January 13, 2010

Vulcan

And here's the New York Times illustrating the First Corollary to Auster's First Law of Majority-Minority Relations in a Liberal Society:
"The more egregiously any non-Western or non-white group behaves, the more evil whites are made to appear for noticing and drawing rational conclusions about that group's bad behavior."
In the case of today's "intentional discrimination" ruling against the Mayor of New York in Albert Gonzalez's discrimination lawsuit against the Fire Department of New York, we could perhaps offer a Second Corollary:
"The more egregiously any non-Western or non-white group behaves, the more evil whites are made to appear for not noticing that group's bad behavior."
From the New York Times:
Judge Cites Discrimination in N.Y. Fire Dept.
By AL BAKER

A federal judge ruled on Wednesday that New York City intentionally discriminated against black applicants to the Fire Department by continuing to use an exam that it had been told put them at a disadvantage.

It was not a “one-time mistake or the product of benign neglect,” wrote the judge, Nicholas G. Garaufis of Federal District Court in Brooklyn. “It was a part of a pattern, practice and policy of intentional discrimination against black applicants that has deep historical antecedents and uniquely disabling effects.” A remedy will be decided on later.

In his decision, the judge highlighted how “black and other minority firefighters have been severely underrepresented,” characterizing that as a “persistent stain on the Fire Department’s record.”

City officials said that they intended to appeal the decision, but could not do so until the judge had determined what damages the city might face.

Legal experts, as well as lawyers for the plaintiffs and city officials, said the decision was the first in recent memory in which a court had found that the city had intentionally discriminated against a large group of people — racial minorities or women, for instance — in the workplace.

“I can’t recall there ever being a finding of intentional racial discrimination in a pattern-and-practice case against the city,” said Elise C. Boddie, a professor of constitutional law at New York Law School who formerly litigated employment discrimination cases. “I would say this is pretty big.”

In July, Judge Garaufis — acting on a claim being pushed by the United States Justice Department — ruled that the Fire Department used a test in 1999 and 2002 that had a discriminatory effect on black applicants.

In his ruling on Wednesday, the judge found that the city intentionally discriminated against blacks in using those tests and in ignoring calls over the years to change the testing procedure. The suit was brought by three people who took the test and by the Vulcan Society, a fraternal organization of black city firefighters.

At the heart of the case is the Fire Department’s persistent underrepresentation of minorities and the continued use, between 1999 and 2007, of the entrance exams. In 2007, there were 303 black firefighters, accounting for 3.4 percent of the department’s ranks; black residents make up 25.6 percent of the city’s population.

The judge noted that while the city’s other uniformed services “have made rapid progress integrating black members into their ranks, the Fire Department has stagnated and at times retrogressed.”

Judge Garaufis stopped short of finding that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and the former fire commissioner, Nicholas Scoppetta, had also intentionally discriminated against black applicants. But the judge wrote that he found strong evidence to suggest that they were made aware numerous times that the Fire Department’s entrance exams were discriminatory, yet failed to take sufficient remedial action.

The mayor testified at a deposition in August that he did not recall receiving a report more than six years ago warning him about sharp differences in the pass rates between white and minority candidates for firefighter jobs, lawyers said.

The judge “let the mayor and the commissioner off the hook on the basis of a doctrine known as qualified immunity,” said Richard A. Levy, a lawyer for the plaintiffs. He said that doctrine exempts public officials from lawsuits that are based on their discretionary decisions. ...

Some city officials said they found the decision unexpected and deeply perplexing, in part because the judge ruled on plaintiffs’ motions for summary judgment and the city’s motion to dismiss the case without a trial.

Mr. Levy agreed it was unusual to get a ruling based solely on documentary evidence and depositions, but he said “the evidence of a decades-long pattern of discriminating against black and Latino firefighter applicants was overwhelming.”

Ms. Boddie, the New York Law School professor, said such rulings against government entities were rare around the nation, adding, “To the extent there is a finding of liability, it is usually on disparate-impact grounds, not based on racially discriminatory intent.” ...

I wrote about the Vulcan case a million times last summer, so here are a few facts the NYT left out of the article:

1. The discrimination lawsuit against FDNY was brought by the Alberto Gonzalez's Justice Department under the Bush Administration in 2007.

2. The white-black racial gap, as pointed out by La Griffe du Lion, was 1.04 standard deviations in 1999 and 0.96 standard deviations in 2002. In other words, the racial difference on the two test dates averaged exactly the one standard deviation difference that La Griffe calls the Fundamental Constant of Sociology.

3. You can take the tests yourself here.

4. Here's a sample question:

17. Which one of the following portable power saw blades must be put out of service?

A) A carbide tip blade missing nine tips.
B) A carbide tip blade with three broken tips.
C) An aluminum oxide blade measuring 12 inches.
D) A yellow silicon carbide blade measuring nine inches.

You can find the answer on the same page in this excerpt from a 250 word reading selection:

A saw blade must be put out of service (OOS) and sent to the Technical Services Division when the blade becomes worn or damaged. Carbide tip blades must be put OOS when eight or more tips are missing or broken.

4. The NYT should profile some beneficiaries of this bias, such as firefighter Michael Cammarata (1978-2001).

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

You don't even have to read the manual to answer question 17. Obviously only a damaged blade must be put out of service -> A V B. Question asks which ONE. Well, surely if B then A. Therefore, only A. Duh.

ben tillman said...

In his ruling on Wednesday, the judge found that the city intentionally discriminated against blacks in using those tests....

And the judge is intentionally discriminating against whites in eliminating the tests. You're right -- he's a moron.

Anonymous said...

Wonder if this judge has ever taken any tests - like, say, the SAT, the LSAT, or the Bar Exam, and how he thinks those differ from an exam given to firefighters.

Doubtless that twit thinks a firefighting job can be done by any old idiot.

FIRE!!!!! said...

How about we do this? Firemen who did well on the tests should put out fires only in conservative homes.

Firemen who did bad on the tests--and got admitted through affirmative action--should put out the fires only in liberal homes.

And pass a law saying that white liberals must see doctors or hire lawyers who got their degrees through affirmative action. Since people like Gladwell keep telling us that IQ and test scores don't matter, this seems like a perfect compromise solution for all of us.

Let NY hire the less qualified blacks, but white liberals must rely on them in case of fire and not on top-notch firemen who passed the tests in flying colors.

Anonymous said...

So people who are not smart enough to pass the test sue because they are not smart enough to pass the test?

Why don't the Vulcans so something positive to help their members pass? Create study groups, mentor each other and similar activities. Oh wait... that requires actual work.

I've looked at the test and believe the average high school student could pass it.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone think we'll hear about this from Fox News/Rush Limbaugh/National Review?

Thrasymachus said...

A Stalinist denunciation! The judge may as well have claimed the Fire Department is *riddled with saboteurs* and other *secret agents of the imperialists* who *MUST BE ROOTED OUT AT ALL COSTS!*

Americans are so conditioned to this kind of thing they can't see it anymore. Cool, reasoned, carefully argued responses to this kind of rhetoric only play into it.

Anonymous said...

It's mind boggling to think that the upper limit of black cognitive capabilities level out around that point required to become a fireman. Since most AA battles seem to play out around inability to become a fireman/policeman through merit, via testing, politics are used as a battering ram to get the positions. Most firemen/cops I've known seemed to me to be pretty bright but none seemed to fancy themselves as high level intellectuals, either. On all the television shows blacks are shown as police chiefs, educators, computer geniuses, and such. They're prominently showcased as some really brilliant folks. The reality seems more prosaic. Figure out the minimum mental level required to become a fireman/cop, then you'll know the level of the smartest blacks (never mind the dumbest ones). Sheesh, after all these years of effort to build them up the results have been so paltry as to make one give up, all these race schemes costing billions of dollars have produced a mouse.

Kylie said...

Anonymous said: "You don't even have to read the manual to answer question 17. Obviously only a damaged blade must be put out of service -> A V B. Question asks which ONE. Well, surely if B then A. Therefore, only A. Duh."

Your use of logic and reasoning is a typically white European way to approach the problem and therefore shows an unconscious bias. I certainly hope you would be open to other interpretations that might issue from other cultures.

For example, a wise Latina woman might decide that the saw blade missing only three tips should be put out of service and the saw blade missing nine tips should remain in place as evidence of the fact that the fire department is under-equipped and under-funded. She might even decide to call in a local news crew to call attention to a situation that could possibly have a disparate impact on the minority community. After all, it's more likely that a saw would be needed in a fire in a minority community since housing there is so often substandard and smoke detectors are so often missing or inoperative, leading to individuals, often children, being trapped. You seldom hear of fatal fires in the suburbs or in upscale, gated communities so this disparate impact is a very real concern.





Sarc off

Anonymous said...

The whole purpose of any test is to discriminate between those with knowlege and those without.
I don't recall any race based rules saying that blacks aren't allowed to STUDY.
Where was the United Negro College Fund on this one?
The Race Card is a terrible thing to waste.

Anonymous said...

What does Michael Cammarrata have to do with anything?

Are you getting us to weep??


I'll get YOU to WEEP: All those un-employed prospective unemployed muscular black firefighters!!!!

I can't decide if I am outraged about this ruling or not because I don't know to what extent intelligence has to do with fire-fighting.

Anonymous said...

Allow me to re-iterate: Your argument would be stronger if you proved that intelligence has much to do with firefighting.

Some of your readers are skeptics. Don't take it as a given that we know what you're talking about.

jeff fink said...

I think instead of opposing these tactics, we should emulate them. Sue everyone on the liberal and leftist side of the spectrum. Accuse them of discrimiating against Christans, conservatives, whites, genitles, etc. Take Hollywood and national media for instance. Sue Newsweek for not hiring enough conservatives. Sue NFL for not recruiting enough whites, Hispanics, Arabs, Asians, etc. Sue Harvard Law for not enough whites. And insist that Ashkenazi Jews not be counted as whites since they have an unfair genetic advantage in intelligence--proven by hard biological data.

Lawsuits--more than mere laws--were the key force behind civil rights movement and feminism. Companies and organizations often complied because they feared lawsuits--legit or not. Many companies and organizations would have just given lip service to 'progressive' laws if not for the costs, headache, and stigma of lawsuits.

We should use the power of lawsuits to do likewise. Don't oppose affirmative action or crazy lawsuits but employ them for OUR benefit. We may lose out via affirmative action to blacks and Hispanics, but we have much to gain against Jews and white liberals who are more powerful, privileged, and affluent than us.
Remember, this may be a nation of laws but it really functions as a nation of lawyers. We must LAWYER ourselves to power. Why has ACLU been so powerful? Because it stood for certain ideals? No, because it USES over them.

We must sue, sue, and sue some more.

C. Van Carter said...

See also New Jersey.

alonzo portfolio said...

Steve, you should try to get ahold of the english test administered by the S.F. police and fire departments, routinely flunked by blacks. Any girl in my 7th grade class in 1970 would have gotten a perfect score.

jeff fink said...

"No, because it USES over them."

I meant 'because it SUES over them.'

David said...

>We must sue, sue, and sue some more.<

Lawsuits cost money. Also, it helps to have a friend in court.

P Schwartz said...

"Allow me to re-iterate: Your argument would be stronger if you proved that intelligence has much to do with firefighting."

You need to address dangerous situations involving potentially toxic chemicals that may call for different responses.

In terms of the relevance to making better decisions see paper by Linda Gottfredson on police tests:

"The most distinctive thing about the test is what it omitted--virtually any measurement of cognitive (mental) skills. Although the project's careful job analysis had shown that "reasoning, judgment, and inferential thinking" were the most critical skills for good police work, the final "implementation" version of the exam (the one used to rank applicants) retained only personality ("non-cognitive") scales such as "Achievement Motivation," "Openness to Experience," and "Emotional Stability." The reading component of the "experimental" test battery (the version actually administered to applicants the year before) was regraded pass-fail; to pass that test, applicants only had to read as well as the worst one percent of readers in the research sample of incumbent police officers. Nor did failing the reading component disqualify an applicant, because the final exam score was determined by combining the scores from all nine tests. Not mincing words, Frank Schmidt (1996a, b) predicted that the test would be "a disaster" for any police force that used it.

The major legal dilemma in selection is that the best overall predictors of job performance, namely, cognitive tests, have the most disparate impact on racial-ethnic minorities. Their considerable disparate impact is not due to any imperfections in the tests. Rather, it is due to the tests' measuring essential skills and abilities that happen not to be distributed equally among groups (Schmidt, 1988). Those differences currently are large enough to cause a major problem. U.S. Department of Education literacy surveys show, for example, that black college graduates, on the average, exhibit the cognitive skill levels of white high school graduates without any college (Kirsch, Jungeblut, & Kolstad, 1993, p. 127).

This dilemma means that the disparate impact of cognitive tests can be reduced only by reducing their ability to predict job performance. In fact, this problem is so well known among personnel selection professionals that there is considerable research estimating how much productivity is lost by reducing the impact of cognitive tests by different degrees (e.g., Hartigan & Wigdor, 1989; Hunter, Schmidt, & Rauschenberger, 1984; Wigdor & Hartigan, 1988; see also Brody, this issue, for a more general discussion of the same dilemma). There are two general methods of reducing the impact of cognitive tests: lower the hiring standards only for the lower-scoring groups, or lower standards for all races and ethnicities. Double standards lower productivity less than low common standards because they maintain standards for the majority of workers. Their drawbacks are that they are obviously race-conscious and that they create disparate impact in future promotions. In contrast, low common standards have the virtue of being race-neutral, but they devastate workforce performance across the board."

Gottfredson, L. S. (1996). Racially gerrymandering the content of police tests to satisfy the U.S. Justice Department: A case study. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 2(3/4), 418-446.

http://www.ipacweb.org/files/nassau/gottfredson3.html

See also:

Gottfredson, L. S. (2000). Skills gaps, not tests, make racial proportionality impossible. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 6(1), 129-143.

http://www.udel.edu/educ/gottfredson/reprints/2000skillsgaps.pdf

David Davenport said...

I'll get YOU to WEEP: All those un-employed prospective unemployed muscular black firefighters!!!!

What about all those un-employed prospective unemployed petite women firefighters!!!!

Anonymous said...

So I'm not even allowed to connect Charles Murray's work with Arthur Hu's work?

C'mon Steve, Komment Kontrol is getting really onerous around here.

Anonymous said...

Why don't the Vulcans so something positive to help their members pass? Create study groups, mentor each other and similar activities. Oh wait... that requires actual work.

The Vulcans have been doing this since the age of Surak, thousands of years ago. Oh wait ... you're not talking about Star Trek.