A major problem with professional racialists is their dependence on each other for facts. If a sociologist publishes a bogus study like the ones previously identified, inevitably his/her colleagues will take that study at face value because the result will reinforce their own position. They will in turn cite that study which will be cited by other racialists and so on until a normal unassuming person is convinced at the mere mention of “studies show.” This credulity is the driving force of the myth of an “institutionalized racism” in America. If a study has a certain conclusion, no matter its credibility, it is seen as gospel. For example, Wise writes:
According to readily available survey data, about six in ten whites are willing to admit to believing at least one racist stereotype about blacks to be true: from a belief that blacks are generally less intelligent to beliefs that blacks are naturally more aggressive, lazier, and would rather live on welfare than work for a living.1
Readily available survey data, that must mean its true. On the contrary, the survey Wise is referring to is a national volunteer web based survey. This surveys results were that 58% of whites admit belief in at least 1 negative stereotype about blacks, just like what Wise said. But 66% of whites also believe at least 1 positive stereotype about blacks. Therefore according to this online volunteer survey, whites are more likely to have positive stereotypes of blacks than negative. Naturally Wise leaves that part out. Leaving out contradictory information is not the point though. Lets explore exactly the problems with an online volunteer survey. If those percentages seem high to you (58% and 66%), it is because it is a volunteer survey. Web surveys like this typically get recruits by advertising on web sites. With any volunteer survey, and especially one like this, it will attract a certain kind of person. The kind of people who are interested in taking surveys like this are not going to represent the larger population. Web survey organizations often do test surveys to see how accurate they are compared to other methods, but their tests don’t account for the draw of the subject as the major factor in who takes the survey. The draw is what throws off the results. Asking about racial stereotypes through website advertisements will inevitably attract predominately people with strong feelings one way or the other. That’s why 58% of people holding negative stereotypes of blacks is much too high, as well as 66% of whites that hold positive stereotypes of blacks. Wise relied on absurd survey information for his seemingly factual claim that 6 in 10 Americans are outwardly racist, a claim that has no scientific evidence yet all too many readers of his now believe is true. Lawerence Bobo (a professor of Social Sciences at Harvard University), the author of the study, wanted evidence that whites hold negative stereotypes of blacks, so he conducted a survey that would produce that result. People like Wise are looking for a certain result as well, making their report of the study biased. He would never report that readily available survey data shows that whites are more likely to hold positive views of blacks than negative views.
Notes: 1. Wise, Colorblind Page 78. Originally from Lawrence D. Bobo, “Inequalities That Endure? Racial Ideology, American Politics and the Peculiar Role of the Social Sciences,” in Maria Krysan and Amanda E. Lewis, The Changing Terrain of Race and Ethnicity (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2004), p. 20.