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Lies, Damned Lies, And The Media (Part 6 of ∞)

[content warning: discussion of violent crime, including sexual assault]

I plan to write an article on misuse of statistics by online news organizations, but looking back through my archives most of the examples I’ve got are from a couple of liberal sites that aren’t the worst offenders so much as the only ones I can even bear to read. I’m worried that some of my readers have gotten the impression that liberal sites are the only ones that routinely misuse statistics, which would be grossly false. So before I write the article, I thought I’d give one example of how a lot of conservative sites have statistics that are so bad they’re not even fun to dissect.

I chose Breitbart’s “Rape Deniers: 9 Facts About Illegal Alien Crime The Media Covers Up” because it sounded promising – talking about rape and calling people who disagree with you “deniers” are two pretty reliable red flags that an article will be terrible. It’s a series of 9 facts meant to show that illegal immigrants to the US are involved in a lot of crime, especially sexual crime.

I’m skipping Fact 1, which is just a methodological point I don’t dispute, Fact 2, which just says some native-born Americans are unemployed, and Fact 3, which says that a lot of our heroin comes from Latin America; I don’t really disagree with any of these. I’m also skipping Fact 7 because it’s a repeat of Fact 6 and the same points apply. That leaves Facts 4, 5, 6, 8, and 9.

4. Because local and state prisons don’t track legal status, we don’t know how many illegals are in those prisons. As my colleague Ben Shapiro points out, the lack of this number is being used dishonestly by the media against Trump…Trump’s repeated statements about immigrants and crime underscore a common public perception that crime is correlated with immigration, especially illegal immigration. But that is a misperception; no solid data support it, and the data that do exist negate it. Trump can defend himself all he wants, but the facts just are not there. Except the facts are there. The Feds do track legal status, and the numbers are startling. Of 78,022 primary offense cases in fiscal year 2013, 38.6 percent were illegal immigrant offenders. The majority of their cases (76 percent) were immigration related. Of total primary offenses, 17.6 percent of drug trafficking offenses and 3.8 percent of sex abuse were illegal immigrants. Of 22,878 drug crime cases, 17.2 percent were illegal immigrants.

The first part of this is a really weird complaint. They’re saying that 38.6% of federal prisoners are illegal immigrants, which is true and indeed very high. Then they’re admitting that 76% of their cases are immigration related. That is, the Feds are imprisoning them because they immigrated illegally. I think that most people would be willing to concede that illegal immigrants are more likely to have immigrated illegally than other populations.

The second part, the part about federal drug trafficking, is complicated; it’s different from “drug having”, “drug dealing”, and even “drug trafficking” as a broader non-federal category. To get a federal drug trafficking arrest, you have to move really large quantities of drugs “across state or national borders”, preferably in a “High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area”. That is, crimes that would give you state charges in a normal place become federal charges in one of these areas. Where are they? The entire US border with Mexico is a gigantic High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (see this map). So a high rate of illegal immigrants among federal drug trafficking prisoners just means that they’re more likely to be involving in transporting drugs across the US-Mexico border than, say, a lumberjack in Wisconsin is. I am prepared to believe this.

Finally, illegal immigrants do commit 3.8% of federal sexual abuse cases. I give Breitbart credit for finally getting a number that is entirely correct and not biased at all. Unfortunately for them, illegal immigrants are 3.8% of the US population.

5. According to the Justice Department…There are 94 federal court districts in this country and the five located near the southern border see a large portion of criminal cases, according to the Justice Department’s annual report on criminal prosecutions. The five federal districts also have the biggest number of defendants actually convicted of federal crimes. Of the 61,529 criminal cases initiated by federal prosecutors last fiscal year, more than 40%—or 24,746—were filed in court districts neighboring the Mexican border….Nearly 22% (13,383) were drug related, 19.7% (12,123) were violent crimes and 10.2% (6,300) involved white-collar offenses that include a full range of frauds committed by business and government professionals. Read those stats closely because the media will lie and claim the crimes involve border enforcement. As you can see, over 40% involve drugs and violence.

So here’s some interesting math. “More than 40% – or 24,746 – were filed in court districts neighboring the Mexican border.” Ellipsis. “13,383 were drug-related, 12,123 were violent crimes, and 6,300 were white-collar fraud.” Wait a second. Those three numbers add up to 31,806, more than the total number of cases. Apparently we can’t trust illegal immigrants to obey any laws, including the laws of mathematics.

Breitbart’s reference goes here and their reference is here. When I look it up, these turn out to be the numbers across the entire US, not the numbers for southern border regions. This makes sense – do we really think illegal immigrants commit 6,300 cases of white-collar fraud per year in their dynamic illegal immigrant megacorporations?

But this is really embarrassing for Breitbart’s case. Their whole point is that the disproportionate number of crimes committed in immigrant-heavy areas are not just immigration offenses, but in fact representative of the country’s crime load as a whole. But that’s only because they’re accidentally looking at the country’s crime load as a whole instead of at crimes committed in immigrant-heavy areas! I can’t actually find the immigrant-heavy-area data, but I’d be willing to bet that the disproportionate number of federal crimes along the border do in fact involve border enforcement, exactly the argument they claim to debunk.

6. There are more than 2,000 sex offenders deported by ICE every year in Texas alone…of the 862 alien sex offenders deported by the Texas-based offices, about 27 percent were convicted of sex offenses against children?

Quick, how many illegal aliens in Texas? If it’s 10 million, then their sexual offense rate is far lower than that of any other population. If it’s 10,000, their sexual assault rate is far higher than that of any other population. Not only does Breitbart not give these numbers, but they don’t even seem to understand that they should give them, or expect their readers to care.

I can’t actually figure this number out because it depends on knowing what percent of immigrant sex offenders are deported each year. Consider: there are 86000 sex offenders in Texas. About 6% of Texans are illegal immigrants, so by chance we should expect about 5000 sex offenders total. Given that more than 2000 are deported per year, and that this has been happening for more than three years, that sounds like there are (or were) more than 5000, unless some deportees came back, which we know some do. But I don’t know that the sex offender registry is measuring the same kind of sex-offenderness as the illegal immigration numbers, so I can’t be sure of this. Also, the Texas statistics for immigrants include Oklahoma and possible other areas, so it’s hard to directly compare.

According to this page, there are 5017 arrests for illegal aliens for sexual assault over 4.5 years, so about 1100/year. That should be the sort of number we can work with. But it’s well above the total number of Hispanics arrested for sexual assault given here, immigrant and native-born alike, which doesn’t make sense. So I don’t know what to do.

The only good source I can find for percent violent crime by illegal immigrants in Texas is this one, which says that they commit 7.5% of murders. But they’re 6% of the population, so that’s pretty much what we’d expect. This accords with the numbers mentioned above, where in federal prisons the percent illegal immigrants serving time for sexual assault was proportionate to their percent of the population.

I can’t find good numbers here. A very rough inference from one source of Texas sex offender numbers would suggest that the number of sexual offense deportations is unusually high, but inferring based on the murder and sexual abuse numbers suggests that sexual offenses are about average. I’m not sure which method is more correct – but in any case, whatever the truth is there’s no way Breitbart’s numbers could be expected to get anyone any closer to it.

8. In 2013 the Obama administration released 36,007 criminal immigrants who had nearly 88,000 convictions between them. Those convictions included 193 homicide convictions, 426 sexual assault convictions, 303 kidnapping convictions, and 1,075 aggravated assault convictions In January, the DHS admitted to Sen. Grassley that 1,000 of the 36,007 released had gone on to commit more crime including: terroristic threats, lewd acts with a minor, various types of assault, DUI, robbery, hit-and-run, gang activity, rape, and child cruelty.

Politifact rates this half true. All immigrants involved served full prison sentences appropriate for their crime; the concern isn’t that they didn’t serve their time but that after their time was up they didn’t get deported. The DHS says that their policy is that if they haven’t finished a deportation case by the time a criminal gets out of prison, the criminal may be released until the deportation case is finished, mostly because the prison system won’t keep them and the DHS doesn’t have enough immigration-related prisons of its own. These people are subjected to the usual monitoring and may be rearrested and deported after their deportation case comes through. There is some reason for concern in that about 3/4s of these people manage to lose themselves before the deportation case is complete, but the DHS reasonably says that if people want this to stop happening people should give them more funding.

And once again, without more information we can’t tell whether any of this involves a higher crime rate than any other population.

9. ICE is finding and removing more criminal aliens each year. The number ordered removed has gone up from 7,000 in 2007 to 79,000 in 2010. These criminals are not being stopped at the border. These criminals are being deported after making it across the border and committing tens of thousands of crimes.

Sheesh. You get angry when we don’t deport immigrants. You get angry when we do deport immigrants? Make up your minds! This is literally just complaining that we’re getting better at solving the problem you complained about above!

There are between ten and twenty million illegal immigrants in the United States – about equal to the number of New Yorkers. If somebody wanted to expel New York from the country, they could point out that New Yorkers commit 616 homicides, 2,534 rapes, and 45,206 cases of aggravated assaults per year. Or that we need seventy-one prisons just to contain all the New Yorker criminals in our justice system, and we don’t have nearly enough funding to run all of them effectively, such that literally thousands of New Yorker criminals, including murderers and rapists, are released into the general population every year. You could report that [number] of New Yorkers commit violent sexual assaults on children each year – I don’t know what the number is, but I guarantee you that it is a number, that it has a certain number of digits, and that it is worse than zero.

Breitbart consistently fails to give numbers that would mean anything or inform anybody, and when it either uses numbers that are loaded in its favor or ones that don’t mean what it thinks they mean. The actual numbers on the question of interest don’t seem particularly outrageous.

This isn’t to say that there can’t be legitimate concerns about illegal immigration. In fact, that’s my whole point and something that I wish conservatives better understood: we need to practice Gettier politics. There’s a theory on the Right that since the media has created a giant edifice of lies to justify liberalism, liberalism must be false. But other parts of the media have created a giant edifice of lies to justify conservativism. Instead of assuming our opponents are necessarily gullible morons who believe the giant edifice of lies on their side, we should kind of awkwardly go “Oh, there’s a giant edifice of lies on your side too? Yeah, I know that feeling,” and listen to what they have to say.

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422 Responses to Lies, Damned Lies, And The Media (Part 6 of ∞)

  1. JGFC says:

    “I’m worried that some of my readers have gotten the impression that liberal sites are the only ones that routinely misuse statistics, which would be grossly false. So before I write the article, I thought I’d give one example of how a lot of conservative sites have statistics that are so bad they’re not even fun to dissect.”
    that’s a great reason for an article, and admittedly I had gotten the impression that liberals manipulate in this way more often. can’t wait to read the rest.

    Also, i justed wanted to say: thank you for writing all these articles, your work is always a pleasure to read!

    • Gbdub says:

      What’s weird for me is that Breitbart strikes me as total muckrakers – they are pretty open about their desire to turn the left’s own media dark arts against them – I have an aversion to reading them even though I’m more inclined to agree with their broader policy point than, say, Mother Jones or Salon. Yet for some reason my head still labels Mother Jones and Salon substantially more respectable, even though I disagree with their policy points and they often engage in the same crap.

      So am I just embarrassed by Dark Arts practitioners on my “side” while being righteously indignant by those on the other? Is it just that I’m less liberal than my group of friends and am more likely to see Salon in my newsfeed? I don’t really know.

      • Urstoff says:

        Mother Jones definitely seems more respectable. They’re like the National Review in my mind: have a definite ideology, but at least make an attempt to be accurate in what they write. Salon, in contrast, is just downright terrible: https://twitter.com/Salon/status/665344751928008704?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

        • Gbdub says:

          Yeah Mother Jones is maybe not the best example. I’m not sure they are really any less ideological, but they are usually less strident. Plus I guess it’s harder to react negatively to something with “Mother” right in the title?

          • roystgnr says:

            The title kept me away from Mother Jones for far too long; I’d never heard of Mary Harris Jones so I thoughtlessly assumed a liberal magazine named “M.J.” was making a puerile drug joke.

          • Virbie says:

            @roystgnr

            I learned a while ago that judging a site by its name is more or less just the streetlight fallacy in action. It’s particularly annoying these days because I can’t share an article making an unintuitive point from a site like slatestarcodex.com or overcomingbias.com, without having some people immediately thinking “wtf is this random kook’s WordPress blog”.

        • RCF says:

          Mother Jones earned my contempt for reporting, shortly after the invasion of Iraq, that congress was considering re-instituting the draft, despite the fact that the bill to bring back the draft was sponsored solely by Democrats, for the sole purpose of allowing left-wing ideologues such as MJ to claim that congress was considering bring back the draft.

      • dndnrsn says:

        @Gbdub:

        If your group of friends and your “atmosphere” as a whole are liberal/left wing, broadly speaking, Salon’s content probably offends you less on a visceral level, even if you disagree with it more.

        The embarrassment vs indignation is definitely a thing. There’s a gap between “oh no, my people are being crappy again, why do we keep doing this” and “of course THEIR PEOPLE are being crappy again, that’s what they do”.

        And they really are the same thing. I just fired up Salon and Breitbart and compared them side by side. They’re like mirror images of each other. Their content is obviously very different, but the way they handle it is the same. Their tone is the same.

        That is, their message is “the other team is evil liars who support awful things and do a bad job of covering it up, and our team needs to be rougher and tougher and less moderate”. Salon right now is all “Republicans are sexist racists; Sanders is rising on Clinton and this is good”. Breitbart is “Democrats hate white men; Trump is scaring the Republican mainstream and this is good”.

        Also, Breitbart is probably as far right as you can go in the US without becoming toxic (I would say the “toxic line” lies right between Breitbart and TakiMag, and has mostly to do with race), while Salon is probably as far left as you can go without becoming … not so much “toxic” politically as just kind of silly and trivial: a Democrat candidate is going to be less afraid of getting associated with students protesting microaggressions on an Ivy campus than a Republican candidate with Steve Sailer, but there’s definitely a left-wing backlash against those sorts of campus activists.

        • alaska3636 says:

          “the “toxic line” lies right between Breitbart and TakiMag , and has mostly to do with race”
          That’s a funny point and one that I agree with even though I regularly read Taki, Sailer and Dalrymple. I look at Breitbart as essentially pointless, like Salon for right views – kneejerk and ill-considered.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @JGFC: Depends on what you mean by “ill considered”. I’d wager Breitbart and Salon know exactly what they’re doing.

            TakiMag, while being toxic, is better written than Breitbart. Its articles tend to be longer, it’s less clickbaity, and I would wager its readership is smarter than Breitbart’s. Breitbart is really just a younger, edgier Fox.

            Jacobin is probably the left-wing equivalent: openly promoting actual socialism (as opposed to what usually gets called “socialism” in the US, which at its leftmost looks like European social democracy) is probably to the American left what arguing for a race-IQ link is to the American right. Jacobin is likewise better written than Salon, has longer articles, is less clickbaity, and I would bet its readership is on average more intelligent than Salon’s.

          • Cliff says:

            How can you draw an analogy between “a race-IQ link” which is a matter of scientific fact and “actual socialism” which is a way of organizing an economy? Jacobin is advocating a political position, “a race-IQ link” is apolitical at its heart and comes with no policy proscriptions attached (not to mention it is recognized by a majority of academics in the relevant field- see the post-Bell Curve survey).

          • Daniel Armak says:

            @Cliff facts are soldiers in political wars. In an ideal, rationalist world people would treat factual claims differently from polity proposals. But in fact they treat them the same. To the point where the fact of evolution is politically Left-aligned.

          • kfix says:

            @Cliff

            With the current state of understanding of the causes of “a race-IQ link” (or the precise definitions of those terms), almost any statement about the subject beyond reporting the results of testing is likely to be a political statement.

        • Parker says:

          For some reason, picking on Breitbart feels really mean in a way that picking on TakiMag doesn’t.

          From my point, it seems like nobody (even those who are right leaning) takes Breitbart and their journalism seriously) and there’s a sort of understanding that they’re really sloppy and bad.

          Reading Scott’s piece felt a bit like … maybe like David Foster Wallace teaching a writing class at a community college and making fun of a really slow kid in that class.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Parker:

            Breitbart probably influences more people than TakiMag. It’s got a way higher Alexa ranking (914 global and 250 US vs 43,286 and 14,907 for TakiMag). Unless that’s mostly hatereading, plenty of people seem to take them and their journalism seriously.

            They seem to fill a niche – namely, they’re less establishment-right than Fox, probably skew to a younger and more internet-savvy crowd, but a crowd that still prefers dog-whistles and code words to what TakiMag writes.

          • Parker says:

            @dndnrsn

            I totally agree. They’re massively popular. I guess my (poorly put) point is that most of who Scott has picked on before has agreed to enter into some sort of a “We Do Serious Journalism” circle (even if they don’t, a la Salon).

            Breitbart has always been an outsider candidate, and Scott’s piece is well deserved, but almost too *easy* because they are outside of the circle anyways. It’s more satisfying when a Vox or even a Fox takes a hit because there’s a feeling that it’s inside the establishment and at least makes an attempt at quality.

          • brad says:

            I’m not sure that we should feel any worse that for “the lamestream media is lying to you, but I’ll give it you straight” organization than we should for the “we are serious journalists, of course we get it right” organization when they get accurately torn apart.

            Neither one strikes me as picking on the local newspaper that mostly writes about bake sales and break-ins.

          • Stefan Drinic says:

            There is a bunch of people you may or may not belong to who think the media and academia are some sort of Cathedral which forms a tight cabal of people who get to dictate public opinion. Seeing someone call a media outlet like Breitbart something which doesn’t ‘count’ ends up amusing me with that in mind, if only because the sheer irony of the matter

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Parker:

            For some reason, I have the notion that Salon used to be more respectable, on the level of Vox or Slate – although never on the level of the Atlantic, Harper’s, the NYT, New Yorker, etc. It wasn’t always a clickbait site. But I’m not sure why I have this association with it.

            My general impression seems to be, in terms of respectability/honesty/diligence of mainstream left publications: NYT, New Yorker, Atlantic, Harper’s, actual print Guardian > Vox, Slate, some of Vice’s stuff, New York Magazine, HuffPo, internet Guardian (last 3 kind of sliding into the next lower category) > Salon, anything Gawker, xoJane, Buzzfeed, most of Vice.

            I’m not as familiar with mainstream right-wing stuff. But Breitbart definitely falls into the third category: it was never anything but a rag.

          • nil says:

            I used to read Salon, and it definitely seemed to be somewhat more legit and somewhat less doctrinaire. For example, it’s hard to imagine Greenwald being a regular writer for it nowadays, but he used to be one of their biggest draws (and it was where he was writing when he made the move from “random blogger” to “pundit whose name you almost certainly know if you’re into that sort of thing”)

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I used to read Salon. They were fairly Slate-like. Liberal tilt but a cross section of perspectives. Introspective and self aware enough to be readable.

            Then they went towards something more like “we yell at the people you hate” and as they slid farther and farther that way, I stopped reading them.

          • I think Scott picked Breitbart precisely because it was an easy pick. I doubt he reads many serious right-wing sources or has many friends who do, nor does he particularly desire to go do that. So to make a point, “Yes, I do actually think the other side does this, too,” without having too spend too long wading through right-wing articles, he picked an one that seemed likely to be flawed based on its name and source, and then got lucky.

          • Steve Sailer says:

            Back in the 1990s, Salon was funded by the Internet stock market bubble — I can recall their market capitalization being valued at $100 million at one point — so they could afford to pay for quality writers in competing with Slate, which was funded by Bill Gates. It was assumed 17 years ago or that having successfully created a fairly respected brand name, Salon would eventually figure out a way to monetize its content, either through subscriptions or high advertising rates.

            Unfortunately, it turned out to be really hard to get rich off quality Internet punditry. The Internet remains a surprisingly ineffective way to advertise compared to print in its 1990s heyday. Heck, the print edition of The New Yorker makes quite a bit of money even today because it’s a sumptuous vehicle for advertising luxury goods.

            So Salon has gone lower brow to get more clicks. Slate and The Atlantic have too, although Salon is more shameless about it.

            I can’t really blame them, but it is pretty funny.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Steve Sailer:

            The Atlantic’s online content has definitely gotten lower-brow. The print edition, not so much – and the online seems to be the print edition plus trashy pop-culture stuff (roundtable discussion of every episode of Game of Thrones) plus comments.

            But they aren’t clickbaity like Slate, let alone Salon, and they are a lot less mindlessly partisan than Salon or others.

        • asdf says:

          “Breitbart is probably as far right as you can go in the US without becoming toxic”

          Do you even know who Breitbart was? That rag is absolutely toxic by any standard.

        • dndnrsn says:

          @Cliff:

          The analogy is that these are the subjects that can’t be touched, on the right and the left respectively, without being politically unacceptable.

          If they are different kinds of subjects, that doesn’t really matter so much – I just think that these are the two most important lines.

          Besides which, “socialism works and is good” is a claim inherent in “we should have socialism”.

      • JGFC says:

        “So am I just embarrassed by Dark Arts practitioners on my “side” while being righteously indignant by those on the other?”
        yeah, that seems to be the case for me. ‘they fight the good fight, but it’s a shame they do it in this way’ vs ‘not only are they wrong, they are also manipulative bastards!’

        see also Lord, Ross & Leper (http://gruntledandhinged.com/2015/08/14/lord-lepper-ross/)

      • Some years back, I was following stories on Republican candidates accused of being nuttier than they were. On one of them, I found the Huffington Post page to be more accurate than most others. For details see:

        http://daviddfriedman.blogspot.com/2010/09/ken-buck-and-separation-of-church-and.html

      • Juan Peron says:

        In the case of Mother Jones at least, they’re genuinely better. Mother Jones is unabashedly (and sometimes ignorantly, statistics-abusingly) liberal, but they also try to be a ‘respectable’ new source. They’ve got a stack of journalism awards to their name, and they do real-deal investigative journalism (sometimes on politically neutral topics).

        As for Salon (and Slate, and Kos, and their ilk) I think they just dress it up better. They’re less inflammatory, they’re less oppositional, they have bigger name and more stately writers. Salon in particular tries to act like a high-end news source people can be proud to read, even though their content is on par with Breitbart.

        Check out the Sam Harris debacle (http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/sam-harris-the-salon-interview/). Where Breitbart yells lies, Salon just covers up anything that inconveniences them. No more honest, but way less grating to read.

        • Nornagest says:

          While I’m no fan of Salon, the worst they did in the Harris interview was cutting content that explicitly attacked them (under pretense of editing for length) after they said they’d give Harris editorial control. Harris does claim to have secured a promise that he could say anything he wanted about Salon, but if he actually believed that he could get away with dissing it on its own turf, I’ve got a bridge to sell him.

          • Montfort says:

            Why does it matter if Harris believed them?

            If you bought a car from a dealer who promised you a second car of equal value for free, you probably wouldn’t expect him to actually do it. But it would be no less dishonest for him to then turn around and tell you your second car tragically fell off a bridge in transit and would not be replaced.

            I agree that the direct harm to the reader and to Harris is not very large, and in that sense the incident is kind of exaggerated. But on the other hand, journalists and news outlets like to make a big deal about their integrity, and this is a strike against it (if Harris actually obtained the promise as he claims).

          • Deiseach says:

            Does anyone actually want to read X number of paragraphs of Sam Harris going “Not only are Salon a bunch of morons, they’re lying morons”?

            You would need the tortures of the Inquisition (as conceived in popular culture) to make me read a Sam Harris article, and anything that prunes it for length is gratefully received.

            Are we saying Salon (or any other media organisation, from a television network to a blogger) is obligated to print, publish or disseminate unedited and unexpurgated criticism that is only “I don’t like these guys”? Considering how news content and ‘factual’ documentaries are edited, slanted and scripted to have a storyline imposed on them, I think complaining about this is straining a gnat and swallowing a camel.

            (Not that I think Salon are great, either, but I don’t see anyone is obliged to repeat someone else name-calling merely in the name of “editorial control”).

          • Nornagest says:

            I think it’s a dick move on Salon’s part to tell Harris he could say whatever he wanted about Salon and then turn around and cut it before publication, but I don’t think it’s a big enough dick move to support the kind of stink he’s making (and I’m saying this as someone that would happily salt Salon’s ruins, given the opportunity).

            And perhaps more importantly I don’t think Salon’s being uniquely bad here; I’d expect the same behavior from any news outlet of any note. Not from a good blogger, but standards are different there.

          • Montfort says:

            Deiseach:
            Well, obviously that’s the kind of thing an editor would have think about before (allegedly) promising someone they could say whatever they wanted about their publication in an interview and it would be printed.

            If no such promise was made, then yes, of course Salon is going to cut it out, and it’s not particularly dishonest or unusual to do so.

            But if the promise existed, as Harris alleges, then Salon’s conduct is in breach of it. Breaking promises to your sources is bad, generally speaking. Can we agree on that?

            The content of the promise they (allegedly) broke is not particularly relevant here – there might be an exception in journalistic ethics for preventing great harm, but there probably isn’t a secret footnote somewhere that says “but if behaving ethically would make your publication look bad or make your article a little more boring, go ahead and disregard everything else, the public will understand.”

          • Montfort says:

            Nornagest:

            I only read the one blog post on it when it was last linked at SSC. Has Harris written more on it?

            Maybe I’m being naive, but I genuinely expect most news outlets (including the more reputable web-only ones) to at least care enough about the appearance of impropriety not to make such a promise without a few good loopholes.

            In any case, I agree the Harris thing isn’t a particularly good stick to beat Salon with, since as far as I know we only have Harris’ word the promise was made, and only implicature that Salon didn’t escape the promise through a valid loophole.

      • Salon used to be good in the early days (left of centre, sure, but nothing like what it is now) and it was a bit of a pioneer in the web space. For those of us who have been around longer, we still respect it more than it nowadays deserves.

        • God Damn John Jay says:

          I get the feeling that Slate is basically the same story (admittedly I started reading it when I was ~14 years old so this might just be cynicism seeping in), used to be prestigious and give dense fact based articles, now it is increasingly ideological think pieces.

          (David Auerbach’s expose on Facilitated Communication seems to be the notably exception)

        • keranih says:

          I agree that Salon used to be both less overtly biased and less strident. I don’t click through to Salon links anymore; I will still read the Atlantic and Slate, because while I’m reasonably sure I know which slant the article will take, there’s also a good chance I’ll learn something.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        It’s hard for rightwing media to make money off of advertising because they are more vulnerable to boycotts of advertisers by angry leftists. So they don’t sell many ads to prestige companies. *

        In contrast, rightists seldom organize consumer boycotts of leftist media’s advertisers (probably due to tendencies toward being pro-business and less into the-personal-is-political). For example, I haven’t picked up a print edition of the leftwing The Nation magazine recently, but it sold a remarkable amount of ad space during all the years it protested the Iraq War. I was really impressed with how hard they hustled for advertising revenue. I pretty much agreed with them on the Iraq War so I was glad to see them prosper, but it was striking to see how well they were doing selling advertising compared to what conservative magazines, both pro-war and anti-war, were doing.

        * The exceptions tend to be business publications that are cushioned by subscriptions that individuals expense to their employers, such as the Wall Street Journal, The Economist, and the Financial Times. Around 1990, the WSJ Editorial Page (not the newspaper, just the two pages of opinion) employed a staff of 31! The WSJ editorial page had a huge political impact in the last couple of decades before the Internet age, in part because it was so rich.

    • > admittedly I had gotten the impression that liberals manipulate in this way more often

      Honestly my interpretation would be that Scott is more sensitive to or more exposed to the ones from the liberal media, given his social group would make him more likely to be exposed to them (more vox than fox is shared on bay area rationalist facebook).

      My own impression, mainly from the British press is that right wing media is worse, but that may be more based on the average education levels of the audience they aim for.

      All journalism has an incentive to minimise time consuming research and come to conclusions that support their audiences biases, but they are limited in what they can get away with by their audiences ability to detect it. So a paper that markets to a higher education segment would be forced to be more rigorous. And since in most countries there is a rough correlation between left/liberal/progressive and education level, liberal press would have more incentive to get the facts right.

      • dndnrsn says:

        I see a lot of people I know to be smarter than average post and repost some pretty egregious stuff, though. I’m not sure if “not getting the facts wrong” is enough. I’ve seen a lot of dubious statistics, and a lot of really weird conclusions. The sort of thing where while casually reading it, obvious counterarguments are not even addressed.

        • Gbdub says:

          And “leftists have more incentive to get the facts right” doesn’t really follow when this post is all about how Breitbart definitely presents an unsupported conclusion, but doesn’t seem to really get any facts egregiously wrong.

        • dndnrsn says:

          Yeah. A lot of what I see left-wing friends and acquaintances post on Facebook that I roll my eyes at is at the same level as this Breitbart post, which I roll my eyes at.

          Equivocation, leaving information out (eg, “group X did # bad things!” without # of bad things, “group X did % of bad things!” without % of group X in the population, “group X did % of bad things and is only % of population!” without context), misrepresenting statistics, using dodgy statistics, coming up with 2 or 3 emotionally charged stories and ignoring statistics all together, are all more common than outright lying.

          Having read both, I would estimate the audiences of Breitbart and Salon to be fairly similar in terms of intelligence, reading level, etc. They’re both clickbaity outrage-porn propaganda sites that tell the reader how bad and dumb and conformist the other side is and how good and smart and original they are. If Breitbart and Salon were fictional characters, people would be shipping them for that “I-hate-you-but-I-love-you-and-I-hate-myself-for-loving-you” factor.

          • Dirdle says:

            If Breitbart and Salon were fictional characters, people would be shipping them for that “I-hate-you-but-I-love-you-and-I-hate-myself-for-loving-you” factor.

            Uh. Yeah, if that were the case, ha ha. Good thing it isn’t, right? Ha.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Until the moe art for both sites is complete, we’ll have to make do with my Milo Yiannopoulos-Alex Pareene slash fic. Chapter 47 is about half written, as of present.

        • JGFC says:

          I wouldn’t say they get the facts wrong — they probably just did not do their research very well and just copied something they heard, or they saw what they wanted to see. If you see a paper saying ‘X group is mre criminal, but corrected for Y they are not’ then both sides can claim statistics in facor of their stance on the issue: no malign intent needed.

      • ad says:

        So a paper that markets to a higher education segment would be forced to be more rigorous.

        That just suggests that the broadsheets should be better than the tabloids, and the mid-market tabloids should be better than the red-tops. Which is pretty much their reputation.

        But that does not mean the Guardian will be better than the Telegraph, and that’s not their reputation.

        It just means the left-wing Guardian will be better than the left-wing Mirror.

        • “So a paper that markets to a higher education segment would be forced to be more rigorous.”

          But not very much more.

          In my experience, the overwhelming majority of people who talk about confidence values in statistics don’t know what they mean. They think it’s a measure of how likely it is that theory is false, given the data. It’s actually a measure of how likely the data are, conditional on the theory being false in a particular way (the null hypothesis). Those are entirely different things.

          Also, sizable parts of the higher education world are an ideological monoculture, which makes spotting mistakes harder. I’m not sure if that pattern is more or less common on the right. How many of Breitbart’s readers are conservatives who only talk to other conservatives, vs how many of Salon’s readers are liberals who only talk to other liberals?

          • ad says:

            Don’t liberal journalists outnumber conservative ones by ~ 10 to1 in America? In such circumstances I would expect liberal journalists to be much more vulnerable to groupthink than conservatives, simply because they are so much more likely to find themselves in an ideologically homogenous group. Probably less of a difference in the UK.

    • Aca says:

      I think, if there’s something that should be taken away from this, it’s that one should be super suspicious of concepts like “more often” if you don’t have a base rate.

      • JGFC says:

        True, but apply that in your daily life and you are either QS’ing or silent. That seems too extreme?

        • Mark Z. says:

          I think the right principle to apply there is that your daily life probably has much shorter-reaching impact than a change in public policy. If you’re considering turning all the prisons in America into pay-per-view deathmatch arenas, it’s worth spending the money to measure effect sizes. If you’re deciding which brand of mustard to buy, probably not.

  2. anonymous coward says:

    Scott says, ““More than 40% – or 24,746 – were filed in court districts neighboring the Mexican border.” Ellipsis. “13,383 were drug-related, 12,123 were violent crimes, and 6,300 were white-collar fraud.” Wait a second. Those three numbers add up to 31,806, more than the total number of cases.”

    But the “drug related” and “violent crimes” categories can overlap. Plenty of people commit violence in the drug trade.

    • Gbdub says:

      Also, “immigration crimes” and “drug trafficking” can overlap. “Immigration crimes” could mean “smuggling humans” as well as simple “I personally immigrated illegally”.

      I also thought the “complain when they deport, complain when they don’t” was uncharitable. It’s pretty clear that the point Breitbart is trying to make is that we’re having to arrest, imprison, and deport people who in their opinion should have been prevented from entering the country in the first place. There is no reason that is incompatible with “now that they are here, we need to deport the felons among them more vigorously”.

      But otherwise I thought this post was a great exercise in once again showing how a superficially convincing but very misleading argument can be made without ever really “lying”, just by selecting which truths to tell and what context to leave out.

    • shemtealeaf says:

      Good point, although Breitbart makes the same error by adding 19% and 22% to conclude that over 40% of the crimes involve drugs or violence.

  3. Daniel Armak says:

    Scott, what’s your credence that the authors of the Breibart article knew their numbers were are wrong, misused or misleading? And (separately) that they deliberately chose bad numbers and bad presentation to mislead people?

    And, if your answer to the second question is high, what do you think is their criteria for which bad numbers are ‘camouflaged’ enough to fool their audience – do they prefer to mislead, misquote or quote out of context, or just make things up outright?

    • Peter Gerdes says:

      It seems highly implausible they *knew* there numbers were incorrect or misleading.

      I mean that would require the authors of the piece putting in the additional legwork to discern their figures were wrong or misleading and choosing to include them anyway. This is hardly the first article they have published so they either genuinely care about getting things right and were mistaken (deadlines etc..) or (more likely I imagine) they realize it doesn’t really matter and just pull the first numbers they can to get the piece out with minimal effort.

      The question is to what extent does site management communicate the fact that they don’t really care about correctness only clicks?

      • JadeNekotenshi says:

        Also, confirmation bias will make them less likely to double-check figures that seem to be supporting the narrative they already agree with.

      • Jacobian says:

        I have to agree with Peter and Jade. I used to think that straight dishonesty must be involved and no one could be that blind. Then, I started writing myself and was corrected on believing an embarrassing number that was just too good to be true for the point I was making.

        Every time I underestimate the power of confirmation bias it proves itself unstoppable. Of course, once you believe in confirmation bias you see evidence for it everywhere 🙂

        • cbhacking says:

          The best defense I’ve personally found against confirmation bias is actually stuff straight out of EY’s 12 Virtues of Rationality (http://www.yudkowsky.net/rational/virtues), primarily the 8th: “To be humble is to take specific actions in anticipation of your own errors.” Anticipating the possibility that I’m wrong helps me remember to do at least some basic fact-checking.

          Being egregiously wrong is sufficiently embarassing that it makes a good motivator for me. Not sure how universal this is, but “I may be wrong about this; I’d better double-check” is reasonably easy to remember if you have some motivation. In conversation where there’s no socially-acceptably opportunity to fact-check myself, I simply try to point out that I may be mis-remembering something as being more convenient to me than it really is.

          It works in areas beyond mis-remembered sources, too. I now try to find the link somebody telling me “you’re wrong” would use. It’s sort of like steelmanning (which I also try to do), but I’m not specifically looking for the other side’s best arguments, just for anything that’s a trivial knockout of what I’m saying. If anything so easily reachable convinces me that I’m probably wrong , better that I know about it before posting rather than waiting for somebody else to post it for me and show I didn’t do my research.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        Most journalists, left or right, don’t actually know much about crime rates in the U.S. because it’s a dangerous field for one’s career to be expert about because the single biggest fact about crime in America is that black crime rates are so high. It’s much safer to study up on baseball statistics or the stock market or just about anything other than crime statistics.

    • Richard Gadsden says:

      I’d bet on “reckless as to whether the numbers were correct or not” – or “insufficiently numerate to know whether the numbers were correct or not” over lying. There really aren’t that many journalists who (a) know how to check the numbers, (b) have the time to check them and (c) care enough to check them.

      • nonymous says:

        They also don’t care about “immigrant crime” beyond its utility as a political weapon for stoking fear and resentment.
        It’s a political performance completely disconnected from the issues on the ground.

        • Mary says:

          “They also don’t care about “immigrant crime” beyond its utility as a political weapon for stoking fear and resentment.”

          On what grounds do you make that assertion?

  4. onyomi says:

    I’d be curious to see you evaluate data on all the claims about an “explosion” of sexual crime in Europe committed by Arab immigrants. Cologne and the like do make we worry there may be a genuine conflict of culture (people moving from a place where all respectable women are covered and accompanied by male escorts because men are assumed to be ravenous dogs to a place where respectable women wear revealing clothing and walk about unacccompanied), rather than just an anti-immigrant bias making people evaluate the same crimes more harshly when committed by illegals.

    The complaints about how illegal Mexican immigrants are so much worse than the rest of the population have always struck me as much less plausible because of the fixation on a small number of egregious cases (that guy who was deported and returned several times before finally murdering a young white women–and yes, I do think it matters it was a young white woman–there is very much the flavor of the much older complaints about miscegenation, I think, and I don’t think it would have been nearly so big a story had the repeat offender ended by murdering an old, black man) rather than statistics. But one could surely find very egregious cases of repeat offenders of native extraction slipping through the cracks until they finally do something horrible all over the place if looking.

    • Butler says:

      I remember reading somewhere, right at the start of the European refugee crisis, that the point the Red Tribe likes trumpeting about Sweden – “Rape capital of Europe” – is not at all because they have more rapes, but rather because they have a lower bar for what legally counts as “rape”. And that women feel substantially more comfortable reporting sexually-charged crimes in Sweden, because of well-funded publicity campaigns and well-trained, amply-funded police support officers who make it substantially less daunting for victims to report crimes.

      I don’t know if any of that is actually TRUE, but it’s certainly an argument that has been made: that Sweden experienced an increase in rapes /on paper/, but not /in fact/. In that narrative, the fact that the Swedish third-world immigrant population increased at the same time is entirely coincidental.

      • Randy M says:

        The wikileaks guy, Julian Assange was accused of rape in Sweden, iirc. The particulars were something about not stopping halfway when it was revealed he wasn’t wearing a condom, I think. Categorize that how you like.

        The distinguishing thing about Sweden, though, isn’t how high reletively the rape is, but what porportion are non-Swedish Swedes–first, second, third, etc. generation immigrants of non-nordic origin. There’s an argument that the Muslim nations the immigrants come from are happy with laxer standards of male conduct towards non-covered females, but to make it we have to clarify why Swedes shouldn’t be allowed the preservation of their cultural norms inside Sweden.

        • Sweden does not release good data on this (as you might have guessed), so it is not easy to know. You can browse around the statistics database for crime http://www.bra.se/bra/bra-in-english/home/crime-and-statistics/crime-statistics/reported-offences.html or other stuff http://www.statistikdatabasen.scb.se/pxweb/en/ssd/ It’s in English.

          There are good data available for Denmark, although the police are known to cheat with the numbers (they admitted it to the press recently, but it is not known exactly how much). I have analyzed immigrant data for Denmark, Finland, Norway and the Netherlands previously. http://emilkirkegaard.dk/

          The general conclusion is that country of origin IQ predicts worse outcomes and country of origin Muslim% also predicts worse outcomes. Together, these two variables explain most between group variation in Denmark and Norway. Data for Finland and Netherlands are too sparse to draw strong conclusions yet (too few countries with data; too few indicators, only crime data are available).

          The data are publicly available so whoever wants to explore them further can do so.

          • 27chaos says:

            What’s the size of %Muslim’s correlation with bad outcomes? I would have expected most of it to be mediated by low IQ, not for them to stand independent from one another.

          • http://openpsych.net/ODP/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/educationalattainmentetcDenmarkFinalEdit2015.pdf

            Table 12. Correlation of origin country Muslim% x S factor is .78, N=63. S is the analog of the g factor for socioeconomic outcomes. Very strong indeed.

            I did not report the betas individually, but you can just download the data and see for yourself.

            One possibility for the strong independent predictive validity of Islam is that IQs have been overestimated for the Muslim countries. Lynn have been doing some recent studies of that. So maybe. My hunch is that some of the independent statistical effect represents a causal cultural conflict. This cannot be proven with the current data. It would be nice to find individual-level data for Islamic beliefs and outcomes. There are in fact a few studies looking into this, but they don’t share data and only examined educational outcomes.

    • Sastan says:

      We have a bit of a problem, because at the national level statistics, the US breaks out hispanic crime victims, but not perpetrators. If a hispanic person is victimized, they’re hispanic. If they perpetrate a crime, they’re white. This is by design, I have no doubt. You will also note that places like Sweden and Norway pointedly stopped tracking the national origin or ethnicity of criminals when it became politically expedient to do so.

      However, from what secondary and state-level analysis I have seen, hispanics in the US have somewhat higher crime rates than native whites, but far lower than native blacks. Given the broadly poorer origins of many of them, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the gap all but vanish when controlled for SES.

      Of course, any crime immigrants commit is, in a sense, excess crime. There is a natural resistance to taking injury from an outgroup, even if it statistically less likely than from an ingroup. “No one hits my brother but me” is the playground formulation.

      • Earthly Knight says:

        This is by design, I have no doubt.

        Here are the FBI’s homicide tables for 2013, which do break offenders down by ethnicity. It looks as though your instincts are correct, and that hispanics have a much lower homicide rate than blacks.

        The main reason there is not better national data is that the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report depends on information supplied by state and local police agencies, which often do not record the ethnicity of the perpetrators. No sinister motives, as it happens.

        Of course, any crime immigrants commit is, in a sense, excess crime.

        What we really care about is the risk of any individual being the victim of a crime, and if immigrants commit crimes at exactly the same rate as the native population, your risk of victimization will remain the same no matter how many we let in. The “excess crime” committed by immigrants will be cancelled out by the excess victims who also come over the border.

        • Stefan Drinic says:

          As a rule, people would rather do wrong than get wronged. We don’t spend ridiculously disproportionate amounts of money on terrorism because we’re very likely to die from an attack, but because we hate the idea of outsiders scoring points against us. Many more lives could be saved by investing in traffic safety, disease prevention, housing, anything, but since those things don’t involve the great enemy’s involvement we simply don’t care as much.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            First of all, I don’t see what this has to do with “doing wrong” over “getting wronged”.

            But sure, people hate terrorism more because it involves human evil and deliberate targeting of the innocent, which naturally provokes more outrage than natural or accidental harms. And terrorism is designed to cause terror: to make people change their behavior and submit so as not to become targets of violence. As Timothy Sandefur writes, the same points regarding the “insignificance” could have been made (just as inappropriately) in regard to lynchings in the Jim Crow South:

            The argument that “terrorism is so rare that it’s not reasonable to fear it” seems to have become increasingly popular in the wake of the San Bernardino attacks. The President himself has repeated it a few times. The problem with this meme is that it is accurate only up to a point, and that point probably unhelpful. In fact, it begins to sound a bit desperate.

            For one thing, as Fred Schwarz points out, the same could be said for any number of atrocities that we have nonetheless rightly found it worthwhile to address seriously. Lynching in the Jim Crow south was, relative to the black population as a whole, a rare occurrence, and the likelihood of any particular black southerner being lynched was vanishingly small. Should Civil Rights activists have therefore stopped complaining or focused on “more pressing” matters? The likelihood that any particular American would fall victim to predation by the combined forces of Germany, Italy, and Japan in 1941 was almost infinitely tiny. Nevertheless, we rightly recognized fascism as a threat to humanity. The likelihood of being incinerated by a nuclear weapon during the Cold War was quite small. [Was it? Sandefur’s point is pretty weak here.] But it was a serious enough risk to move many people to action in protest.

            Nor are the statistics as simple as the meme suggests. Reason says “your chances of being killed by a terrorist are about one in 20 million…. In other words, in the last five years you were four times more likely to be struck by lightning than killed by a terrorist.” Fair enough. But being killed by a terrorist is not the same thing as being a victim of terrorism; indeed, the two things are basically entirely different, since the dead cannot be terrorized. A victim of terrorism is a living person who sees, hears, feels, experiences a terrorist incident—and the people who know and care about that person. Barbara Olson was not really a victim of terrorism—she was just a murder victim. Those of us who knew her are the actual victims of September 11. What makes terrorism a political act, as opposed to a lawbreaking act such as murder, is this exponential, reverberating quality. In this sense, I and all my friends and all readers of my blog are victims of the San Bernardino attack.

            By the “killed” criterion, on the other hand, Salman Rushdie is not a victim of terrorism. Nor was Molly Norris. Nor were the 352 people wounded in Paris last month, whose lives will never be the same again, or the survivors of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, or their terrorized readers. Surely these are absurd conclusions.

            If the broader definition of victim is used, and I believe it should be, the simple calculation of your odds of dying (or being injured) is not a fair measure of your likelihood of being a victim of terrorism.

            What’s more, successful terrorist attacks are only the froth on the surface of a particularly nasty cauldron, and people know this. For every successful attack, there are an unknown (but greater) number that fail. And for all those that fail, there are an unknown (but much greater) number that are considered and that might have occurred. And for all those that are considered and might have occurred, there is a vast, unmeasurable, background sentiment in support of such attacks—the supporters, harborers, enablers, and fellow travelers who do not choose the jihadist path themselves, but regard it nonetheless as the righteous will of God. Thirty percent of Pakistani Muslims refuse to repudiate killing civilians in the name of Allah, and Pakistan is a nuclear power. That number is 20 percent among Muslims here in the U.S.

            It is, of course, true that Americans are more at risk from, say, car accidents, not to mention illness, than from terrorism. But this only teaches us that it would be wise to take precautions against these risks, too. It does not mean, as some writers claim, that terrorism should be regarded as essentially a “nuisance.” And it’s true that we should not let terrorist threats alter our way of life. But as with the lynching example, the numbers don’t tell the full story. Like the racial terrorism of the Jim Crow days, the terrorism of our age is the manifestation of a much more disturbing malady, one that Americans have perfectly sufficient grounds to fear, and which justifies their demand for action by those sworn to defend the country. Merely citing the likelihood of actually being murdered oneself does nothing to diminish that.

            Update: Perhaps I should add that I continue to believe that the United States should welcome Syrian refugees.

            The whole thing is full of links, and I’m not going to link all the links.

          • Stefan Drinic says:

            I’m contesting that we care about the risk of any individual being the victim of a crime, as if general safety were the number one concern when weighing concerns about illegal immigrants, since I think it’s not. People crossing the border are more dangerous than your domestic hooligans/drunks/rednecks/homeless(pick your favorite) criminal types not because they’re inherently more dangerous, but because they’re scary and foreign and threaten your way of life and must be fought at all costs. I don’t appreciate at all that you’re turning this into a thing about terrorism for the sheer reason that I used it as an example; whether you’re deliberately strawmanning me, are making an honest mistake, or want to inject your pet topic into an unrelated discussion, I think you should take the linked article elsewhere.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ Stefan Drinic:

            I’m contesting that we care about the risk of any individual being the victim of a crime, as if general safety were the number one concern when weighing concerns about illegal immigrants, since I think it’s not. People crossing the border are more dangerous than your domestic hooligans/drunks/rednecks/homeless(pick your favorite) criminal types not because they’re inherently more dangerous, but because they’re scary and foreign and threaten your way of life and must be fought at all costs.

            Are you saying that people do, in fact fear crime committed by illegal immigrants more than they fear crime committed by natives simply because they’re racist/xenophobic? Because I would agree. That certainly explains why people write scare stories about illegal immigrant crime.

            Or are you saying that this is a justified or appropriate attitude? In that case, I do not agree.

            The purpose of the terrorism article was not only to respond to the example which you actually did give, but also to indicate a case where the crimes are different in kind from “regular” crimes—and therefore legitimately provoke a different kind of response.

          • Stefan Drinic says:

            Yes, I am saying people are more afraid of illegal immigrants committing crimes than people of their own culture. I’m not sure why I need three posts to make that clear.

            Whether or not it’s justified isn’t really relevant in explaining it; I just said that they fear it more, not whether or not that’s a good thing to do. If I could press a button that would magically make people fear things proportionate to the likelihood in which they cause harm I would press it, but that’s hardly the matter in question.

            I also think using the term racist or even xenophobic makes discussions like these almost needlessly tense, as it can be read to imply that some people have those mean qualities that make them hate all the poor brown people. I think humans in general are more fearful of outsiders doing them harm than people they are familiar with doing them so. If you want to call that racism/xenophobia, so be it.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            Yes, I am saying people are more afraid of illegal immigrants committing crimes than people of their own culture. I’m not sure why I need three posts to make that clear.

            Well, that much is obvious. Of course that is why they hysterically overreact to illegal immigrants. If you’re just popping in to say that, you aren’t imparting any new information.

            Whether or not it’s justified isn’t really relevant in explaining it; I just said that they fear it more, not whether or not that’s a good thing to do. If I could press a button that would magically make people fear things proportionate to the likelihood in which they cause harm I would press it, but that’s hardly the matter in question.

            We already know that they do fear it more. Is anyone denying it?

            The question of whether they are justified in doing so is relevant because if this fear is unjustified, we should oppose it, not appease it. I mean, not everyone hysterically overreacts to immigrant crime, so it’s not some matter of inexorable genetic determinism.

            I also think using the term racist or even xenophobic makes discussions like these almost needlessly tense, as it can be read to imply that some people have those mean qualities that make them hate all the poor brown people. I think humans in general are more fearful of outsiders doing them harm than people they are familiar with doing them so. If you want to call that racism/xenophobia, so be it.

            Everyone (probably) has natural tendencies toward being distrustful of “outsiders”. Some people do more to oppose this and look at things from a rational point of view, and some people do less and give in to this savage form of tribalism.

            What is racism or xenophobia supposed to be, other than the unjustified exaggeration of the danger posed by unfamiliar outsiders, as the result of this cognitive bias? I mean, if the danger were real or if everyone were inherently equally racist and/or xenophobic, there would be no sense in condemning these things.

          • Stefan Drinic says:

            Jesus christ, man, take it easy. I thought Earthly Knight’s point was a little shaky: I think people do not, in fact, view all risk of crime as being equal, instead they think crime perpetrated by illegals is disproportionately bad. That’s all I said. I’m not going to get drawn into a larger debate on the ethics of this phenomenon because you felt like being pushy.

          • Virbie says:

            @Vox Imperatoris

            > But sure, people hate terrorism more because it involves human evil and deliberate targeting of the innocent, which naturally provokes more outrage than natural or accidental harms. And terrorism is designed to cause terror: to make people change their behavior and submit so as not to become targets of violence. As Timothy Sandefur writes, the same points regarding the “insignificance” could have been made (just as inappropriately) in regard to lynchings in the Jim Crow South:

            I think you’re right that terrorism is reacted to more hysterically because it’s louder and flashier than the other ills mentioned by Stefan, which is precisely the terrorists’ goal. But boy, that argument (and the other ones from that quote) is a teeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeerrible one, and really obviously so. The reaction to lynching wasn’t to the torture/murders per se, it was to the condoning and lack of prosecution by law enforcement (and occasional complicity, depending on what time period we’re talking about).

            In the case of fighting the Axis, I have trouble seeing anything but disengenuousness in your assumption that wars are motivated by “possibility of direct physical harm to the average citizen at exactly this point in time”. To the extent that the decision to join the war was motivated by “recognizing fascism as a threat to humanity” rather than a knee-jerk reaction to Pearl Harbor, why wouldn’t you assume that it followed the pattern of every non-aggressive war: a decision made with our long-term economic and security interests in mind? A Hitler-dominated Europe may not have been gunning directly for the US but would be much more of a global competitor than a divided Europe (among which we have historically had both allies and rivals/enemies) would be.

            Yeesh, looking at the entirety of that quote, I can’t find a single point that stands up to the merest scrutiny. Talk about a Gish gallop….

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ Stefan Drinic:

            Look, I don’t know what your views are. I’m not trying to suggest that you in particular are racist and/or xenophobic, and I apologize if it came off that way.

            The way your post came off to me was that you were presenting these attitudes as an inevitability that we can’t do anything about. How am I supposed to take something like this:

            I also think using the term racist or even xenophobic makes discussions like these almost needlessly tense, as it can be read to imply that some people have those mean qualities that make them hate all the poor brown people. I think humans in general are more fearful of outsiders doing them harm than people they are familiar with doing them so. If you want to call that racism/xenophobia, so be it.

            As for being “pushy”, well, one has to keep in mind the larger context of this discussion, which is: is the U.S. justified in continuing its policy of extreme immigration restrictionism on the basis of the criminal threat posed by immigrants?

            This kind of “I’m just saying, people are gonna look for their own kind; you’ve gotta expect that when all these foreigners come in and cause trouble, there’s gonna be a reaction” argument is often used as a justification of such policies. It was, indeed, almost literally what Grover Cleveland said when he signed the Chinese Exclusion Act: that he didn’t think the Chinese were really a threat, but that their immigration was going to provoke a white backlash.

            I do think this is an important moral-political issue, and I’m going to comment on it. You don’t have to take it as a personal affront. If it doesn’t apply to you, then it wasn’t intended as one.

          • Randy M says:

            Extreme immigration restriction? Compared to whom? De jure or de facto?

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            I think you’re right that terrorism is reacted to more hysterically because it’s louder and flashier than the other ills mentioned by Stefan, which is precisely the terrorists’ goal. But boy, that argument (and the other ones from that quote) is a teeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeerrible one, and really obviously so. The reaction to lynching wasn’t to the torture/murders per se, it was to the condoning and lack of prosecution by law enforcement (and occasional complicity, depending on what time period we’re talking about).

            I don’t take Sandefur’s argument to be that is like lynching in the respect that it is condoned by the authorities. I take his argument to be that terrorism is like lynching in that it targets only a few, but it cows the rest into submission and makes them paranoid and fearful.

            The fact that it was condoned by the authorities made it worse, but do you think that black people wouldn’t have feared lynching if it hadn’t been condoned by the authorities, who (suppose) were simply powerless to stop it?

            In the case of fighting the Axis, I have trouble seeing anything but disengenuousness in your assumption that wars are motivated by “possibility of direct physical harm to the average citizen at exactly this point in time”. To the extent that the decision to join the war was motivated by “recognizing fascism as a threat to humanity” rather than a knee-jerk reaction to Pearl Harbor, why wouldn’t you assume that it followed the pattern of every non-aggressive war: a decision made with our long-term economic and security interests in mind? A Hitler-dominated Europe may not have been gunning directly for the US but would be much more of a global competitor than a divided Europe (among which we have historically had both allies and rivals/enemies) would be.

            The analogy to the Axis is less apt, I agree. Nevertheless, I disagree with your analysis.

            It wasn’t a random accident that Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. Over the course of 1940 and 1941, the U.S. had been giving greater and greater aid to Britain and China and doing more to oppose Japan and Germany. At the time of Pearl Harbor, the U.S. had recently frozen all Japanese asssets, and they were actually fighting German submarines in the Atlantic in order to protect lend-lease aid to Britain.

            And the opposition to Germany controlling Europe wasn’t just (or even mainly, or at all) that Europe would be united instead of divided. (Are we bombing the European Union?) It was that the Nazi regime was evil, and that if action, such as lend-lease, were not taken to keep them from taking over Britain, the ideology of fascism would spread across the world until it did pose a direct and immediate threat to the U.S.

            But if the U.S. had actually kept itself out of European and Asian affairs, it is true enough that Japan and Germany would not have bothered the U.S. for quite some time.

            Global politics isn’t some big competition to be the strongest. Canada perceives no threat from the U.S. despite being infinitely weaker. As long as countries believe in liberal peace and free trade, they are sources of benefits to one another, not threats. It is only when some countries adopt ideologies of conflict and oppression that they become threats.

            I gather that the point Sandefur intended by the Axis analogy was to compare it to Islamism, which also largely does not present a direct and immediate threat to Americans, but which (he believes) should be stopped now anyway before it does.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ Randy M:

            Extreme immigration restriction compared to the number of immigrants who have the right to come and who actually would come if the restrictions were listed. And extreme in relation to the policies that previously existed less than a century ago.

            Not extreme in relation to other countries which are just as bad in this regard.

            As Bryan Caplan explains:

            Let C=total number of immigrants – legal and illegal – who annually enter the U.S. under existing laws.

            Let F=the total number of immigrants who would annually enter the U.S. under open borders.

            Under perfectly open borders, C=F. Under perfectly closed borders, C=0. Where does the status quo fall on this continuum? The obvious metric:

            Open Borders Index=C/F

            With closed borders, the Open Borders Index=0. With open borders, the Open Borders Index=1.

            Regardless of your views on immigration, it’s hard to see how your estimate of the actually existing Open Borders Index could exceed .05. After all, there are hundreds of millions of people who would love to move to the U.S. just to shine our shoes, and three million would be a very high estimate of annual legal plus illegal immigration. Rhetorical invective notwithstanding, mainstream immigration policy proposals are all in the neighborhood of .01 to .05.

            Lessons: If, like me, you want to set the Open Borders Index=1, you should be utterly depressed. Nothing close to open borders is even on the table. If, however, you want to set the Open Borders Index=0, rejoice. We’re approximately there already.

          • Randy M says:

            I hope that Bryan Caplan is depressed for a good long while then. It is asinine to measure the number of people a country should allow entrance to in any way by the number seeking entrance. That is equivalent to saying no place on earth should have a population density any less that the most dense on earth

          • houseboatonstyx says:

            @ Stefan Drinic
            If I could press a button that would magically make people fear things proportionate to the likelihood in which they cause harm I would press it, but that’s hardly the matter in question.
            [….] I think humans in general are more fearful of outsiders doing them harm than people they are familiar with doing them so.

            I think it is reasonable to be more frightened* about becoming the target of attack (not necessarily physical) by someone of mysterious motives (or no motive) than by someone of one’s own culture. You don’t know what is likely to set the former off, or how far they are likely to go. (Examples: SJW types; gun right types who may see you as a supporter of government tyranny and/or Communism.)

            * I’m saying ‘frightened of’, since ‘afraid of’ may suggest an appraisal of statistical probability.

          • Nornagest says:

            And the opposition to Germany controlling Europe wasn’t just (or even mainly, or at all) that Europe would be united instead of divided. (Are we bombing the European Union?) It was that the Nazi regime was evil…

            The 1941 American consensus on Nazi evil wasn’t strong enough to justify going to war without being helped along by grand-strategy concerns and Pearl Harbor (though Pearl Harbor was more a Schelling point than a necessary provocation). It would have been scary, yes. But the Western aversion to ultranationalism wasn’t yet established; indeed, most of the world, including the United States, was going through a flirtation with strongman leaders, and the long-term limitations of that style of governance were not yet clear. There was a real sense that liberal democracy might be on the losing side of history relative to either communism or nationalist autocracy or some hybrid. And I don’t think the full extent of Nazi atrocities was yet reliable public knowledge.

            After 1945, by contrast, we’d had four years of war propaganda pushing the democracy-and-freedom narrative, not to mention returning veterans who’d seen places like Dachau and Belsen, and the seeds were planted that’d give us e.g. cyborg Nazi gorillas in B-movies for the next sixty years.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            I hope that Bryan Caplan is depressed for a good long while then. It is asinine to measure the number of people a country should allow entrance to in any way by the number seeking entrance. That is equivalent to saying no place on earth should have a population density any less that the most dense on earth

            He’s not saying we should allow more just because we could allow more.

            He’s saying (separately, not argued for in this piece) that we should allow in everyone who wants in. Therefore, we should measure distance from this goal by the ratio of (people who are allowed in) / (people who would come if they were allowed in).

            One commenter tried to attack him by saying that your bloodstream could theoretically be between 0% and 100% arsenic. But you shouldn’t rejoice just because your bloodstream is only 1% arsenic.

            However, that misses the point. If there were people out there who wanted everyone’s blood to be 100% arsenic, it would nevertheless be true that 1% arsenic is closer to my goals than their goals. This is true even if (as is actually the case), 1% arsenic is just as bad from my perspective as 100% arsenic. We’re still closer to what I want than what the 100% arsenic people want.

            @ Nornagest:

            Sure, to an extent it is true that the reasons for U.S. involvement in WWII were not the same as the reasons the U.S. should have been involved in WWII. Things happen in politics for all kinds of random reasons. (I think, especially, the attitude of the U.S. occupation toward Japan and Germany at the end of the war was good but arrived at essentially by accident.)

            Still, well before Pearl Harbor, the U.S. had effectively become an undeclared belligerent through its policy of heavy one-sided support for the enemies of the Axis, in violation of all principles of neutrality. And to a very large degree, this is because Americans opposed what National Socialism stood for, and in the East because they were outraged at Japan’s abuses in China.

            I am absolutely sympathetic to the view that FDR’s presidency was a type of Americanized fascism—but it was a very, very different type of fascism.

          • Nornagest says:

            I wouldn’t call FDR a fascist, Americanized or otherwise. But I would say that he rode an autocratic wave in politics, and that he brought a level of centralized power to the presidency that hadn’t been seen before and rarely since.

            A different personality in office could have given us full-blown fascism. We got something else, but with essentially the same forces driving it.

          • Randy M says:

            He’s not saying we should allow more just because we could allow more.

            He’s saying (separately, not argued for in this piece) that we should allow in everyone who wants in

            Did it read like I was attributing to him the view that we should bring in people who *don’t* want to? Really? I’m saying that the view that you describe here entails allowing into the USA much of the poulation of the planet, and I don’t recognize a moral obligation to do so.

            It creates vastly different incentives for the nations of the world if their standard of living is constrained by their available environement, versus the entire world.
            Also, in recognizing that our arsenic intake is low, you seem to be reading the FDA recommendations, rather than actually monitoring the arsenic intake, which is that we go and eat arsenic whenever it feels like it. (Weird analogy, btw).

          • Stefan Drinic says:

            I’m kinda glad I got out of this discussion when I did now.

          • “I wouldn’t call FDR a fascist”

            I’m not an expert on the relevant history, but my impression is that the first New Deal was fascist in the ordinary economic sense, the second much less so. That’s taking fascism as private ownership of the means of production combined with government control thereof.

          • Mary says:

            ” I think humans in general are more fearful of outsiders doing them harm than people they are familiar with doing them so.”

            and probably can’t be removed. Because we have found some people who do not have racial prejudice.

            They have a condition called Williams syndrome, and as a consequence, they have no fear of strangers. They have to be taught to consciously consider that this is a person whom I do not know and who may wish me ill.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ Randy M:

            Did it read like I was attributing to him the view that we should bring in people who *don’t* want to? Really? I’m saying that the view that you describe here entails allowing into the USA much of the poulation of the planet, and I don’t recognize a moral obligation to do so.

            It creates vastly different incentives for the nations of the world if their standard of living is constrained by their available environement, versus the entire world.
            Also, in recognizing that our arsenic intake is low, you seem to be reading the FDA recommendations, rather than actually monitoring the arsenic intake, which is that we go and eat arsenic whenever it feels like it. (Weird analogy, btw).

            This post is completely bizarre. I’m not really sure how to interpret it.

            First of all, where did you get the idea that I am saying you think Bryan Caplan believes we should force people to come to the United States against their will? That’s a complete non sequitur.

            Obviously, I recognize that you don’t think there is a moral obligation to let everyone come in who wants to. I think there is. As does Caplan. He does not argue for that in the blog post in question. That is not the purpose of the blog post.

            The purpose of the blog post is to measure the extent of immigration restrictions in the U.S. He argues that the proper way to do so is to compare the ratio of those who would enter under a policy of immigration freedom against the number who currently enter. The result he gets is that the U.S. is much closer to closed borders than open borders.

            It creates vastly different incentives for the nations of the world if their standard of living is constrained by their available environement, versus the entire world.

            It is not very clear what you mean here. I presume you mean something like, “Let the Haitians stay in Haiti, so they’ll fix Haiti’s problems themselves.”

            For one, there are no such things as “incentives for nations”. Nations are not actors. There are plenty of reasons why dictators and corrupt elites might have no good incentives to fix their own countries, despite this not being good for the people as a whole.

            Second, if people are free to move, it creates an incentive for rulers who wish to retain their populations to maintain good institutions. If they have a captive market, it doesn’t matter how poor the quality of service is, people will pay taxes anyway.

            Also, in recognizing that our arsenic intake is low, you seem to be reading the FDA recommendations, rather than actually monitoring the arsenic intake, which is that we go and eat arsenic whenever it feels like it. (Weird analogy, btw).

            What? Seriously, what in God’s name are you talking about here? I can’t interpret it at all.

            I suspect you misread my post or something.

          • Randy M says:

            @ VI: The thread is too long to clarify usefully, I think, especially when we get into the “What you thought I meant when I quoted his statement” territory, and I apoligize for boring everyone with that kind of thing. You previous statement seemed a non-sequitor in the quoted portion, and that was the best I could explicate it.

            Beyond that I was making the point that people have differnt cultural preferences, and those coming to America (or wherever) because they are poor and desperate are not going to leave those behind, creating, or at least tending to create, the kind of cultures that create the situation from which they were desperate to flee–corruption, high population density, crime, heck, litter. The people of America–or wherever–should be able to agree to enforce borders to maintain their internal culture to their own liking.

        • Mary says:

          “What we really care about is the risk of any individual being the victim of a crime, and if immigrants commit crimes at exactly the same rate as the native population, your risk of victimization will remain the same no matter how many we let in. ”

          Err — What????

          If the rate at which immigrants commit crime is higher, the same, or even lower than the native population — as long as it’s not zero — an individual’s chances of being a victim increases in direct proportion to the number admitted. The only way it could remain the same is if every immigrant displaced a native.

          • Nornagest says:

            Not if criminal immigrants are victimizing other immigrants as well as natives. Which does seem like the more likely scenario; actually, I wouldn’t be surprised to find them disproportionately preying on other recent immigrants, if only because immigrants tend to stay in immigrant communities for a while.

          • Mary says:

            That would produce a lower but non-zero rate of native victimization, on top of the existing rate.

            Also, most criminals do not limit themselves to one crime. The risk therefore does not decline with a larger body of potential victims the way it increases with a larger body of potential criminals. (But “direct” was probably off.)

          • Nornagest says:

            Natives are going to be preying on immigrants to some extent, too, so there’s some displacement going on in that direction as well. Your model would predict that victimization rates — of the existing population — would increase if you filled a hundred tour buses with the most boring, law-abiding, churchgoing elderly Midwesterners you could find and drove them into the middle of Compton, which seems… odd.

            It may indeed be true that a larger body of potential victims leads to more crime, but if so then population, or population density, is the root of the problem and there’s no particular reason to talk about immigrants as such.

          • anon says:

            Mary’s logical mistake is that she does not consider that immigrants may become victims of native criminals.

            If we accept that immigrants are just as criminal as the native population, then we must assume that the immigrants victimize natives and are victimized by natives at the same rate, in other words for every immigrant who mugs a native ideally there is a native who mugs an immigrant, and in absence of immigrants that native would have mugged another native instead, so as a native your risk of being personally victimized remains exactly the same.

            (note that this is just logical pedantry, based on the debatable assumption that immigrants are just as criminal as natives; in the end I do agree with Mary that third world immigrants are very harmful to first world countries)

          • Earthly Knight says:

            If the rate at which immigrants commit crime is higher, the same, or even lower than the native population — as long as it’s not zero — an individual’s chances of being a victim increases in direct proportion to the number admitted.

            This is false. You are failing to recognize that some crimes which would have been committed against natives will now be committed against immigrants instead. In other words, you are focusing on the increase in the numerator while ignoring the change in the denominator.

            Suppose that there are 100 people in a country and 20 crimes distributed randomly among them, for a 20% rate. We introduce 10 immigrants with the same crime rate. Now there are 110 people in the country and 22 crimes, for a 20% rate. Nothing has changed.

          • Is this correct?

            Posit 1 person out of 10 is a criminal.

            Person A is in a room with a representative sample of 9 other people, so one of them is a criminal who will attack someone else.

            The chance for person A to be attacked is 1 – (8/9) = 0.111…

            Now 10 more representative people are introduced in the room, so one more criminal that will attack someone else (including possibly the other criminal).

            The chance for person A to be attacked is now 1 – (18/19)^2 = 0.102…

            So the chances of being attacked for anyone in the original population are actually *lowered* when people with a similar or lower crime rate are added to that population?

          • John Schilling says:

            @Machine Interface: True for small populations, but almost exactly compensated for by the increased possibility of being attacked multiple times. As the population becomes large, both effects become insignificant.

            But I must admit, the prospect of encouraging immigration on account of the peaceful immigrants will serve as ablative armor for the natives had never occurred to me. I doubt it will work that way in practice, but if we’re doing a straight consequentialist calculation I guess it ought to be included as a second-order effect.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            That probability calculation is entirely driven by the statement “I am not a criminal”, isn’t it?

            In other words the general formula is just criminals/(non-criminals – 1) and as the numbers get to be population sized the effect essentially goes away.

          • nyccine says:

            “Is this correct?

            Posit 1 person out of 10 is a criminal.

            Person A is in a room with a representative sample of 9 other people, so one of them is a criminal who will attack someone else.

            The chance for person A to be attacked is 1 – (8/9) = 0.111…

            Now 10 more representative people are introduced in the room, so one more criminal that will attack someone else (including possibly the other criminal).

            The chance for person A to be attacked is now 1 – (18/19)^2 = 0.102…

            So the chances of being attacked for anyone in the original population are actually *lowered* when people with a similar or lower crime rate are added to that population?”

            No, it isn’t correct. It is just bizarre how completely the point is not gotten by anyone here. See also Earthly Knight’s comment about “ignoring the denominator”

            The issue for a native population being asked to accept immigration is “how does this impact *us*?” You are trying to answer the question “how does this impact *everyone*?” This is like measuring the impact of an invasive species upon a native species by measuring the total specimens. “Fears of cane toad infestation in Australia are overblown – just look at the numbers, over 200 million animals after introduction!”

            No, if we’re going to measure the impact of immigration on the existing population, it is completely nonsensical to measure the average effect on the total population of native + immigrant, the correct analysis is in fact that every crime committed by the immigrant population on the native is a crime that wouldn’t have otherwise been committed against them, except where immigrants have replaced leaving natives.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            The issue for a native population being asked to accept immigration is “how does this impact *us*?” You are trying to answer the question “how does this impact *everyone*?

            These questions actually have the same answer, because we are using the simplifying assumption that crimes are targeted at random in the population. If you add 10 immigrants who together commit 2 crimes per year to a population containing 100 natives who together commit 20 crimes per year, the risk of being victimized for the natives remains unchanged at 20/100, because of the combined 22 crimes next year, 2 will by chance be perpetrated against immigrants.

            (Also ignoring repeated victimizations for simplicity’s sake.)

          • nyccine says:

            These questions actually have the same answer, because we are using the simplifying assumption that crimes are targeted at random
            No, they do not, because we have no right to make such an assumption. I would advise you to look at how communities with differing ethnic backgrounds actually behave around each other.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            I would advise you to look at how communities with differing ethnic backgrounds actually behave around each other.

            I have. All of the evidence I’ve seen suggests that (1) criminals tend to target their own ethno-cultural groups– immigrants committing crimes disproportionately against other immigrants, natives committing crimes disproportionately against natives– which will wash out, and (2) immigrants make easy prey for criminals of all citizenship statuses, and so may absorb more than their fair share of crimes which otherwise would have been committed against natives.

            Unless you have real evidence to the contrary, then, the default assumption should be that immigrants with the same crime rate as the native population do not increase the victimization risk for natives.

          • Jiro says:

            There are some crimes which almost by definition, immigrants commit against natives, such as using other people’s Social Security numbers or credit card numbers. (Note that although these apply to illegal immigrants, they would also apply to legal immigrants if we followed the ‘let them in legally but don’t give them social services’ suggestion.)

            And even ignoring that, the question isn’t whether they commit more crime than the “native population”, because the crime rate among the native population is lumpy. If immigrants commit crimes at the same rate as the native population, but move in next to you, and you don’t live in one of the lumps, then that can increase the crime risk to you.

      • Leonard says:

        If a hispanic person is victimized, they’re hispanic. If they perpetrate a crime, they’re white.

        Right. And this is easily demonstrated: just google up Texas’ Top 10 Wanted (here) and believe your lyin’ eyes. (And BTW if you think I am cherry picking in that this list just happens right now to be packed with Hispanics listed as white, it always is. Track it for a month or two and you’ll see that, too.)

        This is a challenge to Scott’s implied conclusion, that both sides do it so it’s about equal. Yes, the mass media associated with both political parties (and probably everyone else) lies. But in this case, it is the state that is… shading the truth shall we say? And obviously there is only one policy in Texas regarding do we or do we not label Hispanics as such; so there is no symmetry.

        • Pete says:

          This isn’t really relevant, but I found it amusing that all of the men look grumpy and generally unpleasant, yet the one woman on the list is smiling.

        • Vox Imperatoris says:

          Right. And this is easily demonstrated: just google up Texas’ Top 10 Wanted (here) and believe your lyin’ eyes. (And BTW if you think I am cherry picking in that this list just happens right now to be packed with Hispanics listed as white, it always is. Track it for a month or two and you’ll see that, too.)

          The U.S. has two official categorizations: race and ethnicity. The only “ethnicity” they actually ask about regularly is: are you Hispanic?

          Therefore, there are white Hispanics, black Hispanics, and even Asian Hispanics. Being “white” and being “Hispanic” are not mutually incompatible under this system. This is probably what is going on here: they are categorizing by race, not ethnicity.

          But sure, maybe it’s a liberal conspiracy to hide the facts.

          Edit: now, many of those “white Hispanics” on the fugitive list are actually mestizos. But are we actually complaining that the U.S. government does not use the colonial Spanish caste system to classify people?

          • Randy M says:

            Let’s just say that these are non-central examples of white.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ Randy M:

            Sure, but “white” has always been a vague term that changes along with the makeup of the United States.

            Southern and Eastern Europeans, such as Italians and Romanians, not to mention Jews, were once not considered “white”. Even the Irish were not considered “white” by some people! They were considered to have more “Negroid” features.

            Indeed, I don’t have the quote in front of me, but one of the key architects of the national-quota-based immigration system, implemented in the 20s and still forming the essential basis of our system (though heavily changed) was once asked why he didn’t just make it a rule that only white people would be allowed to come to the U.S. (Previously, it had been the legal rule since the Founding that only “whites” could become naturalized citizens, while immigration was totally open, except closed in the 1880s to the Chinese. Though the 14th Amendment was held to guarantee birthright citizenship to all natives, including native-born Chinese.)

            His response was that “white” would be subject to all kinds of abuse and wiggling to let the wrong kind of people in. While if they just set strict national quotas favoring Northern Europeans, everything would be perfectly clear.

          • John Schilling says:

            If your objective is to use a few short words or phrases to indicate how to quickly sort the mass of humanity (or Texicanity) into “maybe the person we’re looking for” and “not the person we’re looking for”, then one of those words begs to be a category identifier that includes as an option ‘hispanic’ or something close enough to a synonym as makes no real difference.

            Using ‘white’ as the category identifier for someone who is visibly of mixed Caucasian, African, and Native American ancestry (and likely speaks English with a distinct accent if at all), is so obviously suboptimal for this purpose that it is reasonable to assume that something else is going on.

          • onyomi says:

            But are none of these people listed as “white” fully Hispanic? Put another way, is there even an option to classify someone as “Hispanic” under this classification system? Because it sure seems like Hispanics, regardless of what percentage Hispanic they are, are lumped in with whites here.

            I also find it funny how there’s a “featured fugitive!” It makes them look like puppies or fruit baskets being advertised.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ John Schilling:

            When the FBI is looking for a member of the Sicilian Mafia, is it okay if they call them “white”?

            Sure, I agree that you can get more specific than “white male” with these people. But you can also tell the difference between Italians and English and Jews and Slavs and Irish and French, etc. And with “Asian”, you can tell between Chinese and Korean and Japanese and Vietnamese, etc. The same, of course, goes with “African”.

            If they were giving purely verbal descriptions, they would have to be much more detailed. But that’s why they have a picture.

            But mainly, I was just explaining why “white” is listed under “race”: according to the government, “Hispanic” is not a type of race; it is a type of “ethnicity”. This does make a good deal of sense, and it is applied in many other contexts that have nothing to do with crime.

            @ onyomi:

            Under this system, it is a category error to ask whether someone is “white” or “Hispanic”. A person can be a white Hispanic or a non-white Hispanic.

          • John Schilling says:

            Here and now, a century of assimilation and intermarriage have made it difficult to distinguish Italian-Americans from any other sort of European-American. A hundred years ago, yes, you’d have put “Italian-American” on the wanted poster, or maybe just “Italian”.

            And if some pedantic bureaucrat had said that’s an ethnicity rather than a race, OK, you’d have put the suspect’s “ethnicity” on the poster. Or invented the term “racenicity” or whatever it takes to put the obviously-useful information where it is obviously useful. Or simply not bothered and just gone with the picture. What Texas is doing is worse than useless for the task of actually finding wanted criminals.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ John Schilling:

            And if some pedantic bureaucrat had said that’s an ethnicity rather than a race, OK, you’d have put the suspect’s “ethnicity” on the poster. Or invented the term “racenicity” or whatever it takes to put the obviously-useful information where it is obviously useful. Or simply not bothered and just gone with the picture. What Texas is doing is worse than useless for the task of actually finding wanted criminals.

            Sure, I am not disputing that there are certain benefits (but also certain drawbacks) of using more specific racial/ethnic terms.

            But I don’t think that the fact that the Texas police didn’t invent the term “racenicity” is evidence of some kind of design to hide the crimes of Hispanics. I think it is the government following standard bureaucratic procedure.

            And come on, if there hadn’t been a “race” category at all, we would be hearing complaints about how the police are leaving out obvious facts helpful to catching criminals, such as whether they are black or white.

          • onyomi says:

            While “Hispanic” may technically be an “ethnicity” so far as the government is concerned, colloquially people use it to refer to that race of people which is usually a mixture of Central and South American Indian and a little Spanish or Portuguese. Under the official definition, a person from Spain or Portugal should also count as “Hispanic,” I imagine, but that is not how the term is used colloquially. Perhaps “Mestizo” is the word for the racial group most people call “Hispanic,” but I never hear anyone use that word in real life, and it also sounds vaguely derogatory to my ear, though I could be wrong about that.

            Also, it is very clear that the media, if not actual government statistics, definitely choose to emphasize the “whiteness” when it suits their purposes or the “Hispanic ethnicity” when it suits their purposes. As others have noted, victimizers like George Zimmerman get described as “white Hispanics,” but victims are just “Hispanic.”

            This reminds me of how every time I fill out a job application or something similar I must first click the box which says “white” and then answer a separate question asking “are you Hispanic”? The weird thing is, I think there is an “Hispanic” box one could check among the other “race” boxes like “white,” “black,” and “Asian.” It always feels terribly redundant.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ onyomi:

            Under the official definition, a person from Spain or Portugal should also count as “Hispanic,” I imagine, but that is not how the term is used colloquially.

            Isn’t it?

            It would certainly be weird to me if someone said: “That guy’s not Hispanic; he’s from Spain!”

            “Hispanic” is mainly applied to mestizos because most Hispanics in the U.S. are mestizos. And yes, I am using the word “mestizo” for clarity, but it does have certain old-timey racist connotations. Quite like the similar word “mulatto”. However, it’s often used positively in Mexico (and I presume elsewhere) as part of the “national identity”.

            This reminds me of how every time I fill out a job application or something similar I must first click the box which says “white” and then answer a separate question asking “are you Hispanic”? The weird thing is, I think there is an “Hispanic” box one could check among the other “race” boxes like “white,” “black,” and “Asian.” It always feels terribly redundant.

            I have not found this to be the case. Can you provide an example?

            In my experience, the first box doesn’t talk about Hispanic, and the second box asks you if you are Hispanic.

            As for “white Hispanic” being used for the perpetrators and “Hispanic” for the victims, I don’t know. I have heard the accusation, but I don’t know it conforms to the statistical facts about reporting.

            As an aside, in general, I do not think progressives hate white people or are out to get white people. However, I do think they often believe conservatism/libertarianism is a rationalization by white people for their racism. This is the point of “dog whistles”: you say “freedom of association” but you mean “let’s keep blacks out of the golf club” and you don’t really care about freedom of association except insofar as it supports that end.

            I think this is very unfair as a general attack on all conservatives or all libertarians. Yet I think it is an accurate characterization of a certain contingent of them.

            Still, I don’t think the left has a basic hatred of white people. At most, they mistrust the statistically average white person because they think he has harmful racist beliefs which are the basis for a rationalized ideological “superstructure”. For instance, the “American Dream” is held to be racist because it says anyone who works hard can succeed, which implies that those who don’t succeed did not work hard, which implies that blacks (for instance) are where they deserve to be, so whites are justified in ending welfare programs supporting them—which is all supposed to be a rationalization of racist whites’ instinctive aversion toward helping blacks.

          • Nathan says:

            FWIW my Hispanic wife differentiates between Hispanics and Spaniards.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @onyomi:
            Is Robinson Cano black? Is he Hispanic?
            Sammy Sosa?
            Pelé?

            Sport is full of easy examples of Black Hispanics.

          • onyomi says:

            “Sport is full of easy examples of Black Hispanics.”

            So does Hispanic just mean “comes from a country where they speak Spanish (or Portuguese)”? and if so, why does Nathan’s wife distinguish between “Hispanics” and “Spaniards”?

            Personally I would just call Pele “black,” or, if pushed to provide some further info on his background, a “black Brazilian.” It just seems odd to me that there is this one group where we have to provide both a “race” and an “ethnicity.” Do we call black South Africans who speak English “black Anglophones” to distinguish them from white South Africans? No, we just call them “black South Africans.”

            It is true that I’ve known people from Central and South America whom I’d describe as “white,” whom I’d describe as “black,” and whom I guess I’d have to describe as, for lack of a better word, “mestizo,” but colloquially, I call this last group “Hispanic,” and so do most people I have met, because the word “mestizo,” again, sounds anachronistic and vaguely derogatory, like “mulatto.”

            Maybe, technically, “Hispanic” is supposed to be a different level of info, but that is not how I hear it used, and making it so leaves a gap: what are we supposed to call the people whose ancestors are mostly Aztec, Inca, or other Central and South American Indians? Amerindians? I’ve only ever seen this word on the internet.

            Also, who counts as “Latin” and is this word still PC?

            I’m not so much debating your point as saying that the nomenclature surrounding the residents of Central and South America, and, to a lesser extent, Spain and Portugal, is confusing as hell.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @onyomi:
            It’s confusing as hell because we are shoving complex things into simple boxes.

            As I understand it, Hispanic is a broad cultural designator. The fake character “The most interesting man in the world” is Hispanic, but the actor is white to the extent that white has meaning.

            Wikipedia says Latin is slightly broader than Hispanic. By that definition, Pele would be Latin and not Hispanic.

            I think your problem is that you are restricting your definition of “Hispanic” to “people I can safely call Hispanic by looking at them without knowing their name or hearing them speak or knowing where they were born”. You see lots of those, so you think that comprises the category.

            Is Rosie Perez Hispanic? Rita Moreno?

          • onyomi says:

            “It’s confusing as hell because we are shoving complex things into simple boxes.”

            Yeah, so why do we insist on continuing to use this simple box (literally, a box on many forms I’ve had to fill out) called “Hispanic”?

            How would you describe Rosie Perez’s race?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @onyomi:
            Hey, it’s the liberals who say this stuff is socially constructed.

            The reason we use the simple boxes is a product of the very reasoning you were using to define “Hispanic”. People are good at identifying patterns, even when the don’t actually exist, or when the pattern only partially describes the reality.

            And in standard outgroup bias, and the socially constructed boxes start to have a great deal of real world meaning. Add on laws that are specifically intended as bias against the outgroup and the boxes have even more meaning.

            Edit: And I would say Rosie Perez is black, to the extent that has meaning.

          • onyomi says:

            “Edit: And I would say Rosie Perez is black, to the extent that has meaning.”

            Really?

            You would describe Rosie Perez and Michelle Obama as belonging to the same race? What about Rita Moreno, then? And if you want to call Rosie Perez “black” and Rita Moreno “white,” do you have any term for the race of people descended primarily from the native inhabitants of Central and South America? How would you describe the race of these Peruvians?

            http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/GWeekly/2014/1/8/1389181934369/Llama-farmer-in-Peru-008.jpg

          • jaimeastorga2000 says:

            The government may define “hispanic” as someone who comes from a Spanish-speaking country, but my impression is that in everyday usage it is pretty much used as a synonym for “mestizo”.

            And just as a datapoint, I am mestizo (if a bit on the lighter side) and I don’t find the word offensive.

          • onyomi says:

            “The government may define “hispanic” as someone who comes from a Spanish-speaking country, but my impression is that in everyday usage it is pretty much used as a synonym for “mestizo”.”

            This is my impression as well.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @onyomi:
            Well, it’s socially constructed. I’d be semi-surprised if she didn’t have some African heritage in her background somewhere. She says she’s Puerto Rican.

            Let’s see if this link works

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Onyomi:
            Sure those Peruvians are Hispanic, but not everyone who is Hispanic is like them.

            What are Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio? You can’t say that you can’t tell them apart from your average Smith or Jones by looking at them, but you also can’t say they are Mestizo, nor can you say they aren’t white.

          • onyomi says:

            Okay, so how would you describe the race of the Peruvians in the picture I linked? To me they are pretty clearly neither “white” nor “black” as those terms are commonly understood. They look a lot closer (and are, in fact, genetically a lot closer, I’m sure) to Native Americans, but for whatever reason we seem to reserve that term for North American tribes.

          • onyomi says:

            Why can’t I describe Marco Rubio as “Mestizo”?

          • Chris R says:

            @onyomi:

            ‘Why can’t I describe Marco Rubio as “Mestizo”?’

            Because he probably doesn’t have any [Indian? Native American? Indigenous-to-the-Americas? ] ancestry, given the near-total disappearance of indigenous Cubans after the Spanish arrived.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @onyomi:
            According to Wikipedia the closest term to Mestizo in English is “miscegenation”.

            I’m not really willing to guess at how much of Rubio’s heritage is actually formerly indigenous tribes of the America’s and how much is European Spanish. Sure he is of mixed ancestry.

            I’m Italian, German, Czech, and “French Canadian”. Looking at family photographs from French Canadian side, that probably makes me at least some part indigenous people of Canada, but who knows. But “white” is going to be what everyone thinks of me as.

            But if you saw this kid in high school and didn’t know his last name was Rubio? “Part Indigenous American” would not be the first thing that springs to mind.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @onyomi:
            As to the “race” of the pictured Peruvians, my guess is they are ?Incan? descendants (I don’t know how to tell at a glance), but given that there were 2000 distinct nations/tribes in Peru when the Spanish came and that there something like 40 distinct ethnic sub-groups there today, that’s just a guess.

            They probably aren’t very mixed though. They look like they have maintained a fairly isolated genetic line, at least from Europeans. But I’m no anthropologist and that is the basest guesswork.

          • onyomi says:

            Heelbearcub: you still didn’t answer the question. “Incan” is not a race. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz may look “white” enough that we can comfortably classify them as “white” if we are so inclined, but I don’t think the Peruvians in the photo do.

            If I saw Marco Rubio in high school, I’d say he was “Hispanic.” If I had to pick between “black” and “white,” I’d say he’s “white,” but I think it would be a fairly non-central example of what most people mean when they say “white” (of course, by this logic, and assuming Rubio’s ancestry is mostly Spanish, perhaps some Sicilians would also not qualify as “white,” which seems weird, but I’m not interested in defining hard-and-fast boundaries between races, which obviously don’t exist; I’m interested in what is at stake with the differentiation of “ethnicity” and “race” with respect to the term “Hispanic,” and what, if any racial term is the correct way to refer to those Hispanics who, unlike Rubio and Cruz and Pele, perhaps, clearly don’t easily fit in either “white” or “black” racial categories).

          • John Schilling says:

            Why can’t I describe Marco Rubio as “Mestizo”?

            Because almost nobody in the English-speaking world knows what that word means. We have, for historical reasons, used the word “Hispanic” to refer to people for whom “Mestizo” would be the most accurate racial description.

            We have also used the word “Hispanic” to refer to members of the cultures that originated in the Spanish and Portugese colonies in the Americas. These two meanings are strongly correlated but not identical.

          • jaimeastorga2000 says:

            @onyomi: By amusing coincidence, I happen to have been born in Peru. In Peruvian Spanish, the people in your picture would be called “serranos” (from the the Spanish “sierra” meaning mountain range; something like “highlanders”), “indios” (which obviously means “indians”), or “cholos” (no real translation), though all of those terms would be considered at least somewhat pejorative. By analogy, the best English equivalent would seem to be “indian” (or “native American” if you want to be PC), but, like you said, that’s mostly associated with North American peoples.

          • onyomi says:

            “Because almost nobody in the English-speaking world knows what that word means.”

            Precisely. Ditto “Amerindian.” Which brings me back to having no good word for such people but “Hispanic.” Though this is also annoyingly imprecise because, as Jaimeastorga points out, there are words for the type of person with a lot of “Indian” ancestry in places like Peru, with others having, presumably, more European and/or African ancestry. If we could expand the definition of “American Indian” or “Native American” to include Central and South American Indians it would solve part of the problem, though not that of what to call the people of mixed ancestry who make up the majority of the population in these places.

            I guess the root of the confusion lies in Central and South American natives having interbred with European and Africans so much more than in North America, leaving us with an inherently “mixed” group with some being 100% Spanish or Portuguese or African, some being 100% Indian, and the vast majority being somewhere between.

            Because almost all these people speak Spanish or Portuguese, we lump them together as “Hispanic,” though this does feel like more of a cultural and/or linguistic label than a racial/genetic one (I’m still not even sure what “ethnicity” means in this context, but it seems to emphasize the cultural/historic over the biological).

            There are words like “Mestizo” and “Amerindian,” but these, again, tend to be obscure and/or mildly anachronistic/pejorative-sounding. Maybe because there is still some lingering fear in our minds about Nazi-esque narratives of racial “purity,” we are reluctant to use terms like “Mestizo,” which sound like “miscegenation,” and seem to imply something negative about people of “mixed” racial origins (though I think much less so in the US, bias against “mixed” people is still a legitimate concern in places like Japan, where so-called “halfs” are alternately fetishized and kept at arms’ length).

            Leaving us again with “Hispanic” as a word to describe people like Rosie Perez, who, to my eye, clearly belongs to a different racial group than either Bjork or Michelle Obama.

          • Nornagest says:

            The “half” thing exists in Hawaii, but ethnic dynamics there are kinda weird from a mainland perspective. The last time I was there, I got asked constantly if I was “hapa”, a contraction in this context for “hapa haole”, meaning half white and half Asian or Native Hawaiian.

            I’ve heard the term more recently in California, but it still seems rare.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @onyomi:
            “you still didn’t answer the question. “Incan” is not a race. ”

            Race doesn’t have any absolute meaning. The people who make up Latin America as a whole are tremendously diverse. I’m sure there are families that can trace an unbroken line of Spanish ancestry back all the way back to emigration from Europe. Some of them will be Aztec heritage, some Incan, some any number of other tribes. This article seems to indicate that genetic diversity within Mexico is as broad as the difference between China and Europe. Of course the doctor in the photo looks really damn white, despite his Hispanic name.

            Your objection seems to be that Marco Rubio can’t be “white”, but he almost assuredly has a large majority of his genetic heritage from Europe, as was pointed out earlier. Conversely, those Peruvians you linked earlier probably have almost no European heritage. They don’t exist in large enough numbers in the U.S. for the various groups that care about such things to put in a box for them like they did for Hawaiians, so they would probably check “other” if they cared to do so.

            But there really were two largely different cultures created in the Americas post colonization by Spain on the one hand and the English on the other. Hispanic happens to be applied broadly to one of them.

          • onyomi says:

            @Heelbearcub

            I’m not sure why you object so hard to coming up with a sensible, colloquial racial label for these Peruvian Indians. I might suggest “Indians” or “Native (South) Americans.” I’m not talking about a technical, biological label. I’m talking about how a man on the street, for whom Barack Obama and Tiger Woods are “black,” and for whom Elizabeth Warren is “white,” would describe them. I’m pretty sure for man on the street these Peruvians are neither “white,” nor “black,” but something else–probably they’d say Hispanic, or maybe Indian. If we need, for some reason, to use a cultural label too, then I guess we can call these Peruvian Indians “Hispanic Indians,” as, I guess, Pele is a “black Hispanic black,” and Ted Cruz is a “white Hispanic,” though all that sounds a bit weird to me.

            I do understand the larger point–precisely because Central and South America are so racially diverse, therefore, we seem to want to use a cultural label to encompass the people living there in a way we don’t with other places… but then, the United States is now very diverse and we don’t have a problem saying “African American,” “Asian American,” etc. etc. We don’t bother trying to lump all the inhabitants of the Anglo-American cultural sphere into this one big category. I guess there a lot more countries in Central and South America than in North America, so maybe it feels like a pain to say “white Brazilian,” “black Brazilian,” “native Peruvian,” etc. but not that difficult.

            I also wonder how the people of those countries feel about being lumped together in one “ethnic” category? Do they themselves feel the kinship Americans tend to attribute to them? I agree there is the broadly Spanish-Portuguese influenced culture as opposed to the broadly Anglo-American North American culture, but it still strikes me as a bit odd, somehow, that we keep special records of this one particular “ethnic” category and no other–it feels almost like framing things as a clash of two great civilizations or something. We don’t, for example, keep a record of the number of “Islamic” (which could easily include people from areas as genetically and culturally diverse as Saudi Arabia, India, and Indonesia) immigrants to the US.

          • John Schilling says:

            I’m not sure why you object so hard to coming up with a sensible, colloquial racial label for these Peruvian Indians.

            I would be skeptical of such a label on the grounds that what is needed are a series of one-word racial, ethnic, cultural, whatever identifiers that distinguish between large groups of people that the English-speaking world commonly need to distinguish. I doubt that distinguishing between Peruvian Native Americans and either other Peruvians or other Native Americans is going to come up very often on this side of the Rio Grande, and I doubt that any system of identifiers precise enough to make that distinction – and all the other possible distinctions at the same level of granularity – is going to be simple and relevant enough to be generally adopted.

            It might be possible to come up with something better than “Hispanic”, but it isn’t possible to do very much better than that. And if someone does have a shot at promoting something a little bit better, I wouldn’t want them to be shot down by pointing at edge cases of marginal relevance that aren’t going to be realistically addressed in any event.

            And at the micro level, I’d suggest focusing on making people aware that, if you look far enough south of the Rio Grande, you find a surprising-to-Anglos number of largely unmixed “White”, “Black”, and “Native American” enclaves within the majority “Hispanic” population. That is something you can realistically hope to accomplish where broad linguistic reform probably isn’t.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @onyomi:
            I said Incan (but certainly one of the various indigenous tribes of Peru), and you objected, and the objection seemed to be based on the idea that Rosie Perz, Ted Cruz and those Peruvians needed to share the same race, and that the race was not “white”. If you want to say they are “indigenous South Amerian” racially, I hold no particular quarrel with that.

            We have a huge number of immigrants in this country (many illegal, many not) who hail from in the Americas somewhere south of Iowa. They all share one big salient trait, which is that they are native Spanish speakers. The central example of that person is probably some part Aztec and some part Spanish, but we haven’t really been interested in that group as a group, and we wouldn’t really know how to differentiate them from any of the other sub-groups. Spanish speaking from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Peru, Columbia, Ecuador, The Dominican Republic, etc. has been seen as useful to lump together.

            Probably the most salient questions for any group are: Can the the dominant majority distinguish you as different from them? How about your kids? What about your kids if you have kids with a member of the majority group?

            For people from the Hispanic group who come to the US, the answer to those questions will vary quite a bit for their kids. But the actual immigrants will all be easily distinguishable by accent or failing to be able to speak English.

            Sure, each specific sub-group will have different challenges. The Hmong of Vietnam have different challenges than other Asian immigrants and it’s useful to know this. To me this shows the lies that “race” can tell, as Asian isn’t actually fine grained enough.

          • onyomi, I don’t know about about Latin Americans, but I’ve heard a couple of Africans talk about how weird it was to be defined as black or African when they lived in America. When they lived in Africa, their major identity was as their nationality.

          • onyomi says:

            “onyomi, I don’t know about about Latin Americans, but I’ve heard a couple of Africans talk about how weird it was to be defined as black or African when they lived in America. When they lived in Africa, their major identity was as their nationality.”

            I have a black friend who told me he prefers to call himself an “Afro-American” rather than “African American.” His reasoning is that “Afro-American” implies “American of African ancestry,” whereas “African American” sounds like someone who immigrated from Africa (technically, even a white South African or Arab Egyptian who immigrated to the US would be an “African American”). Makes sense to me, though thus far it hasn’t really caught on outside academic circles, I don’t think.

        • Nornagest says:

          This is a little off-topic, but every time I see one of those lists I’m surprised by how often gang members end up being charged with non-gang-related crimes. Some of that might be happening for the same reasons Al Capone got charged with tax evasion, though.

        • Sastan says:

          Mate, I specifically said federal. Specifically, the FBI’s UCR and the NCVS reports.

          And I noted that some states do collect this data, and these were part of my suppositions about relative racial crime rates.

          • Frank McPike says:

            @Sastan I’m a little confused by the threading here. It appears as though you’re responding to Earthly Knight so I’m proceeding on that assumption. His comment is discussing the UCR, which is prepared by the FBI and is based principally on data collected at the state and local level (which is then submitted to the FBI). The UCR does break down perpetrators by both race and ethnicity. See, for example, this table, which gives arrest numbers for all offenses by both race and ethnicity: https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2014/crime-in-the-u.s.-2014/tables/table-43

            The ethnicity data in the UCR is, as noted by Earthly Knight, somewhat spotty because not all localities collect ethnicity data. But the FBI presents the data it does have. No cover-up.

            The NCVS has gone through a couple iterations of how it asks about offender (and victim) race and ethnicity. Presently, it asks about both race and ethnicity for both victims and offenders. The raw data is freely available. Again, no cover-up.

            Of course, these are only two of at least a dozen federal initiatives to collect crime data. But all of the others that I’m aware of also break down offenders by both race and ethnicity. See, for example, this report on parolees: http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/ppus13.pdf. Or this report on prisoners: http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/p14.pdf.

        • Steve Sailer says:

          Local Most Wanted lists tend to give a biased estimate of who commits crimes locally because the lists tend to fill up over the years with foreigners who have skedaddled back to their own countries, while the homeboys hang around and get caught and thus dropped from the Most Wanted lists. For example, the LAPD’s Most Wanted list is dominated by foreign-born criminals who presumably have vamoosed back home, which is why they are still on the Most Wanted list.

        • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

          >What are Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio? You can’t say that you can’t tell them apart from your average Smith or Jones by looking at them

          I get it for Rubio, but I can’t say there’s anything about Cruz (besides his surname, obv) that makes me able to tell him apart from your regular Joe Smith.

      • alexp says:

        ‘Of course, any crime immigrants commit is, in a sense, excess crime. There is a natural resistance to taking injury from an outgroup, even if it statistically less likely than from an ingroup. “No one hits my brother but me” is the playground formulation.’
        This is true, but I highly suspect the vast majority of victims of crimes committed by illegal immigrants are illegal immigrants themselves, or are directly descended from illegal immigrants.

        • Sastan says:

          This isn’t logic, this is psychology.

          People are most likely to be injured or killed by a close family member. They are most likely to be killed or injured in their own home. What are they scared of? The dark, unfamiliar places and strangers.

          Everyone’s looking at this as math, and it isn’t math. It is tribalism. No matter how bad our tribe is, the other tribe doing something bad to us is worse.

          Think of it somewhat reversed. The black community in the US is well up in arms about police use of excessive force (with some real justification). Any given black person is hundreds of times more likely to be killed by another black person than a cop. But “black lives matter” isn’t targeting black people. It’s worse when the outgroup does it.

          Same thing with nations. You can try to deny tribalism, and its largest incarnation, nationalism, if you like. You will be disappointed.

          • Another possibility is that people (including black people) have been trying to do something about black vs. black criminality for a long time. It hasn’t worked.

            Crimes committed by the justice system against black people is at least something relatively new to work on. Perhaps a solution can be found, or at least significant improvement.

            Also, I get the impression that poor black communities in the US are subject to random punishment from police and the justice system. Not being a criminal *might* improve your odds of not being punished (I don’t have any information about the odds), but not reliably. This affects the incentives to not be a criminal.

          • John Schilling says:

            People are most likely to be injured or killed by a close family member.

            Didn’t we deal with this one a couple of threads ago? It’s another classic example of lying-with-statistics.

            People (in the US, at least, and presumably the rest of the developed world) are most likely to be killed by “family members, friends, and acquaintances”, where “acquaintances” encompasses e.g. members of rival drug gangs. People who are killed by close family members, are mostly people who are married to known violent criminals. We unfortunately don’t have good statistics on injuries, but there’s no reason to suspect that they don’t track the deaths fairly closely.

            The vast majority of people, who are not violent criminals or married to violent criminals, are highly unlikely to be killed or injured but if they are it will probably be a stranger who does it. The minority of people who are violent criminals whose family, friends, and acquaintances are also violent criminals, are much more likely to be killed or injured but the attacker is still probably going to be one of the many violent criminals they associate with who isn’t their spouse than the one who is. Only the small minority whose association with violent criminals is limited to the one violent criminal they married, face a greater total risk from close family members than from all outsiders combined.

            For almost everyone else, it is rational to be (relatively) afraid of strangers and dark places and to trust your family for protection when dealing with these.

      • Anonymous says:

        What makes you think that all immigrants are members of an outgroup vis-a-vis all native groups? I don’t consider my citizenship to be my most salient characteristic. Probably not even top 5, though likely top 10.

      • “Of course, any crime immigrants commit is, in a sense, excess crime.”

        The immigrants are also additional potential victims. It’s possible that the crime rate per capita remains the same, the victimization rate per capita for non-immigrants remains the same, even though some crimes are being committed by immigrants. In which case there is not excess crime due to immigration in the sense relevant to potential victims.

        • Mary says:

          Except that criminals seldom commit only one crime. This limits the ability of a larger population to absorb the increased crime.

        • Sastan says:

          And even crimes against other immigrants tax our justice system and erode the general sense of safety.

          See my comment above. This isn’t maths, this is tribalism.

          People are caught up in the stats and ignoring the psychology. Yes, the world might be better off if we all coldly calculated that our sister getting killed isn’t any different from some random person in Ecuador getting killed, one human is one human. But we don’t live in that world.

        • onyomi says:

          I think the reason people feel doubly-aggrieved by any crime committed by immigrants is that it feels like a double crime–or, put another way, a two-fold failure of our legal system. The first crime was committed when the immigrant came here–if illegally, then he was breaking the law just by coming, if legally, then our immigration system can be judged retrospectively to have failed since it allowed a criminal to enter. Then, whatever, crime they commit counts as a second failure of our criminal justice system to keep us safe.

          This is also why, I think, much of the vitriol about crime committed by immigrants is directed not at the immigrants themselves, but at the politicians (usually Democrats, in the US) who are seen to have been responsible for letting in criminals or making illegal immigration easier.

          Not saying I agree with the above; just pointing out how a crime by an immigrant is in some sense a double outrage because it begins with the premise “he shouldn’t even have been here in the first place.” Native crime is just one crime or failure: “he shouldn’t have done that.” Immigrant crime is two crimes or failures: “he shouldn’t have done that and he shouldn’t have even been here to have the opportunity to do it.”

          Re immigrant victims “cancelling out” the extra crime committed by immigrants, it doesn’t work on the emotional level described above because immigrant victims are not “double victims” in that sense. If they are victims of other immigrants then it just goes to show one can’t trust those immigrants; if they are victims of natives then they should have known they were taking a risk coming here (is how I imagine most people think). Moreover, most immigrants to the US are poorer than the native population. There is a strong impression, fair or not, that when poor people move into a rich area, the poor people are more likely to victimize the rich people than the other way around.

    • Daniel Armak says:

      I fear this would be hard because both sides (pro- and anti-immigration) are actively distorting and obscuring facts, and no good statistics are available. One common complaint about the New Year’s Eve attacks (not just in Cologne) was that the authorities tried to hush things up and only revealed the truth much later under pressure, and the same has been alleged about immigrant crime statistics in general – so one might question if they’ve revealed the whole truth even now. On the other side, many people clearly have an interest in highlighting crimes by immigrants.

    • For what it’s worth, evidence has surfaced that the attacks in Cologne were planned and organized online: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/the-times/migrants-planned-sex-attacks-in-cologne/news-story/bfc9cb3d20415050a47bb57ebb3c4fa3

      It thus doesn’t appear to be directly relatable to “spontaneous” sexual violence associated with a specific population and with culture shock, though interpretations might differ sharply — it has even been suggested that this was a delibarate terror tactic ultimately instigated by islamists to create more rift and tension in Europe.

      • Daniel Armak says:

        Your link requires a subscription to read.

        • Daniel Armak says:

          I found several gated links, but this one is free: http://www.dw.com/en/german-justice-minister-cologne-attacks-planned-in-advance/a-18969653

          The original source cited is an interview given by Germany’s Justice Minister Heiko Maas to Bild am Sonntag, where he says “No one can tell me that it wasn’t coordinated and prepared”. No evidence is mentioned.

          Probably someone who can read German can find out more.

        • jaimeastorga2000 says:

          Does this help?

          • Daniel Armak says:

            Thanks. It has the same attribution as the link I posted: the Justice Minister is saying it “must have been” planned, but he doesn’t say he has evidence it *was*.

          • Jaskologist says:

            Which is worse?

            1. Several hundred man planned in advance to gang rape a whole lot of women.

            2. Several hundred from a specific population spontaneously started raping a whole lot of women, because that’s the sort of thing they do.

            I’d be way more disturbed by 2, myself.

          • Daniel Armak says:

            @Jaskologist, this seems to be a false dichotomy. It could be that:

            3. Several hundred men from a specific population spontaneously planned in advance to gang rape a whole lot of women, because that (both planning and carrying out) is the sort of thing they do.

          • “1. Several hundred man planned in advance to gang rape a whole lot of women.”

            I haven’t followed the story very carefully, but my impression was that most or all of it was “sexual assault,” as in fondling and such, possibly as distraction to permit robbing, not literal rape. Am I mistaken?

            That’s consistent with the fairly detailed accounts at:

            http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-35250903

          • JBeshir says:

            There’s middle positions, like people, on individually noticing what they could do to “have some fun” while NYE parties were happening, talking about it with their friends, sharing ideas, and sharing tips and notes on how to get what they wanted with their friends.

            Some sort of mix of spontaneity and informal organisation of that sort sounds likely to me, given how it all happened at once, and this sort of thing where people feel comfortable openly discussing sexual assault with their friends is pretty much exactly what I’d expect a culture problem to look like.

            It would be super-convenient if it was unrelated to culture differences and just the result of large numbers of people being coordinated into a plan by people we could simply put more effort into exploding, but it seems pretty implausible that you could get a conspiracy involving that many people to work, or if you could, you would choose to use that capacity this way instead of to, e.g. perform many exceptionally large mass shootings at all the places this occurred.

          • John Schilling says:

            It seems particularly unlikely to me that A: someone could centrally organize a criminal conspiracy of this magnitude without leaving smoking-gun levels of evidence, and also that B: anyone who could organize a conspiracy of such scale and secrecy, would use this nearly unprecedented(*) capability for a series of mass gropings.

            *There are truly large criminal conspiracies in the world, and truly secret ones, but almost never both at the same time.

          • John Schilling says:

            Flash mobs are large, not-secret, and usually not-criminal conspiracies. I sincerely doubt that ISIS, or anyone else, has a master plan of organizing lots of criminal flash mobs and avoiding blowback because nobody knows they are behind it.

            I mean, I hope they’re that stupid, but I really doubt it.

          • Tibor says:

            David: As far as I know there were no actual mass rapes in Köln, I am not sure if there were even any actual rapes. However, there was a multitude of less severe sexual assaults and it was possibly even organized somehow. It is the scale and the organization that made it to the news and something that has not happened in Germany since WW2.

            I don’t think there are any clear official statistics about how many of the offenders were asylum seekers or recent immigrants. It seems likely that most if not all had an immigration background and do not come from Europe. The police probably has better statistics but they have not made those public (as far as I know, I have not followed the story in detail, I only read news on Sunday now, so I don’t get every little thing).

            I think it is also a mistake to put together asylum seekers in the EU and above all Germany and illegal immigration to the US. Those things are fundamentally different in the sense that the motivations of the immigrants are different. While there are some actual refugees of the Syrian war, many asylum seekers are actually welfare seekers. I’ve even read articles recently about some disillusioned Iraquis going back home from Germany because they expected the country to “do more for them”. I don’t really blame them, they had false information from the people smugglers but I do blame Merkel’s government for sending a false message to the world and making the problem worse. On the other hand, illegal immigrants to the US usually immigrate because they want to work in the US and they apparently want it so much that they are willing to risk deportation or even imprisonment, risks related to having no health insurance and so on. Also, these people tend to come from vaguely the same cultural area as the US or Europe…most of those people Latin Americans and most of Latin America is basically like Spain (or Portugal) from a few decades back. Chile is not even much poorer than Portugal (although Chile is also probably not a major source of immigration to the US). They also speak a language that is very similar to English (my guess is that about 30% of the vocabulary of Spanish is contained in English in words that sound almost the same) and use the same alphabet. Nearly all of them can read at least in their mother tongue. They are not disproportionately male (two thirds of the European asylum seekers are and usually they are below 30) and those who are have probably a chance of attracting an American woman. Neither of those holds for most of the current asylum seekers in Europe. So all in all it is like comparing ships and automobiles. Both are used as a means of transport and there most of the similarities end.

            The thing that annoys me the most about the current refugee crisis in Europe is that there is hardly anyone distinguishing between immigration and asylum. And so there is the conservative side (which is gaining momentum, even in Germany) which would just want to close down the borders, period, and there is the leftist side which would give welfare to anyone who comes to the country without papers claiming that he is a refugee and defend it by “anyone has a right to live where he wants” (also there are the high EU politics ideas of “solving” the crisis by distributing the refugees among EU countries regardless of where they actually want to go to which, absent of treating them as prisoners is incompatible with Schengen and fortunately does not have a wider support in the EU). However, I am afraid that one of the (few) things that are genuinely good about the EU, the Schengen zone, might be going to hell because people cannot distinguish between those two concepts.

          • Jaskologist says:

            I haven’t followed the story very carefully, but my impression was that most or all of it was “sexual assault,” as in fondling and such, possibly as distraction to permit robbing, not literal rape.

            I had not followed it closely either. Looks like it was indeed closer to copping a feel than rape-rape. I should have known better than to assume that “sexual assualt” was near the more serious end of the spectrum. Mea culpa.

        • LHN says:

          Go to Google and enter:

          australian migrants planned attacks in cologne

          and you’ll get a link from Google that goes to the story without hitting the subscription page. (This method works for a fair number of paywalled newspapers.)

          ETA: Though it didn’t work the second time I tried it; The Australian may give only one bite at the apple.

      • NN says:

        Even if the reports of planning are true, I suspect that it was at most, planned in the same way that frat pranks are “planned.”

        But I find the idea that this was a deliberate terror attack by “Islamists” to be especially implausible. This would be counterproductive for political Islamists, who want to change things from within existing political systems, and if militant Islamists really did manage to get dozens or hundreds of agents into Germany on NYE, wouldn’t an actual Paris-style terror attack (even with just knives if no one could get guns and/or bombs in time) have been far more effective?

      • Steve Sailer says:

        Obviously, Cologne was a flash mob organized over social media, just as the migrant inundation of 2015 was a flash mob organized over social media. That’s how the world works these days: smartphones and social media.

        http://takimag.com/article/gradually_and_then_suddenly_steve_sailer/print#axzz3xCnHXlvT

        The German government has been hounding Facebook over its concern about nativist flash mobs forming, so, Guns of Singapore-style, it’s not all that surprising they got hit from the migrant side.

  5. tokarev says:

    It’s worth mentioning that all Department of Justice statistics on “noncitizen” status of prisoners are determined based on self-report. In other words, felons dumb enough to recommend themselves for deportation after they serve their sentence. A good source for anyone interested in getting into the meat of immigrant crime stats: http://www.cis.org/sites/cis.org/files/articles/2009/crime.pdf

    It’s also interesting to look at the official racial descriptors of the top-10 most wanted criminals in Texas: http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/Texas10MostWanted/fugitives.aspx Nine are officially listed as white, one as black. One to two of these are what one ordinary people would consider white. Something worth keeping in mind generally when thinking about crime stats. They’re very processed and sanitized to fit the zeitgeist (psychotic redneck gun-nut southerners are the *real* criminals.)

    • Vaniver says:

      In other words, felons dumb enough to recommend themselves for deportation after they serve their sentence.

      Is it the sort of self-report where it’s a crime to lie? Tax forms are self-report too.

      • Error says:

        I wonder if I could get away with refusing to file my tax forms on Fifth Amendment grounds.

        Doubtful.

        • brad says:

          If you want to waste an afternoon or a weekend, look up some of the tax protester websites. There’s a deep rabbit hole devoted to strange arguments about why people don’t have to pay taxes. My favorite is the yellow fringed flag argument.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            I actually talked (on the internet) to someone who was an adherent of this “sovereign citizen” movement. It was a fascinating experience.

            The idea is something like, the government can’t tax you, so they tax a corporation which was created at your birth and given your name. And by paying taxes, you authorize this and consent to it. And for some reason, all courts are actually admiralty courts (that’s what the yellow-fringed flag supposedly represents); I think it is because the admiralty courts don’t have to follow common law.

            However, if you show up in court and assert that you are a “sovereign citizen” and aren’t represented by your little corporation, the government will have to recognize that its laws have no authority over you. And they actually have videos of this “working” in court.

            The most bizarre thing to me is, even granting that their crazy theories are all legally correct, why do they think the U.S. court system will actually do what is legally correct? How can any semi-rational person believe that the Supreme Court will uphold all of this as long as you say the magic words?

          • Randy M says:

            Pretty good example of motivated reasoning.

          • nil says:

            Those folks are funny, because they style themselves as radicals and in all the ways that matter they are, but in one sense they’re the least radical people in the world: their faith in the liberal rule of law is so all-encompassing that they believe the status quo establishment will completely and voluntarily unravel itself if one can just make the right argument.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ nil:

            I agree. It’s sort of charming in that respect.

          • LHN says:

            There’s all sorts of drama that hinges on the law being powerless because of some sort of tricky wording. (Famously, The Merchant of Venice.) Most people’s idea of how the law works is heavily informed by drama.

            (To the extent that I’ve read that people in other countries sometimes attempt to claim specific US constitutional rights– being Mirandized, taking the Fifth, etc.– when arrested, because that’s what they’ve seen in the movies.)

            Working in a law library, I used to see a surprising number of pro se litigants researching admiralty law for a midwestern city nowhere near the sea. Though it’s tailed off in the last few years for whatever reason.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @nil:

            They sort of view the law as the way magic is presented in some traditional stories and fantasy worlds: almost a science, in that there are rules that are universally applicable and must be followed, but the rules are secret, and someone who figures out the secrets can unlock special powers. The obsession with names fits into this pretty well.

          • Randy M says:

            There’s a children/YA author Gordan Korman who wrote a book which illustrates some of this discussion well (and is hillarious, as are his others). In Son of Interflux, a teenage son of a ceo of a large corporation finds out that there is an oddly shaped piece of land blocking the entrance of that companies new expansion that he can buy. For some reason, he and his friends are upset at this company, so they buy the land and block entrance.
            The city and the company point out various details of the law that the new owners must comply with–property taxes, zoning, public interest–and the teens pull off zany capers to meet the criteria to keep the land and thwart the corporation.
            Ultimately, though, it’s simply taken from them, and given to the company, despite any loopholes technically present in the law, and the father admits it was mostly a game he was playing with his son and the teens never really had a chance at making a significant impact in anyone’s bottom lines.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Randy M: Oh man, one of Korman’s 2 best books (other is “Don’t Care High”). As I recall, the reason the kids wanted to prevent the corporate expansion was because it would wipe out a forest next to the arts school they all attended, or something similar.

          • dndnrsn

            My impression is that dealing with bureaucracy is kind of like that– you can’t defeat a bureaucracy by using the magic words, but you frequently need magic words to make the bureaucracy operate at all in your favor.

          • TrivialGravitas says:

            @Vox what’s particularly insane is that corporate taxation is the exact opposite, the actually real meaning of corporate personhood is that we create a legal fiction that corporations are people in order to make them pay taxes.

          • Agronomous says:

            @dndnrsn:

            They sort of view the law as the way magic is presented in some traditional stories and fantasy worlds: almost a science, in that there are rules that are universally applicable and must be followed, but the rules are secret, and someone who figures out the secrets can unlock special powers. The obsession with names fits into this pretty well.

            The thing is, if that’s not basically how it works, why are people shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars for law school? (Where they learn lots of magic names, usually in pairs separated by “v.”, along with mythic-sounding invocations like “fruit of the poisonous tree”.)

            Maybe I can coin Agronomous’s Law:

            Any court proceeding based on a sufficiently complicated body of case law is indistinguishable from magic.

        • Vaniver says:

          No. Googling “fifth amendment file taxes court case” gives us the short summary on irs.gov:

          There is no constitutional right to refuse to file an income tax return on the ground that it violates the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. In United States v. Sullivan, 274 U.S. 259, 264 (1927), the U.S. Supreme Court stated that the taxpayer “could not draw a conjurer’s circle around the whole matter by his own declaration that to write any word upon the government blank would bring him into danger of the law.” The failure to comply with the filing and reporting requirements of the federal tax laws will not be excused based upon blanket assertions of the constitutional privilege against compelled self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment.

          along with five other examples.

      • John Schilling says:

        Per the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution, it can’t be a crime to simply not answer if a truthful answer would mean admitting to a different crime. Well, unless there’s a grant of immunity or the like, but that seems unlikely here. So, yeah, just plain stupid to tell the truth. Maybe lie, maybe keep your mouth shut, but never admit to committing a crime.

  6. Vox Imperatoris says:

    This isn’t to say that there can’t be legitimate concerns about illegal immigration. In fact, that’s my whole point and something that I wish conservatives better understood: we need to practice Gettier politics. There’s a theory on the Right that since the media has created a giant edifice of lies to justify liberalism, liberalism must be false. But other parts of the media have created a giant edifice of lies to justify conservativism. Instead of assuming our opponents are necessarily gullible morons who believe the giant edifice of lies on their side, we should kind of awkwardly go “Oh, there’s a giant edifice of lies on your side too? Yeah, I know that feeling,” and listen to what they have to say.

    Exactly.

    Scott, would you possibly consider reviewing David Kelley’s book Truth and Toleration? It’s one of my favorite books, and it’s a really good analysis of the kind of issues you talk about in essays like “In Favor of Niceness, Community, and Civilization”. I think you would enjoy it.

    The actual genesis of the book was the fact that Kelley was “excommunicated” from the “Orthodox Objectivist” community for having the gall to give lectures to the hated libertarian outgroup on what they could learn from Objectivism. But what Kelley ended up producing in the process of defending himself is far more generally applicable: it’s a book-long analysis and defense of:

    a) What properly constitutes the “sanctioning”, i.e. endorsing, of evil or harmful ideas, especially in the intellectual context. (Answer: it takes quite a lot; not simply working together with an intellectual opponent on some issue, but actually endorsing his position or failing to distinguish yourself when agreement would be expected, such as in co-authoring a book.)

    b) The role of ideas in history and the extent to which the originators of those ideas can properly be blamed for their bad consequences. (Answer: ideas are important, but they are not “self-enacting”. Some communist intellectual is not fully responsible for the crimes of Stalin just because those crimes in some way “result” from his ideas “taken to their logical conclusion”. For one, you cannot properly take people as “advocating” consequences of their ideas which they do not think will occur. And every other communist intellectual—of which there were a large number—had to choose for himself to follow communism, so no single one can be taken as entirely responsible for communism’s effects as a whole; and for that matter Stalin had to choose to commit his terrible crimes himself, which other leaders might not have done or done as severely.)

    c) How common is “honest error” in basic matters of philosophy and ethics; are there “inherently dishonest ideas”? (Answer: honest error is extremely common, and there is no idea out there which cannot be supported by some seemingly plausible argument. If honest error were not common, great philosophical thinkers would be useless, since they would just be telling people what any honest person already knew.)

    d) Directly related to the previous point, how willing should we be to extent toleration and the “principle of charity” to our intellectual opponents? (Answer: we should be extremely willing to do this. Intellectual tolerance, which Kelley interprets as a sort of presumption of intellectual honesty and innocence, is crucial to any dialogue.)

    e) Should we (Kelley writes here especially in the context of Objectivism) view our ideas as part of a “closed system” which is fixed and unchangeable, or should we always regard our ideas as an “open system” which could be revised? (Answer: we should consider our ideas an “open system”. That doesn’t mean we “can’t ever be certain of anything”; certainty is a matter of comparing the evidence for and against a belief, and it must therefore always be “contextual” to one’s own experience. Acontextual certainty: the refusal to look at evidence because you already “know” it could never convince you to change your mind, is what we have to reject.)

    All of these points may seem somewhat obvious, but I don’t think they actually are all that obvious, or else we wouldn’t see intellectual movements of every stripe fall into the same patterns of dogmatism and intolerance.

    • Mammon says:

      > For one, you cannot properly take people as “advocating” consequences of their ideas which they do not think will occur.

      Modulo some amount of intellectual due diligence, of course.

      • Vox Imperatoris says:

        In that case, they still don’t advocate those bad consequences.

        What they are guilty of is not deliberately supporting obviously bad consequences but, as you said, evasion of their requirement to investigate whether their ideas would have such consequences.

        In that sense, it’s harder (but not impossible!) to, for instance, be an honest communist today than it was in 1900. In 1900, it had never been tried, except in marginal cases like the Paris Commune where you could argue that they never had a fair shot. If you want to be an honest communist today, you’ve got to explain why all the failures of communism in the past had nothing in principle to do with communism and won’t be repeated under your favorite scheme.

        • Mary says:

          Vincible ignorance at best mitigates guilt.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            Vincible ignorance, precisely.

            But vincible ignorance is not honest ignorance. Vincible ignorance is dishonest ignorance.

            In Kelley’s opinion, vincible ignorance (i.e. evasion of the facts; refusal to think) is the ultimate source of blameworthiness in general and as such. He talks about this at length:

            Since the fundamental choice is whether to think or not, whether to use our capacity for reason, we must judge people by how they make this choice. In judging an action, therefore, we are concerned not only with its consequences, measured by the standard of life, but also with its source in the person’s motives, as measured by the standard of rationality.[…]

            If we consider only the consequences, we may still evaluate an action in the same way we evaluate a natural occurrence like a hurricane. To pass a moral judgment, however, we must consider the motives that inspired the action. There’s obviously a moral difference between a person who kills someone accidentally, while playing with a loaded gun, and a cold-blooded killer who shoots his victim deliberately. The consequences are the same, but not the moral status of the agents. The first may be blamed for negligence, for evading the risks of a loaded weapon, and to that extent he is responsible for what happened. But he does not bear the same degree of guilt, morally or legally, as the murderer who consciously intended to bring about the consequence, and who had to evade on a much larger scale in order to have such an intention. When we judge an action morally, in other words, we cannot consider the effects in isolation from the person’s volitional control over them.

            Nor should we make the opposite error of judging the inner element of choice in isolation from the action it produces. A long line of thinkers, of whom Immanuel Kant is the clearest instance, argued that if we can judge an action only in virtue of its volitional character, then the act of volition itself is the real object of judgment; we may evaluate the action and its effects, but morally speaking it is only the motive that counts. This is fallacious. It is like the epistemological fallacy of assuming that if we perceive an object only in virtue of the way it appears to us, then strictly speaking it is only the appearance, not the object itself, that we perceive. In fact, what we perceive is the object-as-it-appears, and what we judge is the action-as-it-was-chosen. If we divorce the inner choice from the outer action, then we divorce the standard of rationality from the standard of life. But rationality is a means to an end, not an end in itself. If reason did not help us pursue and maintain our lives—if it made no difference whether we thought well, or poorly, or not at all—then rationality would not be a virtue nor a standard of judgment. In moral judgment, as in any other type of evaluation, life is the fundamental and all-encompassing standard.

            On the other hand, invincible ignorance—which is what Kelley means by honest error—is a complete defense to charges of immorality.

          • Mary says:

            What? You cited, “evasion of their requirement to investigate whether their ideas would have such consequences.” That’s not only vincible ignorance, it’s the definition of it.

            (Sure, not honest.)

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ Mary:

            Oh, I see what you’re saying.

            Of course the communist who hasn’t investigated why communism failed in the past is guilty of something. But he’s not guilty of deliberately wanting to impose famines and mass killings. He’s guilty advocating a system that would impose them, and which he doesn’t know would impose them only because he failed in his obligation to check.

            This is the precise difference (to use Kelley’s example) between the man who deliberately murders another with a gun and the man who shoots another accidentally while playing with a loaded gun. The former is more immoral than the latter, even though the consequences are the same.

            To say that communism would result in exactly what happened under Stalin—but we should do it anyway—requires much more pervasive evasion than merely to think that communism wouldn’t result in such things if we tried it with modern “cybernetics”.

          • Mary says:

            ” But he’s not guilty of deliberately wanting to impose famines and mass killings. ”

            But wanting something, even something evil, is not something you can be guilty of.

            Intending is. And there is no moral difference between intending something with full knowledge and intending something when you have gone out of your way to avoid the knowledge.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ Mary:

            But wanting something, even something evil, is not something you can be guilty of.

            Uh, sure it is. Not legally guilty. Morally guilty.

            This is certainly true from the Christian perspective, at the very least:

            But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

            You say:

            Intending is. And there is no moral difference between intending something with full knowledge and intending something when you have gone out of your way to avoid the knowledge.

            Yes, there is a moral difference. It is the difference between “depraved indifference” murder (which can variously be manslaughter or second-degree murder) and first-degree murder.

            They’re both still murder. They’re both still wrong. But one of them is a more guilty kind of murder.

            It is much more innocent to refuse to look at the facts about communism, out of (say) a belief that all the evidence is a capitalist lie, than it is to know the horrors of communism and still wish to impose them.

          • Mary says:

            “Uh, sure it is. Not legally guilty. Morally guilty.”

            Nope. Wanting is not the only mental activity possible. It does not involve intent, unlike lust of the eyes.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ Mary:

            Maybe we’re not talking about the same thing with regard to “wanting”. I’m not talking about having some kind of uncontrollable lust for communism suddenly come over you…if that is a thing that happens to people.

            I am talking about making the considered judgment that communism is the proper social system, and desiring on that basis that it be brought about. That certainly involves intent.

    • Seth says:

      Serious question – does he devote any effort to as to how to deal with people who are intellectually dishonest? One of the problems with politics is that an honest person debating a shameless liar has a disturbingly high chance of coming out the worse for it. The liar won’t hesitate to mislead, and calling out the deception then risks being made an issue of lack of charity or personal attack. Honest people will often say just treat everyone as if they were honest. But I don’t think that works in practice, because 1) Not everyone is in fact honest (and the benefits of deception rises when money and power are at stake). 2) There doesn’t seem to be convincing evidence it’s a sound strategy in practice (as opposed to working best in an ideal world).

      It’s a Type-I vs Type-II error problem. Assuming everyone who disagrees with you is stupid or deceptive is obviously being a ridiculous dogmatist. But pretending nobody is stupid or deceptive strikes me as going too far in the other direction.

      • anonymous says:

        That last is one of my problems with the whole steelman thing. It makes for an interesting debate to argue against the strongest possible version of the anti-gay marriage position, for example. But to then imply or claim outright that this steelmanned version is actual why a large number of people “out there” actually oppose it is a big and often unjustified leap.

        • Nornagest says:

          Most people on any side of any issue hold their positions because of vague, poorly-thought-out, often contradictory social influences — but arguing against them on those terms will get you nowhere, because they can usually make the same charge of your side. Unless you’re in a position to make a status claim over them, but at that point you’re effectively giving up on persuasion in favor of bullying.

          The steelman thing is a polite fiction, but don’t underestimate the value of polite.

        • Leonhart says:

          @anonymous
          When EY wrote about the steelman concept in the sequences, it was a personal-virtue thing – something you did for your own benefit, to ensure you had not accidentally missed an argument you should have accepted. Not in order to attribute it to others, which I agree is faulty.
          (BTW, not claiming either that he called it steelmanning at the time – can’t remember – or that it was original – I recall him quoting someone on the topic)

      • Vox Imperatoris says:

        Serious question – does he devote any effort to as to how to deal with people who are intellectually dishonest? One of the problems with politics is that an honest person debating a shameless liar has a disturbingly high chance of coming out the worse for it. The liar won’t hesitate to mislead, and calling out the deception then risks being made an issue of lack of charity or personal attack. Honest people will often say just treat everyone as if they were honest. But I don’t think that works in practice, because 1) Not everyone is in fact honest (and the benefits of deception rises when money and power are at stake). 2) There doesn’t seem to be convincing evidence it’s a sound strategy in practice (as opposed to working best in an ideal world).

        He does not go into the issue in much detail. Mainly, he says that one should not deal with people whom one knows are intellectually dishonest. Or at least, one should not humor their pretense of being engaged in an honest discussion. For instance, if you know someone is being dishonest in a debate, you point out the dishonesty, disregard their smears, and appeal directly to the audience. But yes, you try to avoid agreeing to debate dishonest people because you know that they are going to be engaged in sophistry.

        And as he makes clear, tolerance is not unlimited. It does not mean the surrender of moral judgment. It is a revocable presumption of innocence:

        The principles of justice also determine the limits of toleration. Tolerance is not appropriate, as I said in “A Question of Sanction,” when a person is willfully irrational. Thus I do not hold, as Peikoff claims, that tolerance means suspending moral judgment in the realm of ideas. It means suspending judgment when we lack sufficient evidence. And we should keep in mind here the distinctions we drew in Section I. We form moral judgments at different levels: we can judge a specific action, a general trait, or a person as a whole. The amount of evidence we need normally increases as we move from one level to the next. The same is true in regard to ideas. We may find that a person is not being rational on a particular occasion, in discussing some particular issue, and we may properly end the discussion for that reason. It takes more evidence to conclude that someone is chronically nonobjective in regard to some issue or kind of issue; in that case we may properly decide that we will not discuss politics, or religion, or whatever with him. It takes a great deal of evidence, finally, to judge that a person is irrational as such, on every subject, and to condemn him accordingly. At each level, tolerance is the appropriate policy when we lack the necessary evidence.

        As I said, Kelley does not get into it, but I would say that politics is a special realm because it inherently involves the use of force. You should make every attempt to extend the principle of charity to people and practice toleration. But when they reveal that they are not honest, you have the right to resist them by any means necessary.

        When someone is using demagoguery to try to take political control and violate your rights, you have the right to resist even by force, or by using demagoguery yourself. But just like war, that should be a last resort. You shouldn’t start a war unless you expect to win it in a permanent way. (On that note, George Reisman—who does not really see eye-to-eye with Kelley, so I can’t say whether Kelley would agree with him—endorsed the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet as a last resort against Marxism in Chile. Whether the situation was truly so bad in Chile as to call for military rule and the forcible suppression of communism is a complex question. But that’s the kind of thing you have to resort to when honest and rational debate is no longer possible.)

        Breaking out dishonesty and dirty tactics in order to win one election may produce moderate success in the short run (if at all), but it’s self-defeating in the long run. If you are dishonest, your opponents will be correct when they accuse you of dishonesty, and this will make them more persuasive. In the long run, you have to have the better principles, to be right on the actual issues. (And for instance, even if Pinochet were the lesser of two evils, what has been the long-term impact of his rule for public opinion of capitalism?)

        Being on the side of truth is a long-term strategic advantage.

        What do you do if your country is so far gone that there is no hope for changing it through rational persuasion—and no hope for winning through violence resistance, either? Well, Ayn Rand personally experienced that in Russia. In that case, you try to get out of that country as fast as possible and into any place that’s better.

        If every place is a dictatorship as bad as Stalinist Russia, and life is intolerable, you either try a futile resistance or kill yourself. There are no guarantees of success in life, or that you can’t be murdered by a criminal regime.

        • nil says:

          One thing that makes the “revocable presumption of innocence” thing tricky, though, is the question of what exactly you revoke when you revoke that presumption. You stop playing Mr. Nice Guy with that particular individual, of course–but what about the people who seem to think and talk the same way as him or her? If you blank slate every new person, you’re sisyphus–I speak from experience here, and I bet most other commenters here could as well. But if you don’t, you’re inevitably going to end up playing the asshole role in someone else’s “revocable presumption of innocence.”

          I think this is a core component of why online and online-influenced discourse so routinely brings out the worst in everyone–everyone is fighting the last war against the last troll. Despite thinking about it a lot I don’t really have a solution to it beyond the Gordian-knot-option of just discarding the whole farce of “public political discussion with strangers” as a pointless and often unpleasant waste of time (and even though I’m increasingly attracted to that position despite the obvious costs, here I am anyway)

          • One approach is to try to spot the honest people you disagree with and spend most of your time arguing with them. At the moment, on a Facebook climate group, I’m arguing with two different people I believe to be honest, have stopped interacting with someone I believe to be a sock puppet of someone else I stopped interacting with because he was lying about what I had said. Briefer interactions with other people.

  7. If immigrants commit crimes at a rate roughy equal to their share of the population, wouldn’t that mean that immigrants are actually committing less crime than expected? As immigrants are disproportonately young, single, uneducated males, a group that commits disproportionate crime and the total of US population includes elderly, children, etc.

    Possible explanations would be that people who immigrate are more likely to have good impulse control and long term planning abilities than a randomly selected member of the population, or that fear of deportation deters crime, or that since they tend to live in communities of other illegal immigrants crime by them is underreported.

    • Gbdub says:

      The fact that illegal immigrants commit federal sex crimes at a rate proportional to their population may not be indicative of their overall rate of offense, since I believe most sex crimes are handled at the state level (I think, but am not sure, that federal sex crimes include mostly sex trafficking and child pornography).

    • Steve Sailer says:

      The people who commit the most crimes over their lifetimes are males who joined neighborhood street gangs at around puberty when territorialism kicks in. They’re homeboys. Controlling turf is how you get girls.

      Immigrants who move to a foreign country in their 20s or 30s to get a job aren’t likely to join a juvenile gang: they’re too old. And the threat/practice of deportation lowers the crime rate seriously.

      On the other hand, sometimes their sons and grandsons join street gangs where they grow up. The big Chicano gang crime wave in Los Angeles in the 1960s-1990s, for example, tended to be kids born here or arrived before puberty.

      Muslims are a little different than other immigrants in that their religion makes a huge deal out of “hegira:” moving to new territory and taking over. The Islamic calendar is dated from the year Mohammed moved to Medina and took over. So events like Cologne are a turf-marking exercise endorsed by religion.

      Another aspect of what’s happening in Europe is that a large fraction of the “refugees” are males who either are or can pass for just under 18 because “children” are treated better in terms of refugee status and welfare in European states. You get more juvenile delinquent type activity like Cologne out of males 15-22 away from their families for the first time in their lives.

      • “The Islamic calendar is dated from the year Mohammed moved to Medina and took over.”

        By conversion, not conquest. He didn’t have an army at that point.

      • John Schilling says:

        There is still often a disproportionate number of criminals among first-generation immigrants, but they generally target(*) their fellow co-ethnic immigrants because that’s what they know how to do and what they can safely do in a new country where nobody really knows how to deal with the police yet. Quite likely that’s what they followed the other immigrants to do.

        The second-generation immigrant criminals, being as Sailer notes turf-defending urban gang members, spend a lot of time fighting people outside their ethnic community. An unfortunate corollary of this is, it may take a decade or so before you know how big a problem you invited into your country.

        * And “target” in this context often means “supply with vices and protection” rather than outright robbery, rape, and murder.

  8. “So a high rate of illegal immigrants among federal drug trafficking prisoners just means that they’re more likely to be involving in transporting drugs across the US-Mexico border than, say, a lumberjack in Wisconsin is. I am prepared to believe this.”

    I’m confused about what you are saying here. Are you agreeing with Breitbart or explaining away his fact. Because whether a illegal alien is more likely to be involved in the drug trade is exactly the question we’re (or Breitbart) is trying to answer, right?

    • Peter Gerdes says:

      He is suggesting that merely living in that area makes you more likely to commit crimes involving moving drugs across the border regardless of your immigration status.

    • atreic says:

      He’s saying that the same crime – ‘drug transportation’ is a federal crime in some places, and a non federal crime in other places. So to be involved in a _federal_ drug transportation crime, you have to commit the crime along the US Mexico border. It is more likely that illegal immigrants live along the US Mexico border than in Wisconsin.

    • Murphy says:

      Lets imagine a hypothetical situation where everywhere in the US and in every population everyone was equally likely to traffic drugs (We’re assuming people in Kansas do so using teleporters) but otherwise the legal system remains the same.

      In most of the US anyone trafficking drugs would fall under state law. People caught trafficking drugs in Idaho get charged with *state* drug trafficking while people doing the exact same along the mexico border legally considered a “High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area” get charged with *federal* drug trafficking.

      So even in this hypothetical situation where everywhere in the US and in every population everyone was equally likely to traffic drugs you’d expect people living along the mexican border to be over-represented vs the general population in *federal* drug trafficking cases.

    • Furslid says:

      I’m interpreting this as illegal immigrants having a higher opportunity to traffic drugs than those who don’t cross borders. The lumberjack might well accept money to carry a one kilo package with him while he goes on a trip he’s taking anyway. However, there is no profit in it. Someone who is going to cross the US-Mexico boarder might take the same deal, and there is a lot of profit. That illegal immigrants traffic drugs is because their immigration makes drug traffic a very easy extra way to make money. They also tend to be poorer. Also, just after immigrating is a time when extra money is most helpful.

      In short, illegal immigrants have more temptation to traffic drugs to a huge degree, and these aren’t temptations that we would expect native citizens to resist.

    • Steve Sailer says:

      I used to vacation in Mexico every few years from 1967-1986 with my dad. It was a pretty safe place to wander around back then. Honestly, driving up a rural valley of dope farmers in Kauai in 1981 was scarier than most of the places my father and I drove around in Mexico in that era. Sure, there was a marijuana trade in Mexico, but the big time cocaine importing back then went through Columbia and Florida, not through Mexico, so crime in Mexico didn’t really pay back then.

      But when I went to Mexico in 1996, it was pretty scary: there were guys with automatic rifles everywhere. And they were supposed to be the good guys keeping us tourists safe from the bad guys. I was not reassured. And the lavishness of the bosses’ houses on top of the hills had grown exponentially. How could they afford those spreads? I asked myself.

      The answer turned out to be: At some point, the main U.S. cocaine route shifted from Columbia to Mexico. Pablo Escobar was killed in 1993, so that might be as good of a date as any.

      And the pay for being a criminal shot up in Mexico.

      The full-scale Drug War didn’t break out in Mexico for another decade, but I wasn’t surprised when it happened.

      My guess would be that if you were a criminally-inclined Spanish-speaker with extended family on both sides of the border, America was a better place to be a criminal in the 1960s-1970s than Mexico. But then America cracked down with long sentences in the 1980s, and the Mexican one-party state started to crack up, and at some point there was easier money to be made in Mexico.

      Also, in 1996 Congress cracked down on welfare for illegal immigrants. And source of illegal immigrants shifted south away from the more violent cowboy regions of northern Mexico toward the more docile, peasant parts of Southern Mexico. For example, illegal immigrants in Los Angeles appear to be shorter today than a generation ago.

      So a lot of things have changed over the last half century.

  9. atreic says:

    Pushing the devil’s advocate boat here, while I entirely agree that we need to know baseline statistics to decide if illegal immigrants are worse than the population we have already (your New York analogy is brilliant), there is an almost consistent argument that even if illegal immigrants are better than the population we have already, bringing them in just makes More Stuff happen, because there are now more people. If you are an individual person scared of a violent crime, and you live in a city of 10,000 people, each with a 1 in 1000 probability of committing that crime, 10 of the things you are scared of will happen. If 10,000 illegal immigrants move in, even if they’re only half as bad with a 1 in 2000 probability, then 15 terrible things will happen. Objectively, that is more terrible things!

    I mean, this is mostly rubbish, because a) it’s really NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) to think that the terrible things are worse if the illegal immigrants are doing Bad Things in America rather than in a different country – although this is defensible if you care disproportionately about whether your house is robbed than if houses in general are robbed, and b) because the denominator population increases, so although there are more people to do the terrible thing there are more people to have terrible things done to them, and your actual risk might not change. But that’s defensible too – if the immigrant population are all one type of person (eg people without cars) and the crime you are scared of can’t happen in that population (eg car theft) then your individual risk might go up from an influx of immigrants, even if the immigrants were less awful than your non illegal immigrant neighbours.

    • Randy M says:

      The universalist sort might disagree, but it can matter who the victims are even if the rates are unchanged. Say there are two hypothetical immigrant groups, both with crime rates in the host country identical to the host country. Crimewise, the immigration from either is a wash, right?
      Suppose one group’s criminal class is a “squabbler”–all their crime in intra-group. Host country is no worse off (crimewise) for having them in. But the second group’s criminal class is a “parasite” type–they offend primarily against the host population, out of a tribal sense of loyalty (perish the thought!). In this case, the host nation *is* worse off for having the immigration (crimewise, there may be other mitigating benefits, hypothetically), in porportion to the amount allowed in.
      I can think of examples that make this less hypothetical, but let’s deal with the thought experiment first.

      Now like I said, some of the regulars here will assert that victims of crime are interchangeable across borders, so why should we care if there is crime here versus elsewhere? I doubt that this argument will sway the general public, though.

    • Vox Imperatoris says:

      But only a certain number of people can live in your “neighborhood”. If the illegal immigrants move in and the native people move out, and the illegal immigrants commit less crime, this is an improvement.

      Sure, a city’s total population can grow. But people don’t generally go drive all across LA from the “hood” to rob people in Beverly Hills. Most of the victims of crime perpetrated by those in the “bad part of town” are those who themselves live there. There are many reasons for this, including difficulty in finding transportation, the fact that rich areas have better police protection and better private security, the fact that neighbors will be more attentive to someone suspicious driving around looking for places to break into, and so on.

      • atreic says:

        Depends. If you’re living on an infinitely long thin street where every house has 2 neighbouring houses, every house has one and one one person living in it, and crime is only committed by neighbours, then yes, trivially. If you live in a village of 200 people, and 50 more people move onto a field next to your village, possibly not so much. If you live in a bit of a city where houses used to be family homes with four people in them, and now they are households in shared occupancy with 10 people in them, also not so much.

        I agree, there may be more people Doing Crime, but they may do more of the Crime to the new people. But that was my point in (b) – it’s _possible_ the crime is all within the new population, but it’s also _possible_ that it’s all out of the new population (eg, car thieves if no-one owns cars)

        • Vox Imperatoris says:

          If you live in a bit of a city where houses used to be family homes with four people in them, and now they are households in shared occupancy with 10 people in them, also not so much.

          Cities change; neighborhoods change; you can move.

          Peter van Doren of the Cato Institute (who I had never heard of before, yet everyone who worked there described him as the “smartest man” there) in his discussion of public choice economics, makes a good point that libertarian public policy is (ironically?) a public good. (And this is, of course, not original, but he presents it very clearly.)

          Everyone can see how, in his own narrow way, it would be good if his own industry received massive subsidies, or if his own neighborhood were “protected” from dynamism and change. But if every industry and every neighborhood does this, the whole country suffers and everyone is worse off.

          I don’t see this as being about “universalism” at all. It’s not that thou shalt love thy illegal immigrant as thyself. It’s that if you pass a law saying they can’t live in your neighborhood, and if every other neighborhood does the same thing, then they don’t get to live anywhere, and nobody gets to benefit from employing them and trading with them. And as a result, incredibly massive gains from trade are left on the table, making both potential immigrants and natives worse off (though potential immigrants much more so).

          And then people complain about the “cost of living” going up, about how everything is so expensive in the supermarkets, about how it costs $4 for a latte or $8 for a meal at a fast-food restaurant. Or about how middle-class two-parent families find that the second income is almost useless because they have to spend it all on daycare and eating out every night.

          So I see it as more about Schelling points than asking people to sacrifice their own interests for the sake of immigrants.

          • atreic says:

            Err, I don’t see that we’re in disagreement here? I’m not discussing whether more open boarders and immigration are good or bad, I’m discussing the specific hypothetical point about whether it _could_ be anything other than bad logic to say ‘an extra 10,000 people will do More Crime in my city, this is Bad’ even if they didn’t increase the crime _rate_ (or indeed caused the crime rate to _fall_)

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ atreic:

            And I was conceding the point you made that, yes, is it theoretically possible for new immigrants to make a neighborhood worse, even if they don’t commit more crime, insofar as they can make the neighborhood bigger / more dense.

            I went on to argue that this wouldn’t really affect the larger case.

          • houseboatonstyx says:

            @ Vox Imperatoris
            >>If you live in a bit of a city where houses used to be family homes with four people in them, and now they are households in shared occupancy with 10 people in them, also not so much.

            >Cities change; neighborhoods change; you can move.

            I haven’t bothered to dispute this when I see it as ‘unemployed people should move to where the jobs are’, but here’s my chance to dispute it coming from both sides.

            ‘Just move somewhere else’ is not a valid ‘just shut up’. A middle class person who doesn’t want their neighborhood trashed can’t easily just move out, leaving zis and spouse’s jobs, childrens good schools, friends, etc (and selling their loved house and trees/garden for decreased value). For similar reasons, someone who doesn’t want their neighborhood gentrified can’t just move out. An unemployed person (assuming unemployed spouse and not-good schools) … can’t afford the money to move.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        “But people don’t generally go drive all across LA from the “hood” to rob people in Beverly Hills.”

        People used to. Well, not to Beverly Hills, which was the richest municipality in America and has a famously massive and scary police force, but to places like Santa Monica. When I lived there in 1981, my apartment got burglarized and it was about the third burglary my apartment-mate, who had lived in that unit at 14th and Pico for about three years, had suffered.

    • Brad says:

      Pushing the devil’s advocate boat here, while I entirely agree that we need to know baseline statistics to decide if illegal immigrants are worse than the population we have already (your New York analogy is brilliant), there is an almost consistent argument that even if illegal immigrants are better than the population we have already, bringing them in just makes More Stuff happen, because there are now more people. If you are an individual person scared of a violent crime, and you live in a city of 10,000 people, each with a 1 in 1000 probability of committing that crime, 10 of the things you are scared of will happen. If 10,000 illegal immigrants move in, even if they’re only half as bad with a 1 in 2000 probability, then 15 terrible things will happen. Objectively, that is more terrible things!

      Does this hypothetical person also try to prevent her neighbors from having kids? Is she pro-suicide–on the theory fewer people less crime?

    • Jason K. says:

      Since the concern is about the total amount of bad things, the obvious solution is to deport everybody! Then there will be no one to commit bad things, so no bad things will happen. Problem solved. If that solution isn’t palatable, then one needs to explain why the current absolute level of bad things is fine but the new level is not.

      The other weakness with this argument is that it is inherently one-sided as it only considers the downside and not the upside. For example: Did you know, areas with historically high levels of immigration tend to also have very high property values? Appealing to greed might get some to look past the xenophobia.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      What about this argument: either crimes are within-populations (in which case illegal immigrants just crime other illegal immigrants and natives don’t have to worry) or crimes are across populations, in which case yes, some illegal immigrants victimize natives, but some native criminals also victimize illegal immigrants. Given a fixed amount of victimization per criminal (eg I have to rob 10 people per week to buy my drugs) that means that natives can expect to be victimized the same amount regardless of the population.

      This seems right to me – if we removed 50% of the population at random, but kept urban density the same (eg by crowding everyone into 50% of the cities) we wouldn’t expect any lower crime rates. So possibly illegal immigrants only raise crime if they increase urban density? That would be a weird conclusion.

      • Jiro says:

        That may be unjustified depending on culture and type of crime; imagine a culture which says that it’s okay to victimize outsiders.

        • Gbdub says:

          Indeed, didn’t Scott just wrote a couple posts about guns in which controlling for cultural “blackness” and “Southerness” were required to see an effect? Why couldn’t “Mexican Immigrantness” have a similar effect one way or the other?

      • Sastan says:

        Scott, one only has to look at existing crime data to see the problem here.

        Blacks are victimized less by whites than whites are victimized by blacks, even controlling for opportunity percentage of population and differential criminality. Interracial crime is much rarer than intraracial, absolutely. But there is some amount of interracial black-on-white crime that is driven either by racism or the perception that whites are easier targets.

        There is no “fixed victimization”. The question in this case is whether illegal hispanic immigrants have a criminal pattern more like whites or blacks. I suspect it’s the former, but it still has to be demonstrated, and I’m off to work.

        • sweeneyrod says:

          “But there is some amount of interracial black-on-white crime that is driven either by racism or the perception that whites are easier targets.”

          Or by the (correct) perception that whites tend to be richer, and hence more profitable to steal from?

          • Earthly Knight says:

            This might be what Sastan means by “opportunity percentage of population”, but we also need to take into account that a much larger proportion of whites live in cities and towns with no blacks to speak of than vice versa. No whites commit crimes against blacks in Utah for the same reason that no whites commit crimes against unicorns in Utah.

          • Sastan says:

            For theft/mugging, that’s a fair addition, sweeney. For simple violent crimes, maybe not so much, but I did miss that.

            @ET, “opportunity percentage” just refers to the fact that a minority is more likely to target a majority member of the population even if he chooses victims totally at random. The fact that the vast majority of crime is intraracial well documents that this really isn’t common, few people choose anything at random, much less crime victims. But if we hold that constant across races, black-on-white interracial crime still exceeds it, though the total number is relatively small.

            I think your point about self-segregated communities is a large part of why most crime is intraracial rather than inter-. It increases the local population of certain groups greatly. However, if you dig into the data a bit, you find that the few non-blacks living in heavily black areas are extremely likely to be crime victims, even moreso than local blacks. This lends some credence to the idea that they are targeted for opportunistic or tribal reasons. See: asian owned shops in Ferguson for an example.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            Let me put try to put the worry more precisely: it might be the case that (a) blacks having a smaller proportion of the population and (b) self-segregation interact to artificially inflate the black-on-white crime rate. Both groups try to self-segregate, but whites are much more successful because of their greater numbers, so every black burglar ends up hitting at least some white houses, while half the white criminals could not burgle a black even if they wanted to.

            I’m not sure, I’d have to think about it more but I don’t have time right now.

            There are also more subtle opportunities for confounding. If, for instance, black men more commonly date white women than vice versa and almost all (recorded) crimes related to domestic violence are committed by men against women, this would also serve to artificially inflate the black-on-white crime rate.

          • Sastan says:

            I like the idea on differential interracial dating rates affecting domestics, hadn’t thought of that. Ought to be a way to use a non-domestic crime as a proxy to tease out any difference, but I don’t have the time for that at the moment.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        “So possibly illegal immigrants only raise crime if they increase urban density?”

        No, the effect up or down mostly depends whom the illegal immigrants push out. The Southern California experiences varies: Places in the South Bay like Gardena got scarier as illegal aliens from Mexico replaced Japanese. But Compton, where two future Presidents lived in 1949, has gotten less scary in recent years as Mexicans push out American blacks (sometimes economically, sometimes violently).

        Of course, the people pushed out seldom leave the country, so they just move somewhere else. A lot of what is going on in America right now is that local elites tend to want Hispanic immigrants to arrive and push out African Americans in the hope that the American blacks will move somewhere else and become somebody else’s problem. The last two mayors of Chicago, for example, have been tearing down all black housing projects like Cabrini-Green and handing out Section 8 vouchers that go a lot further in Springfield or Dubuque than in Chicago.

        But that doesn’t mean Hispanics will be the last man standing either. In this decade, Asians have been pouring in. The number of babies born to Asian women jumped 6% in 2014 over 2013, suggesting the Asian immigrant wave is settling in and getting comfortable.

        New York, for example, could be a largely Chinese city in a generation or two.

        In parts of Southern California, Hispanics are being pushed out by Eastern Europeans and Middle Easterners. Armenians have been battling Mexicans in minor riots at Van Nuys HS for 40 years. And the Armenians now seem to be winning the turf war, helped out by a lot of newcomers from back home, like Azerbaijanis, who don’t necessarily get along with Armenians back home, but follow their lead in California.

        Compared to a lot of the people who are thinking about moving to America, Latin Americans aren’t that formidable on average.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        In Los Angeles, legal immigrants tend to be disproportionately involved in white collar crime like Medicare fraud. A lot of legal immigrants in SoCal come from ex-Communist or Middle Eastern countries that served as finishing schools for corruption. The one jury I’ve served on was of an Iranian used car dealer who with his Iranian brother-in-law stole $2 million in sales tax from the state. It was a pretty hilariously stereotypical case for me to get.

      • atreic says:

        I kept trying to keep my example ‘what if your immigrants really like stealing cars and none of them have cars’, but clearly parallel to that is ‘what if the crime you are worried about is men raping women and children’ (which a lot of the original article clearly is) and it is quite possible to imagine a case where the incoming population are disproportionately adult males.

        [Caveat for people skim reading – I am really really not interested in having the ‘should we be scared of immigrants for turning up and raping our women’ argument. I don’t want to get drawn in. I am interested in whether ‘With more immigrants, more bad stuff happens’ is ever a sane argument, if the overall rate of bad stuff is the same (or even lower). ‘It is theoretically possible that this argument could be self consistent if you really squint’ is not the same as ‘I agree with this argument’. And I have already been won over by the other comments that if you’re going to think that ‘more people doing more crime is bad, even if rates don’t change’ you have to think pretty hard about your position on all other ways that you get more or less people (eg babies, suicide) and it can get quite daft quite quickly]

  10. Murphy says:

    Quick, how many illegal aliens in Texas? If it’s 10 million, then their sexual offense rate is far lower than that of any other population. If it’s 10,000, their sexual assault rate is far higher than that of any other population.

    I think you may be falling into a vaguely similar trap to the one you talked about people falling into when assuming that their opponents are consequentialists.

    You’re arguing based on the assumption that if you showed your opponents that group X are perfectly equal to the general population then they’d say “oh, ok then” which is a little like assuming that if you show hardline catholics that handing out condoms will reduce the number of abortions that they’d say “oh, ok then”.

    I think a lot of the crowd who get worked up about immigrants don’t care if they’re better or worse than the general population, they view illegal immigrants who have all committed a sin (immigrating illegally) and if they were all universally punished for that sin or prevented from committing that sin then the country would be less 2,000 sex offenders committing offenses in the US. They may genuinely not care about the size of the group of which the 2000 is a part.

  11. Diadem says:

    A pedantic point, but how can you be an illegal immigrant if you’re in prison?

    Asuming the state did their paperwork, a foreign prisoner must by definition be a legal immigrant. They have a clear legal status, and are clearly allowed to be in the country (required, in fact, which is a strictly stronger condition).

    • John Schilling says:

      Illegal immigration is defined by the action of having entered the country without permission in the past rather than the condition of being in the country without permission at present. Crimes are almost always defined by a specific action than by an ongoing status or condition.

  12. Hackworth says:

    “This is literally just complaining that we’re getting better at solving the problem you complained about above!”

    No it’s not. Literally, it’s complaining that criminal aliens are not being deported before they commit a crime, i.e. before they even are criminal aliens. The only two ways of refusing criminal aliens before you know them to be criminal is to have precogs, or to stop all immigration. Ergo they are complaining about immigration of any kind, period.

  13. This is certainly a good catch, but I don’t think you have the right perspective. If you are – typical Rationalist style – mostly interested in facts, then it is a good approach, but wrong facts from NYT still screw over and order of magnitude more – and more powerful, more influential – people than Breitbart (Alexa rank 30/104 vs. 250/914), plain simply “huge edifice” and “Breitbart” hardly belong in the same sentence, the edifice may be, but it is not huge. But anyway, if your primary interest is facts, and not impact, then I can somewhat understand why do you see it this way.

    I am more interested in impact than facts. My problem with the left is not merely lies, but merely that the lies are the tip of the iceberg, there is a gigantic manipulation machine, most of it isn’t even the media but education, and of course I don’t like the direction it goes to, but even if I did, a state church of such immense proportion would still be icky. And lies are just a small subset of it, mostly it is emotionally laden language type of manipulation.

    My point is, try not to see them as equivalent, it matters a lot of a bunch of liars are just out in the wild or just the tip of a gigantic opinion forming iceberg.

    BTW Breitbart UK is better, I think that is where Milo is writing to, and Milo is a troll, not a liar, and yes it is somewhat silly to pin rape on illegals on a country where the illegals tend to be Mexican Catholics. Immigration-as-rape-culture is a far more European than American thing, for obvious religious reasons. So it was not the smartest move of them.

    • Frank McPike says:

      Breitbart has a higher Alexa ranking than Vox (392/1181), Salon (407/1293), or The Atlantic (322/822), which are the left-leaning sites that Scott most often criticizes. You could argue that he should have criticized a conservative news site with readership more comparable to the New York Times – foxnews.com (49/202) would qualify – but this argument seems misplaced, since most of Scott’s criticisms of the left are centered on websites with less impact than Breitbart.com.

      I would also note that “emotionally laden language” is hardly the exclusive purview of the left. I was going to read through the Breitbart article again and pull out some examples, but then I remembered that the title was “Rape Deniers: 9 Facts About Illegal Alien Crime The Media Covers Up” so I think I’ll leave it at that.

    • Esquire says:

      I agree that this is an important asymmetry – Breitbart is not considered by anybody to be a newspaper/website/blag of record.

      When the NYT makes mistakes like this, many many people will simply take their false conclusions as fact.

      Now… I’d guess that the folks at NYT are much much more conscientious and thoughtful than the folks at Breitbart, but their bad statistics still concern me much more.

  14. JayMan says:

    There are between ten and twenty million illegal immigrants in the United States – about equal to the number of New Yorkers. If somebody wanted to expel New York from the country, they could point out that New Yorkers commit 616 homicides, 2,534 rapes, and 45,206 cases of aggravated assaults per year. Or that we need seventy-one prisons just to contain all the New Yorker criminals in our justice system, and we don’t have nearly enough funding to run all of them effectively, such that literally thousands of New Yorker criminals

    This silliness of this logic is this: New Yorkers, by and large, are U.S. citizens or resident aliens. They have a right to be here. Illegal immigrants do not, and in fact, shouldn’t be here in the first place.

    Further, criminality among first generation immigrants is short-sighted. What about subsequent generations, where the crime rates goes considerably up?

    Also, nevermind the fallacy of comparing immigrants to Americans as a whole, ignoring racial differences in crime rates.

    • Furslid says:

      The claim that is being evaluated is “Illegal immigrants cause crime, therefore they shouldn’t be here.” You can’t support that claim by saying “They shouldn’t be here, so it doesn’t matter if they cause crime.”

      This is also assuming the conclusion being argued. The larger question is “Should they be here?” While that is being debated, you can’t just claim they “shouldn’t be here in the first place.”

      • JayMan says:

        This is also assuming the conclusion being argued. The larger question is “Should they be here?” While that is being debated, you can’t just claim they “shouldn’t be here in the first place.”

        And what was that in response to? Seriously…

        • Esquire says:

          You never see much of an attempt to calculate the BENEFITS of a citizen.

          Like… crime, dependency, disorder, disease, crowding – to greater and lesser degrees all populations have these downsides.

          And on the other side, benefits: economic surplus, tax payments, civic contributions, kindness, etc.

          Certainly there are many Americans who are net negative, many immigrants who are net positive, etc. But without looking at both sides of the ledger it is hard to know.

          • JayMan says:

            Apparently you are getting your priorities messed up.

            Citizens don’t need to prove their value because the whole purpose of a nation is to look out for the needs of its citizens.

            All this business of measuring the impact of immigrants is to determine whether or not they would benefit the citizens of this country by being here.

            All discussion should proceed from that understanding.

          • anonymous says:

            ^^^
            It is known?

          • Esquire says:

            Jayman, I don’t have any argument with your “citizenist” priorities. But my point stands: if you don’t know what ways immigrants benefit you, you don’t know how much of their costs to accept. Like… if we said “immigrants commit serious crimes at the same rate as natives” – would that be OK? If the average native is a burden, no way. What about 50%? 10%? 1%? We don’t have any principled way to set a limit.

          • Samuel Skinner says:

            We do- what is the rate people around you commit crimes? Immigrants who commit at higher rates are bad and lower rates are good. Yes, this means ‘do immigrants benefit me’ varies depending on the person.

          • Esquire says:

            Samuel – I think you are misunderstanding my point.

            Natives we are stuck with, so we must accept whatever pluses and minuses they come with. New citizens we should accept on a “net positive” basis. If our natives are kind of bozos, we should only accept immigrants with substantially BETTER stats than natives. So “crimes at the same rate” is too low a bar.

            Also, crimes are only part of the equation. If you had a population that had slightly higher (but still tiny in absolute terms) rates of committing, I dunno, auto theft, but paid tons of taxes and also volunteered a lot for civic organizations… that’s probably a good trade.

        • Vox Imperatoris says:

          Obviously, it was in response your statement that there is a significant difference between citizen criminals and illegal immigrant criminals, insofar as the former have a right to be here and the latter do not.

        • sweeneyrod says:

          It was clearly a response to you stating “Illegal immigrants… shouldn’t be here in the first place” as a premise to your argument.

    • A Definite Beta Guy says:

      Also, nevermind the fallacy of comparing immigrants to Americans as a whole, ignoring racial differences in crime rates.

      I had the same thought.

      Based on prior gun control arguments, we would operate under the assumption that America is a high-crime nation, largely driven by a certain number of sub-populations with a higher disposition to commit crime.

      The people we currently allow in are not the Bloods and the Crips, but they certainly aren’t the cast of Leave it to Beaver, either. To fit the narrative “oh, they’re just like you, ADBG, you should let them in the nation and Open Borders for all!” they should commit crimes at roughly the same rate as the good people of Vermont, not the rancid state of Texas.

      As for the people here already: They are Americans.

      • Vox Imperatoris says:

        As for the people here already: They are Americans.

        If the Good People in America can get better outcomes for themselves by deporting the Bad People and replacing them with Good People from abroad—or with no one at all—why should they not do this?

        I think they should do it, if they would get better outcomes that way. I think they will not achieve better outcomes that way, which is why I oppose it.

        But if you’re some kind of criminal preying upon me, I do not care whether you were born here or not. So I don’t see any huge moral difference between deporting racial minorities who were born here versus deporting foreigners who sneaked in illegally. If it is against my interest for either one of them to be here, I don’t see why I should respect their alleged “right” to stay here.

        And if it is in my interest for both of them to be here, I don’t see why I should be so much more opposed to the government deporting the one than deporting the other.

        • Randy M says:

          Where would you deport Americans to? That’s called exile, and there aren’t any places to send them that don’t either entail immediate death (Antartica) or have a say in the matter (everywhere else).
          Americans must deal with Americans while there is an America; others are optional.

          • Urstoff says:

            To where do you deport refugees?

          • Randy M says:

            Syrian refugees? That question sort of answers itself. Just because they don’t want to go back to Syria, doesn’t mean Syria has a moral right to refuse them.
            Which isn’t to say that the optimal move is to return them now, unless they cause enough trouble to warant not caring about their welfare (ie, any). But there is a definite difference between nativetrouble makers and foreign troublemakers, which was the point of thise sub-thread. Syria has every right not to be burdened with American criminals in the same way the reverse is true.
            Of course, many of them *aren’t* Syrian, which is why Europe should have had border enforcement.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            If the U.S. wanted to deport native-born people to Liberia or something, do you think anyone would be able to stop it? Hell, deport them to Syria, deport them to Somalia, deport them wherever you like.

            It would be immoral, sure. But then so is sending Syrian refugees back to Syria.

            I mean, you don’t seem to give a shit about what happens to the Syrians anyway, so I don’t see the big deal in loading them up with our criminals.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            And lest you think I am just being unfair to you on that last point, I myself don’t care that much about what happens to Syrian refugees. If I did, I wouldn’t have given them a grand total of $0.00.

            I don’t think you, I, or anyone else is obliged to sacrifice for them.

            What I object to is when immigrants are willing to come and work at an honest job, being hired by willing employers and housed by willing renters, providing a net benefit to everyone—but are nevertheless excluded in a way that hurts both them and native-born Americans.

            I don’t deny that it is possible that some natives may exist to whom freer immigration is a net harm—such as those who are both stupid and very lazy. But I think the balance is net positive for the majority of Americans: so it’s just too bad for those people who will be outcompeted by immigrants. They have no obligation to support free immigration, but I have little sympathy for their “plight”.

            And the argument that the existence of the welfare state undermines the case for immigration is very weak. Immigration—and societal heterogeneity in general—has consistently been shown to reduce support for the welfare state. If that’s attributable to xenophobia, I take it as a wonderful side benefit of xenophobia.

          • Jiro says:

            But I think the balance is net positive for the majority of Americans: so it’s just too bad for those people who will be outcompeted by immigrants.

            The problem actually boils down to incentives. The government of the immigrants’ home country can create conditions which create incentives for the immigrants to come here, either by directly encouraging immigration or just by mismanaging their country and making even poor conditions and pay a good deal for the immigrants. The immigrants then immigrate and outcompete locals (i.e. depress wages) as well as cause other problems. The immigrants are reacting rationally to bad incentives, and the creator of the incentives, being a foreign government, is beyond our reach and immune to the market.

            The only way to keep the foreign government from using incentives to get people to screw us over is to block the effect of the incentives–i.e. prevent the immigration. Libertarians tend to say “the immigrants are coming here voluntarily, so it’s okay!” They wouldn’t be coming here voluntarily if it wasn’t for the incentives created by monopolists on force.

            Immigration—and societal heterogeneity in general—has consistently been shown to reduce support for the welfare state. If that’s attributable to xenophobia, I take it as a wonderful side benefit of xenophobia.

            Immigration reduces support for the welfare state because of xenophobia. But you’re using this very fact to argue why people should not be xenophobic towards immigrants. If people believe your argument, they will act in a way which makes the argument not be true any more. It’s self-refuting!

          • @Jiro:

            Your assumption seems to be that third world kleptocrats want to drive out the most enterprising of their subjects–the ones most likely to have the ability and willingness to go half way around the world to make a new life in a strange country. Who are they going to steal from then?

            It’s the other way around. The opportunity to move to the U.S. puts pressure on the foreign rulers to treat their people better in order to keep them.

            Further, you seem to think that foreigners coming here and competing with us is a net loss. But when they drive down the wages of some current Americans, which they will do, those are wages paid by other Americans. We are getting back in less expensive goods and services what we lose in wages and more—consider services provided by immigrants that no native wants to provide at a price other natives are willing to pay.

          • jaimeastorga2000 says:

            Further, you seem to think that foreigners coming here and competing with us is a net loss. But when they drive down the wages of some current Americans, which they will do, those are wages paid by other Americans. We are getting back in less expensive goods and services what we lose in wages and more—consider services provided by immigrants that no native wants to provide at a price other natives are willing to pay.

            Yes, immigration make most goods and services cheaper. Unfortunately, there are certain very important things it doesn’t make cheaper, most notably land/rent/housing, which actually becomes more expensive as immigrants compete with citizens for the limited supply thereof. What good is making everything at the supermarket cheaper if you end up homeless because the value of your labor has dropped below the minimum wage and you can’t get a job? Would much rather have job security, which guarantees housing, and buy less stuff at the mall or eat out less often.

          • @jaimeastorga2000:

            (I thought I already posted this, but I’m not seeing it)

            It’s true that immigrants will push up the price of land. But that land belongs to present residents. It is rented by a present resident, the tenant is a little poorer, the owner a little richer, on net a wash. If it is rented by a new immigrant, one American is richer by the higher rent, no American is a loser, net gain.

          • jaimeastorga2000 says:

            (I thought I already posted this, but I’m not seeing it)

            Scott has been ramping-up the spam filter’s sensitivity. I recommend you make a copy of all your comments before posting, just in case they get eaten.

            It’s true that immigrants will push up the price of land. But that land belongs to present residents. It is rented by a present resident, the tenant is a little poorer, the owner a little richer, on net a wash. If it is rented by a new immigrant, one American is richer by the higher rent, no American is a loser, net gain.

            You are ignoring both the diminishing marginal utility of money and the fact that there are a lot more tenants than landlords. So what you get is a a lot of poor tenants who are made even poorer, and a few landlords who get much richer. And the landlords are mostly already rich, so the extra money doesn’t help them much, but the extra expenses really hurt the poor tenants; hence, immigration benefits a few elites at the expense of the masses of the underclass, the working class, and the middle class. I realize that this is a fully general argument for wealth redistribution, but the usual counter-argument about the need to incentivize wealth creation does not apply, since the landlords did not create any wealth.

            In any case, my point was not really about increasing land prices. My actual point is that immigration doesn’t make land cheaper the way it does with other goods and services, so you still need a job to pay for land, and if immigration prevents you from getting a job, you are going to be worse off than you were before even if immigration makes everything else cheaper. Again, I would rather have a job and house and have to make due with second-hand clothes and a library card than be unemployed and homeless but able to afford new clothes and shiny gadgets with the pocket change I collect in my begging cup.

          • Jiro says:

            Your assumption seems to be that third world kleptocrats want to drive out the most enterprising of their subjects–the ones most likely to have the ability and willingness to go half way around the world to make a new life in a strange country.

            Mexico isn’t halfway around the world from the US, and encouraging Mexicans to come to the US and send money back to Mexico has benefits for the Mexican economy. Also, governments can encourage immigration unintentionally by incompetence–mismanaging the country and creating economic conditions which make it likely for immigrants to come to the US instead.

            And third world kleptocrats don’t necessarily want enterprising subjects to be around them. If you are corrupt, enterprising subjects living on your turf are a threat to your own enterprises.

          • Anonymous says:

            @jaimeastorga

            But the reverse applies in the country the immigrant has left. Same supply of fixed resources but less demand for them. At the same time as countries that migrants enter see rich landlords get richer and poor tenants get poorer, countries that migrants leave see rich landlords get poorer and poor tenants get richer. It is indeed a wash when you consider the global effect.

            Yes, there are other effects in countries that migrants leave that might mitigate this. Perhaps people leaving has negative effects on the economy of that country. At the same time, it would be dishonest to look at those effects without considering comparable effects in migrant destinations.

            Also:

            In any case, my point was not really about increasing land prices. My actual point is that immigration doesn’t make land cheaper the way it does with other goods and services, so you still need a job to pay for land, and if immigration prevents you from getting a job, you are going to be worse off than you were before even if immigration makes everything else cheaper.

            Two points. One: housing is not just land. Houses have to be built. They have to be built from resources, sure, but those resources have to be gathered. It seems unlikely that an increase in population would act only to increase demand for housing without doing anything to increase the supply of any of its inputs.

            Two: at least in the US, the claim that land is in short supply is not credible. What you are short of is land in desirable locations, but not only is there no reason to expect that poor immigrants should be able to live in desirable locations, but these days, what locations are desirable is determined mainly by human factors. Move everyone from Silicon Valley into a new city in bumfuck nowhere and that will become the new desirable location. My point is that a change in people will change what locations are desirable anyway, including by increasing the number of desirable locations.

          • jaimeastorga2000 says:

            But the reverse applies in the country the immigrant has left. Same supply of fixed resources but less demand for them. At the same time as countries that migrants enter see rich landlords get richer and poor tenants get poorer, countries that migrants leave see rich landlords get poorer and poor tenants get richer. It is indeed a wash when you consider the global effect.

            Which is all well and good if you are a universalist worried about global utility, but I am not.

            Two points. One: housing is not just land. Houses have to be built. They have to be built from resources, sure, but those resources have to be gathered. It seems unlikely that an increase in population would act only to increase demand for housing without doing anything to increase the supply of any of its inputs.

            The cost of the physical structure is trivial compared to the cost of the land it sits on.

            Two: at least in the US, the claim that land is in short supply is not credible. What you are short of is land in desirable locations, but not only is there no reason to expect that poor immigrants should be able to live in desirable locations, but these days, what locations are desirable is determined mainly by human factors. Move everyone from Silicon Valley into a new city in bumfuck nowhere and that will become the new desirable location. My point is that a change in people will change what locations are desirable anyway, including by increasing the number of desirable locations.

            “Desirable locations” makes it sound like we are competing over beachfront property. Land must be near other people in order to be useful. Perhaps moving people from megacities to randomly located intentional communities would be a good idea, but that’s never going to happen because it is a coordination problem; nobody has an incentive to unilaterally move to the middle of nowhere.

          • Anonymous says:

            nobody has an incentive to unilaterally move to the middle of nowhere.

            Hermits!

          • Anonymous says:

            315 million is a strange stopping point. If you’ve convinced yourself that such an unfathomably large number of people are basically like third cousins, why not go whole hog for only one more order of magnitude.

          • Anonymous says:

            @jaimeastorga

            Which is all well and good if you are a universalist worried about global utility, but I am not.

            I can understand people caring about the utility of themselves and their friends and family. I can understand people caring about global utility. I can’t understand caring about the utility of everyone in your country but not everyone in the world, though. To me this makes no sense. Support for the state and border controls because you believe there would be bad consequences without them? Sure, that makes sense. But this particular way of dividing up who does and doesn’t count in utility calculations seems to me entirely illogical. What’s your argument for thinking this way?

            The cost of the physical structure is trivial compared to the cost of the land it sits on.

            I don’t know if that’s true. From a quick Google I found this post on a real estate blog [EDIT: link removed because the spam filter keeps rejecting this post; try twowiseacres DOT com SLASH taxes SLASH calculating-depreciation-for-residential-real-estate-investments], which contains the line “I use a standard percentage division between land and building of 20% and 80%, respectively, which I pretty much came up with from looking at assessed values to begin with.” I don’t know who runs this site or how reliable they are, and really this is pretty weak evidence, but in two minutes of Googling I couldn’t find any source supporting your claim that almost all of the cost of housing is in the land value. What are you basing this claim on?

            “Desirable locations” makes it sound like we are competing over beachfront property. Land must be near other people in order to be useful. Perhaps moving people from megacities to randomly located intentional communities would be a good idea, but that’s never going to happen because it is a coordination problem; nobody has an incentive to unilaterally move to the middle of nowhere.

            I do not actually think anyone should be moved anywhere, that was just an example to illustrate the point – that the value of cities is in the humans that inhabit them. But there will surely be a point at which the benefits of starting another business in the biggest hotspot for that industry, in the form of greater supply of relevantly skilled workers and ease of business connections, will be outweighed by the costs of doing so, i.e. high rents and the consequent high salaries that your employees will expect. There will be diseconomies of scale in industry hubs when they get beyond a certain size.

          • David Friedman:

            ” The opportunity to move to the U.S. puts pressure on the foreign rulers to treat their people better in order to keep them.”

            And it also makes US rulers far too complacent, making them think they can get away with anything.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ Anonymous:

            I don’t know if that’s true. From a quick Google I found this post on a real estate blog [EDIT: link removed because the spam filter keeps rejecting this post; try twowiseacres DOT com SLASH taxes SLASH calculating-depreciation-for-residential-real-estate-investments], which contains the line “I use a standard percentage division between land and building of 20% and 80%, respectively, which I pretty much came up with from looking at assessed values to begin with.” I don’t know who runs this site or how reliable they are, and really this is pretty weak evidence, but in two minutes of Googling I couldn’t find any source supporting your claim that almost all of the cost of housing is in the land value. What are you basing this claim on?

            He pulled it out of his ass. It’s not true outside of very large cities.

            For instance, my father lives on 110 acres in Alabama, but the cost of all that land was trivial in comparison to the house (which sits on a “yard” of about, say 5 acres at most). The house cost around $1 million to build. I don’t know how much the land cost exactly: something under $200,000 and likely less than that.

            And it’s not like he’s giving up a lot of earning potential to live there, either. He lives less than thirty minutes away from a city of around 100,000, where he makes $500,000 a year as a radiologist (or did before he semi-retired recently).

            The U.S. would have to have a vastly larger population for land costs to go above the cost of housing construction.

            Maybe this is true in the Bay Area, but guess what—you don’t have to live in the Bay Area. And moreover, the Bay Area’s enormous housing prices are caused almost solely by government restrictions on housing construction. If it could be built up as dense as NYC, the value of land in the city center would go up, but the cost of housing would go down.

          • jaimeastorga2000 says:

            315 million is a strange stopping point. If you’ve convinced yourself that such an unfathomably large number of people are basically like third cousins, why not go whole hog for only one more order of magnitude.

            I can understand people caring about the utility of themselves and their friends and family. I can understand people caring about global utility. I can’t understand caring about the utility of everyone in your country but not everyone in the world, though. To me this makes no sense. Support for the state and border controls because you believe there would be bad consequences without them? Sure, that makes sense. But this particular way of dividing up who does and doesn’t count in utility calculations seems to me entirely illogical. What’s your argument for thinking this way?

            I don’t, actually. The United States is far too large (geographically and population-wise) and far too diverse (racially, religiously, and ideologically) for me to think of it as “my tribe” or “my people”. But citizenship is a useful Schelling point for coordinating the defense of mutual interests.

        • A Definite Beta Guy says:

          There’s a difference between population groups and individuals.

          The Good People of America do remove Bad People. It’s called prison and can only be done to people convicted by a jury of their peers beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s a deliberately high bar to pass to defend the civil rights of Americans, and also applied to resident aliens.

          I obviously do not think we should move entire populations of Americans into prison camps, because Obvious Reasons.

          If 10% of the population of the Bronx is criminal, we cannot simply imprison the entire population. They have rights, we should try individuals.

          If 10% of the entire population of Syria is criminal and wants to move here, we CAN and SHOULD refuse entry, and we should let individuals in on a case-by-case basis.

          The two are not really similar.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            I obviously do not think we should move entire populations of Americans into prison camps, because Obvious Reasons.

            It would be immoral? It would have bad consequences?

            I think the same goes for throwing back e.g. Cubans fleeing Castro. That is, the ones who have “wet feet” and not “dry feet”.

            If 10% of the population of the Bronx is criminal, we cannot simply imprison the entire population. They have rights, we should try individuals.

            Do Syrian refugees not have rights? I think they do.

            I think rights are not permissions manufactured by the U.S. government and only applicable to members of the special club. Certainly the Framers of the Constitution didn’t think so, either.

            The Lockean theory of government on which America is founded clearly says that natural rights are applicable to all people, even those who exist in the state of nature relative to one another.

            In any case, if a population of foreigners could be so criminal that we had no choice but to turn them back as a group, it is certainly possible that a domestic group of people could be so criminal that we had no choice but to round them up and put them in camps.

          • meyerkev248 says:

            Aye, Syrian refugees have rights, they just don’t have the right to move here without our permission.

            That’s… the absolute basis of national sovereignty. If you want to give them that right, that means we have a much lower right to defend our borders than at present, and… if you want to say “My personal optimization function says that national borders are evil”, that’s fine, but I don’t.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ meyerkev248:

            Aye, Syrian refugees have rights, they just don’t have the right to move here without our permission.

            Yes, they do, because the permission is not “ours” to give.

            That’s… the absolute basis of national sovereignty.

            To the extent to which there is a basis for sovereignty (and there is no basis for sovereignty of “nations”, i.e. socio-linguistic groups, as such), it is because the delegation of powers to a sovereign is necessary for the protection of rights. But people cannot delegate powers they never legitimately had in the first place, such as the power to plunder and loot, or to exclude people from the arbitrary boundaries of a country when they are engaged in peaceful trade.

            But there is no such thing as the right of the “American people” to make arbitrary and rights-violating laws just because it suits their fancy to make such laws.

            Now, if Syrians in fact present such a vast threat that Americans are obliged to exclude them in order to protect themselves—such as they would exclude people carrying smallpox or ebola—then they would have the right to do so. But I don’t think that is factually the case.

          • xtmar says:

            @Vox

            Respectfully, these seem like spherical cow arguments. If you assume away the importance of nationality, there is no rational basis to exclude anyone who isn’t a demonstrated criminal.

            However, in the real world, nationality exists, and because of it people who are citizens are imbued with certain rights and responsibilities that non-citizens don’t have.

          • Jiro says:

            But people cannot delegate powers they never legitimately had in the first place, such as the power to plunder and loot, or to exclude people from the arbitrary boundaries of a country when they are engaged in peaceful trade.

            That same argument could be made with “country” replaced by “house”. If people can exclude others from houses, and that is a legitimate power, why is it an illegitimate power to exclude others from countries? Just treat the country as jointly owned by the citizens.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ Jiro:

            Just treat the country as jointly owned by the citizens.

            The majority does not have the right to exclude immigrants precisely because the country isn’t jointly owned by the citizens.

            For one, most of the land is private property and not the joint property of anyone. But even the public land is not “owned” by all the citizens collectively in the sense that they can do whatever they want with it.

            If you want to say no left-handed people are allowed in your house, it’s your property and you set the rules. But the government can’t legitimately say that no left-handed people are allowed to drive on the roads, even if all the right-handed people vote for this.

            Most basically, the only legitimate reason for there even being public property is that government ownership is somehow necessary to allow people to make use of their rights. For instance (theoretically): private roads = monopolies everywhere, commerce strangled; therefore, the government owns the roads.

            But once the government has property, it can’t just do whatever it wants with it. It can only use it for the purpose for which it is actually necessary. If it’s not necessary for the government to own a piece of property, they can and should give it back.

            So there is no role for the government passing laws saying “No Mexicans are allowed to drive on this road.”

            And if you want to say, well, it’s one thing for the government not to be able to stop left-handed people from driving on the roads because they’re citizens, but quite another to stop Mexicans because they’re not. To that, I would say, most importantly, that the theory in which people have no rights unless they are granted such by becoming citizens—is not at all the theory of rights upon which the U.S. government is founded.

            But even if the above did not apply, such laws still violate the rights of citizens, such as the right to hire a Mexican, or to invite one’s Mexican friend to live in one’s home.

          • Jiro says:

            But the government can’t legitimately say that no left-handed people are allowed to drive on the roads, even if all the right-handed people vote for this.

            The government can’t just say that no left-handed people can drive, because the left-handed people are citizens as well, and thus part owners, and the government can’t just take the ownership away from them. If three people own a house, two can’t vote the other out of the living room. If the left-handed people are immigrants, the government can say that they can’t drive, normally by not allowing left-handed people in in the first place and deporting them when they do come in; they won’t be driving if they’re not here. The existing citizens can decide that they want to ignore left-handed status in letting people in, but they do not have to.

            But even if the above did not apply, such laws still violate the rights of citizens, such as the right to hire a Mexican, or to invite one’s Mexican friend to live in one’s home.

            That only applies if the Mexicans don’t consume social services, don’t commit crimes, don’t vote (either directly or by causing votes of people who live in other areas to be diluted), and are not being used to launder interference from the government of Mexico.

        • Mary says:

          IF.

          The chief reason why is that it will lead to YOUR being a Bad Person and getting deported.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            Yes, if. An “if” which I do not think holds in reality, either for native-born populations or Syrian refugees.

            And no, the chief reason why is that those people have benefits—material and non-material—to the rest of us that outweigh the costs a fraction of them incur. Otherwise, the proper project would be for me to scheme to see how I could get away with deporting them.

        • JayMan says:

          If the Good People in America can get better outcomes for themselves by deporting the Bad People and replacing them with Good People from abroad—or with no one at all—why should they not do this?

          Well I’d argue that we can’t deport citizens because they are citizens. A nation exists to look out for its citizens – all of them.

          So I don’t see any huge moral difference between deporting racial minorities who were born here versus deporting foreigners who sneaked in illegally.

          Deport them to where? Do you understand what citizen means?

          • sweeneyrod says:

            “A nation exists to look out for its citizens – all of them.”
            No it doesn’t. It isn’t contrary to the idea of a state to treat different citizens differently – Jim Crow USA was still a perfectly statey state, despite not “looking out for all its citizens”. Even good states still treat some citizens differently – for instance by imprisoning convicted criminals.

            “Deport them to where? Do you understand what citizen means?”
            I dare say that it would be possible for the US to find an African nation that could be paid to accept a large number of immigrants.

          • Anonymous says:

            It used to be the case in my country that there were crimes for which the government took away citizenship. First you take away their citizenship, then you deport/exile/banish them, since they’re not citizens anymore.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            No it doesn’t. It isn’t contrary to the idea of a state to treat different citizens differently – Jim Crow USA was still a perfectly statey state, despite not “looking out for all its citizens”.

            Jim Crow USA was “a perfectly statey state” in that it was still a state, rather than a criminal gang (or whatever). That doesn’t mean that it wasn’t remiss in carrying out the proper functions of a state, though.

          • “That doesn’t mean that it wasn’t remiss in carrying out the proper functions of a state, though.”

            How do you figure out what the “proper functions of a state” are?

  15. Niklas says:

    Wow, Steven Kaas’ Twitter sure is a goldmine.

  16. John Schilling says:

    There is some reason for concern in that about 3/4s of these people manage to lose themselves before the deportation case is complete, but the DHS reasonably says that if people want this to stop happening people should give them more funding.

    One might also suggest that maybe the deportation process needs to be streamlined a bit if it can’t be completed during the time a person is serving their full sentence for some other felony crime. Due process, yes, but really…

    And if it is a resources constraint, you deal with it by pruning your case list at the outset and saying “we’re just not going to deal with those bignum offenses over there at all, so we can focus our attention on a smaller number of more egregious cases that we can surely win”. Something that Federal prosecutors are more than comfortable doing (and doing to excess) in other contexts, as we saw a few threads ago.

    • Randy M says:

      Every government agency will say it’s shortcomings will be fixed with more funding; the presumption should not be that it is a reasonable request until further accounting is done.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      @John Schilling:
      That’s called “deferred action”. It’s what the Obama administration has done for a large chunk of immigrants who haven’t committed any crimes (while in this country) at all, and is still subject to howls of rage. Generally the Obama administration has prioritized the deportation of those who commit violent crimes.

      There is a current Texas ruling making it’s way up to the Supreme Court, wherein it was ruled that the executive branch could not deprioritize deportation action on parents of childhood arrivals (expanded DACA). I’m thinking it probably won’t survive USOC review, but that likely won’t happen until he is out of office.

  17. Not Steve says:

    “Finally, illegal immigrants do commit 3.8% of federal sexual abuse cases. I give Breitbart credit for finally getting a number that is entirely correct and not biased at all. Unfortunately for them, illegal immigrants are 3.8% of the US population.”

    A fact that is unlikely to endear them to Breitbart readers, since merely matching the American average means they are better than blacks, but worse than whites.

    While yes, by any objective measure a hispanic underclass would be better than a black underclass, minorities are not fungible like that. And relevantly to people trying to slow down the demographic shift, only one of them is feasibly deportable.

    • Randy M says:

      There is a conspiracy theory floated sometimes in comment sections of conservative sites that liberal/democrat [edit: politicians in some cities, not any given liberal] support high hispanic immigration as a way of replacing current inner city residents with a lower crime population. That this is intentional is quite the accusation, but the demographic shift in, for example, Los Angelos, is occuring, afaik.

      • dndnrsn says:

        While that conspiracy theory itself is far-fetched, I think a lot of people (left or right) do underestimate (or are outright ignorant of) the friction between blacks and hispanics. It’s going to increase – by 2050, it’s projected that the hispanic population will be double the black population in the US.

        • Steve Sailer says:

          Such thoughts would never, ever occur to Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago! It’s not like his father was in the right-wing terrorist organization Irgun in the 1940s that ethnically cleansed Arabs from Israel.

          Oh, wait …

          • dndnrsn says:

            I posted before Randy M edited; the idea that individual politicians might be pulling that sort of stuff is not outside of the realm of possibility, but before the correction it seemed as though this was being presented as some general, coordinated thing.

            If it’s individual politicians here and there doing this on their own, that’s plausible, but it’s not really a conspiracy either.

          • Steve Sailer says:

            Or maybe it’s what could be called a conspiracy of silence: for example, the ongoing multi-decade project coordinated by Chicago elites to demolish the city’s giant black housing projects and dispatch their residents to small cities around the Midwest is completely obvious. But it’s considered in bad taste to publicly mention the racial aspect of what is going on.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ Steve Sailer:

            I find it odd how you turn the effort to demolish dysfunctional housing projects in Chicago and move the largely black residents to other places where they can hopefully be more successful, into a crypto-racist scheme to run black people out of the city.

          • Samuel Skinner says:

            Because black people are capable of leaving the city on their own to find success. Having to encourage people to find success frankly smacks of ulterior motivations.

          • Steve Sailer says:

            Obviously, demolishing the Cabrini-Green housing project near Chicago’s Magnificent Mile and erecting townhouses and boutiques on the site was done solely with the former residents’ best interests in mind. How could anybody have expected them to have any success living next to the Gold Coast? I’m sure they have found much higher paying jobs in Urbana or Round Lake Beach or wherever it is they’ve vanished to with their Section 8 vouchers. And it’s a slander upon Chicago politicians, who are world famous for saintliness, to suspect that the welfare of Cabrini-Green residents wasn’t always their highest priority.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ Steve Sailer:

            From the second paragraph of the Wikipedia article on the subject:

            At its peak, Cabrini–Green was home to 15,000 people,[2] living in mid- and high-rise apartment buildings totaling 3,607 units. Over the years, crime, gang violence and neglect created deplorable living conditions for the residents, and “Cabrini–Green” became synonymous with the problems associated with public housing in the United States.

            Is it possible that Chicago politicians had ulterior motives and/or cushy deals to make use of the land after it was demolished? Sure, I wouldn’t be surprised.

            But it was not like they demolished some perfectly functional housing project just to make way for the rich. High-rise urban housing projects were one of the stupidest ideas that welfare-state liberals ever had. Just about any form of housing is superior by comparison.

            Indeed, I would expect the former residents of these projects to do better in Urbana or Round Lake Beach.

            @ Samuel Skinner:

            The whole idea of the welfare state is that a certain class of people are dependent and can’t find success on their own.

            And even among conservatives and libertarians, it’s hardly a new or shocking idea that the welfare state breeds dependency and “traps” people in poverty by giving them just enough to live (poorly) on while discouraging them from working more.

            So sure, the ideal case is they demolish the projects and replace them with nothing. But given the existence of the welfare-state goal of providing public housing, demolishing the Cabrini-Green project and sending the residents elsewhere does seem to me to be in their best interest.

          • Mary says:

            “And even among conservatives and libertarians, it’s hardly a new or shocking idea that the welfare state breeds dependency and “traps” people in poverty by giving them just enough to live (poorly) on while discouraging them from working more.”

            Even? That’s a conservative/libertarian idea. It would be new and shocking to a leftist.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ Mary:

            Maybe I was unclear.

            Leftists believe that a large class of people are naturally dependent and therefore need the government to help them.

            Conservatives and libertarians also believe that a large class of people are dependent—because government “help” made them that way (or at least helped out to a large degree). The “even” was meant to show that “even” conservatives and libertarians believe that there are a large number of people rendered (at least temporarily) incapable of finding success on their own.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Cities that set out to break up housing projects and redevelop the area are, if they are seeking new residents, probably seeking gentrifiers to move in, and recent Hispanic immigrants are generally not the rank and file of gentrification.

            Even if Chicago politicians sat down and figured “let’s use housing vouchers to get rid of the urban blight and send the people to smaller towns”, that’s still only part A – part B is more likely to be “and then recent university graduates can move in” or something similar. This is different from “let’s allow tons of immigration to displace higher-crime people already here”.

            Housing policy seems to have been a bit of a disaster, but good intentions plus bad policy, with more bad policy brought in every now and then to try and fix previous bad policy, seems most likely.

          • John Schilling says:

            But it was not like they demolished some perfectly functional housing project just to make way for the rich. High-rise urban housing projects were one of the stupidest ideas that welfare-state liberals ever had. Just about any form of housing is superior by comparison.

            So what, specifically, was the other form of housing offered to the former residents of Cabrini-Green to improve their condition? Because I don’t see how this works.

            If there was some other, obviously superior, form of housing waiting for them, whether built to order by the government or by private industry or left over from some other purpose, then it is grossly insulting to the intelligence of the residents of Cabrini-Green to suggest that it was necessary to demolish Cabrini-Green. Just put up posters pointing to the obviously-superior housing over that way and let them sort it out. Come the day when, by their own choice, there’s nobody left in Cabrini-Green, then you get to demolish it in favor of townhouses for the rich.

            And if you have to resort to evictions and demolition over the objection of the residents, if you haven’t pointed them to specific, obviously-superior housing that they can readily afford and/or that you will provide for them, then all that “Just about any form of housing is superior” talk, is just empty talk and you don’t really care if they have any form of housing at all.

            I don’t like having the government in the business of providing housing for poor people. But, A: that isn’t something you get to quit cold-turkey, and B: one thing I like even less is having the government take choices away from poor people because it believes they are bad choices, because they obviously would be bad choices if made by middle-class people who could easily afford to do better.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ John Schilling:

            Come the day when, by their own choice, there’s nobody left in Cabrini-Green, then you get to demolish it in favor of townhouses for the rich.

            This is just bizarre to me. Why, exactly, is the government supposed to subsidize a dysfunctional housing project on prime real estate in the middle of a rapidly developing area of the city? When the area around it is gentrifying, the opportunity cost of leaving a big, ugly, crime-ridden housing project on valuable land goes up.

            And for that matter, why should people be provided public housing in big cities where the cost of living is high, anyway? If they want to be on the dole, they can live somewhere else where the cost of housing them is lower.

            Why is there supposed to be some kind of resident’s veto on demolishing public housing? This is just like leftists preventing landlords from either raising rents or evicting tenants to remodel their buildings into nicer condominiums.

            So what, specifically, was the other form of housing offered to the former residents of Cabrini-Green to improve their condition? Because I don’t see how this works.

            They were given Section 8 housing vouchers to buy housing elsewhere in the city or in other cities. There was a lawsuit over it an and extensive settlement process in which the city agreed to provide extensive resources to help them relocate:

            A group of current and former public housing residents filed the lawsuit in January 2003, alleging that CHA failed to develop a program to assist class members to relocate to racially integrated communities. CHA denies the allegations. The lawsuit involves the relocation of current and former public housing residents to subsidized private housing with Housing Choice Vouchers (formerly known as Section 8 Vouchers). Currently, many public housing residents are moving temporarily or permanently to subsidized private apartments as part of CHA’s Plan for Transformation, which is a ten-year, $1.6 billion program to replace obsolete high-rise public housing buildings with new, mixed-income communities.

            Throughout the litigation, the parties engaged in cooperative settlement negotiations regarding CHA’s current programs and future plans to assist relocating residents. As a result of these discussions, the parties were able to reach agreement that CHA’s current programs for families making the initial move from public housing, along with a modified program targeted to CHA residents who have previously moved, together represent “best and reasonable efforts” to assist these residents to exercise their own choices to relocate to economically and racially integrated communities.

            Under the terms of the settlement agreement, CHA retains the authority to make any changes to existing or future programs, subject to its commitment to use “best and reasonable efforts” to provide programs to assist class members to exercise their own choices to move to economically and racially integrated neighborhoods. CHA will provide plaintiffs’ counsel ongoing access to information regarding relocation and social service programs for public housing families available through CHA, CHAC, Inc. – the administrator of the Housing Choice Voucher program in Chicago – and the Chicago Department of Human Services. Although the case will be voluntarily dismissed as a result of the settlement, the plaintiffs retain the right to apply to the Court to reinstate the lawsuit within three years of the effective date of the settlement agreement if they believe CHA is breaching the settlement agreement.

            CHA and CHAC, Inc. will also modify CHAC’s Housing Opportunity Program for CHA residents who have previously moved. The existing Housing Opportunity Program helps families who already live in private housing with Housing Choice Vouchers to move from high-poverty neighborhoods to low-poverty neighborhoods. The modified program available to former public housing residents will add a focus on the benefits of racially diverse neighborhoods.

            United States District Judge Ruben Castillo, who presided over the case, said “I commend the parties for devoting so much time and effort to developing a cooperative approach to resolving this lawsuit. All the parties share an interest in empowering residents to choose where they wish to live.”

            So, contrary to what you said, they did make an extensive effort to find superior housing for them to relocate to.

            I don’t like having the government in the business of providing housing for poor people. But, A: that isn’t something you get to quit cold-turkey, and B: one thing I like even less is having the government take choices away from poor people because it believes they are bad choices, because they obviously would be bad choices if made by middle-class people who could easily afford to do better.

            Why can’t they quit cold-turkey, exactly? That’s not at all clear to me. But that’s beside the point.

            Look, I’m not really in favor of the government telling poor people how to live. But I’m sure as hell not in favor of the government actively subsidizing their bad choices with public funds. And don’t exactly believe that everyone living in Cabrini-Green was a perfectly rational, virtuous person who was doing the best he could with the means he had available.

            People are lazy, and not just people living in public housing. They don’t take all the steps they can to improve their lives. Or you get people tied up in a perverse kind of “community spirit” that employs crab-bucket syndrome to drag back down anyone who actually starts to do better. I don’t believe in some kind of relativism where “we can’t judge” the choices of people to live in crime-ridden housing projects.

            Do you think it would be beneficial if the government handed out a weekly “cocaine allowance” on the theory that if the poor choose to spend this money on drugs, then obviously they were doing what was rationally best for them? No, if the government feels it necessary to take my money and use it to help those in need, they’d better use it for actual needs. Not to let people take public funds and use them to support harmful lifestyles.

            Sure, I recognize that once the government starts making welfare conditional on good behavior or targets it in ways that are more likely to be effective, you give the government a dangerous amount of power. But that’s just an inevitable consequences of welfarism in general.

            It’s a consequence of the government taking over private charity, which has to target charity and make it conditional in exactly the same way. Or should private charities be willing to keep giving their limited funds to a man who spends it on liquor and lottery tickets, when they could allocate that money to someone more deserving? Or should centers for treating alcoholism allow unlimited quantities of alcohol on the premises?

          • John Schilling says:

            If they want to be on the dole, they can live somewhere else where the cost of housing them is lower.

            By which you mean they can go to Hell, on account of the Devil never turned anyone away for inability to make the rent?

            Because the problem kind of goes away when you point to a specific, non-hellish location that will take them, but neither you nor the City of Chicago seem to have bothered to do that.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ John Schilling:

            I specifically pointed out how the city helped them find places to relocate to. What do you want, addresses for where they sent each person?

            Do you really imagine that there’s no place in the United States where a poor person can afford to live? And it’s not exactly like in the U.S. that means asking them to live in some kind of shantytowns, either. Which, I might add, are a significant step above “hell”.

      • Sastan says:

        I doubt there is any organized conspiracy. I do think, however, that we are due for a political realignment soon, and a big part of that is who the Democrat party decides to keep once they decide they won’t work together anymore, the blacks or the hispanics?

        • The realignment that interests me, for obvious reasons, is where the libertarians (broadly defined) end up. I’ve had hopes that the Democrats might decide to try to pull them out of the Republican coalition, but so far it hasn’t happened.

          • Sastan says:

            Yes, I suspect there will be a rift on the right as well, between the blue-collar nationalists, the religious right and the libertarian-leaning. Realignment will be interesting, to say the least. But I do doubt that the Dems will ever accept the libertarians. And the Republicans don’t much like us either. I expect the realignment will create groups based on not needing such a recalcitrant group of contrary schmucks. Best guess is libertarians are left in the cold, where we belong. 😛

            But maybe I’m just being defeatist.

          • nil says:

            Libertarians had their put-up or shut-up moment with regard to the GOP this year with Rand Paul. Obviously, he’s not a perfect libertarian, but he’s probably as close as can reasonably be expected. Moreover, it was as good an opportunity for a libertarianish candidate as could be asked for–a lot of open civil liberties ground left by both Obama and Twitter illiberals that was ripe for the taking, a divided and weak GOP establishment, waning evangelical influence, a slow but substantial de-tabooing of libertarian approaches to drug policy, and a lot of positive buzz about purportedly libertarian leaning millennials going into 2015. But unless something extraordinarily dramatic happens in the next month or two, it all came to nothing. Some of this can be blamed on Paul himself, but ultimately it just looks like there’s not enough of you.

            Which is a damn shame, in my opinion, but there you go.

          • Jaskologist says:

            They tried. Remember “liberaltarians?” I seem to really Markos himself penning a piece calling on libertarians to join the left, although I can’t find it now.

            Then Obama was elected and they immediately went for the massive Stimulus and Obamacare and the whole thing was just sort of forgotten, except by Instapundit-types on the right who like to call the Reason-types who fell for it “rubes.”

          • It seems to me that the commentariat is a lot less conservative than it used to be. My very vague impression is that people becoming aware that the justice system (including the police) is untrustworthy made the difference.

          • Steve Sailer says:

            Poland is interesting: it’s a very conservative country, so now the populist right is at war with the neoconservative right.

        • Tibor says:

          I always found it strange that Hispanics would support the Democrats. If you look at Latin America, their cultural values seem much more conservative. Sure, they are Catholics and most Republicans are Protestant but other than that they seem to have more in common with them than they have with the Democrats…maybe Republicans could get “the Hispanic vote” if they were less anti-immigrant. I vaguely recall that George Bush Jr. had quite a high support of the Latin Americans but I am not sure if I do recall it well (I was 12 when he was elected and I live on a different continent). That and economic policies. But since the Hispanics seem to be getting gradually better off (unlike the blacks) and become a strong middle class they might eventually switch to supporting the more capitalist (at least rhetorically) Republicans (if I grok it well, the demography of the Democrat voters are mostly poor inner-city people and “intellectuals”, whereas Republican voters are rural poor and “businessmen”).

          • One of the few things Bush did right was to oppose the anti-immigrant bias of his own party. I suspect it was some combination of wanting to pull Hispanics into the Republican party and being from a state with a large Hispanic population.

          • NN says:

            I’m pretty sure that Hispanic support for Democrats is almost entirely due to Republican positions on immigration. After all, far more Hispanics than non-Hispanics have friends or family members who are illegal immigrants, and it is easy to see how that would trump other political considerations for them. When Republicans like Trump decide that the Hispanic vote is a lost cause and pander to white Nativist sentiment, that only reinforces this.

            You can see similar things at work with other demographic groups. Before 9/11, American Muslims tended to support the Republican party for pretty much the same reasons as Evangelical Christians. Then the War on Terror happened, and they switched over to the Democrats en masse in response. Similar to his actions towards Hispanics, Bush made sincere efforts to reach out to American Muslims, but other Republicans weren’t as conciliatory and as soon as Bush was out of the way, we got things like the “Ground Zero Mosque” fiasco, Peter King’s witch hunts, and Trump’s proposed Muslim immigration ban. All of which will likely keep Muslim Americans loyal to the Democrats for the foreseeable future despite Obama’s continuation of many of Bush’s War on Terror policies.

            Both sides of the political spectrum seem to have a problem with alienating potential supporters due to disagreements on single issues. See for example, the constant stream of vitriol from many pundits on the Left towards poor rural whites, despite the obvious potential there for an alliance based on some economic issues.

          • Steve Sailer says:

            Hispanics tend to vote Democratic for perfectly sensible Tax-and-Spend reasons, along with affirmative action.

          • Tibor says:

            I guess they really are the stupid party. Latin Americans are a growing demography in the US who would largely be aligned with Republicans in most topics save for immigration and they shun them. Then again with presidential candidates with names like Cruz and Rubio, maybe they will wise up eventually (although the current support of Trump does not indicate that it should happen any time soon). I have to say that I don’t really know the background of those two very much, so maybe the names don’t mean a lot. Too bad Bush was not more influential in this (and less in other things) in his party. It is also something that is not really mentioned about him very often (not that I would value Bush very highly but I don’t like the sort of black and white narratives where one person, especially a politician, always does the bad thing or always the good thing).

    • Anonymous says:

      Naturally Steve if we are opting to invite additional people into our society for our benefits, then we will measure their criminality against zero, not against the national average. If a kinsman commits a crime then it’s a problem and our problem, but if a guest commits a crime, then we ask ourselves if he ever should have been here to do so in the first place.

      What is the alternative ideological basis? Sorry your family was murdered, but check out the city council’s budget surplus, it’s all worth it in the end?

      • brad says:

        There are plenty of people in the US that are more distantly related to me than plenty of people outside the US. US nationality is terrible correlate for kin closeness.

        • Anonymous says:

          Ethnic identity might be (locally) driven by, but is certainly not synonymous with, genetic similarity; and ethnonationalism as an ideology certainly doesn’t need it to be.

  18. Anonymous says:

    calling people who disagree with you “deniers” is a pretty reliable red flag that an article will be terrible.

    OY VEY!

  19. W.T. Dore says:

    Perhaps it’s time to change the tradition of yelling at Vox?

    • Wrong Species says:

      There plenty of people who criticize dumb things conservative say. We need more people who are willing to call out progressives when they misuse statistics.

      • Sigivald says:

        There’s plenty of both – it’s more that people on one side rarely see the other doing it, for obvious reasons.

        (I mean, I’m a libertarian with a fair amount of sympathy for some sorts of conservatism; the former gets some criticism of left and right on my radar, the latter exposes me to more of the left, and Facebook posts expose me to huge amounts of [sadly, too often poorly sourced/done] criticism of the right.

        And – tying it in with the parent post – I refuse to knowingly click on a Breitbart or RedState link, just like I won’t bother with DemocraticUnderground or Vox.

        I already know whatever I see at any of those will be not only partisan – which I can tolerate, when it’s open – but offensively badly supported and reasoned, which I cannot tolerate.

        I see a lot of people, via Facebook, simply only seeing the tame own-side criticisms of their beliefs, and ludicrously stupid, biased criticisms of the other side.

        This is not helping them understand the world any better, naturally, but it’s great for reinforcing affiliation, I guess?)

        • Wrong Species says:

          That actually supports my case because progressives are far more likely to read Scott than Breitbert. Scott isn’t just a guy who criticizes progressives, he’s a guy with a progressive worldview who criticizes progressives.

      • W.T. Dore says:

        “The trouble with being in favor of good reasoning, as opposed to with getting the “right” results, is that you will generally spend most of your time picking apart terrible arguments by the good people, the righteous people, because they are the only people who are making bad arguments that haven’t already been picked apart ad nauseum …
        And once you view the Good Righteous People as your enemies, you start viewing the Bad Unrighteous people as a sort of friend. Bad, unrighteous friends. But at least they sometimes stand up for you when no one else will.

        And then you start to become Bad and Unrighteous yourself.”

        • Nornagest says:

          In a setting split roughly fifty-fifty between two groups that hate each other, it would be very remarkable indeed if one group’s arguments were reliably picked apart and the other one’s weren’t. It may appear this way if you’re deeply embedded in one side and so you never see the counterarguments — but then, as you start to drift away from the side you started from, you’ll see proportionally more arguments against it.

          Bad news if one side has little XML tags reading “alignment=Chaotic Evil” on their souls, but probably good news in a world where good and bad are determined by empirics and not by metaphysics.

        • Anonymous says:

          @W.T. Dore

          On the other hand, if it seems like there are roughly equal numbers of good people on either side, that seems like evidence in favor of the superficially evil side – the reasoning being that the superficially good side will get supporters just by sounding nice, whereas the superficially bad side will only get good people supporting it if its arguments are strong enough to overwhelm the unpleasantness its ideas have on first glance.

          EDIT: I don’t actually find this argument very convincing in this context, since even if someone is sincerely good there’s no real reason to expect them to go to the trouble of working out and supporting what political possibilities would lead to the best consequences, since the effect their having correct views in this area would have on bringing about their desired consequences are virtually nil. Although I think it’s a nice counter-argument to the equally weak claim: “one side wants things that sound nice, one side wants things that sound mean, therefore you should support the first side and assume the second side is evil”.

          However, I think there is a different context in which my argument does actually make sense. When you’re choosing which product to buy between two options, both of which seem equally popular, which should you go for? I would say that you should go for whichever seems less superficially appealing – whichever product has less shiny packaging, is less new, has had fewer expensive TV adverts. This is because those things will have some effect in making the product more popular – so given two alternatives with equal popularity, the one that has more of those meaningless popularity boosters will have a smaller proportion of its popularity stemming from relevant, useful factors, like how good it is.

          • onyomi says:

            This is one among a number of reasons why I have more knee-jerk support for the Republicans than the Democrats: the Democrat position is easier to argue for on a very superficial level, both because it seems to be more empathetic and because it is much more willing to promise things to the great majority of voters at the expense of the wealthy minority.

            A Democrat would, of course, say that their positions are easier to argue for because they’re right. But I, on the other hand, think it’s a point against them that they can’t seem to decisively win the battle of ideas despite having huge advantages in terms of emotional appeal of their positions.

            Then again, on the “Cthulhu swims left” theory, the Democrats have been winning, because while the GOP may retain about 50% support among the populace, the position of the median Republican would have seemed radically left wing prior to FDR.

          • Samuel Skinner says:

            If conservatives are people attempting to signal hardheadness and dependability while liberals are trying to signal empathy and caring, the fact that liberal arguments focus more on the latter doesn’t tell you anything about the overall argument quality.

            Also given most of the population vastly overestimate their status, promising tax cuts is similar to promising the super rich will pay more taxes- it sounds to most people like they will be receiving something.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            @Anonymous:

            When you’re choosing which product to buy between two options, both of which seem equally popular, which should you go for? I would say that you should go for whichever […] has had fewer expensive TV adverts.

            There’s a reasonably persuasive economic argument for the reverse policy – you should pick the product that’s had more expensive TV ads. To wit: think about buying an expensive TV ad as posting a performance bond. If your product sucks, you’ll never get that money back.

            An outrageously expensive ad – say, putting a top celebrity on air during the Superbowl – is only a profitable investment if your company is solid enough to stick around for a while. A company with an unappealing product or a one trying to cut corners or one with little confidence that it’ll be around long enough to profit by greater exposure, wouldn’t make such a grand gesture. Buying big ads sends a signal we stand behind our product in its current form and expect to be profitably selling it for a very long time; the more expensive the ad is, the better it sends that signal.

          • Anonymous says:

            @Glen Raphael

            I think it depends on the details. I can see your point when it comes to new products. On the other hand, when comparing two established products, I think it makes sense to assume that the one with fewer characteristics that will make it popular but which you consider unimportant will be the best choice. If TV ads and flashiness don’t create lasting popularity then perhaps these factors won’t apply here.

      • Daniel Kokotajlo says:

        Wrong Species: What we really need is more people who are willing to call out *both sides.* There are plenty of conservatives criticizing liberals and liberals criticizing conservatives already.

        • No problem. Clone Scott. Many times.

        • JBeshir says:

          Even a reduction in the *gap* between willingness to call out enemies and willingness to call out friends would do a lot of good, even if we couldn’t eliminate it.

          I’m inclined to think that ideally it would go even further than being even, and people would ideally criticise the people who listen to them more, because those are the people they actually have the ability to affect social incentives for.

          Criticism of the other side has to work through a step-removed “pressure the other side as a whole to become willing to internally criticise each other” process that gets less and less effective the more intransigent people think they should be and the more resisting the people making the critiques becomes a mark of virtue in and of itself.

  20. TomA says:

    Scott, I think you are being a bit naive here. All major media strive to be controversial in order to differentiate themselves from the competition in this brave new world of internet-based mosh pit journalism. And the target audience are not intellectual giants, but rather partisan political fans looking for confirmation of their bias.

    We are awash in a culture war that employs a memetic armory of messaging tools; most of which are chosen because being effective is the imperative, not accuracy. For the past few millennia, our species has been selecting for conformity, not excellence.

    Nevertheless, I salute you for bailing against the tide.

  21. I think your overall point mostly stands but, for what it’s worth, I don’t think it’s strictly true that “To get a federal drug trafficking arrest, you have to move really large quantities of drugs ‘across state or national borders’, preferably in a ‘High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area’.”

    According to the statute and the source you cite, the only thing you have to do to be convicted of a federal drug penalty offense is to “knowingly and intentionally”
    1) “manufacture, distribute, or dispense, or possess with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, a controlled substance” or
    2) “create, distribute, or dispense, or possess with intent to distribute or dispense, a counterfeit substance”
    and
    3) get unlucky and be charged by the Feds instead of a state.
    Statute here: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/21/841

    I think it’s true that the crime has to affect “interstate commerce” in order to give the Feds jurisdiction but the definition of affecting “interstate commerce” is broad enough to capture the production or use of home-grown mj because it affects the interstate market. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gonzales_v._Raich#The_decision

    Also – trafficking “across state borders” can and does happen everywhere in the U.S.

    On the other hand, as your source says, the Feds do prioritize cases in high intensity areas so you are much more likely to get a federal sentence if you’re near the border than if you are elsewhere.

    • Mary says:

      the definition of affecting “interstate commerce” is broad enough to capture the production or use of home-grown mj because it affects the interstate market.

      Let’s hear it for the New Deal. the real culprit here is Wickard v. Filburn. No other decision was possible in the case you cite until Wickard v Filburn is overturned as an atrocity. As it is, in fact, extending its evil grip, don’t hold your breath waiting (unless you turn a really pretty shade of blue).

  22. Wrong Species says:

    i never know how to feel about the immigration debate. Hispanic immigrants don’t worry me. But Islamic immigration is absolutely terrifying. And yet it seems like people either welcome all immigrants or none of them. There is so much room in the middle but it doesn’t seem to be discussed. Anyone else feel similarly?

    • Urstoff says:

      Why are you terrified of Muslim immigrants?

      • Randy M says:

        I’m not terrified, but I do find the idea unpleasant.
        Because their culture is about as different from WEIRD culture as can be found by non-athropolgists today; assimilation works both ways; and many western leaders have shown little heed to the numbers that would come if allowed.

        That’s without having any idea of personally being the victim of organized terror, sudden jihad, or actual rape culture, so no need to aver how rare such things are per capita.

        • NN says:

          I assume that you’re referring to Muslim immigration in Europe, because America doesn’t have anywhere near the same problems even though it has a larger Muslim population than any EU country except France. Yes, some of this is surely due to selecting for high-skilled immigrants, but the US has also admitted a lot of refugees from places like Somalia, and they seem to have much better average outcomes than native blacks. I find it hard to avoid the conclusion that a lot of the problems are due to European countries just not knowing how to deal with large immigration inflows, whereas the US has more than 2 centuries of experience with that sort of thing.

          On the other hand, a significant factor may be that American culture is on average significantly less WEIRD than Europe, so it may simply be that Muslim immigrants don’t stick out as much as a result. A recent Pew American religion survey found that American Muslims are significantly less conservative than American Evangelical Christians by a number of measures, even once you take into account things like supporting the Democratic Party because of opposition to Republican foreign policy positions. For example, 60% of Evangelical Christians say that they consider religion to be their primary source of moral guidance, compared to just 37% of Muslims, and 64% of Evangelical Christians oppose same-sex marriage compared to 52% of Muslims.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @NN:

            Where are you getting your data from? http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2011/jan/28/muslim-population-country-projection-2030 has Germany and the UK, in addition to France, having more Muslims than the US.

            Additionally, the US has a far larger population than any European country, which must be taken into account. As a % of population, many, many European countries have more Muslims than the US does.

          • Randy M says:

            “America doesn’t have anywhere near the same problems even though it has a larger Muslim population than any EU country except France. ”

            Come now, this is a thread about lying with statistics. Can you clarify if that is percent or per acre?

          • Nornagest says:

            This table gives a lower Muslim population in the US than in France, Germany, and the UK, and a lower fraction of the population than almost all the EU countries excluding some Eastern European states.

          • NN says:

            Where are you getting your data from? http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2011/jan/28/muslim-population-country-projection-2030 has Germany and the UK, in addition to France, having more Muslims than the US.

            I got my data from looking at Wikipedia articles and doing some of my own calculations. Apparently I made a few mistakes. Mea culpa.

            Come now, this is a thread about lying with statistics. Can you clarify if that is percent or per acre?

            I meant absolute numbers, not relative percentage. I apologize for not phrasing it more clearly.

    • anonymous says:

      For me it’s a little frustrating because I have strong opinions about the “ordinary” immigration system but don’t have especially strong feelings one way or the other about unskilled Mexican and Central American border jumpers or Muslim refugees, which are the two issues everyone seems to be talking about when they talk about immigration lately. (Except in tech circles where it’s H1Bs instead.)

    • A Definite Beta Guy says:

      TBH, not really. There’s certainly a number of proposals on the table, and neither are close to the extremes “don’t let anyone in” and “let everyone in.”

      Politically, the biggest contention is whether illegal immigrants currently in the nation should be offered a path to citizenship or a path to legalization. The second biggest contention is how to stop illegal immigration (Great Wall of America?!)

  23. Matt Skene says:

    Since I’m pretty sure the percentage of illegal immigrants who are young men is much higher than the percentage of Americans who are young men, and since young men commit far more crimes than other demographics, you should expect the crime rates of illegal immigrants to be noticeably higher than that of native-born Americans. The fact that they aren’t higher suggests that those who are inclined to immigrate illegally are less inclined to commit crimes than Americans are on average.

    • Jiro says:

      As someone else pointed out above, matching the US average means they are better than blacks but worse than whites. Presuming that the person objecting to the immigration lives separately from high-crime subgroups of blacks, he could legitimately object to immigrants on the basis of crime.

      • Matt Skene says:

        Only if (1) the immigrants were going to live in the same area, and (2) the crime rate, when controlling for demographics, is higher for immigrants than people of the same age who live in their area. If (1) doesn’t hold, then the complaint would have to be about crime in general, not likelihood to be affected by crime, and if (2) doesn’t hold, then the proper complaint would be about letting young males live in your area. I don’t have data on (2), but I feel pretty confident in rejecting (1) without looking up data. Illegal immigrants can’t afford to live in rich neighborhoods.

        Also, it is worth pointing out that a right to complain is very different from a right to have the state do something about an issue. Young males are an unattractive demographic to have around you in general, but no one thinks we should be able to outlaw young males moving into your neighborhood. You can whine about it all you want, but if you try to get your friends to stand at the border of your neighborhood and shoot any young males who try to enter it, you’re not going to get much sympathy.

  24. TrivialGravitas says:

    “According to this page, there are 5017 arrests for illegal aliens for sexual assault over 4.5 years, so about 1100/year. That should be the sort of number we can work with. But it’s well above the total number of Hispanics arrested for sexual assault given here, immigrant and native-born alike, which doesn’t make sense. So I don’t know what to do.”

    No it isn’t? the total is 2,193 sexual offenses per year for Hispanics. I think you might be only looking at the rape number, which is a subset of sexual assault.

  25. //There’s a theory on the Right that since the media has created a giant edifice of lies to justify liberalism, liberalism must be false. But other parts of the media have created a giant edifice of lies to justify conservativism.//

    It’s almost as if neither side is totally right!

    • rational_rob says:

      Well, that’s how it works. We can’t expect clean political elections or good candidates, we have too large a country for that kind of thing. The only thing we can do is minimize the damage and try to prevent misinformation.

      The government was optimized to root out corruption, but not ignorance, and the founders themselves were ignorant about certain human facilities. They weren’t the rationalists we are, just as we aren’t as good rationalists as a hypothetical superintelligence. So things like gerrymandering and two-party elections became commonplace.

  26. Kyle Strand says:

    I’m pretty sure you’re drastically misinterpreting the complaint in item 9. He’s saying “the solution is to do a better job keeping illegals out; by the time you deport them it’s too late because they’ve already committed non-immigration-related crimes.” It doesn’t really make sense to interpret that as being against deportation.

    • Vox Imperatoris says:

      I agree. It’s not really a fair criticism.

    • JBeshir says:

      The thing being questioned is, principally, the validity of the figures they cite in support of their arguments; the numbers in 9 are 7,000 deportations in 2007 rising to 79,000 deportations in 2010. They’re using this to argue the situation (illegal immigrants not being stopped at the border) is getting increasingly bad, with the implication being that it has gotten literally 1000% worse in those three years and their switch of administration.

      This is probably not true, and if the rise was pretty much entirely due to increased rate of detection and/or deportation, as Scott surmises, it would make it definitely not true and a solid example of statistics-as-lies to argue for things they aren’t actually evidence for.

      The plausibility of the problem existing, independent of the argument being made and the claim that it is getting worse, is a separate thing- a lot of cases of statistics abuse on all sides are fundamentally plausible problems being argued for with statistics that fail to demonstrate them but sound alarming, often involving groundless claims of drastic changes.

  27. rational_rob says:

    Excellent post. I have these kinds of statistics shoved in my face all the time by the people I associate with (the libertarian crowd can be a little diverse, I think) and it’s good to know that these ones are inaccurate, although if I did the math myself I probably could figure it out.

    Just a request: could you do a debunking post about a more domestic blog or article, that doesn’t have a political lean (at least, an obvious one)? I’m interested to see exactly how inaccurate a website that I don’t frequent, like Buzzfeed, is.

  28. keranih says:

    I’m worried that some of my readers have gotten the impression that liberal sites are the only ones that routinely misuse statistics, which would be grossly false.

    For what it’s worth, I was not under this particular misamprehension. I think that MSM gives more cover to erronious liberal sites, and I think that Scott (for different reasons) is likely to let things slide on the left which he is not likely to accept on the right, but I have not (for some time now) thought that the right – to any degree – was fundamentally more honest or trustworthy. More correct, but that was mostly in accordance with how much they agree with me.

    I fully support calling out errors on all houses. I support a dual regular feature of links posts, where headdeskingly stupid failures are highlighted on both sides. (On the same piece of data would be particularly nice.) I also support irregularly regular suspension of the “equal time” doctrine, where there are weeks where only one side gets highlighted because they have been that bad, that week.

    (People may not care what I think. I’m okay with that, too.)

    • synthetica2 says:

      >I support a dual regular feature of links posts, where headdeskingly stupid failures are highlighted on both sides. (On the same piece of data would be particularly nice.)

      Seconded. Seems like a good mindkill-repellent.

  29. Steve Sailer says:

    Scott writes:

    “Finally, illegal immigrants do commit 3.8% of federal sexual abuse cases. I give Breitbart credit for finally getting a number that is entirely correct and not biased at all. Unfortunately for them, illegal immigrants are 3.8% of the US population.”

    Okay, but illegal aliens who get arrested for sexual abuse usually get deported immediately after their prison terms are up. So you would expect the illegal alien crime rate to be lower because deportation is pretty effective, both as incapacitation and as deterrent.

    Sure, some deportees will make their way back, but some won’t and others will take years to get back.

    So, the question would seem to be: why is the illegal alien sex abuse rate so high?

    • Steve Sailer says:

      Here’s a way to think about this statistically. Start with the recidivism rate for sex offenders. My guess is it’s pretty high — a lot of sexual abuse offenses seem to be compulsions. Over the years, our criminal justice system has invented a lot of deterrent/incapacitation methods to lower sex abuse recidivism (e.g., in “The Big Lebowski,” after John Turturro’s Jesus gets out of the Chino Men’s Institution, he has to walk around the neighborhood telling everybody he’s a sex offender).

      But American-born sex offenders don’t get deported, which would clearly have a sizable deterrent and incapacitation effect on recidivism in America.

      So, one way to check the effects of incapacitation by deportation is to check the illegal alien rates among first time sex offenders.

  30. Steve Sailer says:

    It’s worth thinking about the opportunity cost. The president of Harvard doesn’t say, “Well, we have an estimated 1,100 undocumented studiers and their average SAT score is probably around 900 out of 1600, but that’s pretty much the national average when you count the kids who don’t bother to take the SAT, so that’s not bad. Why is the faculty complaining all the time about undocumented studiers?”

  31. Agronomous says:

    @Scott:

    Could you please take apart conservative arguments more often? And could you please aim at higher tiers (e.g. National Review rather than Breitbart)? I’ve been getting pretty uncomfortable lately with the way you’ve mostly been focusing on the left. To the extent that your blog has an effect on politics as a whole, you’re making the left stronger, which I don’t think is a good thing.

    • Samuel Skinner says:

      I think you mean ‘right stronger’. Also Scott has zero impact on politics- he is embedded in the less wrong crowd and the little bubble of ‘beliefs should represent probabilities you think something is true and be rationally based’ is a very little bubble. ‘Death is bad’ as an explicit position is very marginal in the US and it is unlikely non-American politics would be influenced by the ways the American right and left are wrong.

      • “Scott has zero impact on politics”

        In the long run, I think you are wrong.

        Ideas matter. If all the smart people conclude that the arguments against immigration, or marijuana, or free trade are bad arguments, the policies supported by those arguments are less likely to happen. There is no guarantee—the case against free trade was pretty thoroughly debunked two hundred years ago, but still survives—but there is some effect.

        This blog is a place where smart people can interact with other smart people in a reasonably civil and coherent fashion, which makes it very attractive to the minority who actually care what is true, not just what their tribe believes. The beliefs of that minority ultimately affect the beliefs of the larger number who prefer arguments they can win, and that ultimately affects the mix of free information which affects how rationally ignorant voters vote, which affects what policies get enacted.

        It’s a very clumsy mechanism, but it matters. The fact that lots of smart people in England before WWI thought socialism was a good idea had real consequences, and I’m not sure the network the Webbs et. al.were part of was bigger than the network Scott is part of.

        • Samuel Skinner says:

          “Ideas matter. If all the smart people conclude that the arguments against immigration, or marijuana, or free trade are bad arguments, the policies supported by those arguments are less likely to happen. There is no guarantee—the case against free trade was pretty thoroughly debunked two hundred years ago, but still survives—but there is some effect.”

          You just identified a pretty clear case where ideas supported by relevant experts didn’t matter at all. I think the stuff Scott covers belongs in that category. Charitability in the context of political arguments has insane incentives against it and I don’t see anything that could possibly get it anywhere near the mainstream.

          “This blog is a place where smart people can interact with other smart people in a reasonably civil and coherent fashion, which makes it very attractive to the minority who actually care what is true, not just what their tribe believes. The beliefs of that minority ultimately affect the beliefs of the larger number who prefer arguments they can win,”

          I don’t think ‘true’ and ‘arguments they can win’ are strongly correlated.

          ” The fact that lots of smart people in England before WWI thought socialism was a good idea had real consequences, and I’m not sure the network the Webbs et. al.were part of was bigger than the network Scott is part of.”

          Scott is nowhere near equivalent to a noble who founded a major political party.

          • “You just identified a pretty clear case where ideas supported by relevant experts didn’t matter at all.”

            Aside from little details such as most of a century of English free trade? And the fact that, even now, free trade is seen as a positive label, even if not always indulged in. Compare that to the eighteenth century view of the subject.

            “I don’t think ‘true’ and ‘arguments they can win’ are strongly correlated.”

            Not perfectly correlated, but correlated. Very few economists now argue that you can hold unemployment down permanently if you are just willing to accept a little inflation—which was at one time the orthodoxy associated with the Philips Curve. I am possibly biased from growing up at ground zero of a series of such controversies—the draft, floating exchange rates, monetary policy.

            “Scott is nowhere near equivalent to a noble who founded a major political party.”

            Who are you referring to? I don’t think any one person was responsible for founding the Labor Party. The Webbs and their friends and allies did, however, play an important role in developing the ideas it eventually implemented. I don’t think any of the major figures were nobles at the time, although Sidney was later raised to the peerage.

          • Samuel Skinner says:

            “Aside from little details such as most of a century of English free trade?”

            The argument wasn’t enough to convince American politicians, most other nations politicians or the British at the point they ended free trade. I don’t think it was the argument that won the day compared to the fact the British ruling class gained from it.

            “And the fact that, even now, free trade is seen as a positive label, even if not always indulged in. Compare that to the eighteenth century view of the subject.”

            Among libertarians. There are plenty of people who use it as a pejorative.

            ” Very few economists now argue that you can hold unemployment down permanently if you are just willing to accept a little inflation”

            Positions that can conclusively be shown wrong by events will be discarded… as long as everyone agrees that the position has been shown to be wrong. Needless to say people have a strong incentive to blame everything else for why things went wrong. So outside of things with clear metrics, this doesn’t always lead to correct positions winning out.

            ” I am possibly biased from growing up at ground zero of a series of such controversies—the draft, floating exchange rates, monetary policy.”

            The draft still exists in plenty of countries; I’m not familiar with the controversies you are referring to with the other two.

            “Who are you referring to?”

            Typing in Webb socialism in bing gets
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sidney_Webb,_1st_Baron_Passfield

            Noble, mentions he was a member of the Fabian Society which is listed as founders of the Labor party.

            Scott and EY aren’t going to found political parties. Attempting to influence existing ones is unlikely to work; influence one and you are an enemy to the opposition. Try for both… isn’t going to work. It would require ignoring positions that are crazy held by either side in order to keep said coalition together.

          • On the claim that “Scott is nowhere near equivalent to a noble who founded a major political party”

            “because “Typing in Webb socialism in bing gets https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sidney_Webb,_1st_Baron_Passfield

            Checking the Wikipedia article tells you that:

            “In 1929, he was raised to the peerage as Baron Passfield”

            Also that:

            “He served as both Secretary of State for the Colonies and Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs in Ramsay MacDonald second Labour Government in 1929. ”

            So you have your causation backwards. He wasn’t a peer who helped found the labor party, he was a political activist and politician who was given a peerage under a labor government.

            About the English shift to free trade:

            “I don’t think it was the argument that won the day compared to the fact the British ruling class gained from it.”

            The English elite in the early 19th century largely consisted of land owners. Why were they especially benefited by the abolition of the corn laws? More so than people in other societies would have been by a shift to free trade?

          • Samuel Skinner says:

            My bad. Of course Scott isn’t a political activist and won’t be a member of congress or a civil servant so I don’t see how he could follow his path.

            “The English elite in the early 19th century largely consisted of land owners. Why were they especially benefited by the abolition of the corn laws? More so than people in other societies would have been by a shift to free trade?”

            The large land owners didn’t. That is why the generally voted against the repeal.

          • The importance of the Webbs was their role in spreading ideas. Sidney Webb was basically academic. One importance of Scott is as a spreader of ideas. Sidney’s role inside politics was a consequence, not a cause.

            You wrote:

            “I don’t think it was the argument that won the day compared to the fact the British ruling class gained from it.”

            I suggested that the elite in the early 19th century largely consisted of land owners, who were less likely to benefit by the repeal of the corn laws than most others. Your response was that the large land owners opposed it.

            So who were the “ruling class” and why did they in particular gain by the shift to free trade c. 1840? If the spread of Smith’s ideas was not responsible for English free trade in the later 19th century, what was?

          • Samuel Skinner says:

            “The importance of the Webbs was their role in spreading ideas. Sidney Webb was basically academic. One importance of Scott is as a spreader of ideas. Sidney’s role inside politics was a consequence, not a cause.”

            I’ll take your word for that, but the Webbs ideas could be summed up in a political program. Scott’s cannot. Notice how we haven’t come up with a ‘rational list of things to do’ for gun control, global warming, crime or any other hot topic?

            “So who were the “ruling class” and why did they in particular gain by the shift to free trade c. 1840? If the spread of Smith’s ideas was not responsible for English free trade in the later 19th century, what was?”

            Factory owners and middle-upper class professionals who had suffrage. It wasn’t a clean split between the two groups due to the famine and the PM arguing repeal was necessary to keep the status quo in place, but it certainly looks like the people who benefited from free trade formed the bloc that passed it.

      • Agronomous says:

        Thanks for the suggested correction, but I meant it as written. Think of it this way:

        Scott’s a physical therapist with two clients, Mr. L. and Mrs. R. Sessions with Mr. L. go like this: “No, that’s not the right form. You have to do it like this. Now give me twenty more reps.” Like most people, Mr. L. secretly loathes his physical therapist (or at least the sessions).

        Sessions with Mrs. R. are more along the lines of: “Well, you’re not doing your exercises at all correctly, but really, what could I expect? You’re just not good at physical stuff. What say we knock off early so I can go work with Mr. L. some more?” Mrs. R might smile more genuinely when she sees Scott in the grocery store or wherever.

        But which one is he making stronger?

    • Arguably the correct policy is to concentrate on the arguments of whichever side has more members reading the blog. There is little point to persuading people on the left that right wing arguments are bogus–they already believe it, even without persuasion. Similarly the other way around.

      What is useful is showing people that arguments on their side are bogus, for two reasons. It makes them less willing to believe the conclusion of that particular argument. More important, it makes them less willing to take it for granted that their side is right, as shown by all the obviously correct arguments it makes.

      The latter is the main reason I try to present examples in the climate context of arguments from reputable sources that are demonstrably bogus—whether or not the conclusion of that particular argument matters. More generally, it’s a reason to look for cases where the orthodoxy supported by high status sources turned out to be wrong, so as to make people less willing to take it for granted that such orthodoxies are true.

      Examples: The campaign against saturated fat. Population alarmism fifty years ago. Support for central planning for economic development of poor countries sixty years ago, along with the belief that it was working for the USSR. The “Columbus bravely declared the Earth was not flat” myth. The “Hoover responded to the stock market crash by holding down government spending in proper Republican style, thus contributing to the Great Depression” myth.

      Naturally, I am more likely to spot such things when the orthodoxy goes against my biases—but it’s a game everyone can play.

      • Agronomous says:

        The correct policy is to figure out which side is (in the main) correct, and politely bash away at their arguments until they get them right.

        Scott is attempting to follow this policy, but got badly turned around at step 1. He is unpopular with the Blues, who he is actually helping. I would much rather he give the other side a chance to be ungrateful.

        Unfortunately, if he ever even reads this comment, it will be the exact opposite of persuasive. I blame a bad case of intellectual honesty I picked up somewhere; it seems to be contagious around here.

        By the way, do libertarians ever look at the way organizations are structured internally? A lot of what I do in my day job can be viewed as introducing libertarian and anarchist ideas into corporate America (though not, of course, sold that way). Do you have an opinion on, say, Holacracy?

        • Protagoras says:

          He’s unpopular with blues? I’m far from his only blue fan. Or, more relevantly, his only leftist fan. He always seemed like one of us to me, partly because of his stated stance on some relevant issues, but mostly because the criticisms he makes of leftism generally sound like the internal complaints I hear my fellow leftists making about one another (and very different from the criticism of leftists I see conservatives making). Of course, most internal criticism is done, well, internally, in order to avoid giving ammunition to the enemy, so Scott’s public way of doing things perhaps rubs some the wrong way, but I don’t see that as very much of a problem; he’s quite obviously not a concern troll.

  32. It’s very remarkable that if you read Unz and AmConmag, while they are considered the least PC publications, they call Hispanic/illegal crime in the US a myth: http://www.unz.com/article/the-myth-of-hispanic-crime/

    So this really interesting that the most, how to put it, radical conservative mags are the most dedicated to fix a lie/myth on their side. They are more interested in being correct than using any excuse to stop illegal immigration.

    • dndnrsn says:

      They have less to lose. Worrying about crime caused by immigrants/illegal immigrants is mainstream for the American right – in contrast to which, the far right is just as likely to worry about the demographic effects of immigration, on an ethnic (a genetic?) level. By and large, the mainstream right doesn’t really talk about demographics, save for vague talk of “culture” (eg, a mainstream Republican will talk about a “culture of poverty”, while someone on the far right is far more likely to talk about how low IQ hamstrings individuals and communities.

      Of the three reasons someone might oppose immigration (legal or illegal) – the possibility of higher crime, the possibility of demographic shift, and the effects on the labour market – the first is the most acceptable for a Republican candidate to talk about, the last doesn’t seem to be talked about much beyond vague talk of “illegal immigrants taking jobs” (because talking deeply about economic and class issues is hardly even the forte of the American mainstream left, let alone mainstream right), and the second is absolutely toxic, as are most things that even hint at inherent group differences.

  33. Joey Donuts says:

    Lets start by eliminating sleight of hand in your analyses!
    For example you quote Breitbart (emphasis mine)
    Of 78,022 PRIMARY OFFENSE cases in fiscal year 2013, 38.6 percent were illegal immigrant offenders. The majority of their cases (76 percent) were immigration related. Of total primary offenses, 17.6 percent of drug trafficking offenses and 3.8 percent of sex abuse were illegal immigrants. Of 22,878 drug crime cases, 17.2 percent were illegal immigrants.
    You then start with:
    They’re saying that 38.6% of FEDERAL PRISONERS are illegal immigrants,
    Then you complain that the numbers don’t add up.
    Until these discrepancies are eliminated, the entire discussion and related comments seem pretty vacuous.
    Primary offenses is not the same as federal prisoners. Do all of your comparisons amount to comparing apples to oranges or just the first set of numbers that don’t add up. Please site your sources for data. Or at least make available links to the sources.

  34. VM says:

    “which says that they commit 7.5% of murders. But they’re 6% of the population, so that’s pretty much what we’d expect.”

    I’m sorry, I didn’t really get this. If they’re 6% of the population and commit 7,5% of the murders, that means they’re (7,5/6)/((100-7,5)/(100-6)) – 1 = 27% more prone to commit murders, doesn’t it? This is very different from the 3.8%-3.8% thing you mentioned, and in fact does not seem “pretty much what we’d expect”.

  35. 27chaos says:

    Scott, if you see this: has anyone ever published a rebuttal to the IQ related essay “The Facts That Need To Be Explained” you linked a few years ago and begged for a response to?