October 7, 2005

More Republican scandals

With Karl Rove scheduled for a fourth round of testimony in the Valerie Plame outing, Larry Franklin pleading guilty to three felony counts, and Tom Delay getting indicted every week, I'm reminded that in September of 2004, I predicted:

"... a second term for the Bush Administration is likely to resemble the second term of the Nixon Administration, with the scandals of the first four years finally bubbling to the surface."

But all the scandals so far are penny ante stuff compared to the Big One -- lying us into the Iraq War.

My guess at this point is that that the central Iraq scandal is too big, too far reaching, too many important people are tied into it, and just too generally awful to contemplate for it to ever come up in court. They might nail you for exposing a CIA agent, but start a war based on lies and fraud ... well, it's just too far beyond comprehension... I imagine the participants have December 24th, 2008 marked on their mental calendars as the day they expect to be pardoned by a lame duck George W. Bush.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

Levitt complains he's not getting enough love from the NYT

On his Freakonomics.com blog, Steven D. Levitt complains about a New York Times article entitled "New York's Falling Crime Rate Is a Potent Weapon for the Mayor," which lists the following reasons for crime being down:

"Academic experts cite several plausible contributors to the nationwide trend, including an aging population (young men are responsible for most crimes), the end of the crack cocaine epidemic, an improving economy and rising rates of homeownership in urban areas."

Not satisfied with the NYT giving him two rave book reviews, a rave op-ed column, and a job writing his own column, Levitt whines:

Anybody notice any factors missing from that list? Like, maybe, the increase in the prison population or legalized abortion, which I claim are the two most important drivers of the decline in crime?

I replied in the the comments:

Let's face it. Your abortion-cut-crime theory is now tainted in the media's mind by the Bill Bennett Brouhaha and they would just as soon not deal with it.

Perhaps you could have headed off this fate if last week you had issued a ringing endorsement of free thought, quoted Voltaire, and in general used your media glamour to defend Bennett from the smear jobs. Instead, though, you chose to weasel and waffle to protect yourself by claiming, disingenuously, that what he said wasn't implied by your theory. By letting Bennett be trashed, though, you've let your trademark theory be tainted by association with his disgrace.

As you sow, so shall you reap.

By the way, if anybody really wants to understand fully why crime has fallen so fast in New York City, I would point to this statistic from the article by Jonathan Tilove, the Newhouse New Service's ace race and immigration reporter, called "Where Have All the Black Men Gone?" "There are 36 percent more black women than men in New York City..." Tilove wrote:

There are nearly two million more black adult women than men in America, stark testimony to how often black men die before their time. With nearly another million black men in prison or the military, the real imbalance is even greater -- a gap of 2.8 million, according to U.S. Census data for 2002. On average, then, there are 26 percent more black women than black men; among whites, women outnumber men by just 8 percent.

Perhaps no single statistic so precisely measures the fateful, often fatal, price of being a black man in America, or so powerfully conveys how beset black communities are by the violence and disease that leaves them bereft of brothers, fathers, husbands and sons, and leaves whole communities reeling. ...

In the March/April issue of Health Affairs, Dr. David Satcher, surgeon general under former President Bill Clinton and now the interim president of the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, exposes the core of the problem: Between 1960 and 2000, the disparity between mortality rates for black and white women narrowed while the disparity between the rates for black and white men grew wider.

Exponentially higher homicide and AIDS rates play their part, especially among younger black men. Even more deadly through middle age and beyond are higher rates of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

The imbalance between the numbers of black men and women does not exist everywhere. There is no gap to speak of in places with relatively small black populations like Minneapolis, Minn.; Portland, Ore.; San Francisco and San Diego. And Seattle actually has more black men than women.

But it is the rule in communities with large concentrated black populations. There are, for instance, more than 30 percent more black women than men in Baltimore, New Orleans, Chicago and Cleveland, and in smaller cities like Harrisburg, Pa. There are 36 percent more black women than men in New York City...

Levitt's favorite explanation, abortion, can't account for any of the huge sex difference among blacks today.

It's absurd for Levitt to focus on prenatal culling as a crime-reducer when the postnatal culling of black males in places New York City (and nearby East Orange, where the gender gap is a similar 37%), became so ferocious during the late 1980s and early 1990s. If there are 29 percent fewer black men in their 20s than black women in East Orange today, and a few percent of the black women are in jail or dead due to their being involved in criminal activities, then roughly 25 percent of the black male population gets culled by age 30, and those 25 percent tend to be the most violent members of that cohort. If the most dangerous 25% of a cohort disappears, that's going to have a much bigger impact than randomly aborting some of the cohort, prenatally.

However, not all the decline in crime came just from culling criminals. The 14-17 year old murder rate for black male youths born in the early 1980s was only about one third as high as for black male youths born in the late 1970s. (Abortion can't explain that because the non-white abortion rate peaked in 1977.) I like to think that a lot of little brothers learned tragic but valuable lessons from the fates of their older brothers during the abattoir years of 1990-1994.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

Michelle Wie goes pro at age 15

Just before her 16th birthday, Hawaiian golfer Michelle Wie declares herself a pro and signs about $10 million in endorsement contracts. Back on Feb. 13, 2003, I wrote:

In the long run, some woman will someday do modestly well against the top men. But it will probably be a woman who had grown up competing against men, and who has a much more formidable frame than Sorenstam. Interestingly, this man-beater of the future may well be of Asian descent. Asian-Americans frequently win girls' junior tournaments in the West. A much higher percentage of Asian than white or black teenage girls play golf, perhaps because they don't find it as terminally uncool as their peers do.

Right now, the most promising female golfer of the future is 5' 11" Michelle Wie, a 13-year-old Korean-American long-hitter from Hawaii. Lacking adequate female competition in her home state, Wie regularly tees it up against adult male club pros. Last weekend she was the only female and the youngest contestant in a field of 192 in a Hawaiian tournament with an $80,000 purse. She finished a remarkable 43rd.

As I later predicted, Sorenstam went on to miss the cut by 4 strokes in a male PGA tournament in 2003.. In 2004, Wie, at age 14, missed the cut in the PGA tour's Sony Hawaiian Open by only 1 stroke.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

"Attorney Bob Loblaw" - Repeat three times quickly

Best character name of the year is Scott Baio's lawyer on Arrested Development, "Bob Loblaw."

Saying "Attorney Bob Loblaw" is better than Prozac for your mood.

Bob Loblaw, Bob Loblaw, Bob Loblaw. I'm cheered up already.

Presumably the scriptwriters came up with this very Canadian-sounding name from Bob Loblaw Video Communications, a firm in Vancouver.

A reader comments:

""Say Bob Loblaw three times fast" has been a kids' joke in Canada (at least Ontario) for at least 30 years and probably for much longer than than. I can remember as kids amusing ourselves for days over this. The joke owes it heritage to the largest food chain in Eastern Canada - Loblaw's (www.loblaw.com)."

With kids' jokes that good, no wonder Canada produces so many fine comedians.

That reminds me of my favorite Scott Baio story, about how Baio made a friend of mine extremely happy.:

When you travel, you're always hoping that your stereotypes about the place you're visiting are confirmed. And I've long noticed that the rest of the world - deep down - wants to believe that Los Angelenos are good-looking but spoiled and irresponsible airheads.

This was brought home to me in the early 1980s when a friend of mine from Houston came to stay with me in Santa Monica, Calif. One beautiful day, we were driving down Sunset Blvd. We ran into a traffic jam at Deadman's Curve, a perilous spot made famous by Jan and Dean's 1964 surf rock hit about a fatal street race down Sunset. We finally saw what was causing the rubbernecker's roadblock. An extremely agitated Scott Baio, the hot young 20-year-old star of the new sitcom "Joanie Loves Chachi," was standing, look quite au courant in a Fiorucci warm-up suit, next to his brand new, but utterly totaled, sports car.

Now, I'm sure that Mr. Baio was not in the least at fault for destroying his extraordinarily expensive new car - he probably had selflessly swerved to avoid a kitten, or something. Yet, my Texan friend was filled with malicious glee. That single tableau confirmed every one of his prejudices about La-La Land. He went back to Houston well satisfied with his visit to LA.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

October 6, 2005

Slate.com implies blacks are morons

"Hey, Moron, Uncle Sam Wants You!" is the charming teaser link Slate.com has on its front page today to get you to read its article "The Dumbing-Down of the U.S. Army" about how the Army's plan to increase the number of low IQ and GED-only enlistees it inducts will make the Army "disproportionately black."

Hey, Slate, are you saying that blacks are morons, disproportionately?

Meanwhile, Slate is still listing its demagogic article from Monday, "Natural Unborn Killers: The bigotry of Bill Bennett's low expectations" about how it's not "morally acceptable to predict the criminal propensity of unborn children based on the color of their skin." (By the way, this ringing denunciation of prejudice was written by Slate staffer, Will Saletan, who chose to move in 2000 to a suburb of Washington D.C. that is only 2.7% black!)

Further, the article implies that I, not saintly superstar and Slate contributor Steven D. Levitt, was the first to come up with idea that Levitt's abortion-cut-crime element had a racial component. On Tuesday, I pointed out to Slate employees by email that the racial aspect of Levitt's theory was widely covered before I debated Levitt on Slate. As Ross Douthat notes:

I could go on, but I hope the point is made. Saletan dismisses "the probability that Bennett ever read" Levitt's original articles, which mentioned the intersection of race, crime, and abortion. Well, okay - but isn't it possible that Bennett reads, at least on occasion, the New York Times and the Washington Post? Just asking . . .

I asked them to correct this distortion of the historical record, but more than 48 hours later I haven't heard anything back from anyone at Slate.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

Nobel Foundation shows more backbone than Larry Summers

You may have noticed that, even in the wake of the Larry Summers brouhaha, all 8 winners of the three Nobel Prizes in the hard sciences this year were male. From my article last February 28 in The American Conservative, "The Education of Larry Summers:"

I tried to explain the Larry Summers brouhaha to my wife, but she stumped me with a simple question. I had outlined for her how the president of Harvard, after mentioning that genetic differences could be one possible reason why more men than women are qualified to be Harvard professors of math, engineering, and science, had almost instantly offered three apologies and pledged more affirmative action for women as reparations.

Puzzled, my wife asked, "Why did Summers give in so fast and promise, in effect, to make it harder for our sons to someday get hired there? What's the President of Harvard so scared of?"...

The Nobel Prize lists show a striking pattern: the fuzzier the field, the better women do. Twelve women have won the most political and least intellectually rigorous Nobel Prize, Peace (13 percent of all individual winners), and ten have been Literature laureates (ten percent). In Physiology & Medicine, there have been seven female laureates (four percent). In Chemistry, three (two percent), and in Physics, the most abstract of the Nobels, just two (one percent).

What about mathematics, that most unworldly of subjects? The Fields Medal for mathematicians under age 40 is the equivalent of the Nobel. No women number among its 44 recipients.

But, surely, the trendline must be turning upwards as discrimination lessens?

That's true in Physiology & Medicine, where women won only once before 1977, but six times (nine percent) since. Yet, by aggregating Physics and Chemistry, we can see the opposite pattern: five women ranked among their first 160 laureates, but over the last 40 years, not a single woman features among the latest 160 winners [make that latest 166 winners through 2005].

Overall, in the bad old days from 1901 through 1964, women won 2.5 percent of the hard science Nobels. Since then, they've declined to 2.3 percent.

Why hasn't the feminist era fostered more female scientific geniuses? Perhaps feminism persuaded the top women that they could have it all -- romance, children, and career -- rather than just the lonely celibacy society once demanded from them, and they spread themselves too thin. Moreover, feminism encourages women to indulge in self-pity and resentment, which distract from earning a Nobel.

My wife asked, "So why hasn't the Nobel Foundation bowed to feminist pressure and started the usual crypto-quotas to make women feel better about themselves?"

"Because they don't have to?" I speculated. "After all, they're the Nobel Foundation."

"Exactly," she shot back. "And Larry Summers is the President of Harvard. So why can't he stand up to the feminists, too?"

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

The NYT finally reveals a big truth about school testing

"One Secret to Better Test Scores: Make State Reading Tests Easier"

PARENTS are delighted when state test scores go up. Obviously, their children are getting smarter and the teachers are doing better. Politicians are ecstatic; their school reforms must be working. Indeed, during his re-election campaign, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has repeatedly cited the rise in the city's 2005 fourth-grade test results (up 10 percentage points in English to 59 percent at grade level, and up 9 points in math to 77 percent) as proof that his school programs are a success. "Amazing results," he said, that "should put a smile on the face of everybody in the city."

However, those in the trenches, the teachers and principals, tend to view the scores differently. While they would rather be cheered than booed, they know how much is out of their control.

Take Frances Rosenstein, a respected veteran principal of Public School 159 in the Bronx. Ms. Rosenstein has every right to brag about her school's 2005 test scores. The percentage of her fourth graders who were at grade level in English was 40 points higher than in 2004.

How did she do it? New teachers? No, same teachers. New curriculum? No, same dual-language curriculum for a student body that is 96 percent Hispanic and poor (100 percent free lunches). New resources? Same.

So? "The state test was easier," she said. Ms. Rosenstein, who has been principal 13 years and began teaching in 1974, says the 2005 state English test was unusually easy and the 2004 test unusually hard. "I knew it the minute I opened the test booklets," she said. [More]

The corrupt hole at the heart of the No Child Left Behind law is that states get to make up and manipulate the tests by which the federal government evaluates their progress toward meeting NCLB goals. That should have been obvious all along that NCLB was utterly undermined by this built-in conflict of interest, but the truth was that NCLB is just a feel-good fantasy law. Mandating that all students score as "proficient" on achievement tests by 2013 is simply a demand for the states to corrupt the test.

By the way, one of the more subtle purposes of making the tests easier it to make it look like the racial gaps are narrowing. That's because journalists always measure the racial gap by the simple minded use of percentage point differences rather than by standard deviations. For example, if in Year 1, 84% of the whites 50% of the blacks pass, then the racial gap will be reported in the newspapers as 34 percentage points. Then say the test is made much easier so that 98% of the whites and 84% of the blacks pass. Well, then the racial gap has "narrowed" from 34 to 14 percentage points, so, whoopee, cash bonuses for everybody! But, of course, the racial gap is still about one standard deviation.

Underground statistician La Griffe du Lion pointed out that the racial gap is always going to be zero in percentage point terms for a test so hard that everybody scores 0% or for a test so easy that everybody scores 100%. The racial gap in point difference terms will be largest when scores fall in the middle, so administrators have an incentive to start off with hard tests where scores fall in the middle of the range, then make them progressively easier to make it look like the kids overall are getting smarter and the racial gap is closing.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

Answer to the Flagpole Question

A. "Sergeant, erect that flagpole."

In other words, if the sergeant knows how to do it, then there's no need for you risk, as an officer, making a fool of yourself in front of the enlisted men by issuing some cockamamie order about how to erect the flagpole. If the sergeant doesn't know, well, he'll probably order the corporal to do it, and so forth down the chain of command to Pvt. Beetle Bailey, but by the time the problem comes back up to you, it will be well-established that everyone is as clueless as you are.

John Derbyshire adds:

In the British Army, it would have been:


Bloody Yanks don't know the meaning of the word "discipline."

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

A great military officer qualification test question

Although Malcolm Gladwell claims in his latest New Yorker article that the Marines aren't much interested in whom they select to be a Marine, the reality is that the military has been intensively testing applicants since 1917.

Sci-fi novelist Jerry Pournelle passes along this item he recalls from the Army Officer Candidate School test he passed to become a teenage artillery officer during some of the worst fighting of the Korean War against Mao's million Chinese "volunteers."

"Q. You are in charge of a detail of 11 men and a sergeant. There is a 25 foot flagpole lying on the sandy, brush-covered ground. You are to erect the pole. What is your first order?"

I'll put the answer here so you have time to think about it.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

October 5, 2005


iSteve.com's SiteMeter says the daily average of unique visits is now up over 5,000, with page views daily at 8,295. (Most observers believe SiteMeter misses a lot of traffic, perhaps half, but it's the industry standard measure).

Back on January 6th, 2004, after more than two years of my ranting that we were being led by knaves and informed by fools (and, sometimes for the sake of variety, vice-versa), the iSteve.com average stood at only 600 visits daily. But the next day, George W. Bush announced his Open Borders immigration plan, and soon, one quasi-anticipated idiocy by the politicians and press followed another, and it's been mostly up ever since, as an ever larger slice of the public has come to agree I must be onto something. (Or, on something, whichever you find most entertaining.)

My thanks to all the thousands of you out there.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

Words of wisdom from James Q. Wilson on crime rates and race

With all the nonsense being spouted about race and crime since New Orleans, it's worth turning to America's leading expert on crime, political scientist James Q. Wilson, author of Thinking About Crime. Wilson contributed a chapter to Beyond the Color Line: New Perspectives on Race and Ethnicity in America, a 2002 book edited by the Thernstroms. In it, he wrote:

A central problem—perhaps the central problem—in improving the relationship between white and black Americans is the difference in racial crime rates. No matter how innocent or guilty a stranger may be, he carries with him in public the burdens or benefits of his group identity...

Estimating the crime rates of racial groups is, of course, difficult because we only know the arrest rate. If police are more (or less) likely to arrest a criminal of a given race, the arrest rate will overstate (or understate) the true crime rate. To examine this problem, researchers have compared the rate at which criminal victims report (in the National Crime Victimization Survey, or NCVS) the racial identity of whoever robbed or assaulted them with the rate at which the police arrest robbers or assaulters of different races. Regardless of whether the victim is black or white, there are no significant differences between victim reports and police arrests. This suggests that, though racism may exist in policing (as in all other aspects of American life), racism cannot explain the overall black arrest rate. The arrest rate, thus, is a reasonably good proxy for the crime rate.

Black men commit murders at a rate about eight times greater than that for white men. This disparity is not new; it has existed for well over a century. When historian Roger Lane studied murder rates in Philadelphia, he found that since 1839 the black rate has been much higher than the white rate. This gap existed long before the invention of television, the wide distribution of hand guns, or access to dangerous drugs (except for alcohol).

America is a violent nation. The estimated homicide rate in this country, excluding all those committed by blacks, is over three times higher than the homicide rate for the other six major industrial nations. But whatever causes white Americans to kill other people, it causes black Americans to kill others at a much higher rate.

Of course the average African American male is not likely to kill anybody. During the 1980s and early 1990s, fewer than one out of every 2,000 black men would kill a person in any year, and most of their victims were other blacks. Though for young black men homicide is the leading cause of death, the chances of the average white person’s being killed by a black are very small. But the chances of being hit by lightning are also very small, and yet we leave high ground during a thunderstorm. However low the absolute risk, the relative risk—relative, that is, to the chances of being killed by a white—is high, and this fact changes everything.

When whites walk down the street, they are more nervous when they encounter a black man than when they encounter a white one. When blacks walk down the street, they are more likely than whites to be stopped and questioned by a police officer...

The differences in the racial rates for property crimes, though smaller than those for violent offenses, are still substantial. The estimated rate at which black men commit burglary is three times higher than it is for white men; for rape, it is five times higher. The difference between blacks and whites with respect to crime, and especially violent crime, has, I think, done more to impede racial amity than any other factor. Pure racism—that is, a visceral dislike of another person because of his skin color—has always existed. It is less common today than it once was, but it persists and no doubt explains part of our racial standoff. But pure racism once stigmatized other racial minorities who have today largely overcome that burden. When I grew up in California, the Chinese and Japanese were not only physically distinctive, but they were also viewed with deep suspicion by whites. For many decades, Chinese testimony was not accepted in California courts, an Alien Land Law discouraged Asian land purchases, the Chinese Exclusion Act (not repealed until 1943) prevented Chinese immigration, and a Gentlemen’s Agreement, signed in 1907, required Japan to cut back sharply on passports issued to Japanese who wished to emigrate to California. When World War II began, the Japanese were sent to relocation camps at great personal cost to them. Yet today Californians of Asian ancestry are viewed by Caucasians with comfort and even pride. In spite of their distinctive physical features, no one crosses the street to avoid a Chinese or Japanese youth. One obvious reason is that they have remarkably low crime rates.

The black murder rate, though it is much higher than the rate for whites or Asians, does not always change in the same way as the white rate. Between 1976 and 1991, the murder arrest rate for black males aged twenty- five and older fell dramatically even though the murder arrest rate for the nation as a whole did not change at all. Apparently, adult black men were becoming less violent. But in some years, such as 1965 to the early 1970s, the black murder rate increased much faster than the white rate. By the late 1960s the black rate was over eighteen times higher than the white one. Then, beginning around 1975, the black rate declined while the white rate continued to increase, so that the ratio of black arrests to white arrests fell to around six to one. From 1980 until the present, the rate at which adult blacks and whites are arrested for murder dropped more or less steadily. By contrast, the rate at which black and white juveniles are arrested for murder increased sharply from 1985 to the early 1990s, with the white rate almost doubling and the black rate more than tripling. Starting in the mid- 1990s, the juvenile rate fell again, almost down to the level it was at in 1985.

In short, though the gap sometimes widens and sometimes narrows, white and black homicide rates tend to remain different.

I wonder why Steven D. Levitt forgot to mention all this history of crime rates in Freakonomics? I guess he must not have had enough time to bone up on the actual facts about changes in homicide rate by age group in the 6+ years between the first draft of his 1998 abortion-cut-crime paper and the publication of his book last spring (which, he proudly announced on his website today, has been on the bestseller list for 6 straight months). The only logical alternative to Levitt being simply invincibly ignorant about crime rate history is that he deliberately chose to mislead the public in Freakonomics, perhaps the best-reviewed book of the year. And that couldn't possibly be true or otherwise our country's crack cadre of expert book-reviewers would have noticed he was trying to pull the wool over their eyes.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

Crime statistics: Government agencies are normally ultra-enthusiastic about breaking out Hispanics as a separate demographic category ... except when it comes to crime statistics. Then, most Hispanics are lumped into "White," which has two effects from a political point of view: It makes it harder for citizens concerned about immigration to call attention to the question of why we are importing a gigantic number of new criminals annually. And it makes the black-white crime ratio look not quite as horrendous by inflating the "white" crime rate with Hispanics (who are imprisoned at 2.9 times the non-Hispanic rate).

This stratagem also makes police work less effective because the official shorthand descriptions of the suspects are misleading. The VDARE.com blog has done us the favor of posting the pictures of the 14 Mexican and Guatemalan farmworkers, no doubt illegal immigrants, who have been arrested in Florida for the kidnapping and gang rape of a woman. All are listed by the sheriff's office as "W/M" -- White Males -- but at most 1 of the 14 might strike the average citizen as what we think of as white. Can you imagine being told to look out for 14 "white males" on the loose and then running into these desperados?

(Also new in VDARE, Nicholas Stix's in-depth report on "Diversity Is Strength! It’s Also…Police Corruption."


More crime-race bilge: USA Today columnist DeWayne Hickam uses genuine numbers to prove that racism is the cause of more blacks than whites being in jail:

Bill Bennett's thesis: Racist? Maybe. Wrong? Absolutely.

Of the men and women behind bars last year, 910,200 were black; 777,500 were white and 395,400 were Hispanic, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics...

The Bureau of Justice Statistics' figures represent only those who were jailed for a crime. But according to the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports, more than twice as many whites as blacks (6.7 million to 2.6 million) were arrested in 2003 for committing a crime. Whites made up 70.6% of all people arrested that year — and 60.5% of those arrested for violent crime. Blacks totaled 27.0% of all arrests and accounted for 37.2% of the people arrested for committing a violent crime.

And 2003 was no fluke.

A check of the arrest statistics gathered by the FBI from 1999 through 2003 shows that substantially, more whites than blacks were arrested in each of those years. Why does the black inmate population in jails and prisons exceed that of whites when so many more whites are arrested?

Maybe Bennett and others who view blacks as a criminal class are blinded by their myopia. Maybe they just never bothered to compare the government's data on who gets arrested in the country with who ends up behind bars.

Uh, DeWayne ...

- Because blacks who get arrested have on average committed worse crimes on average than whites, such as homicide, armed robbery, and aggravated assault, which come with longer prison terms. The "Color of Crime, 2005" (new report largely written by Ian Jobling) reports that:

"This means that when all crime categories are added together, blacks were more than twice as likely to be arrested as [whites & Hispanics lumped together]. Blacks were four times more likely to be arrested for violent crimes, and no fewer than eight times more likely to be arrested for robbery."

- Because, on average, individual blacks who get arrested get arrested more often than individual whites who get arrested. When criminal background is controlled for, according to "Color of Crime," convicted blacks are 2% less likely to go to prison and get sentences 6% longer -- only minor differences.

- And because a sizable fraction of the whites who get arrested each year aren't white as the government otherwise uses the term, but are Hispanic. You'll note that if you add together the "white" percentage of arrestees (70.6%) and the black percentage (27.0%), you get 97.6% of all arrestees, leaving only 2.4% left over to account for American Indian, Pacific Islander, and Asian arrestees. Obviously, the Hispanic "ethnic" group has been completely excluded from this arrest breakdown, with most of them being assigned to the "white" race.


Meanwhile, as the debate surges over whether or not Bill Bennett got the idea that Freakonomist Steven D. Levitt's abortion-cut-crime had an explicitly racial component from Levitt himself or from evil old me, over on Levitt's Freakonomics blog, triviality reigns. The last four postings by Levitt or his co-author Stephen J. Dubner consist of the following burning topics:

Sumo in Vegas
Freakonomics at Columbia University?
Lojack for Bikes?
Oh, Crap! [about dog poop in NYC]

By any chance, do you get the impression that Levitt is trying to dodge the Bill Bennett controversy and hopes it all blows over so he can go on being a highly paid celebrity instead of becoming another sacrificial victim to political correctness?

Levitt's cowardice is all very understandable on a what's-in-it-for-me basis, but how are we ever going to break the reign of political piety over free speech unless one of the media's fair-haired boys like Levitt takes a stand?

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

Nicholas Wade of the NYT

Perhaps the single most important figure in the United States in the spread of realism about human genetic biodiversity is the New York Times science reporter Nicholas Wade. Here's an interview with him. Nothing too exciting in it, but here's one exchange:

Wade: Another thing that is very difficult for science reporters to tackle is the fact that most scientific research ends nowhere. People can be very enthusiastic about what they are doing, but just as most drugs fail in clinical trials, many advances that seem very promising don't lead anywhere. So after you have been mistaken a certain number of times, you tend to be a little cautious. Of course, it's then very easy to become far more skeptical than one should be.

Gene therapy, for example, is a field that many thought had promise. It had some successes and some spectacular failures.

That's a field that's been going on for about 15 years. And almost all the coverage throughout the first ten years kept saying gene therapy is great. But in retrospect, it was quite wrong—it wasn't great at all. There were technical obstacles that have still not been overcome. I think the lesson for reporters is that they should not get too caught up in scientists' enthusiasm. It's fine to report that scientists are enthused about some new finding or project, but reporters should remain detached about whether or not it will succeed.

Stem cells are a case in point. The hidden premise of proposals for stem cell therapy is that we needn't understand exactly what is going on because if you just put the cells in the right place they will know what to do. My fear is that we need to understand the total cell circuitry to get stem cells to do anything useful, and that won't happen for years.

That's been my vague impression of stem cells, too, which is one reason I've had so little to say about this big controversy.

A reader writes:

I helped a student do her term paper on embryonic stem cell research, especially as it relates to finding treatments for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. We did a Lexis-Nexis search of all articles in the last 12 months and found practically nothing reporting any advances. All the action was in other areas.

They had better come up with something for the three billion of the California taxpayers dollars that Gov. Ah-nold is handing out to stem cell researchers.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

Don't they have fact-checkers at The New Yorker anymore?

Remember how in Jay McInerney's Bright Lights, Big City, the hapless narrator (known only as "you" in that second person, present tense novel) works as a fact-checker at a magazine just like The New Yorker?

So, how did this from Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink, slip through in his article "GETTING IN The social logic of Ivy League admissions"?

"Social scientists distinguish between what are known as treatment effects and selection effects. The Marine Corps, for instance, is largely a treatment-effect institution. It doesn’t have an enormous admissions office grading applicants along four separate dimensions of toughness and intelligence. It’s confident that the experience of undergoing Marine Corps basic training will turn you into a formidable soldier. A modelling agency, by contrast, is a selection-effect institution. You don’t become beautiful by signing up with an agency. You get signed up by an agency because you’re beautiful."

It's a good distinction in the abstract, but the Marines are a terrible example of an institution unconcerned with "selection effects." The Marine Corps (and the military in general) has a huge "admissions office" that is obsessed with the quality of recruits, and indeed grades potential enlistees along multiple separate dimensions, including toughness (health) and intelligence (IQ)..

For example, the U.S. military is one of the world's largest employers of psychometricians. For the last dozen years, virtually nobody has been allowed to enlist in the military who scores in the bottom 30% of the population on the military's Armed Forces Qualifying IQ test. (This is the IQ test that provides much of the data in The Bell Curve.) Similarly, almost every recruit has had to have a high school degree.

There are lots of restrictions as well on accepting applicants with health problems and criminal records. My brother-in-law was an Air Force recruiter and he had lots of stories about kids who looked like they were going to help him make his quota, but then turned out to be car thieves or meth addicts or whatever. I don't know the actual figure, but I would bet that somewhere between 2/5ths and 3/4ths of all 18-year-olds are virtually ineligible to enlist.

So, what should the editors at The New Yorker have told their glamour boy writer to use as an example instead? If you are looking for a much purer example of a treatment effect institution, you should look at religions. The Black Muslims might be the most impressive example, since they do much of their recruiting in prisons, and have a reputation for sometimes turning around the lives of career criminals. (Apparently, the power of hate in encouraging moral behavior is much underrated.)

As for the rest of the article, it's Gladwell's usual mix of insight and disingenuousness. He recounts how Ivy League admissions became more meritocratic when the College Board testing service was founded in 1905, but by 1922 over a fifth of the students at Harvard were Jewish, so Harvard changed the admissions procedure to give a boost to athletic boys of good (i.e., WASPy) "character."

Gladwell makes the important point that Harvard athletes make more money afterwards (and presumably donate more to Harvard) than their lower SAT scores would suggest, because of their vigor and masculinity.

And he's correctly skeptical about whether or not going to an elite college teaches you anything more (although he ignores a major reason for the modern obsession with getting into the Ivy League: the Supreme Court's 1972 Griggs v. Duke Power decision that radically cut down on the use of IQ tests by employers, while allowing the IQ-like SAT.)

But he is utterly (and no doubt intentionally) misleading in his implication that there has been no major change in Ivy League admissions policy since the "Jewish crisis" of the 1920s led to the development of techniques for recruiting "well-rounded" applicants. There was a massive alteration in the wake of the Sputnik crisis of 1957 that led top colleges to try much harder to boost their average SAT scores. This is explained in depth in bestsellers such as Nicholas Lemann's The Big Test (here's my review) and The Bell Curve, so Gladwell was no doubt aware of this, but chose to ignore it.

For example, Yale was one of the last hold-outs to stick with the old system, which is how mediocrities like George W. Bush (entered 1964) and John F. Kerry (entered 1962) got in. But the class that entered in 1966 was admitted under much stricter policies for test scores and grades, and was radically different in demographics and politics. And radical was a key word. Bush's biographers point out that he became alienated from the new intellectual and leftist atmosphere that dominated Yale (and other elite colleges) during his last two years in college. A little-mentioned key to the famous history of the 1960s was the arrival at the top schools of huge numbers of red-diaper Jewish students raised in Stalinist, Trotskyite, and socialist homes.

Gladwell concludes:

In the nineteen-eighties, when Harvard was accused of enforcing a secret quota on Asian admissions, its defense was that once you adjusted for the preferences given to the children of alumni and for the preferences given to athletes, Asians really weren’t being discriminated against. But you could sense Harvard’s exasperation that the issue was being raised at all. If Harvard had too many Asians, it wouldn’t be Harvard, just as Harvard wouldn’t be Harvard with too many Jews or pansies or parlor pinks or shy types or short people with big ears.

A major purpose of Gladwell's article appears to be, while simultaneously denying that getting into an elite college matters much, to pander to the lucrative market for Jewish self-pity of the "Great-Grandpa had to go to CCNY because Harvard had an anti-Semitic quota" ilk.

He intentionally leaves out all evidence of the collapse of anti-Semitic admissions policies four decades ago. At the end he tries to leave the reader with the impression that the Ivy League today has a shortage of "Jews or pansies or parlor pinks," without presenting any data to support his implication that Jews, gays, and leftists (a big part of the New Yorker subscriber base) are currently discriminated against by the Ivy League.

According to the New York magazine annual "Who Makes How Much" guide, Gladwell's annual income is:

Malcolm Gladwell
$1.5 million
Author, Blink
(advance, plus $250,000 New Yorker salary and $30,000 per speaking engagement)

So, you'd have to say that Gladwell is an expert on profitable pandering. But, it has been asked, "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

Steve Sailer: Anti-Whiteist?

"Sailing Off Course, Part I" is a long attack by J.B. Cash of CasteFootball.us on my writings on sports and race. Usually, I get denounced from the left for pointing out that blacks on average are better at basketball and many positions in football, but Cash criticizes me from the right for being unfair to white athletes, who, he says, are discriminated against by coaches and sportswriters.

Cash is way over the top, and has lots of not-nice things to say about me, but I've been slowly coming around to think that he is onto something, although not to the extent he believes. When you look at NFL positions like tailback and cornerback that are now 99% black (or Samoan), it sure seems suspicious. (By the way, Tom Wolfe's white college basketball players in I Am Charlotte Simmons felt the same way as Cash does: that their coach only saw whites as benchwarmers or rebounders.)

For example, Arkansas QB Matt Jones, 6'-6" 229 lbs and also a starter on the basketball team, was probably the most gifted athlete in last year's draft, but nobody wants a white running quarterback. So, he volunteered to switch to wide receiver, where his blazing 4.37 speed would be most valuable, but most of the scouts wanted him instead to bulk up to play the stereotypical white position of tight end. He finally put his foot down and refused to add muscle that would just slow him down and make him a less special athlete. So, finally, the NFL came around to the idea of letting him play the black position of wide receiver.

My off-the-top of my head guess is that NFL positions that are almost 0% white would be, say, 20% white if talent was the only consideration. Maybe half that shortfall would be due to discrimination and underestimation by coaches. (Cash makes the shrewd point that coaches can better afford to err on the side of starting a black over a white when he's unsure who is better -- nobody will call him a racist in the newspaper, the white player is more likely to take his benchwarmer role with good grace than the black player, etc.) And the other half of the shortfall would be attributable to whites getting discouraged and not making the effort to make it at those positions.

But nobody in the media is interested in writing about this issue at all. They are scared to even mention what we all observe with our lying eyes -- that some positions are almost all black -- because that would suggest there might be, like, you know, differences between the races on average. And who wants to end up the next Bill Bennett?

Cash's theory of discrimination against whites has a testable implication straight from Nobel Laureate economist Gary Becker's 1957 book A Theory of Discrimination: NFL teams with more whites should outperform teams of the same salary budget.

Back in my 1996 National Review article on Jackie Robinson, How Jackie Robinson Desegregated America, I showed that the teams that integrated earliest and most enthusiastically (such as the Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Giants, Boston/Milwaukee Braves, and Cleveland Indians) benefited in the won-loss column, while Ted Williams' Boston Red Sox and Stan Musial's St. Louis Cardinals, the participants in the 1946 World Series, declined in quality after Robinson entered the league in 1947 because they refused to add blacks until the late 1950s. As Becker demonstrated, under the doctoral dissertation guidance of Milton Friedman, irrational discrimination is costly to competitive firms like sports teams.

Similarly, my 2003 article "Baseball's Hidden Ethnic Bias," showed that baseball's establishment had long been irrationally discriminating against American-born hitters, white and black, because until recently they had overvalued the high batting averages (but low on-base percentages) of free-swinging Latin-born players.

So, if some NFL teams are discriminating more against whites than others, it should show up in the won-loss column (adjusted for salary of course). Three-time Super Bowl champions New England has a whiter-than average team, so that's one data point in Cash's favor, but I don't know what a full study would find. Anybody want to try it?

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

October 4, 2005

Saletan's suburb

Slate's national correspondent William Saletan has denounced both Bill Bennett and myself in an article entitled "Natural Unborn Killers: The bigotry of Bill Bennett's low expectations." Saletan claims that it is not "morally acceptable to predict the criminal propensity of unborn children based on the color of their skin."

In response, I pointed out that Bennett was not predicting based on the color of the unborn children's future skin, but on the current behavior of their parents.

So, did Saletan follow his own moral advice when buying a house for himself and his family?

When you buy a home, you are making a bet about the future behavior of your neighbors and their children. For instance, in 1988, my wife and I bought a fairly inexpensive condominium in the then unfashionable Uptown neighborhood in Chicago's far northern lakefront. This is the most diverse neighborhood in Chicago, if not in all of America. We bet that the crime rate in Uptown was going to be less bad than many people expected, and that we would therefore make some money on our risky investment. After many slow years, that eventually turned out to be true, and we did well for ourselves when we sold 12 years later. (On the other hand, it wasn't good for our kids to grow up where they couldn't play on the street without being closely watched, so it was probably a mistake to buy there even though the crime trend moved in the direction we bet on.)

A different strategy is to buy into a definitely safe neighborhood with very low crime demographics. You have to pay a big premium upfront, but you know you aren't in danger of either being mugged or of the neighborhood's reputation for safety remaining dubious. And you can be pretty certain that the next generation of children born there will be law-abiding too, so you don't have to worry about being mugged by your neighbors' kids.

So, what did Mr. William it's-immoral-to-make-predictions-about-crime-based-on-race Saletan do with his own money?

Saletan, a native of Texas, lives and works in the Washington D.C. region, which is a highly diverse metropolitan area with no shortage of predominantly black neighborhoods in which he and his family could live. Some of these suburbs are fairly affluent, such as Prince George's County, MD. (The late Sam Francis, for instance, lived in Prince George's County.)

Saletan, though, has chosen not to live in Prince George's County, but instead five years ago, he and his wife bought into a very different Maryland suburb (I won't mention the name of the suburb to protect his privacy). The racial makeup of the suburb he moved to five years ago is:

Races in XXX:
* White (Not Hispanic) (81.7%)
* Latino (5.5%)
* African-American (2.7%)
* Chinese (2.5%)
* Two and/or more races (2.1%)
* Asian East Indian (1.8%)
* Misc. races (1.2%)
* Koreans (1.1%)
* Japanese (0.9%)
* Other *( Asian) (0.8%)
* Philipino (0.7%)

Degrees -- Professional and/or graduate: 49%
Household median income: $99,096 (year 2000)
House median value: $395,850 (year 2000 - God only know what it is today)

(I altered the numbers ever so slightly to make it hard for anyone to Google on them and find Saletan's suburb from them, but I didn't change the impact of the numbers .)

I'm sure Saletan was not discriminating against blacks when he moved to a D.C. suburb that only 2.7% black. I'm sure race had nothing to do with his choice. No, I'm sure he was just looking for a "safe neighborhood" with "good schools" and all those other euphemisms that whites use when they explain why they moved far away from blacks.

In 2000, Saletan wrote in Slate a description of the suburb he and his wife had just moved to:

People here are communal about the security patrol and the book club and the gardening club, but they are not communal about what is really important: property. The point of living in a nice American suburb, after all, is to have your own stuff. We recently met a young couple who live up the street and were invited into their house to participate in our national pastime, which we call envy. I was impressed with their foyer and their living room and their many bedrooms, but what has occupied my fantasies ever since is the husband's home gym... In XXX, however, the definitive sign of achievement is to possess your own weightlifting equipment. Whether you use it when others aren't looking is optional.

Like everyone else who has recently moved into the neighborhood, you will soon get a letter asking whether you might be willing to sell your house. This is because everyone is trying to buy a house in Washington right now, and nobody is selling them, so real estate agents are asking total strangers who had no intention of moving how much it will take to change their minds. The result is that housing prices have gone haywire. We like to call this perfect system capitalism. In Cuba, people talk about someday owning a nice house. In XXX, people who own nice houses talk about owning nicer houses, or at least about turning their houses into nicer houses by hiring contractors. Because our capitalist economy works so perfectly, good contractors have all the work they can handle, and the people in XXX are hitting each other up for advice on how to find somebody good to remodel their kitchens. My wife has excellent advice on this subject. Perhaps we will be able to trade it for symphony tickets.

One more thing. You will see a lot of parents with strollers and toddlers on the street in the evenings and on weekends. The neighborhood seems to be going through a transition. Old people are moving out, and young people with kids are moving in.

How about that 49% of residents have graduate or professional degrees!

Obviously, Saletan doesn't believe that you can predict anything about children from their parents...

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

Slate says blacks are dumber than average!

This is almost too good to be true! Just hours after Slate published William Saletan's incredibly strained condemnation of Bill Bennett's remarks, Slate turns around and publishes "The Dumbing-Down of the U.S. Army: And some modest proposals for countering the trend" by Slate's military writer Fred Kaplan. The Slate article criticizes the U.S. Army's new plan to get more recruit by lowering its high school graduation and IQ standards. One reason Kaplan gives is that that lowering cognitive requirements will make the Army more black!

"Further evidence that the war in Iraq is wrecking the U.S. Army: Recruiters, having failed to meet their enlistment targets, are now being authorized to pursue high-school dropouts and (not to mince words) stupid people... More than that, the Los Angeles Times reports today that 4 percent of recruits will be allowed to score as low as in the 16th to 30th percentile—a grouping known as "Category IV"—on the U.S. Armed Forces' mental-aptitude exam.

By the way, this mental-aptitude exam, the AFQT, is the exact same one that provides the bulk of the data for Richard J. Herrnstein's and Charles Murray's infinitely denounced The Bell Curve. Kaplan continues:

As of 2003 (the last year for which official data are available), just 6 percent of active-duty Army soldiers lacked a high-school diploma or a GED. Just 1 percent scored in Category IV on the aptitude test.

Not since the mid-1980s—when the military brass first decided to reject low-scoring applicants—have the all-volunteer Army's standards been allowed to dip so steeply.

Well, to be precise, Congress banned the enlistment of anyone scoring below the 10th percentile back in the early 1950s because of documented trouble in training and accident prevention among people with IQs of 80 or less. In 1992, the military virtually stopped accepting new enlistees below the 30th percentile (IQs below 92, which is about half a standard deviation above the African-American median). Since the end of the Cold War, only 1% of new enlistees have scored below the 30th percentile.

Several career officers are dismayed by this new policy—not least because it reverses the progress that has been made these past two decades in the buildup of a professional army.

In the mid- to late-1970s—in the wake of the Vietnam War, the height of popular disenchantment with the military, and the start of the all-volunteer armed forces—as many as half of U.S. soldiers hadn't finished high school, and as many as one-third were Category IV.

One of the little-known reasons for the notoriously low quality of enlistees during the Carter Era was the "Misnorming" fiasco:

The military's norms for scoring applicant's entrance tests results on the new ASVAB (the 10 subtest exam of which four were the traditional highly g-loaded IQ-like tests, long known as the AFQT, the ones used in The Bell Curve) were set wrong (too easy), and thus the military let in many applicants from 1976-1980 that they would have rejected if they had known how stupid they really were.

Misnorming was corrected in 1980, then Reagan pushed through pay raises for soldiers and boosted patriotism. The test scores and subsequent on-the-job performance of recruits went way up, then reached a peak in the post-Cold War era when the military downsized and shed a lot of lesser talent. The average IQ of new enlistees (not even counting officers) has been over 100 for at least the last 13 years.

The new policy will leave the Army's ranks in far better shape than they were back then. But officers, analysts, and many recruiters are disturbed by the trend, the lowering of a barrier, the reversal of an accomplishment.

Should they be disturbed? Is it important that nearly all our soldiers have a diploma or score better than abysmally on an aptitude test? Yes and yes, for at least two reasons.

The first reason is sociopolitical. Not many nations have an all-volunteer army, and the concept could not be sustained if the burden of service fell entirely on the lowest classes—on those who joined the military because they couldn't find jobs elsewhere. The inequity would be intensified—rendered impossible to ignore—if the face of this lower-class army were disproportionately black. This was precisely the kind of military we had in the early days of the all-volunteer force: overwhelmingly poor, uneducated, and African-American. But this is no longer the case. The racial mix, reading levels, and aptitude scores of today's Army are not much different from those of 18-to-24-year-olds in American society as a whole. [Emphasis mine.]

Calling William Saletan! Your colleague Fred Kaplan is making the racist assumption that young blacks will continue to have lower IQs in the future. Time to crucify him like you did to William Bennett.

Kaplan, though, is certainly right: the black-white gap when the AFQT was renormed in 1998 was 14.7 IQ points.

Interestingly, that was down from the anomalously large 18.6 point black-white gap found on the 1980 renorming of the AFQT (a recent meta-analysis of over 100 IQ studies covering over 6 million individuals found an average black-white gap of 16.5 points). Subsequent analysis suggests that the unusually low scores achieved by black males on the AFQT in 1980 was caused by blacks being more likely to give up and not try to finish the 105 page long paper-based test after they realized they weren't going to do well on it.

The 1998 version of AFQT is given on a computer which adjusts to how well the test-taker is doing. If you miss a lot of early questions, the program will then give you easier questions. This makes taking the test less depressing for low IQ individuals, so that somebody who, say, would have given up halfway through the old 105 page test and gotten a 65 might keep going and get a 75 instead.

Also, it's quite possible that the black-white IQ gap is narrowing in real terms. Charles Murray presents some evidence suggesting it might be down to only 14 points now. So, Saletan can plausibly argue that we don't know what the IQ gap will be, if it exists at all, in, say, 2150 A.D. But, if Saletan wants to put his money where his mouth is and bet me that the racial IQ gap will disappear within my lifetime, well, I would be happy to relieve him of his money.

Kaplan goes on to argue that the difference in test scores (and graduation rates) has real world consequences:

But the point of an army is to fight wars, not to promote social equality. So, the more critical reason to lament the Army's declining standards is their likely impact on military skills. This is a high-tech army, where even tank crews and artillery spotters deal with digital displays and computerized commands. Low-tech missions, too—foot soldiers on patrol in the sorts of "stability operations" they're conducting in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Bosnia—require a degree of alertness, sensitivity, initiative, even rudimentary foreign-language skills, that goes beyond a rote ability to follow orders and shoot straight.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

Saletan's Hypocrisy

In his Slate article "Natural Unborn Killers: The bigotry of Bill Bennett's low expectations," William Saletan enunciates what has become the fallback position for those wanting to crucify Bill Bennett. Saletan writes:

Is it morally acceptable to predict the criminal propensity of unborn children based on the color of their skin? That's what former education secretary and drug czar Bill Bennett did last Wednesday on his radio show.

No, that's not what Bennett was doing. He was making a statistical prediction about the criminal propensity of (a large group of) unborn children based on the behavior of their parents.

That's what everybody does in their personal lives.

How many times do you think Mr. Saletan has talked to a young couple who are planning to have children and they are searching for a suburb with public schools where their children will be safe from violence and surrounded by academically-oriented peers? But, notice, none of these potential future classmates that the prospective parents are so concerned about ... have been born yet!

If Mr. Saletan told the couple that they could pick up a cheap house on Martin Luther King Drive, they'd look at him funny for a minute and then probably think he was referring to Chris Rock's famous joke:

"If a friend calls you on the telephone and says they're lost on Martin Luther King Boulevard and they want to know what they should do, the best response is ‘Run!’”

What would they say if Mr. Saletan then told them that it is not "morally acceptable to predict the criminal propensity of unborn children based on the color of their skin?"

They'd probably tell him to go raise his children on MLK Drive.

In the unlikely event that Mr. Saletan wouldn't then slink away in shame, but persisted and demanded to know whether they think there is a genetic cause for why children tend to be like parents, they'd probably reply that they aren't scientists or sociologists, and there are probably lots of reasons kids tend to be like their parents, but what they do know is that they are going to play the odds and do what's safest for their future children. And if that means making predictions of the behavior of unborn children based on the behavior of their parents, so be it.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

Slate: It's Sailer's Fault:

Slate.com runs a deeply misleading essay by their "Human Nature" columnist William Saletan entitled "Natural Unborn Killers: The bigotry of Bill Bennett's low expectations." I'll get back to explaining the hypocrisy of Saletan's central argument later, but let me start with the parts about me. Saletan writes:

Here's what Bennett's defenders are saying...

6. The idea of linking crime and abortion to race came from liberals. Bennett implies he got the idea from Slate: "The author of Freakonomics, Steve Levitt, engages the theory that abortion reduces crime, and he also discusses, as I did, the racial implications of abortion and crime. And he does that in an extended debate on Slate.com."

Sorry, wrong again. Here's Levitt's debate in Slate. Paste his comments into a word-processing file and run a search for the word "black." You won't find it. The only person who brings up race in the exchange is Steve Sailer, a conservative Bennett supporter. Levitt shrugs it off, saying "race really is not an integral part of the story." As to Bennett's latest comments, Levitt repeats,

Race is not an important part of the abortion-crime argument … [O]nce you control for income, the likelihood of growing up in a female-headed household, having a teenage mother, and how urban the environment is, the importance of race disappears for all crimes except homicide. (The homicide gap is partly explained by crack markets). In other words, for most crimes a white person and a black person who grow up next door to each other with similar incomes and the same family structure would be predicted to have the same crime involvement.

Sailer and Taranto point out that four years ago, Levitt mentioned the black crime rate in a paragraph deep in a 67-page article in the Quarterly Journal of Economics. Please. The probability that Bennett ever read this article is zero.

My reply:

Dear Mr. Saletan:

Your essay today about the abortion-crime question is deeply misleading about the question of who first injected race into the abortion-crime controversy. That distinction belongs to Dr. Steven D. Levitt, bestselling co-author of Freakonomics and a contributor to Slate.com this year, and his research partner Dr. John J. Donohue III.

You imply that I first brought up the fact that blacks have both higher abortion and higher crime rates, but that is wrong.

The linkage between race, crime, and abortion is in the earliest draft paper written by Steven D. Levitt and John J. Donohue in December 1998, which bears the striking title "THE IMPACT OF RACE ON POLICING, ARREST PATTERNS, AND CRIME." In it they write:

"The selective-abortion channel will operate if the women who have abortions are those most at risk to give birth to children who would engage in criminal activity. Women who choose to have abortions are not a random subset of all pregnant women; teenagers, unmarried women, and African-Americans are all substantially more likely to seek abortions (Levine et al. 1996). Recent studies have found children born to these mothers to be at higher risk for committing crime in adolescence."

Levitt and Donohue then presented their idea that abortion-cut-crime at seminars at prestigious universities. In the summer of 1999, their theory was leaked to the Chicago Tribune, where I first read about it.

The Levitt-Donohue theory caused an instant sensation, and reports that race played a role in their theory were widespread in the mass media. For example, the New York Times reported on August 20, 1999, three days before the debate between Dr. Levitt and myself in Slate:

"'Most of the reduction,' Dr. Levitt and Dr. Donohue write, 'appears to be attributable to higher rates of abortion by mothers whose children are most likely to be at risk for future crime.' Teen-agers, unmarried women and black women, for example, have higher rates of abortion, the researchers note, and children born to mothers in these groups are statistically at higher risk for crime in adulthood."

Then, in their 2001 paper "The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime," Levitt and Donohue explicitly quantified the sizable role that race played in their theory:

"Fertility declines for black women are three times greater than for whites (12 percent compared to 4 percent). Given that homicide rates of black youths are roughly nine times higher than those of white youths, racial differences in the fertility effects of abortion are likely to translate into greater homicide reductions. Under the assumption that those black and white births eliminated by legalized abortion would have experienced the average criminal propensities of their respective races, then the predicted reduction in homicide is 8.9 percent. In other words, taking into account differential abortion rates by race raises the predicted impact of abortion legalization on homicide from 5.4 percent to 8.9 percent."

Since then, such as in his huge bestseller Freakonomics, Levitt has been trying to cover his tracks to avoid being crucified for political incorrectness, but thanks to the Internet, the historical record is indisputable.

The funny thing about all this is that I have been arguing for six years that Levitt's racial logic didn't work, that the Levitt Effect DIDN'T HAPPEN. I first brought up race in my debate with Levitt to show that his theory's logical prediction that legalized abortion would cut the murder rate more among blacks than whites (because blacks use legal abortion about three times more) was flatly contradicted by history. The overall teen homicide rate for the first cohort born after legalization was hugely higher than that of the last cohort born before legalization, and, in contravention of Levitt's logic, the growth in the murder rate among black teens was even worse. As I wrote in your publication in 1999:

Here's the acid test. Your logic implies that the babies who managed to get born in the '70s should have grown up to be especially law-abiding teens in the early '90s. Did they?

Not exactly. In reality, they went on the worst youth murder spree in American history. According to FBI statistics, the murder rate for 1993's crop of 14- to 17-year-olds (who were born in the high-abortion years of 1975 to 1979) was a horrifying 3.6 times that of the kids who were 14 to 17 years old in 1984 (who were born in the pre-legalization years of 1966 to 1970). (Click here to see the graph.) In dramatic contrast, over the same time span the murder rate for those 25 and over (all born before legalization) dropped 6 percent.

Your model would also predict that the recent decline in crime should have shown up first among the youngest, but the opposite was true. The murder rate for 35- to 49-year-olds has been falling since the early '80s, and for 25- to 34-year-olds since 1991, but the two most homicidal years for 14- to 17-year-olds were 1993 and 1994.

The dubiousness of your theory becomes even more obvious when we break down this post-Roe vs. Wade generation by race.

Now, you say that your theory isn't "about race," but simply about the greater likelihood that "unwanted" babies will grow up to be bad guys. That correlation sounds plausible. Still any realistic theory about abortion and crime must deal with the massive correlation between violence and race. As you note, African-Americans have three times the abortion rate of whites. You don't mention, however, that, as Janet Reno's Justice Department flatly states that "blacks are 8 times more likely than whites to commit homicide." Therefore, blacks commit more murders than whites in total as well as per capita.

So, let's look at just black males born in 1975 to 1979. Since their mothers were having abortions at three times the white rate, that should have driven down their youth murder rate. Instead, from 1984 to 1993 the black male youth homicide rate grew an apocalyptic 5.1 times. (Click here to see graph.) This black juvenile rate also grew relative to the white juvenile murder rate, from five times worse in 1984 to 11 times worse in 1993.

You can read far more about how Levitt's logic didn't work at www.iSteve.com/abortion.htm .

I would greatly appreciate you clearing up the misleading aspects of your article.

Best wishes,

Steve Sailer

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

October 3, 2005

Fake Wake

The NYT article of September 25th about a purported educational miracle in Wake County, North Carolina entitled "As Test Scores Jump, Raleigh Credits Integration by Income" has been thoroughly trashed by Parapundit.

The intention of the No Child Left Behind act isn't all that bad, but the Achilles heel of the law is the blatant conflict of interest that's written into it: States must meet requirements for test score gains, but the states are allowed to design, administer, and grade their own tests! That's like passing a law requiring the accounting of the Trump Organization to be audited by Donald Trump.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

Great Nobel Prize choice

Gregory Cochran's hero Barry Marshall and his research partner Robin Warren win the Nobel Prize in medicine for a discovery that has alleviated much human pain at very little cost, and provided an inspiration for Cochran's "New Germ Theory:"

STOCKHOLM, Sweden - Australians Barry J. Marshall and Robin Warren won the 2005 Nobel Prize in medicine on Monday for showing that bacterial infection, not stress, was to blame for painful ulcers in the stomach and intestine.

The 1982 discovery transformed peptic ulcer disease from a chronic, frequently disabling condition to one that can be cured by a short regimen of antibiotics and other medicines, the Nobel Prize committee said.

Thanks to their work, it has now been established that the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, which the new Nobel winners discovered, is the most common cause of peptic ulcers.

"This was very much against prevailing knowledge and dogma because it was thought that peptic ulcer disease was the result of stress and lifestyle," Staffan Normark, a member of the Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska institute, said at a news conference.

The Australians' proposal of a microbial cause instead was "very controversial and unexpected," said Goran Hansson, who chairs the Nobel committee that awards the medicine or physiology prize. "They had to spend the first few years convincing the rest of the world."

Marshall even deliberately infected himself with the bacterium in 1985 and showed that it caused stomach illness, noted Lord May of Oxford, president of Britain's Royal Society. Marshall suffered inflammation, which can lead to an ulcer.

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