Gnu Talking Point on Fire

There has been another night of rioting in Sweden, causing the police to seek reinforcements. Recall that Gnu activist, Jerry Coyne, uses Sweden as an example of Gnutopia:

“A researcher called Gregory Paul constructed a test of 25 indices that, when combined, give a measure of a country’s societal health. These indices include the proportion of people in the prisons, the abortion rate among adolescent girls, suicides, sexual diseases, alcohol consumption, poverty level and income disparities.

“Paul estimated these parameters for 17 prosperous countries in the Western world and gave each a weighted score of 1-10, with 1 being the most dysfunctional score and 10 the most functional. The United States ranked lowest with 2.9 points, Japan received 6 points and Sweden 7.1.

“Other studies, conducted in regard to 67 countries worldwide, showed a strong positive correlation between the level of income disparities and the degree of religiosity of the country. Here, too, it emerged that a turn to religion, and hence a rejection of evolution, stem, at least in part, from a dysfunctional society. The Scandinavian countries − Finland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden − have the most highly developed social-welfare systems in the world

But if Sweden ranks a “7.1” and has “the most highly developed social-welfare system in the world,” how do we explain these riots?


Such night-after-night violence typically signals there is something deeply wrong with a society. Well, it looks like “researcher” Paul is peddling junk science, as consider some of the skeletons that have been in Sweden’s closet (from the original link above):

Despite Sweden’s reputation for equality, the rioting has exposed a faultline between a well-off majority and a minority, often young people with immigrant backgrounds, who cannot find work, lack education and feel marginalised.

and

One recent government study showed that up to a third of young people aged 16 to 29 in some of the most-deprived areas of Sweden’s big cities neither study nor have a job. The gap between rich and poor in Sweden is growing faster than in any other major nation, according to the OECD, although absolute poverty remains uncommon.

Looks to me like “researcher” Paul’s numbers are relying on unreliable numbers. Which leads me to ask one question: If people are automatically suspicious when a drug company releases data that tell us its drug is so wonderful, why wouldn’t we be likewise as suspicious when a Gnutopian country releases data that tell us how wonderful it is?

For we are left with a situation where one nation, experiencing nightly destructive riots because up to a third of young people aged 16 to 29 in some of the most-deprived areas of Sweden’s big cities neither study nor have a job while the gap between rich and poor in Sweden is growing faster than in any other major nation, gets a “7.1” score from “researcher” Gregory Paul. Doesn’t pass the smell test, does it?

And one also has to wonder if Sweden is a cesspool of closet racism. Consider this report:

Local activists said the shooting sparked anger among youths who claim to have suffered from police brutality. During the first night of rioting, they said police had called them “tramps, monkeys and negroes.”

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2 Responses to Gnu Talking Point on Fire

  1. Bilbo says:

    I’m wondering if there have been recent austerity measures in Sweden that are hitting people hard right now. And when the sh-t hits the fan, everybody smells bad.

  2. kom says:

    “Despite Sweden’s reputation for equality, the rioting has exposed a faultline between a well-off majority and a minority, often young people with immigrant backgrounds, who cannot find work, lack education and feel marginalised.”

    That’s right. But it is not in contradiction with claim that Sweden has developed social-welfare system. Sweden gives money for those marginalised feeling immigrant youngs, who are not even able to speak or write Swedish. Fluent swedish is often a requirement for getting job. However, social-welfare system paid by tax payers is of course open also for them.

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