March 3, 2006

The new March 27th issue

of The American Conservative is now available to electronic subscribers. I particularly liked Diana Moon's Taki-esque article on the decline of the Winter Olympics from Jean-Claude Killy to the Flying Tomato, even though she has much better taste than I do. (Hey, I think snowboardcross is, like, gnarly, dog [dawg?]).

Ex-CIA man Philip Giraldi's always interesting "Deep Background" gossip column for spies has a paragraph on something that readers have been bringing up in emails to me:

"There is increasing speculation that tension between the United States and Iran, ostensibly based on concerns about nuclear weapons, might actually be fueled by Iran's campaign to exert pressure on the U.S. Dollar. Iran intends to open an oil-trading bourse on March 20, which would compete with the existing bourses in New York and London, where nearly all oil is traded. The existing arrangement is denominated in dollars, which forces Europeans and nearly all other purchasers of oil to maintain large dollar reserves. The Iranian bourse will be denominated in euros and will make it possible for many central banks around the world to get rid of their dollars, possibly lead to a sharp drop in the currency's value."

I must confess that even when I was majoring in economics, international currency economics struck me as Black Magic that I would never ever truly understand. So, I've consoled myself since by assuming that questions like what currency oil is traded in are purely "nominal" and the magic of the market would have already adjusted for the underlying values, so shifts from one currency as the denominator to another would be immaterial. But, maybe I'm kidding myself? If you understand this stuff, please let me know what's going on.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Malcolm in the Muddle

Another classic Gladwell brainstorm from his latest interview on ESPN:

There's a famous experiment done by a wonderful psychologist at Columbia University named Dan Goldstein. He goes to a class of American college students and asks them which city they think is bigger -- San Antonio or San Diego. The students are divided. Then he goes to an equivalent class of German college students and asks the same question. This time the class votes overwhelmingly for San Diego. The right answer? San Diego. So the Germans are smarter, at least on this question, than the American kids. But that's not because they know more about American geography. It's because they know less. They've never heard of San Antonio. But they've heard of San Diego and using only that rule of thumb, they figure San Diego must be bigger. The American students know way more. They know all about San Antonio. They know it's in Texas and that Texas is booming. They know it has a pro basketball team, so it must be a pretty big market. Some of them may have been in San Antonio and taken forever to drive from one side of town to another -- and that, and a thousand other stray facts about Texas and San Antonio, have the effect of muddling their judgment and preventing them from getting the right answer.

Okay, but what if Dr. Goldstein had asked which city is bigger -- San Jose or San Francisco? The German students may never heard of San Jose, but San Francisco is world famous, so it has to be bigger, right?

Except, it's not:

San Jose, California (pop 900,443)

San Francisco, California (pop 764,049)

Anyway, that the American students know that San Diego (pop 1,259,532) and San Antonio (pop 1,194,222) are quite similar in size is more valuable in the long run for most purposes than the Germans knowing which one is larger but not knowing how similar they are.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Elite tastes: depressing entertainment, schmaltzy science

In a survey of the public's taste in books, happy endings were hugely preferred:

"Young people were most likely to prefer books with a sad ending - 8.6% of under 16s. Those aged 41-65, however, a group with more personal experience of sadness, dislike sad endings, with only 1.1% preferring books that end this way."

Economist-aesthete Tyler Cowen of Marginal Revolution commented:

"You must know by now, of course, that I prefer most of my endings tragic, or ambiguous, with a few happy tales thrown in to make the tragedies a surprise when they come. (Is it the dirty little secret of elite culture that we would be bored if in fact we had everything our way?) In fact all of you unwashed-masses-happy-endings-loving viewers subsidize me. You support so much feel-good slop that when something meaty does come along, I am genuinely shocked and delighted."

When I interviewed Steven Pinker, author of The Blank Slate, he made an astute comment about the paradox of modern elite tastes:

"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."

Personally, I like honesty in science and (more than most critics) happy endings in art, because, as Nabokov pointed out, art is artifice, not realism. So why shouldn't the artist whip up an artificially satisfying ending, just as he's expected to make his work more beautiful or more intense or more interesting than real life? My favorite happy ending is in Evelyn Waugh's Scoop, where the great satirist contrives to give every single character exactly what they wanted (and give it to them good and hard).

Generally, novels with sad endings are not particularly depressing because the hero gets to do a lot of living before something bad happens to him. Nobody is much depressed that Rhett Butler leaves Scarlett O'Hara at the end of Gone With the Wind because she's enjoyed 1,000 pages of memorable adventures before then.

What are incredibly depressing, however, are contemporary literary short stories, which always end with the protagonist having some disillusioning "epiphany." The problem is that you don't get to see the character do much living before then, so the endings are just bleak. That explains a lot about why nobody pays to read short stories anymore.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

I Believe that Children Are Our Future Dept.

Email of the Day from America's Youth: I get a lot of emails from students requesting help with their high school projects. Here's the latest (and all-time greatest):

hey steve my name is gus, i am doing a project at school in a group. i need some info on whale sailers in the 1700 please help me man i have to find out the requirements to be one or what their lives were like

thanks man

I'd love to write your report for you, Gus, but, tragically, the Sailers are descended from Swiss ropemakers ("seilers"), not whale sailors.

(By the way, the switch in spelling from "Seiler" to "Sailer" came a few hundred years ago when an ancestor was elected mayor of the village of Wil and decided to change the name to show off the family's high-falutin' new status, just like an Englishman changing his name from "Smith" to "Smythe.")

Another email has just arrived:

yo steve since your helping that other guy with his whale sailer project..... could you help me with a school report on stevedores?

Like what they do, how much they make, etc?

This of course is why I'm qualified to comment on the Dubai Ports controversy, and, say, David Brooks is not. His expertise is in floods, fishing, and fighting giants.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The Persistence of the Steve Sailer Panhandling Drive:

I want to thank everybody who was so generous during Day 1 of my first keep-me-writing fundraising drive of 2006. It really makes me feel appreciated. We're still a long way from the goal, but I'm feeling a lot more optimistic than just 24 hours ago thanks to you all.

So, let me review the four ways to contribute:

[1.] Peter Brimelow writes:

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT FOR STEVE SAILER FANS: Our regular Sunday night columnist Steve Sailer is one of the jewels of contemporary science journalism and it’s a mystery to me (and to him) why he’s not been stolen from VDARE.COM by the Mainstream Media. Well, actually, it’s not a mystery. Steve pushes the envelope too much. That’s why we’re here at VDARE.COM—and why we have to develop our own funding sources a.k.a you.

We want to commission Steve to begin a major project, separate from his columns, the results of which will be published in longer pieces, working towards a possible book. The topic: the implications of modern discoveries in the human biodiversity area for the survival and success of the American nation. Donations to this project will be tax-deductible. You can make credit card contributions here; or fax credit card details here; you can snail mail checks made out to "Lexington Research Institute" and marked on the memo line (lower left corner) “Biodiversity/ National Project” to the usual address:

Lexington Research Institute
P.O. Box 1195
Washington CT 06793

Now, if tax deductibility isn't relevant to you (e.g., you live outside the U.S.), you might find it simpler to donate directly to me through [2.] Paypal or [3.] Amazon, or [4.] just email me and I'll email back my Post Office Box address.

Click Here to PayLearn MoreAmazon Honor SystemYou don't need to have a PayPal or Amazon account already to donate, just a credit card. (Or you can E-mail me and I'll send you my P.O. Box number.)

Paypal and Amazon charge $0.30 per transaction and 2.9% of the total, so I only get to keep 41% of a $1 donation, but 96.8% of a $100 donation!

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Stephen Jay Gould's widow has filed a malpractice suit

against the doctor who once saved his life in 1982. The AP reports:

"Gould had a long-standing relationship with Mayer dating to 1982, when Gould was diagnosed with another form of cancer, peritoneal mesothelioma [which is frequently caused by asbestos, leading to lots of litigation], according to the lawsuit. Gould was cured of that illness and saw Mayer a number of times a year for cancer screenings, the lawsuit said.

"Although Gould's original cancer was unrelated to the lung cancer that ultimately killed him, because of Gould's cancer history, doctors "would have a heightened duty to look for lung cancers," [lawyer] MacDonald said. Gould's cancer history "was a literal flashing red light warning," according to the lawsuit. "That warning was inexplicably, negligently and ... grossly negligently ignored by the three defendants...

"The lawsuit does not specify the damages being sought, but says that Dr. Gould earned $300,000 a year from speaking engagements alone, that "a seven-figure income was his norm" and that when he died he was about to enter into a book contract for more than $2 million."

Gould was very brave to survive mesothelioma in 1982, when he was only given 8 months to live after his diagnosis. Here's the essay he wrote about his cancer, which I found encouraging when I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 1996.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

March 2, 2006

Malcolm Gladwell says I was right

Yesterday, I compared the quality of Gladwell's prose in The New Yorker to the stuff he posts on his own and I suggested he benefited from the New Yorker support staff system. Today, a reader sends me a new interview that Bill Simmons of ESPN conducted with Gladwell, where he admits it:

"I write for the New Yorker, so I have an entire army of high-IQ fact checkers, and editors and copy editors working with me. To stretch the quarterback analogy here, I'm Jake Plummer [a normally mediocre quarterback who had a fine season this year due to his brilliant coaching staff]: I work in an offensive system designed to make me look way better than I actually am."

Then, to prove it, we get this exchange:

Simmons: "Can you explain the Contract Year phenomenon for me? What is it about the mentality of professional athletes where they sign huge contracts, then they either mail in the rest of their careers, or it takes them the requisite, "All right, I just made a crapload of money, maybe I don't have to try as hard" year before they bounce back in the second year? ... And why does this happen mostly in the NBA, and almost always with tall centers?" ...

Gladwell: This is one of my favorite topics. Let's do Erick Dampier. In his contract year at Golden State, he essentially doubles his rebounds and increases his scoring by 50 percent. Then, after he signs with Dallas, he goes back to the player he was before. What can we conclude from this? The obvious answer is that effort plays a much larger role in athletic performance than we care to admit. When he tries, Dampier is one of the top centers in the league. When he doesn't try, he's mediocre. So a big part of talent is effort. The second obvious answer is that performance (at least in centers) is incredibly variable. The same person can be a mediocre center one year and a top 10 center the next just based on how motivated he is. So is Dampier a top 10 player or a mediocre player? There is no way to answer that. It depends. He's not inherently good or bad. He's both. The third obvious answer is that coaching matters. If you are a coach who can get Dampier to try, you can turn a mediocre center into a top 10 center. And you, the coach, will be enormously valuable. (This is why Phil Jackson is worth millions of dollars a year.) If you are a coach who can't get Dampier to try, then you're not that useful. (You may want to insert the name Doc Rivers at this point.)

In the context of sports, none of us have any problem with any of these conclusions. But now let's think about it in the context of education. An inner city high school student fails his classes and does abysmally on his SATs. No college will take him, and he's basically locked out of the best part of the job market. Why? Because we think that grades and SATs tell us something fundamental about that kid's talent and ability -- or, in this case, lack of it.

But wait: what are the lessons of the contract year? A big part of talent is effort. Maybe this kid is plenty smart enough, and he's just not trying. More to the point, how can we say he isn't smart. If talent doesn't really mean that much in the case of Dampier -- if basketball ability is incredibly variable -- why don't we think of ability in the case of this kid as being incredibly variable? And finally, what does the kid need? In the NBA, we'd say he needed Phil Jackson or Hubie Brown or maybe just a short-term contract. We'd think that we could play a really important role in getting Dampier to play harder. So why don't we think that in the case of the kid? I realize I'm being a bit of a sloppy liberal here. But one of the fascinating things about sports, it seems to me, is that when it comes the way we think about professional athletes, we're all liberals (without meaning to be, of course). We give people lots of chances. (Think Jeff George). We go to extraordinary lengths to help players reach their potential. We're forgiving of mistakes. When the big man needs help with his footwork, we ship him off to Pete Newell for the summer. We hold players accountable for their actions. But we also believe, as a matter of principle, that players need supportive environments in order to flourish. It would be nice if we were as generous and as patient with the rest of society's underachievers.

Oh boy ...Where to begin?

Okay, so why do basketball teams often believe that seven foot centers have basketball potential if only they would stop dogging it, whereas society tends to assume that typical high school students with bad grades and bad test scores don't have any more academic potential than they've displayed? Let me think ... wait a minute ... I've almost got it ... Oh, yeah:

Because the seven foot centers are seven feet tall.

Now, if the high school student with the bad grades and bad test scores was reading Rawls' A Theory of Justice and Dennett's Consciousness Explained for his own amusement, we'd probably reassess our evaluations, too.

Obviously, the real reason seven footers in the NBA have worse work ethics than six footers in the NBA is because to make it in the NBA at six feet tall, you have to have everything other than height, including a great work ethic. But if you are seven feet tall, you don't need the whole package, because there are so few seven footers for NBA teams to select among. You're way out at the far right edge of the Height Bell Curve where there's not much competition. So, you can be lazy and get by, whereas a lazy six-footer in the NBA is history.

When I was at UCLA in 1980-82, out of 35,000 students, there were only two seven footers on campus: the basketball team's starting center Stuart Gray and the backup center Mark Eaton. Eaton was a campus joke, an awkward 25-year-old former auto mechanic who moved like he was better suited to a career of loading suitcases onto airplanes rather than being a high level athlete.

But he was 7'-3" and 275 pounds of solid muscle, a genuine giant. One day in 1981, I was standing in front of UCLA's Royce Hall, when I noticed two young men walking toward me across the huge open grassy quad. "Hey!" I said to myself. "There's something you don't see very often at UCLA. That tiny fellow talking to the normal-sized guy is a genuine midget." Then, another young man walked up to the pair. "Wow! Now there's two midgets with that regular guy," I thought. "What are the odds of that?"

Highly unlikely, I suddenly realized, as I underwent one of those gestalt snaps, like where the vase in the picture suddenly becomes two faces in profile. Now that there were three people, it became clear to me that the two "midgets" were six-footers and the "normal-sized guy" was Eaton.

So the Denver Nuggets took a chance on him as a "project" and Eaton evolved into a two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year (although he was always a terrible scorer and only an above average rebounder).

Let's think about Gladwell's statement:

"But one of the fascinating things about sports, it seems to me, is that when it comes the way we think about professional athletes, we're all liberals (without meaning to be, of course). We give people lots of chances. (Think Jeff George). We go to extraordinary lengths to help players reach their potential. We're forgiving of mistakes. When the big man needs help with his footwork, we ship him off to Pete Newell for the summer."

I'll grant Gladwell that almost all sportswriters are liberals and claim to be true believers in nurture over nature, but surely the most spectacularly obvious fact about the NBA is that nature, especially height, matters hugely more than nurture. Eaton is one of the all time strongest examples of the power of nurture to improve a basketball player, but the overwhelming fact about him is still that he was 7'-3"!

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The Return of the Steve Sailer Panhandling Drive

It's been awhile since I last hit you all up hard for money, but my cash flow has turned sharply negative again, so please, please pony up now.

Over the last couple of years, I've burned through a sizable fraction of my savings trying to stay in the writing business. Maybe I'm being megalomaniacal, but I think the question of whether or not I can survive in this profession has ramifications beyond just my family's welfare. If I have to give up writing, it will send a malign message to a lot of other people with potential:

"Kid, don't wind up like Sailer. He had the talent, but he just had one fatal flaw -- he couldn't stop himself from telling the truth. And nobody will pay for that."

Silencing me is the goal of huckster extraordinaire Morris Dees of the mercenary Southern Poverty Law Center, richly-funded tattle-tale David Brock of Media Matters, and the charming John Podhoretz of NRO. If I lose, they win.

You'll notice that my detractors don't argue with what I say (because they can't think of any facts and logic to refute it). All they ever do is list my heresies as self-evidently beyond what's allowed in polite society; nobody should be allowed to say such things in public, so I must be made an example of.

As you are doing your taxes, you might find yourself worrying,

"Man, my taxable income income is too high! How can I lower it in 2006 so I don't have to pay so much in taxes?"

Well, trust me, I'm not worrying about that. So, if you are, do we ever have a deal for you! Peter Brimelow writes:

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT FOR STEVE SAILER FANS: Our regular Sunday night columnist Steve Sailer is one of the jewels of contemporary science journalism and it’s a mystery to me (and to him) why he’s not been stolen from VDARE.COM by the Mainstream Media. Well, actually, it’s not a mystery. Steve pushes the envelope too much. That’s why we’re here at VDARE.COM—and why we have to develop our own funding sources a.k.a you.

We want to commission Steve to begin a major project, separate from his columns, the results of which will be published in longer pieces, working towards a possible book. The topic: the implications of modern discoveries in the human biodiversity area for the survival and success of the American nation. Donations to this project will be tax-deductible. You can make credit card contributions here; or fax credit card details here; you can snail mail checks made out to "Lexington Research Institute" and marked on the memo line (lower left corner) “Biodiversity/ National Project” to the usual address:

Lexington Research Institute
P.O. Box 1195
Washington CT 06793

Now, if tax deductibility isn't relevant to you (e.g., you live outside the U.S.), you might find it simpler to donate directly to me through Paypal or Amazon, or just email me and I'll email back my Post Office Box address.

You don't need to have a PayPal or Amazon account already to donate, just a credit card. (Or you can E-mail me and I'll send you my P.O. Box number.)

Click Here to PayLearn MoreAmazon Honor SystemPaypal and Amazon charge $0.30 per transaction and 2.9% of the total, so I only get to keep 41% of a $1 donation, but 96.8% of a $100 donation!

What have I done to earn your support?

While the rest of the media was telling you not to believe your lying eyes, I gave you the straight story about the New Orleans Nightmare. For that, I had to put up with denunciations from far and wide.

I don't just provide opinionizing. I've broken the following stories that required extensive statistical analysis:

- Despite all the talk about how smart John F. Kerry was, he scored slightly worse on his military officer qualification exam than did George W. Bush, who's no brainiac himself.

- The enormously popular table showing that Kerry-voting blue states have much higher IQs than Bush-voting red states was a hoax.

- That the exit poll claiming that Bush won 44% of the Hispanic vote was wrong.

That the Hispanic vote totaled only 6.0%, not the 9% that Michael Barone speculated it would be, and that ten times more of Bush's incremental votes came from whites than from Hispanics.

- That the engine underlying why red states are red and blues states are blue is affordable family formation.

- That the most celebrated theory in the big bestseller Freakonomics -- that abortion cut crime -- didn't come close to meeting the burden of proof.

Here are some of the things I've either A. accurately predicted; B. calculated or otherwise discovered by myself; or C. scooped the rest of the press about:

- That Cesar Chavez was the first anti-illegal immigration Minuteman.

- Mexico's terrorist attacks on America under the genocidal Plan of San Diego.

- That at least 1,800 different human genes have been under varying selection pressures on different continents.

- Proposed a practical yet humane push-pull plan for saving Europe by persuading large numbers of its Muslims to leave.

- That before the War on Christmas, American Jews had helped make the American Christmas the rich celebration it is today

- That "Citizenism" offers an attractive moral philosophy that can help us regain control of our borders.

- A feasible plan to help the 30% of the youth who might benefit from the discipline of military training, but whose IQs are too low to be accepted under recent recruitment guidelines.

- That the spread of demeaning jobs as roadside Human Signs reflects the cheap labor / expensive land economy promoted by mass immigration.

- In December 1992, even before Bill Clinton was inaugurated, I wrote "A Specter Is Haunting the Clinton Presidency," predicting that sexual harassment charges by an Arkansas state employee could endanger Clinton's tenure in office.

- The gender gap in Olympic running reached its narrowest point back in 1988, and that it's been larger ever since due to better steroid testing. (In general, I was on top of the steroid story early.)

- In "Is Love Colorblind?" I showed there are striking skews among interracial married couples, with black men and Asian women in greater demand; Asian men and black women aren't happy about it.

- Lesbians and gays have remarkably few behavioral tendencies in common ("Why Lesbians Aren't Gay").

- The fundamental problem underlying the corruption and discord of the Muslim Middle East is an extraordinarily high rate of cousin marriage. Inbreeding turns each extended family into a clan, pursuing its own welfare at the expense of the nation.

- The biggest reason whites and blacks get along better in the military than in the rest of society is because the military won't take low IQ applicants, so black and white average IQ scores are fairly similar in the military.

- Sexual selection (rich dark men marrying fair women) keeps whites on top in Latin America after almost 500 years of interracial marriage ("How Latino Intermarriage Breeds Racial Inequality")

- The most useful definition of a racial group is "a partly inbred extended family" ("It's All Relative: Putting Race in it's Proper Perspective").

- There are practical ways to "Help the Left Half of the Bell Curve."

- In 2000, Bush carried the 19 states with the highest white fertility rate.

- Contrary to all Karl Rove's hype, in 2000 I explained that "The GOP's Future Depends on White Vote."

- That blacks tend to have better improvisatory cognitive skills than whites do in areas that IQ tests can't measure ("Great Black Hopes")

- That immigration increases inequality.

- That white liberals have lower birthrates than white conservatives ("Will Liberals Become Extinct")

- "Immigration Is Retarding the Spread of Interracial Marriage" -- In California, native-born Americans are three times as likely as immigrants to have a spouse from a different race.

- From 2000, "Will Vicente Fox Be Bush's Yeltsin?"

- When the Human Genome Project honchos told us they had proved race doesn't exist, they were just yanking our chains.

- George H.W. Bush was wise not to push on to conquer Baghdad in 1991.

- The Bush family has had decades of close contacts with corrupt Mexican politicos.

- Blacks are imprisoned 9.1 times more than whites and Hispanics 3.7 times more.

- On the evening of 9/11, I wrote "Bush Called for Laxer Airport Security," pointing out that, in pursuit of the Arab / Muslim vote in 2000, Bush had promised to eliminate ethnic profiling of Arab airline passengers and get rid of the use of secret evidence in terrorism prosecutions.

- In late September 2001, before the Afghan war began, I wrote a long essay on "The Man Who Would Be King" to demonstrate that the U.S. would win easily in Afghanistan but then find nation-building extremely difficult.

- The problem with polygamy that everyone forgets about is that for every man with four wives there are three bachelors left over.

- African Americans are 17-18% white and Mexicans are about 5% black.

- Mass immigration makes affirmative action more costly to individual whites by lowering the "racial ratio" of those damaged by quotas to those benefited.

- "1986 Amnesty Set off a Baby Boom among Ex-Illegals"

- The Bush Administration's briefs (as rewritten by Alberto Gonzales) would signal Justice O'Connor to vote for endorsing racial quotas in the U. of Michigan case.

- Genghis Khan was the world's greatest lover.

- Annika Sorenstam would miss the cut in her men's tournament by four strokes.

- In February 2003, I predicted that the woman golfer most likely to be competitive with top men golfers would not be Annika Sorenstam, but instead a 13-year-old named Michelle Wie.

- A week into the 2003 Iraq invasion, I asked, "Why no dancing in the streets of Iraq?"

- Jews and Muslims each make up 0.3%, and atheists 0.1% of the U.S. Armed Forces, according to dog tag markings of each soldier's religion.

- The number of black pro golfers has declined sharply over the last two decades because of the decline in the number of black caddies.

- The exit poll aggregation software crashed on Election Night 2002, so nobody knew what the demographics of the midterm elections were until I purchased the raw data and crunched it in a series of articles.

- I coined the phrase "Invade the World! Invite the World!" to describe the Bush Administration's contradictory foreign and immigration policies.

- The War Nerd.

- Oscar winners give 40 times more money to Democrats than to Republicans.

- Dynasticism is on the rebound around the world (2000 version) and (2003 version)

- The NAEP test score gap for American-born Hispanics versus whites is 2/3rds as large as the notoriously troublesome black-white gap.

- That micronutrient fortification would be a cost-effective way to raise Third World IQs.

- Regarding the Larry Summers brouhaha, the percent of female Nobel Laureates in the hard sciences has dropped from 2.5% in 1901-1964 to 2.3% in 1965-2004.

- That the fundamental problem of African-American culture (low paternal investment in children) also is the fundamental problem of African culture.

So, please give generously. I thank you for it.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Hesperophobia, or rightful resentment of American interference?

A reader writes in reply to my column endorsing John Derbyshire's "Hesperophobia" theory:

"Derbyshire is full of it. The west is hated in the Islamic world for its actions; the long history of invasion and meddling (starting with the Brits), support for “friendly” dictatorships like the Saudis, and above all, one-sided support for Israel..."

Okay, but how many times as the US recently intervened to help Muslims?

Afghanistan versus Soviet invaders 1980-1988
Kuwait versus Saddam 1991
Somalia versus starvation 1992
Bosnia versus Serbs 1995
Kosovo versus Serbs 1999

And look how much appreciation that has earned us in the Muslim world!

It's our being powerful enough to do favors for pitiful Muslims that makes them hate us -- for being so much more powerful than them. As Ben Franklin pointed out, to get somebody to like you, don't do them a favor -- because that just makes them resent that you can. Instead, have them do you a favor, and then they will want to do you more favors.

For example, the French loved us for more than a century after they beat Britain for us in 1781, giving us the Statue of Liberty as a token of their affection. But after we repaid them in 1917 ("Lafayette, we are here!") and 1944, they've come to resent us for being able to rescue them.

(Consider in contrast how the whole world has forgiven or forgotten Italian aggression in the 1930s and 1940s [e.g., Mussolini's attempting, but failing, to conquer Greece] because it was so endearingly incompetent. In contrast, the hypercompetent German aggression of that era is obsessively rehashed in the media everyday.)

Unfortunately, there aren't that many favors Muslims can do us these days (although we shouldn't forget that the Saudis did us a huge favor in 1986 by driving the price of oil way down at our request, helping to destroy the Soviet economy for us). So, the best course at present is to try to have as little to do with them as we can. Obviously, there are limits to a policy of benign neglect -- we must, for example, continue to guarantee the security of the small Gulf oil states from 1990-type conquests -- but our military dominance is now so great that we can do this without maintaining a huge footprint on the ground in the area.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

France, that ultimate "Proposition Nation"

A historian comments:

You belled the cat quite well with your post on Fukuyama. The point you've made on a few occasions about France being the kind of "proposition nation" that the neocons claim America should be is also worth reiterating.

In "Americans First," I asked:

Finally, there’s an insidiously Jacobin implication to propositionism. If believing in neoconservative theories should make anyone in the world eligible for immigration, what should disbelieving in them make thought criminals like you and me? Candidates for deportation? For the guillotine?

My reader continues:

Paul Johnson notes in Modern Times that France has been split since 1789 between the proposition-based "Patriotic France" and the "Nationalist France" defined both against the principles of 1789 and by loyalty to place. Others have noted this tension, and part of it is implicit in having a "proposition nation." What happens to those who don't accept the proposition?

Massacre. Simon Schama essentially confirmed the old Catholic Royalist accounts by Guillaume Bertier de Sauvigny and others in his book Citizens, which describes both the Paris terror that eventually felled Robespierre and the less well-know story of massacres in the Vendee. This civil war of massacre and resistance among the French left an open wound that even De Gaulle couldn't wholly mend, and whichever side has the upper hand at any given time sticks it to the other as hard as it can. World War I and the Gaullist era mark partial exceptions, that underline the general rule. Nationalist France remains below the surface waiting to lash back, unless its rulers solve their problem by electing a new people.

If Mexico and Brazil offer a cautionary tale about social divisions reinforced by race, France shows the bitter fruit that "proposition nations" bring. But then Leo Strauss and Allan Bloom didn't mention that in their theory courses.

Examples of French v. French violence in the 20th Century include the right wing oppression during the Vichy Regime, the leftist reprisals in 1944-46, and the White Terror propagated by pied noir French Algerians and their Army supporters after De Gaulle sold them out in the early 1960s. The Dreyfus Affair at the beginning of the 20th Century led to unbelievable bitterness within French society, but fortunately stopped just short of civil war. The leftist May 1968 riots were so strong that De Gaulle, thinking the jig was up, fled to West Germany to take refuge with French soldiers there under his protégé General Massou. Pompidou and Massou had to talk him into going home and taking a stand by splitting the Communist workers from the student New Leftists by promising big wage hikes.

French anti-Americanism, especially Gaullist anti-Americanism, is, in large part, an attempt to unify the fractious French by finding a foreign country for Frenchmen to resent rather than each other. De Gaulle was a great, great patriot -- and, because of that, a complete pain in the butt to us "Anglo-Saxons," but we could afford to, and usually did, put up with his calculated offensiveness.

The neocons' touchiness about French touchiness is another example of their amusingly (but deleteriously) French-like childishness. The U.S. is so much stronger than any other single country on Earth that it's in our interest to respond phlegmatically toward minor rudenesses from lesser countries like France. Instead, the neocons act like Peter Sellers's Inspector Clouseau whenever his hauteur was trifled with.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

My review of "Night Watch" in the upcoming American Conservative

Here's an excerpt:

Russia's triumphant rise from cultural backwater to dazzling center of creativity and profundity during the century before the Bolshevik Revolution was mirrored by its sad decline under Communism. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 might have been expected to unshackle Russian artistry, but over the last decade and a half, little has emerged that has caught the attention of the West.

Still, hope for a Russian aesthetic revival endures, so when the film "Night Watch," the first of a planned trilogy that has set box office records in Russia, finally reached America, the Saturday evening crowd at an art house cinema in West Los Angeles solemnly took it in as if it were the second coming of Crime and Punishment.

In reality, "Night Watch" is a clever and entertaining (if confusing and not at all scary) commercial fantasy film about supernatural undercover cops who arrest vampires. While reminiscent of the great Mikhail Bulgakov's long-banned 1930s novel about the Devil's visit to Stalin's Moscow, The Master and Margarita, it's actually closer to the TV show "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and last year's Keanu Reeves theological thriller "Constantine."

"Night Watch" is built on the current Hollywood economic model. It's a special effects-encrusted and lavishly advertised blockbuster that has spawned a franchise. Of course, the financial scale is tiny by comparison: "Night Watch" cost all of $4 million to make and reaped $16 million at the Russian box office. Fortunately, a dollar goes a lot farther in Russia, and "Night Watch" looks terrific. The computer-generated imagery is professional, and Moscow's grubbiness has never been depicted so slickly. While "Night Watch" is a pastiche of American hits, there's a distinct Russian flavor and a crucial anti-abortion plot twist that Hollywood wouldn't touch.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Does Malcolm Gladwell really belong in's "Smart Enough to Know Better Hall of Shame?"

You may have noticed that the guys who get on my nerves the most are the smart enough to know better intellectuals who instead choose to mislead the public for personal or political gain: Stephen Jay Gould, Jared Diamond, Steven D. Levitt, Michael Barone, Karl Rove, Nicholas Lemann, The Economist magazine staff, Charles Krauthammer, Michael Ledeen, Francis Fukuyama, Christopher Hitchens, and so forth, along with less objectionable characters who still have their moments of moral weakness, like the great population geneticist L.L. Cavalli-Sforza, Richard Dawkins, Victor Davis Hanson, Mark Steyn, and the Thernstroms.

I'd long considered Malcolm Gladwell a prime member of the "Smart Enough to Know Better" gang ... until I discovered his personal website There, Gladwell publishes his thoughts without benefit of The New Yorker's expert fact-checkers and editors, and it's not a pretty sight. Instead, you get howlers like:

"Sailer and Poser [sic] have a very low opinion of car salesmen."


"If you look, in fact, at emergency room statistics, you'll see that more people are admitted every year for non-dog bites than dog-bites--which is to say that when you see a Pit Bull, you should worry as much about being bitten by the person holding the leash than the dog on the other end."

Now, Gladwell isn't being paid to say idiotic things like this, which raises the horrifying possibility that he actually believes them. So, maybe I've gotten Gladwell all wrong. Maybe Gladwell isn't the Machiavellian mercenary spin-meister I'd assumed. Maybe he's more the Chauncey Gardiner of millionaire sales convention speakers.

My apologies to him.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The War Nerd on the History of Liberia

Gary Brecher writes:

I've written a little about some of the great military figures Liberia has given the world, like General Butt Naked and his platinum-blonde drag queen psycho killers. But I've never told the hilarious, totally sick story of how Liberia got the way it is. And it's too interesting to hold back any longer.

Liberian history is supposedly "tragic," which is newspaper code for "funny as Hell." I can't help it, it is. It's not like I don't sympathize. I do. I mean, which slum did your grandparents come from? Probably some starved village where the coal mine's been closed since it ate a whole shift of locals. How'd you like it if everybody in your neighborhood took up a collection to send you back there, even if you didn't speak a word of the language? "We feel you don't fit in in Santa Barbara and you'll never be truly happy until you're back in Lower Slobovia:"

That's how Liberia started. It was white people's idea from the start. [More]

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The "Brokeback Mountain" Grocery Lists

from Perspectivism:

Weekly Grocery Lists for Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist, Summer 1962


Click here for the following weeks' lists

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

March 1, 2006

Aren't vast extended family households as American as apple pie?

asks Christopher Caldwell in the NY Times Magazine.

No, they are not.

Caldwell tries to concoct a facile talking point against immigration restriction in "A Family or a Crowd?"

It wasn't surprising when, a couple of months ago, the city of Manassas, Va., set off a debate over how government should define "family." The Virginia suburbs of Washington are a relatively liberal part of a conservative state. If there were a corner of Virginia ready to do battle over whether the American family is an outdated myth, this would be it. But that was not what the city authorities were talking about.

Manassas has seen a rapid influx of immigrants over the last decade. As in suburbs and smaller cities elsewhere, this has created quality-of-life complaints. Sometimes the outrage is over the jornaleros who gather at Home Depots to solicit daywork. Elsewhere, the gripe concerns overcrowding. One 23-year-old Mexican told The Palm Beach Post a couple of years ago that he, too, thought 10 unrelated workers living in a two-bedroom apartment was too much. "Eight people — three in each bedroom and two in the living room — that should be the maximum," he said...

For decades, the family has been at the center of America's culture wars. Often, the quarrelers break into predictable camps. The traditionalist side takes the family for something natural, self-evident and unchanging, with certain absolute rights that no government can violate. The reformist side holds that the family is a "social construct" that is destined to change as individuals make choices and governments pass laws that reflect new mores.

But look now. The traditionalists are hoist with their own petard. When the real desiderata of American life — convenient parking and garbage-free sidewalks — are at stake, Joe Sixpack is as willing to meddle with the traditional family as are Heather's Two Mommies. And sheltering distant relatives in various kinds of trouble — the laid-off, the dropped-out, the pregnant — is what American (extended) families have always been for.

Actually, it's more realistic to say that what America has always been for is to have high enough wages and cheap enough land so American citizens can afford to have their own homes just for their own nuclear families. That's the American Dream. Having to live with your distant relatives in an extended family household is the Old World Nightmare.

American culture (and Northwestern European culture in general going back 700 or so years) has been ever increasingly anti-extended family and pro-nuclear family.

There are good reasons for the American prejudice against extended families. In the parts of the world, such as the Middle East, Latin America, the Balkans, and Africa, where the extended family reigns supreme, citizenship, civil society, big business, honesty, and democracy are in short supply. There's a chicken and egg interrelationship between people belonging to extended family mafias and governments that aren't good at providing individual justice and liberty.

This extended v. nuclear family distinction is one of the most important concepts for understanding the current world, and not one that should be smudged to provide spurious spin in the immigration debate. Caldwell is smart enough to know this. But, as I recently pointed out in "Americans First," this kind of intellectual shallowness is au courant when it comes to dismissing concerns about immigration:

" The more profound sort of intellect, the fashionable imply, displays an insouciant heedlessness about the long-term impact of immigration."

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

IQ vs. Genius in Sports

With all the talk about U. of Texas quarterback Vince Young's IQ score (either 72 or 92, depending on who is leaking the NFL's mandatory Wonderlic IQ test result), I started thinking about two athletes who were famously smart off the field, and about one dumb lug who, on the field, happened to be the most important creative genius in the history of American sports.

Three-time Pro Bowler Frank Ryan quarterbacked the Cleveland Browns to the NFL title in 1964, then picked up his Ph.D. in mathematics from my old school, Rice U., five months later. His thesis was entitled "Characterization of the Set of Asymptotic Values of a Function Holomorphic in the Unit Disc, " and it began: "As is well known, a Blaschke product f(z) in (z-x 1) has radical limits f(e) of modulus one almost everywhere on (z=1)."

Interestingly, Ryan was not particularly intelligent at playing football. He'd been a second stringer at Rice and a third-stringer with the Rams before new Browns coach Blanton Collier figured out how to simplify the game for him. Terry Pluto wrote in Browns Town 1964:

"Frank wasn't a great football mind," said Bill Glass, who was Ryan's roommate. "But Frank didn't have to be brilliant on the football field. [Coach] Blanton Collier was brilliant. Frank was an intelligent guy off the field who was gutsy and a gambler on the field." ...

"Frank came to the Browns with this reputation as a brilliant guy, the math genius, and all of that," recalled Bernie Parrish. "He was not brilliant in terms of his play-calling. But Frank Ryan was the guttiest quarterback that I've ever seen. He'd stand in that pocket and damn near let those linemen kill him before he threw the ball-he held on to the ball until the last possible second waiting for Gary Collins to finish his post pattern." ...

"Blanton had a lot of theories about every position, and they usually were pretty simple," Ryan said. "What he did for me was to break throwing the football down into small parts and technique. It gave me some rationale to base my performance upon."

Collier cut down the Browns' passing playbook, and then told Ryan, here are the primary receivers on each play, and here is the man to look to next, and so on.

"Blanton figured it out for Frank," Art Modell recalled. "If there was a blitz, he'd tell Frank, ‘Just throw the ball to the tight end, or throw it to Ernie Green.' I remember standing next to Blanton when Frank was throwing the ball on the sidelines; he'd quietly tell Frank, ‘Pick out a target. It's like shooting a rifle, just zero in on the chest.' Over and over, he told Ryan that: ‘Zero in on the chest, hit the man between the numbers.' He had tremendous faith in Frank." ...

Collier believed that just because Ryan was becoming a doctor of math, it didn't mean he was a genius on the football field. Collier was a former high school algebra teacher, and knew there was little connection between football and math. In math, you're presented with a problem and you have plenty of quiet time to find an answer. You can take one road, erase it, then try another. You think things through.

Not in football. Not with a 250-pound lineman bearing down on you, and with variables changing every second as assignments were carried out or missed, or your receiver fell down, or your foot stuck in the mud, or a running back forgot the play. With the Rams, Ryan [had] became so obsessed with all these details and potential problems that he nearly paralyzed himself...

[Ryan] also said, "The ideal quarterback must have serendipity. Why does he make the consistent good play? By training? By accident? By coincidence? Or some sixth sense? The times when I felt the best on the football field-the championship game for instance-my mind was following no logical conscious thinking pattern. There was no effort to analyze, to evaluate, to review, to study the patterns and tendencies of the defense. Something just came to me like a flash and it worked-not just once or twice, but almost every time."

A famously smart baseball player was the journeyman catcher Moe Berg.

Berg served as a secret agent for the U.S. government. During post-season all star tours of Japan, Berg, who spoke fluent Japanese, filmed potential military targets in Tokyo that were later reportedly used in planning Jimmy Doolittle's famous 1942 bombing run.

Most remarkably, in 1944, working for the OSS, predecessor of the CIA, Berg entered Switzerland to attend a scientific conference where one of the scheduled lecturers was the great physicist Werner Heisenberg, head of Hitler's atomic bomb project. Berg's assignment was to watch Heisenberg and, if he appeared to be the kind of man who would get the Bomb built for Germany, kill him. Packing a gun, Berg sat through Heisenberg's talk. Although a polymath, Berg found Heisenberg's quantum physics over his head. Berg eventually decided, mostly on gut instinct, that Heisenberg was more a pure scientist than an engineering manager and let him live.

Nick Accocella

The only utility player to be the subject of three biographies, few of his accomplishments came in the batter's box. It was Berg whom St. Louis Cardinals scout Mike Gonzalez was describing when he coined the phrase "good field, no hit" in the early 1920s...

In only one year did the 6-foot-1, 185-pound Berg appear in more than 100 games; he played in fewer than 50 games in 12 seasons. But he was a brilliant scholar, picking up degrees from Princeton and Columbia Law School and studying philosophy at the Sorbonne.

His linguistic skills inspired this observation by a teammate: "He can speak seven languages, but he can't hit in any of them."

The Jewish Virtual Library says:

"One teammate said, 'Moe, I don’t care how many of them college degrees you got, they ain’t learned you to hit that curve ball no better than the rest of us.'"

Unlike Frank Ryan, Moe Berg's off-field brilliance helped him on the field too. He managed to stay in the big leagues for 15 years, the last decade following a knee injury that left him a nugatory hitter. As a catcher, he was an excellent pitch caller and made very few errors.

Then I started thinking about who was the most brilliant athlete, the greatest genius, in terms of his own sport.

In the modern history of baseball, there have been two unique accomplishments. Only one man has been excellent at both pitching and hitting; and only one man has individually revolutionized the game by discarding the old dogmas about hitting for average and avoiding striking out, replacing them with waiting for a good pitch and then swinging for the fences.

Remarkably, both unique feats were accomplished by the same man, Babe Ruth.

And nobody ever accused the Babe of having a high IQ.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

How Google can better live up to its share price

The NYT reports:

"Google's share price tumbled more than 7 percent yesterday after the chief financial officer told investors that the company saw few further advances in a technology that had allowed a substantial increase in its advertising revenue."

C'mon, these ads are the best that Google can do? I don't know what ads you'll be seeing in the column to the right of this when you are reading this, but I'm sure half of them will be an insult to your intelligence.

Google apparently sells ads by keyword, not by demographics o visitors or past experience of what sells on this site. For my individual articles, where most readers come via Google searches, that works fine. For instance, my magnum opus essay on golf course architecture always has, sensibly enough, advertising for golf course real estate developments.

But here on my main page, the ads jerk around ridiculously based on whatever I've blogged about yesterday, as if people will suddenly seek out my website just because I mentioned a keyword in passing. By this point, Google has months of data on what interests visitors to the home page are interested in. Google should be able to increasingly figure out what to advertise to you, but instead, the ads, if anything, seem to be getting dumber.

Compare the Google ads to Amazon's listing of other books bought by buyers of the book you are looking at. For example, on the page for Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate, Amazon's lists three other books by Pinker, Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene, and Robert Wright's The Moral Sense. I suspect Amazon sells more product that way than Google sells Envirolet Compost Toilets advertising them on iSteve.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The Future Ain't What It Used to Be Dept.

From a 1950 issue of Popular Mechanics:null

Caption: "Because everything in her home is waterproof, the housewife of 2000 can do her daily cleaning with a hose."

My wife has been asking for a waterproof kitchen with a drain in the floor ever since we went to London in 1987 and saw one of those self-washing pay toilets on the street.

I must say, though, that as I'm typing this, my Roomba robot vacuum cleaner is working away, only 35 years after the 1970 date that Robert Heinlein forecast for the first commercial vacuum cleaner in his 1957 novel The Door into Summer. My wife admits she has to spend more time grooming Roomba with compressed air blasts to keep the rabbit hair from jamming the gears than she saves in not doing the vacuuming herself, but she still finds having a dutiful robot servant to be emotionally satisfying.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Fukuyama: The real problem with Muslims in Europe is Buchananism!

Fukuyama: The real problem with Muslims in Europe is Buchananism! Professor Francis Fukuyama, a member of the Advisory Committee of the Scooter Libby Legal Defense Fund, explains in "Europe vs. Radical Islam: Alarmist Americans have mostly bad advice for Europeans" in Slate:

Yet the deeper source of Europe's failure to integrate Muslim immigrants, as [Bruce] Bawer recognizes, is not trendy multiculturalist ideas embraced by the left, but precisely [Pat] Buchanan's blood-and-soil understanding of identity—a mind-set that until five years ago prevented a German-speaking third-generation Turk from acquiring citizenship because he didn't have a German mother.... American identity, by contrast, has from the beginning been more creedal and political than based on religion or ethnicity. Newly naturalized Guatemalans or Koreans in America can proudly say they are Americans. Pat Buchanan may not like it, but that is precisely what rescues us from the trap the Europeans are in....

The problem that most Europeans face today is that they don't have a vision of the kinds of positive cultural values their societies stand for and should promote, other than endless tolerance and moral relativism. What each European society needs is to invent an open form of national identity similar to the American creed, an identity that is accessible to newcomers regardless of ethnicity or religion.

You can take Fukuyama out of the neocons, but you can't take the neocon out of Fukuyama!

I want to apologize to my old time readers if I keep repeating myself on, but years ago I disproved Fukuyama's neocon theorizing with one word:


The French have always done exactly what Fukuyama advises, and we all saw in last fall's riots how well that worked out. As I wrote in over two years ago in "Four Failed European Immigration Approaches:"

The French have traditionally tried to do with their immigrants almost exactly what the neocons recommend here: cultural assimilation, education in civics theories, monolingualism, meritocracy, separation of church and state, and all the rest.

This may seem ironic, because nobody in Tikrit hates anybody worse than the neocons hate the French. But that's the way it usually turns out with ideologues: it's their nature to burn at the stake those heretics who deviate the most minutely.

Officially, France is what the neocons say America is: a "Proposition Nation" defined by adherence to ideological concepts rather than by descent. Indeed, the American and French “propositions” are basically identical. Which shouldn't be surprising, since the French were wildly enthusiastic about our Founding Fathers, who in turn greatly admired French thinkers like Montesquieu and Voltaire. Of course, the French Revolution didn't work out as nicely as the American Revolution, precisely because ideological propositions are of secondary importance.

Still, the French assimilation concepts are by no means bad. Over the centuries, the French successfully assimilated large numbers of immigrants from Eastern Europe, as well as some of the best educated Africans and Vietnamese.

But they've failed miserably with their huge North African Muslim population, which now makes up somewhere between 5 and 10 percent of the population. (The French are so neocon that they refuse to count by ethnicity.) [As we saw with last fall's riots in France, they've also failed with their black West Africans.]

Indeed, this French neocon philosophy probably can't survive the impact of the Muslims. France's Muslims are now so poor and hostile that the most dynamic political figure, the center-right Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy (himself the son of immigrants), has called for France to junk its tradition of equality under the law and institute affirmative action for Muslims.

A reader adds:

I think Britain is an even better rejoinder to Fukuyama than France. France has tried assimilation in a much more rigorous way than Fukuyama or the neo-cons would like. Britain has left things more 'open' and 'laissez-faire'. And of course Britain has had and continues to have Ius Solis (plus a bit of Ius sanguinus) . But unlike France, at let alone Germany, Britain has had home-grown Islamic suicide bombers.(France did have Metro bombings back in 1996, but I believe the culprits were Algerian-born members of GIA, concerned about Algeria, not home grown Al Qaeda wannabees) The UK has had vicious race riots, some not even involving whites. It has no-go areas. And so on. Somehow the UK has managed to position itself as a success story are far as 'assimilation', but that's more spin than reality.

Germany, with its terrible blut-und-boden attitude, has had none of the mass rioting, fatwa issuing, death threat shouting, or general unpleasantness directed against its own society from its Muslims. Sure, Hamburg is a great staging area for transnational terrorist operations, but no Muslims attacking German values themselves.

Good point, although, of course, that could all change at any moment. And, perhaps, the less disastrous German experience has more to do with its Muslim immigrants being mostly stolid Turks rather than excitable Arabs. As I've often pointed out there's a negative correlation between a people's propensity for disorganized violence (street crime, rioting, and the simpler forms of terrorism) and how good they are at organized violence (war). While the Arabs have been awful at war over the last century, the Turks showed themselves to be first rate soldiers at Gallipoli, in Anatolia fighting the British and French after WWI, and helping America out in Korea.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Why are we in Iraq?

A Zogby poll of 944 U.S. soldiers and Marines in Iraq reports:

While 85% said the U.S. mission is mainly “to retaliate for Saddam’s role in the 9-11 attacks,” 77% said they also believe the main or a major reason for the war was “to stop Saddam from protecting al Qaeda in Iraq.”

“Ninety-three percent said that removing weapons of mass destruction is not a reason for U.S. troops being there,” said Pollster John Zogby, President and CEO of Zogby International. “Instead, that initial rationale went by the wayside and, in the minds of 68% of the troops, the real mission became to remove Saddam Hussein.” Just 24% said that “establishing a democracy that can be a model for the Arab World" was the main or a major reason for the war. Only small percentages see the mission there as securing oil supplies (11%) or to provide long-term bases for US troops in the region (6%).

Greg Cochran comments on the linkage in the minds of soldiers between Saddam, 9/11, and al Qaeda:

I think this is pretty easy to understand: the alternative for the average Joe is to conclude that we did it for no reason that he can understand at all: i.e. that the government is insane. So, many people make up a reason. because the alternative is too disturbing - more so if they think of the government as being run by _ their side_.. I had figured that the fraction of our armed forces in Iraq that belied that we were retaliating (for things that Iraq never did) would be higher than at home, because a volunteer army would self-select for such beliefs, and because the idea that friends would have been crippled or killed for no reason that anyone could understand would be hateful. I had guessed about two-thirds of the Army would believe this, but it's higher than that.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer