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Essentially I was in an argument with a pro black/#BlackLivesMatter proponent, and they asserted that the USA is out to get black people, and that white's are constantly killing blacks.

I countered this with a simple stat, that on average more blacks kill whites than whites kill blacks, and that blacks kill other blacks in larger numbers than whites kill one another according to data gathered from fbi.gov.

Therefore it makes no sense to say that there's some kind of nationwide agenda against blacks if statistically whites aren't even killing them as frequently as they do themselves.

However they simply retorted that the data from such government sources are fabricated to make blacks look bad.

It seems like an unfalsifiable assertion, because if I bring up facts, then they can just say the facts are manufactured. I have no idea how to respond to this.

  • Homicide data does not cover the most obvious case where mostly whites kill mostly blacks, because 'justifiable use of force' by the police is not homicide. So, unless you have numbers the FBI admits it does not have, he is right, the data is itself biased. – user9166 Feb 10 '16 at 23:02
  • At the same time, the conditions that lead to higher homicide rates in given populations are still in some sense killing by those who create those conditions. Lords starting pointless wars in which mostly peons will die on both sides is, in fact, classist killing of commoners by the nobility. – user9166 Feb 10 '16 at 23:04
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There are a few things to note here: You are trying to argue with a person who has rejected empirical data or at least the one you presented. That means either you would have to present new empirical data that the person would accept or you have to look for some kind of shared fundamental premise and go from there. Since you don't have a lifetime to discuss with just this one person, you should try to go for the former.

The first thing you could try is find a peer-reviewed paper in a respected journal that supports your claim (if such a paper exists and if it doesn't, you really shouldn't be making that claim anyways).

My personal anecdotal experience is, that even when you do present such a paper, people who started out with a conspiratory excuse for the first argument will be very unlikely to accept any other empirical source of information. They are cherry-picking their skepticism in such a way that it creates unrealistic goals for the opponent but none for themselves. In such situations it is generally better to not argue with the person. A person who has essentially pre-defined evidence for your position as impossible disqualifies themselves from intellectual discourse.

"It seems like an unfalsifiable assertion"

That's because it is. Ask him/her if he/she has any evidence to support that all of these studies are fabricated or biased and then list a number of independant and if possible peer-reviewed papers.

A last tip that sometimes works: Use an argument analogous to hers and use it to argue for something he/she disagrees with or is evidently factual. That demonstrates that something is wrong with the FORM of her argument.

  • Making a parallel argument using the same logic/evidence as their assertion makes alot of sense. Thanks – Xavier Long Feb 11 '16 at 16:17
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The short answer: You simply can't argue with such a person. If you can't agree on a basic set of premises, then no meaningful argumentation is possible.

Consider the following discussion: A: "The theory of evolution is supported by the fossil record, carbon dating and geological considerations" - B: "Satan planted all that evidence to lead the faithful astray and hide the real truth that the world was created in 6 days by God, sometime around 6000 BC." A & B will never agree on anything. This is a radical example of the fact that everything is theory laden.

The only way to convince such a person would be to prove that another part of their argument is based on the same data. For example, they might site government statistics that minorities are at a disadvantage in the job market or in college admissions compared to whites, at which point you could challenge them on why are government statistics acceptable in some parts of the discussion but not in other parts. You could force them to be consistent in there source of facts. But if they don't have any such inconsistencies, then it is indeed impossible to convince them otherwise.


A note on the #BlackLivesMatter topic: The issue is not whether more whites are killing blacks or more blacks are killing whites in general. Poverty, lack of education, and unemployment are higher among black people, and so it is expected that they would have higher violent crime rates than white people. This happens with just about any minority in a developed country.

The issue is whether law enforcement treats whites and blacks in the same way or not. From this point of view, government statistics clearly show that both law enforcement and the legal system are clearly biased in favor of white people.

Black get worse sentences for the same crimes. Police tend to react violently to black suspects while giving white suspects the benefit of the doubt. Blacks are more likely to get stopped and questioned by police officers, etc.... There is clearly a double standard in this country, and right now #BLackLivesMatter is the only movement addressing the issue. Eric Gardner was strangled and killed for selling loose cigarettes (regular tobacco, not even drugs), while Dylan Roof, who had just murdered 9 people in cold blood, was bought a hamburger by the cops who arrested him. Think about that before you debate #BlackLivesMatter activists the next time.

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