We live in a very silly country, but at times like these, the joke wears thin.
September 10, 2005
We live in a very silly country, but at times like these, the joke wears thin.
September 9, 2005
For years, various authority figures, both scientific and self-appointed, have been assuring us that Science Says that there are no average genetic differences in brain functions between people from different parts of the world. Well, they've been yanking our chains.
Andrew Sullivan comments:
BAD NEWS FOR MOST EVANGELICALS: Humans are still
evolving - and at quite a brisk pace, according to new
research. Bad news for liberals: at the rate research
is going, you will soon have to choose between
believing in evolution and denying any subtle, genetic
differences between broad racial groups.
That's actually a little unfair to the many Creationists who believe in "microevolution" within species (which is what these two papers are about) but not "macroevolution" into new species. And it's unfair to liberals since lots of self-proclaimed conservatives claim to believe the same stupid thing.
But I'm in no mood for being fair, so I like the quote.
Here's Nicholas Wade's NYT story on those scientific papers I've been hinting about:
Researchers Say Human Brain Is Still Evolving
By NICHOLAS WADE
Two genes involved in determining the size of the human brain have undergone substantial evolution in the last 60,000 years, researchers say, suggesting that the brain is still undergoing rapid evolution.
The discovery adds further weight to the view that human evolution is still a work in progress, since previous instances of recent genetic change have come to light in genes that defend against disease and confer the ability to digest milk in adulthood.
The new finding, reported by Bruce T. Lahn of the University of Chicago and colleagues in the journal Science, could raise controversy because of the genes' role in determining brain size. New versions of the genes, or alleles, as geneticists call them, appear to have spread because they enhanced the brain's function in some way, the report suggests, and they are more common in some populations than others.
But several experts strongly criticized this aspect of the finding, saying it was far from clear that the new alleles conferred any cognitive advantage or had spread for that reason.
Well, why don't they do a test?
Many genes have more than one role in the body, and the new alleles could have been favored for some other reason, these experts said, such as if they increased resistance to disease.
Even if the new alleles should be shown to improve brain function, that would not necessarily mean that the populations where they are common have any brain-related advantage over those where they are rare. Different populations often take advantage of different alleles, which occur at random, to respond to the same evolutionary pressure, as has happened in the emergence of genetic defenses against malaria, which are somewhat different in Mediterranean and African populations. If the same is true of brain evolution, each population might have a different set of alleles for enhancing function, many of which remain to be discovered.
Right. But it seems unlikely that they would have different brain genes that had exactly the same effects on cognitive development and no other effects. That's like tossing a coin and having it land on its edge. More likely, it might well mean that people from different parts of the world might have different mental skills on average. For example, people from Africa might be better at improvising jazz solos, or playing point guard, or other skills that require the kind of interpersonal improvisatory skills that are hard to measure with an IQ test.
The Chicago researchers began their study with two genes, known as microcephalin and ASPM, that came to light because they are disabled in a disease called microcephaly. People with the condition are born with a brain that is much smaller than usual, often with a substantial shrinkage of the cerebral cortex that seems a throwback to when the human brain was a fraction of present size.
Last year Dr. Lahn, one of a select group of researchers supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, showed that a group of 20 brain-associated genes, including microcephalin and ASPM, had evolved faster in the great ape lineage than in mice and rats. He concluded that these genes may have played important roles in the evolution of the human brain.
As part of this study, he noticed that microcephalin and ASPM had an unusual pattern of alleles. With each gene, one allele was much more common than all the others. He and his colleagues have now studied the worldwide distribution of the alleles by decoding the DNA of the two genes in many different populations.
They report that with microcephalin, a new allele arose about 37,000 years ago, although it could have appeared as early as 60,000 or as late as 14,000 years ago. Some 70 percent or more of people in most European and East Asian populations carry this allele of the gene, as do 100 percent of those in three South American Indian populations, but the allele is much rarer in most sub-Saharan Africans.
With the other gene, ASPM, a new allele emerged some time between 14,100 and 500 years ago, the researchers favoring a mid-way date of 5,800 years. The allele has attained a frequency of about 50 percent in populations of the Middle East and Europe, is less common in East Asia, and found at low frequency in some sub-Saharan Africa peoples.
The Chicago team suggests that the new microcephalin allele may have arisen in Eurasia or as the first modern humans emigrated from Africa some 50,000 years ago. They note that the ASPM allele emerged at about the same time as the spread of agriculture in the Middle East 10,000 years ago and the emergence of the civilizations of the Middle East some 5,000 years ago, but say any connection is not yet clear.
Well, if the new ASPM gene allele originated in a mutation of a single gene in 3800 BC, most likely in the Near East or Southeastern Europe, it probably wouldn't have been common enough to make much difference until some time later ... such as, say, in in the rise of the Ancient Greeks? Maybe we should call it the "Odysseus Gene"? (That's a joke, but an intriguing one.)
The point is that for it to spread from a single gene to as common as it is now in Europe and adjoining regions in just 225 generations, it must have provided some Darwinian fitness advantage: people who had it must have averaged more grandchildren.
Dr. Lahn said there may be a dozen or so genes that affect the size of the brain, each making a small difference yet one that can be acted on by natural selection. "It's likely that different populations would have a different make-up of these genes, so it may all come out in the wash," he said. In other words, East Asians and Africans probably have other brain enhancing alleles, not yet discovered, that have spread to high frequency in their populations.
He said he expected more such allele differences between populations would come to light, as have differences in patterns of genetic disease. "I do think this kind of study is a harbinger for what might become a rather controversial issue in human population research," he said. But his data and other such findings "do not necessarily lead to prejudice for or against any particular population."
A greater degree of concern was expressed by Francis Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute. He said that even if the alleles were indeed under selection, it was still far from clear why they had risen to high frequency, and that "one should resist strongly the conclusion that it has to do with brain size, because the selection could be operating on any other not-yet-defined feature." He added that he was "worried about the way in which these papers will be interpreted."
It may not affect brain size per se, but could affect brain development in some other way. Additional brain volume is expensive in terms of calories required to support it and problems getting the skull out the birth canal. Somewhat similarly, 1950s sci-fi movies assumed that computers would get ever huger in scale, but it turned out the future of computing lay in was miniaturization and better organization.
Or, as Francis Collins points out, it could mean the gene is affecting something else entirely, but, you know, if it waddles like a duck and quacks like a duck ...
Dr. Sarah Tishkoff, a geneticist at the University of Maryland and a coauthor of both studies, said the statistical signature of selection on the two genes was "one of the strongest that I've seen." But she said, like Dr. Collins, that "we don't know what these alleles are doing" and that specific tests were required to show they in fact influenced brain development or were selected for that reason.
Dr. Lahn acknowledges this point, writing in his article that "it remains formally possible that an unrecognized function of microcephalin outside of the brain is actually the substrate of selection."
Another geneticist, David Goldstein of Duke University, said the new results were interesting but that "it is a real stretch to argue for example that microcephalin is under selection and that that selection must be related to brain size or cognitive function."
The gene could have risen to prominence through a random process known as genetic drift, Dr. Goldstein said.
Not likely over just 5,800 years.
Richard Klein, an archaeologist, who has proposed that modern human behavior first appeared in Africa because of some genetic change that promoted innovativeness, said the time of emergence of the microcephalin allele "sounds like it could support my idea."
But if the allele really did support enhanced cognitive function, "it's hard to understand why it didn't get fixed at 100 percent nearly everywhere," he said. Dr. Klein suggested that perhaps the allele had spread for a different reason, that as people colonizing East Asia and Europe pushed northward they had to adapt to much colder climates.
Commenting on these critics' suggestions that the alleles could have spread for some reason other than their effects on the brain, Dr. Lahn said he thought such objections were in part scientifically based and in part due to reluctance to acknowledge that selection could occur in a trait as controversial as brain function.
The microcephalin and ASPM genes are known to be involved in determining brain size and so far have no other known function, he said. They are known to have been under selective pressure during primate evolution as brain size increased, and the chances seem "pretty good" that the new alleles are a continuation of that process, Dr. Lahn said.
Dr. Lahn said he had tested the possibility that the alleles had spread through drift, as suggested by Dr. Goldstein, and found it was very unlikely.
My inside information suggests there for each of these two genes, there will be at least one important future revelation.
Gene discoveries haven't always panned out in the past (it's a very difficult science), so don't be 100% confident that these will hold up. However, at present these sound like the real deal.
There will no doubt be lots more to come about other regional variations in brain genes.
For instance, Gregory Cochran points to the similar age and regional distribution of the BRCA1 gene, which I believe is related to so much breast cancer among Ashkenazi Jewish women, over on GNXP. The GNXP comments and discussion of the papers is here.
Blogging anthropologist John Hawks of the U. of Wisconsin has a good overview of the two new papers by Bruce Lahn:
Some populations have these alleles at high frequencies; other populations have them at lower frequencies or not at all. The genes are slightly different in their pattern: for example, the [the roughly 37,000 year old] Microcephalin haplogroup D is virtually universal in New World populations; the [roughly 5,800 year old] recently-selected ASPM haplogroup D is almost completely absent there.
Presumably, that's because the older gene arose before the first Siberians crossed into the New World, while the newer one originated after main migrations across the Bering Strait had ended.
The selected ASPM variant is most common in Europe and West Asia and less so in East Asia; Microcephalin haplogroup D is common across Eurasia from west to east. These differences may reflect time -- with the ASPM variant much more recently selected. Or they may reflect different selective gradients: perhaps the alleles are adaptive in some ecological contexts or genetic backgrounds but not others.
Both selected alleles are relatively rare in subsaharan Africa. Again, one of two explanations is possible: either they are advantageous but haven't had time to increase in frequency there yet, or their adaptive value is less in Africa than in other places where they are found...
The question is whether there is anything keeping them from spreading through Africa. Is it possible that the ecology of Africa has led to a different level of selection on these alleles? Or have they just not had time since their origin to reach very far into Africa? At any rate, it is premature to say what their effects may be within different populations, particularly until something is known about the phenotypes of people who carry the alleles.
A test that might shed light on this question is whether or not these gene variants are common in areas in New Guinea and Melanesia that are ecologically similar to the wetter parts of tropical Africa.
September 8, 2005
Christopher Hitchens is the most overworked writer around, and the quality of his output is plummeting, as shown by his recent Weekly Standard article, "A War to Be Proud Of: The case for overthrowing Saddam was unimpeachable. Why, then, is the administration tongue-tied?" Hitch sums up with ten reasons the Iraq Attaq was a terrific idea, climaxing with this moral, factual, and aesthetic trainwreck of a sentence:
(10) The training and hardening of many thousands of American servicemen and women in a battle against the forces of nihilism and absolutism, which training and hardening will surely be of great use in future combat.
Oh, great, more wars.
And we're not "training and hardening" our poor soldiers so much as we're burning through them, using them up.
Finally, what the heck is going on with Hitchens's prose style? This sounds like a bad parody of Wm. F. Buckley. George Orwell said something about how it's hard to lie and write good prose at the same time, and this sentence could be Exhibit 1.
Rebuilding New Orleans as Venice? -- Most of the tourist districts like the French Quarter are above sea level, so they should be back in business reasonably fast, unless the EPA shuts the whole place down permanently for contamination. But the poor neighborhoods were built below sea level and have been sinking even farther down over decades, so rebuilding them as they were seems irresponsible.
Assuming that much of the below sea level housing is unsalvageable, what shall we do? Maybe it doesn't make sense to rebuild New Orleans at all, but, then again, America is so lacking in other cities with urban charm that New Orleans has a chance to become economically viable, although perhaps on a reduced scale. If so, then it might be smart to rebuild it as a city that embraces water rather than merely tries to huddle away from it behind levees.
Maybe we should rebuild the flooded part of town near the tourist district as an American version of Venice, with canals instead of streets. Over the generations, this American Venice would merge with the old part of town to create a tremendous tourist attraction, which, frankly, seems to be the only plausible economic future for New Orleans.
You could bulldoze the ruined houses down, then dredge the streets out deeper into water courses with a decent draft for pleasure boats. Take the mud you've dredged up from the streets and heap it up on top of the rubble so the next generation of houses are built above sea level. No streets, just canals and big sidewalks. (I'm sure an engineer would know a better way to do it. but you get the general idea: instead of everything being 5 feet below sea level, make half of it 15 feet below and half of it 5 feet above.)
In Los Angeles, the Venice neighborhood near the beach south of Santa Monica was built with canals instead of streets in the early 20th Century. It proved to be a bust, and many of the canals were paved over, but in recent years, the main canal has made a comeback and is now lined with new luxury homes with a big boat tied up to each dock. Similarly, Orange County's residential islands for boaters like Balboa are doing very well.
As for the rest of New Orleans, dig out a big lake for pleasure boating and fishing (which is huge down there, as Humberto Fontova's books illustrate), and use the dirt to elevate other areas. In the more outlying working class and middle class neighborhoods, build five story high apartments buildings and townhouses, so residents can outlast the worst floods by going up to the top stories. Put the parking garage on the street level of each five story townhouse so a ten foot flood wouldn't do much damage.
By raising the density of residential neighborhoods, you can make a lot of ruined below sea-level neighborhoods into parks and golf courses that can afford to be flooded. For example, the only way the San Fernando Valley came through the two big rainstorms last winter without significant damage was because the 1400 acre Sepulveda Dam Recreation Area, which contains 54 holes of golf and lots of other outdoor attractions sorely needed in overpopulated LA, filled up ten feet deep with water for a few days. Golf courses are a lot cheaper to fix after a flood than are buildings.
Anyway, I'm just spinning ideas off the top of my head. The way to check out whether any plan makes sense is to see how much private investment they can attract. I suspect private interests would invest a fair amount of money in a plan to turn New Orleans into a smaller but wealthier city.
Of course, the political response might be highly negative to this, not just from Democrats, but from the general public in surrounding states, who, I suspect, will want the underclass refugees to go home to New Orleans as soon as possible. I've already gotten a half dozen emails from people concerned about schemes to put up refugees in their hometowns, and what their impact will be on crime, schools, and taxes (in a word, negative).
September 7, 2005
After John Derbyshire bravely defends me once more in NRO's Corner against John Podhoretz's fatwa against my New Orleans article and its mention of the lower average IQ of African-Americans, JPod sputters:
I have read only two things by [Sailer] in the past few years, both of them e-mailed to me, and I regret having soiled my eyes, my brain and my sensibility with them.
This is another example of the typical attack on me -- the "point-and-sputter" diatribe devoid of logic and facts.
Inevitably, responses to Pod the Lesser's sallies traditionally fall into the "point-and-laugh" mode -- for example, his former colleagues at the Washington Times coined the pun Podenfruede for their group ritual of reading Pod's latest effusion and laughing at his shortcomings as a writer, thinker, and human being. Since JPod doesn't give anyone anything to sink their teeth into -- it's hard to point out the fallacies in JPod's logic when all he is expressing is mindless rage and thuggish threats. So, "point-and-laugh" is natural.
Still, my readers might be interested in some of the logical contradictions related to Pod Minor, even if rationality is not, personally, his thing. For example, will he next condemn Commentary and the American Enterprise Institute?
I ask this because the sentence in my New Orleans article that called "the most disgusting sentence yet written about Katrina" simply applied to the disaster the facts printed in the feature article in this month's neoconservative Commentary magazine (and also posted on the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute's website): "The Inequality Taboo" by Charles Murray, the Bradley Fellow at AEI.
Indeed, my previous VDARE.com article "Charles Murray Reenters America's Inequality Debate" was a celebration of the article's publication by Commentary, where Big Little Pod's father, Norman Podhoretz, is "Editor-at-Large" after a distinguished quarter-century career as Commentary's Editor-in-Chief. Further, many of the foreign policy pundits that Commentary routinely publishes are domiciled at the AEI, and the think tank gave Norman Podhoretz its Francis Boyer award in 2002.
Indeed, Norman Podhoretz has said:
"I'm a defender of The Bell Curve. I think The Bell Curve has been subjected to the most vicious lynching of any book since Making It."
That was Podhoretz Major's first autobiography, which came out 27 years before The Bell Curve.
Perhaps, JPod's attacks on me are a surreptitious, indirect form of Oedipal warfare upon his father, since he knows by now that every time he attacks me on race, IQ, and crime, I will shine the spotlight of attention on the fact that his father holds equally politically incorrect views on the same subjects.
We should pause for a moment of sympathy for John Podhoretz. It can't be emotionally easy having such a formidable figure as Norman Podhoretz as your father. Financially, of course, being connected has been very easy for John, but it must be tough on his dignity to go through life being known among the punditocracy as the world's leading example of nepotistic incompetence and regression toward the mean.
More generally, JPod's Oedipal anger reflects the understandable resentment of the second generation of neoconservatives (the "minicons") looking back on the heroic first generation. The first generation -- Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Nathan Glazer, James Q. Wilson, Andrew Greeley, and so forth, with Charles Murray as probably the youngest member of that pantheon -- were primarily social scientists studying domestic issues of race, ethnicity, and crime. (As a literary critic, Norman Podhoretz was an odd man out among the quant jocks, but he was a trenchant writer on black crime even back when he was a self-proclaimed radical leftist. As he aged, he has, of course, become more obsessed with foreign policy, but that's a natural progression for an elderly gentleman with four grandchildren abroad.)
The minicons, in embarrassing contrast, are primarily pundits obsessed with Middle Eastern affairs.
and proceeds to quote from my Democrat-friendly item about "Why didn't the media grasp the Bush Administration's incompetence earlier?"
One of the many, many emails I've received this week (and I apologize for not answering enough of them and for posting only a tiny fraction of those worthy of wide distribution) suggested that a lot of people are pointing and sputtering at my article precisely because they want more people to read it, but don't want to get in trouble for endorsing it. But Yglesias isn't even putting in any pro forma condemnations of me. He's just not-too-subtly making fun of the condemnations of my sensible essay.
"Conservatives need Charles Darwin"
That’s the message of Larry Arnhart’s new book Darwinian Conservatism, launched this month by Imprint Academic.
Ever since the publication of Darwin’s Origin of the Species in 1859, political and religious conservatives have had an uneasy relationship with Darwin’s theory of evolution. Many conservatives accept the Biblical doctrine that human beings were specially created by God in His image. And some conservatives believe that the living world shows evidence of being the product of an "intelligent designer". Many of these conservatives fear that the idea of humans evolving naturally from lower animals denies their moral dignity as special creatures of the Divine Intelligent Designers.
Going against this movement, Larry Arnhart aims to persuade conservatives that Darwin is their friend and not their enemy. The author claims that a Darwinian science of human nature supports the moral, political and religious ideas of conservatism. Darwinian biology confirms the conservatives’ realist view of human nature and denies the leftists’ utopian view of human nature as perfectible.
Many conservatives don't realize that Darwin was the greatest intellectual descendent of their hero Adam Smith. Darwin read Smith's Wealth of Nations in the late 1830s just as he was formulating his theory of natural selection, and was greatly influenced by it. In effect, natural selection is Smith's "invisible hand" applied to nature rather than the economy.
Arnhart's publisher's message sounds sensible too:
In recent years the tradition of the political pamphlet has declined—with publishers (other than think-tanks) rejecting anything under 100,000 words as uneconomic. The result is that many a good idea has ended up drowning in a sea of verbosity. However the introduction of the digital press makes it possible to re-create a more exciting age of publishing. Imprint Academic is proud to announce Societas: essays in political and cultural criticism to fill the lacuna in public debate. The authors are all experts in their own field, either scholarly or professional, but the essays are aimed at a general audience and contain the minimum of academic paraphernalia. Each book should take no more than an evening to read.
"As Surely as Water Will Wet Us" ... Because I don't like watching my fellow American citizens suffer the horrors of anarchy, I have been pointing out that the happy-clappy multi-culti assumption by all levels of government that in case of disaster the police and people of New Orleans would all pitch together like Good Samaritans to help each other out was foolish. In many places, survivors will do that, but the demographics and culture of New Orleans were always unpropitious ... but nobody is allowed to mention that. The first priority of government in a place like New Orleans must be re-establishing order. Rescue won't proceed well when workers fear for their lives from violence.
Kipling summed up the realist view of New Orleans in the last four lines of his poem "The Gods of the Copybook Headings" (i.e., traditional proverbs and bleak ancient truths that English schoolboys were once required to write at the top of their notebook pages):
And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will bum,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return.
I finally got around to reading the loooong essay about the New Orleans anarchy by TV writer Bill Whittle, which Instapundit is pushing as the moderate, sensible alternative to extremists like, oh, say, me.
Whittle says you can divide the world up into two kinds of people, or "tribes:"
-- The liberal "Pinks" who only care about emotion, like that awful Sean Penn:
"The Pink Tribe is all about feeling good: feeling good about
-- The conservative "Greys," like, oh, say, Bill Whittle:
"This is a Tribe where emotion is repressed because Emotion Clouds Judgment. This is the world of Quadratic Equations and Stress Risers and Loads Torsional, Compressive and Tensile, a place where Reality Can Ruin Your Best Day, the place where Murphy mercilessly picks off the Weak and the Incompetent, where the Speed Limit is 186,282.36 miles per second, where every bridge has a Failure Load and levees come in 50 year, 100 year and 1000 Year Flood Flavors."
Yet, Mr. Unemotional Rationality, Mr. Moderate Mainstream, is soon babbling about how he'd like to murder people who disagree with his ideology:
Let’s not talk about Black and White tribes… I know too many pathetic, hateful, racists and more decent, capable and kind people of both colors for that to make any sense at all. Do you not? Do you not know corrupt, ignorant, violent people, both black and white, to cure you of this elementary idiocy? Have you not met and talked and laughed with people who were funny, decent, upright, honest and honorable of every shade so that the very idea of racial politics should just seem like a desperate and divisive and just plain evil tactic to hold power?
If such a thing is not self-evident to you, please get off my property. Right now. I should tell you I own a gun and I know how to use it. I assure you that the pleasure I would take in shooting you would be temporary, minimal, and deeply regretted later.
So, what is his highly scientific worldview anyway?
I believe that the human animal – the raw material of our physical bodies – is essentially interchangeable. By this I mean that I could take the children of Fallujah and turn them all into Astronauts, convert Jewish babies into fanatical, mass-murdering SS guards, and shake a generation of the poorest Voodoo-worshippers in Haiti into a cadre of top-flight nuclear physicists, chemical engineers and computer scientists.
You may recognize this as just a regurgitation of the notorious blank slate boast of John Watson, the founder in the 1920's of the now discredited school of behaviorist psychology, that if he were given an infant at random, he could train him:
''to become any type of specialist I might select -- doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief and, yes, even beggar-man and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations and race of his ancestors.''
Watson was a fool to say that 80 years ago, and we know even more now.
And Whittle's version is more idiotic than Watson's: " I could take the children of Fallujah and turn them all into Astronauts." Whittle sure couldn't have turned me into an astronaut. No matter how totalitarian an upbringing he would have subjected me to, my poor reflexes, bad eyesight, inability to follow complex directions, slow decision-making, excessive size, and fear of heights would have left me a washout on day one of Flight School.
Whittle claims he could " shake a generation of the poorest Voodoo-worshippers in Haiti into a cadre of top-flight nuclear physicists, chemical engineers and computer scientists." But, in the real world, top-flight scientists and engineers can't reliably raise their own kids to be top-flight scientists and engineers. Francis Galton quantified regression toward the mean between father and son way back in the Victorian era.
Mr. Skeptical Empiricism continues:
Race has nothing to do with this – precisely nothing... Human hearts are indistinguishable and interchangeable. Anyone who claims otherwise is, without further argument or statements necessary, a complete God-damned idiot.
Well, that settles that!
Look, if you took Whittle literally, you'd think he was a dangerous loon, talking about shooting people who disagree with him and raising innocent children the way B.F. Skinner raised pigeons. But, it's clear he's just flapping his gums. He's simply spouting nonsense that he knows full well is nonsense because he's terrified of the Politically Correct Thought Police. As Theodore Dalrymple said:
" When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to cooperate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One's standing to resist anything is thus eroded and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to."
A friend points out:
"Make no mistake that Whittle's been Pinked - even his description of those no-good Pinks (i.e. pacifist liberals), and heroic Greys (i.e. militarist conservatives) shows that a *real* Grey wouldn't make claims about "interchangeable hearts" and voodoo engineers. But this sounds exactly like something those "Pinks" would say, according to his description. Everything about this reflects Whittle's anger at being neutered."
It sure seemed obvious that the Administration was clueless in Iraq and many other places, but the press has consistently given the Bushies the benefit of the doubt on basic competence, despite ample evidence to the contrary.
I think the most likely reason is that the press admired the skill the Administration has displayed in manipulating the press. Reporters, many of whom have themselves considered working on the PR side of the media racket, were so professionally impressed by how well the Bushies organized photo ops, managed the leaking process, and spun the news for them that they found it hard to believe that the Administration was as inept as it appeared at its lawfully mandated tasks.
Of course, the reality was that the Administration was devoting its best talent to image-mongering while dumping hapless loyalist losers like Mike Brown, a failure in the horse show business, on unimportant positions like running FEMA. Or check out Craig Nelsen's backgrounder on David Safavian, whom Bush appointed to head federal procurement.
September 6, 2005
John Ray points us toward an important essay by Robert Tracinski at The Intellectual Activist that emphasizes the disastrous role played by wrong assumptions about how those left behind in New Orleans would behave, and the impact that would have on slowing the rescue and succor efforts:
It took four long days for state and federal officials to figure out how to deal with the disaster in New Orleans. I can't blame them, because it also took me four long days to figure out what was going on there. The reason is that the events there make no sense if you think that we are confronting a natural disaster.
If this is just a natural disaster, the response for public officials is obvious: you bring in food, water, and doctors; you send transportation to evacuate refugees to temporary shelters; you send engineers to stop the flooding and rebuild the city's infrastructure. For journalists, natural disasters also have a familiar pattern: the heroism of ordinary people pulling together to survive; the hard work and dedication of doctors, nurses, and rescue workers; the steps being taken to clean up and rebuild.
Public officials did not expect that the first thing they would have to do is to send thousands of armed troops in armored vehicles, as if they are suppressing an enemy insurgency. And journalists—myself included—did not expect that the story would not be about rain, wind, and flooding, but about rape, murder, and looting.
This is somewhat exaggerated, since a few hundred well-led trained armed men could have secured the city quickly. In fact, you should expect for there to be a lot of revisionism about how the level of violence wasn't really as bad as rumor said it was. Of course, as one resident told a TV crew, if somebody shot him and left him floating, his body would swell up and it's unlikely anybody would bother looking for bullets in him when his body was found. I suspect that there won't be a strong effort made to figure out the precise cause of death of all those swollen bodies fished out of the water.
But, it's a key point borne out in many riots (such as Detroit in 1967), that violence, especially any level of sniping, has a paralyzing effect on rescue workers. Sure, rumors outrun the reality, but think about what it would be like to be a cop or fireman who is supposed to go out in a boat and rescue people. You're putting your life vest on because there's a chance that some desperate survivor in the water might pull you in. But then your wife rushes in and says there are reports of snipers shooting at rescuers, and she insists you put on your bullet-proof vest instead. But that's heavy and would drag you right down to the bottom. So, you say, screw it, I'm calling in sick.
Now, if you have good quality men, like the heroic Fire Department of New York on 9/11, and good leadership, well, a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. But the New Orleans police department always consisted of shakedown artists (see the Dennis Quaid movie "Big Easy"), and then, after the black takeover of the mayor's office, standards were dropped even lower to take in lots of blacks, many with criminal records. (I don't anything about the New Orleans Fire Department. Firemen generally are of a higher moral level than policemen, but who knows in New Orleans?) So, unsurprisingly, the rescue workers did not show exceptional bravery under fire.
But this is not a natural disaster. It is a man-made disaster.
The man-made disaster is not an inadequate or incompetent response by federal relief agencies, and it was not directly caused by Hurricane Katrina. This is where just about every newspaper and television channel has gotten the story wrong.
The man-made disaster we are now witnessing in New Orleans did not happen over four days last week. It happened over the past four decades. Hurricane Katrina merely exposed it to public view.
The man-made disaster is the welfare state. [More]
Now, that's a nice safe place to stop: blame it on the welfare state. There's a lot of truth to it -- as soon as welfare to unwed mothers was raised above starvation levels in the 1960s, the illegitimacy and crime rates shot through the roof.
But a big problem with this argument is that liberals will in response point out that Sweden has had a far more lavish welfare state for 70 years now, yet, despite incessant American conservative predictions of Sweden's imminent collapse, it's still a functioning society. And liberals say, "Well, I wouldn't quit my job if we had a better safety net. I find my job a fascinating exercise of my intellectual capabilities. Are you saying that other people aren't like you and me and the Swedes? Are you implying that ... blacks aren't like Swedes? Are you, huh, are you? Crimethink! Ahhhh-oooo-gahhh! Crimethink!"
And that's where the argument has bogged down, at least among intellectuals, almost permanently since the 1960s ... because of the unthinkability of pointing out that, well, yes, maybe, blacks aren't Swedes.
Heck, even the Brits aren't Swedes -- the welfare state wrecked Britain economically in a couple of decades and is destroying the morals of Britain's white working class today.
Now, ever since the 1966 midterm elections, running against welfare and crime has typically been a winning issue for conservatives because, the public can see how disastrous the welfare boosts of the 1960s turned out to be.
But, the rapid rises in crime and welfare that happened 40 years ago are fading into the mists of time, and the pundit elite is making noises this week like they've forgotten the past and they want to spend zillions on "urban problems" again.
So, once again, we are seeing the disastrous impact of having an intellectual elite that isn't allowed to write sense about topics, if they want to keep their jobs, that the general public talks about it.
As Steven Pinker, author of The Blank Slate, said in my 2002 interview with him:
Q: Aren't we all better off if people believe that we are not constrained by our biology and so can achieve any future we choose?
A: People are surely better off with the truth. Oddly enough, everyone agrees with this when it comes to the arts. Sophisticated people sneer at feel-good comedies and saccharine romances in which everyone lives happily ever after. But when it comes to science, these same people say, "Give us schmaltz!" They expect the science of human beings to be a source of emotional uplift and inspirational sermonizing.
In "The Larger Shame," the New York Times op-ed columnist tries to shackle his on-the-spot observation of how cooperatively the Japanese victims of the 1995 Kobe earthquake responded to the emerging Conventional Wisdom that the U.S. should spend more money on poverty programs (what Peter Brimelow calls the new Tet Offensive). Kristof writes:
One of the most dispiriting elements of the catastrophe in New Orleans was the looting. I covered the 1995 earthquake that leveled much of Kobe, Japan, killing 5,500, and for days I searched there for any sign of criminal behavior. Finally I found a resident who had seen three men steal food. I asked him whether he was embarrassed that Japanese would engage in such thuggery.
"No, you misunderstand," he said firmly. "These looters weren't Japanese. They were foreigners."
The reasons for this are complex and partly cultural, but one reason is that Japan has tried hard to stitch all Japanese together into the nation's social fabric. In contrast, the U.S. - particularly under the Bush administration - has systematically cut people out of the social fabric by redistributing wealth from the most vulnerable Americans to the most affluent.
It's not just that funds may have gone to Iraq rather than to the levees in New Orleans; it's also that money went to tax cuts for the wealthiest rather than vaccinations for children.
Oh, come on, Nick, you know as well as I do that Japan has traditionally been a low-tax, low welfare spending state with a notoriously stingy social insurance scheme that encourages the Japanese to save enormous fractions of their income for a rainy day. Heck, you lived there.
Now, there are high-spending welfare states whose citizens have behaved well during disasters, such as Iceland. Yet, the real common denominators between Japan and Iceland are things you would denounce as "xenophobia," such as low immigration rates and ethnic and cultural homogeneity, and other concepts that you couldn't even begin to formulate in your mind without your CRIMETHINK alarm sounding, such as the general (but hardly universal) tendencies for high latitude peoples to cooperate better amongst themselves than do low latitude peoples.
... So the best monument to the catastrophe in New Orleans would be a serious national effort to address the poverty that afflicts the entire country. And in our shock and guilt, that may be politically feasible. Rich Lowry of The National Review, in defending Mr. Bush, offered an excellent suggestion: "a grand right-left bargain that includes greater attention to out-of-wedlock births from the Left in exchange for the Right's support for more urban spending." That would be the best legacy possible for Katrina.
If you stop and think, however, you'll remember that the most effective legislation in recent decades toward easing urban dysfunction was a bill that limited spending on the poor, the 1996 welfare reform cutback.
Didn't anybody learn the lesson over the last 40 years that it was the "urban spending" increases of the 1960s that subsidized the vast growth in "out-of-wedlock births" by making it easier for unmarried women to have children without a husband to provide for them?
I very much favor doing what it takes to fix our problems, but, the only way we will make any progress is if we start by being honest with ourselves about what the real troubles are and what might actually work.
A college professor writes:
As horrible as the NO disaster has been, it is dramatic evidence for what you have been writing for a long time: that we don't help people by lying about racial facts. On the contrary, lying in order to be kind KILLS people. Your honesty and courage has gotten you marginalized, but today was the day the faculty here has to report to campus for the new academic year, and after hearing for the hundredth time how NO wouldn't have happened if the victims were white (i.e., America hates black people and longs to see them destroyed) the margins are looking pretty good..
A lot of the nice people who are currently professing to be shocked by my pointing out that low IQ and poor judgment are correlated also favored the Supreme Court's 2002 decision that, in effect, banned the death penalty for killers with IQs under 70. The NYT, for example, editorialized: "[I]nflicting the death penalty on individuals with I.Q. scores of less than 70 who have little understanding of their moral culpability violates civilized standards of justice."
I found that decision dubious because "Thou shalt not kill" is a quite simple concept. Also, the death penalty is seldom handed out for homicides committed in the throes of passion, but typically for murder one with malice aforethought and often with aggravating circumstances as well.
I wrote for UPI:
"Some of the IQ defenders were quick to point out that Court and the New York Times had implicitly agreed with them that IQ tests were not racially biased. [U. of Delaware professor Linda] Gottfredson said, 'The death penalty may be the only public policy debate involving race in which we are not bombarded with the usual canards about IQ tests being biased against blacks.'" ...
Finally, the Court's decision officially designates that a much larger fraction of the African-American population is of diminished moral capability compared to the white and East Asian populations. About 2 percent-3 percent of whites or East Asians don't exceed 70 on IQ tests, vs. 10 percent-12 percent of American blacks...
Assuming that wealthier and more foresightful people tended to get out of town before the hurricane, I would guesstimate that roughly 15% to 20% of the people left behind in New Orleans were, according to the Supreme Court, ineligible for the death penalty due to having IQs below 70.
Now, be clear that I'm not saying that low IQ people are not morally culpable or that they lack free will or all those other philosophical issues that are fun to stay up all night talking about in the dorm room. What I am saying is that policymakers need to plan ahead for the likely problems that have been shown to be statistically correlated with having large numbers of low IQ people. Otherwise, more people will die, especially low IQ Americans.
But instead, we see that merely calling attention to this simple fact gets me demonized in National Review Online by, of all people, the son of the man, Norman Podhoretz, who wrote "My Negro Problem -- and Ours" in Commentary in 1963!
Or here's a particularly self-righteous effort from somebody called Damnus Absque Injuria.
So, how can any official plan ahead based on realistic assessments of how a particular population is likely to react in an emergency if the entire subject of behavioral differences is a career-killing thought crime? These are our fellow human beings and our fellow Americans in New Orleans, but we're letting them die because we've been terrified to make plans based on politically incorrect facts.
A reader writes:
One thing that seems to be missing from the conversation is religion... There is something to be said for the notion that God tests people with disaster, or, rather, a belief in God makes them better able to weather disaster.
We have a good comparison for this with New Orleans and Mississippi. I have yet to hear of looting in Mississippi that reached the scale it did in New Orleans. Yet Mississippi didn't lack for temptations. Anyone watching Fox or MSNBC saw those casino barges carried half a mile inland and busted open for all the world to see. Nor does Mississippi lack for Wal-Marts and other department stores. And while the population in Mississippi might not be as black as New Orleans' population, it certainly has a large presence. The only difference between the two areas is that one is governed by an ethic that is driven by the most shameless hedonism, while the swears by the kind of Bible-beating fundamentalism sneered at by our nation's elite.
Another reader writes:
Also, a point on the stupidity and destructiveness of noticing racial differences, I was listening to NPR and some Mississippi congressman was furious that he was not allowed to distribute relief supplies by FEMA because they insisted that it all had to be surrounded by National Guard escorts to prevent riots over the food. He was saying "my people are not from New Orleans, they all know each other and they would behave civilly." FEMA would not even let them take it with police escorts, so eventually they had to waste millions of dollars by using National Guard Helicopters (this is somehow outside of FEMA's jurisdiction) to get the food to the affected areas, even though the roads were clear, and of course there was no rioting or problems over the supplies. I've been trying to find an article about the story online, but I haven't been able to. I'll send you a link if I find it.
Another important point that a number of my readers have made to me is to note there are probably differences in law-abidingness between big city and small town people. The anonymity of urban life is more conducive to life as a criminal since bystanders are less likely to recognize you as you commit a crime. Whereas, in small towns, witnesses are likely to tell the sheriff, "Oh, it was that Jones boy again, the bad one, not the nice one who plays the flute, but that no-good one you arrested last year."
That, along with the moral-cultural differences, may help explain why the black imprisonment rate in 1997 in absolute terms, according to a liberal activist group, was almost 50% higher in Louisiana than Mississippi.
Nationally, the black imprisonment rate per capita was 9.1 times the non-Hispanic white rate back in 1997, but it tended to be significantly lower in conservative southern states, such as only 6.0 times the white rate in Mississippi, and 6.1 times higher in Alabama. In Louisiana, it's 7.5 times higher. This suggests to me that rural living and and church-going are, on average, good for black people.
There's a new, highly detailed report on racial differences in crime and imprisonment that will be out soon, and which I'll be writing about for VDARE in a couple of weeks. I haven't checked carefully yet, but I'm guessing it will show that this 9.1X black-white imprisonment gap seen in these 1997 statistics has narrowed some in more recent years. 1997 was right after the worst of the crack wars years, which were fought primarily by black crack dealers. Black law-abidingness has improved since then, so I expect to see lower (but still substantial) black to white ratios. But we shall see when the report is released.
At the Houston Astrodome and other places full of underclass refugees from the Superdome, it's crucial to give them paying work to do as soon as they are physically able. Pay them to pick up litter around the Astrodome and then later all around town. Pay them to set up tents, to dig ditches, anything.
But don't let them sit around.
This may require drafting the lazy into working. It's the oldest cliché in the book that "Idle hands are the devil's workshop," but we are back to a situation where the old clichés are the best advice.*
These refugees are our fellow citizens and they need to be given an opportunity to earn their dignity back by the sweat of their brow.
Similarly, in 2003 we should have given the defeated Iraqi Army paying work immediately, but instead we sent them home on no pay, where they sat around dreaming up ways to kill us.
* Rudyard Kipling said it best in "The Gods of the Copybook Headings." ("Copybook" is British for "notebook." "Headings" refers to traditional proverbs or other ancient truths that teachers long ago assigned their students to write essays about. The moral is that unfashionable truths can’t be ignored forever.)
AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.
We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.
We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.
With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.
When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."
On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."
In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."
Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.
As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;
And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will bum,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return.
This is just a teaser about a paper that will be out by Friday in one of the science journals. A certain evolutionary theorist has been chewing my ear off about it for weeks. I'll try to get you all the details when it's released, although it's usually hard to scoop Nicholas Wade of the New York Times on the human genetic biodiversity beat. I beat Wade on the Genghis-Khan-as-world's-greatest-lover report, but that was only because the Space Shuttle broke apart and he had to cover that instead.
You may recall last week's gigantic brouhaha over the two New Orleans pictures, one of blacks and one of whites and the captions that said the blacks were "looting" while the whites were "finding" food. This took up an enormous amount of space in the brains of high-minded folks for quite some time since it provided a welcome distraction from the obvious reality that blacks were doing the vast majority of the looting, raping, sniping and so forth in New Orleans. See, those captions proved the problem in New Orleans was ... white racism!
As Larry Auster says in his addendum to Auster’s First Law of Majority-Minority Relations in Liberal Society:
The worse blacks behave (in this case the total failure of the black-run government of New Orleans to take the absolutely necessary steps to prepare for and respond to the disaster), the more this black failure must be blamed on white racism.
This week, my essay on why the New Orleans nightmare shouldn't have come as a surprise, as it apparently did, to all levels of government might replace the now tapped-out Caption Controversy as an enjoyable distraction from reality, a Two Minute Hate, for the pure of heart.
Thus,we see libertarian Radley Balko blogging:
I have never understood why Steve Sailer gets taken seriously. Even by people I respect.
One can only hope that after this vile screed, said serious-taking will cease.
This "vile screed" of course being my VDARE.com article on New Orleans. This is representative of the usual "point-and-sputter" attacks on me -- no facts or logic are presented, because that's not the point. The point is merely to gesticulate in fury at the sheer unmentionability of what I've said.
Meanwhile, Michelle Malkin blogs:
Via Instapundit, Steve Sailer weighs in with a related column on race and Katrina. Sailer has written many brilliant articles, and I admire his willingness to challenge politically correct shibboleths. But I strongly disagree with his assertion that African-Americans possess "poorer native judgment than members of better-educated groups" and "need stricter moral guidance from society."
No, I wrote, "tend to possess."
Thus, the rest of her entry is attacking a non-existent straw man: the idea that I claimed that "moral cowardice and weakness is not predetermined by race," which I of course never did. I merely pointed out that by the overwhelming weight of statistical evidence, it appears that African-Americans on average show less resistance to temptation than Asians and whites, so a moral environment like that of New Orleans, which specializes in encouraging people to give in to temptation, will tend to be particularly deleterious for blacks.
UPDATE: Michelle has since corrected her out-of-context quotation. My substantive response to her argument that there is no correlation between race and judgment is here: http://isteve.blogspot.com/2005/09/is-there-relationship-between-iq-race.html
A reader writes:
My sense is that on a whole range of issues, the more something is at variance with obvious reality, the more fervently people attack those who suggest that fact. This was pretty similar to what happened for two or three generations in the late, unlamented USSR.
I think a secondary element in this is that people who've worked/trained very, very hard to "doublethink" their way around reality are bitterly resentful at some indication that maybe all that training might have been wasted. After all, given the nature of human evolution, pretty much *everyone* can see reality, while only highly-trained elites can manage to (pretend to??) avoid seeing it.
As I've said before, I suspect that almost everyone in the world is actually a human biodiversity realist, though the highly trained make enormous efforts to pretend not to be, much like the religious zealots of the Middle Ages sometimes did and claimed to believe all sorts of peculiar things, partly to demonstrate their elite status. Compared to flagellating oneself every Easter (or on Ali Martydom Day, as the Shiites do), just "lying" a lot on TV for lots of money doesn't seem particularly difficult.
By contrast, I'm almost sure that the simply-educated Latinos who work at my morning coffee shop watch TV and say to each other "those dangerous blacks are rioting again in New Orleans---Boy, I'm glad I don't live there!"
Careerism is an important part of it (is it really so crazy to say silly things on TV about black rioters so that you yourself don't actually have to live in a neighborhood near them??) and so is "fashionability."
Consider the latter. Fashions come and go each year, in partially manipulated but partially mysterious ways, and most people mostly go along with them. Near as I can tell, they're approximately random (e.g. the fashionability of hair length over the last 50 years).
If all the fashionable people are saying what seem to be silly things, well then, you, too, should probably also say those same things, lest you be considered unfashionable. And if all the smart people (e.g. Harvard professors) say those things, then maybe you're just not smart enough to understand it properly. And any Harvard professor who might consider saying otherwise would worry about getting in trouble with the Harvard President. And when the Harvard President (accidentally) said something different, well, he learned never to make that same mistake again.
One of my readers who was an inner city social worker writes:
Interesting to see how much grief you're getting for saying that African-Americans tend to have "poorer native judgment than members of better-educated groups" and thus need "stricter moral guidance from society."
As you've pointed out, the average IQ of blacks is about a standard deviation below that of whites. Does intelligence affect judgment? Seriously, yes. This was one of the things that became most depressingly, painfully obvious to me when I was a social worker.
We had clients who were chronically in trouble, often for utterly boneheaded stuff. One client's son got arrested for taking part in a bank robbery. His accomplice ran off and left him standing there empty handed. Not knowing what to do, he stood outside the bank and *waited for a bus.* He seemed surprised that the cops somehow managed to find him.
Well, what can I say? This sort of thing happened all the time with my clients.
I remember one guy who'd been arrested repeatedly for robbery and other crimes. The interesting thing was that he did not come across as particularly "bad" or "dangerous" when I talked with him one on one. And when he was in prison (he went to prison several times), he was considered docile and cooperative. He actually sent me Christmas cards from the penitentiary, jolly ones with pictures of Santas and Bambi-esque reindeer.
When asked about his crimes, he rarely seemed defensive or evasive, just confused. It finally dawned on me that one of his big problems was that he had trouble processing multiple ideas and streams of information at the same time. He literally tended to "go with the flow" because the flow was pretty much all that existed for him at any given time.
If he was sitting talking with a young white female social worker, he was charming because he wanted to impress me. If he was under the control of prison authorities, he was cooperative because he didn't want to get his head busted. If it was Christmas season, he sent cards. If he was on the street with his friends, he was Criminal Dude because -- well, because that's just what the situation called for, wasn't it?
Saying this guy needed "stricter moral guidance from society" is putting it as mildly as possible; in fact, he required near constant reinforcement. And remember, this was a low-aggression kid, unlike a lot of others I encountered.
The late historian Jim Chapin, long the Vice-Chairman of the Democratic Socialists of America, introduced me to the how-stupid-of-me-not-to-have-thought-of-that point that what poor people tend to need is more help from their government and culture in raising their kids, since they often lack the skills and resources that the affluent can bring to insulating their children from bad influences.
Chapin, who was the brother of the late folk singer Harry Chapin, lacked the ambition required to achieve the fame that his vast knowledge and largeness of heart merited, but he was a mentor to many of all shades of the ideological spectrum including Harold Meyerson, Fred Siegel, George Stephanonpolous, Scott McConnell, Jim Pinkerton, David Brooks, and myself. One of Chapin's many distinguishing traits was that he was a leftist who was honest enough to give racial differences in IQ the serious thought they deserved.
One of the reasons I despise gangsta rap, and the vast corporate music industry that pushes it, so much is because, while it's just a laugh to the white kids who buy the CDs, too many black kids down through the years have taken its messages seriously. The notion that blacks, on average, need more moral guidance than whites is shocking to many people, especially because our media, from Norman Mailer's "White Negro" onward, tends to treat blacks as if they need less guidance, as if their role is to act out for the amusement of whites their inner fantasies of unrestrained behavior.
Of course, it's particularly disastrous that the media encourages African-Americans to blame their troubles on white racism, rather to stand up and take responsibility for themselves. Scapegoating whites doesn't do blacks any good, no matter how useful it is for some whites to blame other whites for black crimes in the endless status struggle among whites for moral superiority.
Here's an article from WorldNetDaily rewritten from the BBC that says much about the moral climate of the Big Sleazy and its police department:
Female survivors urged to flash breasts for help
Rescuers told gals on rooftops to 'show us what you've got'
Female survivors of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans were urged by government rescuers to flash their breasts in order to receive help in the immediate aftermath of the storm. That according to English tourists who are now just returning to the United Kingdom, relating their horror stories to British media.
Ged Scott, 36, of Liverpool, was on his annual vacation at New Orleans' Ramada Hotel with his wife Sandra, 37, and their 7-year-old son, Ronan.
"I could not describe how bad the authorities were, taking photographs of us as we are standing on the roof waving for help, for their own personal photo albums, little snapshot photographs," Scott told BBC News.
Scott said there was a group of girls standing on the lobby's roof, calling out to passing rescuers for help. "[The authorities] said to them, 'Well, show us what you've got' – doing signs for them to lift their T-shirts up. The girls said no, and [the rescuers] said 'well fine,' and motored off down the road in their motorboat. That's the sort of help we had from the authorities," he said.
... "The only information we got from anybody in authority was if a policeman came past and we shouted to them out of the windows. The only information we ever got off them was negative, 'Do not go here. Do not go there'. There was no, 'Are you OK? Are you safe? Have you got water?' Most of the time they would ignore us."
Scott recounted that at night, police completely vanished, leaving stranded hotel guests and staff to defend themselves.
from Charles Murray's "The Inequality Taboo:" The publication of Murray's summary of new IQ research since The Bell Curve has elicited the predictable Two Minute Hates at liberal sites, especially among people who sort of know better, but are engaging in the old throw-somebody-to-the-wolves routine to protect themselves from the packs of haters. (Kevin Drum, that means you.) Of course, there's little evidence that the denouncers have read the new article (or the old Bell Curve, for that matter).
I figure iSteve.com readers are quite capable of reading Murray's article for yourselves, but I thought I'd highlight a few of my favorites from his 10,000 words of footnotes and bibliography:
72. Over the years since The Bell Curve was published, it has been especially exasperating to be told, or to see it written, that Herrnstein and I were wrong because we did not know about the Flynn effect. We not only provided the first discussion of the Flynn effect aimed at a general audience; we named it (Herrnstein and Murray 1994: 307–09).
Main Text: On most specific human attributes, it is possible to specify a continuum running from “low” to “high,” but the results cannot be combined into a score running from “bad” to “good.” What is the best score on a continuum measuring aggressiveness?... All of us use the weighting system that favors our group’s strengths.1
1. If you think this is mushy nonjudgmentalism, try a thought experiment: Suppose that a pill exists that, if all women took it, would give them exactly the same mean and variance on every dimension of human functioning as men—including all the ways in which women now surpass men. How many women would want all women to take it? Or suppose that the pill, taken by all blacks, would give them exactly the same mean and variance on every dimension of human functioning as whites—including all the ways in which blacks now surpass whites. How many blacks would want all blacks to take it? To ask such questions is to answer them: hardly anybody. Few want to trade off the unique virtues of their own group for the advantages that another group may enjoy.
Sometimes these preferences for one’s own group are rational, sometimes not. I am proud of being Scots-Irish, for example, even though the Scots-Irish group means for violence, drunkenness, and general disagreeableness seem to have been far above those of other immigrant groups. But the Scots-Irish made great pioneers—that’s the part of my heritage that I choose to value. A Thai friend gave me an insight into this human characteristic many years ago when I remarked that Thais were completely undefensive about Westerners despite the economic backwardness of Thailand in those days. My friend explained why. America has wealth and technology that Thailand does not have, he acknowledged, just as the elephant is stronger than a human. “But,” he said with a shrug, “who wants to be an elephant?” None of us wants to be an elephant and, from the perspective of our own group, every other group has something of the elephant about it. All of us are right, too.
37. I will venture a prediction that a variety of academic achievement measures in elementary and secondary school will soon show renewed convergence [between whites and blacks] because of the No Child Left Behind Act, which puts schools under intense pressure to teach to the test in basic skills. If students are drilled on limited ranges of subject matter, scores will tend to rise. The more basic the tests are (that is, the easier they are), the more that improvements among the least skilled will affect the mean. Also, the higher the stakes facing a school—and the No Child Left Behind Act makes those stakes very high indeed—the greater will be the incentives for administrators to use some of the many resources at their disposal to make the results come out right, through the judicious manipulation of suspensions and absences, and through outright cheating (yes, it has been known to happen). Some convergence in black and white test scores will probably occur, but partitioning that effect among the competing explanations is a task that will take a few years. Insofar as the convergence has been the result of teaching to the test and of artifacts, it will be temporary.
46. I put aside here the explanation that has received the most publicity in recent years, the phenomenon labeled “stereotype threat.” Its discoverers, Claude Steele and Joshua Aronson, demonstrated experimentally that test performance by academically talented blacks was worse when a test was called an IQ test than when it was innocuously described as a research tool (Steele and Aronson 1995). Press reports erroneously interpreted this as meaning that stereotype threat explained away the black-white difference. In reality, Steele and Aronson showed only that it increases the usual black-white difference; if one eliminates stereotype threat, the usual difference remains.
The misrepresentation of these results in the mainstream media was grotesque. For example, the narrator of the PBS television program Frontline told his viewers that “blacks who believed the test was merely a research tool did the same as whites.” The Boston Globe reported that “Black students who think a test is unimportant match their white counterparts’ scores.” Newsweek reported that “blacks who were told that the test was a laboratory problem-solving task that was not diagnostic of ability scored about the same as whites.” Such claims have now infiltrated major psychology texts. The third edition of Psychology by Davis and Palladino (2002) reports that “The results revealed that African-American students who thought they were simply solving problems performed as well as white students.” Similar statements have appeared in scientific journals. All of the above examples are taken from Sackett, Hardison, and Cullen (2004). Sackett et al. also have a nice description of how the research results should have been described: “In the sample studied, there are no differences between groups in prior SAT scores, as a result of the statistical adjustment. Creating stereotype threat produces a difference in scores; eliminating threat returns to the baseline condition of no difference” (9).
Readers may follow the latest in the debate by reading a set of responses to Sackett, Hardison, and Cullen (2004) in the April 2005 issue of American Psychologist, but nothing in the critiques overturns the above description. The existence of stereotype threat has indeed been demonstrated. It is an interesting phenomenon, and some claims have been made that reducing stereotype threat can improve scores on certain tests (Good, Aronson, and Inzlicht 2003), but the widespread assertion that stereotype threat explains a significant part of the observed black-white difference is wrong. The dissemination of that false assertion is perhaps understandable in the case of journalists who are not supposed to be sophisticated about such topics. It is less easily explained away when done by authors of technical articles and textbooks.