October 6, 2006

An experimental physicist complains that theoretical physics now consists of "theological speculation:"

Stanford's Burton Richter says:

"To me, some of what passes for the most advanced theory in particle physics these days is not really science. When I found myself on a panel recently with three distinguished theorists, I could not resist the opportunity to discuss what I see as major problems in the philosophy behind theory, which seems to have gone off into a kind of metaphysical wonderland. Simply put, much of what currently passes as the most advanced theory looks to be more theological speculation, the development of models with no testable consequences, than it is the development of practical knowledge, the development of models with testable and falsifiable consequences (Karl Popper's definition of science)."

I'm certainly not qualified to arbitrate this dispute among physicists, but it does remind me of how narrow is the expertise of the various biologists who are strident atheists, most famously "Darwin's Pit Bull," Richard Dawkins, who assumed that the theory of natural selection answers all possible questions about the universe. As I pointed out back in 1999, the Biological Imperialism of Dawkins, the philosopher Dennett, and so forth rested on their being strikingly uninformed and uninterested about some strange developments in 20th Century cosmology.

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

October 5, 2006

The New York Observer notices Malcolm Gladwell has jumped the shark

Passing the Gladwell Point
By Tom Scocca

The Malcolm Gladwell Piece was an identifiable and successful form of its own: a closely reported portrait of a person or phenomenon, stretched to billboard significance on an academic or conceptual framework. It made something make sense.

So why, lately, has the Malcolm Gladwell Piece become irritating? Why does a reader flap the magazine in agitation on the subway, or go onto a blog and start castigating the author for elementary errors of fact and interpretation? Why does spending a weekend with Mr. Gladwell’s best-selling books, The Tipping Point and Blink, lead to unhappiness and a pathological fixation on writing in rhetorical questions?...

The problem with the Malcolm Gladwell Piece, in part, is that it always seems to contain phrases like “the problem with the Malcolm Gladwell Piece.” Something has happened to Mr. Gladwell’s style of argumentation over time—it has become more self-referential, till the framework dominates the portrait. Here’s Mr. Gladwell, writing recently on the question of Allen Iverson’s basketball ability: “In order to measure something you thought was fairly straightforward, you really have to take into account a series of things that aren’t so straightforward.” On pit-bull attacks: “Another word for generalization, though, is ‘stereotype,’ and stereotypes are usually not considered desirable dimensions of our decision-making lives.” On pension policy: “This is an important point.”

Meanwhile, the specifics are sliding around. Mr. Gladwell has blamed the University of Oklahoma for irrationally kicking the quarterback off its football team, when it was actually obeying an official NCAA rule. He has been caught reversing the meaning of remarks by Albert Speer on the efficacy of Allied bombing. He has been dragged into an online brawl with an Economist writer about whether or not he understands pension policy. At times, lately, Mr. Gladwell sounds like someone trying to tell other people about something he read once in a Malcolm Gladwell piece, after a few rounds of drinks...

The Tipping Point, published in 2000, was a sort of apotheosis or self-immolation of Gladwellism: It was Mr. Gladwell’s own tipping point, and it made it impossible to describe that particular phenomenon in any other way. Before the book came out, Mr. Gladwell was a well-respected byline; after, he was a full-on literary celebrity and, more impressively, a business guru...

The job of the business writer is to supply answers. So the ineffable and the absurd give way to case studies and classificatory jargon, with capital letters (Paul Revere’s ride, Mr. Gladwell writes in The Tipping Point, succeeded because of “a few Salesmen and a man with the particular genius of both a Maven and a Connector”).

Even the sentence structure has gone flat, the playful strings of clauses snipped into tidy lengths. The latter-day Gladwell uses the second person the way Mr. Rogers does, to make sure that you, the audience, are never confused about what your host is telling you. What he is telling you is this: You can understand the world, if you follow along with Malcolm Gladwell....

But the more authoritative Mr. Gladwell sets out to be, the less persuasive he is. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, his 2005 book about unconscious cognition, draws on a variety of studies about the ways that people make snap judgments, wisely and unwisely.

“Next time you meet a doctor … if you have the sense that he isn’t listening to you, that he’s talking down to you, and that he isn’t treating you with respect, listen to that feeling,” Mr. Gladwell writes, summing up one study of snippets of doctor-patient conversations. Yet that study, by the book’s own account, was prompted by the discovery that patients filed malpractice suits based on their feelings about their doctors, rather than the doctors’ error rates. [More]

As a writer gets more popular, his audience gets broader, stupider, and more worshipful. That's good for the wallet but not for the work.

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

Don't Sweat It

A guy named Stephen Browne spent a year teaching English in Saudi Arabia. He didn't enjoy the experience. Via Mean Mr. Mustard, he lists 12 things he learned about Saudis:

4) Not only can they not build the infrastructure of a modern society, they can’t maintain it either.

The very concept of "maintenance" is foreign to them. This is what drives the foreign instructors in the Gulf absolutely mad. The per capita richest countries in the world resemble Eastern Europe or Latin America in the tackiness and run-down appearance of the buildings and streets. An electronics technician new to the Kingdom once told me how his first job was to inspect a junction box in the desert. He had to pry it open with a crowbar as it had evidently not been opened since it had been installed several years earlier.

This is expressed in the inshallah philosophy, “If God wills it.” A Palestinian friend of mine explained to me that even the weather forecaster will qualify his prediction, “It will rain tomorrow. Inshallah.” Or, “I will meet you tomorrow, inshallah.” (But God understands that I am a very unreliable person.)

I remember giving a pep talk to my students before a crucial exam, “You are all going to pass the exam, right?” “Inshallah teacher.” “No, no!” I shouted, “No inshallah. Study!”

While we might not be terribly impressed by how they function in the modern world, the Arab Bedouin became superbly adapted to surviving as a nomad in the desert. "Don't sweat the small stuff" is a governing principle where temperatures are extreme and wells are far between.

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

Intermarriage with Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus declining in Canada

Unlike the American Census, the Canadian census asks about religion, so it has some interesting statistics about the number marriages between people of different faiths. The most striking result is that between 1981 and 2001, the percentage of Muslims, Sikhs, and Hindus who were married to somebody of a different religion declined. Muslims are down from 13% to 9%, Sikhs from 4% to 3%, and Hindus from 11% to 9%. Buddhists are stable at 19% and "other Eastern religions" up from 26% to 27%.

I, Ectomorph notes:

"Yet another phenomenon, I suspect, that wouldn't have been predicted by the authors of Canada's multiculturalism policy back in the late 60s and early 70s."

Immigration is making intermarriage less likely for minorities. Statistics Canada summarizes: "When co-religionists are scare, inter-religious unions are more likely."

Similarly, in the U.S. the highest proportion of blacks are in interracial marriages in states like Wyoming where there are very few blacks.

In contrast, in Canada, the percentage of Jews in mixed marriages climbed from 9% in 1981 to 17% in 2001. The Canadian government points out the assimilating effects of a low immigration rate: "Only 8% of those with a Jewish religion arrived in Canada between 1991 and 2001, so people who have the Jewish religion have a longer history in Canada than many other religious groups."

This is like the phenomenon of how the growth of interracial marriage in California is being slowed by immigration, as I pointed out in 2000. For example, several decades ago, Asian-Americans were widely scattered throughout suburban Southern California, so intermarriage for Asians was high. But recently they've clustered in the San Gabriel Valley east of downtown Los Angeles, which facilitates more Asian-Asian marriages.

As Lenin pointed out, it's useful to ask Who? Whom? A low rate of immigration leads to the assimilation of minorities into the majority through marriage. In contrast, a high rate of immigration helps preserve the cultural and genetic exclusivity of minorities while breaking down that of the majority.

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


The Asia Times columnist is one of the more interesting of the pseudonymous foreign policy commentators that have appeared in the Internet Age -- not quite as good as the War Nerd, but better than Wretchard of Belmont Club, who specializes in discerning in every single thing that George W. Bush does some unbelievably complex triple-bankshot strategy that Bush couldn't even understand, much less conceive.

Spengler is clever and has original ideas, some of which might even be true. I'd like Spengler better if he'd use words like "perhaps" and "possibly" more. His absolute self-confidence, though, gets on my nerves, and drives me to search out evidence that he's really not the all-knowing seer he seems to think he is. This is unfortunate because my looking for reasons to think the Spengler glass is half empty gets in the way of recognizing that the Spengler glass is also half full.

For example, back in May he wrote on the paradox of how popular Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code is in an America that isn't lacking in Christian faith. Spengler hasn't actually read it or seen the movie version, but that doesn't stop him from opining about it at some length. (Having seen and read it, I won't hold that against him -- he's got better things to do than trudge through Brown's 839 one-page chapters.)

After some interesting speculations about his ostensible subject, he's suddenly off to the races and is laying out his Grand Unified Theory of the Divided European Soul that is way too profound (or wrong -- I can't tell which) for me to wrap my tired brain around. So, resentfully, I start looking for reasons to believe he doesn't know what he's so confidently talking about. And, rather like in Dan Brown's bestseller, they show up:

"That is why the Renaissance offered such a short burst of creative output before the Counter-Reformation put the artists in their place and brought forth an era of religious orthodoxy and artistic mediocrity."

This seems to be close to exactly backward. The Counter-Reformation inspired, subsidized, and unleashed the Catholic geniuses of Baroque art: Caravaggio, Rubens, Borromini, and, most of all, Bernini. One of the new Pope Urban VIII's first audiences in 1623 was with the 25-year-old Bernini, to whom the Pope said:

"It is your great good luck, Cavaliere, to see Maffeo Barberini pope. But we are even luckier in that the Cavaliere Bernini lives at the time of our pontificate."

The big problem with the populist Counter-Reformation was that, instead, it (eventually) put scientists in their place, such as Galilelo.

The same combination of grandiosity and dubiousness characterizes what now appears to be Spengler's most famous theory -- that Iran must go on the warpath now to head off a demographic crisis that it will face in, oh, say, forty years. See, Iran's birthrate, which used to be quite high, dropped sharply in the 1990s and is now below America's total fertility rate. So, when all those people born in the 1970s and 1980s get ready to retire several decades from now, there won't be enough young workers to pay their pensions. Thus, it is historically inevitable that the mullahs will immediately set out to create an Iranian empire in greater Middle East right now so that the retirees of 2046 will have some plunder to retire upon.

I know that sounds ridiculous, but every few days I get an email from somebody with one of Spengler's columns on the subject. For example, he said:

"All that matters is the coming confrontation between the United States and Iran. Iran's own demographic future resembles that of Europe more than it does the United States. By mid-century, Iran's aged will compose nearly a third of its population, and its population pyramid will invert. Social and economic catastrophe threatens Iran, persuading its present leaders to establish a regional empire while they still have the opportunity."

One obvious question is: So why did the mullahs pass a family planning law in 1993 that encouraged smaller families?

And who in the world would fight a war now (and against the strongest military in the world!) to head off a pension problem in 40 years? The longest lead time I've ever heard of was the German General Staff's 1914 forecast that Russia would be stronger than Germany in 20 to 25 years, so they should fight them now. And how'd that work out for Germany?

And Muslims aren't Germans when it comes to worrying about the far future. That's why Arabs are always saying "Inshallah" -- If Allah wills it. Fate. Kismet.

Moreover, there's a general pattern of governmental decadence around the globe that is making the world more peaceful on the macro-scale as the competence of militaries declines. After the great European wars of the first half of the 20th Century and the global collapse of empires in the second half, the world is finally settling down. Jerry Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy is coming ever more into play:

"Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people: those who work to further the actual goals of the organization, and those who work for the organization itself. Examples in education would be teachers who work and sacrifice to teach children, vs. union representative who work to protect any teacher including the most incompetent. The Iron Law states that in all cases, the second type of person will always gain control of the organization, and will always write the rules under which the organization functions."

The Iranian Revolution is now 27 years old. It was never all that dynamic when it was young and it's pretty old now.

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

October 4, 2006

So, the GOP shouldn't have let Mark Foley be a Congressman, but the Boy Scouts should have let him be a scoutmaster?

In my Dirt Gap article in early 2005 explaining why Red States are Red and Blue States are Blue, I pointed to the ongoing persecution of the Boy Scouts by liberals as an illustration of why white adults with families are much more likely to vote Republican than white people without:

"Consider how differently one well-known issue can seem depending on your family structure: Should the government let the Boy Scouts ban gay men from becoming scoutmasters? To voters who are single, or married but childless, or have only daughters, this often appears as a purely abstract question of justice: of course, everybody should be guaranteed equal opportunity to be a scoutmaster. Yet, to citizens with sons, a ban may seem like a common sense precaution against temptation: of course, homosexuals shouldn't be allowed to lead their boys into the woods overnight."

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

Abe Foxman has historian Tony Judt's talk on the Israel Lobby cancelled

Historian Tony Judt says Abe Foxman had his lecture on the power of the Israel Lobby cancelled: Via Daniel Larison, I see that Tony Judt, the prominent historian (who is Jewish), writes:

I was due to speak this evening, in Manhattan, to a group called Network 20/20 comprising young business leaders, NGO, academics, etc, from the US and many countries. Topic: the Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy. The meetings are always held at the Polish Consulate in Manhattan.

I just received a call from the President of Network 20/20. The talk was cancelled because the Polish Consulate had been threatened by the Anti-Defamation League. Serial phone calls from ADL President Abe Foxman warned them off hosting anything involving Tony Judt. If they persisted, he warned, he would smear the charge of Polish collaboration with anti-Israeli anti-Semites (= me) all over the front page of every daily paper in the city (an indirect quote). They caved and Network 20/20 were forced to cancel.

Whatever your views on the Middle East I hope you find this as serious and frightening as I do. This is, or used to be, the United States of America.

And here's the neocon NY Sun crowing about this triumph:

The Polish decision was hailed by one of the leading Jewish defense organizations. "Bravo to them for doing the right thing," said the executive director of the American Jewish Committee, David Harris. "Tony Judt's message is the polar opposite of the remarkable surge in bilateral relations between Poland and Israel and between Poland and world Jewry."

The speech was to have been at the consulate, but it was actually sponsored by an outside group called Network 20/20, which describes itself as an apolitical educational organization. The group's president and founder, Patricia Huntington, yesterday blamed one Jewish organization, the Anti-Defamation League, for the cancellation of the speech. "Apparently the Anti-Defamation League tracks Tony Judt's talks on the Internet and tries to get the talks canceled," Ms. Huntington said. "This is censorship, which is of concern to Americans who believe in free speech." She accused the Anti-Defamation League of having "forced," "threatened," and exerted "pressure" on the Polish consulate to cancel the talk.

Somehow, I don't think this will get as much publicity as the cancellation of the German opera for fear of Muslims.

Foxman denies being the cause of the Polish Consulate canceling the regular meeting of the Network 20/20 group.

Philip Weiss notes in the New York Observer:

Once again supporting Walt and Mearsheimer's point: the lobby brags about its power till you call them on it, and then it howls antisemitism.

You might think that in these days of the Internet, crushing free speech like this would be a pointless exercise because there are so many other outlets, but, yet, it's actually a very valuable tactic. The point is not to completely silence Dr. Judt but to get out the message that he is weaker than the important people who want to shut him up, so if you know what's good for you, you won't go around repeating what he says because he has powerful enemies, and you don't want to have powerful enemies, too, now do you?

P.S. Here's a longer piece by Weiss on the whole Israel Lobby quasi-debate.

P.P.S., Judt's speech is back on for October 16, but no word on where.

A reader writes:

I can't tell you how disturbing this Tony Judt business is for anyone who knows the man. Judt was one of my mentors, more like a sponsor, actually.

Although generally, and rather proudly, a lifelong "man of the left," Judt is one of the few prominent academics today who actually enjoys being around clever people who disagree with him: his Remarque Institute is a tiny little oasis of freedom of speech in American academe. At the end of my time with him, he actually told me, more or less point-blank, that I would not be hired by any university in the US in the next decade, because I was too politically incorrect in both my views and the subjects I studied; but that he would stick with me through thick and thin and go to bat for me whenever he could. A great man.

And now Judt's been blacklisted himself by the neocon lobby as an "anti-semite." How utterly absurd--aside from the fact Judt himself is Jewish, his Remarque Institute regularly hosts *Holocaust Studies seminars*, for pete's sake! It's their bread and butter!

Oh, I shudder for freedom of speech in America. Are there any oases left?

New York University's Remarque Institute, dedicated to the study of modern Europe, is named after Erich Maria Remarque, the German author of All Quiet on the Western Front. His widow Paulette Godard, who costarred with her second husband Charlie Chaplin in "The Great Dictator" and "Modern Times," left $20 million to NYU on her death in 1990. Judt founded the Remarque Institute in 1995.

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

Pearapundit Debunks Pearanoia

Last week, I started looking into the Great Pear Picking Crisis of 2006 -- CNN had picked up an NYT sob story about how pear growers were saying there weren't enough illegal aliens to pick the pear crop this year no matter how much money they offered. Then, Senators Feinstein and Craig tried to use the Pear Crisis to wedge a Guest Peasant program into the Senate's border fence bill. Fortunately, that amendment went nowhere, so I dropped the issue.

Now, Parapundit has followed it up and finds about what you'd expect based on the fact that a good year for crops tends to be a bad year for farmers. When the harvest is abundant, prices go down and the cost of hiring enough labor to pick all the extra fruit goes up. Growers argue that whenever one of these years occurs, they should be allowed to import a bunch of extra peasants to pick their surplus crops. Of course, the peasants won't go home when the harvest is over, and after a few years won't do harvesting anymore, so then the farmers want to be allowed to bring in more peasants. Exactly why our 21st Century economy as a whole needs these injections of peasants is never explained.

This is just like the Great Nurse Shortage that I've been reading about in the newspapers since I started reading newspapers about in 1970. Funny, isn't it, how all the claims in those articles that we need to import more nurses come from doctors and hospital administrators rather than from American nurses?

Libertarian economist Arnold Kling of George Mason falls for Pearanoia hook, line, and sinker. (Don't miss the comments.) Don't economics professors teach in Econ 101 that shortages can't occur in a market economy? Oh, yeah, I forgot, the principles of economics mysteriously don't apply to immigration.

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

The last meritocracy?

The hard science Nobel Prizes for 2006 have been announced and, as usual, the winners are all men. Updating what I reported a couple of years ago in "The Education of Larry Summers," in the two hardest science categories, physics and chemistry, men have made up all of the last 169 Laureates, going back to the last woman winner in 1964. In contrast, before the Great War, Madame Cure won Nobels in both Physics and Chemistry, and three other women numbered among the first 160 Physics or Chemistry Laureates.

Women have been doing much better lately in the Medicine and Physiology category, making up six of the 69 Laureates from 1977-2006, compared to only one before then. This fits the Pinkerian model that women find life sciences more interesting, especially life sciences with direct application to helping people.

Still, in the three science categories (treating "Economic Sciences" as something else due to its highly politicized nature), women won a slightly higher percentage of the prizes up through 1964 then since then.

And, if you want to include Economics as a science, no woman has ever won in that category since its founding in 1969. In contrast, two of the first six Economics Nobels went to Larry Summers's own personal uncles: Kenneth Arrow and Paul Samuelson. (Larry's dad, also an economist, like Larry's mom, changed his name from Samuelson to Summers to avoid anti-Semitic discrimination, although his brother Paul didn't seem to suffer from it much in the long run.)

So, it's clear that in the hard sciences, the Nobel Foundation simply ignores the demands for diversity (i.e., equality of results) that so many other institutions cave in to.

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

October 3, 2006

Ted Koppel's Don Corleone Plan for dealing with Iranian nukes

From the International Herald Tribune:

"You insist on having nuclear weapons," we should say. "Go ahead. It's a terrible idea, but we can't stop you. We would, however, like your leaders to view the enclosed DVD of 'The Godfather.' Please pay particular attention to the scene in which Don Corleone makes grudging peace with a man - the head of a rival crime family - who ordered the killing of his oldest son."

In that scene, Don Corleone says, "I forgo my vengeance for my dead son, for the common good. But I have selfish reasons." The welfare of his youngest son, Michael, is on his mind.

"I am a superstitious man," he continues. "And so if some unlucky accident should befall my youngest son, if some police officer should accidentally shoot him, or if he should hang himself in his cell, or if my son is struck by a bolt of lightening, then I will blame some of the people here. That I could never forgive."

If Iran is bound and determined to have nuclear weapons, let it.

The elimination of American opposition on this issue would open the way to genuine normalization between our two nations. It might even convince the Iranians that their country can flourish without nuclear weapons.

But this should also be made clear to Tehran: If a dirty bomb explodes in Milwaukee, or some other nuclear device detonates in Baltimore or Wichita, if Israel or Egypt or Saudi Arabia should fall victim to a nuclear "accident," Iran should understand that the U.S. government will not search around for the perpetrator. The return address will be predetermined, and it will be somewhere in Iran.

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

Is this true?

Is this true? A reader writes:

Asne Seierstad is the Norwegian journalist who wrote a best-selling book called The Bookseller of Kabul, in which she narrates her observations about the restricted lives that Afghan women are forced to lead. She spent 3 months in hte house of an Afghan anti-Taliban bookseller. Recently, she was interviewed by the Brazilian magazine Veja:

Veja - The filmmaker Theo van Gogh was killed in the NL because of a film in which he denounced the oppression of Muslim women. In Denmark, the publication of cartoons about Mohammed caused an explosion of violence. Do you feel threatened?

Seirstadt - No. The fundamentalists won't come after you if you criticize their treatment of women. What really irritates is them is disrespect for their sacred symbols. Making an image of the Prophet is sacrilege. As to Theo van Gogh's film, the cause of the fury of the fanatics was not the image of an ill-treated women but sacred verses painted on her nude body.

I don't recall the Pope painting any sacred verses on nude bodies, but there might be something to this.

That reminds me of the Mozart opera case in Germany, where the opera house received death threats over a scene displaying severed heads of Mohammed, Jesus, and other important personages. Now, I'm willing to go to the barricades to defend Mozart, but, jeez, that severed head business sure doesn't sound like old Wolfgang. (Richard Strauss, maybe, but not Mozart.) And sure enough it turned out it wasn't in the opera at all, it was just tacked on by some "transgressive" avant-garde opera director.

That also reminds me that, unlike all the respectable voices, I've always been even more upset by the murder of Pym Fortuyn, a potential Prime Minister of the Netherlands, in 2002 than by the murder of Theo van Gogh in 2004. The van Gogh murder was the obvious result of letting a whole bunch of Muslims into the country, a problem that can be solved (granted, at vast expense) by paying them to leave and other sensible reforms. The only solution to the West's Muslim problem is to disconnect.

But Fortuyn's assassination was carried out by a well-educated Dutch-born white leftist the day after the climax of the "Two-Week Hate" against immigration-restrictionists that swept Europe when Le Pen won a spot in the French Presidential final. When Fortuyn was murdered, respectable voices across Europe opined that Fortuyn more or less had it coming. The European Establishment excused themselves from any responsibility by blaming it all on animal rights craziness.

For example, the Dutch-born Ian Buruma asserted in The New Yorker in 2005 that Fortuyn was "assassinated in 2002 by a deranged animal-rights activist." Nothing to look at here, folks, just move along. Just a random lunatic. Didn't have nuthin' to do with immigration.

Yet, more than year before Buruma wrote that, the murderer had made clear at his trial that Fortuyn had to die because of his anti-Muslim immigration restrictionist views. CNN reported in 2003:

The man accused of assassinating Dutch anti-immigration politician Pim Fortuyn has told judges he acted on behalf of the country's Muslims.

Volkert Van der Graaf, 33, said during his first court appearance in Amsterdam on Thursday that Fortuyn was using "the weakest parts of society to score points" and gain political power...

"(The idea) was never concrete until the last moment, the day before the attack," the news agency reported Van der Graaf as saying. "I saw it as a danger, but what should you do about it?" he said. "I hoped that I could solve it myself."

The "day before the attack," by the way, was the day of the French runoff election between Le Pen and Chirac.

The question of whether the killer was "deranged," as Buruma asserted in 2005 he was, was a major question of investigation for the Dutch authorities, who subjected him to seven weeks of psychiatric observation. According to Wikipedia:

The report from the PBC was complete by about March 21 [2003]. It found that Van der Graaf could be held completely accountable for the killing. The report also stated that Van der Graaf had an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, which explains his rigid moral judgements. Menno Oosterhoff, a child psychiatrist from Groningen, publicly suggested that the Pieter Baan Centrum may have overlooked the possibility that Van der Graaf has Asperger's syndrome. Oosterhoff later withdrew his theory. The PBC report stated that nothing could be said about the chance of another similar crime occurring, since the disorder had nothing to do with the murder. Van der Graaf agreed that he was accountable and that he had compulsive urges. The outcome of the investigation ensured that he would receive a prison sentence and not "TBS treatment".

So, not for the first time, the vaunted New Yorker fact-checking department surrendered in the face of political correctness.

The European Establishment has Fortuyn's blood on their hands, which is why we don't hear much about him.

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

Malcolm Gladwell hosts another Pity Party for himself

Still smarting over the widespread criticism of his hilariously huffy response to Jane Galt pointing out the flaws in his theory of what's behind Ireland's prosperity in his last New Yorker article, Gladwell returns to the theme of just how hard it is to do what he does:

"We can see all the things that someone, in a different profession than us, does. What we cannot know is the relative difficulty of those tasks... I think that misunderstanding over degree of difficulty issues is one of the major reasons for conflict between insiders and outsiders.... I thought of this in trying to explain my prickliness a few weeks back over some of the criticisms directed at my "Risk Pool" article. I'm not usually thin-skinned in the face of critics. So why did I react the way I did? I think it was a degree of difficulty question. What I was saying, unconsciously, was not--"you don't understand how good that story was." It was, rather--"you don't understand how HARD that story was." Because, in truth, it was a really, really hard story. How on earth do you write 5000 words on pensions without putting your audience to sleep? It's pretty tricky, and what I wanted in my heart of hearts, I suppose, was for at least some appreciation of that effort. Even if it was a bogey, I wanted the announcer to point out what a great bogey it was."

But the criticism of his Irish theory that drove Gladwell over the edge came from "Jane Galt," who, just like Gladwell, is a correspondent for a famous magazine: in her case, The Economist.

Gladwell then responded in his own comments section to readers complaining about his theory of insider privilege:

I didn't mean to suggest that outsders can't criticize insiders. Of course they can. I was simply trying to understand why and when insiders are most sensitive to criticism. I think all of us tend to be less concerned with criticisms of the quality of our work than we are with the idea that the effort we put into our work has been overlooked. That's all. But since I didn't work particularly hard on that post, you can criticize it all you want. :-)

More realistically, all human beings "are most sensitive to criticism" when the criticism is correct. It's easy to laugh off stupid critiques; it's the accurate ones that hurt.

They especially hurt when you've worked your hardest, because if you gave it your best shot and it still turned out dumb, well, that says something about your capabilities that you'd rather not know.

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

The delicate eyes of Wall Street investment bankers need to be protected from VDARE.com

A reader writes:

It's not just the state of Utah -- I work at a Wall Street investment bank, and as of yesterday I also found vdare.com to be blocked. Companies don't do their own blocking, they use blocking services for that, so clearly VDare has been added to a list somewhere.

Wouldn't investment bankers need access to the kind of unconventional wisdom found on VDARE.com about long term trends in politics and the economy? For example, in a recent column, I reviewed what the 10 million or so not-yet-registered-to-vote residents of California would vote for when they get the chance. It raises important concerns about investing in California because future voters are likely to be leftist populists.

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

Norman Rockwell as a major 20th Century artist

The test of an artist's historic importance is his influence on later artists. By this standard, the popular Saturday Evening Post illustrator Norman Rockwell is normally judged a failure since few painters since have dared to show evidence of being influenced by Rockwell. But, to write off Rockwell is simply a mistake based on too narrow a vision of art forms.

Take a look at how Rockwell actually worked. He didn't keep to his garret and paint visions from inside his head. Instead, he ran a large operation: he'd audition models until he found the perfect ones for the story he had in mind. Meanwhile, his set builders would be creating an entire set for the models to pose in.

What art form does that sound like? Right -- Rockwell was, in effect, engaged in single frame filmmaking. As an art form, it was something of a dead end because as technology advanced and the world got richer, an artist might as well make an entire movie rather than just one frame.

But that doesn't mean Rockwell's influence died out. Instead, it leapt from painting to movies. And, as almost everybody will admit by this point, film was a far more important art form in the 20th Century than painting. And which filmmaker is most outspoken about the influence of Norman Rockwell on him? Steven Spielberg, who, for all his flaws, will likely be remembered as the most important filmmaker of his generation.

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

October 2, 2006

VDARE.com is NSFW in Utah state government jobs

A reader writes:

I thought you might like to know that VDARE.com has been labed an inappropriate website for Utah state employees to visit.

This morning I attempted to link to your article "Larcenous Lesbians" from my work computer. An ominous warning sign immediately appeared saying that the requested site could not be accessed because it contained inappropriate content.

I thought at first that the word "lesbian" had set off alarms at the capitol building. But when I typed in VDARE.com directly, the same message appeared.

My "Larcenous Lesbians" article is exactly the kind of content state employees in Utah should be able to access from work because it exposes a pattern of corruption among state employees in California.

Utah is often thought to be a conservative state. However, in the last 10 years or so the Mormon church, which used to be charmingly un-PC, has become increasingly anti-male and politically correct. You can't watch a semiannual General Conference without being warned about how evil males are and how all women are long-suffering victims of their abuses. It just proves the point that large organizations slowly drift toward liberal positions overtime.

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

Thought for the Day

Wouldn't Gay Pride Parades more realistically be called Gay Narcissism Parades?

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