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April 13, 2006

Racist Math

In all the different senses.

The Justice Department has determined a police-force qualification test which included a math section is racist, because, well, minorities didn't perform as well on math as whites.

The Justice Department claimed that the test’s pass-fail system had a disproportionate effect on minorities because the passing rates for blacks and Hispanics were less than 80 percent of the passing rate for whites.

From 2002 to mid-2005, about 85 percent of white applicants passed the math exam, compared with 59 percent of blacks and 66 percent of Hispanics.

Ahem.

I had thought that "racism" consisted of not hiring a minority who was otherwise qualified to do a job (based on grades, experience, test scores, etc.) because he was a minority.

Now it turns out that "racism" consists of not hiring a minority who may or may not be qualified to do a job (based on grades, experience, test scores, etc.). And he should be hired anyway, just because she is a minority.

It's obviously racist to not hire a minority who has all the qualifications you seek. But the new regime (okay, it's not all that new, is it?) is simply that it's racist to not hire a minority, despite his failing to meet minimum qualifications.

Like it or not, math is a simple, if somewhat crude, method of guaging innate intelligence and problem-solving abilities. If you're not good at math, odds are you're not particularly smart or adept at abstract thinking. Sure, there are exceptions -- there are brilliant people who still don't know how to figure out the tip on a check. But it is a useful proxy to screen out the dummies.

Are the blacks and Hispanics who disproportionately fail at this test all dummies? Of course not. Many of them were probably poorly served by their schools, or poorly served by themselves during their schooling (avoiding "acting white" and all that).

Still: if you think you've got a weakness in math, pick up a frigging $15 book that will prime you on everything you need to know for this sort of test. If you're not willing to do that, or still can't teach yourself 8th grade math even at age 20 or 25, then I'm sorry, you're either lacking in initiative or lacking in brains, and either way, you're probably not very well qualified to be carrying a gun.

Update: Apparently Retard-Level Math Is Racist: Derbyshire related this bit from an article about the controversy:

"This is not a test we developed,' Jacocks said. 'We are not looking for rocket scientists. This is a basic math aptitude test.' One sample question framed a problem in the context of police work: 'On Tuesday, Officer Jones worked the 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift. At 10:55 p.m. he was called to the scene of an accident where he remained until 1:30 a.m. How long past his regular shift did Officer Jones work?"

Good Lord. If you can't figure that out, you simply are not qualified to carry a badge. In fact, you're not qualified to carry a parking-ticket book, because you have to make those sorts of HIGH-LEVEL ARITHMETIC CALCULATIONS to determine if someone has in fact stayed more than two hours in a two-hour-only parking zone.

Thanks to Dave.

In related news, the Justice Department officials who determined the math test to be racist are, themselves, super-geniuses with quantum psychokinetic powers. Simply as a party-trick, they're given to splitting atoms... with their minds.


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posted by Ace at 12:35 PM

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