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Michael van der Galien

Confusing Overrepresentation with Domination

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Posted on January 3 2010 10:00 am
Michael van der Galien was born in the Dutch city of Leeuwarden in 1984. For as long as he can remember, he has been obsessed with the United States. When he was 17 years old, he started blogging - of course about America. His articles have been published at Big Hollywood, Pajamas Media, Hot Air (the GreenRoom) and Right Across The Atlantic. He's also an editor for the Dutch conservative blog, De Dagelijkse Standaard.
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An especially pernicious common fallacy is the assumption that if a given group is overrepresented in some field, that must mean that they dominate it, and are using their supposed “domination” to promote the group’s interests. My better half quotes this example described by historian Paul Johnson in his book Modern Times:

Of course underlying and reinforcing the paranoia [of the Nazis about Jews] was the belief that Weimar culture was inspired and controlled by Jews. Indeed, was not the entire regime a Judenrepublik? There was very little basis for this last doxology, resting as it did on the contradictory theories that Jews dominated both Bolshevism and the international capitalist network.

In the 1920s, Jews were indeed overrepresented (relative to their percentage of the general population) among both Bolshevik leaders and international capitalists. At the same time, non-Jews still greatly outnumbered Jews in both groups. A closely related fallacy was the assumption that overrepresentation in a field proved that the Jews involved in it were using it to promote some specifically Jewish interest. In reality, Jewish capitalists tended to behave much like gentile ones, focusing primarily on maximizing their profits. Jewish communists such as Leon Trotsky were brutal totalitarians. But their gentile counterparts, such as Lenin and Stalin, were much the same. There was no real evidence that either Jewish capitalists or Jewish communists were promoting specifically Jewish interests in any systematic way. Indeed, Jewish communists in the USSR actually supported the regime’s suppression of Jewish culture and religion.

Read the whole thing at the Volokh Conspiracy.

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