Some Reasons are Off-Limits

This has to do with Marley23’s ruling in the Africa thread.

What the ruling seems to be saying is the mod in question does not want to hear “Africa would be pretty much the same because of Reason X”. (Read the thread to see what X is, as if you needed to.)

For better or worse, ISTM that Reason X has a certain amount of evidence to back it up. I am not saying necessarily that Reason X is definitely established, just that it is possible for a reasonable person to conclude that Reason X has some validity, and might explain the current state of Africa.

Marley23 says in his Warning that discussions of Reason X are “irrelevant” and “a hijack”. I contend that they are neither. If Reason X is true, it is entirely relevant to the discussion.

He also says “The evidence is lacking”. This is also problematic, IMO. GD is a forum in which we discuss creationism, 9/11 conspiracy theories, Obama’s birth certificate, and how the CIA conspired with the Mafia to kill Kennedy.

Reason X, however, is off-limits because “the evidence is lacking”. That’s not reasonable.

Reason X is probably one of the most politically incorrect ideas that can be thought, at least currently. Ruling it off-limits for that reason sets a very bad precedent, IMO.

“True or false, I don’t want to know” is not the attitude that a board purporting to fight ignorance should hold.

I would respectfully request that the Warnings be rescinded.


None of that matters, in my opinion. The mod told them not to discuss a certain topic in that thread. In their zeal to defend themselves, they did what they were told not to do. They took a risk by bringing up the topic again in the thread where they were told not to, and they got in trouble for it.

I also think your “bad precedent” is just a slippery slope fallacy. We can decide that racism is not tolerated here without deciding that any other “politically incorrect” ideology is not allowed. But, if we are going to do so, make it explicit.

I was struck by the same thing. The question was, “Where would Africa be today if white imperialism had not happened?” If one is not of the opinion that white imperialism was a determining factor, or an important factor, having to do with the current state of african countries, when would need to provide a reason for that opinion, no?

Not going to wade through that whole thread, but I do take exception to this comment from Marley:
You’re both getting formal warnings for ignoring my previous instruction, and if you keep doing this in other threads, more warnings are likely to follow.*

(bolding mine)

So Marley has just declared “Reason X” off limits in any forum on this board? For any reason?

Bullshit. Marley, you simply do not have that authority. You are not Ed Zotti, and even he didn’t ban the use of cunt other than as an insult. There is no reason that subject should not be fair game for debate here, and the evidence for and against presented by those having an interest therein. If you don’t like the subject, stay out of the thread–which is pretty much the same advice mods hand out to posters. If you are unable to moderate it fairly, then call in another mod.

The problem is not that certain topics are “off limits” for discussion, but that a discussion on a topic was getting hijacked into one about some people’s pet theory. There is nothing I saw to stop them from opening another thread to discuss ‘African intelligence’.

I don’t think it was a hijack. If Reason X is true, it is entirely relevant to the discussion.


As I said in the other thread - it’s a hijack, because it is a general theory that is always (arguably) relevant to every specific question concerning the topic (african history).

For example, if God exists than his plans for us and the world is always relevant to every historical argument - obviously. Does that mean that every single thread about everything historical “really” could be a thread about the existence of God? That arguing over the god-question, over and over again in all historical threads, is “not a hijack”?

Unfortunately the same few people post Reason X, regardless of the status of the evidence, any time Dopers are discussing Continent Y, and it has the effect of turning every discussion into a debate about Reason X.

Do we have to maintain the euphemism here? Reason X is “black people are less intelligent than other races.” This contention is a constant in threads related to black culture or Africa. It’s generally made by the same few people, which turns all those threads into debates about the same few books and studies. So after the topic was broached yet again in the current thread (which is about what Africa would be like if not for colonialism), I said it was off-limits. I warned two posters for ignoring that instruction. I didn’t say the topic itself is verboten, and it isn’t. I said I’m weary of seeing it raised over and over again as a hijack and in spite of thorough rebuttals from other posters, so if this continues to happen I’m not going to be as patient with it as I have been.

I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree on that, but in any case, that’s not what I said. A fuller quote would make the context clearer:

Adding -

Oakminster, I agree that’s not the way we prefer to moderate here. That’s why I didn’t declare the subject off-limits or try. I said that if it continues to come up in other threads, I’ll deal with that the same way we deal with one-trick ponies. Not every discussion of Africa or black people comes back to the average intelligence of Africans or blacks. That’d be absurd. On the other hand last year we had a thread called People wandering from Africa , affecting IQ? and I don’t think discussions of race and intelligence, however misguided, would be out of place in a thread like that.

I think Reason X is a great deal more directly relevant to the topic of African development than the existence of God.

Although I agree with you, but mostly on the flip side of your hypothetical - it is irritating to have every thread even tangentially related to religion have the obligatory “God is a fairy tale and anyone who believes in it is a murderer and a fool” that we get from the anti-theists hereabouts.

Then my response would be twofold -[ol][li]It is not your job as a mod (with all due respect) to decide what is proven and what is not, and if Reason X is true, then it is relevant to discussions about the status of Continent Y. As I say, that’s not a hijack.[/ol][/li]

It’s up to you. I was hoping that it would be less inflammatory to use the euphemism in hopes of a more general discussion. Namely, are there reasons that may have evidence behind them, but are too politically incorrect to consider?

My position would be No, there are not. We need on these boards to discuss any topic, and let the facts lead us where even they might, without fear or favor.


I thought it was a great ruling. It’d be one thing if they brought it up, and then left it at that. But no, it had to be all about that, and it had to include* outright lies* about the level of development of pre-colonial Africa, and completely irrelevant digs at people’s cultural practices.

We moderate mostly for tone and not for content, but I think it’s fair game to note when posters repeatedly hijack threads with the same contentions in spite of the responses.

[li]if Reason X is true, then it is relevant to discussions about the status of Continent Y. As I say, that’s not a hijack.[/li][/quote]

If you read the thread, you see discussion of recent and ancient African history and the effects of colonialism. That seems to be the gist of the thread topic: what would Africa be like if it hadn’t been colonized by Europe? The argument “Africans are less intelligent” (New Deal Democrat on page 2) is really not relevant.

I disagree, as mentioned. The characteristics of a population are relevant factors in predicting outcomes.

“If it weren’t for sexism, how many women would play in the NFL? And no hijacks on the relative size of women vs. men will be allowed.”



Differences in “racial intelligence” are purely imaginary, though and have no value or validity in a civilized discussion. It’s magical thinking, and particularly noxious and inflammatory strain of magical thinking at that. We’re supposed to be fighting ignorance, not humoring it.

I know you saw this, Shodan, but I think Malthus did a better job explaining the issue (in the Pit thread) than I have:

If the question is ‘how would African history be different if not for colonialism,’ ‘they’re less intelligent than Europeans’ is not an on-point answer.

Do you disagree that the characteristics of a population are relevant factors in predicting outcomes?


I disagree that average innate intelligence is a characteristic that varies among populations. There is certainly no evidence to that effect. “Intelligence” isn’t really even a clearly definable or quantifiable concept.

I was asking Marley23. We don’t need yet another episode of the Dio Show just now, thanks.


I think they can be relevant, and I understand your argument that it’s relevant here. But we’re not predicting an outcome. It’s a discussion of alternate history, and most of the other posts were about the details and effects of colonialism, the state of Africa before and after being colonized, and things like that. The post I mentioned by New Deal Democrat was mostly about the geography of Africa. I don’t think ‘Africans are genetically predisposed to be less intelligent’ is relevant to any of that. I don’t think anyone even explained how that was supposed to impact the development of Africa (absent colonialism) as opposed to Europe.

By the way, I revised the post that contained the two warnings. Obviously my wording “This topic is emphatically off-limits, pro and con” was too vague, so I changed it to emphasize that I was saying it’s off-limits in that thread, as per my instruction from the other day.