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#3437: DeGraff on how to measure the "relative rate of lying" etc... (fwd)
From: Michel DeGraff <degraff@MIT.EDU>
On a closer and more accurate reading, Grey's latest has turned out to be
not a truism, but a non-sequitur. So please allow me to revise my previous
When Grey writes that
> whether or not anyone has conducted double-blind ethnographic
> studies on the relative rate of lying and deception among, say, white
> Americans and black Haitians, those of us who live in both cultures are
> competent to see and to SAY that there is a difference!
Of course, "there is a difference". This is the truism part. But who's
"competent" to measure "the relative rate of lying and deception among,
say, white Americans and black Haitians"? Or between white Americans
vs. black Americans, or between white Haitians and black Haitians, or
between any two groups whatsoever?
Recall that Nazi Germans also gave themselves the right to be "competent"
when it came to measure the "relative" racial goodness between whites and
Jews. And ditto for Europeans when it came to justify their "mission
civilisatrice" in Africa.
Not only did these "competent" people say that there was a "difference",
but they acted on it, with much conviction (of the sort illustrated in
Grey's quote above). And the rest is history. But, as the saying goes, we
better remember the mistakes of the past (and of the not-so-past) so we
don't repeat them.
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