Dr. Wes is off this week, so enjoy this vintage Dr. Wes column from July 2020.
The U.S. Census Bureau is projecting that for the first time ever, U.S. kids under 16 are mostly either non-white or Hispanic, according to the Associated Press.
Over the whole population, non-Hispanic whites now account for 60% of the population, but the percentage is expected to drop to less than half by 2045, at least.
Immigration is accelerating the change, so white supremacists want to clamp down on immigration. But that’s not enough because the decline in the numbers of non-Hispanic whites is also due to their low birth rate compared to death rate.
White people just aren’t having children like they used to.
I’ve always said that babies are mental parasites. They get into your brains and force you to produce chemicals or juices that make you think they’re super cute and turn you into their slave. Next you know, you’re feeding one end and diapering the other. You should always shield your eyes when a baby is brought to you. They’re invaders from another generation!
Apparently, the average non-Hispanic white person agrees with me. This probably drives white supremacists up the wall. I’m sure it’s very disheartening, to say the least.
Because I am writing this in a Google document, and Google computers peek at everything I write, I can expect in the coming days to get targeted ads for baby food. I can blame mathematicians for this sort of thing. Mathematicians are responsible for coming up with the kind of algorithms Google computers use to decide from my text what to try to sell me. They aren’t as good at it as they’d like to be. No, I would not like some baby food! Go away!
Mathematicians must have been involved in the Census Bureau’s projection that I began with. I believe the projections are obtained by integrating trends across multiple demographic subgroupings, the idea being that the trends in narrower populations are more likely to hold as the count increases.
Mathematicians have been employed lately in telling us how to expect the pandemic to progress given current policies. The methods there include mathematical modeling. The simplest models describe the population by a network with nodes representing people and assumptions of varying degrees of communicability between nearby nodes, assumptions of death rates, recovery rates and wishful thinking about how much immunity results after recoveries.
The latest type of mathematical modeling that’s come to my attention is the modeling of crime for police departments.
I was a dues-paying member of the American Mathematical Society (AMS), until I could no longer afford it, sometime around Reagan’s second term. So, they stopped sending me the newsletters, and I’ve ever since been late to get updates.
It turns out that whole bunches of applied mathematicians have assembled various companies to supply police departments with computer software predicting crime. (For money.) There are different kinds of predictions, based on crime type, reports of crimes, geographical data, times of day, etc. In some cases, the police will see a map of the city with little colored boxes showing where they should concentrate patrols.
Why am I bringing this up now?
Since the murder of George Floyd, a significant number of AMS members are calling for an end to this sort of mercenary work for police departments. They say these kinds of models put a scientific veneer on racial profiling.
The companies doing the work say their models don’t take race into account.
However, they take economic factors into account, which indirectly means race is a factor.
But going beyond that, their software lets the police cover what racial profiling goes on, by letting them say they were just following the suggestions of the model. “The software indicated we should patrol that neighborhood. We never concerned ourselves with the fact that it was a minority neighborhood.” If it sends them to a White neighborhood they don’t have to arrest anyone. “The software isn’t perfect.”
When we say there is systemic racism and systemic inequity in this country, we have to consider systems at all levels of all kinds, including the mathematical systems that try to make sense of crime statistics.
Read more of the Aug. 30-Sept. 5, 2023 issue.