectly possible to have people who are trained to preserve evidence who are not also traditional police. E.g. a medical examiner of some kind. You want someone to work with traumatized victims delicately, and a uniformed cop with a sidearm is not the ideal presence in that case. I don't want to get into suspect present/absent/whatever; but this type of crime isn't necessarily done by a random stranger in every case.

This hypothetical trained medical examiner won't be wearing a uniform? Seems like a uniform might be a good idea.

As to a sidearm – if I'd just been raped, someone showing up to protect me with a sidearm sounds like just the ticket.

Not sure what you are saying about a suspect not being a random stranger, that doesn't seem particularly relevant to whether or not the suspect is still there.


The baby’s already been tossed my friend.

The police actually have a terrible record when it comes to handling the crime of rape.

They downplay it, deprioritize it, etc. Read about the massive backlog of rape kits.

Literally - rape crimes that are reported to the police, and that they deprioritize or ignore.

https://www.rainn.org/articles/addressing-rape-kit-backlog


I'd love to hear from the folks who downvoted this, so I could improve this comment. Because there's a lot of empirical evidence that police departments (and our court system, to be fair - it's a social issue) historically have not handled rape cases well.

So, I'm all for reasonable discussion and receiving feedback about what was unclear or counterproductive in what I said.

But, I encourage future readers to take silence as a sign that people really didn't have any facts or logic to back up their side of the argument ; ).

Even though that might be a bit unfair, since it's not as if everyone is on here all the time.

But I think it's important for technologists - scientists, engineers, etc - to embrace their role in society at large and the power we have.

And part of that involves discussing social issues, as frustrating as some of us might find discussing these non-quantifiable fields.

Hey, it can't be worse than having to talk about the latest hot new addition to the JS ecosystem ;)


I agree for the mental health checks that there should be someone trained in mental health present, but you also need police present just in case the mentally ill person because combative, funding shouldn't be reduced, perhaps it should be increased to train police in handling the mentally ill or the police force should have professionals on the clock.

Why does a victim of sexual assault need to report to someone who has a gun? Why does a wellness check need to be performed with a gun? Why does a standard highway patrolman or cop doing routine speed traps need a gun? Why does every cop in a school need a gun? Why is the gun the constant?

> Why does a standard highway patrolman or cop doing routine speed traps need a gun?

Because this is statistically the form of policing most likely to get cops shot.

> Why does every cop in a school need a gun?

A symptom of America's school shooting problem. When your child is being gunned down you'll probably wish the police there were armed.


Perhaps, but school resource officers have a poor track record of addressing school shootings.

School shootings where children are being gunned down are vanishingly rare.

In 2019, eight people were killed and 43 were injured in 25 school shooting incidents.

2018 was much worse with 37 kids killed in school shootings.

This is roughly the same as the number of unarmed black people shot and killed by police in the line of duty (at least this number has been trending downward for several years).


Do you have a source for the this?

Reporting of school shootings is notoriously unreliable:

https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2018/08/27/640323347/the-sch...


I agree, there's no standard definition. I grabbed the 8 / 43 number for 2019 here [1]. I see they have similar numebers as what I found for 2018 as well [2].

The 2018 numbers I was referencing was from this 10 year overview [3].

[1] - https://www.edweek.org/ew/section/multimedia/school-shooting...

[2] - https://www.edweek.org/ew/section/multimedia/school-shooting...

[3] - https://www.cnn.com/interactive/2019/07/us/ten-years-of-scho...


> Why does a standard highway patrolman or cop doing routine speed traps need a gun?

Because civilians have shot and killed police during traffic stops? And not just with guns. I seem to remember a road rage case in Colorado where the raging driver shot and killed another driver with a crossbow.


It's not clear how "there is a non-zero chance a motorist has a gun" leads to the conclusion that "all traffic enforcement must have a gun".

As someone from the Netherlands I can say there's a non-zero chance that a motorist has a gun. It's smaller than the US, but it's not zero. Still our cops carry guns. In the US the chances are way, way higher. I can understand that cops are armed there.

Because the cop showing up doesn't know before hand whether or not the motorist have a gun. There's a lot of other things they don't know. The person could be a drug/human trafficker, or have a warrant out for him. In which case, they are armed.

Domestic issues are often met with social workers where I'm from. They gain early detection and access, by registering and treating social issues such as poverty, health or mental related issues. A lot of people then have their lives changed for the better, so they never fall into crime. On a whole, this is good for society, since it gets the benefit of less crime and violence, and so society becomes safer. On top of that, our police is trained in peacefully settling most disputes, though they of course retain the monopoly on violence if need be.

Where is this wonderful place, and when can I move there?

It's Norway, though many European countries have similar policies. It's not cool to be met with social workers, though. It means you've basically failed at life.

> This is particularly problematic when it comes to arrests for crimes that are inherently 'selective' in their enforcement

All crimes are selective in enforcement; reporting, police response, and prosecution all, for all crimes, have both unintentional biases and deliberate prioritization and acts of discretion involved.

> There's a worrying trend in the conversation these days that has shifted from "there's a serious problem with racism in how police go about their job" to "we need less police".

Well, worrying to people who are invested in the biases of the present law enforcement structure, and who perceive it as working well for their interests.

> Folks in neighborhoods living with the constant threat of gang violence don't have the luxury to sit in their aeron chairs and argue about defunding the police.

And yet they are where the movement is strongest.

> They face the very real threat of themselves or their loved ones being shot on the streets and statistically not by police.

And, even then, the police don't care, don't help, further traumatize the victims when thet get involved in crime in those neighborhoods at all, and still drain resources that could be used to deal with the problems producing crime out of the community via their voracious appetite for funding.


It seems like you’re just making sweeping generalizations in an effort to do ideological battle.

I think people in crime-ridden areas are generally very interested in seeing greater police presence, not less. [1] Studies have shown a larger police presence results in lower arrest rates and lower use of force.

And in the vast majority of cases where police are called to a scene they do in fact care deeply, and help effectively.

I think it’s easy to get caught up in tempest and start blaming a large group for the actions of a small minority. I’m no expert, but my understanding is we’ve done decades of studies and had decades of progress toward reducing violent crime, and increased funding for police has been a main pillar of that effort. Obama’s efforts to provide billions of dollars of police funding, for example, saw decreases in crime rates for cities that received the funding versus increases in cities that missed out.

[1] - https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/2/13/18193661/h...


I question your assertion that police are necessary to reduce violent crime. I’m sharing one reason below. Another is that the police have an atrocious record when it comes to dealing with one of the most violent crimes short of murder, which is rape.

“The Crisis Management System: this network deploys teams of credible messengers who mediate conflicts on the street and connect high-risk individuals to services that can reduce the long-term risk of violence. In the last three years, the Crisis Management System has contributed to a 15 percent decline in shootings in the 17 highest violence precincts in New York City.”

https://www1.nyc.gov/site/peacenyc/interventions/crisis-mana...

I found the above cited in:

https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/how-the-police-coul...


Isn’t Chicago also where they discovered a police black site that had been operating for years? What’s the story here?

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/feb/24/chicago-poli...


It got shut down. It sounds bad but you have to remember how violent some of the areas get on the West and South side (Garflied Park W+E, and Engelwood are all within the top 5)

So the black site is somehow justified by the fact that there is crime in the area? This makes no sense. The black site is itself illegal and an example of lawlessness. How is an Abu Gharib clone helping solve the gamg problem? Did Abu Gharib really help out the efforts in Iraq?

Not justifying it. I'm suggesting that it came to be over a lack of resources and people tried to adapt to what they could do to solve the problem.

I don't know enough to advocate a solution in the "defund the police" debate and I agree that I don't have enough personal experience from my aeron chair (which, as you know, I was actually born in.)

But, excluding the less police argument, how is the prevalence of violent crime in low income African American neighborhoods a justification for predictive policing? Given the risk of propagating bias and a history of racist policing messing up the data, wouldn't it just be better to keep humans in charge? They've been disappointing recently but I still think they have potential.

Maybe it would be helpful if I put better links here. I didn't expect this comment to get so many responses and my link was a bit flippant. This research probably does a better job of explaining the position than I do.

Here's a Stanford survey from 2016 in Oakland that showed that African Americans are ~4.5x as likely to be stopped as whites despite representing a smaller percentage of the population, that they are 4x as likely to be handcuffed in a stop, 4x as likely to be searched in a stop and 2.5x as likely to be arrested in a stop (which is, as mentioned, 4.5x as likely to happen.): https://news.stanford.edu/2016/06/15/stanford-big-data-study...

I got interested in racist inference due to this Harvard paper that showed that google search ads were much more likely to suggest arrest records for African American names than white names: https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1301/1301.6822.pdf

I accepted that implicit bias is intrinsic and difficult to weed out when I heard about studies showing that resumes with African American names received much lower response rates than white names: https://cos.gatech.edu/facultyres/Diversity_Studies/Bertrand...

I remember reading somewhere that this effect even persisted with African American studies professors selecting grad students. I can't find that paper but this HBS article describes the phenomenon and discusses how the response rate effect is even present when the company claims to promote diversity within the application: https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/minorities-who-whiten-job-resumes...

I also advocate for learned epistemic helplessness (https://scienceforsustainability.org/wiki/Epistemic_Learned_...) even if I don't always practice it well. I'm only claiming to have knowledge in the small area of predicting bad behavior using machine learning. It's probably best to find a person of color with personal experience and a better knowledge of the literature for anything else. Of course, you already know that. I hope you're doing well!


[flagged]


What is horseshit? Nothing in your response is contrary to anything the person said that you're responding to

Yes it is man.

Quote which part was contrary

Original/parent comment for this conversation said:

> There's a worrying trend in the conversation these days that has shifted from "there's a serious problem with racism in how police go about their job" to "we need less police". Folks in neighborhoods living with the constant threat of gang violence don't have the luxury to sit in their aeron chairs and argue about defunding the police. They face the very real threat of themselves or their loved ones being shot on the streets and statistically not by police.

The contrary part:

> The threat of gang violence is not mitigated by police response. The threat of gang violence is mitigated by providing much better options for people who would otherwise join gangs. Police presence is immaterial to the lack of gangs in affluent neighborhoods.

Original comment basically said "police are important to protect against violence in neighborhoods where there's a lot of it. W/the implication that said violence is gang violence.

The response argued that if we want to decrease or eliminate gang violence, we have to address the root issue, which is basically criminal neglect of neighborhoods (lack of schools, hospitals, entire communities systematically oppressed, disenfranchised, and neglected, etc) b/c of systemic racism.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3698742/

'Conclusions. Relative “trauma deserts” with decreased access to immediate care were found in certain areas of Chicago and adversely affected mortality from GSWs. These results may inform decisions about trauma systems planning and funding.'

Where's the funding for hospitals where it's needed?

Or.

Let's look at the LA uprising (aka the LA riots). Let's look at Ferguson. Let's look at the riots in Baltimore. Those communities clearly had very strong feelings about the police.


[flagged]


So, you haven't provided _any_ citations or even vague references to Wikipedia articles, rather you just called their opinion FUD and left it at that. How am I, a 3rd-party observer of this thread, supposed to extract any value from such statements?

The person you were quoting did not provide rock-solid proof that having police helps reduce violence, but they did provide a citation showing that:

> Violence against persons in poor (51%) and low-income (50%) households was more likely to be reported to police than violence against persons in mid- (43%) and high-income (45%) households

from https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/hpnvv0812.pdf

So you could certainly argue that they are actually irrational to call the police and thus the higher rate is explained by them incorrectly thinking police would help them. But it's tricky to argue that with no data :)

Cheers


[flagged]


>What the fuck is calling the police going to do to prevent violence after a gang has done a drive by shooting?

To find the criminals that did that and put them in prison to prevent them from doing that again?


But the original argument is talking about worrying response times, not conviction rates!

Crimes often leave evidence of which much is time sensitive. Responding in a timely manner to crimes are often critical to finding the perpetrators.

how often?

[flagged]


We're all on the same side here. We all want more opportunity and more safety for everyone, especially those who have the least of either. Talking past one another and not reading the best intentions behind each comment hinders that shared goal.

This could be one of the reasons why

https://www.npr.org/2018/12/12/675359781/americas-growing-co...

https://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/national-politics/the-...

It will only get worse.

I wonder if AI and robotics will need to be used in the future assuming that the police shortage trend continues or gets even worse?


Or we could address the root problem behind the vast majority of crime; systemic poverty.

I'm not convinced that systemic poverty is the cause. Plenty of poorer counties and non urban, but just a poor, areas in the USA don't have these high violent crime rates.

Most of the poor countries you mention don't have an intentionally created underclass. The economic background and the tremendous intentional income/wealth inequality in the US adds a bit more complexity.

In most countries, you won't end up in jail because you make less than $X, the US penalizes being poor. The US jail population as a % of the world's total jailed population is a clear indicator.

Also its quite interesting that American whites commit crime at a higher rate than UK blacks. There is something systemic at work here.

It seems the few decades of gutting social safety nets compounded with the trend of shutting down schools to make funds available for policing and jail building created a pipeline directly to jail for the newly undereducated and poor. A pipeline with perverse incentives that helped corporations and the US government exploit almost free ($0.25/hr) domestic prison slave labor for weapons, defense, and general manufacturing.


That's a really really weird view if everyone is equally as poor people don't murder?


Poverty includes more than just household income. In particular, many of the comparative areas you mention provide: safe schools, libraries, extended family resources. Population density is also a huge driver of violent crime rates.

Of course poverty isn't the only factor. But it's a hugely important one.


higher household income would mean the households are worth more

aka more property taxes

aka more money for education and police to keep everybody safe


The point is that people construct these comparison classes which are poor but not impoverished. And then draw all sorts of faulty conclusions

how many children raised in poor neighborhoods by young single poor mothers should have been aborted?

Swing and a miss, overpolicing has nothing to do with violent crime. It has to do with nonviolent infractions that marginalize people to begin with. Being actually caught with illicit substances , or caught for the unpaid ticket.

These things are evenly distributed across society, but when overly targeting minorities it further marginalizes them.

Exhibit A) YOU might not be able to relate to people that routinely have a bag of coke on them, but a proportionate demographics of the population do.

Exhibit B) Silicon Valley openly brags about microdosing acid to perform at work at their half million $ jobs. Overpolicing would ensnare them if overpolicing existed in that demographic and then they would be ineligible for jobs the rest of their life. If you cant be subsidized by your family then you have actual crime to consider. Guess where you will live too.


> These things are evenly distributed across society

This is an unproven assertion. You should provide evidence of it, because on its face it is a completely ludicrous claim. Rates of illicit drug activity, violent crime, etc are _not_ evenly distributed in society. Not even close.

> Exhibit B) Silicon Valley openly brags about microdosing acid to perform at work at their half million $ jobs. Overpolicing would ensnare them if overpolicing existed in that demographic and then they would be ineligible for jobs the rest of their life. If you cant be subsidized by your family then you have actual crime to consider. Guess where you will live too.

Quite simply, the reason people that microdose are not getting thrown in jail is because they're not doing the other things that would lead to them getting discovered, i.e. engaging in crime or driving a car with significant (meaning, more than a person can safely swallow to avoid arrest) quantities of lsd.

---

Just incase you try to pin a belief-set on me, I oppose the war on drugs, no-knock raids, and even speeding tickets completely and would entirely abolish them if I were the BFDL.


Actually, black people use drugs at slightly lower rates than whites. This is common knowledge or should be. Here's 3 of the top 6 google links for "illicit drug use by race":

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2377408/

https://www.hamiltonproject.org/charts/rates_of_drug_use_and...

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S004723521...


We're talking about violent crime... drug prosecutions and other nonviolent crime are notorious for selective enforcement.

A bullet fired, a body, etc. are much harder to hide.


No. We're definitely not.

From the parent post:

> It has to do with nonviolent infractions that marginalize people to begin with. Being actually caught with illicit substances , or caught for the unpaid ticket.

> These things are evenly distributed across society, but when overly targeting minorities it further marginalizes them.


and my immediate reply to you was that its not about violent crime

It doesn't exist in isolation

There is no “culture that commits violent crime”

There is a marginalized population from overpolicing for nonviolent crimes

It cascades

It can be fixed by acknowledging this component


Yes it doesnt match your worldview, consider seeing if you can corroborate it. I know strange concept for you to find a source instead of hoping to pick apart the person that posted, but you might be surprised

But regarding the rebuttal to microdosing users, if they were getting randomly frisked and randomly tested and randomly stopped for “broken” taillights, because the algorithm said so, they would be getting caught and reinforcing the algorithm and human biases

This is what is happening disproportionately to some demographics that dont have inherently different behavior from other demographics


>Quite simply, the reason people that microdose are not getting thrown in jail is because they're not doing the other things that would lead to them getting discovered, i.e. engaging in crime or driving a car with significant (meaning, more than a person can safely swallow to avoid arrest) quantities of lsd.

Counterargument, it's well documented and studied that policies like "stop and frisk" and to some degree traffic enforcement disproportionately target minorities. Most of the people in SV "microdosing on LSD" are not.


>The problem with predictive policing is in the name. Inference (ML) predicts the future from the past. If the past is racist, then inference will create a racist future. Since racism is systemic[1], especially when it comes to policing, predictive policing is actively working against an anti-racist future.

One thing that constantly annoys me is that while people are becoming well aware of how racist our legal system is, but are still just as blind as ever to how sexist it is, despite the extent of sexism being greater than the extent of racism (the disparity of justice is greater for gender than for race). This in turn makes any speeches concerning how we need to make the system more just have a bit of a hollow ring to them much in the same way as when you hear a marriage equality speech from someone fighting for equality of interracial marriages while ignoring the discrimination same sex marriages face (granted, that happens far less than I remember 10 to 15 years ago).

For example, you can find many police departments that handle probation have a way to rating the risk level of offenders. People are fine with this system taking into account gender even as they fight to prevent it from using race. I was able to help with testing one such system once, and while the insides were a company secret we weren't allowed to see (which is worth an entire rant on its own), the general pattern was for all else but gender being constant, males received a higher risk rating than females. Very minor or very severe crimes would receive the same ratings but otherwise it seemed pretty clear cut on how it discriminated based on gender.

Even in this specific case, while they have banned some forms of predictive policing, I think it is safe to assume they'll still use other forms such as using gender when assessing the risk level of offenders and then using that risk level to either deny probation/parole or to set the level of probation/parole the offender receives.


Part of the problem with addressing Sexism in policing is that "women commit violent/dangerous crimes less often than men" is a less obviously wrong statement, since there are actually really clear biological differences between the sexes, and those biological differences influence both strength and propensity towards competitive/violent engagement.

I am 100% not trying to defend this; I agree with you that there's a problem. But I've never actually seen much research that demonstrates that there's a problem, even when there obviously is one.

For instance, women can't rape men and it is instead legally classed as "forced envelopment" or something, so there's... very, very clearly a disparity, but almost no one ever hears about it. I can't think of any reliable central archive of information that isn't vividly a "Men's Rights Activist" website that screams 90s conspiracy theorists.

EDIT: If you do know of any useful sources for spreading the idea, I'd love to hear about them.


>since there are actually really clear biological differences between the sexes, and those biological differences influence both strength and propensity towards competitive/violent engagement.

If someone tried to make the same argument about populations of individuals (I specifically use population instead of race due to how race is socially constructed from populations), would people even glance at the evidence before condemning them? At best you'll get those saying the results are tainted due to how society treats people and thus you cannot make any definite claims about biological differences, which would apply just as well to behavioral differences between males and females. Actually, I do often enough see such a claim applied to gender differences as well, though primarily when dealing with something where males appear to be perform better on some metric.

At the core it shows that people are not consistently applying the logic to these situations, which leaves one to question what standard they actually are using and if we are even able to have an honest conversation as long as they do not admit (or maybe even remain unaware) of the other standard.


While discontent with policing has bubbled up in the form of outrage over racist policing, I don’t see any obliviousness to gender at all—I mean I saw a sign just yesterday that read “bring our black men home”. It’s just very difficult, apparently, to express the nuances of systemic bigotry as expressed through policing in even something as short as a modern speech.

> Since racism is systemic[1]

> [1] If you don't believe this, you're in the minority now: https://www.vox.com/2020/6/11/21286642/george-floyd-protests....

This part was a little odd. It sounds like you're saying "because this belief is widely held by people, we should treat it as true"?

I definitely am in the minority, but I find a much more logically consistent view than the modern definition of systemic racism to actually be "there are systems of authority/control/oppression, which by their nature can be exploited by racists (or other groups) to advance their ends".

In other words - and I hope this isn't too off topic of a tangent - one of the primary goals of the BLM protest seems to be "racism is leading to excess death/imprisonment for black americans, so let's try to purge any traces of racism to eliminate these excess deaths". Which to me is missing the point: practices/systems like no-knock raids, the war on drugs, civil asset forfeiture, etc give police officers an excuse to be able to violently invade someone's home (no-knock), violate 4th amendment rights (war on drugs wrt "I smelled weed in your car"), criminalize behavior that happens to be broken along racial and class lines (non-violent drug usage/possession/distribution). In other words, the problem is not that there are racist people in the system, but that we have these systems that give racist individuals the perfect excuse to achieve their nefarious ends. That's because we've built a system that justifies and encourages oppression, and we can see that without having to introduce racee.

Anyway, I'm not hear to debunk "systemic racism" since like so many of the new-speak definitions/words, as soon as you try to debunk it people claim that you're using the wrong definition. But I do think it should be noted that when it comes to looking at actual research literature on, say, likelihood of being shot by police in a given encounter broken down by race, the "systemic racism" doesn't seem to be borne out in the data. Whereas we can make incredibly important societal change without needing to introduce the idea of systemic racism, simply by addressing the actual systems of oppression we have set up that give police officers the ability to randomly pull a citizen over and harass them since at any given moment each of us is violating a nonzero number of laws.


This struck me as well. Systemic racism means (to me) that if you took the people out of the system, you'd still get biased outcomes based on race. In my view, it's a different matter to say that a system produces biased results because it is designed to do so, rather than it is systemic because the people operating it make biased choices where their discretion is called on.

Are there actual, current examples of systemic racism where an entirely non-racist staff would still produce racially-based biased outcomes?


> Are there actual, current examples of systemic racism where an entirely non-racist staff would still produce racially-based biased outcomes?

If you removed all racists from the economy, black people as a demographic would still be at a huge disadvantage for a very long time (or forever?). The playing field might not level on it's own.

If a system starts out with biased functions and runs long enough so that the distribution of the state is biased, removing the biased functions doesn't necessarily guarantee the state will return back to an unbiased equilibrium.

Removing explicitly racist laws doesn't remove the biases embedded in the system from two hundred years of slavery and terrorism. There is a complex feedback loop of education, economics, and cultural attitudes that have locked the imbalances in.


Your idea of "justice" is based upon group membership, as unfortunately for many other people. I see absolutely no difference between a poor white person vs. a poor black person. Sure, there might be more poor black people, but so what? Do you seriously believe that rich white people would actively be trying to help poor white people and not poor black people? No, everybody wants riches for themselves, poor whites aren't given anything either.

This is what I tune out of the conversation whenever someone mentions "patriarchy" (the "modern" version, i.e. "men are in power" not "men own women") - I'm a man, but I've never received any benefit just because (most of) our presidents / businessmen are men (in fact, arguably (individual) women receive more benefits, because most of those men are heterosexuals).


I am a man and worked in fastfood during my studies.

I was offered a permanent contract immediatly after my first month, while there were also a lot of women with kids working there who had been on temp contracts for years. Probably because I could work at night; the mothers worked during schooltimes. Any time someone got pregnant, their contract was not renewed.

In this situation I had an advantage because of my gender. This was not because the business itself was specifically sexist, in fact almost all of management were women. Instead, the systems in place made it so that financially smart decisions negatively impacted women.


> Probably because I could work at night; the mothers worked during schooltimes.

I mean, sounds it literally wasn’t sexism, you were just a better worker.

Obviously, it’s a problem that society doesn’t value people having children. But that’s an orthogonal issue to sexism, I’m pretty sure that if a father couldn’t work nights, he’d be treated exactly the same. Ideally the society would subsidize people having kids, or businesses employing workers with kids, or something...


> I've never received any benefit

You have, it is just that these benefits are so ingrained in society that you didn't notice. That's what people mean when they talk about systemic issues.


the term “systemic racism”, to me, sounds like parts of the system are actively racist. your argument is true (black people are economically disadvantaged given history), but aren’t poor white people/latino people too?

how is a poor black person any worse off than a poor white person?


In many cases, I don't think you can separate "people" from "the system" because the system is a human construct in which human discretion is called upon repeatedly. For example, studies which show that young white children react more negatively to black faces compared to white faces - is this "the system"? Is is it "discretion"? I'm not sure you can differentiate the two.

It's also important to note that just because you fixed a racist practice, that doesn't immediately endow an underprivileged group with the full fruits of equality. For example, redlining may now be illegal in the United States, but middle class white Americans have been benefiting from nearly a hundred years' worth of wealth accumulation through housing that black Americans were locked out of. This is a good example of how the "system" produces racially-biased outcomes without any racist human input in the present day.


> This is a good example of how the "system" produces racially-biased outcomes without any racist human input in the present day.

What is the end goal here though? The most wealthy ethnicities in the US are Asian-Indians, Jewish and East-Asians. Is that also systemic racism (against Whites) and these groups should be knocked down?

https://www.wsj.com/articles/harvards-asian-quotas-repeat-an...


It seems like you're saying momentum is racist.

I'm not sure I understand what you're saying, but if your implication is that I'm saying "(legal) progress towards racial equality is racist", then I'm not really sure how you got that from my comment. My point is simply that you can have greater legal equality and yet things that happened in the past can still cause racist outcomes in the present (see my example).

> For example, redlining may now be illegal in the United States, but middle class white Americans have been benefiting from nearly a hundred years' worth of wealth accumulation through housing that black Americans were locked out of. This is a good example of how the "system" produces racially-biased outcomes without any racist human input in the present day.

I think this is describing how the system includes momentum, and you're saying that the system (momentum) is producing racially-biased outcomes _without_ racist input today. That's true in the strictest, most technical sense, but is this supposed to be a motivation for reparations or something?


I don't think it's just the "strictest, most technical" sense. It's a significant example of how "if you took the people out of the system, you'd still get biased outcomes based on race." (or, if you prefer, an example of where "an entirely non-racist staff would still produce racially-based biased outcomes")

Ok, I understand what you mean. Thanks for being considerate, I usually don't express my opinion in these discussions, hopefully I didn't come across very rudely.

This seems to fit with the charge that you are arguing momentum is racist. They were born in a poor household. That household is poorer than it would otherwise be because of racism in prior generations (but which no longer exists today) leading to a lack of inheritance among other things. This is your evidence of systemic racism.

Along those same lines I suppose we also suffer from systemic genocide, systemic famine, systemic war, and every other crappy thing that happened to people in history and were not somehow complete corrected for by a counter redistribution of wealth and status.


That is one piece of evidence of systemic racism.

The problem with your counterexample ("systemic famine"/"systemic war"/etc.) is that those are one-off events in the past, and thus they don't cumulatively add up and compound to create very unequal outcomes today. A more appropriate hypothetical would be that the last 400 years of one's ancestors all experienced genocide, war, or other similarly "crappy" things.


Focusing on one piece at a time is how we do logic. You need to defend the weakest link in your case. Or are you suggesting that the various pieces of systemic racism are not themselves racism, until aggregated together?

As for one-off events, it seems like just a matter of degree, not principle. Though surely genocide continue to have negative affects on the victimized group to this day.


Regardless of whether you think it's a "weak link", this isn't a logical proof where you can disprove one statement rendering the entire proof invalid. Rather, you have to disprove each piece of evidence for systemic racism in order to disprove it exists.

Your argument is mostly "whataboutism" - you point out that terrible things have happened to groups of people in the past and those things have inter-generational effects. Of course it's true.

That being said, of course it's a matter of degree, but at that point you're just arguing semantics. Driving your car at 25mph vs 125mph is only a difference of degree, and yet one is totally permissible and the other is incredibly dangerous and would land you with a big fine. The key point here is that speeding becomes increasingly more dangerous as you drive faster, to the point that exceeding speed limits by a given amount becomes reckless driving because you're much more likely to cause injury and/or death to yourself and others. In the same way, racist systems create a compounding disadvantage that is almost impossible to rectify simply by changing the laws to make them "colorblind" in the modern day.


I'd call it reductio ad absurdum personally, an application of your logic elsewhere to reach absurd conclusions. And the existence of inter-generational effects are the undisputed facts I started with, not the conclusions reached via your logic, which are that the existence of these effects support the charge of systemic war/famine/etc. Whether it's just semantics depends on what you think the supposed existence of these "systemic evils" requires morally.

Not really. You've said that because the difference between the intergenerational harm caused by "other crappy things" and 400 years' worth of racism is only quantitative, the intergenerational effects of "other crappy things" ought to be considered systemic. Your logic implies that because driving your car at 5mph and 100mph is only a quantitative difference, driving at 5mph ought to be considered "speeding." Or because the difference between heating cold water 1 degree and 100 degrees is only quantitative, cold water heated 1 degree ought to be considered "steam." Quantitative differences eventually become qualitative differences; that much should be trivially obvious.

Ah I missed that little gem. So genocide would be the safe slow driving extreme in this analogy?

There are plenty, such as the influence of religion and customs instilled by people in the past. Many people are assigned these cultural norms from childhood.

For example, the normalized Western image of something like a caucasian Jesus or a caucasian Santa Clause influences ways of thinking and who we see as our cultural betters.


Would you agree at some point this country was systemically racist?

Surely you would agree during slavery it was?

I'm going to assume you agree, so then can you explain when systemic racism ended? And what caused it to end? Can you also help me understand how you are so sure that the negative impact to Black people while this country was systematically racist does not still hurt people today?


The logic of your argument seems to be: "There was slavery, so there was systemic racism." Am I right? Then you extruded that argument into: "Because there was slavery, there is also systemic racism today." This is quite a leap, especially considering that slavery was ended on a particular date due to a civil war. Since then, several settlements has been made with racism (systemic or otherwise), some of the most important ones being during the 60's. These settlements have come both in the form of physical changes to the law, but also in the form of a change to the general zeitgeist and in the attitude of most people towards racism. What is happening today, however, is purely the widspread misunderstanding and politization of facts and statistics. On the whole, crime is going down, but if you look at this table from the FBI, the bias does in fact seem to be biased towards whites and not blacks.[1] What do you think about that?

[1]: FBI murder statistics by race from 2018, https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2018/crime-in-the-u.s.-... 2018 was the latest year I could find such data on.


No I'm asking for you to tell me when systemic racism ended in this country because the crux of your argument is that it has ended and the effects of it historically don't linger today. Can you explain the fact the net worth of a typical white family is $171,000 and the typical net worth of a Black family is $17,150? Are Black people in this country inherently predisposed to making less money or are there systemic reasons for that?

It's odd you continue to focus on crime statistics, something I haven't mentioned at all, as a way to push back on the narrative of systemic racism. For anyone who is Black or a person of color, we know first hand systemic racism is much more than that.

[1]: https://www.brookings.edu/blog/up-front/2020/02/27/examining...


> Can you explain the fact the net worth of a typical white family is $171,000 and the typical net worth of a Black family is $17,150?

how many young poor black mothers have children too early (16) with gang members who end up dying from gang violence? isn’t that a modern day common black narrative?

how is a poor white person any worse off than a poor black person? they have same access to all resources. it’s systemic poverty for poor people. it has nothing to do with blacks.

some blacks bootstrap themselves out and make it, most don’t. how broken is the system for those that make it out? not very.


>it’s systemic poverty for poor people. it has nothing to do with blacks.

This is a good point imo. Are they poor because they're black or because their family was poor before them?

I agree people put too much emphasis on more visible bias (ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation) and blame a lot of things which arguably may have originated from these bias, but are furthered by other factors (e.g. slow social mobility - all bias accounted for).


[flagged]


We've banned this account for propagating race war and other flamewar on HN. You can't do that here.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


you have to adjust those FBI stats for the fact that black people are 13% of the US population

I agree that per capita numbers always tell a more accurate story. Anyway here's a great resource to make those adjustments: https://data.census.gov/cedsci/table?d=ACS%205-Year%20Estima...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think the person you're responding to is in opposition to you.

Maybe I'm wrong but wouldn't their interpretation of chattel slavery in America be that it wasn't the beginning of systemic racism in this country, but purely oppressive system that was exploited by racists? It seems like an odd distinction to make even if I agree that there exists systematic oppression against many groups in addition to systemic racism.

>In other words, the problem is not that there are racist people in the system, but that we have these systems that give racist individuals the perfect excuse to achieve their nefarious ends.

Even this just doesn't fully explain away systemic oppression that impacts people on a day-to-day basic like Black people not getting job interviews due to their name sounding Black or job offers because the interviewers have unconscious bias.


> Even this just doesn't fully explain away systemic oppression that impacts people on a day-to-day basic like Black people not getting job interviews due to their name sounding Black or job offers because the interviewers have unconscious bias.

In this scenario, is it not the racist individual (the interviewer) impacting minority success, rather than the system itself?

(I take no position here as to the existence of systemic racism. I'm just not certain the example you have brought supports your argument.)


good question. The individual is racist, but he/she is probably just racist in the same way that almost everyone is: the society that they grew up in created associations in his nervous system that black people are more likely to be incompetent, unprofessional, untrustworthy, or whatever. Furthermore, the individual may be conditioned by society to believe that certain innocuous elements of black culture or mannerisms somehow indicate an inferiority - they may consider black speech mannerisms as a sign of lower intelligence, or they may consider black styles of hair to be unprofessional. These are all part of a cultural system that stigmatizes blackness and black people. It's not the same kind of systemic racism as racist rules/bureaucracy, but it's still part of a system of racist beliefs and customs.

> behavior that happens to be broken along racial and class lines

A huge coincidence.


There's a fundamental tension between generating equitable outcomes and using race-agnostic decision-making processes. This is true for racial policy in general, not just policing - for instance, university admissions has to choose between admitting an unfairly large number of Asians on the one hand, and penalizing Asian applicants merely for being Asian on the other.

If generating a racially fair predictive policing algorithm was merely a question of optimizing for one of these desiderata, it'd be possible in principle. You either ensure that the appropriate racial ratios pop out for the neighborhoods to patrol, or you ensure that racial information and their proxies aren't used in the algorithm. If any algorithm is unacceptable unless it does both, well, you're probably going to be disappointed.


What is the claim when data is said to include systemic racism and bias? Is it that race data does indeed predict higher crime but that biased policing causes the crime rate to be misreported as higher because police only focus their attention on certain areas? Is it that police actually cause crime due to racist beliefs so that they must in some way entice crimes to be committed? Is it that crimes are equal between races but they go under-reported in some areas and over-reported in others due to systemic racism? Some or all of the above? What would controlling for racism involve doing?

For myriad of reasons, we know clearly that controlling for no other factors, crime is higher among black populations. So to extrapolate that any one person is more likely to commit a crime because they are black is the definition of racism.

It is not ok to assume that someone might be more likely guilty or more likely to commit a crime based on the color of their skin. Even if you had perfect historical data. It's just not acceptable ethically, morally, whatsoever. And the very idea by some that it is ok, as long as your stereotypes are backed by accurate data, perpetuates racial oppression and creates a self fulfilling prophecy.


>For myriad of reasons, we know clearly that controlling for no other factors, crime is higher among black populations. So to extrapolate that any one person is more likely to commit a crime because they are black is the definition of racism.

What about controlling for poverty? That seems to be largely ignored in this discussion, even though it was a central tenent of Dr. Kings mission before he was assassinated.

"We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-oriented" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered"


It's not left out. It's well studied. It's not the only factor, but one of the big ones. The problem is, median black net worth is one-tenth that of median white net-worth. Why is that? You can come up with a bunch of near and intermediate causes, but they will all mostly boil down to systemic racism both past and present.

More specifically, government housing is only available in dense urban environments. As is public transportation and services within walking distance. The black population is much less likely to have any generational wealth (like a home or even an old car passed down to them) obviously due to historic racism. Then pile on the fact that urban areas are more heavily policed and the fact that over-policing seriously hinders economic prosperity, then you have a textbook definition of a vicious cycle.


I agree, at face value it seems obvious that wealth disparities among black americans are attributable to the history of slavery and segregation.

What I'm perplexed about though is this: if systemic racism is the default primary explanation for wealth disparities, how can we explain the even greater wealth disparities of Indian, Asian, and Jewish Americans compared to all other ethnic groups in the US?

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ethnic_groups_in_the...

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wealth_and_religion


>So to extrapolate that any one person is more likely to commit a crime because they are black is the definition of racism.

But it's true, a black individual is on average more likely to commit a crime. How can recognizing an obvious fact be racism? Aren't you also racist for recognizing that crime is higher among black populations? It's racist to treat a black individual as if they have committed a crime or treat them differently because of it, not to recognize that a black individual is on average more likely to commit a crime. I don't understand how you would come to that conclusion.


>But it's true, a black individual is on average more likely to commit a crime.

More likely to be convicted of a crime. That's a subtle but very important distinction.


Yes, but we only have evidence to believe that black people do on average commit more crime because they are convicted of more crime. The theory is that blacks commit the same or less crime but only convicted of it because of some type of predatory policing, but that is only a theory and there is no widespread studies or statistics to support this theory. It may well be true, but until there is proof we cannot assume that it is not the case.

I do appreciate the correction and it is an important distinction.


Recognizing the fact isn't racist (although one should qualify those facts with all the many factors not taken into account, like how much more likely a white person is to get away with the same crime). But acting on that data is definitely racist. It is punishing innocent people because other people that have a similar skin color have committed crimes.

>Recognizing the fact isn't racist

Apparently it is, because all the other replies are gobsmacked that I even mentioned this. We're not discussing observations and observable facts anymore, we are creating a world where a certain side is right no matter what and straight statistics are false in they do not support that side. It doesn't even matter that I stated that treating individuals based on their race is immoral, there is no complexity or further discussion, even if that complexity and further discussion could actually be beneficial to solving problems the black community is facing.


>But acting on that data is definitely racist.

Why is it racism? Racism is "unfounded belief based on race". A belief based in data does not sound like either racism or discrimination to me.

Of course assuming someone is guilty because he's statically more likely to commit a crime is wrong. There was a movie about this line of thinking [1] if you're interested, which is the extreme of predictive policing. I still think there are non-discriminatory ways to use predictive policing though.

[1] Minority report by Steven Spielberg in 2002


You missed the "controlling for no other factors" qualifier.

> But it's true, a black individual is on average more likely to commit a crime.

What? Wasn't even sure whether to dignify this comment with a response yet here I am.


I think you missed it the central point of the parent commenter. Take for instance, the fact that men commit the overwhelming majority of violent crime:

* Is it sexist to conclude that someone is a violent criminal just because they're a man? Yes.

* Is it sexist to say that a model predicting that men will commit 90% of violent crime isn't biased, with the reasoning that men on average commit way more violence than women? No.


These systems are mostly pointless. If you really want to stop crimes, you have to get involved with the community and understand why they are happening.

I think preventative measures to reduce community crime levels are not a bad idea. It just sounds very inappropriate if it was the police department doing it, especially if the community has fear and antagonism towards the police. If these were social workers knocking on doors and showing people how they can improve their lives by new education opportunities etc this would be much less problematic to me.

Is reality racist or just the data used to describe it? If the latter, I see no issue with your argument. If the former, I think we need be careful about legislating reality ( mostly because it doesn't work ).

What if it is such only because we made it so? For example, policing policies that increase fatherlessness in specific communities will result in increased levels of crime. But to then take a 'fair' approach at distribution of policing policies based on the actual crime data, and then use that to continue to keep the policies that caused the problem to begin with seems a bug that needs to be fixed (though some would point out it was more of a purposefully designed feature).

The problem with the contrary approach is that there are increased levels of crime there. Children end up equally fatherless -- possibly moreso -- if their fathers are killed by gang violence as if their fathers are in prison.

You don't solve the problem by sending police away from the places with the most crime. You solve it by fixing the root causes.

End the war on drugs, because prohibition is the primary funding source for gangs. Make it easier to start a small business, so that more people without much capital can start small businesses. Change the zoning to make it easier for people to start a small business out of their home instead of needing enough capital to secure prohibitively expensive business properties. Stop tying schools to real estate and let people choose to send their kids to any school they want.

Most of these are local issues that exist predominantly in cities and states with Democrat-majority legislatures. They could have been solved decades ago. They could be solved right now with the stroke of a pen.


>End the war on drugs

This would fix so much imo. It's starting (weed legalization), but going way too slow. People are still delusional about legal = good, illegal = bad, we just added one drug to the legal ones.


"Since racism is systemic"

You can't just say this without actual proof. The George Floyd killing was a tragedy, but not proof of systemic racism. On top of this, the officer involved (who actually knew George Floyd prior to killing him) is being brought up on charges, which is the exact opposite of what happens in a system that has systemic racism.

"Inference (ML) predicts the future from the past. If the past is racist"

Predictive policing only gives you an idea of where crime might occur based on previous crimes happening in the area and other factual data.

Innocent people weren't being arrested in mass based on what the models tell them. Officers will send out a few more patrols to areas that historically have more crime based on these models and they will most likely arrest more as a result.

This is a good thing and actually reduces the crime rate. Removing all of these systems on top of making it harder for the average person to defend themselves with a firearm will only result in the loss of innocent life and encourage more crime in mostly minority areas of the country.

"If cops arrest more black people per capita, then send the cops to black neighborhoods and have them follow black parolees. The system works (according to an objective function which maximizes arrests.) Remove racism and send the cops to white neighborhoods. Now the cops don't arrest as many people. The system fails. So I think it's likely that if you remove racist policing from predictive policing, you get the null hypothesis."

There is a bigger police presence in black neighborhoods because more crime happens there and as a result, more African Americans will be arrested.

If we want to stop this, we need to get to the root of the problem instead of blaming everything else.

Calling it 'systemic racism' is just another way of creating a bias against an entire group of people without having any actual proof to back it up. It also allows for the complete absolving of personal responsibility.

I feel like this is the beginning of the war on science because the results are politically incorrect.

It's like a new woke religion and if you question the god of racism, you will have your entire life taken away from you (job, friends, and family).

The only reason this nonsense persists is because the silent majority are too afraid to speak up and have everything taken away from them.


> the officer involved (who actually knew George Floyd prior to killing him) is being brought up on charges, which is the exact opposite of what happens in a system that has systemic racism.

How do you infer this? It could also be the result of the mass country-wide protests which are absolutely not the norm. It's not like the system automatically corrected for this issue.


>It could also be the result of the mass country-wide protests which are absolutely not the norm.

I think the parent is wrong on this point. The charges seem to be influenced by the mass protests. But I don't think that takes away from his point.

Also the way police treats police brutality and their immunity is very troublesome in the US. I don't think that's because of racism, more so because of a poor accountability system.


I don't disagree with your cited point but your citation (vox) is generally awful, this article included. Why are they using a BLM approval poll from January of this year to make a point about people not caring? They choose to bold that citation and then use the more recent statistic unbolded later. Seems pretty deliberate on their part.

Disclosure: I have been incarcerated in the United States for a drug crime. The sentence amounted to a three year stint and a 2 year parole for cannabis.

1. Cops arrest you based on success. If they can make sure you're a slam dunk at trial, then you're in handcuffs. Arresting the poorest black people will always result in a win for their career record. Simply put,racism is almost designed to be part of the system.

2. Bingo. Building more police stations in poor neighborhoods puts a jackboot to anyone who complains about the closures of public health clinics, social workers and psych wards. It can only ever be deemed a success because critics are 'superpredators' and not just incredibly poor or unfortunate. Political dissent from poverty gets bureaucratically disguised as rote criminality.

Cops at any level, even the sec, are incredible reticent about the idea of policing what they see as either too delicate, productive, or successful.


I’d just like to point out that the number of people who believe something has zero real bearing on that thing being true. I’m not saying it’s irrelevant in all avenues of study, but in terms of a thing being true, it is indeed irrelevant. So we have to be careful about shaming each other for not following the majority.

> [1] If you don't believe this, you're in the minority now: https://www.vox.com/2020/6/11/21286642/george-floyd-protests....

A citation that 1) says I might be in the minority so should believe the citation to be in the majority and 2) references vox.com is hardly credible.


This is over intellectualizing and already hyped up topic. Predictive “ML” here is closer to an excel spreadsheet with crimes per block, sorted from largest to highest, with more police sent to the high ones. It’s not some weird deep net trained in secret crazy data. More people get shot in some areas, so more police go there. That’s what they’re saying.

I heard a Reply All episode about the use of CompStat in NYC, which is just a manual algorithm for predictive policing. It started as a useful tool to prevent crime, but devolved into racial profiling as officers began to downgrade crimes in their reports to make their numbers look better, until eventually it resulted in racial profiling and arresting people on false charges.


> The problem with predictive policing is in the name. Inference (ML) predicts the future from the past. If the past is racist, then inference will create a racist future.

You started off with a really strong point but then immediately narrowed it down to race. The fundamental issue with this is, foremost, that such a system limits second chances and is used to discriminate against people with a criminal past. It's normalized in our society and shouldn't be.


I’m trying to figure out how PP is the problem. You send police to a high crime area and they incarcerate people that break the law. Let’s instead send the police to a zero crime area. The cops have an easy shift and arrest no one. That high crime area now has businesses and such moving out because they can’t afford the losses. They take the jobs with them. Now people in the area are unemployed and soon become homeless. Now you have a problem that is spiraling out of control. You think the people that are now left in that area are happy because their lives went from poor to shit? How is that helping?

Indeed. And worse they can then become an excuse to hide racist policy inside. Racist governor, buys racist software, to drive racist policing, loved by favored racist constituents, "It's not my administration, it's the software, algorithms are objective, black people are the problem...".

Maybe systemic racism is a feature of these systems, not a bug?


Racists abuse plausible deniability and care not for the loss in social trust and cohesion. I really think you are right and I hope one day we might know the truth.

Maybe it's not the software that's at fault, but society?

> If you don't believe [racism is systemic], you're in the minority now

A majority-held opinion is not a citation. Which systems explicitly favor whites over blacks?


A few facts to note: Blacks kill more blacks than any other race or ethinicity.[1] Blacks also kill more whites, than whites kill blacks in pure numbers.[1] When you factor in the size of the respective populations on a per capita ratio, then the numbers just get worse.[2] On a more positive note, though, crimes are reported to generally have gone down over the last few years. In fact there's nothing in the data to suggest that there is a systemically racist problem in the USA. If anything, the data has a bias towards whites...[1] As for the article from the clearly Left-biased Vox,[3] public opinion only reflects how poorly educated most people are about the matter.

If you think it's racist of me, a Sami minority person from Norway to say this—whose history also contains a lot of racism and atrocities systematically committed towards the Sami people—then please just excuse what I just said, and instead look at this black person saying just about the same exact thing.[4] Here's another slightly more famous black person wheighing in on the matter, with his opinion on what might be the cause of this tragedy.[5] Either way I don't believe in original sin, or that the current generation should atone for the sins of their fathers.

The sad fact that I'm forced to refer to black-only sources before anyone will believe me—a slightly racist thing to demand in the first place—should tell you how stigmatizing this discussion has become. Most people don't even dare to quote facts these days, and for good reason! Nevermind being banned from social media; people these days stand to lose their jobs if they have the wrong opinion! This is extremely chilling on the much needed democratic discussion on this topic. Thus I hope people will refrain from personal attacks or downvoting, and instead will use well researched factual sources to discuss the matter in a civil way.

Thank you!

[1]: FBI murder statistics by race from 2018, https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2018/crime-in-the-u.s.-... 2018 was the latest year I could find such data on.

[2]: US Census Bureau, ACS Demographic and Housing Estimates 2018, https://data.census.gov/cedsci/table?d=ACS%205-Year%20Estima...

[3]: VOX, "White Americans are finally talking about racism. Will it translate into action?" https://www.vox.com/2020/6/11/21286642/george-floyd-protests...

[4]: The Systemic Racism and Police Brutality Narrative is Getting People Killed | Larry Elder, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z572XopBVFc

[5]: Denzel Washington on systemic racism in the USA, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0dCvQdt5XI


You're making a lot of (intentional or not) dogwhistles. So let's dive in to a few of them:

> Blacks kill more blacks than any other race or ethinicity.[1] Blacks also kill more whites, than whites kill blacks in pure numbers.

Indeed, let's rephrase this: races in the US continue to be relatively segregated[0]. And crimes, even violent ones, are usually committed within-community. So the meme around "black on black violence" is a bit of a distraction unless you also are concerned about "white on white" violence. And if you are, organizations like stop the violence[1] do exist to address specifically violence within the black community.

So you start by stating true, but ultimately misleading claims that are often used to justify racial prejudice.

Then, you justify this opinion with two videos from black people. Neither Larry Elder nor Denzel Washington is an expert on incarceration or the US justice system. Larry Elder, in fact, is a right wing political pundit, so his income relies on his viewership. This calls into question his reliability. I'd suggest you watch the documentary 13th[2] or read up on these issues from actual experts.

But I'll spend some time breaking down his video:

He starts by noting that white men and black men are killed by police at around the same rate. This is, again true. But this means that Black people are killed at around 5 times the rate of White people. Then he restates the whole issue of black on black crime, which we've already discussed.

He then cites a paper from Roland G. Fryer[3], which I happen to be familiar with. It concludes

> On non-lethal uses of force, there are racial differences – sometimes quite large – in police use of force, even after accounting for a large set of controls designed to account for important contextual and behavioral factors at the time of the police-civilian interaction.

These racial differences show more police violence towards minorities.

Elder then notes that police forces can be diverse, which is true but ultimately a distraction. He mentions the NYPD as an example of a highly diverse police force, but neglects to mention that the NYPD's Stop and Frisk policy was so problematic that it was deemed unconstitutional due to its discriminatory nature[4].

He then mentions that the Police-Public contact survey shows no evidence of police abuse against black people, but the Fryer paper Elder cites manages to reach the opposite conclusion: that based on the Police-Public contact survey, there is statistically significant evidence of greater police use of force against minority populations, even when controlling for a number of factors.

He then mentions his movie, Uncle Tom, which contains a number of "conservative thinkers", who are mostly pundits. It contains no academic experts. Compare to 13th, which includes interviewees from both political parties, as well as non-political subject matter experts. Uncle Tom peddles ultimately irrelevant facts, such as that the democratic party was historically in favor of slavery. This is true, but ignores the Southern Strategy[5], an explicit Republican strategy to gain support in the south by appealing to white fears about race in the wake of the civil rights movement. 13th goes into detail on this.

But you can see some of it in things like this[6] Lee Atwater quote (Atwater was a republican political strategist), where he essentially admits the racism at the core of the southern strategy, and the need to, over time, move from explicit and overt racism to more systematic changes that, while not explicitly racist, help white people at the expense of black people.

Edit: I actually forgot one thing Elder mentions, that no one cares when unarmed white people are shot by police. This isn't actually true: The Black Lives matter movement has a reasonably well documented history of raising some awareness about cases of police killing unarmed white people. For example, during BLM protests in the wake of Michael Brown's murder in 2014, Christian Roupe[11], a white kid from Georgia, was among the names of people killed by police violence mentioned at the protest. More recently, in the wake of Daniel Shaver's murder, BLM voices raised awareness[12].

Which leaves one more thing that Elder discusses: "black fathers", which is also what Denzel Washington discusses. So once again, go watch 13th, I'm basically repeating the things it says here.

In the Nixon/Reagan era, "Law and Order" politics[7] became a central issue. Most notably, the "War on Drugs". Through this, laws were passed that disproportionately keep black people in prison, notably around crack vs. powder cocaine. But even with other drugs like marijuana, where white and black people use and historically used cannabis at the same rate, but black people are 3x more likely to be arrested for cannabis use[8] even today, and as a result literally tens of thousands of young black men are in prison for things that aren't a crime.

Those disproportionate arrest rates, combined with some of those other crime laws from the "Law and Order" era mean that someone who never commits a violent crime can end up a felon or even behind bars for life. Those people are disproportionately likely to be black men, especially young black men. Young black men who should be forming families but who can't because they're being put behind bars for crimes that white people commit at equivalent rates.

That, combined with historical issues like redlining[9] and housing policies that prevented black communities from building generational wealth[10] mean that it's difficult, if not impossible, for black fathers to create stable homes. They don't have the generational wealth that white households do, not as a result of their actions, but instead due to years of explicit government policy that directly prevented their parents generation from accumulating wealth. Then, of course, they're overpoliced and sent to prison which can prevent them from doing important and economically stabilizing things like attending college, or even in some cases completing high school, and acquiring decent jobs.

And this cycle is self-reinforcing. Without the ability for the current generation to create stable households, the next generation won't have wealth to build off of and will continue to be unstable. And so the cycle will continue. That's why we call it "systemic".

Hope that helps inform you about these issues. I'm also happy to break down why some of the things you've done generally won't engender you much sympathy and will result in you being accused of "dogwhistle" racism. But I'll only dive into that rhetorical analysis if you specifically request it.

[0]: http://racialdotmap.demographics.coopercenter.org/

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stop_the_Violence_Movement

[2]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=krfcq5pF8u8

[3]: https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/fryer/files/empirical_anal...

[4]: https://ccrjustice.org/home/press-center/press-releases/land...

[5]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_strategy

[6]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Atwater#%22Southern_strate..., https://www.thenation.com/article/archive/exclusive-lee-atwa...

[7]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_and_order_(politics)

[8]: https://www.aclu.org/report/tale-two-countries-racially-targ..., see page 28 of the report

[9]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redlining

[10]: https://youtu.be/AGUwcs9qJXY?t=240, covers redlining and generational wealth issues, but the whole video is great and, it should be noted, is made by a Christian who I believe identifies as conservative. It overlaps a lot with 13th, but 13th covers a few more recent things about the US prison industrial complex and contains more firsthand accounts and interviews.

[11]: https://newsandletters.org/thousands-chicago-ny-ferguson-sto...

[12]: https://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/12/09/black-lives-mat...


While not the author of the post you are responding to, I really appreciate this response. I have largely spent my life believing one way on these issues and have tried to be more open minded regarding my basic assumptions about American society. You taking the time to respond in such a thoughtful manner and tone and providing good information to dig deeper on helps me tremendously.

I worked my way through your post backwards, as it helps cut down on the number of heuristic based cognitive stop points. Just wanted to point out a few things that stood out.

>On dogwhistles. I'm tired of hearing this term thrown about. This word more than any other cements the ostracization of those who have fundamentally different slices of world view from you into the social space of "I can't be bothered to try to convince you or build a bridge across the gap of our misunderstanding."

Are there hopeless cases? Yes, Absolutely. I consider myself a socially liberally inclined sort of fellow who embraces a "do as thou wilt, but don't break anything" attitude toward life. The don't break anything part being tacked on there in recent years based on immersion in and attempts to understand where more conservative mindsets come from. Believe it or not, conservative != racist. It doesn't equal stone wall, What it does encompass is a way of evaluating the world and proposed changes in terms of harmful malbehaviors that may be introduced. Whether you like it or not, you must appreciate that force at work to bridge the gap with a conservative. Show them you thought about it, took it seriously, and have means to minimize harms and you can get them on board.

Call everything they say a dogwhistle and paint them all as racists, and you will be amazed at how tightly ranks close.

>on the Fryer paper... Haven't read it yet, but I'll give it a go. No comment til then.

>Uncle Tom and lack of academic experts

Thank God the world isn't run solely by academics, and statisticians! Give two statisticians the same set of data, and they'll generate two different models and stories for the same damn thing, and clearly there has been absolutely nothing like any sort of reproducibility crisis is the social sciences or economics fields, nor have their been controversies with the academic environment being gamed through innumerable submissions of low quality irreproducible papers!

Oh wait! Yes there has! If you've spent any amount of time here you should have more than a few to sample from.

Besides which, appeal to authority, while useful in fact discovery, does not score rhetorical points. Often for reasons alluded to above, and no, I'm not an anti-intellectual. I've been around the block more than once and I've seen some shit. Not the least of which is black holing of narratively inconvenient yet legitimate papers.

(See David Shor's recent cancelling).

The fact is politics is not just about facts or the collection/interpretation thereof. Politics at it's core is about building something that works for everyone involved, without overly burdening any party unduly. Now where American politics may legitimately have a problem is that the first time a felony occurs, a person is discounted from the political equation effectively even after they have played their debt to society and served their sentence. That the taint of the felony persists so long after an official sentence is served, and that full rights are not restored automatically to that of a citizen in good standing, and that there is no semblance or measures, or protections in this age of interconnected databases to protect anyone unfortunate enough to have picked up that felon label, seems absolutely problematic to me. However, that stands as a political necessity, since in a purported land of the free, there is the assumption that no one else carries the blame for the choices you've made but you and your lonesome. Furthermore, I don't think anyone has ever stopped to actually consider what would happen if a non-trivial fraction of the population was booted out of the political limelight entirely, because there is an implicit assumption the world is better off without accommodating the "demonstrably morally bankrupt" holding the reins of power. Not my view, but an observation of one of the terminus points of the Overton window in my experience, and one I don't see much point in arguing with beyond in the sense that we have an imperfect, by men justice system, so it sure does seem rather odd that there is no clean process for handling reintegration back into society. That's getting into completely different areas of how our political system and incentives are screwed up, but nevertheless, the point to take away is, the direct route in politics is frequently not the most expedient.

>Lee Atwater et al.

Well, seems to be a self-correcting problem does it not? Redlining is getting the scrutiny it deserves as well as myriad other forms of proxies for racism like Euclidean zoning; and no, the black community are not the only ones who noticed the gem of zoning laws contributing to continued segregation, I assure you. It just tends to take a while for people to hit that point in life where they've got other things nailed down enough to start asking juicy questions like "What's up with this zoning stuff anyway?" Like it or not, not everybody is terribly tuned to the difficulties of shaping public policy for resource consumption.

>on black fathers

So are you saying early adulthood incarceration causes bad fathers? Because I can see a case being made by many people for that causality to be the other way around.

>on greater likelyhhod of being arrested for marijuana abuse.

Don't know about anyone else, but when I was growing up and still in the primary grades (when marijuana based crackdowns was generally considered worthwhile), I always found it interesting that there were two distinct usage groups. Those who'd light one up in front of God and everyone, and those who'd do it somewhere private, and generally not when they were busy doing something for someone else. Furthermore, a large number of marijuana related cases I've heard of tend to result from consent being given to search a vehicle containing it, or from someone having hotboxed, and generated plenty of probable cause for an officer to suspect driving under the influence. The fact that it's practically a boutique charge (much like most firearm regulation charges are treated as) used to sweeten the list of crimes to be potentially prosecuted for never really helped matters. Point is, the disproportionate arrest rate of black vs. White may come down not on racial divides, but consumption pattern lines and ability to meld into the environment, and capacity to adhere to patterns of behavior that do not escalate you into the limelight of being noticed. A police officer's primary evaluation loop involves working out what isn't right given their environment. I'm willing to wager that cops would love to just let "endemic" crime slide, but that's not really an option given their need to act with integrity. Remember, statistics only reflect those who got caught. Those who didn't are, to the limited resources of the justice system, not worth going after. Does this infuriate me? Yes. I want white collar crime to be gone after with the assumed exuberance the police allegedly demonstrate going after people of color. That's reality though. The constraints of what we can get done are necessarily bounded by that which we can do.

>redlining/housing & the War on Drugs.

The war on drugs was in general aimed at the principle destabilizers of public order at the time; hippies/anti-war Protestors and the civil rights movement. If you're really annoyed the legacy still exists today, I'd advise you to read up on the concept of legislative sunset dates, and how their mandated inclusion forces choices in terms of prioritization of laws worth keeping on the books.(1/2)


> On dogwhistles. I'm tired of hearing this term thrown about.

Did you get the impression from my comments that I couldn't be bothered to build the bridge across the gap of our misunderstanding? Telling people that there are rhetorical issues with how they will be perceived is valuable. It is, in fact, exactly what you frame your post as doing.

> Besides which, appeal to authority

As an aside, you should read up on "appeal to authority". Appeal to authority isn't really a logical fallacy. Appeal to false authority is. Which is to say appealing to someone who has no real reason to claim authority on a subject. Like Denzel Washington.

Broadening this, we now notice a pattern of you pointing out rhetorical devices that I use in a negative light, when you and those I'm responding to use the same devices. I ask why? It's certainly not constructive.

> The fact is politics is not just about facts or the collection/interpretation thereof

I agree! You should tell that to GP!

> Now where American politics may legitimately have a problem is that the first time a felony occurs

Again on the rhetoric bit, be careful with phrases like this. It implies that other problems are less legitimate. You're trying to build bridges here, remember. Belittling the legitimate concerns of the other doesn't do that.

This isn't to say that you're wrong to bring up this concern. It is a legitimate issue. But your phrasing here frames other issues as illegitimate. Is that your intent?

> However, that stands as a political necessity, since in a purported land of the free, there is the assumption that no one else carries the blame for the choices you've made but you and your lonesome.

Indeed, this is the great American mistake that recent activism hopes to highlight. It is the recognition of de facto discrimination, that despite supposed equality under the law, different groups are treated differently by the humans who apply the justice system.

> Well, seems to be a self-correcting problem does it not?

I'm not sure what your point is here. That we've recognized a problem doesn't mean that it isn't hurting people. Recognizing that a problem exists often a necessary, but also always insufficient, step in fixing it. These mistakes of the prior generations are actively harming people right now. Saying that the problem will eventually self correct because people notice it is both naive and probably not true even in the long run without a concerted effort, and does nothing to address the people harmed right now.

> the black community are not the only ones who noticed the gem of zoning laws contributing to continued segregation

I'm not sure why this matters. Could you elaborate on why you included this comment.

> Don't know about anyone else, but when I was growing up and still in the primary grades (when marijuana based crackdowns was generally considered worthwhile)

Note that I'm not talking about history in my statistics. I'm talking about data from the last 5 years. Today, right now black people are 3x more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana use.

> A police officer's primary evaluation loop involves working out what isn't right given their environment.

This is where stop and frisk data is useful. In NYC stop and frisk didn't result in a decrease in violent or property crime. What it did result in was young black men being stopped and searched for no (literally, they were stopped without probable cause which is why the policy was stopped by the courts) reason. So a white person and a black person engaging in exactly the same behavior, the black person was multiple times more likely to be stopped.

> I'm willing to wager that cops would love to just let "endemic" crime slide, but that's not really an option given their need to act with integrity.

This is actually the exact opposite of what the data shows. Police are given wide leeway to use their judgement and escalate. And when given these leeway, they "require less suspicion to search black and Hispanic drivers than white drivers"[0]. This pattern ties in with the one from the Fryer paper: police have a higher baseline suspicion of minority individuals and as a result require less evidence to consider them a threat (and therefore to escalate physically) or to be engaging in criminal behavior (resulting in a search or in NYC a stop and frisk).

> Those who didn't are, to the limited resources of the justice system, not worth going after

Right, this is what I mean when I say systemic discrimination. It's easier to get a conviction against a poor black person than a rich white person. Therefore police have systematic incentives to engage with black people. They're at least as likely to find contraband, the person is more likely to be poor and therefore more likely to be convicted. It's not clear why you're bringing this up. Like yes, these are problems that need to be addressed. They're problems that are actively raised by activists at this very moment. It's not news to me, and it's certainly not good.

We shouldn't excuse systems that encourage discrimination because it's more economical. We should dismantle those systems.

> I'd advise you to read up on the concept of legislative sunset dates, and how their mandated inclusion forces choices in terms of prioritization of laws worth keeping on the books.

I'm familiar. These don't help the people being harmed right now by these existing systems of oppression. Saying "well we should change how we write future laws" doesn't address the injustice in existing laws.

> That cycle you describe sounds pretty pan-racial to me.

Most of it is (the police discrimination part isn't, but the economic factors are). What you seem to have missed is the history. The reason that we're here now is due to explicit racial discrimination in prior generations. So the pan-racial factors will continue to perpetuate the harms of racism unless we take explicit steps to stop them.

> I still see people from some of the shittiest circumstances become absolutely great people in their own right

Sure, there's some level of agency. But now's a good time to remember that Black men (and as a result black families) enjoy much less economic mobility than white men[1]. In this case it doesn't matter what the causes are. The effect is that, controlling for other factors, it's harder for a black person to escape bad circumstances than it is for a white person. So even in a statement like this, you're glossing over racial inequality.

> That's what kills me right now. BLM has the gall to think it's just black people who suffer.

They really don't. See my comments about Christian Roupe and Daniel Shaver. But importantly, even if they were, there are unique ways in which black people suffer. Denying that there is naive. And those specific ways of suffering need to be addressed before we can have true racial equality. Yes there are economic issues that cause everyone to suffer. And yes, those issues should be addressed. But addressing only those issues will still leave black people disadvantaged.

This is implicitly an "All Lives Matter" argument. Black people are drawing attention to issues that disproportionately affect them, and instead of saying "oh yes, you're right", your response is to say "but look at all these other people who are suffering". So what? That other people are suffering doesn't change the unique modes of suffering due to race.

> your suffering isn't intentional on anyone's part, but arises due to synergism's you aren't even aware of yet,

Yes, this is what "systematic" means. This isn't news to anyone.

> There were extensive attempts made to have their voices heard before the only reasonable choice of action fell to armed conflict.

I'm not sure what your point is. Do you think people haven't been peacefully protesting these things for decades? That people haven't been trying to pass legislation to fix these issues for years? They have. We just haven't been paying attention (or worse punishing them), until now. Colin Kaepernick? Progressive politicians have been working to reverse broken windows policing since its inception.

> Wanton unrestrained violence, and trying to topple the culture that made your act of protest possible will get no one anywhere.

Destruction of property as a form of protest marked the beginning of the American revolution. The property was destroyed because other attempts to enact change had failed. Destroying property got people to pay attention. Many people were not fans of the political unrest. Sure sounds familiar.

There was one difference though: the American revolution was led, by and large, by people in the upper class. Washington was the richest man in America. Many of the revolutionaries held political office or bureaucratic posts in the British system. They were all wealthy white property owners, members of the eventual voting class. Their challenge wasn't to get the ruling class to recognize their issues, they were the ruling class. It was to get the lower class to fight in a war that for many didn't improve their situation.

But most people aren't taught that in school either, because US history builds a cult of personality around the founding fathers. One that tearing down these statues caused me to do more research on. I learned a lot. And I keep learning a lot. Here's an example from today[2]. Would I have learned that Wilson was an avowed white supremacist without the sequence of events involving toppling of statues? Perhaps. Would I have learned it today? No. I expect many other people are the same way.

[0]: https://openpolicing.stanford.edu/findings/

[1]: https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/3/21/17139300/e...

[2]: https://twitter.com/abfrancois/status/1277294683572580352


(2/2) >And this cycle is self-reinforcing. Without the ability for the current generation to create stable households, the next generation won't have wealth to build off of and will continue to be unstable. And so the cycle will continue. That's why we call it "systemic".

That cycle you describe sounds pretty pan-racial to me. I know many friends in the position of not being able to offer their children the facade of stability that their parent or parents offered them if any at all. I still see people from some of the shittiest circumstances become absolutely great people in their own right, and see other people who haven't suffered a want in their life become miserable, shallow, ugly people.

That's what kills me right now. BLM has the gall to think it's just black people who suffer. It isn't whataboutism, it's about growing up enough to realize the system is about more than you, or your in-group, and that maybe in the grand scheme of things, your suffering isn't intentional on anyone's part, but arises due to synergism's you aren't even aware of yet, then coming out of that rough to learn lesson that if the system is that tilted against you, it's all the more reason to work hard, thrive and succeed in spite of it that then the rest of the world will take you seriously. You and your in-group must be the paragons of the change you want to see. Wanton unrestrained violence, and trying to topple the culture that made your act of protest possible will get no one anywhere. Otherwise you simply undermine the efforts of the decent folk who are trying to make positive change happen.

I'll stop now, as this composition has eaten up far too much of my day, but I at least hope that you understand a bunch of links and sources does not a rhetorical argument make. You have to be willing to understand that virtue exists on all sides of a controversial topic. You also have to be fundamentally willing to accept that the change that may be possible may fall far short of your expectations.

And before anyone else tries to say the Founding Fathers don't seem overly concerned with doing that, you're also dead wrong. There were extensive attempts made to have their voices heard before the only reasonable choice of action fell to armed conflict. Even then, each and every one of those men going into it it knew they would have to become some of the most well versed individuals of the era in terms of having a grasp of Statecraft to have a shot at surviving the aftermath. I see nothing resembling that sort of commitment in our political arena today.

Anyway... That took way more of my day than I was setting out to expend, so I think I'll leave it there. I'm probably getting Randy any way.


"You're making a lot of (intentional or not) dogwhistles."

And you're not, of course...

"races in the US continue to be relatively segregated[0]."

Yes, similar groups, culturally or otherwise, tend to want to live among their own. Is this a problem?

"crimes, even violent ones, are usually committed within-community."

Of course.

"So the meme around "black on black violence" is a bit of a distraction unless you also are concerned about "white on white" violence."

I disagree. The most logical thing to do, is to look closer at the groups that actually commit the most crime, if you want to fight that crime. You have to remember that the decision to do something illegal is individual, so you have to put the blame where the blame is due. You can't blame the system, because it's equal for everyone. And if it's not, well, then you have to prove that it's unfair, and so far haven't really been very persuasive. This doesn't make white-on-white violence unimportant. Only less important thatn black-on-black violence under this discussion.

"organizations like stop the violence[1] do exist to address specifically violence within the black community."

Has it helped? I think we both agree on the answer here.

"So you start by stating true, but ultimately misleading claims that are often used to justify racial prejudice."

Make up your mind, please! Are the facts "true" or not? Facts are just facts, man. It's how you respond to them that matters. And by the way, facts aren't "claims." The fact that blacks kill most blacks isn't a claim; it's a fact! The proof is in the pudding, as it where, or in this case in the FBI statistics.

Look, if one group pesters you daily, and tries to steal your candy, then yeah, you're probably justified in being somewhat prejudiced against them, no matter the colour of their skin...

But guess what, if one groups steals and murders way more than another group, then probably this will cause the authorities to look closer at that group. Sadly this will also lead to more false positives being produced when the police finally starts doing their job. Of course, it's easy to label that as "institutional racism," especially when there's political power and money in it, but let's face it, it's really just an excuse, and a poor one at that.

"you justify this opinion with two videos from black people."

Of course I do. Otherwise you'd just call me a racist. I assume you're now going to do your best to discredit these two gentlemen instead of answering the facts...

"Neither Larry Elder nor Denzel Washington is an expert on incarceration or the US justice system."

But you are, of course...

"Larry Elder, in fact, is a right wing political pundit, so his income relies on his viewership. This calls into question his reliability."

Yes, only left wing pundits like yourself have the monopoly on truth, I see... Look, I have no horse in this race, but I can only assume that you're a flaming Democrat. :D

"I'd suggest you watch the documentary 13th[2] or read up on these issues from actual experts."

Thanks, I might look into it.


> He starts by noting that white men and black men are killed by police at around the same rate. This is, again true. But this means that Black people are killed at around 5 times the rate of White people. > These racial differences show more police violence towards minorities.

Naturally. Don't you think it's completely logical that people who also commit far mor crimes, also get into far more tussles with the police? Probably find a way for your community to become more law abiding and peaceful, and this will stop being an issue all by itself!

One way to do it, is to ask for policies that open up for more social community work, where the first responder to economical, drug related or abusive behaviour stops being the police, but rather a social worker, or some other community representative. It's just a suggestion. Should be right down your lane since you are a left winger!

If you can get democratic traction for something like this, which is far more fruitful than playin the blame game, I think it would help crime go down greatly. It's basically what is done in my own country, and while the system isn't perfect, it's preferable to storming communities with police all the time; a thing that naturally causes some legitimate outrage, though it's not necessarily due to racism.

This way of doing things isn't free, however—and let's face it, Norway is filthy rich—so you can assume there will be pushback on how it should be funded, especially from the Right. Then there's the fact that Norway is a far smaller and more close-knit society in general. But then so are most ethnicly homogeneous neighbourhoods. I still think it's an idea to at least explore. And I also think these ideas are far more preferable to the Right than tearing down statues.

> Elder then notes that police forces can be diverse, which is true but ultimately a distraction.

No, it's not. I means there's a far less chance that the police are racist.

> He mentions the NYPD as an example of a highly diverse police force, but neglects to mention that the NYPD's Stop and Frisk policy was so problematic that it was deemed unconstitutional due to its discriminatory nature[4].

Dude, what has the obviously political and administrative policy of "stop and frisk" to do with the racial composition of NY cops? I'll tell you: Nothing! They'd have to carry out that policy whether they were all black, all white, or diverse to the point of employing martians!

Either way, don't you think it's a little unfair to try to pin political policies on the police force? In fact, then Mayor Bloomberg (D) had the power to stop the frisking policy in New York at any point, but instead he chose to defended it.[1] And for good reason, because AFAIK it was wildly successful, and made New York a lot safer for most people.

> He then mentions that the Police-Public contact survey shows no evidence of police abuse against black people, but the Fryer paper Elder cites manages to reach the opposite conclusion: that based on the Police-Public contact survey, there is statistically significant evidence of greater police use of force against minority populations, even when controlling for a number of factors.

That's because there is no opposite here... Abuse ≠ Legitimate use of force.

> He then mentions his movie, Uncle Tom, which contains a number of "conservative thinkers", who are mostly pundits. It contains no academic experts.

Of course. All academic experts of the Right are just pundits. I get it...

> [It] ignores the Southern Strategy[5], an explicit Republican strategy to gain support in the south by appealing to white fears about race in the wake of the civil rights movement. 13th goes into detail on this.

Were these fears unfounded then? Obviously the numbers show that blacks do indeed kill far more whites than whites kill blacks, both per capita and in pure numbers. Again, facts, not claims. Do you think that shouldn't be a cause for consern? Man, lives are literally at stake!


> Dude, what has the obviously political and administrative policy of "stop and frisk" to do with the racial composition of NY cops? I'll tell you: Nothing!

That's exactly my point. When I said that Larry Elder's video mentions a number of true but irrelevant facts, this is what I meant. The fact that the police force is relatively diverse doesn't actually matter if the policies and culture of the police perpetuate systemic injustice and violence.

> And for good reason, because AFAIK it was wildly successful, and made New York a lot safer for most people.

Not really, crime in NYC didn't fall at a rate particularly faster than anywhere else. Freakonomics has a good chapter on this that suggests that the general drop in crime may have been caused by social policies across the US that helped stabilize the black community, notably the legalization of Abortion. Yeah, the legalization of Abortion in 1973 caused a drop in crime in the mid 90s.

> Naturally. Don't you think it's completely logical that people who also commit far mor crimes, also get into far more tussles with the police?

No, because the study controlled for other factors including violence of the person the police was interacting with. The conclusion of the paper (which if you'd read, you'd already know) was that police were more likely to escalate force with a black person compared to a white person exhibiting the same behavior. The caveat to this was that as the level of force increased, the racial disparity decreased. So while police were significantly much more likely to grab or manhandle a black person than a white person (again, controlling for the behavior), they were only mildly more likely to tase a black person and statically equivalently likely to shoot people of all races.

> That's because there is no opposite here... Abuse ≠ Legitimate use of force.

No, like I said this was controlling for the behavior of the civilian. So police were more likely to use force on black people for exhibiting the same behavior.

It's also worth mentioning here that crime is in many ways socially constructed. And the US justice system does a lot of things to make poor (and especially poor black) people admit to crimes that they didn't commit[0].

District Attorneys and police work together to put the most people behind bars (in some cases because they have quotas to meet, again watch 13th for more here), and they can do so most effectively by overpolicing poor communities.

This is for two reasons, one, yes, those communities often have more crime occurring in them, but two the people in them can't defend themselves. So if you're innocent put charged with a crime, you are forced to take a plea bargain or be stuck in jail (unless you can afford bail, which affluent people can, but poor people can't). So you admit to a crime which you didn't commit just so that you can get out of jail and maintain your employment.

Notice how this means that even innocent people are admitting to crimes they didn't commit, because it's actually in their best interest to do so. Notice how this means that crime numbers in some of these over-policed communities could be artificially inflated since even people are admitting to crimes they didn't commit.

> One way to do it, is to ask for policies that open up for more social community work, where the first responder to economical, drug related or abusive behaviour stops being the police, but rather a social worker, or some other community representative. It's just a suggestion. Should be right down your lane since you are a left winger!

Yes, this is the entire idea of Defund The Police, an idea being pushed by BlackLivesMatter[1].

> Were these fears unfounded then?

It doesn't matter. People being afraid isn't an excuse to enact literally explicitly racist laws.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalief_Browder

[1]: https://blacklivesmatter.com/defundthepolice/


> [Atwater] (F) essentially admits the racism at the core of the southern strategy, and the need to, over time, move from explicit and overt racism to more systematic changes that, while not explicitly racist, help white people at the expense of black people.

Well, that's a pretty tall claim! All it lacks is a "what about Atwater" at the start. I can play that game too, pal. What about Biden's racist remarks? Man, I call strawman! What's some quaint southern strategy from the 70's to do with the current FBI dataset on racial crime anyway? And who even is this Atwater-dude? I see he used to play with B.B King tho, so he can't be all bad, right? :D

> I actually forgot one thing Elder mentions, that no one cares when unarmed white people are shot by police. This isn't actually true: (...)

Dude, we all know what BLM is about, and it's not whites...

> laws were passed that disproportionately keep black people in prison, notably around crack vs. powder cocaine.

"Laws were passed..." This sounds awfully like an excuse—again—due to the fact (not claim) that blacks statistically commit more crimes anyway.

I note that a lot of states are currently relaxing their stance on Marijuana, though. Hopefully this will lead to fewer people being arrested for petty things like posession.

I think it's horrible to incarcerate people merely for possessing small amounts of illegal substances, especially if it's for a long time. More likely that is due to addiction, rather than trying to push it. And addiction requires treatment and care, not incarceration. Both treatment and incercerations cost money though, so IMHO it's better to spend it on treating the thing, rather then employing a tactic that is proven to be ineffective (i.e. higher or harsher sentences for petty crimes).

On the other hand, crack and cocaine really does destroy lives, so going harsh on it, is IMHO the only right thing to do. I mean, ruining your own life is one thing, but it's quite another to ruin the lives of someone else, and that is what pushing drugs does. That is why I think pushing drugs should always incurr the full wrath of society.

But then it's probably better to go after the big guys, rather than scoring easy points for your unit's stats by going ofter small fry. It might look good on paper, but throwing addicts in jail doesn't really solve the problem. For that you need to find the big fish, which is sadly a lot harder and costly to do. And sometimes those guys are well connected too. Either way, this is pretty tangential to the topic we're discussing.

The fact is, you're individually responsible for following the law. And it's illegal to use certain substances for good reason. When people then still go ahead and use illegal substances, despite knowing the law full well, then you can't really blame that on the system. You can't really blame the law for making black kids fatherless! The only guys responsible for that, are the fathers themselves, in that case, because what they did is inexcusable.

The fact is, they did have alternatives, but chose not to take them. That is how they ended up behind bars, and not the other way around. Perhaps you can blame that on bad culture, but then man the fuck up and do something about that culture then, and don't blame others for your own failure.

In fact, by blaming "the law," or "policies" or "whites" or "unfairness," you really only end up communicating that blacks are inferiour. On top of that, such behaviour naturally incurrs some legitimate prejudice, because why should you respect someone who themselves communicate that they are weaker than others? I mean, if that's really the case, then it's probably better to ask for help, rather than playing the blame game.

The only logical answer here, is to do like Denzel, and demand that blacks take back their own pride, and start fixing their own lives. Because that's the only way they'll also garner respect from others. And guess what, in todays America, they have all the opportunity to do just that! Hell, if you go into politics, you can even become the next president now! So stop playing the victim card and take back your pride! Then notice how people will immediatly start respecting you more. People who have self-respect of their own, and not pussies who bend the knee to avoid trouble at every corner.

[1]: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/michael-bloomberg-st...


I'll remind you that you asked for us to have this discussion in a respectful manner. You don't seem to be doing that. So I'll just leave you with a few questions to ponder:

If Black people and White people use cannabis at the same rate, why are Black people more than 3x more likely to be arrested for marijuana use?

> The only guys responsible for that, are the fathers themselves, in that case, because what they did is inexcusable.

So given the above fact (that black people are more likely to be punished for the same crimes), you're saying that it is ultimately black people's responsibility to be more law abiding than white people?

> On top of that, such behaviour naturally incurrs some legitimate prejudice, because why should you respect someone who themselves communicate that they are weaker than others?

How does saying "the cards are stacked against us" imply weakness? Again, based on the facts, you want Black people to hold themselves to a higher standard than white people to stay out of the justice system. You're asking them to work harder. How is them recognizing that they are held to a higher standard recognizing some kind of weakness?

> What's some quaint southern strategy from the 70's to do with the current FBI dataset on racial crime anyway?

Do you think drug laws passed in the 70s, but which are still on the books today, and which define what is criminal might influence the statistics on crime today?

Do you think it might be worth looking at the disparate impact of some of those laws if people admitted that the strategy at the time was to pass laws that had negative impact on certain communities?


> you that you asked for us to have this discussion in a respectful manner. You don't seem to be doing that.

Do you think this is respectful: "You're making a lot of (intentional or not) dogwhistles"?

You might not believe it, but I actually do respect you. That's why I'm not treating you like a snowflake, and instead answering in kind. But also because you deserve to hear the truth.

> If Black people and White people use cannabis at the same rate, why are Black people more than 3x more likely to be arrested for marijuana use?

I don't buy the equivalence. Obviously, if blacks sell more drugs, then they will also be more closely followed by cops. This is certainly the case in Norway, where there are far less native drug pushers than non-Westerners, for instance. On top of that, if they already are followed more by cops, why aren't they changing their bad habits?

> So given the above fact (that black people are more likely to be punished for the same crimes), you're saying that it is ultimately black people's responsibility to be more law abiding than white people?

There is no "more" in this equation. Either you abide by the law, or you don't. And if you don't, then there can be consequences. If there is already more police present in your community, because more crimes are being committed there, then yeah, you'll get caught more often for committing those crimes. That isn't unfair. That is a consequence of you doing something illegal.

Does this mean that more whites probably get away with smoking pot? Probably. But then they commit far less crimes anyway.

> How does saying "the cards are stacked against us" imply weakness?

Because they're not saying that "the cards are stacked against us". They're instead claiming victimhood, spesifically at the hands of whites, as an excuse for committing more crimes, and doing more murders than any other community, and most of all among themselves. The fact is, that they have every opportunity to not commit those crimes, and instead become productive members of society. Nobody is forcing them to pick up that gun, that blunt or that screwdriver. Not even the policies you claim are so unfairly targetted at them. It's just not true. And so the only conclusion you can draw from such moaning, is that they are weaker and softer than other men, and so they probably don't deserve as much respect. The only way to turn that around, is to suck it up and accept responsibility for their own lives. Then added respect, and peace and prosperity, will effortlessly follow.

> Again, based on the facts, you want Black people to hold themselves to a higher standard than white people to stay out of the justice system.

No. Just a high enough standard to don't do drugs, don't do crime, and don't murder people, and instead be productive members of society. It's not exactly rocket science.

> You're asking them to work harder.

No, I don't. I'm merely asking them to follow the law, and stop pandering to a destructive and self-victimizing culture.

> How is them recognizing that they are held to a higher standard recognizing some kind of weakness?

That's not true. I'm holding them to the same standard as everyone else. Anything else would indeed be racism. Or wait, are you suggesting that blacks should be held to a lower standard than the rest of the communy then?

> Do you think drug laws passed in the 70s, but which are still on the books today, and which define what is criminal might influence the statistics on crime today?

Do you think the earth is revolving around the sun?

> Do you think it might be worth looking at the disparate impact of some of those laws if people admitted that the strategy at the time was to pass laws that had negative impact on certain communities?

All laws should always be reviewed and amended if they aren't serving the purpose they were originally made to serve. Why aren't BLM protesting these laws, then, and lobbying to have them changed, instead of tearing down statues? That is, if these laws really aren't serving their purpose. As I said before, pushing drugs still seriously and adversely affects the lives of others, and people doing that deserve the full wrath of the law.


> Do you think this is respectful: "You're making a lot of (intentional or not) dogwhistles"?

Absolutely! I'd certainly want to know if there were connotations to my words that could offend people or cause them to misconstrue my words.

> But also because you deserve to hear the truth.

I also want to make want to make something very clear before continuing: I have done nothing but correct you so far. There is no truth you have revealed to me. You have opinions that are based in misinformation, and I'm doing my best to correctly inform you. This is not a comment on you personally. We all are misinformed about things. But this isn't and hasn't been a debate. It's been me giving you information you didn't have before. I haven't been exposed to anything I haven't heard before. I'm spending my time trying to educate you and others, because I think that's a worthwhile thing to do.

> Does this mean that more whites probably get away with smoking pot? Probably. But then they commit far less crimes anyway.

No, that's the point I've made 3x now: the rates of marijuana use are basically the same (technically they're slightly higher) among white Americans. In other words, white people are committing, per capita, more drug crime, but being arrested 3x less per capita. That isn't the same standard.

And keep in mind here I'm only focusing on the crime of drug use. Nothing else. You keep mentioning murder and violent crime, but there is no reason that someone else choosing to murder people should affect how likely or not I am to be prosecuted for smoking weed.

> Because they're not saying that "the cards are stacked against us".

Yes they are. Saying that laws are enforced unequally is saying the cards are stacked against them.

> Just a high enough standard to don't do drugs, don't do crime, and don't murder people, and instead be productive members of society.

But again, this isn't the standard you're holding white members of society to. So you're holding black members of society to a higher standard.

> I'm merely asking them to follow the law

But you're not asking white members of society to follow the law. They can break the same laws you want black people to follow without facing consequences.

> I'm holding them to the same standard as everyone else. Anything else would indeed be racism. Or wait, are you suggesting that blacks should be held to a lower standard than the rest of the communy then?

No, I'm suggesting that they should be held to the same standard.

You can claim that you just want everyone to follow the law, but the reality is that the laws are enforced unevenly. Again, for crimes that we know white and black people commit at the same rate, black people are arrested 3x more often. You are asking black people to commit 3x less crime to be treated equally under the laws. That is a far higher standard for one race than another.

Let me perhaps explain this one more way. Let's compare exactly two people. One black, one white. If we hold them to the same standard, we would expect that if they committed the same number of criminal acts over their lifetime they would be arrested the same number of times. Anything else is a different standard. They are currently held to a different, higher standard. This should change.

> I'm holding them to the same standard as everyone else. Anything else would indeed be racism. Or wait, are you suggesting that blacks should be held to a lower standard than the rest of the communy then?

They are. Organizations are more than capable of doing multiple things.

But it's worth mentioning that many people have learned a ton about US history in the past month or so due to these actions. US history is whitewashed (both literally and figuratively) when taught in most schools. Even the idea that the civil war was fought over slavery is not always taught to some kids.

Similarly, the US forms a sort of cult of personality around various historical figures: the founding fathers, Lincoln, etc. These people did good things for the nation, yes, but weren't without fault. Washington for example owned hundreds of slaves, and even abused legal loopholes in laws he helped pass to maintain ownership of his slaves[0].

When we ignore the flaws and negative aspects of our history, and the normalization of oppression that is laced into the history of the US, it's much easier to pretend that things were, and are, better than reality. It's still possible to admire people's good acts in context, in museums for example. But cults of personality and cults of nationalism don't help anyone. And tearing them down helped encourage me and may others to learn some more history.

[0]: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/16/opinion/george-washington...


To [1]: Totally abstracted from anything you said, a poll that people believe something does not in any way resemble evidence that it is true. For example, only 8% of Jehovas Witnesses[2] believe that humans evolved. Is that evidence that JWs didn't evolve? "If you don't believe this you're in the minority now" has never in history been a good argument for anything, even if you are using it to try and prove something true.

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Level_of_support_for_evolution


I agree, this type of reasoning strikes me as bulling or shaming people into believing racism is systemic. The entire conversation about racism is becoming more and more about shaming or threatening people into line, not convincing them with truths. Even pointing this out may bring up accusations of racism. Moral shaming or threatening does get results so I can't argue with that, but I don't see it as sustainable.

Of course that's true. I wasn't so much trying to provide evidence as to point out that people who felt comfortable saying "I'm not racist but I don't think this country is racist either" should not feel comfortable socially expressing that position anymore. Social proof may not be evidence but it is powerful in changing people's minds who might not be as receptive to facts and figures. I don't mind if people believe the right thing for the wrong reasons (at least these days with how anti-science a segment of the population seems to be.)

>should not feel comfortable socially expressing that position anymore

What people feel safe in expressing, when "safe" means "safe from peers disagreeing with you," is a terrible reason to believe something. If I came back with a poll of my local area that said all of my peers thought racism wasn't systemic, would you council me to agree with them? That's an extremely dysfunctional way of thinking.


Yea, both of these points are so bad as to be almost parody.

Not only should you never, ever base your beliefs based on avoiding the discomfort of being an outsider, but you also should never, ever, use majority opinion as some sort of proof of... anything.

If you did, you’d have advocated for slavery if only you’d been born south of the Mason Dixon years ago.


Here's the wikipedia article for the fallacious argument I used and which you're critiquing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argumentum_ad_populum

Here is some statistical evidence for systemic racism: https://www.businessinsider.com/us-systemic-racism-in-charts... (Shockingly this is actually pretty good despite being from Business Insider)

Honestly, I'd just edit the link at this point if I could since it seems to have triggered so many people. My assumption, again, was that anyone who doesn't believe in systemic racism at this point is not going to be swayed by statistical evidence. I am not advocating that any critical thinker be persuaded by majority opinion.

Luckily we're all critical thinkers here and we crave statistical evidence. I assume that means we also all believe systemic racism is a problem in the US. But in case you're an outlier I hope that link helps.

That said, everything in that link has been true literally forever (for the US.) But opinions are only changing now. Maybe 30% of the United States didn't see those stats before now but I find that hard to believe. I think social proof, despite not being actual proof, is more powerful than you folks would like to believe it is.


> Here is some statistical evidence for systemic racism

None of those charts appear to be controlled for confounders. Doing that correctly is hard, but not doing it at all is ridiculous. It allows you to "prove" that many engineering schools (with majority-white admissions boards) are racist against white people in favor of Asians, or that "racism" exists to the benefit of first generation African immigrants who by many metrics are better off than the US population average.

> I think social proof, despite not being actual proof, is more powerful than you folks would like to believe it is.

It can be effective in convincing people on political issues, but that's pure tribalism. It's anti-science, because it "works" independent of whether there is any truth in the assertion or not.


With all due respect, I'm not sure the BI graphs are great support for the thesis. All of the economic ones are essentially the same: if you're poor, you have less savings, are less likely to be employed, less likely to be CEO, less likely to have health insurance, and so on. They're expected to be correlated, so in some sense they are not as informative as a whole as one might guess from the large amount of them. It's also not clear that this has anything to do with racism, economists would point to a whole load of confounders which mags like BI tend to skip over.

The one I found interesting was marijuana, where at least we have two measurements of the same thing, smoking up and getting caught with the stuff. That could be expanded on, as there's a thesis out there that police focus their resources unreasonably on black people.

A really good study that investigated this would be something like the essays in Steven Levitt's books. A load of numbers, a load of potential explanations, dig into the numbers and every explanation falls (eg if abortions reduced crime it would be correlated across other datasets, ie countries) except for one or two.

At the moment my leaning is actually with you, but mainly from anecdotal evidence. Almost every trip I've had to America has has this weird race-vibe to it at some point. I go to a wedding, and everyone is 95% a minority race. I go to a comedy night, comedian jokes about my race. I hear someone talking, I somehow know what colour they are before I see them. So something about the society has race coded into it.

And then of course there are these horrendous incidents that we hear about every now and again, where some poor black man has been shot by police. I'm sure far more have simply been mistreated, because just by it coming up in conversation with other people, it turns out one of them witnessed such a beating.

But what we need is proper statistical evidence. The BI charts you've got there would be torn apart by an economist in a second.


It’s not argument ad populum, it’s actually arguing that you should feel excluded or discomforted not being in majority.

Anyway, I think the systemic racism discussion isn’t so clear and requires heavy analysis to get it right, you can’t hand wave it, and I’d love to have a nice discussion, but not so much to have it here.


> should not feel comfortable socially expressing that position anymore

The fact that this meta-view (that one shouldn't feel comfortable expressing a certain position) is becoming mainstream is deeply concerning. It is a terrifying attempt at extracting compliance from political opponents.


> at least these days with how anti-science a segment of the population seems to be

Considering the truly abysmal track record of the social sciences [1], this seems at the very least understandable with regards to the "non-hard" sciences.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Replication_crisis


From https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23655876 :

> >"If you don't believe this you're in the minority now" has never in history been a good argument for anything

> I hear you. I originally had "and you don't really like minorities do you?" but thought it was a bit below the belt. I guess without the cruel dig it's not as relevant though.

> I'm not confident that evidence will change the mind of someone who continues to deny systemic racism though. But social proof is very powerful even if it isn't evidence. I don't mind if people believe the right thing for the wrong reasons.

There are plenty of minorities I don't really like. Such as police officers. Or sociopaths. But that's not because they're minorities, and given a choice between a belief that's popular and false versus one that's unpopular and true, I'll pick true one hundred times out of one hundred, and only grudgingly comprehend the distinction.

Anything that can make people believe the right thing for the wrong reasons is just as effective (and usually more so) at making them believe the wrong thing for the wrong reasons, and needs to opposed regardless of whether it happens to have invoked "even a stopped clock is right twice a day" at the moment.


[flagged]


We've banned this account for doing race war on HN. Please don't create accounts to break the site rules with.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


> If the past is racist, then inference will create a racist future. Since racism is systemic[1], especially when it comes to policing, predictive policing is actively working against an anti-racist future.

This comment reminds me of something I saw earlier this morning. A bunch of redlining maps in various cities in California.

Made think of something other than, Black and Hispanic people couldn't get loans in the neighborhoods they lived in. Yadda yadda.

The flipside is whites couldn't get loans in those neighborhoods either. Which meant if you were a middle class white person you couldn't buy a cheaper house in a mixed neighborhood. You were pretty much forced to buy in a neighborhood where covenants excluded Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians.

The system was designed to enhance segregation.

More to your point when you have system that explicitly or implicitly categorizes people and uses that to single them out of punishment or harassment that's group punishment. That's usually considered a no no by civilized people.


Looking at all these comments, did no one watch Minority Report? The whole film was about the difficulties and ethics of "precrime" and arresting people before they even committed a crime. Obviously we aren't doing that here, but stories often exaggerate a bit.

I'd also like to add another good series that explores this topic even more than Minority Report: Psycho-Pass. Psycho-Pass is more extreme in that there's stations setup that are constantly monitoring peoples' brain patterns and trying to predict aggression. I think many draw parallels to mass surveillance and some uses of ML for predictive crime detection.

Both these shows tackle ethical challenges related to policing in this manner even when the predictive power is quite high.


> Obviously we aren't doing that here

IDK. one year olds were added to CalGang database. People were added to the CalGang with no supporting evidence. The database was used to direct police resources and also for background checks for job applicants.

So, you're entered into the database as a one year old (or a ten year old, or a 30 year old but for no good reason). Now you can't get a job. Predictably, you turn to whatever petty crime to survive, like selling loose cigarettes or dealing small amounts of pot. And, since there's increased police attention on you, you're definitely caught.

Taking away people's ability to make a living legally, and then arresting them for turning to crime to survive, sounds pretty equivalent to just arresting them for precrime in the first place.


I meant specifically arresting people before they committed a crime. There is a fine line between that and putting someone under watch, but I think Minority Report was pointing out that this line might as well not exist.

Personally, I think putting someone under watch before they have committed a crime or there is reasonable suspicion that the person is about to commit a crime is unconstitutional. I do not think statistics is justification for "reasonable suspicion."


It's not just putting them under watch. It's putting them under watch while also using the same database to screen job applicants.

Pushing someone out of the legal economy and watching closely has an almost guaranteed outcome. Doing those two things simultaneously is functionally equivalent to either a) starving them to death or b) precrime.


It's worse than precrime. With precrime, you might never be predicted to commit a crime. The situation you describe is basically a) starve to death or b) go to jail.

I wonder if you could make a case for entrapment here?


Everybody commits minor infractions of the law regularly. Putting someone under watch, by a cop who needs to report that he enforced something, is going to ensure they get picked up sooner or later.

There's a saying to the effect that a good cop can find a reason to pull any car over if he follows it for just a couple minutes.


The reality is that the police can pull you over at any time for no reason at all, and you are still required to follow their orders.

There is no remedy available in real-time. The law says that you must always follow police instructions. So if the police pull you over for no reason, and handcuff you on the side of the road, you must submit to the handcuffing. If they demand to search your car, you must submit to that. It is only later that you can move to have evidence dismissed, or file a complaint.

I know this goes counter to how we [1] think the law works. But this is how things work in reality. If an officer acts illegally during a traffic stop, and you physically resist it (e.g. grab them to keep them out of your car after refusing a search), you have committed at least one crime and possibly several. Now you can really be arrested, or if the officer is afraid for their life, shot dead. Even though there was nothing behind the initial pull-over.

[1] Edit to add:

By "we" I mean people to whom the police usually show deference and respect; a group to which I belong, and with which I'm assuming there's a big overlap with HN readership. BTW this deference is part of what is covered by the term "privilege."

There is certainly another group of people who have direct experience with getting pulled over for no reason. Consider the stories told by the former police chief of Detroit:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2020/06/11/floyd-kill...

> When I was chief, a white DPD officer pulled me over one night. He approached my unmarked vehicle and without looking at me, asked for my license and registration. Wanting to see how far this would go, I said, "Yes officer." At some point, he recognized who he had stopped and immediately apologized. My question to him was, “Why did you stop me?” He said, "I thought it was a stolen car." The officer was reprimanded for his actions.


"The law says that you must always follow police instructions."

out of curiosity, which law is this or where does it say that?


That was a good and very moving article. I don't understand though: why was the officer reprimanded for his actions?

Wondering the same thing. I guess we are to assume that there was no stolen car, but then why wouldn't the author just state that? And in fact, wouldn't that warrant more than a reprimand?

I think it’s because he did not have a legal reason to do that traffic stop.

I have one that goes back a few more centuries

> If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him.

- Cardinal Richlieu


Do they? What are these minor infractions that would get picked up on? Likely drug or gun charges. Most people don't own guns illegal or use illegal drugs. The only common infraction I can think of is speeding, but that's not what these criminals are being picked up for. Cops don't follow a single individual around waiting for them to go 5 over the speed limit.

I'll give a partial list and refer to the RCW since that's a state I'm familiar with. Again, the entire point is the driving code is long and complicated. There are many many reasons you can be stopped.

Explore the entire RCW yourself on driving rules here: https://app.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=46.61. I encourage you to read the entire section and ask yourself if you ever have a driving trip longer than 3 blocks where you don't violate one of these laws:

- Speeding (even 1 mph over the limit for only 1 second). 46.61.400 (2)

- Speeding (even if at/under the speed limit if the officer things the roadway is unsafe for that speed, subjective to the officer making the stop) 46.41.400 (1)

- Speeding (failure to slow down at an intersection, hill crest, bend in the road, or when pedestrians are nearby, subjective to the officer making the stop) 46.41.400 (3)

- Passing on the right (except in specific situations) 46.61.110 & 46.61.115

- Driving too slowly (driving too slowly such that you impair the normal and reasonable flow of traffic; note for extra fun that the normal flow of traffic is often above the speed limit and this particular law doesn't provide an exception for driving at the speed limit; subjective to the officer making the stop) 46.61.425

- Failure to signal (both turns and lane changes, even into your own driveway) 46.61.305 (1)

- Failure to properly signal (not signaling a full 100 feet of travel before turning or changing lanes) 46.61.305 (2)

- Illegal wide turn. 46.61.290

- Reckless driving (subjective to the officer making the stop) 46.61.500

- Failure to come to a complete halt at a stop sign. 46.61.190

- Failure to stop between 15-50 feet of the rail from a mandatory stop rail cross (note, the distance measured is from the nearest rail, not the stop sign) 46.61.345

- Expired tabs (even by a day). 46.16A.030

- Anything not street legal about your vehicle (headlight out, taillight out, cracked windshield, window tint).

> Cops don't follow a single individual around waiting for them to go 5 over the speed limit.

This is a preposterous statement and absolutely false. This happens all the time when an officer becomes suspicious of a vehicle. It's literally routine policing that you would learn at the academy if you took officer training.


I think you misinterpreted my comment, friend. I never said or impled that cops don't pull people over for speeding. I said they don't target a single individual and follow them around waiting for them to speed. This was the part of the parent comment I was responding to:

>Putting someone under watch

That does not mean following a single individual a cop may encounter on the road that looks sketchy and wait for them to speed. It means staking out outside "Joe Blow who lives as 12345 Address St."'s house because Joe Blow is part of a demographic that is predicted to be more likely to be involved with gang activity, and waiting for him to get in his car and speed. The difference is an "unknown" or "random" individual vs. a "known" or "pre-planned" individual, because that is what the parent comment was discussing. I apologize if my original comment was unclear! I say this respectfully, it may be beneficial to more carefully examine the context of comments so that discussions may be more productive in the future.


It's not like cops can pull you over for simple possession of weed in your glove box. They pull people over for a traffic infraction and then find the weed, illegal gun, etc.

I once looked up the arrest records in my local area. The number one reason for arrest was "driving without a license." (with no other infractions listed). I'm not saying that this was racial profiling, but I'm not denying that people with Hispanic last names accounted for the vast majority of these arrests. I am at least implying that it is a little suspicious and maybe requires a little more nuance and closer inspection.

Right. Generally, when somebody gets pulled over for a trivial violation and then something bigger is found during the stop, they only write a ticket for the bigger violation. Less paperwork that way and has the end result they were looking for.

Does your area allow undocumented immigrants to get driver licenses?

Like I said, most people do not own weapons illegally or use illegal drugs, even weed. Most people don't smoke weed, even in legal states.

Are you unaware of the fact that police plant evidence?

It would seem farfetched to suggest that this is a widespread issue. And yet it would seem farfetched to suggest that cops would just kill someone for the fuck of it, and yet here we are.

I like to bring Then Now up everytime precrime comes up. Until it goes off the rails in the end, its one of my favorite articles of all time. The paragraphs I yanked below, dont do its craziness justice. https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurtis/entries/78691781-c9b7...

"But the oddest is STATIC-99. It's a way of predicting whether sex offenders are likely to commit crimes again after they have been released. In America this is being used to decide whether to keep them in jail even after they have served their full sentence.

STATIC-99 works by scoring individuals on criteria such as age, number of sex-crimes and sex of the victim. These are then fed into a database that shows recidivism rates of groups of sex-offenders in the past with similar characteristics. The judge is then told how likely it is - in percentage terms - that the offender will do it again.

The problem is that it is not true. What the judge is really being told is the likely percentage of people in the group who will re-offend. There is no way the system can predict what an individual will do. A recent very critical report of such systems said that the margin of error for individuals could be as great as between 5% and 95%

In other words completely useless. Yet people are being kept in prison on the basis that such a system predicts they might do something bad in the future."


The options here are having the judge make the decision based on their gut feeling or they can make it based on data. It's really hard for me to believe that gut feeling is better than data.

> It's really hard for me to believe that gut feeling is better than data.

This is exactly the problem. People assume that data means something by virtue of it being data.

Having a judge make a decision based on gut feelings might not be any more accurate, but at least people wouldn't assume that it was accurate. People would look at it and realize that it was arbitrary. If the data isn't giving good results, then at least we should use a system that makes that fact obvious.

> A recent very critical report of such systems said that the margin of error for individuals could be as great as between 5% and 95%

At a certain point, it would be just as accurate, and far more honest, for us to just flip a few coins. Get it out in the open what we're doing. Get rid of the built-in assumptions people have that the system is fair or predictive just because it's based on data. Make observers live with the fact that it's arbitrary.


When the data is just as likely to be false as it is to be true then it’s worse than useless as a decision support mechanism.

And if you want to use that argument for a parole hearing that's... I can accept that as an argument. I don't necessarily agree with it, but I understand the reasons someone might have for holding that position.

We're talking about holding people after their sentence is done. That's not ok.


In both cases it doesn’t actually work. In the case of the data-backed nonsense it’s been used to justify holding people past their prison sentence. In this case it’s demonstrably worse. In the general case anything that’s “sciency” but doesn’t actually work leads to bad outcomes because people are far more likely to buy into it or at least less likely to call out obvious BS.

>In the case of the data-backed nonsense it’s been used to justify holding people past their prison sentence.

I'm not sure why you assume that it's keeping people in prison and not being used to let them out.


From https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23655017 (your GGP) and supposedly originally https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurtis/entries/78691781-c9b7... :

> In America this is being used to decide whether to keep them in jail even after they have served their full sentence.

That may not be true, but the reason why they assume that is that basch and/or the BBC said that.


Not sure what the answer is for pedophiles. Hopefully it is not this:

https://www.dw.com/en/berlin-authorities-placed-children-wit...

The point being, some sort of predictive model is always used to evaluate sentencing and release. Is 5 years enough, or will that pedophile attack more kids when they get out? How about 10 years? Gee, they don't seem to be attacking children in prison, maybe we should release them early for good behavior?


What percent of a population will act is not a good gauge of the percent chance of an individual acting.

Unless you have special relevant information about the individual, the fraction of the group to which the individual belongs which will act in a certain way is the probability that the indivdual will act in that way.

Minority Report is more than just the movie or the book or the pre-production scripts. The whole 'telling' of the world, and it's many versions, are interesting to look at. The history of the story provides a great, if navel gazing, look at free will and the future in general: many possibilities.

The interactions of how empathy for the characters are created in the audience via the book and/or pre-production script vs. the movie are a great look into how us humans deal with these issues of 'free will'. It's largely emotional, not logical. How these various 'tellings' deal with that issue honestly shows the genius of Spielberg's approach to stories. Why does free will elicit such an emotional response in us?

The 'world' of Minority Report is, largely, the antagonist of these tellings/stories. It's not just a place where characters interact that has cool stuff and whizz-bang technology. Here, it's a character itself. In doing that, it demonstrates this 'free will' issue again. The world interacts with the audience and has the audience 'buy into' the (fictional) world. It's oppressiveness and thrilling nature is felt by the audience. But why? Where does free will reside in this interaction of 'story' and audience? Why are stories gripping in a world with/out free will?

The use of water's distortions of light are a big theme in the movie too. I'm not sure how it relates to free will, but, thematically, it was a really cool feature that comes up all over the film.

The movie really is a good one. The great Michael Tucker has a fantastic essay on it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QbMPjas_rRU


Big budget movies sort of struggle against telling stories about justice for people whom we discriminate against contemporaneously.

You could never make a movie that even loosely portrays the plight of Uighers, who suffer under a notoriously technology-heavy form of surveillance and oppression (what we are calling predictive policing). Not because of censorship but because no one is going to fund your film.

So while I love Philip K Dick and Syd Mead and whatever, it was still a movie that gave more screen time to an Audi than to a black person. Your fiction needs to engage with the real somewhere, and people are realizing that the fiction of predictive crime is really about the reality of arresting black people for crimes that white people do not get arrested for more efficiently.


I think the purpose of movies and stories is to make these events relatable. You're supposed to draw parallels. You don't have to show a black person to convince white people that minorities are being repressed. In fact, it is probably more convincing if on screen you are showing white people being oppressed because then they are going to more identify with that character. Of course, we are supposed to analyze these stories and find what they are trying to tell us. They aren't always so much "here's the entire problem, why you should care, and every little nuance" but rather "this is a problem." It often serves as a stepping stone for people to learn and start to care. To see things that they didn't see before because a story can give you a glimpse into what it is like living in someone's shoes. I wouldn't bash a story for not being able to compact what requires dozens of hours of research into an entertain-able bite size chunk. Stories serve different purposes from documentaries which serve different purposes from literature and news.

In fact I would argue this is one of the great strengths of SciFi as a genre: you can transport present day problems into a foreign setting, allowing the viewer to engage with the core problem without getting distracted by race or nationality

Exactly! This is why The Orville is a better Star Trek than the official reboot. Sci-Fi was always about exploring ethical dilemmas in current society. Just portraying them as either a different species (representing a some subgroup in our society) or potential outcomes of policies if they were to be abused. I mean, if you think Blade Runner/Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (and Altered Carbon) is just a gritty Sci-Fi Film Noir, then you missed half of the movie which was about socio-economic status and struggles (specifically Blade Runner is critical of Reganomics).

IDK about the others but maybe we don’t bring up Minority Report because that system actually worked for the most time. It took a major conspiracy by the chief of police himself to make it frame Tom Cruise’s character. Other than that, murder was basically nonexistent and people were happy.

I haven't seen it since I saw it in cinemas, but thinking back, shouldn't the precog's visions be used as a bayesian prior? If they see a guy who is just done shooting someone, shouldn't that be the starting point for gathering a little more evidence? If it turns out he doesn't have a gun or training in how to use one, maybe let him go? If you see he goes to shop for a gun and spends some days on the range, evidence is stronger by any account.

If he then starts sending threatening letters to his ex with cut up old bits of newspaper, that's some more evidence.

Maybe do a RCT when goes to visit her, then you can save half of them potentially. It's a bit grating how they skip around the subject of how exactly they know their prediction method works.


Sounds like Minority Report and 1984 had a nightmare baby. Will definitely check that out.

Did you ever read the original story? I very much recommend doing so.

I came here for the Minority Report reference.

But this is not “pre crime”. Someone in those areas still has to break the law to be arrested. What you write has zero connection to reality.

Often we use stories to draw parallels. If you watch a movie or read a book and think "that's not a precise depiction of the issue!" I don't think anyone is going to disagree with you. I think you are failing to see similarities and are focusing on the differences. The differences are there for entertainment. I mean... come on... we don't even believe that humans have psychic abilities/magic. But that doesn't mean that it can't be a compelling and worthwhile story. Even Gattaca, which is much more scientifically reasonable, has many shortfalls and exaggerates things to tell a better story.

There's numbers between 0% and 100%. I'm not claiming Minority Report is 100% reality (that's ludicrous!), but that doesn't mean it is 0%.

Take your trolling elsewhere.


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