The Modern Survival Guide #61

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
  1. It limits the cooperative ability of societies
  2. It limits economic potential
  3. It limits one’s ability to see different viewpoints
  4. It limits our ability to make friends
  5. It is not based in any good science
  6. It rewards ignorance and sloppy thinking

#1: Racism Creates Violence and Repression

Racism is bad because it is a major cause of violent and repressive behavior, which is an obvious and inherent trigger for all kinds of very bad social consequences. We’ve been running this experiment in the US since our founding, and the results are unequivocal. At this stage we barely even need the overwhelming evidence the rest of the world has provided to make this point.

#2: Racism Limits the Cooperative Ability of a Society

Part of the big practical problem of racism is that the violence, repression, and general ill will which it engenders are extremely bad for social capital.² If I think you’re a lesser species, I’m going to have real trouble working with you, accepting your ideas, and finding areas where we can cooperate to the interest of both parties. That’s just human nature. I may find ways to exploit you, but that is a very different thing.

#3: Racism Limits a Society’s Economic Opportunities

Now more than ever, the central driving question of any economy is simple: how many smart people do you have plugged into your workforce and entrepreneurial groups? More = better. The simple truth of the human condition is that there are only so many geniuses to go around, and of those only a fraction will be competent. A society which can make the best use of that resource will be more prosperous than one which cannot, and neither genius nor competence are racially or ethnically limited.

#4: Racism Limits Viewpoints in Society

Being racist means that you are, by default, less disposed to trust statements made by the group towards which you are being racist. This immediately and radically limits communication and the exchange of viewpoints, which is a serious problem.

#5: Racism Limits Our Ability to Make Friends

If I see you as inferior, and you know it, it’s very unlikely that we will ever be friends. I might be polite to you, maybe even pleasant to you, but that’s not the same thing. A friend is someone you rely upon and who can rely upon you. Racists are rarely friends with their targets, for exactly this reason: why would you be willing to rely on someone you hate or disparage?

#6: Racism is Not Based on Good Science

There is a pernicious pseudo-scientific myth that is still going around today and it is this: that people of different skin colors can be demonstrated to be either superior or inferior. This is patently, totally, ridiculously false. Modern genetics has conclusively proven that skin color is simply a function of our ancestors’ homes’ latitude — different skin colors simply reflect different mutations designed to allow us to absorb more or less sunlight, thereby controlling vitamin D production and providing protection from overexposure to UV radiation.

#7: Racism Promotes Ignorance and Sloppy Thinking

Playing off of the previous point, racism promotes concepts that are antithetical to a rational, scientific viewpoint. And this has consequences, one of which is to expose people to the pseudoscience community in general. It’s not that much of a step from believing racist pseudoscience to believing other pseudoscience — it’s reliant on the same faulty implementation of the scientific method. Normalizing racism is a step toward normalizing a non-scientific worldview.

How to Not be Racist

Racism is bad. Therefore we ought not to be racist. But that’s very, very hard. Hell, even singing puppets figured that out. We’re racist because our brains are pre-programmed to make broad judgements based on very little information, and are also programmed towards tribal in-group/out-group responses to threat stimuli. In normal English, that is to say that once we have a bad experience with someone of a different race, we are naturally going to view all people of that race the same way. This mental strategy worked great for sabre tooth tigers, but doesn’t work very well with people.

Searching for truth in a world focused on belief.