Automatic translation of the headline on a Japanese article about the Cochran-Hardy-Harpending theory of "The Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence."
June 7, 2005
The star of "Cinderella Man" got himself arrested this week for throwing a telephone at a hotel employee who displeased him. This was not a first offense for the guy who is probably the greatest leading man of the era ("Gladiator," "A Beautiful Mind," and "Master and Commander"). Remember back on New Year's Eve 1999 when everybody was too worried about Y2K glitches and terrorism to party hearty? Well, not old Russell. He gave the last millennium a properly Australian send-off by getting involved in three separate drunk and disorderly incidents with the police.
I've been writing a bit about Crowe lately. From my June 20th cover story in The American Conservative on Hollywood's politics, I noted:
In contrast to Hollywood's leftist politics, which have been in stasis for decades, its increasingly moderate values reflect more recent trends, such as the clean-living fad that emerged in reaction to the Great Hollywood Snowstorm of roughly 1975-1985. As cocaine laid waste to a brilliant generation of filmmakers, the Boy Scout of the bunch, Steven Spielberg (who as a lad had earned more than twice the number of merit badges required to make Eagle Scout), went on to stupendous success. Similarly, the top stars of recent years, such as Tom Cruise, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Harrison Ford, are highly disciplined professionals who can be counted on to establish a harmonious atmosphere on the set and market the product relentlessly in the media. A jerk can make it to the highest rank only if he is as talented as Russell Crowe.
And from my upcoming review of "Cinderella Man" in the July 4th edition of The American Conservative (subscribe here):
That Crowe, a hard-drinking hothead who broke up Meg Ryan's marriage to Dennis Quaid, isn't anything like the saintly boxer James J. Braddock only adds to the power of his impersonation. We admire the high-testosterone man who could play the cad but instead chooses to be the dad more than the low testosterone fellow without that option.
The Washington Post published the following letter from a couple of little goody-two-shoes:
Wrong Term for the Kalahari's People
Craig Timberg's June 3 front-page article, "A Culture Vanishes in Kalahari Dust; Bushmen Elders Resist Relocation in Botswana," was informative and thought-provoking, but unfortunately he used the term "Bushmen" throughout.
We are writing on behalf of our classmates in an international baccalaureate social/cultural anthropology class at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington; we have been studying the peoples of the Kalahari.
According to anthropologists Elizabeth Marshall Thomas and Richard Lee, the term "Bushmen" is pejorative and no longer accepted in the anthropological community. In his 1979 ethnography "The Kung San: Men, Women and Work in a Foraging Society," Mr. Lee wrote that "the term Bushmen has both racist and sexist connotations."
In addition, the Kalahari is inhabited by many different peoples, and they should be called by whatever name they give themselves. For example, this year we studied the specific Kalahari group living on the border of Botswana and Namibia who call themselves the Ju/'hoansi, or "the real people."
Back in 2002, I wrote in "The Name Game:"
Ironically, the movement to change ethnic names to those used by the groups themselves frequently restores these kind of self-glorifying terms. For example, Comanche Indians are now supposed to called the "Numunuu," which means "the people."
The fashion of renaming the Bushmen of Southwestern Africa as the "San" exemplifies many of the problems with the name game. University of Utah anthropologist Henry Harpending [coauthor of "The Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence"] who has lived with the famous tongue-clicking hunter-gatherers said, "In the 1970s the name 'San' spread in Europe and America because it seemed to be politically correct, while 'Bushmen' sounded derogatory and sexist."
Unfortunately, the hunter-gatherers never actually had a collective name for themselves in any of their own languages. "San" was actually the insulting word that the herding Khoi people called the Bushmen. ("Khoi" is the term used by those who were labeled "Hottentots" by the Dutch. As you can probably guess by now, "Khoi" means "the real people.")
Harpending noted, "The problem was that in the Kalahari, 'San' has all the baggage that the 'N-word' has in America. Bushmen kids are graduating from school, reading the academic literature, and are outraged that we call them 'San.'"
"I knew very well," he said, "That one did not call someone a San to his face. I continued to use Bushman, and I was publicly corrected several times by the righteous. It quickly became a badge among Western academics: If you say 'San' and I say 'San,' then we signal each other that we are on the fashionable side, politically. It had nothing to do with respect. I think most politically correct talk follows these dynamics."
In response to my posting below about Fryer and Torelli's study showing that Hispanics lose more same-race friends the higher their GPA than do blacks, a college professor writes:
Your post on educational attitudes among Hispanics and blacks is consistent with my impressions in in the classroom. Apathy towards learning seems widespread among Hispanics. Curious whites are much more common (though not common enough), and among whites and even blacks you have the type of person who is not particularly smart, but who is motivated to play the intellectual. But rarely do I see Hispanics who like to get into a discussion about things--to explore ideas for curiosity's sake, or to project the image of a smart person. As a group, they are a pretty inert bunch. When I see this among black students, it seems like they are simply not getting it; when I see it among Hispanics, they just don't care. I haven't seen them say that someone is trying to be better than them if they act smart, but I have heard this is what you will be told if you excel in school.
The gap between whites and Hispanics in average IQ is only about 65% as large as the gap between whites and blacks, as is the gap between whites and American-born Hispanics on the NAEP achievement test, but Hispanics do worse than blacks on certain measures of quantity of schooling, when their higher average IQs suggest they should be getting more schooling.
Come to think of it, Asians don't seem particularly curious--just very driven and competitive. Similarly, women are also less curious than men. They are better students but are less interested.
That's the same thing you see when looking at who wins the science Nobel Prizes: white guys ask the big, hard questions. Too bad we're the "cancer of history," as Ms. Sontag so felicitously put it.
A reader writes:
The major surprises from the paper were a) that the social cost for blacks in "acting white" [i.e., getting good grades] is much larger in integrated schools, and b) that the social cost for high grades is greatest for... guess who? Private school students of any race.
As for the private schools, a reader urges caution in interpreting the data:
According to the figure on page 47 of the report, the popularity curve for Hispanics and blacks at private schools is pretty flat. Popularity peaks for whites at about a 1.75 GPA and declines significantly to a 4.0 GPA. The curves are very wiggly so I don't think they have a lot of data for private school students.
Another reader responds:
Isn't one obvious reason why blacks and Hispanics with better grades have fewer friends of the same race (or "race" for Hispanics) simply the fact that the ones with better grades are likely to have more white classmates and white friends? Likewise, perhaps low-achieving whites have more black and Hispanic friends. I assume that having more friends of one kind means fewer of another!
Another reader writes:
It would have been interesting to see, for black and Hispanic high achievers, how many white friends each had. In other words, how much all this is basically about students making friends in their academic-achievement class, rather than in their race-ethnic class. I suspect black high achievers have more white friends now than do Hispanic ones, but perhaps I am wrong. And that might not fit all the other ancient axes the Post has to grind.
One also suspects that, in the old days of either pure segregation in the South or ability-tracking in the North, that high-achieving blacks were much more popular and admired by their fellow blacks than they perhaps are today. Blacks could then feel pride in and identify a bit with the most talented of their fellow blacks, while still feeling they shared many of the same experiences. Now, I think the same exceptional levels of achievement among poor-performing minorities are taken as a signal of separation from the main group, which is probably what is happening.
I now see that Fryer and Torelli mention in passing in their confusingly written paper that: "substitution towards other race friendships does not fully explain the stark difference in the popularity – achievement gradient."
In other words, in an integrated school, a smart black kid in the A.P. classes would acquire more white friends, but not as many as he'd lose black friends. This doesn't necessarily mean that black students intentionally penalize black high achievers. They just have less contact with them and less in common with them. So, once again we come back to the brute fact that on average whites are smarter than blacks, and that most other effects hypothesized about the white-black education gap are marginalia.
"Does anyone in America doubt that Kerry has a higher IQ than Bush? I'm sure the candidates' SATs and college transcripts would put Kerry far ahead."
Last October, in my VDARE.com article "This Just In: Kerry's IQ Likely Lower than Bush's!" I showed that Kerry's score on the Officer Qualification Test he took when he joined the Navy was no better and probably slightly worse than the score George W. Bush made when he took the Air Force's equivalent test.
I estimated that on the IQ test-like sections of the military aptitude tests that Bush scored somewhere around the equivalent of a 125 IQ (which is in line with his 1206 SAT score [under the harder pre-1995 scoring system]) while Kerry scored around the equivalent of a 120 IQ. Both IQs are adequate to be President, but not hugely impressive. (For more on Presidential performance and intelligence, see my article "Does IQ Matter in a President?")
When NBC's Tom Brokaw asked Kerry about my study showing him scoring lower than Bush, which John Tierney wrote about in the NYT, Kerry told him, "I must have been drinking the night before I took that military aptitude test.” Today, Michael Kranish reports in the Boston Globe:
During last year's presidential campaign, John F. Kerry was the candidate often portrayed as intellectual and complex, while George W. Bush was the populist who mangled his sentences.
But newly released records show that Bush and Kerry had a virtually identical grade average at Yale University four decades ago.
In 1999, The New Yorker published a transcript indicating that Bush had received a cumulative score of 77 for his first three years at Yale and a roughly similar average under a non-numerical rating system during his senior year.
Kerry, who graduated two years before Bush, got a cumulative 76 for his four years, according to a transcript that Kerry sent to the Navy when he was applying for officer training school. He received four D's in his freshman year out of 10 courses, but improved his average in later years.
The grade transcript, which Kerry has always declined to release, was included in his Navy record. During the campaign the Globe sought Kerry's naval records, but he refused to waive privacy restrictions for the full file. Late last month, Kerry gave the Navy permission to send the documents to the Globe.
Kerry appeared to be responding to critics who suspected that there might be damaging information in the file about his activities in Vietnam. The military and medical records, however, appear identical to what Kerry has already released. This marks the first time Kerry's grades have been publicly reported.
The Globe article comes with an amazing college picture of Kerry, which makes him look like the 1933 heavyweight champ Primo Carnera, a simple-minded acromegalic giant with a pituitary gland problem. (In "Cinderella Man," Carnera is the giant that Max Baer thrashes to win the heavyweight title. I wonder if Kerry had acromegaly, too -- his chin is awfully big.) The Globe must really not want Kerry to run again in 2008.
Real Clear Politics asks:
KERRY'S BIG SECRET?: That wasn't so hard, now was it? The mind simply reels at the possibility that Kerry refused for two years to fully release his Navy records because he didn't want people to know he got slightly lower grades at Yale than Bush. Could the ego on a man really be that big and that fragile?
Considering how disturbed Kerry was by my report on his IQ versus Bush's -- on the air with Brokaw, he laughed it off adeptly, but after the camera was off, he was so bothered by it that he returned to the topic to make the excuse that he must have been out drinking (as Brokaw told Don Imus a few days later) -- the answer may well be: yes, Kerry's ego was wrapped up in being smarter than Bush.
As Chris Suellentrop of Slate wrote in "Kerry vs. His Script: Why can't the man read a simple speech? Declaring war on declarative sentences," the candidate repeatedly insisted on padding out the well-written speeches his staff gave him with meaningless improvisations:
The campaign gives reporters the text of each of Kerry's speeches "as prepared for delivery," apparently to show how much Kerry diverges from them...
Kerry proves incapable of reading simple declarative sentences. He inserts dependent clauses and prepositional phrases until every sentence is a watery mess. Kerry couldn't read a Dick and Jane book to schoolchildren without transforming its sentences into complex run-ons worthy of David Foster Wallace. Kerry's speechwriters routinely insert the line "We can bring back that mighty dream," near the conclusion of his speeches, presumably as an echo of Ted Kennedy's Shrum-penned "the dream will never die" speech from the 1980 Democratic convention. Kerry saps the line of its power. Here's his version from Monday's speech in Tampa: "We can bring back the mighty dream of this country, that's what's at stake in these next two weeks."...
Kerry flubs his punch lines, sprinkles in irrelevant anecdotes, and talks himself into holes that he has trouble improvising his way out of. He steps on his applause lines by uttering them prematurely, and then when they roll up on his TelePrompTer later, he's forced to pirouette and throat-clear until he figures out how not to repeat himself. He piles adjective upon adjective until it's like listening to a speech delivered by Roget.
Kerry's health-care speech Monday in Tampa was a classic of the form. The written text contained a little more than 2,500 words. By the time he was finished, Kerry had spoken nearly 5,300 words—not including his introductory remarks and thank-yous to local politicians—more than doubling the verbiage.
In contrast, Bush seldom let his ego get in the way of competent campaigning. If he didn't think his speeches were good enough the way they were written, he'd get new speechwriters, not try to fix them on the fly himself. (Of course, Bush's standards for Cabinet Secretaries, foreign policy advisers, and other trivial officials are laxer than for the important jobs involved in winning elections.)
Before the last election, I wrote:
In the President's lone losing race, his 1978 run for Congress from West Texas, the victor stressed Bush's two Ivy League degrees. Bush resolved never to allow himself to be outdumbed again. And the Democrats haven't outsmarted him since.
The Kerry IQ-grades fiasco was reminiscent of the terrible knots that liberals tie themselves into over IQ: Liberals tend to believe two things about IQ:
Liberals tend to believe two things about IQ:
|First, that IQ is a meaningless, utterly discredited concept.|
|Second, that liberals are better than conservatives because they have much higher IQs.|
Thus back in May of 2004, hundreds of liberal websites, and even the prestigious Economist magazine, fell for a hoax claiming to show that states that voted for Al Gore in 2000 have higher average IQs—by as much as an incredible 28 points—than states that voted for George W. Bush.
(In reality, no such data exist. But, for what it's worth, Bush and Gore voters were identical in educational level, and the states they won were almost dead even in 8th grade achievement test scores.)
The hoax was revived after the election last November, with sites carrying the bogus table of IQs by state getting tens of millions of visits from Democrats looking for proof of their intellectual superiority. My demolition of the hoax can be found at:
A reader writes:
The only time during last years' campaign when Kerry looked smart was during that first debate. Three years of high school debating [and college debate] and then, 40 years later, practice Presidential debates with a two-minute egg timer made the guy look like a razor-sharp thinker.
Apparently, contrary to initial rumor and obvious impression, Bush's problem in the first debate was not sloth, but overpreparation. He had simply crammed so much into his brain that his untrained speaking style was overloaded. Reagan used to do badly for the same reason, too much preparation for his style.
Among certain educational subcultures in the early 1960s, debating was almost as socially obligatory as playing football. It was probably the most productive thing John Kerry did in his life. It almost won him the Presidency.
How in hell does a country of 300,000,000 come up with two mediocrities like Kerry and Bush as the only choices for President?
The Washington Post reports:
Among white teens, Fryer and Torelli found that better grades equaled greater popularity, with straight-A students having far more same-race friends than those who were B students, who in turn had more friends than C or D students. But among blacks and especially Hispanics who attend public schools with a mix of racial and ethnic groups, that pattern was reversed: The best and brightest academically were significantly less popular than classmates of their race or ethnic group with lower grade point averages.
"For blacks, higher achievement is associated with modestly higher popularity until a grade point average of 3.5 [a B+ average], then the slope turns negative," Fryer and Torelli wrote in a new working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. A black student who's gotten all A's has, on average, 1.5 fewer same-race friends than a straight-A white student. Among Hispanics, there is little change in popularity until a student's average rises above a C+, at which point it plummets. A Hispanic student with all A's is the least popular of all Hispanic students, and has three fewer friends than a typical white student with a 4.0 grade point average.
Fryer and Torelli based their conclusions on a federally funded survey of 90,118 junior high and high school students in 175 schools in 80 communities nationwide during the 1994-95 school year. The resulting data set contained a wealth of information on each student, including the number of friends they had and who those friends were. To prevent an inflated tally, the researchers counted students as friends only if each listed the other as a friend.
This supports what I've been saying for some time: that Hispanics have a worse attitudinal problem toward education than do blacks. Contrary to the claims of John McWhorter, African-American culture isn't particularly anti-intellectual or anti-education ... at least relative to the average black IQ of 85. Considering that only about 1 out of 6 African-Americans has a three digit IQ, blacks spend quite a few years in school and a surprising fraction at least attempt college.
In general, blacks may suffer from inflated expectations about education: the Yale or jail syndrome. How many times have you seen interviews with poor ghetto children who announce they are going to be a doctor or a lawyer? When it eventually dawns on them that no way no how are they ever going to be doctors or lawyers, too many decide that then they might as well deal drugs.
The average Hispanic IQ is somewhere around 91, but Hispanics don't average more schooling than blacks. In some ways, this is healthy: Hispanics with two digit IQs are more likely to go get a job than waste time at a community college. Still, it reflect an anti-educational bias in Hispanic culture that keeps down many Hispanics who do have the brains to make use of education.
Looking at the actual report by Fryer and Torelli, the peer pressure effect doesn't seem terribly huge:
Put differently, evaluated at the sample mean, a one standard deviation increase in grades is associated with roughly a .103 standard deviation decrease in social status for Blacks and a .171 standard deviation decrease for Hispanics. For students with a 3.5 grade point average or better, the effect triples.
So, for blacks, if their grades go up by a standard deviation, their social status falls by one tenth as much. Is that the cause of their low grades? Perhaps to some extent. It might well be an explanation for why blacks get even worse grades on average than their standardized test scores would predict. But how big is the impact of peer pressure against "acting white" relative to the brute factor of lower average IQ? And would blacks consider getting good grades to be "acting white" if blacks had the same average IQ as whites? Occam's Razor keeps bringing us back to recognizing IQ as the 800 pound gorilla of the racial education gap.
As you might expect, Fryer and Torelli don't mention IQ. Nor do they mention Asians.
Slim or none?
Every year the liberal MacArthur Foundation gives out a half million dollars each to a couple of dozen "geniuses." You might think that Cochran would epitomize the kind of genius that some wealthy foundation would like to support: the ornery independent-minded thinker with a long track record of original insights, but you'd be wrong. The philanthropic establishment likes to reward people who are well-connected, not people who come up with new and important ideas.
I've never seen it confirmed, but it strikes me as pretty obvious that the TV franchise "Law & Order," which debuted in 1990, was heavily influenced by Tom Wolfe's 1987 bestselling novel Bonfire of the Vanities. Wolfe's novel is about NYC detectives and prosecutors, bored and depressed by arresting and convicting countless poor minorities, hunting down for fun and political profit The Great White Defendant, rich white guy Sherman McCoy. "Law & Order" is the irony-free version of Bonfire, with the first half hour consisting of detectives arresting a rich white person and the second half hour consisting of the prosecutors torturing the law to come up with some absurd justification for charging the defendant with homicide. This formula has made L&O perhaps the biggest franchise in television history.
A reader writes
It might be an interesting factoid for an article that there are more white murderers plotted on Law & Order (all editions) than there are actual white murderers in New York City.
There were 572 murders in New York City last year. We know that only 10% of violent crimes in NYC were committed by non-Hispanic whites, so if the same is true for homicides in particular, that's 57 white murders. There are three "Law and Orders," I think, with about 25 episodes per season with, say, 80% being white. That's 60 white New York murderers on one set of shows compared to about 57 in all of the real world New York.
Anyway, I bet it's close.
June 6, 2005
By NICHOLAS WADE
A team of scientists at the University of Utah has proposed that the unusual pattern of genetic diseases seen among Jews of central or northern European origin, or Ashkenazim, is the result of natural selection for enhanced intellectual ability.
The selective force was the restriction of Ashkenazim in medieval Europe to occupations that required more than usual mental agility, the researchers say in a paper that has been accepted by the Journal of Biosocial Science, published by Cambridge University Press in England. ["The Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence"]
The hypothesis advanced by the Utah researchers has drawn a mixed reaction among scientists, some of whom dismissed it as extremely implausible, while others said they had made an interesting case, although one liable to raise many hackles.
"It would be hard to overstate how politically incorrect this paper is," said Steven Pinker, a cognitive scientist at Harvard, noting that it argues for an inherited difference in intelligence between groups. Still, he said, "it's certainly a thorough and well-argued paper, not one that can easily be dismissed outright."
"Absolutely anything in human biology that is interesting is going to be controversial," said one of the report's authors, Dr. Henry Harpending, an anthropologist and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.
He and two colleagues at the University of Utah, Gregory Cochran and Jason Hardy, see the pattern of genetic disease among the Ashkenazi Jewish population as reminiscent of blood disorders like sickle cell anemia that occur in populations exposed to malaria, a disease that is only 5,000 years old.
In both cases, the Utah researchers argue, evolution has had to counter a sudden threat by favoring any mutation that protected against it, whatever the side effects. Ashkenazic diseases like Tay-Sachs, they say, are a side effect of genes that promote intelligence.
The explanation that the Ashkenazic disease genes must have some hidden value has long been accepted by other researchers, but no one could find a convincing infectious disease or other threat to which the Ashkenazic genetic ailments might confer protection.
A second suggestion, wrote Dr. Jared Diamond of the University of California, Los Angeles, in a 1994 article, "is selection in Jews for the intelligence putatively required to survive recurrent persecution, and also to make a living by commerce, because Jews were barred from the agricultural jobs available to the non-Jewish population."
The Utah researchers have built on this idea, arguing that for some 900 years Jews in Europe were restricted to managerial occupations, which were intellectually demanding, that those who were more successful also left more offspring, and that there was time in this period for the intelligence of the Ashkenazi population as a whole to become appreciably enhanced.
But the Utah researchers' analysis comes at a time when some geneticists have suggested natural selection is not the reason for the Ashkenazic diseases after all. Two years ago, Dr. Neil Risch, a geneticist now at the University of California, San Francisco, proposed a different genetic mechanism known as a founder effect, which occurs when a population is reduced for a time.
He found that all the Ashkenazic diseases had similar properties, including having arisen within the last 1,100 years. Therefore they had all arisen through the same cause, he argued, which must be founder effects, because it was unlikely that all could be due to natural selection. Last year, Dr. Montgomery Slatkin of the University of California, Berkeley, came to much the same conclusion for different reasons.
The Utah team agrees with Dr. Risch that the diseases all arose in historical times from the same cause but say natural selection is more likely because none of the non-disease Ashkenazic genes they tested showed any sign of a founder effect. They say the clustering of four of the diseases in the same biochemical pathway could only have arisen under the influence of natural selection, and calculate that the odds of a founder effect producing such a cluster are vanishingly low.
The four diseases, all of which are caused by mutations that affect the cell's management of chemicals known as sphingolipids, are Tay-Sachs, Niemann-Pick, Gaucher, and mucolipidosis type IV. A second cluster of diseases affects repair of DNA.
Turning to the possibility that some infection was the cause of the selective effect, the Utah researchers noted that Ashkenazim and Europeans lived together in the same cities and were exposed to the same microbes. If disease were the agent of selection, the Utah team argues, the European population would have developed a similar genetic response.
Ashkenazi Jews occupied a different social niche from their European hosts, and that is where any selective effect must have operated, the Utah researchers say. From A.D. 800, when the Ashkenazi presence in Europe is first recorded, to about 1700, Ashkenazi Jews held a restricted range of occupations, which required considerable intellectual acumen. In France, most were moneylenders by A.D. 1100. Expelled from France in 1394, and from parts of Germany in the 15th century, they moved eastward and were employed by Polish rulers first as moneylenders and then as agents who paid a large tax to a noble and then tried to collect the amount, at a profit, from the peasantry. After 1700, the occupational restrictions on Jews were eased.
As to how the disease mutations might affect intelligence, the Utah researchers cite evidence that the sphingolipid disorders promote the growth and interconnection of brain cells. Mutations in the DNA repair genes, involved in second cluster of Ashkenazic diseases, may also unleash growth of neurons.
In describing what they see as the result of the Ashkenazic mutations, the researchers cite the fact that Ashkenazi Jews make up 3 percent of the American population but won 27 percent of its Nobel prizes, and account for more than half of world chess champions. They say that the reason for this unusual record may be that differences in Ashkenazic and northern European I.Q. are not large at the average, where most people fall, but become more noticeable at the extremes; for people with an I.Q. over 140, the proportion is 4 per 1,000 among northern Europeans but 23 per 1,000 with Ashkenazim.
The Utah researchers describe their proposal as a hypothesis. Unlike many speculations, it makes a testable prediction: that people who carry one of the sphingolipid or other Ashkenazic disease mutations should do better than average on I.Q. tests.
The researchers have identified two reasonably well accepted issues, the puzzling pattern of diseases inherited by the Ashkenazi population and the population's general intellectual achievement. But in trying to draw a link between them they have crossed some fiercely disputed academic territories, including whether I.Q. scores are a true measure of intelligence and the extent to which intelligence can be inherited.
The authors "make pretty much all of the classic mistakes in interpreting heritability," said Dr. Andrew Clark, a population geneticist at Cornell University, and the argument that the sphingolipid gene variants are associated with intelligence, he said, is "far-fetched."
In addition, the genetic issue of natural selection versus founder effects is far from settled. Dr. Risch, whose research supports founder effects, said he was not persuaded by the Utah team's arguments. Dr. David Goldstein, a geneticist at Duke University who was not connected with either Dr. Risch's or the Utah study, was more open on the issue, saying Dr. Risch had made "quite a strong case" that founder effects could be the cause, but had not ruled out the possibility of selection.
Dr. Slatkin, though favoring a founder effect over all, said he agreed with the Utah team that this would not account for the cluster of sphingolipid diseases.
As for the Utah researchers' interpretation of Jewish medieval history, Paul Rose, professor of Jewish studies at Pennsylvania State University, said, "I think that some of their conclusions may be right though they still need a lot of work to be persuasive to historians and others."
Dr. Gregory Cochran, the first author on the Utah team's paper and a physicist who took up biology, said he became interested in the subject upon learning that patients with a particular Ashkenazic disease known as torsion dystonia were told by their physicians that "the positive thing is that this makes you smart."
"When you're in a hurry and have strong selection, you have a lot of genes with bad side effects," he said. The Ashkenazi Jewish population seemed to fit this pattern, he said, since they married only inside the community, making selection possible, and they had an urgent need for greater intelligence. Evolution had therefore selected every possible mutation that worked in this direction, despite their harmful side effects when inherited from both parents. "In a sense, I consider this a very boring paper since it raises no new principles of genetics," Dr. Cochran said.
It is 41 years now since zoologist William D. Hamilton worked out the evolutionary mathematics of kin altruism, demonstrating that even behavior that seems to belong to the moral and educational superstructure of human nature can be explained by natural selection. Sociobiology was on the march.
That march did not, of course, go unopposed. The political Left was outraged at the suggestion that our nature might have something to do with our biology, and therefore might not be infinitely malleable. Could there, then, be no “New Soviet Man”? No withering away of all behavioral sex differences? No elimination of all preference for one’s own kin or ethny over those more distantly related? Perish the thought! The Left rallied under charismatic generals like the late Stephen Jay Gould, and battle was joined.
The current state of the conflict is a sort of wary stalemate. The Left has conceded that the fundamental science behind sociobiology is indisputable, so that unyielding all-points opposition in the style of Gould is no longer tenable. Accredited human-science professionals John Tooby and Leda Cosmides have worked up “evolutionary psychology,” a low-tar version of sociobiology omitting all those elements that are obnoxious to the egalitarian Left, so even the most politically correct human scientist can now utter phrases like “assortative mating” and “parental investment” without blushing. In any case, the Left still firmly controls the Humanities, and thereby the commanding heights of Academia. This, they feel, gives them police power over how much may be said aloud about the biological roots of human behavior. It also gives them the right to punish those who say too much — people like the hapless Larry Summers.
This carefully policed armistice is the context in which Madame Bovary’s Ovaries should be read. David Barash is a professor of psychology at the University of Washington in Seattle; Nanelle Barash is his daughter, an undergraduate studying literature and biology at Swarthmore. In this collaborative effort, father and daughter take us through some well-known works of world literature to point out the basic facts of biology that underlie their stories. The general drift of the book is illustrated by the opening sentences of a paragraph in Chapter 5 (“The Biology of Adultery”): “It isn’t just Emma Bovary who is especially likely to be unfaithful when her mate has suffered a decline in status. A recent study of black-capped chickadees, for instance, found that . . .”
... It’s fun, in a mild way, but somewhat wearying to read at book length...
The authors’ real problem here is that they are trespassing very close to the boundaries of what may be written about for the general public. Of injunctions like the Golden Rule, they say: “They are especially important since . . . when those others are truly ‘other’ — that is, unrelated — there is a powerful yet subtle pressure to behave more selfishly.” But perhaps our awareness of kinship does not end with our actual known kin, but extends to . . . people who . . . look . . . like ourselves? Eeeek! Here you see the difficulties of explaining a theory when parts of it have been fenced off as unsuitable for public display. [More]
Henry Harpending comments:
"[As for] the implications of our model for eugenics, yes, big time, eugenics is IMHO a route to disaster. Well understood engineered gene introductions could be fine but eugenics would be almost certain to bring all kinds of nightmares."
He's referring to the tendency seen among domesticated animals for breeding for any particular positive trait to accidentally introduce negative traits as well. Temple Grandin's recent book lists lots of problems that have crept in by too much artificial selection for single traits. For instance, recent efforts to make chickens more meaty turned a fraction of roosters into sex murderers. Some of the roosters forgot how to do the little dance that gets hens into the mood, so they just use force and end up killing hens a noticeable fraction of the time. The distorted genes for that spread slowly enough that farmers seldom noticed that anything was going wrong. By the time Grandin (whose specialties are cows and pigs) heard about it, farmers would say, "Oh, it's just natural for roosters to kill hens. All just part of Nature's rich tapestry." Of course, it's not. Natural selection would have gotten rid of genes for that a long time ago. It's artificial selection that allows disastrous genes to survive.
Jonah Goldberg writes on NRO's Corner:
I just got around to reading this fascinating New York Times article about a possible link between some genetic diseases among Ashkenazic Jews and higher intelligence... Here's my quibble, and I'm sure people who know more have an answer. But, the percentage of Jews in medieval moneylending alone has to be a very small number out of the total demographic pie. I mean most medieval Jews were in agriculture (or at least I'm pretty sure they were). Most of the Ashkenazi Jews I know are descended from the Shtetl not from long lines of bankers. It seems farfetched to me to imagine that this small stratum of financiers could be responsible for the widespread genetic effects described in the article.
An awful lot of Americans' knowledge of Eastern European Jews comes from that musical about an early 20th century milkman. It's one of my favorite movies, but it doesn't pretend to be a reliable guide to the status of medieval Jews.
No, less than 5% of Ashkenazis were in agriculture. Back in medieval times, most Ashkenazis were in relatively high-end jobs in finance, tax-farming, estate management, and the like. Then, there was a huge Jewish population boom in the last few centuries, so in the 18th and 19th centuries, lots of Jews dropped down to the skilled crafts and many became poor (cue "If I Were a Rich Man"), but very few became farmers.
This is different from most other middle man minorities. For example, Armenians have filled a lot of the same occupational slots (in Hollywood, there are quite a few Armenian agents and producers), but even in America, many Armenians are farmers (typically, fruit and nut growers in California's Central Valley).
The larger point is that post-Biblical Jewish history remains terra incognita for most people, including most Jews (in case you are wondering, I believe Jonah's father is Jewish and his mother, Lucianne Goldberg, is Irish), since writing about it in any fashion other than the most sentimental is apt to get you denounced as trafficking in stereotypes.
Update: Randall Parker has much additional information on the Cochran-Harpending theory at FuturePundit.
New VDARE column: "Genes. Disease, and IQ" --
Ashkenazi levels of real world accomplishment are also impressive and thus support the IQ studies. Jewish Americans make up no more than three percent of the U.S. adult population. But in the 1995 book Jews and the New American Scene, the prominent social scientist Seymour Martin Lipset, a Senior Scholar of the Wilstein Institute for Jewish Policy Studies, and Earl Raab, Director of the Perlmutter Institute for Jewish Advocacy at Brandeis University, pointed out:
"During the last three decades, Jews have made up 50% of the top two hundred intellectuals, 40 percent of American Nobel Prize Winners in science and economics, 20 percent of professors at the leading universities, 21 percent of high level civil servants, 40 percent of partners in the leading law firms in New York and Washington, 26% of the reporters, editors, and executives of the major print and broadcast media, 59 percent of the directors, writers, and producers of the fifty top-grossing motion pictures from 1965 to 1982, and 58 percent of directors, writers, and producers in two or more primetime television series." [pp. 26-27]
Interestingly, the Ashkenazi cognitive advantage seems to be mostly in verbal and numeric, rather than visual, skills. For example, in Hollywood, fewer top cinematographers are Jewish than are leading screenwriters or agents.
Ashkenazi intelligence is one of those facts that are obvious, important, and interesting, yet, is largely unmentionable in polite society… at least until this week.
The Cochran-Harpending theory may turn out to justify the audacity of The Economist and the NYT in breaking this taboo. If validated, it would prove a landmark in the fields of medicine, population genetics, IQ research, and even history...
The Cochran-Harpending-Hardy paper offers a fairly new but crucial perspective on the old nature and nurture question. The researchers have demonstrated that it's quite possible for nurture to change nature. Culture can drive heredity. Economics and social customs alter gene frequencies...
I can attest that, although a physicist by education and the leading theorist of evolutionary medicine by avocation, Cochran also has memorized almost the entire political and military history of the human race. (Here's an amusing piece by him in The American Conservative showing the similarities between Bush's Iraq adventure and Napoleon's invasion of Spain.)
When I'm reviewing a historical film such as Master and Commander or Hero and I need to pretend to actually know something about the Age of Nelson or China's Warring States era, a call to Cochran will not only fill me in on what happened, but, more importantly, why it happened.
All the evidence isn't in yet. But it could be that Cochran and Harpending have opened the door to explaining why some of history's most important developments happened—and that, finally, the political culture is beginning to listen. [More]
June 2, 2005
Here is the PDF of the big paper "The Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence" by Gregory Cochran, Jason Hardy, and Henry Harpending.
The New York Times should run their story on it Friday morning. And here is The Economist on the Cochran-Harpending-Hardy theory of the evolution of the high average IQ of Ashkenazi Jews:
The evolution of intelligence
Jun 2nd 2005, From The Economist print edition
The high intelligence of Ashkenazi Jews may be a result of their persecuted past
THE idea that some ethnic groups may, on average, be more intelligent than others is one of those hypotheses that dare not speak its name. But Gregory Cochran, a noted scientific iconoclast, is prepared to say it anyway. He is that rare bird, a scientist who works independently of any institution. He helped popularise the idea that some diseases not previously thought to have a bacterial cause were actually infections, which ruffled many scientific feathers when it was first suggested. And more controversially still, he has suggested that homosexuality is caused by an infection.
Even he, however, might tremble at the thought of what he is about to do. Together with Jason Hardy and Henry Harpending, of the University of Utah, he is publishing, in a forthcoming edition of the Journal of Biosocial Science, a paper which not only suggests that one group of humanity is more intelligent than the others, but explains the process that has brought this about. The group in question are Ashkenazi Jews. The process is natural selection.
Ashkenazim generally do well in IQ tests, scoring 12-15 points above the mean value of 100, and have contributed disproportionately to the intellectual and cultural life of the West, as the careers of Freud, Einstein and Mahler, pictured above, affirm. They also suffer more often than most people from a number of nasty genetic diseases, such as Tay-Sachs and breast cancer. These facts, however, have previously been thought unrelated. The former has been put down to social effects, such as a strong tradition of valuing education. The latter was seen as a consequence of genetic isolation. Even now, Ashkenazim tend to marry among themselves. In the past they did so almost exclusively.
Dr Cochran, however, suspects that the intelligence and the diseases are intimately linked. His argument is that the unusual history of the Ashkenazim has subjected them to unique evolutionary pressures that have resulted in this paradoxical state of affairs.
Ashkenazi history begins with the Jewish rebellion against Roman rule in the first century AD. When this was crushed, Jewish refugees fled in all directions. The descendants of those who fled to Europe became known as Ashkenazim.
In the Middle Ages, European Jews were subjected to legal discrimination, one effect of which was to drive them into money-related professions such as banking and tax farming which were often disdained by, or forbidden to, Christians. This, along with the low level of intermarriage with their gentile neighbours (which modern genetic analysis confirms was the case), is Dr Cochran's starting point.
He argues that the professions occupied by European Jews were all ones that put a premium on intelligence. Of course, it is hard to prove that this intelligence premium existed in the Middle Ages, but it is certainly true that it exists in the modern versions of those occupations. Several studies have shown that intelligence, as measured by IQ tests, is highly correlated with income in jobs such as banking.
What can, however, be shown from the historical records is that European Jews at the top of their professions in the Middle Ages raised more children to adulthood than those at the bottom. Of course, that was true of successful gentiles as well. But in the Middle Ages, success in Christian society tended to be violently aristocratic (warfare and land), rather than peacefully meritocratic (banking and trade).
Put these two things together—a correlation of intelligence and success, and a correlation of success and fecundity—and you have circumstances that favour the spread of genes that enhance intelligence. The questions are, do such genes exist, and what are they if they do? Dr Cochran thinks they do exist, and that they are exactly the genes that cause the inherited diseases which afflict Ashkenazi society.
That small, reproductively isolated groups of people are susceptible to genetic disease is well known. Constant mating with even distant relatives reduces genetic diversity, and some disease genes will thus, randomly, become more common. But the very randomness of this process means there should be no discernible pattern about which disease genes increase in frequency. In the case of Ashkenazim, Dr Cochran argues, this is not the case. Most of the dozen or so disease genes that are common in them belong to one of two types: they are involved either in the storage in nerve cells of special fats called sphingolipids, which form part of the insulating outer sheaths that allow nerve cells to transmit electrical signals, or in DNA repair. The former genes cause neurological diseases, such as Tay-Sachs, Gaucher's and Niemann-Pick. The latter cause cancer.
That does not look random. And what is even less random is that in several cases the genes for particular diseases come in different varieties, each the result of an independent original mutation. This really does suggest the mutated genes are being preserved by natural selection. But it does not answer the question of how evolution can favour genetic diseases. However, in certain circumstances, evolution can.
West Africans, and people of West African descent, are susceptible to a disease called sickle-cell anaemia that is virtually unknown elsewhere. The anaemia develops in those whose red blood cells contain a particular type of haemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen. But the disease occurs only in those who have two copies of the gene for the disease-causing haemoglobin (one copy from each parent). Those who have only one copy have no symptoms. They are, however, protected against malaria, one of the biggest killers in that part of the world. Thus, the theory goes, the pressure to keep the sickle-cell gene in the population because of its malaria-protective effects balances the pressure to drive it out because of its anaemia-causing effects. It therefore persists without becoming ubiquitous.
Dr Cochran argues that something similar happened to the Ashkenazim. Genes that promote intelligence in an individual when present as a single copy create disease when present as a double copy. His thesis is not as strong as the sickle-cell/malaria theory, because he has not proved that any of his disease genes do actually affect intelligence. But the area of operation of some of them suggests that they might.
The sphingolipid-storage diseases, Tay-Sachs, Gaucher's and Niemann-Pick, all involve extra growth and branching of the protuberances that connect nerve cells together. Too much of this (as caused in those with double copies) is clearly pathological. But it may be that those with single copies experience a more limited, but still enhanced, protuberance growth. That would yield better linkage between brain cells, and might thus lead to increased intelligence. Indeed, in the case of Gaucher's disease, the only one of the three in which people routinely live to adulthood, there is evidence that those with full symptoms are more intelligent than the average. An Israeli clinic devoted to treating people with Gaucher's has vastly more engineers, scientists, accountants and lawyers on its books than would be expected by chance.
Why a failure of the DNA-repair system should boost intelligence is unclear—and is, perhaps, the weakest part of the thesis, although evidence is emerging that one of the genes in question is involved in regulating the early growth of the brain. But the thesis also has a strong point: it makes a clear and testable prediction. This is that people with a single copy of the gene for Tay-Sachs, or that for Gaucher's, or that for Niemann-Pick should be more intelligent than average. Dr Cochran and his colleagues predict they will be so by about five IQ points. If that turns out to be the case, it will strengthen the idea that, albeit unwillingly, Ashkenazi Jews have been part of an accidental experiment in eugenics. It has brought them some advantages. But, like the deliberate eugenics experiments of the 20th century, it has also exacted a terrible price [Link to Economist article]
Clearly, this theory has enormous implications for understanding diseases, population genetics, the genetics of intelligence, history, business, and intellectual life.
A few comments:
One small study showed that sufferers of torsion dystonia, an Ashkenazi hereditary disease, average an IQ of 122 compared to 112 for other Ashkenazis.
Contrary to this Economist article, Cochran et al are hardly the first to suggest an evolutionary cause for higher IQs among Ashkenazi. Their theory however is much more quantitative and closely specified. Most of this speculation in the past has focused on two somewhat different theories.
Norbert Weiner, the founder of cybernetics, pointed out in his autobiography that he was the offspring of a very long line of rabbis. Weiner suggested that the traditional Ashkenazi system where a marriage would be arranged between the smartest boy in the community's rabbinical school and the daughter of the richest merchant so that the young scholar could afford to raise a large family would have the impact of spreading the genes for high IQ. (This is often contrasted with Francis Galton's theory that rules requiring, or at least demanding, celibacy among Catholic clerics, who were likewise often recruited from among the smartest Catholic boys, would tend to lower IQs among gentiles.)
Cochran's view is that, while the effect would be in the right direction, the number of rabbis was simply too few relative to the number of bankers, merchants, and estate-managers to have a sizable effect. Nonetheless, I think Weiner's hypothesis should be investigated further. The profile of Jewish intelligence isn't just for great skill at business, but also at less immediately practical areas of intellectual speculation and argumentation. There are other groups that show lots of business skills, such as Armenians and the Overseas Chinese, without producing anywhere near as many intellectuals. This latter could simply be a cultural trait, but I don't consider Weiner's theory completely disproven.
Another evolutionary theory is called "winnowing-through-persecution" and has been argued by historian Irvin A. Agus. This seems to have two components: the first is that smart tended to survive various persecutions better than the dumb and the second is that the less intelligent tended to convert to Christianity. Cochran's readings in Jewish medieval history suggest than in central and eastern Europe, conversions from Judaism to Christianity by anybody, rich or poor, were extremely rare. In the 19th Century, however, it's clear that conversions to Christianity were more common among the Jewish elite: converts included Marx, Disraeli, Heine, and Felix Mendelssohn.
What is solidly grounded is this: although you'll hear a lot of bloviating about how Felt was a hero for resisting the "politicization" of the FBI under Nixon, keep in mind that Kennedy and Johnson also wanted to bring the FBI under control of elected officials, but their personal corruption meant they couldn't act against J. Edgar Hoover, who had plenty on them in his files to bring them down. After Hoover died, Nixon got up the courage to appoint someone from outside Hoover's coterie as the new Director of the FBI. But Felt, who had been Hoover's #2 and was passed over for the top job, quickly got his revenge on Nixon.
Ever since Oliver Stone's 1991 movie "JFK," conspiracy theories have been deeply out of fashion among respectable people. Yet, some fraction of history actually does consist of covert conspiracies, although the conspiracy theories that become popular (Hoover killed Kennedy) are generally less accurate than the ones that nobody cares about (Hoover's heir helped bring down Nixon). Back in early 2001, I made up a list of conspiracy theories that turned out to be, more or less, true.
The National Security State naturally generates conspiracies, and the run-up to the Iraq War will probably go down as the most fertile generator of conspiracies in American history.
Mark Felt, who helped bring down Nixon over the Watergate break-in, was himself convicted in 1980 of instigating illegal break-ins of suspected Weathermen terrorists (he was later pardoned by Reagan).
Felt was heavily involved in the FBI's COINTELPRO operation, which, among other things, subsidized black radical Ron Karenga as an alternative to the Black Panthers. (Karenga's boys eventually killed a Panther in a dispute over who would run UCLA Black Studies department.) Karenga invented Kwanzaa. Which raises the question: Did Deep Throat help create Kwanzaa? I haven't been able to find any direct evidence that Felt worked on the Karenga project, but it's fun to speculate.
On the heels of a Middle East tour last week by Laura Bush to promote women's rights in the region, the female members of Israel's Knesset have petitioned the first lady to lobby for the release of imprisoned Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, in part citing Pollard's inability to have children while jailed.
That's not a bug, that's a feature of the Pollard Imprisonment Program.
To pay for his coke habit, Pollard sold America's ultimate secrets -- the locations of the Trident nuclear deterrent subs -- to the Israelis, who then traded them to the Soviets. Why would we want more little Pollards?
June 1, 2005
Reading this hilariously twisted dialogue between the estranged Hitchens Bros. -- Trotskyite-Neocon Christopher and Tory-Anglican Peter -- makes me worry that I had too happy a childhood ever to have the ambition to claw my way to the top of the punditry heap. From The Guardian:
Ian Katz (Moderator): Christopher. You've talked slightly with your tongue in your cheek about regretting the competition for your mother's attention and you said in one interview with the Times: "Mothers aren't supposed to have favourites, are they? But boys know. And to know that your mother loves you most, more than anyone, more than your father, more than your brother, which I always did know ..." Did you have a firm conviction that you were favourite?
Christopher Hitchens: No, what I was expressing there and badly, too, [was] an ambition, I hoped it was true but I am sure it was not. I don't usually use this term as a compliment but she was very even handed. Impartial. What I'm really saying there I think would be obvious to anyone who has even scanned the more accessible works of Sigmund Freud, is that had I been an only child, I could probably have handled it, to have mummy to myself and then of course to kill daddy and marry mummy. I thought I had all my ducks in a row, and suddenly to have to go to some nursing home and bring home a bundle was a shock and I may never have got over it. Took up smoking at around that time.
Peter Hitchens: I don't know about the parenting but there was a story, although I can't remember anything about this, of Christopher having been discovered gleefully releasing the brake of the pram in which I was lying ...
CH That's when I took up drinking ...
PH There was another occasion when Christopher was sitting on the edge of a flower bed, admiring the blooms, when he saw a sinister shadow, growing, and it was me staggering up behind him with a rake. I have no memory of that ...
CH I do! I remember that very well. I've never moved so fast in my life. What I've left out, because what everybody prefers in some way to talk about is mama, is the personality of our father... And I was always pretty sure that Peter was much more like him than I was, and I think I suspected that he slightly preferred Peter. And I can live with that.
IK People have often posited a competition between you, and they've generally implied that you, Peter, were living in Christopher's shadow - though you of course are columnist of the year now and one of the grandest commentators in the country ...
CH I had NO idea, well done! Bloody good! I don't belong to the prize-winning fraternity. I always get nominated, but I never win.
IK Did it occur to you when you won that award [Peter], did you think, "Ahh, that's one up on him!"
PH Never. I always get asked whether I'm worried about living in my brother's shadow ... you might try asking that the other way from time to time.
IK I want to ask one last personal question. The idea of this meeting today was more about brotherhood than politics. One thing that you, Christopher, have talked about in the past, is your mother's suicide when you were, I think, a student. Can I ask how formative an experience was that, and how did it change the dynamics of your family?
CH Yes, you can, but I would rather you hadn't. I wasn't a student, I was working in London. I'd just got a job with the New Statesman when I was woken up with the news that my mother had taken her own life. It was a terrible moment in my life which turned into a terrible week...
IK Peter, I've not heard you talk about this before, do you want to add anything?
IK Are you two friends?
PH No. There was an old joke in East Germany that went, Are the Russians our friends or our brothers? And the answer is, they must be our brothers because you can choose your friends.
CH The great thing about family life is that it introduces you to people you'd otherwise never meet.
IK One last question from the audience.
Audience member You've been casting furtive glances at each other throughout the whole event but you've never yet made eye contact. Would you for this final moment, look each other in the eye?
CH You don't know what we've just been through. We were asked by James Naughtie to do an on-radio handshake, [and] I thought it was a handshake made for radio.
Audience member So will you do it?
[CH and PH look briefly at each other]
PH They want everything to be all right.
CH They want a happy ending - that's their problem.
I've pointed out that what might look like ideological clashes on the surface are often actually just rationalizations for ethnic clashes between extended families, but the Hitchens Brothers represent an interesting case of an ethnic clash between brothers within a nuclear family. Peter was the favorite of their English father, Christopher of their Jewish mother. Christopher is still an atheist, but as Paul Johnson pointed out in his "History of the Jews," it's been common down through the centuries for young atheist intellectuals to become more focused on Jewish ethnic interests as they age, without necessarily becoming theists. The conversion to the ideology of neoconism of Christopher, who, despite his hatred of religion, has taken to dropping in to synagogues as he travels to express his ethnic solidarity, is a good example of this venerable tendency toward gerontocratic ethnocentrism.
My new VDARE.com article: Newsweek puts new left-liberal LA mayor Antontio Villaraigosa on a cover headlined "Latino Power," but runs a cliché-ridden story about how "Latino Power" is good for ... the Republicans!
Fortunately, new Census Bureau data on who actually voted in 2004 is out, and it provides an important perspective. I write:
In 1997, Peter Brimelow and Edwin S. Rubenstein's article "Electing a New People" first laid out the math of how importing Democratic-leaning immigrants works against the Republican Party in the long term. The inexorable conclusion: it is in the GOP's self-interest to cut immigration.
Pro-mass immigration enthusiasts on the right, however, inverted this logic to argue that Hispanics were already such an irresistible force that the only salvation for the Republicans was more of the hair of the dog that bit them. The GOP must win over the Latino vote by opening up the borders even farther.
This quickly became conventional wisdom in the news media.
My contribution from 2000 onward has been to make two criticisms:
First, I noted that opening the borders wider was not the royal road to the hearts of Hispanic voters. Because Latino voters bear so much of the brunt of the immigration wave in lower wages and overwhelmed schools, they are far more ambivalent about immigration than their self-appointed ethnic "leaders" claim. The Latino leadership wants more warm bodies from south of the border to make themselves look more important. But Hispanic voters want better lives for themselves and their children. This was validated last November when the successful anti-illegal immigration initiative Prop. 200 won 47% of the Latino vote in Arizona.
Second, I pointed out that, even if Hispanic citizens were indeed desperate for more immigration, the much-heralded future of Latino political dominance hasn't quite gone through the formality of taking place yet. Hispanic voting clout is more limited and growing more slowly than the media assumes. There is still time to limit immigration.
For example, in 2001 I was the first to show that while the press universally claimed that Hispanics comprised 7 percent of the electorate in 2000, the Census Bureau's 50,000 household telephone survey of voters, which is the gold standard for understanding who votes, reported they made up only 5.4 percent of the electorate.
Not that facts matter much these days.
Two years later, Michael Barone claimed:
"… Hispanic immigrants are the fastest-growing and politically most fluid segment of the electorate. They were 7 percent of voters in 2000 and could be 9 percent in 2004, most of them in big states."
Barone truly is one of America's leading experts on voting behavior. His biennial Almanac of American Politics is an awe-inspiring 1,800 page trove of data for political junkies.
But Barone's factually-challenged cheerleading for immigration is unworthy of him. And that's why I've criticized him frequently over the years. It's easy to beat up on amateurs, but for me to score so many points off the top pro means I've had to be right about the impact of immigration on voting. And the only way I've been able to be correct so much more than a master like Barone, who has fifty times my experience and contacts, is if Barone is opening the door by kidding himself about what the numbers say.
So, in May of 2004, I wrote in VDARE.com:
"I hereby declare that, in the tradition of the famous bet between Julian Simon and Paul Ehrlich, I will wager $1,000 that the Hispanic share of the 2004 Presidential vote—according to the November 2004 Census Bureau survey—will be closer to my prediction of 6.1 percent than to Barone's prediction of 8.5%."
Barone didn't take me up on the bet, which is too bad because I could definitely use the money.
Last week, the Census Bureau revealed its results: the 2004 Hispanic vote totaled only 6.0 percent, even less than my forecast of 6.1 percent and a long way from the 9 percent Barone speculated about...
Many commentators have attributed Bush's better showing in 2004 compared to 2000 to Hispanics. Dick Morris, a campaign consultant for Vicente Fox and Bill Clinton, wrote in the New York Post:
"George W. Bush was re-elected on Tuesday because the Hispanic vote, long a Democratic Party preserve, shifted toward the president's side."...
Bush pulled 11.6 million more votes in 2004 than in 2000, the majority of that growth due to higher overall turnout. By my calculations, over 80 percent of those 11.6 million additional votes, or 9.5 million, came from non-Hispanic whites.
Whites provided almost ten times as many incremental Bush votes as the next most important ethnic contributor to his growth, Hispanics, at 0.97 million extra votes.
As I've said for years, there's a distinct possibility that Karl Rove knows that his minority outreach talk is mostly a smokescreen to distract the media from his Strategy That Dares Not Speak Its Name: majority inreach. [More]
The AP writes:
Lynne Cheney Boosts First Lady for President
WASHINGTON — Forget Jeb or George Prescott or any of the other political men in the Bush family. Lynne Cheney says the next Bush president should be a woman.
Cheney said some people think former first lady Sen. Hillary Clinton should run for president, but she's looking to the current first lady, Laura Bush, instead.
Let's bring harmony to the country by arranging a dynastic marriage between George P. Bush and Chelsea Clinton and their firstborn can found the Bushton Dynasty, which will rule us unto the seventh generation. To prevent any inferior genes from the citizenry from intruding into the royal gene pool, in the tradition of the Ptolemaic dynasty that produced Cleopatra, brothers and sisters of the Bushton line would then be mated with each other to generate our perfect overlords.
To paraphrase Kent Brockman on The Simpsons when he thinks Earth is being invaded by Space Ants: I, for one, welcome our new hereditary overlords.