Yes, we are very socially aware at ScienceBlogs.
But I just did something very, very stupid, and I feel terrible about it, so Im going to confess on the internet so hopefully other people dont make this same mistake.
About a week ago, Giant Schnauzer and his owner moved into my apartment building! YAAAAAY!!! Built in play buddy! Everyone has been having a marvelous time (I already have so many stories, involving two humongous grown-up dogs having dueling temper tantrums).
Anyway, as I was taking Arnie out to pee this evening, Giant Schnauzers owner came home. We said hello, Arnie got lovies, and we went about our business. 2 minutes later, a nice lady walked up to me "Hi! Is Giant Schnauzers owner home?"
Me: "Oh yeah! He just went upstairs! The doors open!"
About two hours later I get a knock on my door-- Its Giant Schnauzers owner nicely asking me not to let that 'nice lady' in our apartment building anymore because she is kinda... um... Kwok-ish.
I was mortified.
I was horrified.
I would have NEVER done that if Giant Schnauzers owner was a female and the 'nice lady' was a guy. But I assumed 1) a random 'nice lady' wasnt crazy. Ladies arent crazy!, and 2) a 6'6" black guy could take care of himself. Common! Nice ladies dont carry guns!
I am a goddamn idiot. This is seriously going to keep me awake tonight-- something bad could have happened, because I did something really fucking racist/sexist. And Giant Schnauzers owner was really nice about it, and he didnt have to be. I am making him a ton of homemade dog goodies.
Shit that was stupid.
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Kwok-ish: A reference to John Kwok, who is an old enemy of ERV. She banned him from this blog long ago.
Don't feel too bad, Abbie. I would have done the same as you, regardless of the genders of the people involved. What would have been stupid, even treacherous, would have been you repeating the act AFTER being warned by Giant Schnauzer's owner about the lady.
For fucks sake, no one say his name again. You say it three times and something bad happens...
Um, he is an 'overly enthusiastic' commentor, and though he appears nice, he isnt quite right. The more attention you give him, whether its just to be 'nice' or trying to be mean to get him to back off, the worse it gets.
YOUVE KILLED US ALL!!!
NOOOOOOOOOO000000000000ooooooooo... *runs away*
It could just as easily have gone the other way: you chase the nice lady off and she's his cousin or girlfriend or something. Then you'd be the crazy lady who chases people off.
Kw*k packs a gun?
Well, why not - since he hasn't been able to score a camera yet...
There's no "good" answer here, and you can find equal amounts of fault with every option in that situation. I'd also hesitate to start using the OMGSEXIST thing here, because if someone is 6'6", (and i've known a few women who were that height), you're going to assume they can take care of themselves.
You made an honest, human mistake, because, literally, you didn't know any better. Now you do. go and sin no more.
...I give it oh, three months before you and Giant Schnauzers Owner get engaged :)
I say this because the thought of you blogging as Abbie Smith-Giantschnauzersowner is irresistible.
It may have been sexist, but I don;t think it was all that stupid. The chances of a woman being a threat to a man are fairly slim, especially a man who stands 6'6" (hell the chances of a normal man being a threat to a towering colossus such as that are pretty low). The chances of a Man being a threat to a woman are much higher, and that is just physical dimorphism, we also have behavioral dimorphism too. The Psychologist David M. Buss has done some really interesting work on stalking and rape and I'd suggest that you look into it, I think that his findings strongly support the conclusion that sexual dimorphism is a major factor.
Now post more wicked cool science stuff. I'm not saying post less of this, just more of that. What? You have a life you say? Bah humbug.
A friend of mine, whose brother-in-law went to a rather famous High School with the sister of a former government minister's good mate tells me that you are quite mistaken in your judgement.
Emerson @9 Women can carry weapons. Crazy stalkers often do. Maybe *on average* men are more likely to be crazy stalkers, and *on average* more likely to win fist fights, but real people aren't averages.
I can't honestly claim that I would have acted differently had I been in the same situation. As long as the lesson was learned, you shouldn't beat yourself up over it.
I didn't realise that Kwakkers had his own page on RationalWiki before you linked to it. I LOLed.
+1 internets to you, sir.
I don't think your reaction (telling the woman he was home) was unusual, racist, or sexist at bottom. I think it had more to do with the gut-level "oh, another dog person!" reaction. I've got 3 English Setters. We get waylaid at least twice a week by folks wanting to know what kind of dogs they are (long haired dalmations?)and wanting to pet them. We assume that people who stop and talk to us about our dogs are nice folks, because they recognize and admire the special qualities of our beloved dogs.
It's an awkward position to be in. Ones natural instinct is to be helpful. It's the same as holding open secure doors for strangers and one can get a lot of stick for not doing it. I used to take security at work quite seriously and wouldn't let people "tail-gate" me through doors, which often got me a bit of abuse. (Unemployed now, so not an issue.)
I tend not to give out information on third parties to strangers. It doesn't make those strangers happy, but it seems to be the best option, on balance.
You were polite. Its nothing to be ashamed of. Perhaps politeness wasnt the appropriate reaction in this case but its still an admirable trait.
I dont know much* about your apartment building, but if its anything like the ones Ive lived in, crazy lady had to not only get through the front door, but would then have to get into Mr.Giantschnauzersowner's apt, which would also have a solid security door. Both I and the other residents** of the apartment buildings Ive lived in regularly let others into the building if they acted like they knew someone. And this was in the big bad city***. So dont beat yourself up.
* Or actually anything at all, given that I am not a stalker and live about 2000 miles away from you.
** Which included members of most sexes/genders ****
*** You know, the one with that famous high-school in it.
**** Yes, we had more than two.
There are two kinds of people in the world: those who tell themselves, "Shit! That was stupid!!!!" and those who don't.
Great example why the generalizations, or what they call "on average" in PZ's list, don't give any behavioral guidelines one can actually use.
This is why you need to do what I do: anytime anyone you don't know asks you anything, just avert your eyes and mumble some moderately polite version of "Go fuck yourself," and keep walking.
It's the American way!
Leave a note.
Dear Really Tall Black Guy,
Sorry I let a Looney Lady into your home.
I just assumed, since you are black, that you would make a scary face or shoot her in the bottom.
Here are some dog treats.
Signed White Girl in Apartment #2
And to compound your naughtiness (as you see it, like others say, it ain't nothing really), you assume the the poor guy eats dog treats? Make them for the dog if you want, but most guys prefer a more traditional cookie.
Prometheus, was that meant to be funny? It wasn't! It was racist, though.
"Prometheus, was that meant to be funny? It wasn't! It was racist, though."
I thought it was funny.
Sorry to give offense.
Does your objection presume I am not a tall black guy or not a nice lady?
I showed it to Rick and he thought it was funny. Rick is a nice lady trapped in the body of a tall black guy.
Is Rick racist?
Now I'm confused.
@stripey_cat yes, that is true, we are dealing with real people not averages. However it is also true that it would be impossibly paralyzing to try and make decisions based on person to person facts rather than generalizations. Unless you figure out how to tap into the akashic (sp?) file/field you can't tell if the police officer flashing his lights at you is the real deal or infested with an alien brain slug; sure most police officers are real, but that it just a statistic and these are real flashing red lights we are dealing with.
"it would be impossibly paralyzing to try and make decisions based on person to person facts rather than generalizations"
Isn't that the argument for racial profiling in law enforcement?
Ok is this a Poe? Everyone else seems to think you're serious. Are you being sarcastic about PZ's post or something?
"I would have NEVER done that if Giant Schnauzers owner was a female and the 'nice lady' was a guy" O_o' omg wat why? I'm a guy, does that make me automatically a rapist murderer? I look dangerous because I don't have boobs, is that it?
So what should you have said? "No he isn't at home because what happens if turns out you're crazy and kill him and I told you that he was at home so it's my fault"? That's paranoia.
Neighbor: hey ERV did you tell Random, Totally Normal Looking Person* I wasn't at home?
ERV: Yeah, I thought she might rape you and kill you.
(*It doesn't matter if the person is an old white lady or a tall black guy as long as they look like average people)
You didn't see anything bad about her so you acted the normal way. It would have been the same if the person who asked you had been a normal looking guy of any race. Have you seen Match Point? We act normal with normal looking people. This would've been different.
"I assumed this and that", Nah you didn't have time to assume anything, those are a posteriori rationalizations you're doing now to explain your intuitive, based-on-normal-looking-people reaction.
Jose, she's definitely not a poe. I found ERV because I remember when PZ introduced her when she debuted on scienceblogs.
I think the thing that might have gone down differently was the, "Oh yeah! He just went upstairs! The doors open!"
Because normally, the tenant gets to buzz in who they want, and ignore who they do not. ERV sort of short-circuited that process. Innocently, but there it is.
#24. Yes, it is the argument used but it's not a terribly good one in that case. Although it might be correct that the majority of terrorists are dark skinned, it's only a very, very tiny minority of dark-skinned people who are terrorists.
Also, if you indulge in any sort of obvious profiling you're just giving your targets a simple way of slipping though your net, by picking operatives who don't match.
So you end up mistreating and pissing off a lot of people for no significant gain.
There's nothing wrong with profiling in law enforcement, if it's done properly. The problem is when you have idiots doing "racial profiling", which basically means using only one or two unreliable variables ("OMGZ! Black man! CRIMINAL!") and ignoring everything else.
Even with racial profiling, the problem isn't because "race" is anything special; it's because you end up with innocent people being frequently harassed by law enforcement officers. This is not the same thing having high false-negative rate; the probability of innocents being harassed can be high even when a profiling method has a low false-negative rate. This is basic statistics, but most people get it wrong. (If you don't understand what I'm saying, watch Peter Donnelly's TED talk on how statistics fool juries.)
Here's an example: Imagine you see someone breaking a window and entering into a house at 1AM. What would you do? Most people would investigate (or call the police) even though it might just be the owner who locked himself out.
Cool. What I was referring to in my previous comment has a name: the prosecutor's fallacy.
Rewriting history again. John Kwok was a friend of ERV, and while he was, it was I who correctly characterized him.
Maybe it is a rural/urban thing, but I don't see why erv is upset about this incident. Or possibly I am not only rural, but stupid.