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« "Me? A racist? No, I'm in marketing!" | Main | "Me? A racist? No, I'm in marketing." PART III »

Monday, 22 October 2007


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This is a disappointment, but not a surprise.

You are just talking to yourself here: you haven't established a single one of the premises upon which you seek to base your argument, so all of this is pure waffle that does not even merit a response.

Still and all, I look forward to part III, which at least promises to be of some relevance to the question of racism. I take small comfort in the fact that you are no longer talking about gaseous phases, even if I am increasingly convinced that you currently suffering from one.

I don't think you've quite got the hang of this debating lark, 'Professor'. You see, I put forward some propositions and back them up with some facts, and what you're supposed to do, if you disagree, is to show my facts are incorrect, or that I have missed other pertinent facts which makes my propositions nul and void. "so all of this is pure waffle that does not even merit a response" comes under the heading of 'bluster' and really doesn't cut the mustard.

Are you sure you're a 'professor' and not an under-graduate?

David, you resemble nothing so much as a man who spends his days flinging excrement at strangers. When confronted about this behaviour, he launches into a detailed analysis of the human digestive system, and protests that every man, woman and child who's ever lived has moved their bowels.

Accepting - for the sake of argument - that you're right that the man on the Clapham Omnibus has knee-jerk reactions to foreigners, if he's a sensible bus-rider then he'll be aware that these gut reactions are as likely to be wrong as right, and he'll try to catch them before they lead him into really hideous territory. He'll realise that there's no reason to constantly pander to his own basest instincts, but by suppressing them and instead activating his brain occasionally, and trying to be sensitive to other people, he may come to a fairer and more accurate view of the world.

Your remarks towards Simon are interesting, because they suggest that in this particular instance you do appreciate that a violent knee-jerk reaction, couched in racist insults, and trumpeted from the rooftops would boil down to something pretty nasty.

But you're entirely content to do exactly that in the case of the Irish, and no amount of pontification about Prussians and gaseous phases will allow you to defend it.

Mr Duff, your propositions in Part II are apparently based on the "facts" from Part I, and since the "facts" in Part I did not even come close to being established, it is quite safe to completely disregard this current rubbish. That's how arguments from evidence work - when there is no evidence, there is no argument. What you have here is a series of baseless assertions; the scant evidence that you have presented so far has either been completely irrelevant (shoppers/atoms/gases), totally misrepresented (behavioural changes under the influence of a "social field") or otherwise highly dubious (the Prussians). I have explained the reasons for this several times over in the previous comments thread, and rather than responding to my points with adequate evidence for your propositions you have elected to leap ahead to Part II, so it is no surprise that your argument is built upon a foundation of absolutely nothing. And yet, here you are telling me that I don't have the "hang" of this "debating lark". This is a joke.

Besides the fact that you have completely failed to substantiate a single thing you've said, there is also the fact that you are still not even talking about the subject at hand, so why should I bother discussing it with you? Additionally, it has been painfully obvious from the start where you have been going with this; Simon Metz and I attempted to save you the embarrassment of continuing with this utterly facile line of argument in the comments to Part I, but you have insisted on this tortuous build-up. I have therefore decided to attempt to debate with you in the event that you ever get around to presenting anything of substance that is actually relevant to the point at hand.

As I said in my first post, all you are trying to do here is reverse engineer an argument for the proposition that "everyone is a racist", and I pointed out then that even in the vanishingly unlikely event that you manage to establish this, it would still come a long way short of a proper analysis of the issue, and it certainly would not excuse such behaviour.

But anyway, as painful as this is to witness, please do carry on.

To clarify:

I am not sensitive about being Jewish, nor was I using the blood libel in a self deprecating or insulting way. I use my Jewishness and the libel here only as an example to press you on the fallacy of ethnic genralisations but also what we all know can be justified from them.

I stated that you think certain races are inferior - that was probably wrong and I apologise. However, this argument was based on a comment you made about not liking the Irish

So ok - you don't like SOME other races. We'll go with that.

You want us to start with groups sharing characeristics. Well, in a pre-school kind of way, you are right. But there is a chicken and egg problem. The groups are formed only because of the individual behaviours of those sharing that characeteristic - the behaviour forms the group. This is the problem. You are trying to do the reverse - to take an existing group and assign common behaviour.

Buying certain products DOES put certain people into a certain group that then shares that characteristic - obviously.

That SOME people in a certain nation or among a certain race share some characteristics is inevitable. That places them in a characteristic-driven sub-group within which race and nationality is irrelevant.

This is why I said you are making a leap towards assigning behaviour to whole races or nations.

Finally "Were there any good Nazis" is not the question. Nazis shared a political belief that placed them in a group that had nothing to do with nationality or their race. Again, a characteristic-driven sub-group. The question is were there any good Germans.

Regarding your pet example, weren't most Prussians Balts until the Teutonic Knights moved in in the thirteenth century?

And regarding marketing, (and I'm no more a marketeer than I'm a historian) I believe a lot of it is cluster analysis: determining what groups pop out of the data, not asuming pre-existing ones.

And I'm not a physicist either, but Maxwell (PBUH) was wrong about the snooker table: it's almost impossible to predict..

Larry, greetings and welcome back!

As for the Prussians, indeed you are right that, like almost everywhere else in Europe, a variety of 'foreign' influences were at work over the centuries, but that fact proves my point that the *inhabitants* of that particular area (who eventually came to be called Prussians) all adopted the same military-politicial attitude of aggression in the sense of 'get your retaliation in first'. It became a group characteristic and should you doubt my hypothesis, ask any of their neighbours!

As for marketing, I suspect you know more of the details than I do but my point, put simply, is that people in marketing can pin-point with surprising (to me!) accuracy certain characteristics of human groups. How they do it is a mystery!

As to the physics you must take up your debate with Maxwell!

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