Thursday, September 28, 2017

Occam's Laser Hits the Ferguson Effect

Sometimes I wonder if I'm not buying into my own narrative of the world too much. Humans are prone to narratives for a reason. Wisdom and history were passed down for centuries in stories. It's easy to stretch a narrative beyond its limits and see connections where they don't belong or where the connection may exist, but more relevant factors are obscured. Robert Conquest's law is true: Everyone is conservative about what he knows best. Find a wacko leftist and engage them in a discussion about their professional field, and watch the insanity disappear. The most frustrating and scary thing about leftism is how you can engage a leftist in completely honest conversation and find lots of common ground on a topic removed from politics (such as doctors arguing over the best cancer drug to use for a certain class of patients), but they want to send you to reeducation camps when the topics broaden into politics. (The insane (pure?) leftists work in the opposite direction, trying to inject politics into everything.)

Even a very political field such as climate science is ultimately an objective question. There's nothing political about the truth of human influence on the climate, nothing political about measuring it against other goals. Only once we have all of that sorted and decide to act, or not act, does it start to become political. The Left wants to jump the gun because for the Left, everything in life is political. The Left turns school lunches, and even what's in children's bagged lunch from home, into political issues. It is easy to get lost in the Left's insanity.

A bad narrative shoehorns everything into the narrative, rather that accepting limits. It eventually turns into a fairy tale because its failure to predict requires replacing fact for fiction. The worst narratives eventually stop denying reality and reject facts entirely (the Soviet economy).

A good narrative is more like a scientific hypothesis. That's how I approach certain ideas such as the cycle theories of history. Can I make some predictions based on this theory? If yes, predict. Bet. Invest. Put skin in the game and see what happens. The more skin I can put in the game, the more I like the theory. I made a handsome sum in the 2016 election thanks to what could be called narrative or theory convergence. The more theories with similar predictions made from different sources, the better the odds.

Sometimes we can't bet, but we can parse the data. A lot has been made of the Ferguson Effect:
The Ferguson effect is a term referring to what its proponents claim is a causal link to increases in crime rates in a number of major U.S. cities, due to police forces being subject to heightened levels of scrutiny. The term has been criticized by some academics and politicians, including President Barack Obama
This is a bit of a nebulous theory, it involves ideas such as the police not working as hard while on the job. It sounds like the theory that the mortgage meltdown was caused by diversity and pushing for minority home ownership. That was a part of the overall picture, but its not the reason. You can't pull out a chart of home prices or the collapse and pinpoint changes in diversity on the chart.

With the Ferguson Effect, a rise in crime could be related to rising immigration, demographics, changes in sentencing, a whole host of issues. Pinpointing a single cause is close to impossible. Except in this case, it's so precise we are using Occam's Laser.
Sailer writes:
As I point out below, the latest Chicago surge in murders began in January 2016, immediately after or coinciding with four BLM-driven triumphs of liberalism over the Chicago Police Department from late November 2015 to early January 2016.

But Chicago is murky compared to Baltimore, where the current high rate of homicides can be dated to April 27, 2015, the day of the BLM riot over Freddie Gray’s death. This may be the single most clear-cut case in the history of social science.

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