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[P]
"Stereotype Threat" and Black College Students

By Estanislao Martínez in MLP
Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 03:41:00 PM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

Browsing the web looking for more information on affirmative action, I came across a very interesting article from August 1999 in The Atlantic Online: "Stereotype Threat" and Black College Students, by Claude M. Steele.


The article summarizes research by the author and colleagues which lead them to discover a new phenomenon they call stereotype threat, "the threat of being viewed through the lens of a negative stereotype, or the fear of doing something that would inadvertently confirm that stereotype", and measure the effect it has on the performance of students in standardized tests. While the research is mostly about how it impacts motivated African-USian students, they have been able to show the same effect for Caucasian students (by invoking the reputation of Asian students at math and science).

One very interesting finding: the students who suffered from the effect were those who were interested in the subject of the tests administered and had high motivation. Students who had low motivation didn't show the effect.

<Op-Ed>
This is very relevant to any discussion on affirmative action. Opponents regularly refer to affirmative action programs that admit African-USians with lower test scores than Caucasians students as "admitting students who are not qualified". But this involves a crucial assumption-- that "being qualified for college" is the same thing as "scoring well on standardized tests". This is, if you ask me, quite absurd.

Ironically, stereotype threat lowers the scores of precisely the most motivated students, those most likely to benefit from college. So, a standardized test not only might underestimate the potential of many (most?) black students, but also, it may conceivably fail to distinguish the good ones!
</Op-Ed>

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Related Links
o The Atlantic Online
o "Stereotyp e Threat" and Black College Students
o Claude M. Steele
o Also by Estanislao Martínez


Display: Sort:
"Stereotype Threat" and Black College Students | 126 comments (82 topical, 44 editorial, 0 hidden)
Black college students as much to blame as society (4.63 / 19) (#1)
by Carnage4Life on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 01:08:13 AM EST

I currently work in a building where I've only seen only one other black person since I got here on Monday (in this building). This is at least better than my job last summer where the only black people in the building besides me where the security guards and the porters.

This out of the way, I believe that African Americans have to take a good, long hard look at themselves before looking for someone to blame for their problems with respect to poor performance in tertiary institutions. From my experience attending an all-black college (Historically Black College for the politically correct) I found out that the anti-intellectual culture of typical African Americans that is exemplified by the Hip Hop culture is as much to blame as the poor preparation that most black students receive in the substandard public schools that most of them attended. It was quite depressing to see the number of empty research labs that laid fallow due to a lack of research assistants and interested students in the computer science department.

Articles like the one linked in em's post are the worst kind of finger pointing and blame avoidance possible. To claim that Black students do badly due to the fact that they perceive that they are looked upon inferiorly by the white people is truly a solution searching for an answer. I wonder whether the author has tried applying this same theory to African students (who should have more reason to feel discriminated against since not only are they black but also typically can't speak English fluently at first).

On the topic of substandard schools... (4.00 / 5) (#6)
by poltroon on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 01:40:30 AM EST

I'll just toss in an interesting article I read recently on the topic of school choice (aka vouchers). I don't know if it strays too far from the topic at hand, but I'd be curious what other people think.

Also, I agree hip hop culture (in some forms) is a strangely anti-intellectual phenomenon, which seems to be embraced in many ways by more dominant/mainstream culture.

[ Parent ]

It's not cool to be smart. (4.50 / 2) (#30)
by Alarmist on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 09:49:07 AM EST

Also, I agree hip hop culture (in some forms) is a strangely anti-intellectual phenomenon, which seems to be embraced in many ways by more dominant/mainstream culture.

Hip hop doesn't really have anything to do with it; it's simply the most obvious expression.

When I was going to grammar school (all-white private school) and high school (overwhelmingly white private school), it wasn't cool to be smart. The entire culture, a halfway decent representation of white middle-class youth, denigrated the importance of intelligence.

Kids in high school get annoyed at other kids who do well. I won't waste a lot of time speculating about why, but it's a fact that was made pretty obvious to me when I was in school and that I still see when I talk to high school kids. That annoyance may be more prevalent or obvious in some sectors of society, but it's farther-reaching than the hip-hop label makes it out to be.


[ Parent ]

No. (3.87 / 8) (#7)
by Estanislao Martínez on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 01:40:34 AM EST

From my experience attending an all-black college (Historically Black College for the politically correct) I found out that the anti-intellectual culture of typical African Americans that is exemplified by the Hip Hop culture is as much to blame as the poor preparation that most black students receive in the substandard public schools that most of them attended.

The students that showed the effect were undergrad African USian students at Stanford, who declared interest in the topic the test was about, and showed high motivation. Sure, that may or may not exempt them for the cultural factor you mention, something which ultimately can only be decided in an individual basis, but these subjects certainly are those among which you least expect this to be a factor.

And, the researchers were able, by providing the right testing environment, to make them perform as well as their white peers.

The point is that, even if you have the brightest and most motivated black students, the negative expectations society has on the performance of blacks can be a factor which influences their test scores. To quote:

But in all our research the most achievement-oriented students, who were also the most skilled, motivated, and confident, were the most impaired by stereotype threat.
Articles like the one linked in em's post are the worst kind of finger pointing and blame avoidance possible. To claim that Black students do badly due to the fact that they perceive that they are looked upon inferiorly by the white people is truly a solution searching for an answer.

The article proposes some things one may do to help the students perform better, but ultimately, what it seeks out is to establish a hypothesis, not to provide a solution. Do you believe they provide adequate support for the hypothesis, or not?

Again, I remind you, the subjects of the experiments are young adults who successfully applied for one of the most exclusive universities in the US, not the average African-USian adolescent. The results have been also been reproduced with language tests on lower-class college students in France.

--em
[ Parent ]

"USian" (3.14 / 7) (#11)
by electricbarbarella on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 02:36:51 AM EST

OK, I have to ask. Why do you use the horrible-to-read-much-less-try-to-pronounce term "USian"? Are you so lazy that typing out three extra characters makes your soul scream out in pain? Are you trying to start a new trend? Seriously, inquiring minds want to know.

-Andy Martin, Home of the Whopper.
Not everything is quantifiable.
[ Parent ]
It matters in this case (3.25 / 4) (#12)
by streetlawyer on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 02:40:36 AM EST

Due to the lack of cotton plantations in Canada, the black population there consists of far more immigrants and far fewer descendants on slaves.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
so by your logic.... (3.20 / 5) (#14)
by electricbarbarella on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 02:53:46 AM EST

I'm guessing you refer to the Russians, French, Germans, English, Scottish, Spanish, Portugese, Italians, etc simply as "Europians", then?

It would follow, if you take "American" to include Candians. Of course, then you'd have to tack on Mexico and Panama and all SORTS of countries.

...but why stop there? Let's just call everyone, everywhere "Earthian". No, I have a better idea! "Universian"!!!!!! That will COMPLETELY prevent confusion!

Or you could say "American" to mean people from the USA, seeing as "America" is actually in that country's name.

-Andy Martin, Home of the Whopper.
Not everything is quantifiable.
[ Parent ]
I really didn't want to reply (2.33 / 3) (#17)
by StrontiumDog on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 03:15:14 AM EST

to this, because it's such a futile argument, but either you were very sleepy when you made the posting, or you have just so missed the point of the posting you replied to, dude.

I'm guessing you refer to the Russians, French, Germans, English, Scottish, Spanish, Portugese, Italians, etc simply as "Europians", then?

Hint: Yes. All these people are Europeans. They are not Americans or Asians or Australians or Africans or Antarcticans.

It would follow, if you take "American" to include Candians. Of course, then you'd have to tack on Mexico and Panama and all SORTS of countries.

Bingo. Now you're getting the idea. All these guys are Americans. However a Panamanian is not European, Asian, African, Australian, or Antarctican.

...but why stop there? Let's just call everyone, everywhere "Earthian". No, I have a better idea! "Universian"!!!!!! That will COMPLETELY prevent confusion!

Good idea, although the word "human" is already in existence and is generally used instead of "Earthian".

The problem is, Babs, that this is exactly the kind of generalization types like EM and co are trying to avoid. They insist on calling people Poles, or Brits, or Russians, instead of Earthies or Europeans. They insist on calling Indians Indian, not Asian or Universian. And they insist on calling USians USians, instead of Americans or Galaxians.

I'm not particularly fond of the word "USians" myself; I prefer the more widely used term, "assholes".

:-)

[ Parent ]

Cotton Plantations (4.00 / 1) (#46)
by ucblockhead on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 11:14:44 AM EST

There weren't many cotton plantations in Michigan, either.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
come on, think (none / 0) (#48)
by streetlawyer on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 11:18:07 AM EST

The black population of Michigan is largely made up of the descendants of slaves who moved North after emancipation. The black population of Canada is not, because Canada is a different country from the USA. This isn't exactly rocket science.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
the point (none / 0) (#54)
by ucblockhead on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 11:41:16 AM EST

I'm just trying to point out that it isn't all so simple as you make it out to be.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
well that would be the point (none / 0) (#55)
by streetlawyer on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 11:42:37 AM EST

only, as demonstrated above, it *is* exactly as simple as I made it out to be, no more and no less, so I don't really see why you're bothering.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
Nope. (none / 0) (#59)
by ucblockhead on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 11:55:08 AM EST

If you really think attitudes an experiences are the same in former slave states in the south, former nonslave states in the north, and areas that were mostly outside the slave question in the west, then you are more ignorant of this country then I thought you were.

Louisiana and Idaho, to pick two states at random, are more different culturally than, say, Montana and Alberta.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

as I said, think (none / 0) (#64)
by streetlawyer on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 11:59:19 AM EST

If I really thought that, I'd have really said it, but I didn't, so I remain no more ignorant than you thought I was. My statement that the Canadian blacks are an immigrant population while the American blacks are not stands.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
True, but look up black urban migration (none / 0) (#49)
by georgeha on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 11:23:39 AM EST

or use this link, or this one.

In the 1910-1920's, blacks migrated north from the agrarian/rural south to urban cities for jobs and more freedoms. For whatever reasons, they did not go over the border into Canada. Thus, the influx of black migrants into Harlem, Detriot, Flint, etc.

[ Parent ]

What's the problemn? (2.33 / 3) (#13)
by kumquat on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 02:46:58 AM EST

Yoo-Ess-Eee-En.

[ Parent ]
*Society's* expectations? (5.00 / 3) (#26)
by DesiredUsername on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 09:08:52 AM EST

"...even if you have the brightest and most motivated black students, the negative expectations society has on the performance of blacks can be a factor which influences their test scores."

"...the researchers were able, by providing the right testing environment, to make them perform as well as their white peers."

Did the researchers travel back in time, modify society such that the expectations of the students changed and then retest the students? Or is your "society's expectations" explanation too broad? Could we maybe more parsimoniously explain this as an experimenter effect? And if so, wouldn't that only warrant changing our testing procedures, not instituting a PC, "anybody who tries hard wins a trophy" system?

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
*Society's* expectations? (none / 0) (#117)
by odaiwai on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 02:43:45 AM EST

>> "...the researchers were able, by providing the right testing environment, to make
>> them perform as well as their white peers."
> Did the researchers travel back in time, modify society such that the expectations of
> the students changed and then retest the students? Or is your "society's expectations"

No, they just removed the burning crosses from the front of the room and made the testers take their Klan robes off.

dave "i'm gonna get flamed for this one"
-- "They're chefs! Chefs with chainsaws!"
[ Parent ]
OT: Hip-Hop culture. (3.25 / 4) (#9)
by Eric Henry on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 02:01:47 AM EST

I found out that the anti-intellectual culture of typical African Americans that is exemplified by the Hip Hop culture is as much to blame as the poor preparation that most black students receive in the substandard public schools that most of them attended.

What exactly do you find anti-intellectual about Hip-Hop? I think you are probably right about a general anti-intellectual attitude among many blacks, but I've found a lot of Hip-Hop to be very intellectual. Maybe you're not differentiating between what I'd call real Hip-Hop, and the Misogynistic, violent, gun-toting fools with twenty pounds of gold, platinum, and diamonds around their necks you're likely to see on MTV. Can you give me some more examples of what you've observed?

Eric Henry

[ Parent ]

Hip Hop (3.83 / 6) (#10)
by Carnage4Life on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 02:19:41 AM EST

Maybe you're not differentiating between what I'd call real Hip-Hop, and the Misogynistic, violent, gun-toting fools with twenty pounds of gold, platinum, and diamonds around their necks you're likely to see on MTV. Can you give me some more examples of what you've observed?

When most people refer to hip hop these days they don't mean the inspiring lyrics of rappers like Mos Def, Common, and Lauren Hill but instead the kind of music promoted and espoused by The Source and BET.

[ Parent ]
Yep... (4.33 / 3) (#21)
by Electric Angst on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 07:45:18 AM EST

You forgot The Roots, by the way...

Part of the problem is, a large majority of record label executives (of whom a majority are white) seem to think that only "bling-bling" rappers are worth the effort of attempting to cross over, and without cross-over success, you're about as likely to hear from a rapper as from an obscure country singer. This had resulted is an effect that I think Spike Lee described best: "Gangsta rap is the new blackface minstril show."

Which all leads back to the stereotypes and expectations. When most of the media outlets that cater to the black community are owned by large corporations who's executive boards are generally white (ex. BET is owned by Viacom, the company that owns MTV and VH1) and end up throwing up crap like the gangsta rappers without providing many counter-examples, you end up with a generation that has a very skewed take on itself.


--
"Hell, at least [Mailbox Pipebombing suspect Lucas Helder's] argument makes sense, which is more than I can say for the vast majority of people." - trhurler
[ Parent ]
Re: Hip Hop (none / 0) (#92)
by Eric Henry on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 01:50:54 PM EST

When most people refer to hip hop these days they don't mean the inspiring lyrics of rappers like Mos Def, Common, and Lauren Hill but instead the kind of music promoted and espoused by The Source and BET.

Ok. I recognize that, I guess I'm just a little bothered when people who do recognize the difference don't differentiate between the two. It lets those who don't see the difference go on lumping it all together.

Eric Henry

[ Parent ]

anti-intelectualism (4.00 / 4) (#16)
by Nyarlathotep on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 03:02:10 AM EST

Actually, situational and expectation related factors realy do have a very strong effect on people, so you should not just discount these types of studdies. Remember, these are scientists who make every effort to understand exactly what their experment says. Now, the news paper / K5 headline may try to boil a page of hard won statistical analysis down to one line of "finger pointing," but that dose not make the research worthless.. the scientists still know what it really means (hopefully).

The studdies of trans-race addoptions support an analog of your possition (there are properties of the Affrican American subculture which cause great harm to intelectual achievment).

Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!
[ Parent ]
re: anti-intellectualism (5.00 / 4) (#27)
by iGrrrl on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 09:18:01 AM EST

(there are properties of the Affrican American subculture which cause great harm to intelectual achievment)
Dude, there are properties of American culture which are anti-intellectual. It isn't confined to any skin color. I have spent enough time in blue collar situations to see this. Americans, even nice middle-class white Americans, do not show much intellectual curiosity. They're glad of easy electronic mail or MRI medical imaging, but entirely uninterested in how it works or how came to be. Or frightened by it. Magnetic resonance imaging used to be called by the name researchers use: nuclear magnetic resonance. The term "nuclear" (in this case refering to atomic nuclei placed under a spin constraint by magnetic fields -- no radioactivity) scared patients enough that it was changed.

That said, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence of a stigma attached to "acting white" by making good grades in some black communities. I saw some of this when I taught college-level, and I've heard more from friends who taught at "historically black" colleges. If there's enough of the attitude to notice at the college level, I wonder how much worse it would be in high school.

On the other hand, I had plenty of black students who made great grades. The interesting thing about them (to me) was that they all wanted to go to professional school. None were interested in basic science. My graduate school has about 130 students in 7 programs, and only one student is black. I don't think this is due to any lack of intellect, but rather on a cultural bias toward the prestige and income associated with medicine, dentistry, or veterinary practice. That's a general US cultural bias, though, and not specifically a black one.


--
You cannot have a reasonable conversation with someone who regards other people as toys to be played with. localroger
remove apostrophe for email.
[ Parent ]

interesting (none / 0) (#29)
by alprazolam on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 09:46:29 AM EST

That suggests some interesting possibilities. I wonder if there is a similar predisposition of African students in US schools to be in 'professional' tracks, or if it is just African American students (if your anectdotal evidence is true overall in the first place). That might say something about society and it's expectations. For my part I noticed a lot of black students in certain parts of the business school and random fields like mechanical engineering. Both of these fields heavily recruited black (specifically black, not minority) students. I wonder if thats indicative of overcoming a stigma (the anti intellectualism), ie 'it's not so lame to be a mechanical engineer or entrepreneurial studies student because a lot of other black students are too'. I guess it makes sense if you look at it from the perspective of 'I know black students get hired in these fields, I'm not going to be a biologist because Monsanto would never hire me.'

[ Parent ]
whereas ... (5.00 / 1) (#43)
by streetlawyer on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 11:05:15 AM EST

That said, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence of a stigma attached to "acting white" by making good grades in some black communities. I saw some of this when I taught college-level, and I've heard more from friends who taught at "historically black" colleges. If there's enough of the attitude to notice at the college level, I wonder how much worse it would be in high school.

Whereas, in "white culture", intellectuals are celebrated and lauded, with numerous role models in popular culture like Fred Durst and Britney Spears? There is indeed a lot of anecdotal evidence; on the other hand, you tend to produce anecdotes which are consistent with the story you want to tell yourself. There's nothing wrong with anecdotes in general, but when they concern a matter in which there are powerful vested interests, they're not worth much.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

addendum (5.00 / 1) (#44)
by streetlawyer on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 11:07:51 AM EST

for bonus points, would anyone like to tell me whether the successful people, the wealthy, the middle managers etc, among "white culture" are systematically those who venerated intellectual achievement at high school and college level? For example, which of the last five Presidents of the USA owed his position to his sheer reverence for educational achievement?

If anti-intellectualism doesn't hold white students back, why on earth would it hold black students back?

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

anti-intelectualism (none / 0) (#115)
by Nyarlathotep on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 12:53:04 AM EST

This whole discussion is a lot of bulshit anecdotal evidence about "historically black schools," but that is a total red harring since we do not know anything concreat.

We do know that a lot of very smart psychologists who construct very subtile experements feal that Affrican American students are hindered by the parenting style common ammong Affrican Americans (even after you control for social class). I suspect that we also could look up research to show that Jamacans and Affrican immagrants do not have these problems.

Anyway, these parenting style diffrences need not have anything to do with "intellectualism" to create a significant diffrence.. they could just be communicating diffrent social skills.

Actually, the really interesting studdy would be the following: Are immagrants more or less likely to have successful children if their children retain a significant link to their native culture?
It could be that Affrican Ammericans are not given the oppertunity to reject their own culture and "convert" to the ambiant white culture (as many immagrants do). I donno..

Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!
[ Parent ]
Geeks (4.00 / 1) (#58)
by ucblockhead on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 11:50:48 AM EST

If you can't see the differences in attitudes between "white" and "black" culture towards things like computers and science in general, you haven't been hanging around slashdot long enough.

I was a TA in college and so much the same thing that iGrrl reports.

Another anecdote: I was a programmer working at one company that hired a young (as ~20) black kid working on an MBA and working in our QA department to pay for it. Great guy. We were talking on day and he showed me a DBase system he'd put together. I suggested, only joking a little, that he consider a career in programming. He had obvious natural talent for it.

He gave me a look like I'd just suggested he take up child molestation on the side.

There are cultural forces at work here. There always are. You ignore them at your peril.
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This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

heheh, you made a funny (3.00 / 2) (#61)
by streetlawyer on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 11:55:56 AM EST

Let me get this right .... you met a guy working on an MBA, you suggested to him that, with his MBA, he ought to forget about management, consultancy, Wall Street, etc, and go into a career as a code monkey.

And the reason he looked at you as if he'd farted was that black culture is anti-intellectual?

I think the only "cultural factor" at work is that a white guy might have felt secure enough to call you a lunatic to your face.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

heheh, you made a funny (3.00 / 2) (#62)
by streetlawyer on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 11:56:13 AM EST

Let me get this right .... you met a guy working on an MBA, you suggested to him that, with his MBA, he ought to forget about management, consultancy, Wall Street, etc, and go into a career as a code monkey.

And the reason he looked at you as if you'd farted was that black culture is anti-intellectual?

I think the only "cultural factor" at work is that a white guy might have felt secure enough to call you a lunatic to your face.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

Your capacity (none / 0) (#65)
by ucblockhead on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 11:59:22 AM EST

Your capacity to say stupid things because of assumptions about things you know nothing about never ceases to amaze me.
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This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
if you assume (5.00 / 1) (#66)
by streetlawyer on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 12:01:46 PM EST

that you can successfully make generalisations about "black" culture based on a few nonsystematic observations of selected black people from outside, without ever taking your own biases into account, then you've clearly been hanging round slashdot too long

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
Generalizations (5.00 / 2) (#70)
by ucblockhead on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 12:13:25 PM EST

You assume that I'm basing everything on a couple of anecodotes. I'm not.

To anyone with any brains, it is clear that there certainly is a "black" culture, just like there's a hispanic culture, and a Irish culture and even a "californian" culture. It was produced by a couple hundred years of forced segregation. What, you think that a people shoved out of mainstream society for hundreds of years wouldn't invent their own culture? What, you think "Jazz" and "The Blues" and "Hip Hop" aren't reflections of an essentially non-white culture? You think differences in dress and attitudes and even language don't exist?

And you imply that I've got closed eyes...

But then, I'm not the one who accused a black man of attempting to absolve himself of antiblack feelings!

Doesn't agree with my views on race! He must be a white racist bastard! Jerk that knee!
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

leave it out (3.00 / 2) (#72)
by streetlawyer on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 12:24:50 PM EST

god, how tiresome, and offensive too ...

There is of course, "black culture"; what I am pointing out is that you, as a white person with no particular training in the matter, are not likely to be able to make statements about it of the kind you are making. If you made statements about the surface of Neptune, I would question whether you had been there; that would not mean that I was denying the existence of Neptune.

But then, I'm not the one who accused a black man of attempting to absolve himself of antiblack feelings!

well, nor am I. I suggested that blaming it all on "black culture" is a very convenient way to make the problem of underprivileged the fault of the victims and avoid any duty to do anything about it. But that isn't to accuse anyone of "antiblack feelings" -- merely of a kind of complacency which is not very productive, and which is often more than a little self-serving. And this complacency is notoriously common among middle-class blacks.

Doesn't agree with my views on race! He must be a white racist bastard!

I'm assuming you're attributing these views to me rather than expressing them yourself, in which case, I must point out that at no point in the post you link to do I say that anyone is white, racist, or a bastard. You are accusing me of forcing words into someone else's post which they did not say, while doing exactly that to me -- pretty dishonest of you.

Jerk that knee!

And now you are certainly referring to yourself.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

Blame (5.00 / 1) (#76)
by ucblockhead on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 12:41:39 PM EST

Maybe if you weren't so wrapped up in blame, you'd understand that before you solve the problem, you've got to understand the causes and the influences.

Saying that there is a strain of anti-intellectualism in black culture is not "being complacent". It is an attempt to identify one of the causes of the problems.

"one of".

There are clearly many, many causes. Unfortunately, too many people get themselves so fucking fixated on "the" problem that they blind themselves to the true complexities of the situation.

And now you are certainly referring to yourself.

Streetlawyer...reverting to the five-year-old "I know you are, so what am I?" defense...maybe it really is still an imposter!
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

pop quiz, hotshot (none / 0) (#77)
by streetlawyer on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 12:52:12 PM EST

Who said this?

Articles like the one linked in em's post are the worst kind of finger pointing and blame avoidance possible

Clue: not me. And you still haven't addressed my point about the equal degree of anti-intellectualism in *white* culture.

Streetlawyer...reverting to the five-year-old "I know you are, so what am I?" defense...maybe it really is still an imposter!

On the other hand, I can tell that you're the same old kuRobot, attempting to patronise your way out of defeat with a lame pretence that I was coming up with a stock reply rather than a brilliant, custom-made putdown.

Face it, man, you're defending a lost position. Either give up, or let's play backgammon for money.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

Losing? Just declare victory! (none / 0) (#80)
by ucblockhead on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 01:11:34 PM EST

And you still haven't addressed my point about the equal degree of anti-intellectualism in *white* culture.
Because it is clearly wrong. Is there a strain of anti-intellectuallism in white culture? Yeah, sure. But if you think it is even remotely "equal", then you haven't been paying attention. Are you telling me that a culture that produces things like this is "anti-intellectual"? Do you have the remotest clue what is "hip" in white culture right now?

On the other hand, I can tell that you're the same old kuRobot, attempting to patronise your way out of defeat with a lame pretence that I was coming up with a stock reply rather than a brilliant, custom-made putdown.
You're kidding, right? You dressed up a stock reply in fancy words and hoped no one would notice. That's your biggest weakness in debate, by the way. You have a tendency to underestimate the reader.
Face it, man, you're defending a lost position. Either give up, or let's play backgammon for money.
You haven't even found my position, much less mounted any sort of coherent attack on it. Perhaps if you didn't make intellectually lazy assumptions on the views of others, you'd have figured that out by now.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
Nailing jelly to the wall (none / 0) (#82)
by streetlawyer on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 01:15:59 PM EST

I haven't found or "attacked" your position because you haven't taken one. You've just made a few unsupported assertions about black culture (now, I noticed, backed up with the bizarre assertion that Wired Magazine is whites only). Which assertions, I take about as seriously as any statements you cared to make about the surface of Neptune.

My biggest "weakness in debate" is that I never "debate". I have conversations, and I fight. If you'd like me to switch from one mode to the other, just say so.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

I'm confused... (none / 0) (#86)
by ucblockhead on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 01:26:47 PM EST

First I'm defending a losing positon...then I'm not taking one...

We're not debating, but I'm "defending a position"...

I'll have to stop, now, I'm too confused to go on.

Anyway, I'd try to explain the differences between culture and race, but clearly you are not interested in such a conversation.

But a hint: ask your USian black friends what "acting white" is. Then look at "Wired".
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

no thank you (none / 0) (#88)
by streetlawyer on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 01:33:41 PM EST

But a hint: ask your USian black friends what "acting white" is. Then look at "Wired".

No thank you; I wish to keep them. "Acting white" is a racist myth concocted by white people to conveniently explain why black people don't succeed, which has spread to middle class black people. I would explain it to you, but life is frankly too short. You correctly assume I'm not interested in a conversation about "culture" and "race" with you, unless you have some as yet not demonstrated understanding of any of the issues involved.

Until the next time ...

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

Ah...I see...you don't actually know any... (nt) (none / 0) (#90)
by ucblockhead on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 01:45:35 PM EST


-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
trans-race addoption (4.00 / 1) (#114)
by Nyarlathotep on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 12:30:58 AM EST

You are creating the exact problem that I was discussing, i.e. ignoring the facts to make a "headline." I will explain the trans-race addoption result to try to clear this up:

If you studdy the IQ test result of blacks and whites you get a 15 point spread. If you studdy the IQ test results of blacks and whites *after* controling for social class thne you *still* get a ~9 point spread. If you studdy the IQ test results of blacks and white by controling for parenting styles you get *zero* spread.

The primary application of these studdies is to disprove all the racist bullshit about biological diffrences, but it dose show that any IQish problems that African Americans encounter are linked to parenting style (culture). The psychology text book all claim that this diffrence comes from the fact that white parents are more likely to support their kids questions then black parents.

Actually, the one potential hole in the trans race addoption studdies is the following: Are blacks more likely to be "new money?" It's possible that IQ test scores of blacks who have been upper middle class for three generations are identical for whites who have been upper midle class for three generations. I do not think this is a serious problem since the original studdies should have looked at multiple social classes, but it's still worth mentioning.

BTW> I distrust all this antidotal evidence about "historically black" schools. I'm not saing that it's not true and I admit that it is consistant with everything I have said here, but I'm going to distrust it until I see a real experement based on randomly assigning students to historically black and equivelent non-black schools. It could be racism on the part of the observer, finacial issues with the schools, or the types of students who would choose to attend a historically black schools.

Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!
[ Parent ]
you say potato ... (4.00 / 3) (#18)
by streetlawyer on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 04:04:06 AM EST

on the other hand, given the evidence from a well-defined experiment in favour of the existence of stereotype threat, your off-the-cuff assertion that "it's all the fault of 'black culture' [whatever the hell that is" also looks like a solution in search of an answer; it certainly solves your problem of how to exonerate yourself from having anything to do with the problems of black people.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
Quibble (3.50 / 2) (#19)
by StrontiumDog on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 05:44:56 AM EST

it certainly solves your problem of how to exonerate yourself from having anything to do with the problems of black people.

Carnage4Life is black. (I keep track of shit like that w.r.t. k5 users, it's a perversion of mine.) Whatever his opinion on the subject matter may be, he's "black people", he lives in the US, and like it or not, he has everything to "do" with their problems.

Course, he's an immigrant (or foreign resident, dunno which), and a successful one at that, which may make his experiences somewhat atypical.

[ Parent ]

Well-defined experiment? (none / 0) (#83)
by Carnage4Life on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 01:17:43 PM EST

given the evidence from a well-defined experiment in favour of the existence of stereotype threat, your off-the-cuff assertion that "it's all the fault of 'black culture' [whatever the hell that is" also looks like a solution in search of an answer; it certainly solves your problem of how to exonerate yourself from having anything to do with the problems of black people.

That experiment was anything but well-defined. If it was well defined it would have had control groups and would have performed similar tests on other minority groups as well as on poverty stricken caucasian students (typically known as white trash) to see if there really existed such a thing as "Stereotype threat" and exactly what forms it takes.

Quite frankly even though it may be claimed that negative expectations affect people negatively and may make them underperform, there are many ethnic groups that have had similar expectations thrust upon them and yet rose up out of these difficulties (Asians, Italians, the Irish) and there are cultures who face even more difficulty than African Americans with regards to this problem (Hispanic Americans and Native Americans) yet African Americans scream loudest about needing more handouts so that they are on par with what they believe are the benefits white people have by virtue of simply being born white.

The system is broken and lots of minorities are being pissed on but African Americans need to shoulder some of the blame for their situation instead of perenially acting like victims.

[ Parent ]
you don't understand science (none / 0) (#91)
by streetlawyer on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 01:48:09 PM EST

That experiment was anything but well-defined. If it was well defined it would have had control groups and would have performed similar tests on other minority groups as well as on poverty stricken caucasian students (typically known as white trash) to see if there really existed such a thing as "Stereotype threat" and exactly what forms it takes.

By this logic, the studies linking cigarettes to cancer would have been poorly defined as they didn't take into account the effect of pregnancy on diabetes. The experiment was carried out on a group of black students, with a control group of white students. It made statements about black students, relative to white students. It then hypothesised a cause for the *empirical* result it found, and carried out a test which found that a framing effect was significant. It's perfectly well-defined, and the fact that you have no specific criticism of the paper (other than lambasting it for not being something it was not) suggests to me that you know this. Please don't rubbish other people's work unless you have substantive grounds to do so.

there are many ethnic groups that have had similar expectations thrust upon them and yet rose up out of these difficulties (Asians, Italians, the Irish) and there are cultures who face even more difficulty than African Americans with regards to this problem (Hispanic Americans and Native Americans) yet African Americans scream loudest about needing more handouts so that they are on par with what they believe are the benefits white people have by virtue of simply being born white.

I count six separate assertions in this paragraph, with not a single shred of evidence supporting any one of them. You really have a nerve accusing other people of not supporting their conclusions. Here's a few facts for you

  • Neither Asians, Italians nor Irish were ever enslaved
  • There is no history of refusing to educate Asians, Italians, Irish or Hispanic Americans
  • Asians, Italians, Irish, Hispanic and Native Americans have been allowed to vote in elections
I could obviously go on ... but you don't strike me as the sort of person who cares about evidence when the easy way out of saying things like "African Americans scream loudest ... they believe ...simply by virtue of being white". This is racist bullshit, and I don't care if you are black yourself; there is no special magic in the world which prevents racist bullshit from being what it is just because the speaker is not white.

The system is broken and lots of minorities are being pissed on but African Americans need to shoulder some of the blame for their situation instead of perenially acting like victims.

It is obvious to anyone with eyes to see that African Americans *are* victims, so why it is inappropriate for them to act like victims is beyond me. And the idea that African Americans need to "shoulder some of the blame" while non-African Americans (and indeed, non-African non-Americans) do not is quite flabbergasting.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

I'm racist huh? (none / 0) (#94)
by Carnage4Life on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 01:58:21 PM EST

but you don't strike me as the sort of person who cares about evidence when the easy way out of saying things like "African Americans scream loudest ... they believe ...simply by virtue of being white". This is racist bullshit, and I don't care if you are black yourself; there is no special magic in the world which prevents racist bullshit from being what it is just because the speaker is not white.

All this statement tells me is that you haven't been around enough African Americans for enough time. Watch BET comic view sometime, they have some comedians on there that give glimpses on exactly how black people feel about white people and the entitlements they get simply for being white and the poverty that is the black man's lot simply for being black.

And the idea that African Americans need to "shoulder some of the blame" while non-African Americans (and indeed, non-African non-Americans) do not is quite flabbergasting.

Where have I said white people shouldn't shoulder some of the blame (although having all non African Americans shouldering the blame is ridiculuos), all I've said is that "God helps those who help themselves" and right now the average African American college student is not that kind of person.

[ Parent ]
right (none / 0) (#95)
by streetlawyer on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 02:03:16 PM EST

Apparently you regard stand-up comedians as a useful source of sociological truth. Fair enough.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
Good Stand Up Comedy, Yes. (none / 0) (#100)
by Carnage4Life on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 02:40:20 PM EST

Apparently you regard stand-up comedians as a useful source of sociological truth

Good stand up comedy is usually good because it reflects the the mores of a culture and society presented humorously but truthfully.

This goes for comedians like George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Chris Rock, and a host of others. Of course, since you are on your intellectual high horse I assume you'll respond with some depreciating flame.

[ Parent ]
An error (5.00 / 2) (#104)
by ucblockhead on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 04:00:40 PM EST

There is no history of refusing to educate Asians, Italians, Irish or Hispanic Americans.
This is flat-out wrong. See here under 1906.
Asians, Italians, Irish, Hispanic and Native Americans have been allowed to vote in elections.
Also wrong for Asians, Native Americans and also Hispanics in some cases. Seem same link under 1900 for Asians. I'm too lazy to look up links for the rest.

Perhaps you should get your own facts straight before accusing people of lacking evidence.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

Are you dishonest, or just plain ignorant? (none / 0) (#105)
by Estanislao Martínez on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 04:39:31 PM EST

That experiment was anything but well-defined. If it was well defined it would have had control groups and would have performed similar tests on other minority groups as well as on poverty stricken caucasian students (typically known as white trash) to see if there really existed such a thing as "Stereotype threat" and exactly what forms it takes.

Ok, Einstein, suppose we picked two brands of chocolate bars with peanuts in them, both of which sell in bars with the same volume, and hypothesise that brand A has less peanuts per ounce than B. To do this, we count the number of peanuts in a sample of both brands. We find that, indeed, brand A has less peanuts than brand B. Would you be ready to jump in now and say this is an ill-designed experiment, and that it doesn't prove anything becaue the researchers didn't look at brands C, D, E, F, G, H, etc.?

The experiments I linked were simple. Take a group of whites and a group of blacks from the same university, and give them the same test. Depending on what you tell them before, you get different results:

  1. If you tell them all that the test measures their ability to perform the task at hand, the whites perform better than the blacks.
  2. If you tell them that the test doesn't measure ability, the blacks perform every bit as well as the whites. The white's performance doesn't improve significantly from the first case.
  3. If you tell the whites that the test measures their ability, and that asians do really good at it, their performance lowers, similarly like for blacks in case #1.
You can repeat the experiment for Irish, poor whites, Hispanics, Asians, martians, whatever you want-- no matter what results you get, it doesn't change the fact that when you tell the subject that a test measures ability, his performance suffers if he is African-USian and motivated, but not if he is white. Testing additional groups may show that they are subject to this effect or not, but it doesn't change the facts of the matter one bit for African-USians.

If we applied your "standards", as a matter of fact, pretty much all of modern science would become "invalidated".

--em
[ Parent ]

Nonetheless, the phenomenon exists. (none / 0) (#93)
by hjones on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 01:53:45 PM EST

Maybe the blacks should just get over it. But that's not easy. Many blacks have been traumatized by past experiences in places such as the deep south, where virulent racial hatred is as reality. I think we need to cut them a carefully calculated amount of slack.
"Nietzsche is dead, but given the way of men, there may still be caves for thousands of years in which his shadow will be shown. And we -- we small-minded weaklings, we still have to vanquish his shadow too." - The Antinietzsche
[ Parent ]
census data (4.20 / 5) (#4)
by electricbarbarella on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 01:34:30 AM EST

Link

This is a link to a pdf file (sorry if you can't read them) residing at the US Census' website. It has some interesting comparisons between blacks and non-hispanic whites in various categories. It interested me greatly to see that the differences in educational level between the two races wasn't nearly as great as I have been led to believe. Sure, there is a pretty good difference in the greater-than-bachelors category, but considering how recently segregation was ended, I think the numbers will soon even themselves out quite nicely.

-Andy Martin, Home of the Whopper.
Not everything is quantifiable.
amendment (4.00 / 2) (#5)
by electricbarbarella on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 01:36:34 AM EST

I meant to say that the difference wasn't so great in educational levels in the middle of the educational spectrum. Large differences still exist at the upper and lower bounds. sorry.

-Andy Martin, Home of the Whopper.
Not everything is quantifiable.
[ Parent ]
Usian? (3.66 / 6) (#23)
by farmgeek on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 08:35:32 AM EST

Sorry, but I'm going to have to -1 this story simply because it has the brain dead term Usian in it. If you feel the need to use something in place of the simple (yet possibly vague) term American may I suggest "U.S. American"?

In your story it works quite well in place of the offensively PC USian. Instead of "African-USians" you could write "U.S. African-Americans".

Sheesh, it's bad enough having to deal with U.S Hyphenated-Americans, without adding even uglier word constructions.

Dammit... (none / 0) (#24)
by farmgeek on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 08:36:19 AM EST

I meant for that to be editorial.

[ Parent ]
wow, that's stupid (3.00 / 2) (#39)
by streetlawyer on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 10:53:52 AM EST

So "USian" is "offensively PC", but "US American" is just fine and dandy?

For someone who (in anti-PC mode) thinks that people shouldn't get worked up about things and force ugly word constructions on us, you seem awfully keen on get worked up about things and forcing ugly word constructions on us. USian at least has the benefit of being short.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

If you read the comment (5.00 / 1) (#51)
by farmgeek on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 11:34:32 AM EST

You'll notice that I said if one felt the need to usa a term in place of the normal "American". There's no way I would attempt to get get anyone to use anything other than the normal term. I think that US American is aesthetically more pleasing than USian.

[ Parent ]
Crappy Study (4.57 / 7) (#40)
by Jive Billy on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 10:55:52 AM EST

Rather than pick on your use of the term "usian" that everyone else seems to want to do, I figured I'd actually read the study you linked to and offer my comments based upon that...

The first step in the study was to show a difference in the academic performance of "equally qualified" black and white students. So the same verbal test was administered to a group of black and white students, with the white students doing better. The holes in this type of study are large indeed:

  • How do you define "equally qualified?" Humans are not pigeons or rats. You cannot assume that because both groups had similar test scores they must be equally qualified. The test was verbal -- perhaps the white group had more females (statistically better at verbal tasks)? There are so many variables with humans that you can't really create two groups where the only variable that you are varying is skin colour.
  • How many test subjects did they use? I have a hard time believing that they found 50 black students and 50 white student, all sophomores and all equally qualified to a point their only difference was race! Social psychologist are famous for these great studies involving five people, where their results are later extrapolated to the general population.

    I'd like to go on and on, picking apart their studies, but I don't have the time now. I'm not denying the existance of this type of effect, just cautioning readers to take this type of study with a grain of salt.

  • Wrong. (5.00 / 1) (#106)
    by Estanislao Martínez on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 04:48:31 PM EST

    The first step in the study was to show a difference in the academic performance of "equally qualified" black and white students.

    Nope. They showed a difference in standardized test performance.

    How do you define "equally qualified?" Humans are not pigeons or rats. You cannot assume that because both groups had similar test scores they must be equally qualified.

    You pick students which have taken similar courses and have had similar grades at the same univerisity. Which is the relevant factor, anyway, since these standardized tests are meant to predict precisely this.

    The test was verbal -- perhaps the white group had more females (statistically better at verbal tasks)?

    You think experimenters are not smart enough to take steps to make their samples as representative as possible, and to make as few things vary between the control and the experimental group? And more, that this is an obvious thing to control for? Anyway, doing half male/half female samples is standard procedure, isn't it? If this possibility bothers you so much, the researcher's home page (which I link above) has reference to where all this research has been published.

    --em
    [ Parent ]

    stereotyping threat? (4.80 / 5) (#74)
    by khallow on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 12:32:03 PM EST

    <Op-Ed> This is very relevant to any discussion on affirmative action. Opponents regularly refer to affirmative action programs that admit African-USians with lower test scores than Caucasians students as "admitting students who are not qualified". But this involves a crucial assumption-- that "being qualified for college" is the same thing as "scoring well on standardized tests". This is, if you ask me, quite absurd.

    Ironically, stereotype threat lowers the scores of precisely the most motivated students, those most likely to benefit from college. So, a standardized test not only might underestimate the potential of many (most?) black students, but also, it may conceivably fail to distinguish the good ones! </Op-Ed>

    "Stereotyping threat", if it exists, sounds like an problem that can best be cured by the sufferer. I.e., if I do poorly because of my worries and fears, then I need to overcome those worries and fears. The test makers shouldn't be responsible for solving this particular problem.

    A more significant issue is the lack of educational preparation that a huge portion of the US population is receiving. Having in the past taught some college level mathematics courses, I can say that there is an obvious racial effect in the performance of my students.

    Namely, that a student coming from a poor school that has barely studied algebra (a black or hispanic student is much more likely to come from this environment) is going to have trouble competing with a student who has taken college equivalent courses in algebra and calculus (even if the latter student forgets most of the material). Having some background is particularly useful when you have mediocre teachers (*cough*).

    The problem is not that certain minority students can't "hack" college or that they are inferior in quality, rather it's that they are less prepared than their classmates and are dumped into a tough situation by the college. Some colleges handle this well (with remedial courses) and others don't. I've taught at both types - the latter isn't pretty.

    IMHO, if you wish to go to a hard school and don't have the background, then it's better to get a two year degree at an easier school and transfer in. That way you learn good study habits and what you should have been taught in high school without having to fight for your life. The degree from the hard school is just as worthwhile as any other. OTOH, a lot of people are tough enough to go to the hard schools.

    Affirmative Action (5.00 / 1) (#84)
    by ucblockhead on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 01:22:13 PM EST

    What affirmative action ends up being is an attempt to overcome a problem that gets far too little attention: That the quality of primary school education varies wildly, and in a racist manner.

    Unfortunately, people pour so much heat into the affirmative action debate that this truly racist situation gets ignored. Hell, you often get attacked as racist for saying it because you are "trying to distract from the affirmative action issue".

    Affirmative action has its uses, sure, but the real problem is not at the college level. We need to deal with the fact that the primary school system in heavily minority areas in our inner cities is absymally bad while the primary school system in the mostly white suburbs is pretty good. That alone explains test score differences.


    -----------------------
    This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
    [ Parent ]

    Newsflash! (4.33 / 3) (#78)
    by jabber on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 12:54:56 PM EST

    So, what you're saying is that people tend to believe what they're told??
    ... that by defining expectations, adherence to them can be obtained?

    Inconcievable!

    [TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

    your post makes no sense (none / 0) (#108)
    by eLuddite on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 06:25:09 PM EST

    Given identical questions, how does what you say explain the difference in the way black students scored compared to white students? Why did they adhere differently to identically defined expectations?
    When the difficult verbal test was presented as a test of ability, black students performed dramatically less well than white students, even though we had statistically matched the two groups in ability level.

    [...]

    We presented the same test as a laboratory task that was used to study how certain problems are generally solved. We stressed that the task did not measure a person's level of intellectual ability. A simple instruction, yes, but it profoundly changed the meaning of the situation. In one stroke "spotlight anxiety," as the psychologist William Cross once called it, was turned off -- and the black students' performance on the test rose to match that of equally qualified whites.

    There's more if you're interested in actually reading the article.

    ---
    God hates human rights.
    [ Parent ]

    Umm... You've misunderstood (none / 0) (#112)
    by jabber on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 09:41:04 PM EST

    We presented the same test as a laboratory task that was used to study how certain problems are generally solved. We stressed that the task did not measure a person's level of intellectual ability.

    Assume: Black students have cultural baggage which makes them believe that they are less intelligent than whites.

    White students are expected to succeed, and they do..
    Black students are expected to fail, and they do.

    That's what my post said, and if you didn't read it that way, you're apparently under the impression that you are not able to read it that way. ;)

    It's been said many years before, whether you believe you will win, or lose, you're right.

    We didn't need a formal study (probably funded by may PERSONAL tax money) to figure this out. Next question?

    [TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
    [ Parent ]

    ok, i misunderstood (none / 0) (#113)
    by eLuddite on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 10:50:40 PM EST

    White students are expected to succeed, and they do.. Black students are expected to fail, and they do.

    Sorry, I read resistance in your post.

    Incidentally, for all you white people who deny the charm that is your skin, that black students live up to an expectation of failure in this way is a pretty strong indication that white skin has its privileges. This doesnt mean that the tests are deliberately engineered in your favor, only that, for whatever reason, you benefit from them in unequal measure compared to black examinees. "Benefit in unequal measure" means nothing less than privilege. You didnt do anything racist, nor were the answers handed to you on a silver platter. Your relative standing is, nevertheless, an outcome of White Privilege.

    ---
    God hates human rights.
    [ Parent ]

    Slanted testing (none / 0) (#116)
    by jabber on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 01:15:23 AM EST

    I can't help but acknowledge the statistical effect of White Privilege, but..

    Would you say that standardized tests are slanted, not so much racially as towards a more affluent segment of the population? I recall reading examples of questions which seem to exploit (favor with correct answers) the mentality of more 'well to do' groups, which statistically tend to be white.. eLuddite, I don't know your race, nor do I really care to - I prefer that it not matter - but what's your opinion?

    Also, a little background on me:
    I am an immigrant child of immigrant parents. I'm a "dumb Polack". I'm white, but I'm no more Caucasian by US standards than a Kenyan-born Black is "African American". I've heard the jokes and been held to the stereotypes. I refuse to believe that my Master's degree and well paying job have any more to do with my skin color than with with the fact that I have "good hair".

    A (white, and Polish) friend of mine has this theory that people with 'good hair' are given breaks while people with'bad hair' are thwarted - same as thin people vs fat people... I've yet to disprove this theory. Attractive people do seem to be treated better than ugly ones - and that's just human nature, isn't it?

    Anyway, all the jocks (uh-oh, it's Jon Katz in disguise! Run!) who gave me a hard time as a child, now work as bank tellers, real estate agents, and used car salesmen, and they have to compete for my easily spent money.

    Yes, I went to a private H.S. Yes, I was made to wear a certain style of clothes which I feel gave me an edge. While my friends were running around in torn jeans and Metallica T-shirts, I would show up at job interviews, fresh after school, in an oxford and tie.. I learned that appearance matters - but not to judge people by their appearance.

    So yes, certain expectations of success were imposed on me, but so were stereotypical expectations of failure. By all accounts, I should be a blue collar, bowling shirt wearing, wife beating drunk. But I'm not. Maybe it has something to do with upbringing offsetting societal norms, maybe it's an innate need to prove people wrong.. I don't know,but here I am, a persecuted minority among whites.

    No, I don't know what it's like to be black - maybe it's immeasurably worse than my situation, maybe it's comparable, but I still doubt a great deal in the hypnotizing power of suggestion when applied to the individual. Masses may be mesmerized by the expectations that society holds of an individual, but individuals choose how they proceed through life. For every 'dumb niger' there is a W.E.B. DuBois who just needs to choose to become, and that choice is made by the individual, not by society, no matter how antagonistic towards the individual that society is.

    But I'm just a dumb Polack.. What do I know?

    [TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
    [ Parent ]

    the test isnt biased in that way (5.00 / 1) (#119)
    by eLuddite on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 06:56:15 AM EST

    Would you say that standardized tests are slanted, not so much racially as towards a more affluent segment of the population?

    I dont know if educated, motivated poor people do poorly in standardized tests because of the existence of a stereotype threat limiting their capacity to succeed. That wasnt tested. I have better than good reason to believe the experiment went out of its way to ensure a control group that was not contaminated by class, since the point of the experiment was to question your assumption that "surely in today's society the disadvantages of race are overcome when lower socioeconomic status is overcome."

    I recall reading examples of questions which seem to exploit (favor with correct answers) the mentality of more 'well to do' groups, which statistically tend to be white..

    First, as an aside, assuming that were so, is there a non-racial reason for blacks to be statistically less well to do than whites? Second, and more to the point,

    Does the problem stem from something about black students themselves, such as poor motivation, a distracting peer culture, lack of family values, or -- the unsettling suggestion of The Bell Curve -- genes? Or does it stem from the conditions of blacks' lives: social and economic deprivation, a society that views blacks through the lens of diminishing stereotypes and low expectations, too much coddling, or too much neglect?

    [...]

    Americans have come to view the disadvantages associated with being black as disadvantages primarily of social and economic resources and opportunity. This assumption is often taken to imply that if you are black and come from a socioeconomically middle-class home, you no longer suffer a significant disadvantage of race. "Why should the son of a black physician be given an advantage in college admission over the son of a white delivery-truck driver?" This is a standard question in the controversy over affirmative action. And the assumption behind it is that surely in today's society the disadvantages of race are overcome when lower socioeconomic status is overcome.

    But virtually all aspects of underperformance -- lower standardized-test scores, lower college grades, lower graduation rates -- persist among students from the African-American middle class. This situation forces on us an uncomfortable recognition: that beyond class, something racial is depressing the academic performance of these students.

    The experimental subjects were all middle class Stanford students. The control group was black. The experiment was specifically and purposefully not slanted in the way you presume.

    A (white, and Polish) friend of mine has this theory that people with 'good hair' are given breaks while people with'bad hair' are thwarted - same as thin people vs fat people...

    Yes but surely there are fat black people who suffer bad hair days, as well. Black people should be so lucky as to overcome racism by putting Fat Albert on a diet and dragging a combing across Don King's hair. Being black is a rather more fundamental, distinguishing inequality in America.

    ---
    God hates human rights.
    [ Parent ]

    correction (none / 0) (#120)
    by eLuddite on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 07:08:58 AM EST

    The control group was black.

    Should be

    The experimental group was black.

    and, since I'm here,

    dragging a combing

    should read

    dragging a comb

    ---
    God hates human rights.
    [ Parent ]

    Light dawns (none / 0) (#123)
    by jabber on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 11:18:55 AM EST

    Being black is a rather more fundamental, distinguishing inequality in America.

    Not that it changes anything in the world-at-large, but this certainly does shed light on why my attitude w.r.t. the whole argument is such as it is. I certainly do notice skin color, but I must be missing that piece of psyche that this whole experiment was pivoted upon. I absolutely do not care about the color of someone's skin, and so I fail to relate to the consequences of people around me caring. Ignorance is bliss.

    [TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
    [ Parent ]

    "affirmative action" my ass. (4.60 / 5) (#101)
    by gblues on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 02:48:52 PM EST

    I am firmly against "affirmative action." Affirmative action is nothing more than a cop-out that says "okay, we know we used to keep you out of schools because you were black, so to make things up to you guys we'll let you in because you are black."

    Discrimination is discrimination, wether it is taking away privileges or giving them. Race shouldn't even be a factor. If the test scores are high enough, let 'em in.

    That isn't to say that test scores are a valid criteria--there is quite a bit of controversy of the validity of SAT (and related) tests as a whole, to say nothing of with regards to specific ethnicities or cultures. Is it possible that certain groups of people may be at an unfair disadvantage (i.e. a non-native English speaker)? Sure. But that is a can of worms by itself that has nothing to do with a "stereotype threat" (a made-up phenomenon if I've ever seen one).

    Test-taking stress mostly involves fear of not passing, family pressures, peer pressures, and stress directly induced by the testing procedures (i.e. time constraints). The last thought in the student's head is, "am I conforming to a stereotype some people have of my racial group?"

    I mean, come on. You're acting like white people never have to worry about being judged against a stereotype (redneck, geek, "racist white male").

    Affirmative Action is simply discrimination with another face on it. End racial descrimination, period.

    Nathan
    ... although in retrospect, having sex to the news was probably doomed to fail from the get-go. --squinky

    weak arguments. (2.00 / 1) (#107)
    by Estanislao Martínez on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 05:16:11 PM EST

    If the test scores are high enough, let 'em in.

    Why? This is a stupid policy.

    Universities want to admit a diverse group of students who can make the most of the institution. For example, universities are interested in predicting how well students will perform in their first years in college. This is the whole reason they use standardized tests-- the tests are designed to predict precisely this.

    If it can be shown that this prediction fails for a particular subgroup of students (e.g., motivated African-USians whose grades are as good as whites in the same institution score lower), then the whole reason for using the tests fails for these students.

    Test-taking stress mostly involves fear of not passing, family pressures, peer pressures, and stress directly induced by the testing procedures (i.e. time constraints). The last thought in the student's head is, "am I conforming to a stereotype some people have of my racial group?"

    Do you have a mind-reading machine that we can use to test this?

    But that is a can of worms by itself that has nothing to do with a "stereotype threat" (a made-up phenomenon if I've ever seen one).

    So your whole dismissal consists of asserting that this is a "made-up phenomenon"?

    But let's not hold on too tightly to it, since it is "merely" an interpretation of solid experimental results. We'd all be interested in hearing if you have a better way of explaining how come telling black students that the test they are taking measures their ability depresses their score, the degree being larger with more confident and motivated students, while performing as well as whites when you tell them that the test doesn't measure ability.

    --em
    [ Parent ]

    Thanks for ignoring my argument (4.50 / 2) (#111)
    by gblues on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 07:05:46 PM EST

    I agree that it's a stupid policy. But so is artificially skewing test results to compensate for a perceived bias against a certain group of people.

    This is like fixing a math algorithm with a result that is always 10 more than the correct answer by simply subtracting 10 from the result of the algorithm instead of figuring out why the algorithm is producing incorrect results in the first place.

    Either fix the test, or don't use it. Don't blame bogus pressure on students for the "real" cause for test results.

    As for your question:

    We'd all be interested in hearing if you have a better way of explaining how come telling black students that the test they are taking measures their ability depresses their score, the degree being larger with more confident and motivated students, while performing as well as whites when you tell them that the test doesn't measure ability.
    Congratulations! You've noticed the effect that setting high expectations has on a person has on their actual performance. Out of fear of not meeting your expectations, they become nervous and--surprise!--make more mistakes. When you tell them the test has no value, there is no pressure to perform.

    This has nothing to do with race. This type of pressure can just as easily come from friends, family, or themselves.

    Nathan
    ... although in retrospect, having sex to the news was probably doomed to fail from the get-go. --squinky
    [ Parent ]

    Maybe people need to be taught how to take tests? (4.00 / 2) (#122)
    by Trepalium on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 10:22:55 AM EST

    There's only one thing I've noticed about people taking tests throughout high school and university -- those who go into the test calm and confident score a whole lot better than those who study to the last minute and are jittery. I've seen this in myself, and I've seen this in others. There should be no surprise to anyone there. Pre-test stress does affect the performance of the student on the test.

    There's an obvious solution to this -- teach people how to deal with test taking stress and studying, however, I believe the 'quick-fix' method will be employed instead. Chances are, those with the power to make decisions on this will instead decide to use the 'Affirmative Action' programs to fix the problem instead.

    [ Parent ]

    If by "diverse" you mean less capable, t (none / 0) (#125)
    by jeremiah2 on Sun Jun 10, 2001 at 06:37:33 PM EST

    setting aside test scores should help the school fill its quota of the unfit. And if they happen to be black, you've killed two birds with one stone.

    So the blacks have test anxiety. Boo hoo. Let `em get over it, and then take the test.
    Change isn't necessarily progress - Wesley J. Smith, Forced Exit
    [ Parent ]

    [Editorial] "African-USian" (2.00 / 1) (#103)
    by Lode Runner on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 03:11:02 PM EST

    If it had been anyone but EM using the term "African-USian" I'd dismiss it as carelessness and wouldn't give it a second thought....

    EM, however, is very careful about the rhetorical and stylistic content of his posts. EM has also proved himself to be quite informed when it comes to connotations of various politically-loaded words. Consequently, I find it difficult to imagine that he was not aware of the derogatory nature of the term "USian". Though I suppose you could make the argument that the term "African-USian" is technically correct, such arguments strike me as a tad disingenuous.

    In my humble opinion, the best way to convey the necessary information is to replace "African-USian" with "African-American (USA)" for the first time it is used; then, once the USianess [sic] of the object is established, simply use "African-American".

    Other than this minor problem, it's an excellent story, so keep up the good work EM!

    p.s. - this comment was originally posted as an editorial, but the story got voted to the sections page before I could hit the post button



    PC-ness (none / 0) (#118)
    by odaiwai on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 03:02:45 AM EST

    Just out of curiousity, would someone of African origin in Canada be referred to as an African American? Is the PC thing as prevalent up there?
    Those people of African origin that I knew in the UK would usually refer to themselves by their country of origin if pressed. Of course, most would have described themselves as British first and said that their parents came from Jamacia (or wherever).
    dave
    -- "They're chefs! Chefs with chainsaws!"
    [ Parent ]
    misconception (none / 0) (#121)
    by dutky on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 10:18:42 AM EST

    The vast majority of 'African-Americans' are not immigrants, legal aliens, or naturalized U.S. citizens: they are U.S. citizens by birth and are no more of "African origin" than George Bush, Al Gore or William F. Buckley are of "European origin". In fact, the term is applied, almost uniquely, only to natural born U.S. citizens, while recent immigrants from Africa are thought of as foriegners outright (referred to as natives of their nation or birth or simply as 'Africans').

    There are two glaring problems with the common usage of the term:

    1. The term seems to suggest that there is some suspect foreign element in 'African-Americans' that is, somehow, absent from simple 'Americans'. This is clearly false. Remember, with the exception of 'Native Americans' (another odious term), all U.S. citizens are either immigrants or the children of immigrants.
    2. The term also draws a false distinction between people with dark skin (who are assumed to have ancestors from somewhere in Africa) and people with light skin (who are assume not to have any african ancestors. In truth, however, most 'African-American' have a fair amount of European ancestry, and quite a few 'European-Americans' have some African ancestry as well.

    While there are certainly elements in U.S. society who would like to promulgate the myths of a pure white race and a white nation, the truth is (pardon the pun) something less than black-and-white.



    [ Parent ]
    re: misconception (none / 0) (#124)
    by odaiwai on Sat Jun 09, 2001 at 10:23:34 AM EST

    If that was a response to my comment, you completely failed to answer it. I appreciate your point about the racist nature of the way the term "african-american" is applied in the US. But my question was about non-USA citizens who are North American. Specifically Canadians. dave
    -- "They're chefs! Chefs with chainsaws!"
    [ Parent ]
    What about the computer-graded tests? (4.00 / 1) (#110)
    by prostoalex on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 06:55:55 PM EST

    One very interesting finding - the Americans with African ancestors receive substantially lower scores on the computer-graded exams, like SAT, GRE or IQ tests. Regardless of the motivation and the amount of Affirmative Action spending in the regions. Ironically, these facts are neglected when dealing with stereotypes. Damned computers! They should be outlawed for supporting the stereotypes and underestimating the abilities of many (most?) black students.

    I love the term USian (none / 0) (#126)
    by strlen on Tue Jun 12, 2001 at 01:14:51 AM EST

    Hey, I love that term. Why do you people not like it so much? By the way, I'm in favor of affirmative action. I have no time to write a lengthy post, but here's a very nice writing on that by Steve Kangas. To sum it up, basically Afirmative Action means sellecting across the available talent pool, quotas come in only in cases of gross preference. By the way, check out his entire FAQ on Liberalism. Many of the arguments are pretty well founded and are worth considering.

    --
    [T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
    "Stereotype Threat" and Black College Students | 126 comments (82 topical, 44 editorial, 0 hidden)
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