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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Sept. 20, 2006 / 27 Elul, 5766

What's prejudice?

By Walter Williams


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | A fortnight ago, my column made a stab at applying dispassionate analysis to come up with an operational definition for discrimination. Basically, discrimination is the act of choice, and choice is a necessary fact of life. Now let's turn to prejudice, keeping in mind that for sound thinking, one should avoid confusing one phenomenon with another.


Prejudice is a useful term that's often misused. Its Latin root is praejudicium, meaning "an opinion or judgment formed . . . without due examination." Thus, we might define prejudicial acts as decision-making on the basis of incomplete information.


In a world of costly information, people seek to economize on information costs. Imagine heading off to work, you open your front door, only to be greeted by a full-grown tiger. The uninteresting prediction is the average person would slam the door or otherwise seek safety.


Why they do so is more interesting. It's unlikely that person's decision is based on any detailed information held about that particular tiger. More likely his decision is based on tiger folklore or how he's seen other tigers behave. He prejudges, or stereotypes, that tiger.


If a person didn't pre-judge tigers, he would seek more information prior to his decision. He might attempt to pet the tiger, talk to him and seek safety only if the tiger responded in a menacing fashion. The average person wouldn't choose that path, surmising that the expected cost of getting more information about the tiger is greater than the expected benefit and concluding, "All I need to know is he's a tiger, and he's probably like the rest of them." By observing this person's behavior, there's no way one can say unambiguously whether the person likes or dislikes tigers.


In the late 1990s, the Washington, D.C., taxi commissioner warned cabbies against going into low income black neighborhoods and picking up "dangerous looking" passengers whom she described as young black males dressed a certain way. A few years ago, some St. Louis, Mo., pizza deliverers were complaining about delivering pizzas to black neighborhoods. Can one say anything unambiguous about cabbies' or pizza deliverers' likes or dislikes for blacks?


In the case of the taxi commissioner's warnings, the commissioner was black and so were most of the cabbies, and 75 to 85 percent of the complaining pizza deliverers were black. Are they racists? What about Rev. Jesse Jackson who once admitted that he is often relieved when the youths he hears walking along the street behind him turn out to be white, not black? Is he a racist?


As in the tiger example, the cabbies, pizza deliverers and Jackson are pre-judging. They are using a cheaply observed physical characteristic as an information proxy for a more costly to observe characteristic. The cheap-to-observe characteristic that a person is tall, female, Asian, black or white can indicate some probability of some other more costly to observe characteristic. In the minds of cabbies, pizza deliverers and Rev. Jackson, race was associated with a higher probability of being assaulted.


No one says that all young black males, not even a majority, pose a threat, but people are assigning probabilities. Such an assignment differs little from a physician, knowing that incidences of cardiovascular diseases are 30 percent higher among blacks than whites and prostate cancer is twice as high, giving his black patients more careful screening for these two diseases. Like the cabbies, pizza deliverers and Rev. Jackson, the physician is engaging in what some have called racial profiling — using race as an indicator of something else.


For analytical purposes, it's important to correctly identify behavior. Asserting that a particular behavior reflects racial likes and dislikes, which it could, when in fact it does not, is to mislead and confound whatever problem or issue one is addressing.

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© 2006, Creators Syndicate.

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