Team Dorner And Race

Contrary to common wisdom, it is acceptable to discuss race and not harm one’s career or social status. But it can only be done in two ways: (1) to list racial disparities, as long as these favor whites, and (2) to speculate on how whites wrongly achieved these disparities.

But that’s it. Even stating this obvious truth, which itself does not fall under either exception, is itself bound to cause discomfort. “Where is he going with this?” “Wait a second…” The statement, in other words, is not acceptable, though it is true.

Many large police departments have entrance exams. (Murder is: (A) Illegal, (B) To be discouraged, (C) Yellow light, (D) Okay if they deserved it.) It has been found that over a large number of people, in widely different circumstances, and through time that on average blacks score less well than whites on these tests. This is not surprising as blacks are found on average to score less well than whites on aptitude tests of all kinds (ASVAB, SAT, etc.).

These disparities, which favor whites (I’m okay so far), have not gone unnoticed. The standard argument is to call the tests “racist”, to claim that they are “biased” against blacks. This is so even though nobody can point to any question which disfavors blacks or which (say) causes them psychic pain. It is so even though everybody agrees that the tests predict success in the fields for which the tests were designed.

Still, if blacks do less well than whites on average, the problem must lie with the tests and not with those who took the tests. This theory has been confirmed all the way up to and including the Supreme Court. Since all efforts at fixing the tests have failed, the next logical step (accepting as true the theory) is to either eliminate the tests (as the Chicago PD might) or to “race norm” them.

For example, the military used to race norm tests for promotion by adding to each black’s score the amount on average (or thereabouts) that blacks score less than whites. Whatever you think of the theory, race norming does fix the mathematical disparity. So as not to cause hurt feelings, the military and other institutions try to keep quiet about these affirmative actions; unfortunately, people keep these facts in the back of their mind.

Now there are also disparities in crime, particularly violent crime, such that blacks proportionately commit from around seven to eleven times as many murders (for example) as whites. The rate varies by locale, usually increase in cities, but blacks are everywhere on average the less law abiding.

It is therefore natural and expected that arrest and conviction records should mirror the crime rates. Many more blacks than whites will be stopped, arrested, prosecuted, and convicted. This is bound to, and does, lead to ill feelings between blacks and cops. Even black cops can become suspicious that these street “aptitude tests” (arrests, etc.) are therefore “biased” against blacks, that cops doing their jobs are “racist.” This is, is it not?, the theory of the land, confirmed from on high.

Enter Christopher Dorner, an LAPD cop who claimed he did not like his job. To exact his revenge he, in cold blood, murdered the (non-white) daughter of a retired police captain. And since the daughter’s fiancé was standing next to his inamorata when she was cut down, Dorner killed him too. He then ran. As he was chased, he killed at least two others and wounded one or two (the full count is not verified at this writing; the cops initially chasing him shot at anything even vaguely Dorner-shaped).

Next arose another disparity. Some people cheered Dorner’s exploits, even comparing him to the title character in the movie Django Unchained. Jamie Foxx, who starred as Django, said, “I kill all the white people in the movie. How great is that?” Foxx’s comment is curious because Dorner started by killing non-whites. Anyway, those that cheered Dorner were overwhelmingly non-white; his detractors mostly white.

On Twitter the tag #TeamDorner was created. Here are two relevant tweets.

(Many more tweets can be found here.)

The smart money says the media will adopt this theme: He shouldn’t have done it, but he must have had his reasons. “Bob Smith is reporting live from LAPD headquarters. Bob, is it true the LAPD is racist? What about Rodney King?” The test is biased. It could not have been his fault.

Solution? None.

Update I am not La Griffe du Lion. I noticed an unusual number of searches for my name tied to his. I am more cougarish than lionish. One enormous clue: I do not have the sense to remain anonymous. Another, technical one: I do not love the normal distribution, as regular readers will know.


  1. JH

    For example, the military used to race norm tests for promotion by adding to each black’s score the amount on average (or thereabouts) that blacks score less than whites. Whatever you think of the theory, race norming does fix the mathematical disparity. So as not to cause hurt feelings, the military and other institutions try to keep quiet about these affirmative actions; unfortunately, people keep these facts in the backs of their minds.

    Evidence for everyone sentence in the above paragraph please. Otherwise, to me, they are simply your prejudice.

  2. Ken

    If Dorner’s Manifesto is correct, his gripe with the LAPD was primarily over retaliation (by LAPD) for his (Dorner’s) complaint about excessive force by another officer, a claim that was not substantiated. Racially offensive remarks by other police are mentioned, but the fallout of being treated as a whistleblower — ulitmately losing his job & career prospects, seem to be what drove him over the edge.

    Losing everything (in his mind) he retaliated as harshly as he could. By his reckoning, he might have done ok as he killed at least one & wounded another cop. If indiscriminatly…

    Timothy Mcveigh said something similar at his sentencing to death–about killing one of him but he got 100s of you/them.

    Racial issues were clearly secondary–and where exaggerated & brought to the forefront reflect a value system of those doing so & thier particular subculture.

    Very commonly, that subculture embraces values that are “anti-establishment” — so its hardly surprising that people grow up in such a culture to reject the trappings of mainstream society–including its education, etc.–and then do poorly on standardized tests.

    What is telling, however, is this self-inflicted social segregation is attributed to outside forces. That’s a form of scapegoating–and that is a strong indicator of a psychological disorder. M. S. Peck addressed this well in “People of the Lie.”

  3. Briggs


    Google to the rescue: New York Times, Baltimore Sun, PubMed, Chicago Tribune, book, Wikipedia (yes, I know; see ASVAB on page; Linda S. Gottfredson, “Intelligence Versus Training,” paper presented to the American Psychological Association, Aug. 24, 1986.), law review paper (Google url, hope it works), Bell Curve excerpt. Race norming is sorta, kinda now illegal, though many employers find other paths to affirmative action. And if I’m not mistaken (and I’m not), many universities bend over backwards to implement affirmative actions.

    Update LA Times, ERIC (link to paper), Race-Norming Compensation Act 0f 1992, test “banding”.

  4. JH

    Mr. Brigs,

    What you have expressed is much more than just “blacks scores lower than whites on average,” for which there are evidence.

    What those journalists say is not evidence!

    Please note the law review paper was published in 1993. Anyway, it’s illegal now. Oh, BTW, it’s peer-reviewed!

    You should really check into how affirmative action works. I can tell yo how we practice it, but you won’t believe it anyway.

  5. Briggs


    Nice to hear you admit affirmative action exists and is practiced. Which is the only point I wished to make about it.

    Do please tell us how it “really” works.

  6. JH

    In fact, I have told you before. It evidently hasn’t increased your understanding. So what’s the point?

  7. What is most frightening in all of this is the possibility/probability that others who were fired will feel they are justified in doing what Dorner did. It won’t matter about race, nor will it matter the perpetrator will more than likely die. Going out in a blaze of glory in in vogue today–America’s version of the suicide bomber (the suicide shooter here). Permission has just been given to take out anyone who may have wronged you and anyone who gets in the way. Combine that with the possibility of gun control measures being enacted, and one would expect more of these shooting in the very near future.

    In reality, at this point, we seem to have reverted to the “wild west” days. Outlaws tended to be heroes. However, they reportedly had more sense than to shoot innocent bystanders.

  8. JH

    Mr. Briggs, thank for correcting the html mistake.

  9. Briggs


    My pleasure; you know I’d do anything for you.

  10. JH

    Mr. Briggs, thanks again! I’d do anything for you too. It’s definitely wrong to give up a friend for Lent.

    You know, I do enjoy being a contrarian in the blog. ^_^

  11. Ray

    La Griffe writes on these topics. He also hides his identity and there has been considerable speculation on who he (she) is. You might find his writings interesting.

  12. Briggs


    La Griffe is wiser than I about remaining anonymous.

  13. Ye Olde Statistician

    Statisticians at the College Boards regularly review the answers to all questions to determine the rate at which they are answered correctly by a) everyone and b) designated groups. If too high % incorrect answers, the question is deemed too difficult as such, and is discounted in the scoring and is either dropped or reworded. If too high % of a designated group gets the question wrong, the question is deemed culturally biased and is treated similarly – on all scoring. (And yes, there often are words, phrases, etc. that are used differently or mean different things in different cultures. A “fresca” means a lemon-lime drink in Costa Rica, but a male prostitute in other parts of Central America.) I recall in particular that women as a group consistently scored lower on analogy questions, and so the analogies section was dropped from the test.

    By me, it would make more sense to teach analogical thinking more effectively; but too many in authority use affirmative action as a mere mathematical device to remove the appearance of disparity rather than to deal with actual root causes. Sort of like using epicycles to explain retrograde motion, the only purpose is to make the numbers come out right.

  14. Chinahand

    Isn’t this issue really about the givens, and how they affect the probabilities.

    The overall probabilities of being a criminal, worse on a test etc, may be the same for both Whites and Blacks, but because Blacks are more likely to live in poverty, lack an education etc these factors bias the results.

    People see colour and associate it with the behaviour while in fact this is just a correlation, the causation is poverty etc.

    The liberal effort Prof Briggs so disapproves of is attempting to adjust the score to recognize this income and education disparity. I fully agree it is problematic as it simply applies a racial effect – which the liberal claims does not exist. Rather the test should look at the real issues of poverty etc and correct all those who suffer from this whatever their colour.

  15. Chinahand: Yes, we should be addressing the issues of why scores are lower. Unfortunately, this country loves to make race an issue. As long as race is used to dole out money, qualify for programs, etc, we will never address the issue. The box to check for race should be eliminated from all forms. Then we deal with poverty, lack of fathers, entitlements and so forth.

  16. Sylvain Allard

    Isn’t this support kind of similar to the support that people gives to those who killed doctors who committed the legal act of abortion?

  17. Richard Hill

    There was a man who bred dogs. Hunting dogs and guard dogs. He started with a big yard with all the dogs together. Someone told him that hunting dogs had spots, guard dogs had stripes. So he divided the yard in two. Put all the spotted dogs in the left yard, striped dogs in the right yard. Then he tested the dogs. If a spotted dog showed extreme guarding behaviour he thought this must be a mistake and moved it to the right yard, and vice versa. At the same time the dogs were breeding vigorously. After several generations the hunting yard on the left was full of spotted dogs and the guarding yard on the right was full of striped dogs. Then you could judge the dog’s behaviour from its appearance. Society does the same with people.

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