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That is some irony. Anyway, you have already given him more ink than he deserves. His 5 minutes are up. Next!



You write:

"I am perfectly willing to listen to those who quarrel with Ayres' (and my) conclusion that the different prices quoted to black and white men and women are evidence of racism."

This wasn't Ayres' conclusion, though, it was yours. Ayres himself wrote:

"Ancillary evidence suggests that the dealerships' disparate treatment of women and blacks may be caused by dealers' statistical inferences about consumers' reservation prices, but the data do not strongly support any single theory of discrimination."


Sounds like Ayres himself agrees more with Sailer than Gladwell...


How is "black men more often want to be seen as big spenders" a smear and "car salesman routinely engage in unconscious racism" not?

More importantly, who cares? One should only ask what is true, not what is offensive.

You're being disingenuous.
No one is questioning the data; just what it means. There's an obvious conjectural jumping off point here.

You would make any notice or mention of cultural differences among ethnicities a smear, unless of course it supported the standard-issue boilerplate that any social pathology affecting a minority group necessarily results from discrimination, and that all stereotyping results from irrational bigotry.

But there's nothing especially bigoted about the idea that black men are more likely to want to be seen as big spenders in the first place; there are several explanations for why, exactly, this might be. But the reflexive dismissal of it is, frankly, a little repulsive.

What I suspect is really unnerving you here is that if this idea is allowed any breathing room it threatens, in its small way, the conventional wisdom that all ills affecting disadvantaged minorities are the result of white racism.


Dennis beat me to it, but let me pile on. Gladwell writes:

"But to make his case Ayres put together a study involving 242 car dealerships and a carefully selected group of testers. He engaged, in other words, in social science. If you want to dispute his conclusions, it strikes me that it is incumbent on you to prove your case, and present evidence to the contrary. Sailer didn't do that. That's the problem."

This is an irrelevant statement. No one, including Sailer, is disputing that black men are quoted higher prices than white men when purchasing a new car.
The only question is why this is so.

As I pointed out above, the conclusion you present as Ayres' and yours -- the racism explanation -- is more Gladwell's than Ayres'. Ayres leans more towards a Saileresque explanation in the study itself, as I linked to above.


Malcolm, I'm telling you, this never ends. You are *not* dealing with reasonable people. Have a care as these debates are toxic for the soul.

Malcolm Gladwell

In response to Orkney, yes. My position and Ian Ayres's position are not entirely identical. I'm much more inclined to draw on the implicit racism work in understanding the results of his study. He's a little more cautious in his interpretation. But let's be clear. Ayres is quite clearly horrified by what he uncovered, and does not find the behavior of the car salesmen acceptable. Sailer does. And remember that the point of structuring the experiment as Ayres did--with matching professional-upper-income-well-dressed cover stories for both whites and blacks--was to demonstrate the irrationality of holding a group stereotype in the face of individual evidence to the contrary. I suspect that Ayres would be a shocked to hear that he's being lumped with the black-men-are-flsshy-spenders position.


Banning anyone who is being obnoxious is fine, but perhaps you should allow him to leave comments without links back to his blog. That isn't unfair if his comments can provide a coherent and contained argument. I wonder if his eagerness to drum up controversy has something to do with his discovering an uptick in the number of casual or sympathetic readers because of the many links he leaves here.


Gladwell is flailing desperately.

Surely Gladwell knows that he is a mediocre talent, a coward and a liar. If not he surely would not employ such brazen and pathetic tactics in an attempt to avoid open confrontation with Sailer. Gladwell is cynically defending his piece of the journalistic pie like an emperor who knows he has no clothes. I used to think Gladwell was vain but now i see that he has none of the usual journalistic pride regarding his intellectual abilities, in fact he realizes he is deficient and only wants to hide this fact from his public for as long as possible.


besides Sailer is disputing YOUR conclusions about the study, not the study itself -but you surely already know that


So you are criticizing sailer for not spending enough time hand wringing instead of thinking.

Sailer is opposed to libertarianism and he was using this sad fact to point out certain problems with libertarian theory. ie. he thinks it's bad and so do those he is presenting this argument to.

it's sounds like you just disagree with the coarseness of sailer's language, but that his conclusions, if he cloaked them in the sort of mealey mouthed jargon that people use when they are afraid of someone, would not be prima facie false in your eyes.


and what does the fact that ayeres is 'clearly horrified' have to do with social science? It seems that there is no extra science for Sailer to do at this stage, he has only failed to prominently display the requisite emotions.


you really must have no respect for your readers if you think they can't see through your garbled fallacies.


It is good that you have turned the tables on Steve Sailer. He could easily update his blog to allow comments, but he doesn’t. I guess he doesn’t want to endure the same type of BS comments that he leaves on other people’s sites.

You should ban him for being disruptive. He high-jacks threads and attacks you personally.

Steve is a nobody and he knows it. He wants attention. Don’t waste anymore threads addressing him since you will just be giving him what he wants.


If you think it's a good idea to let people comment, that's fine. But what if you should start sifting out those who can't reciprocate the favor? I guess then you would have to shut out a lot of people, because many don't even have a blog. If you allow comments, you should be fair and give to each commenter what he or she deserves. That ought to be appreciation if they present evidence, argue logically and in a factual tone, and a ban if they despite repeated warnings do not.


Couple of comments:

- Lots of blogs don't allow comments, usually because they will then have to moderate, which (as I'm sure you have yourself appriciated) takes time.

- However, if you do allow comments, deleting comments that are not disruptive or trolling is, in my opinion, weak.

- I can think of many things that horrify me far more than car salespeople taking race into account when quoting prices.

Like it or not, race in the United States is not merely a matter of appearance - race is also associated with culture, class, group politics, etc.

Hence, it's not clear why car salesmen should disregard race when they quote prices, especially if we discount altruistic action for the betterment of society - A high standard for anyone, and especially for car salesmen.

- Finally, I was under the impression this debate was primarily about actual social science, not yet another "I am more horrified than you and hence more moral and upstanding" face-off.


I'm afraid that you're embarking on a no-win policy. I will not be the least-bit surprised if Mr. Sailer, in response to any attempt at being silenced, will attempt retribution, either by posting under another alias, [perhaps with references to his blog] or by asking his friends to do so on his behalf.

Another comment: I think -- and I may be wrong -- that you sound conflicted. It sounds like you strongly disagree with this man's statements, and would be put at ease if he were banned, and would also be put at ease if enough people supported you.

My advice: if you are going to choose to ban Mr. Sailer, make it your choice, and not the choice of the general public. Hell, I'm a short-time reader, first-time poster, and how much weight are going to give this post? Anyway make your choice soon: It seems that the more you make this about something, and the repeated number of times you change the rules, the worse it gets. Oh, and stop writing about Mr. Sailer, he's probably loving it.


"Sailer, it turns out, has posted about my challenge on his blogs, urging his supporters to vote on his behalf. Apparently--as is clear from the comments section--they have complied. "

Wow. Who has a big opinion of themselves? No one could possibly disagree with you unless they are doing it in a nefarious way. Are you a writer, or a cult leader?


You're wasting your time with these people. I had experience with the racists over at gene expression years ago. One of them wrote a long post explaining that black-on-black, inner city violence was explained by the simple fact that blacks were genetically programmed to produce more testosterone than whites or asians. You see, they simply couldn't help themselves, and I think I rememeber that Andy Sullivan gave them an approving nod for the effort.

When I pointed out that violence was not a simple function of testosterone levels in the blood and that in fact testosterone is typically at its highest level AFTER the act of violence has been committed (thus it is more of a reinforcement than a trigger), my email was spammed for days with reams of raw genetic data. I told my spammer that I had no realistic way to evaluate this evidence, since I'm not a biologist, and he took that as a surrender and left me alone.

Some of these people are educated and intelligent, and I know that this can be scary. One's impulse is to fight back, to challenge them.

But it is a waste of time. They have decided that accepting the taint of racist thinking is a worthy sacrifice in pursuit of what they see as the truth. You will never convince them otherwise. If you point out that the preponderance of biologist deem their theories garbage, they will call you a liberal creationist and claim that the day draws neigh when they will be proven right.

Ignore them. If someday they come to power, we'll no doubt have to fight them in our underclothes. In the meantime, we can just hope that they encounter a Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event.


On the one hand, Malcom says that one must present evidence in order to disagree with Ayres's study: "If you want to dispute his conclusions, it strikes me that it is incumbent on you to prove your case, and present evidence to the contrary."

On the other hand, Malcom acknowledges dismissively that he disagrees with Ayres's study: "My position and Ian Ayres's position are not entirely identical. I'm much more inclined to draw on the implicit racism work in understanding the results of his study."

Where's the evidence to support your "implicit" interpretation, Malcom?


Let's think about this:

Malcom writes politically-correct pablum that provokes virtually no opposition.

Sailer writes politically-charged scientific material that provokes heated disagreement and obsessive opposition.

Malcom allows comments on his blog because virtually no one disagrees with his positions.

Steve doesn't allow comments on his blog because (presumably) he'd be overwhelmed by irrational hate-filled nutcases.

Steve sometimes posts comments on Malcom's blog, and he appears to be the only participant who refrains from ecstatically endorsing Malcom's every post.

Malcom cannot stand even this minimal opposition, and threatens to ban Steve. First Malcom seeks to cover his cowardice by submitting his decision to a "binding" vote of his mindless followers. Then, when it seems that the vote might be too close for comfort, Malcom changes his mind, and says that Steve can post here only if Steve opens his blog for comments from all and sundry.

Get real, Malcom. Do you really expect anyone, including your own readers, to swallow this ludicrous proposition?

If you have any guts, send Steve an email. I am 100 percent certain he will post it.


Seriously Malcolm, there's no point in talking to these people. The proof is here:


Your best bet is to simply ignore them. There's a saying: "Don't rattle the monkey cages - it only makes them throw shit."



There were some people who disagreed respectfully. There were a large number of others who were not respectful and almost invariably they said that they had come through Mr. Sailer's blog. How does that make Mr. Gladwell think he is a cult leader?


"Where's the evidence to support your "implicit" interpretation, Malcom?"

Perhaps if you read the argument in question (in, say, the book that is being discussed), you would be more qualified to talk about this.

"Malcom writes politically-correct pablum that provokes virtually no opposition."

Yes, it is obvious that he gets no opposition at all. (I mean, no one here is disagreeing) It is also certainly true that saying that Michal Richards is not a racist is "politically-correct" and not controversial at all. Because all "politically-correct" people do is defend people calling for lynchings.

"Steve sometimes posts comments on Malcom's blog, and he appears to be the only participant who refrains from ecstatically endorsing Malcom's every post."

Okay, I'm going to stop, because it's obvious you're not reading what's actually happening. Or maybe you're of white European descent and therefore less capable of thinking than I am.


Over the past couple days, I've watched how your blog has gone back and forth about whether to ban that individual.

I think:

1. Continuing this debate brings attention to him and his own writing. Personally, I did go to his blog to see who he was.

2. Obviously his readers are doing the same if they are commenting on your blog.

3. If you continue to argue about this subject, they will only see you in the 2-dimensional, "I only write about arguing that something is race discrimination" way.

4. The passions inflamed by this are giving you an opportunity. You have such fantastic material and I love your books. If you can write some incredible posts now, you have a chance to get new readers!

Conversely, his attention-getting tactics may not have the same positive affect for him. I did go to his site, but found it to be uninteresting. I won't subscribe.

5. Finally, I'd just advise ignoring that individual. If his comments get offensive, delete them, if he complains about it, ignore him. If he promotes his own blog, ban him like you would any unwanted self-advertising.

The fact is, he doesn't have to read your blog if he doesn't like what it says. He's only doing this for attention and to make you mad. You are likely the only one affected when more hurtful things are said because he's already settled in his beliefs.

So, just move on and give us some more of your wonderful insight on another topic. Some fights aren't worth it and you have so many more important things to talk about.

Looking forward to learning more from you!

different jeff

Man, this is fascinating stuff.
Not the debate about the debate. Rather the kernel that started it.

I wonder how the final price black's pay for new cars compares to whites? Is the final price paid as disparate as the pre-quibble price? (I guess if not, one could attempt to make the case that salesmen quote a higher price because they know they are dealing with more masterful barterers).
I also wonder what the percentage of closed-deals is with blacks and whites: what percentage of each group ends up buying that particular car in that transaction. Does one group shop around more?

This all makes me want to go into work today and quit, then check the want ads for research assistants. Don't know what the wife would make of that.

At first glance, this certainly seems to smack of racism, but it is difficult believing there aren't some economic principles operating here too. It is hard to believe that a commission-driven salesperson would intentionally hurt his own pocketbook.

I would really like to know what prices black salesmen quote black versus white buyers.

If racism is so ingrained that salespeople are willing to lose sales and commissions, or maybe worse, so ingrained they do so without realizing it,...

heck, I don't even know how to end that.

Christopher Horn

The problem with the view that car salesmen quote higher prices to black buyers *due to racism* is that it overlooks the context in which those quotations are made.

Specifically, I am thinking of the "Blood Alley" phenomenon in mine and so many other cities in this fine country. Said differently, if you want to go to the Mazda dealership in these parts, you have to pass the Ford place next door, and the GM one beyond that, and the Chrysler one across the street....

Now, if the salesman in question were acting simply out of racism, that is to say, a dislike of black folks, its hard to imagine that the black customer wouldn't pick up their belongings, head out the door and to the nearby Ford/GM/Mazda/Toyota/etc. dealer selling a comparable car (at a much lower cost).

Dictionary.com notes that racism usually implies that one's race is superior to another's. I don't know if we can conclude that about the car salesman. As others have noted, the car salesman is primarily motivated (as we all are) by putting little green rectangles in his pocket, as such the car salesman should in fact LIKE black customers, as opposed to look down on them.

It might well be that a culture of discrimination against blacks leads them to be more timid customers in a car dealership, which leads to Ayres' result. But I am not sure we should conclude that the car salesman necessarily 'agrees' with the culture, simply because he capitalizes on one of its' outputs.

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