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Reading Wrongthought Books In Public

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750 words.

How many of you have read wrongthought books in public? Books like Race, Evolution, and Behavior, The Blank Slate, The Nurture Assumption, or any other kind of wrongthought literature? I’ve had two specific run-ins this week reading a wrongthought book in public, both people giving me the expected reaction “Why are you reading that?” I bring a few books with me in my daily travels, one of them being Taboo: Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports and Why We’re Afraid To Talk About It.

I was in the bookstore the other day reading Taboo while drinking some coffee and someone came up to me and said, “Why are you reading that?” I responded, “Because I’m interested in the material, why else why I read it?” The person scowled at me and walked away. I don’t understand why you need to ask dumb questions like that. Clearly, if I’m reading something I find an interest in it. People are clearly scared of acknowledging any kind of racial differences in public—even if they cheer for their favorite sports teams a few times a week, not realizing that they’re cheering on people who have inherent genetic advantages due to their morphology. Ironically enough, the book I was reading was talking about how and why blacks dominate sports. That’s ‘racist’ though, so people don’t want to talk about it specifically in public, but they know the truth unconsciously.

As I wrote the other day, people are scared of talking about things that are “natural” in human populations. Because the admission of one population being inherently better, on average than another would then open the gates to talking about other more uncomfortable things, such as racial differences in intelligence. I bet seeing someone read a book like Taboo in public without having knowledge of population differences is pretty jarring for someone who is not privy to the information. However, as we all know, reality isn’t based on how we wish it to be. These taboo subjects that people are scared to approach don’t go away if they don’t acknowledge them.

I had another run-in the other day while drinking some coffee, reading the same wrongthought book. The person asked me “Why are you reading that in public?” with a surprised look on his face. I laughed and said, “Because I can,” and sipped my coffee. People don’t want their preconceived notions challenged (the notion of ‘equality’ of human races). To see someone reading a wrongthought book in public is heresy, and people will always give you an odd look if you’re reading one in public.

I also saw someone reading Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell the other day and I just had to tell them that Gladwell is wrong in his contention that practicing something for 10,000 hours is something that Gladwell has been rebutted on and continues to perpetuate. People should always know there are two sides to every story, whether they want to hear it or not.

People change their minds through reading. So if people who’ve not been exposed to wrongthought books see others reading them, they may be compelled to look into it themselves. That’s the best part about reading those types of books in public. A person may look into it themselves and change their views. I’ve personally found it much easier to change my views on something when I’ve read it myself in comparison to if I’m debating someone.

There is a cognitive bias known as the ‘backfire effect’, where correcting someone actually increases their misperceptions. Engaging people’s beliefs, in the end, just makes them hold onto them more strongly and has them search for evidence to confirm their beliefs. So by people being exposed to wrongthought books they can see them and look into it for themselves and weigh both sides on their own without the possibility of the backfire effect.

So just by exposing others to the covers of these wrongthought books may have them look into something themselves and, possibly, someone else will accept genetic causes for human differences. If you do read a wrongthought book in public and someone attempts to engage you due to what you’re reading, remember the backfire effect. This is why debating people doesn’t change their views because showing people they are wrong (with scholarly sources) has them hold onto their views more strongly. To avoid this, just read a wrongthought book in public so people can see it and look into it themselves.


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