Stereotypes Are Usually Accurate

Comments at Steve Sailer:

* I wonder if any of my fellow Unzions harbor nasty and unacceptable stereotypes about particular groups of people?

Well, if you do, chances are those stereotypes are accurate.

But, please, don’t take my word for it.

Stereotype accuracy is one of the largest and most replicable effects in all social psychology.

Don’t believe me? Read all about it here and here.

The hilarious part here is that actual research on stereotypes have found that they are true much more often than they are untrue, that they are very useful tools for understanding the world when you have limited information, and that when new information is obtained people cheerfully abandon the stereotype.

* Many years ago, as a first year student at a certain New England Ivy League professional school, the more senior student appointed to be the sort-of residence hall proctor in my part of the residence hall was an gentleman of African American heritage. I therefore assumed he was likely to be below-par academically, due to affirmative action, and an above-average risk for committing criminal mischief, due to ‘that’s how things are’ in the African American community.

I was not entirely shocked, therefore, when he suddenly disappeared from the residence hall mid-year — apparently stripped of his role after being arrested for beating his girlfriend, or something like that.

I must therefore admit that I never gathered enough evidence to validate or disprove the assumption I made about his academic record. Clearly, that makes me a terrible Racist or something.

One of my few black classmates at the same institution turned out to be the marijuana supplier to virtually the entire part of the student body that was into such things, so there’s that as well.

* The problem with trying to convince people that they need to discard their stereotypes is that eventually they get slapped good and hard with reality. So instead of learning to determine which people of a certain group clearly fit the stereotype and who the outliers are, we have too many people in active denial of reality who dismiss the utility of stereotypes and when that gets shattered they end up angry, bewildered, and ashamed.

I grew up going to schools with plenty of class and racial diversity in a large city, so by the time I was an adult I had no illusions about how different groups were likely to act, particularly lower class whites and blacks. In contrast, many of my coworkers – mostly liberals who had grown up in lily-white environments who had been raised to believe ‘we’ are all the same – after several years of living in DC would dispairingly admit after a few beers that they felt like after living there they had become incredibly racist after living up close and personal with the people they had been told were just oppressed versions of themselves. To once again recover their sympathies, they basically had to move back to places where they didn’t have to interact with the people they were supposed to care so much about.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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