Whilst I don't always agree with Chris Dillow of 'Stumbling & Mumbling' he is excellent at challenging the cognitive biases which infest everyone's political discourse, including mine. Just as Dubner & Levitt attempt to eke out the counter intuitive truth by the careful use of the data, it is important to challenge your own thinking, even if you don't agree with where the logic takes you. You may think something is true, and a data point in the media confirms it. Money quote:
when we are discussing low-probability events - crime, risk, whatever - we are prone to all sorts of cognitive biases. The way to correct such biases is to use statistics. In not doing this, Mr Straw is inviting his audience to draw some inferences which might not be warranted.Quite. If you got your information from the news, only pretty blond young women ever go missing & get murdered. So, you think Britons of Pakistani descent are rapists? That Islamic traditions lead them to be particularly prone to be abusive abusive of white girls? In Egypt maybe, but the statistics certainly don't back that up in the UK. If a Tory had alleged what Jack Straw (albeit heavily caveatted) alleged this week, the left would have have been jumping up and down with hyperventilating accusations of racism. Jack Straw gets a by, perhaps because he's not a racist, though that would not be a valid defence for a right-winger. But he does put people in groups first, and thinks of people as individuals second, if at all. You aren't an individual, you're a member of your collective. From there it's a short intellectual step to shooting people in ditches for the good of the party. That's why I loathe the collectivist left, but that's a subject for another post. Much of the "libertarian" blogosphere is going to be collectivist this weekend.
I don't like Islam, any more than I like any other religion, and I especially abhor the 'Islamic' attitude to women. I don't like the idea of large, closed unintegrated communities in the UK. But the truth is Pakistanis are LESS criminal on average than 'whites'. Practicing Muslims are amongst the LEAST criminal demographics, and the same is true of the devout of all faiths, and I know I'm going to see a lot of anti-Islamic stuff connected to the Derby case on blogs I normally agree with. Recent immigrants live in poor towns. When Pakistanis see "white British culture" they don't see an am-dram production of 'Pirates of Penzance' at the local theatre or a cricket match on a village green, they see blood and vomit on the street every Friday night, the result of another aspect of British culture, whilst they've been at the Mosque. Under those circumstances, would YOU want to integrate?
So. There are bad apples in EVERY community. The two men convicted are vile racist rapists, who have received long gaol terms. The Pakistani "community" wasn't on trial for these rapes, and nor should it be. Those two men were.