June 5, 2013

James Q. Wilson on race and violent crime

With federal judge Edith Jones being denounced for saying that blacks and Hispanics commit more violent crimes on average, it's worth digging up an obscure but important 2002 book chapter written by the late James Q. Wilson, the leading social science expert on crime:
A central problem—perhaps the central problem—in improving the relationship between white and black Americans is the difference in racial crime rates. No matter how innocent or guilty a stranger may be, he carries with him in public the burdens or benefits of his group identity... 
Estimating the crime rates of racial groups is, of course, difficult because we only know the arrest rate. If police are more (or less) likely to arrest a criminal of a given race, the arrest rate will overstate (or understate) the true crime rate. To examine this problem, researchers have compared the rate at which criminal victims report (in the National Crime Victimization Survey, or NCVS) the racial identity of whoever robbed or assaulted them with the rate at which the police arrest robbers or assaulters of different races. Regardless of whether the victim is black or white, there are no significant differences between victim reports and police arrests. This suggests that, though racism may exist in policing (as in all other aspects of American life), racism cannot explain the overall black arrest rate. The arrest rate, thus, is a reasonably good proxy for the crime rate. 
Black men commit murders at a rate about eight times greater than that for white men. This disparity is not new; it has existed for well over a century. When historian Roger Lane studied murder rates in Philadelphia, he found that since 1839 the black rate has been much higher than the white rate. This gap existed long before the invention of television, the wide distribution of hand guns, or access to dangerous drugs (except for alcohol). 
America is a violent nation. The estimated homicide rate in this country, excluding all those committed by blacks, is over three times higher than the homicide rate for the other six major industrial nations. But whatever causes white Americans to kill other people, it causes black Americans to kill others at a much higher rate. 
Of course the average African American male is not likely to kill anybody. 
During the 1980s and early 1990s, fewer than one out of every 2,000 black men would kill a person in any year, and most of their victims were other blacks. 
Though for young black men homicide is the leading cause of death, the chances of the average white person’s being killed by a black are very small. But the chances of being hit by lightning are also very small, and yet we leave high ground during a thunderstorm. However low the absolute risk, the relative risk—relative, that is, to the chances of being killed by a white—is high, and this fact changes everything. 
When whites walk down the street, they are more nervous when they encounter a black man than when they encounter a white one. When blacks walk down the street, they are more likely than whites to be stopped and questioned by a police officer... 
The differences in the racial rates for property crimes, though smaller than those for violent offenses, are still substantial. The estimated rate at which black men commit burglary is three times higher than it is for white men; for rape, it is five times higher. The difference between blacks and whites with respect to crime, and especially violent crime, has, I think, done more to impede racial amity than any other factor. Pure racism—that is, a visceral dislike of another person because of his skin color—has always existed. It is less common today than it once was, but it persists and no doubt explains part of our racial standoff. But pure racism once stigmatized other racial minorities who have today largely overcome that burden. When I grew up in California, the Chinese and Japanese were not only physically distinctive, but they were also viewed with deep suspicion by whites. 
For many decades, Chinese testimony was not accepted in California courts, an Alien Land Law discouraged Asian land purchases, the Chinese Exclusion Act (not repealed until 1943) prevented Chinese immigration, and a Gentlemen’s Agreement, signed in 1907, required Japan to cut back sharply on passports issued to Japanese who wished to emigrate to California. When World War II began, the Japanese were sent to relocation camps at great personal cost to them. 
Yet today Californians of Asian ancestry are viewed by Caucasians with comfort and even pride. In spite of their distinctive physical features, no one crosses the street to avoid a Chinese or Japanese youth. One obvious reason is that they have remarkably low crime rates. 
The black murder rate, though it is much higher than the rate for whites or Asians, does not always change in the same way as the white rate. Between 1976 and 1991, the murder arrest rate for black males aged twenty- five and older fell dramatically even though the murder arrest rate for the nation as a whole did not change at all. Apparently, adult black men were becoming less violent. But in some years, such as 1965 to the early 1970s, the black murder rate increased much faster than the white rate. By the late 1960s the black rate was over eighteen times higher than the white one. Then, beginning around 1975, the black rate declined while the white rate continued to increase, so that the ratio of black arrests to white arrests fell to around six to one. From 1980 until the present, the rate at which adult blacks and whites are arrested for murder dropped more or less steadily. By contrast, the rate at which black and white juveniles are arrested for murder increased sharply from 1985 to the early 1990s, with the white rate almost doubling and the black rate more than tripling. Starting in the mid- 1990s, the juvenile rate fell again, almost down to the level it was at in 1985. 
In short, though the gap sometimes widens and sometimes narrows, white and black homicide rates tend to remain different.

32 comments:

Aaron Gross said...

Neocon.

David said...

Clearly Wilson should have his Presidential Medal of Freedom revoked port-mortem for crimethink and the airing of hatefacts. He is doubleplusungood.

The least that all we enlightened people can do is to smear his reputation as vigorously and on as many fronts as we can, until no one reads him again.

Oblivion to heretics! The Truth is marching on! Mine eyes have seen the glory! Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia, and 2 + 2 = 5. Four-ists are wreckers and haters and must be stopped.

Anonymous said...

I think i've come up with the ultimate hate fact: African Americans may be almost as disproportionatley likely to be criminals as sociopaths are.

Here are my calculations. According to a 2003 study, African Americans make up 44% of the prison population and about 12.6% of the total US population. So they're 3.5 times more likely to be criminals than the population as a whole.

The numbers for sociopaths are estimates and intrinsically fuzzy. Socipaths are estimated to make up 15-25% of the prison population and 3-5% of the total male population. So they're 3-8 times more likely to be criminals than the overall population. Sociopaths are at worse,twice as likely to be criminals as African Americans. They might be no more likely to be criminals.

I think liberals owe sociopaths an apology.

Anonymous said...

It seems like the entire West is sliding very rapidly towards totalitarianism. In country after country simply mentioning patently obvious truths is enough to get the NKVD after you. And God forbid that some poor sap venture to voice a proscribed opinion.

Augustine the black said...

Excellent science. No Attempt whatsoever At Explaining The Shifts In Murder Incidences OVer TiMe.

Anonymous said...

Fine, I applaud that Wilson excerpt, and I hate the lies and medieval thought policing of our age. But, Steve Sailer, the judge you're defending is a rightwing Christianist nut. If that's who I'm being asked to make common cause with, I think I'll stick to irritating SWPLs.

David said...

>the judge you're defending is a rightwing Christianist nut<

Proof?

Is a nut utters 2 + 2 = 4 and is beaten by a gang for it, would you bother to call the police? Or would you refuse to have anything to do with a nut while stroking yourself for your devotion to mathematics and human rights?

eah said...

...he carries with him in public the burdens or benefits of his group identity...

Of course this is the problem -- the stereotyping or 'racial profiling' associated with such open acknowledgment of what everyone knows is true, namely that Blacks and Hispanics are more criminal. I mean, who in America would actually dispute that? Even if you don't know the actual data, ie the extent of it, you still know it's true, right?

But it's not OK to say it, at least for a person in such a position to say it, because it evokes stereotyping and 'racial profiling', and this is prejudice, bigotry, racism.

Just like everyone knows that Zimmerman would not be in nearly so much trouble, that they would not be prosecuting him so senselessly and viciously, had he shot a white kid in similar circumstances. No, they charged him with second degree murder because they believe he initiated the confrontation after 'racially profiling' Trayvon Martin -- Martin is dead because Zimmerman is a racist. In all their absurdity, the media even decided to label him a 'white Hispanic' in order to make sure everyone got that point.

Anonymous said...

http://theamericanscholar.org/good-fences-make-good-bankers/#.UbAiANLVDfE

http://theamericanscholar.org/color-lines/#.UbAiTdLVDfE

gubbler said...

"the judge you're defending is a rightwing Christianist nut."

I agree. I think she's being attacked because of her larger political views, some of which sound stupid tome as well.

However, even a nut can be right on some things, and she is right on this issue.
So, we can denounce her wingnut ideology but still agree and defend her on this issue alone.

Besides, there should be freedom of speech for all, including for wingnuts.

Anonymous said...

Fair enough, I admit, as the original "nut" accuser. If "racism" is what fells her, as opposed to the genuinely appalling things she said about Mexico and God and death sentences, then that's a travesty. Still, Watson was a much more sympathetic martyr.

On the bright side, this may shape up to be a healthy fight. The establishment won't touch psychometrics, but many of its commentators are still willing to point out the plain fact of crime rate disparities by race or defend someone who does. Or they were. Right?

International Goldstein said...

Why bother denouncing her "wingnut ideology?" So she doesn't drive a lowered Honda CR-X and listen to VCD boy bands, big deal. Your social situational awareness is grievously stunted if you think your own material interests to be more in line with activist-lawyers serving the death row Latinos and the vibrant urban aficionados of chop & screw and purple drank. Do you like living and working inside an orderly bourgeois country, or is it not yet Guatemalan enough for your taste? Please globalize yourself to a different sucker Western country if you find traditional WASP common sense (or Texas variant of) so abhorrent/unfashionable.

Simon in London said...

High black crime rates don't seem to make British whites anti-black, even though the disparity is the same as the US, going by Home Office incarceration data. My guess would be that this might be because our murder rates are much lower, and people can forgive being mugged but not being shot? Also the US has much more racial hatred from blacks towards whites, which will naturally affect white attitudes towards blacks.

elvisd said...

I'd like to see a study done of actual trials, which would tell a lot of tales. What's the black/white ratio on convictions based on testimony, for example? The whole "don't snitch"/"only god can judge me" thing is so thoroughly black that I bet it can explain those periods where black arrest rate drops but the murder rate doesn't.

Jackson, Mississippi has just elected a black nationalist lawyer for mayor (light skinned, natch) who has made a career of racialising criminal trials.

Black America is sick in the blood with the folk theology of "only god can judge me" and "you can't judge a man by where he's been, but where he is now". You hear stuff like that from black preachers on the radio all the time. You see this everywhere, on t shirts, in rap lyrics, on talk shows. You see people decry "Stop Snitching", but who actually challenges these other statements?

"the judge you're defending is a rightwing Christianist nut."

I agree. I think she's being attacked because of her larger political views, some of which sound stupid tome as well.

However, even a nut can be right on some things, and she is right on this issue.
So, we can denounce her wingnut ideology but still agree and defend her on this issue alone.

Besides, there should be freedom of speech for all, including for wingnuts.


It appears that only wingnuts have a pair of nuts.

Perspective said...

"Simon in London said...

High black crime rates don't seem to make British whites anti-black, even though the disparity is the same as the US,"

The situation is very similar here in Canada. Though there is some hostility, it doesn't come close to what I've witnessed in the US. Like the UK, there's a high rate of BM/WF coupling here as well.

bluto said...

Simon,
I'd guess it's the differences in population size. Blacks are 2% of the UK population, they're 11% of the US population (if all the UK's blacks lived in Scotland or Wales, the ratio there would be much closer to that in the US).

Anonymous said...

It is somewhat stunning that since 1839 Blacks have had a higher rate of murder than Whites in Philladelphia. Considering the racial climate at the time one would think Blacks would do everything humanly possible not to act according to stereotype. I recall reading WEB DuBois bemoaning the Philly crime rate among Blacks and how it was a barrier to equality. At the time the discrepancy he was complaining about was comparatively low in the single digits. Now Blacks murder in magnitudes of 6-7 times more than Whites. Philly is one if the most violent cities in America with the lionshare of perpetrators being Black.

As a Black man I'm at a loss to explain this other than a lack of impulse control. However I have a hard time reconciling this conclusion with my own family history and those around me. Is it racial? Is it cultural? I simply do not know.

Anonymous said...

Gee, in Orange County the asians don't like blacks either. The black faced at UCi was done by an asian and a note passed to a black at UCI was done by an asian.

Scharlach said...

High black crime rates don't seem to make British whites anti-black, even though the disparity is the same as the US,"

The situation is very similar here in Canada. Though there is some hostility, it doesn't come close to what I've witnessed in the US. Like the UK, there's a high rate of BM/WF coupling here as well.


Check out the demographic percentages of most Southern and Eastern metro areas, and you'll perhaps notice some things that might (I mean, MAYBE---just throwing it out here) just might explain why Brits and Canadians aren't as guarded about blacks.

FirkinRidiculous said...

Libertarian and neo-con types often pretend as if black dysfunctionality only began with the Great Society of the 1960s, so I'm always interested in the rather sparse historical data or sources that contradict that notion.

NOTA said...

The judge sounds like she has some pretty odd ideas about the world. However, there's a big problem with purging everyone who has any odd ideas--that's how you get a kind of forced conformity of stated ideas in the world. Some subset of the weird, nutty, oddball ideas floating around will turn out to be true, or at least useful. And we should be really reluctant to say "anyone who has any oddball ideas must not have any power," because then nobody close to power will ever dare say anything that's not a consensus belief. We need less of that, not more.

Anonymous said...

"High black crime rates don't seem to make British whites anti-black, even though the disparity is the same as the US"

There's white flight from black areas sometimes followed by gentrification later when the house prices get low enough but a lot more of the first than the second. You're right it's not the same as the states though - perhaps simply because of the different scale?

Anonymous said...

As to the base question i think it has something to do with medical advances

http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/09/26/1032734278474.html

"Examining data from 1960 to the present, a team of researchers from Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts University found doctors were saving the lives of thousands of victims of attack who previously would have died and become murder statistics.

"Without this technology, we estimate there would be no fewer than 50,000 and as many as 115,000 homicides annually instead of an actual 15,000 to 20,000," said the principal author, Dr Anthony Harris, in the British Medical Journal."

However it's not 100% clearcut

"Dr David McDonald, of the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at the Australian National University, said the murder rates and types of murders in Australia and the US were so different they were almost beyond comparison.

"Seventy per cent of homicides in the US involve firearms. In Australia it is more like 20 per cent," he said. "In Australia 60 per cent of murders happen in the home, when an intimate relationship goes wrong, whereas in the US the majority happen on the street.""


So i think it's a case of the *type* of violent assault in combination with which kind of assault medical advances most help
e.g.

domestic murder where someone gets stabbed 30 times

vs

street argument where someone gets stabbed 3 times

or

impulse unaimed shooting

vs

calm aimed shooting

Simon in London said...

bluto:
" bluto said...
Simon,
I'd guess it's the differences in population size. Blacks are 2% of the UK population, they're 11% of the US population (if all the UK's blacks lived in Scotland or Wales, the ratio there would be much closer to that in the US)."

Blacks are around 12% of the population in London, where I live, though.
It was back in 1998/1999 when I was in the Territorial Army in Coventry that I noticed that the other TA men, all working-class whites, really hated Pakistanis, but had no animosity to blacks. Coming from Northern Ireland I had little experience of other races (our hatreds being sectarian) and I could not understand why they so detested those quiet and seemingly law-abiding Pakistani shopkeepers, Indian restauranteurs, etc. And at the same time they showed none of the racism towards blacks that the left-media told me was endemic.

Simon in London said...

anon:
"As a Black man I'm at a loss to explain this other than a lack of impulse control. However I have a hard time reconciling this conclusion with my own family history and those around me. Is it racial? Is it cultural? I simply do not know."

My guess would be that the propensity is racial, but that it can be overcome by self-imposed cultural restraint. I know a lot of very self-controlled black people who remind me a bit of Star Trek's Vulcans: far from being emotionless, the Vulcans are so highly emotional that they developed a whole culture around maintaining control and self-restraint.
Something similar happened with black culture under Christian influence. But then in the 1960s the cultural Marxists' preaching against self-restraint took over Western society - "let it all hang out". This was harmful to whites, but absolutely devastating to blacks.

Anonymous said...

Taking Wilson's stats

1965-early 70s
black rate increased much faster than white rate
until black rate 18 x white rate

1976-1991
black rate fell
white rate increased
until black rate 6 x white rate

from 1980
black and white dropped more or less in tandem

however juveniles 1985-1990 both increased sharply
white rate doubled
black rate tripled

.
Leaving aside the juveniles for the moment.

Assumption 1)
There was a general increasing trend from the 1960s onwards for whatever reason.

Assumption 2)
There are two rough categories of potential homicide

A) Sudden and impulsive
B) Cold-blooded and/or relatively calm *or* frenzied due to very long-term build up

and further assume that on average the damage from case B is higher or much higher than case A

then i think medical advances could explain Wilson's pattern if you assume different ethnic groups have different proportions of type A and type B potential homicides.

i.e.
1) The post 60s homicide increasing trend (whatever the cause) effected black people faster than white
2) medical advances since then have had a disproportionate effect on impulsive vs more pre-meditated assaults.

Anonymous said...

"perhaps simply because of the different scale?"

"Blacks are around 12% of the population in London, where I live, though."

Good point.

Scharlach said...

"Blacks are around 12% of the population in London, where I live, though."

Good point.


No it's not. It's a shitty point. The nearest big cities to which I temporarily live sport black populations that are 30, 38, and 36% of the whole. Atlanta is 54% black.

I'm sick of people saying "well, we're diverse!" when they have fewer than 15% minority population

Anonymous said...

"Blacks are around 12% of the population in London, where I live, though."

"Good point."

"No it's not. It's a shitty point. The nearest big cities to which I temporarily live sport black populations that are 30, 38, and 36% of the whole. Atlanta is 54% black."

Gooder point.

Simon in London said...

Scharlach:
"I'm sick of people saying "well, we're diverse!" when they have fewer than 15% minority population"

London is over 50% 'minority' - in the UK if you're not White British you're 'minority'!

Oh, when I talk about lack of animosity by whites to blacks, I'm talking about Caribbean and African Christian/non-Muslim blacks. Even Lefties don't like the Somali Muslims.

renevers said...

I wonder how the numbers would be if you would further differentiate towards IQ , race and crime. Are low IQ white males more crime- likely than high IQ? And does a higher level IQ in blacks, lower their crime incidence?
I have a hypothesis that crime could as well be based in the inability to estimate risk of consequence. Secondly the inability to get out the hands of the police and cover-up. Both are likely be better mastered by intelligent people. Third reason : the only way to get a lot of money without "brains" is to go into a career of crime. There is a coupling between black race and IQ, so IQ could be the driving factor.

Anonymous said...

Well, Steve is right a lot of blacks are still scoring below 70 on an IQ test and many are in the 71 to 85 which was considered mildly retarded up until the early 1970's. In urban school districts 71 to 85 also considers the LD category and IQ was surprised to find that IQ from 70 to 85 were alot of folks that come from lower income families. I thought some might have had a trauma at birth like not breathing or some other experience and I thought there were more middle class families that had a mildly mentally challenged person.