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August 15, 2017

Stanford University Researchers Find That Cops Who Are Polite To Black Drivers Are Actually Being Disrespectful...Or Something

Heather MacDonald eviscerates the study in her article in the current "City Journal." Conjuring Disrespect: A much-touted study of Oakland police shows researchers' determination to find racism, not cops' bias. I Like MacDonald, even though she is a bit gung-ho in her defense of policing in America. But her criticisms are right on target.

The attempt to find systemic police bias has come to this: the difference between an officer saying “uh” and saying “that, that’s.” According to Stanford University researchers, police officers in Oakland, California, use one of those verbal tics more often with white drivers and the other more often with black drivers. If you can guess which tic conveys “respect” and which “disrespect,” you may have a career ahead of you in the exploding field of bias psychology.

I'm no fan of the current trend in America, which is to allow the militarization of police, and turn a blind eye to the obvious issues of unbridled use of force and tolerance of aggressive and sometimes illegal behavior. But that doesn't mean that cops are racists...it means that some of them are jerks. And the rest of them -- the ones who tolerate the lawlessness of the few -- are also culpable. But it is pretty clear that the cops in Oakland who were tarred as racist were actually behaving in a rational, controlled and intelligent manner. Tailoring how they speak to people based on the crazy notion that everyone is a bit different seems to me to be the smart way to do it.

But the study's conclusion was no doubt written before the data were analyzed. The authors knew what they were going to find, so really, it was just going through the motions.

I recall a study published last year that discovered some interesting facts: On the most extreme use of force – officer-involved shootings – we find no racial differences in either the raw data or when contextual factors are taken into account.

But that's based on numbers and objective data that can't really be massaged too much. Feelings are much easier to manipulate, and Stanford's researchers certainly did a bang-up job of that!


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posted by CBD at 03:10 PM

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