December 31, 2004

Clint Eastwood's lady boxer movie Million Dollar Baby:

From my American Conservative review, now available to electronic subscribers:

In reality, women's boxing is a pseudo-feminist trashsport that briefly flourished in the 1990s when impresario Don King noticed that Mike Tyson fans got some kind of weird kick out of preliminary catfights between battling babes.

Traditionally, society objected to women brawling because (to paraphrase the answer the shady doctor in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" gives to the question of whether his memory erasure technique can cause brain damage), "Technically speaking, boxing is brain damage."

If a man gets his head caved in during some pointless scrap, well, some other man will just have to step in and do double duty carrying on the species. But, women are the limiting scarce resource in making babies, so each woman lost lowers the overall reproductive capacity.

That kind of proto-sociobiological reasoning is unthinkable today, yet that hasn't brought about a feminist utopia. Instead, men employ gender equality slogans to badger women into doing things guys enjoy.

Still, female fisticuffs have faded recently due to the supply side problem of finding enough low-cost opponents for the handful of women stars. While the number of male palookas who will fight for next to nothing in the hope of becoming Rocky Balboa is ample, managers needing fresh meat for their female champs to bash frequently have to hire hookers and strippers to take dives -- and working girls don't work for free.

"Million Dollar Baby" simply ignores all this and asks you to believe that women's boxing today is a thriving duplicate of the men's fight game of a half century ago, which allows Eastwood to make a 1955-style boxing movie.

This offers some almost-forgotten payoffs, but Eastwood doesn't have the courage to make a genuinely out-of-fashion film.

The rest of my review will be on newsstands in a week or so.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer


Three Cheers for Ah-Nold -- Last November, 153 Congressional and legislative seats in California were being contested in the election. Not a single one changed from one party to the other due to the extreme gerrymandering in place to protect incumbents. Gov. Schwarzenegger has announced that he's sick of this and wants an independent panel of retired judges to draw district boundaries in the future.

Ah-Nold is on the side of Truth, Justice, and the American Way because gerrymandering has gotten increasingly accurate due to advances in computer technology allows incumbents to protect themselves from fluctuations in the will of the people.

Here's an interview I conducted with the man who is perhaps the leading academic expert on gerrymandering, Dan Polsby of George Mason U.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Why did Germans outfight Americans, man for man, in 1944-45?

Bloggers like Brad DeLong are up in arms that British war historian Max Hastings has a new book out making the point that the outgunned German army fought very well after Normandy.

The only problem is that Hastings is right.

The evolutionary psychologists Richerson and Boyd have written extensively about the reasons for the slightly greater man-for-man effectiveness of German soldiers in WWII (all else being equal, according to Dupuy, 100 German soldiers were roughly equivalent to 120 British or American soldiers).

This is not to denigrate the Yanks and Brits, who fought awfully well, especially compared to, say, the Italians. It's just when compared to the Germans that noticeable differences are apparent. It's like saying that Arnold Palmer wasn't quite as good a golfer as Jack Nicklaus: undeniable, but hardly an insult to Arnie. It's the same reason it's asinine to feel superior to the French for only going 1-2 against the Germans from 1870-1940.

Richerson and Boyd largely attribute the difference to the paradoxical fact that relationships between officers and enlisted men in the WWII German army were more egalitarian (and even quasi-democratic) than in the American army. You'll note that after Eisenhower, most of the Presidents for the next three decades were ex-Navy officers -- it's largely forgotten today in the nostalgic glow with which all aspects of the Greatest Generation are bathed, but enlisted US Army soldiers tended to return from WWII with much more resentment of stuck-up Army officers than Navy sailors came back with resentment of we're-all-in-this-together-boys Navy officers.

As evolutionary psychologists, Richerson and Boyd argue that the German army did a better job of reproducing the conditions conducive to small group cohesion and espirit de corps among hunting and raiding parties during the "era of evolutionary adaptiveness." One notoriously self-destructive technique used by the American army in WWII and Vietnam was to rotate new men into established units as individuals. The Germans, in contrast, had men who trained together fight together, and thus they stuck with their platoon mates better than the randomly assembled American units did.

There is no automatic reason a dictatorship should be better than a democracy at organizing an army in this more effective fashion. It was just an accident of history, partly having to do with Germany losing WWI and thus being more serious about reform, partly with the Versailles Treaty's limitation of the new German army to 100,000 men (so most of the enlisted men between 1919-1933 were seen by the high command not as cannon fodder but as officers-in-waiting, who would move up to officers when the hated Versailles limitation was overthrown), and partly because of Hitler's lower-middle class animus against the old aristocracy that wouldn't let him become an officer despite his four years of courageous service in WWI.

The U.S. Army learned a lot from having to fight the Germans and improved in the decades afterwards.

On the other hand, you could argue that an ideologically radical autocracy, like Hitler's (or Napoleon's), could be better at rooting out aristocratic mindsets among the officer class than would a more easy-going society with a representative government.

Certainly, Napoleon's troops tended to show higher espirit de corps than did the enlisted men from the aristocratic parliamentary country of Britain, in part precisely because Napoleon favored careers open to talent, allowing obscure soldiers to rise through their own genius to become Marshals.

Similarly, after Stalin murdered much of the established talent in the Soviet Union in 1937-1938, he had to become very open to promoting talents like Zhukov and Ustinov just to survive. Of course, over time a new aristocracy develops (e.g., Napoleon promoted his siblings to be submonarchs under him), and the late Soviet-style sclerosis sets in if the autocracy endures. So, a democracy is likely to have a better track record for meritocracy in the long run, but in the short run a ruthless autocrat can unleash a huge amount of untapped energy in his country, which helps explains how bad guys like Napoleon, Hitler, and Stalin can prove so frightening.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

More reasons the U.S. Army has improved:

A recent Atlantic Monthly article by Robert D. Kaplan quotes a colonel on how much the Army has improved during his couple of decades of service. He attributed much of the improved relations between officers and men to the recent spread of evangelical Christianity, and the consequent decline in drinking. Since officers and men are not allowed to drink in the same room, back in the days when most free time was devoted to drinking, the ranks almost never came in contact off duty.

Today, officers and men share more in common. I'd also add that since the downsizing of the military in 1992, the IQ gap between officers and enlisted has shrunk: For the last dozen years, about 65-70% of new enlistees score over the national average on the IQ test the military gives all applicants for enlistment. Only about 1% of new enlistees have scored below the 30th percentile (around 90 on the usual IQ scale), so officers and enlisted people can now communicate in a more egalitarian fashion than in previous eras. I don't believe that the IQs of officers have gone up as much -- the average SAT scores of West Point cadets are now lower than, say, U. of Illinois freshmen.

By the way, you've probably heard of how awful was the quality of enlisted personnel in the late 1970s, but you've probably never head of the most direct cause: the "misnorming" fiasco. The military's norms for scoring applicant's entrance tests results on the new ASVAB (the 10 subtest exam of which four are the highly g-loaded IQ-like tests used in The Bell Curve) were wrong (too easy), and thus the military let in many applicants from 1976-1980 that they would have rejected if they had known how stupid they really were.

The Reagan-era reforms, such as higher pay, more Be All You Can Be recruiting advertising, and more patriotism brought in a higher quality of soldier, but for several years in the late 1970s, the military couldn't figure out why its new recruits were so much more incompetent on average than the recruiters said they would be.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The Andamanese and Human Biodiversity Conservation


Reports remain confused about the fate of the pygmy negritos of the Andaman islands, hit hard by the tsunami, especially the uncontacted tribe on North Sentinel Island, but this almost-eyewitness account sounds promising:

"Our helicopter pilot who flew over [North Sentinel] island told me that he has seen several groups of Sentinelese on the beach and that when he dropped food packets they threw stones at the helicopter."

That sure sounds like the Sentinelese we (don't) know and love! When somebody offers to help them, they try to kill him. That attitude has kept them free of Eurasian diseases all these millennia.

That great picture of a steatopygous Andaman mom and how she carries her toddler around is now on-line here. There's another tremendous picture in Coon's Living Races of Man (1965) (buy it here): a portrait of a young pygmy negrito couple of Little Andaman Island, his arm lovingly around her shoulders, the joy in each other's company radiating outward. It's as happy a picture as you'll ever see. This photo is now on-line here,

That's the point about human biodiversity studies: differences and similarities.

There's a book from 2003 about the Andamanese: "The Land of Naked People : Encounters with Stone Age Islanders" by Scientific American staffer Madhusree Mukerjee.


Reports remain uncertain about the fates of the wild tribes of stone age pgymy negritos on the Andaman Islands, close to the epicenter of the earthquake that was the source of the killer tsunami. Here are long articles from the UK Independent, the BBC, and the UK Guardian, and from MSNBC.

Also struck hard were the Mongoloid Nicobarese tribesmen of the Nicobar archipelago south of the Andamans. There is a modest amount of information about them here. Here's a Thursday afternoon update on the ugly situation in the Nicobars.

If any good could come out of this disaster, it would be to make the world more aware of the importance of human biodiversity conservation. Virtually nobody in the media gave a damn about the Andamanese until this week. The health disaster that outside contact has inflicted on the Jarawa tribe of Andamanese pygmy negritos over the last half dozen years by exposing them to the outside world's germs was almost completely ignored.

Also, the very existence of the Andamanese, with their remarkable physical features, was an affront to prevailing norms of political correctness that demand that we "celebrate diversity" without actually noticing diversity. As I wrote in VDARE,

"The men average 4'-10" and 95 pounds. The women have such pronounced "steatopygia" that a mother who needs to carry her toddler on her back will have the child throw his arms around her neck and stand on her remarkably protuberant, gravity-defying buttocks. (Unfortunately, Carleton Coon's you-gotta-see-it-to-believe-it photo of this is not on line.)"

UPDATE: That great picture is now on-line here. There's another tremendous picture in Coon's Living Races of Man (1965), a portrait of a young pygmy negrito couple, his arm lovingly around her shoulders, there joy in each other's company radiating outward. It's as happy a picture as you'll ever see.

We never miss anything until it's almost gone. Well, now that the last purely wild Andaman tribe, the Sentineli (a.k.a., Sentinelese, Sentenelese, or North Sentinel Islanders -- nobody knows what they call themselves), might be gone, the world has finally noticed that they existed in the first place.

Here's an excerpt from my 2002 interview with George H.J. Weber, founder of

In an era when we are routinely encouraged to celebrate diversity, perhaps no group of humans on Earth is more diverse yet less celebrated than the tiny but fierce Pygmy Negritos of the Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean. They provide some of the best examples of what modern humans were like when they first emerged out of Africa dozens of millennia ago.

Wildlife biodiversity conservation is a hugely popular cause today, but little thought is given to preservation of human biodiversity, nor to protection of the few remaining Stone Age cultures. Yet, the Andamanese Negrito tribes have been decimated by contact with the modern world and its germs. Fortunately, one remaining tribe on isolated North Sentinel Island continues to drive off outsiders with swarms of arrows.

George H. J. Weber, a Swiss businessman and independent scholar, is the founder of the Andaman Association and creator of the encyclopedic Web site, which is the leading source for information on these almost unknown but fascinating people...

Q: What's been happening to the Jarawa tribe in the Andamans?

A: In the last few years ago, the Jarawa tribe has largely given up its old hostility toward all outsiders. The result was predictable: a large number of diseases have struck and violent crime is on the rise. The latest reports received privately speak of 50 percent infection rate with Hepatitis B among Jarawas (only a few months ago it was said to be 30 percent). Other diseases are rampant and one official has carelessly let slip that there is AIDS among the Jarawa. Officially, of course, all is well.

You had better heed local advice when meeting with Jarawa. Thanks to grossly incompetent government policies in the past, you are likely to meet them on the Andaman trunk road where they will hijack your bus and not be satisfied with a handshake, but instead will demand goodies -- or else. Such is progress in the Andamans.

Q: Why are Andamanese so vulnerable to the outside world?

A: They have been isolated from other people for a long time and have never had a chance to develop resistance against outside diseases. The Andamanese do have a limited immunity against malaria (a very ancient human scourge), but the common cold or an ordinary flu, let alone pneumonia, measles or venereal diseases, can be deadly to them.

Q: What's special about the North Sentinel Islanders?

A: They are the only Andamanese group that is today still as isolated as all the Andamanese were in the past. That they live on a coral-fringed island in stormy waters has protected them until now from those do-gooders who would "bring them into the mainstream of Indian society," as the nationalist phrase has it. For just what this expression means in reality, the Jarawa situation provides an all too clear illustration.

Q: Is their future safe?

A: "Missions of friendship" to the Sentineli have started only a few years ago. Just as with the Jarawa, most were junkets for visiting VIPs, camouflaged by being called "scientific." They were hurriedly aborted after the Jarawa catastrophe burst over the guilty administrators at Port Blair, the main city of the Andamans. At the moment, the Sentineli are left alone again and all development plans have been put on ice. May they long remain there.

UPDATE: There's also a book from 2003 about the Andamanese: "The Land of Naked People : Encounters with Stone Age Islanders" by Scientific American staffer Madhusree Mukerjee.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Jerry Orbach, RIP:

The 69-year-old actor, whose Det. Lennie Briscoe character on "Law & Order" was one of the most thoroughly likable in the history of television, died today of prostate cancer at 69. He was also a representative of a dying breed: the heterosexual Broadway musical song and dance man. The Tony Award-winner originated the role of the narrator in The Fantasticks and the tap-dancing sleazy lawyer in Chicago. As the enchanted candlestick in Disney's animated classic Beauty and the Beast, he sang the showstopper "Be Our Guest."

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 30, 2004

A detailed extension of my Marriage Gap theory of Red vs. Blue States

Down in Australia, Darvin Hansen gives a detailed analysis of my finding that Years Married (especially, although not solely, for whites) correlated to an extraordinary degree with Bush's share of the vote in 2000 and 2004, and adds some new data.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 27, 2004

Jared Diamond's "Collapse"

"Societies don't die by accident - they commit ecological suicide" says an article trumpeting Jared Diamond's new book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed:

Diamond studies four ancient societies across space and time: Easter Island in Polynesia, the native American Anasazi tribe in what is now the southwestern United States, the Maya civilization in Central America, and the isolated Viking settlement on the coast of Greenland. Although diverse in nature and context, these four societies experienced what Diamond calls "ecocide," unintentional ecological suicide.

Contra Diamond, in reality, most societies down through history died because they were conquered. Generally speaking, not suicide, but homicide was the fate of most extinct societies.

Diamond cites the Maya, but I cite the Aztecs and the Incas. He cites the Anasazi, but I cite the Cherokee, the Sioux, and countless others. He cites the Easter Islanders, but I cite the Maoris, the Tasmanians, the Australian Aborigines, the Chatham Islanders (exterminated by the Maori), and so forth. He cites the Vikings in Greenland, but I cite the Saxons in Britain and the Arabs in Sicily, both conquered by the descendents of the Vikings. We can go on like this all day.

Diamond used to be a terrific independent thinker, as shown in his 1993 book The Third Chimpanzee (indeed, many of my examples come from this book). But he sold out to political correctness, most profitably, in his bestseller Guns, Germs, and Steel.

Here's my review of GG&S from National Review in 1997:

Diamond is not content, however, to merely write the history of the last 13,000 years. He also claims that his evidence is of great political momentuousness because it shows that no ethnic group is inferior to any other: each exploited its local food resources as fully as possible. For example, after the Australian Outback explorers Burke and Wills exhausted their Eurasian-derived supplies, three times they had to throw themselves on the mercy and expertise of the local Stone Age hunter-gatherers. These Aborigines, the least technically advanced of all peoples, may not have domesticated a single Australian plant in 40,000 years, but in 200 years down under scientific whites have domesticated merely the macadamia nut. Farming only pays in Australia when using imported crops and livestock.

But, are indigenous peoples merely not inferior? In truth, on their own turf many ethnic groups appear to be somewhat genetically superior to outsiders. Diamond makes environmental differences seem so compelling that it's hard to believe that humans would not become somewhat adapted to their homelands through natural selection. And in fact, Diamond himself briefly cites several examples of genetic differences impacting history. Despite military superiority, Europeans repeatedly failed to settle equatorial West Africa, in part because they lacked the malaria resistance conferred on many natives by the sickle cell gene. Similarly, biological disadvantages stopped whites from overrunning the Andes. Does this make Diamond a loathsome racist? No, but it does imply that a scientific-minded observer like Diamond should not dogmatically denounce genetic explanations, since he is liable to get tarred with his own brush.

The undeniability of human biodiversity does not prove that we also differ somewhat mentally, but it's hard to imagine why the brain would differ radically from the rest of the body. Consider the fable of the grasshopper and the ant. The ant's personality traits -- foresight and caution -- fitted him to survive his region's predictably harsh winters. Yet, the grasshopper's strengths -- improvisation and spontaneity -- might furnish Darwinian superiority in a tropical land where the dangers are unpredictable.

Like many, Diamond appears to confuse the concepts of genetic superiorities (plural) and genetic supremacy (singular). The former are circumstance-specific. For example, a slim, heat-shedding Somalian-style body is inferior to a typically stocky, heat-conserving Eskimo physique in Nome, but it's superior in Mogadishu (and in Manhattan, too, if, you want to become a fashion model and marry David Bowie, like Somalian supermodel Iman). In contrast, genetic supremacy is the dangerous fantasy that one group is best at everything. Before the European explosion began in the 15th Century, it seemed apparent that no race could be supreme. Even the arrogant Chinese were periodically overrun by less-cultured barbarians. The recent European supremacy in both the arts of war and of peace was partly an optical illusion masking the usual tradeoffs in talents within Europe (e.g., Italian admirals were as inept as English cooks). Still, the rise and reign of Europe remains the biggest event in world history. Yet, the era when Europeans could plausibly claim supremacy over all other races has been dead for at least the 60 years since Hitler, of all people, allied with Japan.

The historian who trumpets the political relevance of his work must consider both the past and the future, which Diamond fails to do. Surprisingly, ethnic biodiversity is becoming more important in numerous ways. Until recently, one's location and social position at birth closely constrained one's fate. But, as equality of opportunity grows, the globalized marketplace increasingly exploits all advantages in talent, including those with genetic roots. Pro sports offer a foretaste of the future: many are resegregating themselves as ethnic groups increasingly specialize in those games they're naturally best at. In summary, Diamond may prove a better guide to the last 13,000 years than the to next 13.

Only 7 of those 13 years have gone by, but I'd have to say I'm way ahead of Diamond at this point in forecasting the diverging paths of economic development around the world: I was specifically thinking about South Indian programmers and Chinese manufacturing engineers.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

What if all athletes took equal amounts of steroids?

Many libertarian-inclined commentators have proclaimed that rather than try to ban steroids, sports leagues should "simply" allow all athletes to take a "moderate" dose.

Of course, this is utterly impractical. It's hard enough to ban steroids, but from the perspective of surviving legal challenges from penalized athletes, it's much more effective to have a blood test rule that says one-molecule-and-you're-nailed than one that specifies X parts per gazillion ... because that opens the door to endless arguments over statistical margins of error. Further, it would just increase the amount of steroids that cheaters would take to even more dangerously high levels, with bizarre illnesses and girlfriends thrown down staircases in 'roid rages increasing concomitantly. If everybody was taking steroids in 1996, how big a dose would Ken Caminiti have taken? He probably would have survived only two years instead of eight after his steroid-fueled MVP season.

Still, a reader has some interesting observations about the effects of this hypothetical system where everybody took the same amount:

Steroids do not uniformly affect people. So the effect of universal use of equal amounts would not be no effect, as you suggest. Rather, it would be relatively helpful to people with lower levels of (natural) steroids, who would benefit relatively more from a given dose. It would be relatively hurtful to people with higher levels, who'd benefit relatively less.

This may well help white and Asian athletes compete relative to black athletes, if natural hormone levels are among the factors leading to black dominance on the athletic field. Sports allowing fixed doping levels might become whiter. A whiter sport might have many ramifications from the business POV. I'd guess that MLB would jump at it, although, clearly the racial angle will have them running scared so they'd find some other public justification.

I'd suggest that part of the attraction for some commentators to steroid use in the bigs is that it makes their fantasies of big-league play (for themselves, or their sons, perhaps) seem more reasonable, since they know themselves to be relatively low-T. Allowing the proliferation of such fantasies might well be in the interest of MLB.

Equal-but-nonzero steroids might also allow women to compete. It also may open the door to separate-but-equal thinking - that is, women might be competitive if the various sport-governing bodies allow them to use more steroids than men. (This seems farfetched on first reflection, but the more I think about it, the more logical it seems from my understanding of the leftist mindset.)

Also, one group in particular that has naturally lower levels of steroids are older men. Bonds is an example - sabermetricians find that baseball players on average peak about 28 or 29 (in terms of stat-production), yet he's still kicking ass pushing 40. Allowing equal levels of steroids would have the effect of prolonging the careers of some players, making them more competitive vis-a-vis young men who've naturally got plenty of juice but less skill. I've certainly heard the DH rule praised for its side-effect of keeping in play old and beloved (but slow) players. Juicing the game might have a similar effect - again, good for MLB even if bad for the players collectively.

Much of this already happens. For example, females get a bigger bang per buck of steroids because they have fewer natural male hormones than do males. That's why, as I pointed out in a National Review article "Track and Battlefield" in 1997, the East German sports-industrial complex was able to dope their female sprinters into beating our black lady sprinters, but they failed completely at doping their male sprinters into beating our black men.

Similarly, doping has allowed some clunky white guys to make it to the major leagues: as I pointed out in The American Conservative last spring, Jason Giambi's brother Jeremy is a good example of kind of slow white guy who couldn't make it without steroids.

Still, if everybody doped the same amount, there wouldn't be be all that much change, as we see with Bonds. Not doping (presumably), he was the best player of the 1990s. Doping, he is the best player of the 2000s.

Similarly, Florence Griffith-Joyner was the fastest clean 200m woman in the world at the 1984 Olympics and 1987 World Championships, but she finished second to suspiciously muscular women both times. So, she showed up looking like Wonder Woman in 1988 and made a joke out of the Seoul Olympics.

A lack of doping tests allowed doped women to artificially narrow the gender gap in Olympic running events from 1976 through 1988, although the difference was not huge -- about 10% to 20% of the gender gap in speed.

Also, you could also argue that the randomness of current cheating adds to the drama of modern sports: For example, a Greek man wins the 200m dash in the 2000 Olympics and his girlfriend gets the silver in the 100m dash. After four years as the toast of Greece, with millions of Greeks pointing to their performances as proof that the best blacks aren't innately faster on average, the pair try to fake a motorcycle crash to avoid the drug test at the 2004 Athens Olympics in their home country. Now, that's interesting!

Think how exciting it would be if Tiger Woods showed up on the PGA tour in January as massively muscular as Barry Bonds (attributing the change to his new bride's family recipe for Swedish meatballs) and started driving Par-5s and holing putts for double eagles. TV ratings would triple! Golf writers would make a fortune with articles about how Tiger added 200 yards to his drives by changing where the Vs in his grip point.

Anyway, this whole discussion is theoretical, because there is no feasible system for having everybody take just a little steroids. It's a joke of an idea.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Did the Andamanese pygmy negritos survive the tsunami?

The Times of India speculates on the fate of the most isolated uncontacted stone age tribe in the known world, the North Sentinel Islanders in the Andaman chain, northwest of Sumatra:

An enormous anthropological disaster is in the making. The killer tsunami is feared to have wiped out entire tribes — already threatened by their precariously small numbers — perhaps rendering them extinct and snapping the slender tie with a lost generation. Officials involved in rescue operations are pessimistic, but still keeping their fingers crossed for the Sentinelese and Nicobarese, the two tribes seen as bearing the brunt of the killer wave. The bigger fear is for the Sentinelese, anthropologically the most important tribe, living on the flat North Sentinel Island. Putting their population at about 100, officials say no body count is possible as the tribe had remained isolated.

The Shompens, Great Andamanese and Jarawas are expected to have fared better as they live on comparatively higher grounds. But their small number could be working against them.

The Great Andamanese were just about gone due to the introduction of outsides disease when the English and Indians came in the 1850s. The Jarawa thrived in the jungle until they began coming into town about five years ago, and immediately started dying of pneumonia. The North Sentinelese are on their own island, protecting them from germs, and continue to drive off interlopers with showers of arrows.

North Sentinel Island is surrounded by reefs that keep shipping away. Whether that would be enough to stop the tsunami, I couldn't stay. Presumably, the inhabitants have been there a loooong time, suggesting, perhaps, that they've survived tsunamis before. We can only hope.

In happier times, I interviewed George Weber, founder of

UPDATE: A new report:

Ongi, Sentinel, Jarwa tribes in Andamans are safe Wednesday, 29 December , 2004, 01:23 New Delhi: The aborigines in Andaman and Nicobar Islands -- Ongi, Sentinel and Jarwa tribes -- are safe, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee said on Tuesday.

While the Ongi people escaped the Tsunami disaster as they located at slightly higher places, the inhabiting Sentinel and Jarwas have not not been affected by the tidal waves, Mukherjee, who visited the Islands along with Congress President Sonia Gandhi, told reporters. Describing as highly exaggerated reports about the casualties suffered in the Islands, Mukherjee said a joint secretary in the Home Ministry has been asked to camp there to oversee relief and rehabilitation operations. He also said that no date has been firmed up for the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the disaster zones.

Well, that sounds promising, but whether the minister has solid information or is just telling people not to assume the worst remains to be seen.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 24, 2004

British vs. French ex-Empires:

As I discussed below, one of the most popular papers in recent economics was "Law and Finance," which argued that countries whose legal systems derive from the British common law provide more protection of outside shareholders than countries with French-derived law codes. Over time, however, this useful little insight has bloviated into a general explanation for the wealth and poverty of nations, illustrating the tendency of modern economists to not see what is in front of their noses.

A reader writes:

I'm curious to hear how they compare the relative performance of Taiwan and Singapore, both with Chinese populations, the latter with a British legal heritage and the former without such a heritage, but with almost identical GDPs per capita today. There is clearly some benefit to be derived from *not* being ruled by mainland China, but it seems to matter rather less *who* colonized you (at least, between Britain and Japan).

I'm also curious to hear how they compare the relative performance of Malaysia and Thailand. Their economic performance is fairly similar (Malaysia is a bit ahead) but Thailand was never colonized at all. (Thailand, by the way, is about 14% ethnic Chinese, not so wildly different from Malaysia's 24%.)

It's interesting to look at the list below of countries in Africa, their former colonial masters, and GDP per capita (PPP method, from the CIA factbook), ranked by GDP per capita:

Country Colonial Power $GDP per Capita
South Africa Britain 10,700
Botswana Britain 9,000
Namibia Britain (prev German) 7,200
Tunisia France 6,900
Libya Italy 6,400
Algeria France 6,000
Gabon France 5,500
Swaziland Britain 4,900
Egypt Britain 4,000
Morocco France 4,000
Lesotho Britain 3,000
Equatorial Guinea Spain 2,700
Ghana Britain 2,200
Guinea France 2,100
Angola Portugal 1,900
Zimbabwe Britain 1,900
Sudan Britain 1,900
Mauritania France 1,800
Cameroon France (prev German) 1,800
Gambia Britain 1,700
Senegal France 1,600
Togo France 1,500
Uganda Britain 1,400
Cote D'Ivoire France 1,400
Rwanda Belgium 1,300
Djibouti France 1,300
Chad France 1,200
Sao Tome & Principe Portugal 1,200
Mozambique Portugal 1,200
Benin France 1,100
Burkina Faso France 1,100
Central African Repub France 1,100
Kenya Britain 1,000
Liberia USA (sort of) 1,000
Mali France 900
Nigeria Britain 900
Zambia Britain 800
Guinea-Bissau Portugal 800
Madagascar France 800
Niger France 800
Ethiopia Italy (sort of) 700
Eritrea Italy 700
Comoros France 700
Congo, Dem Republic Belgium 700
Congo, Republic France 700
Burundi Belgium 600
Tanzania Britain (prev German) 600
Malawi Britain 600
Sierra Leone Britain 500
Somalia Italy (and Britain) 500

You can find pairings that look like they support the Legal Affairs contention and pairings that look like they refute it. Ghana (fmr British) is doing better now than Togo, Benin or the Ivory Coast (all fmr French). But Nigeria and Sierra Leone (both fmr British) are doing substantially worse than Cameroon and Guinea (both fmr French). And Senegal (fmr French) and the Gambia (fmr British) look pretty much identical. Algeria (fmr French) and Egypt (fmr British) each have Arab populations, lots of sand and some oil. But Algeria is doing better economically in spite of the fact that it's been more politically unstable of late, and the fact that Egypt has the canal and massive American support. The bottom four basket cases on the list, in economic terms - Tanzania, Malawi, Sierra Leone and Somalia - were all at least partly colonized by Britain.

Britain's most successful former colonies in sub-saharan Africa are South Africa, Botswana and Namibia, plus Swaziland and Lesotho, which were never precisely colonies. South Africa dominates the economy of the region, and it is only 75% black African. Namibia is 87% black African and Botswana's stats are not usefully broken out (they count white in the category "other" and I don't know what else is in that category; "other" is 7% of the country). So it's plausible to attribute the outperformance of this entire region to South African exceptionalism, which is surely related to the exceptional racial breakdown of the country. Of the next batch - Ghana, Zimbabwe, Gambia and Uganda - none has a non-African population above 2%. Meanwhile, the most successful French former colonies in sub-Saharan Africa are Gabon, Guinea, Cameroon, Senegal and Togo. Gabon is 1% French, but 11% "other Africans and Europeans" and it has a tiny population, so maybe it's an outlier and we should discount it [It's just an oil spigot country.] The next four countries have non-African populations of well under 2% - smaller, on average, than the four British successes. And their average GDPs are pretty similar:

Country Colonial Power Non-African % Total Populat GDP per Capita (USD)

Ghana Britain <1% 20.8mm 2,200
Guinea France <1% 9.3mm 2,100

Zimbabwe Britain <2% 12.7mm 1,900
Cameroon France <1% 16.1mm 1,800

Gambia Britain 1% 1.6mm 1,700
Senegal France 1% 10.9mm 1,600

Togo France <1% 5.6mm 1,500
Uganda Britain 1% 26.4mm 1,400

Do you see a pattern here? I don't.

Looks to me like the French legal heritage works about as well as the British if you compare otherwise similar countries.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Bluest State Blues:

Among the 50 states, Massachusetts ranked 50th in Bush's share of the vote, 50th in Average Years Married among younger white women, 49th in white fertility, and 50th in lack of housing price inflation. Not surprisingly, the AP reports:

BOSTON - Massachusetts was the only state in the nation to lose residents in 2004, U.S. Census data shows. The state lost an estimated 3,852 people ... in the last year, despite continuing growth in immigration to the Bay State, the Boston Sunday Globe reported.

Paul E. Harrington, an economist at Northeastern University's Center for Labor Market Studies, attributed the fall to a stagnant job market. He said the decline could be an ominous sign for the state. "Population loss is a pretty fundamental number," he said.

Offsetting the trend is a boost in foreign immigrants, Harrington said, who are counted by the Census but often don't show up in job or unemployment data. That suggests that these workers are being paid under the table, which could create "long-term economic growth problem," he said.

The population of the country swelled by almost 3 million, to nearly 294 million, from July 2003 to July 2004, the Census Bureau reported in its annual population estimates last week.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Reggie White, RIP

The New York Times obituary of the great NFL defensive lineman and minister says:

"White created a stir in March 1998 with a speech to the Wisconsin State Assembly. In it, he referred to homosexuality as "one of the biggest sins in the Bible" and used ethnic stereotypes for blacks and whites."

In reality, the Reverend White's much-denounced "ethnic stereotypes" speech was one of the more thoughtful celebrations of racial and ethnic diversity in recent years. Across Difficult Country quotes the most vilified section of White's speech in context:

Why did God create us differently? Why did God make me black and you white? Why did God make the next guy Korean and the next guy Asian and the other guy Hispanic? Why did God create the Indians?

Well, it's interesting to me to know why now. When you look at the black race, black people are very gifted in what we call worship and celebration. A lot of us like to dance, and if you go to black churches, you see people jumping up and down, because they really get into it.

White people were blessed with the gift of structure and organization. You guys do a good job of building businesses and things of that nature and you know how to tap into money pretty much better than a lot of people do around the world.

Hispanics are gifted in family structure. You can see a Hispanic person and they can put 20 or 30 people in one home. They were gifted in the family structure.

When you look at the Asians, the Asian is very gifted in creation, creativity and inventions. If you go to Japan or any Asian country, they can turn a television into a watch. They're very creative. And you look at the Indians, they have been very gifted in the spirituality.

When you put all of that together, guess what it makes. It forms a complete image of God. God made us different because he was trying to create himself. He was trying to form himself, and then we got kind of knuckleheaded and kind of pushed everything aside.

I attempted a more elaborate description of black advantages, the ones that can't be measured by IQ tests, in my 1996 National Review article "Great Black Hopes" and in this long book review of Arthur Jensen's The g Factor called "The Half-Full glass," in which I declared myself a "Reggieist."

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Colonialism's Surprisingly Weak Impact:

Colby Cosh writes:

"'Using sophisticated mathematical models, a group of four economists has proven...'--well, the stunningly obvious: that the best thing a country can possibly do for its economy (and probably its general well-being) is to go back in time and get itself subjugated good and hard by the British Empire."

Yet, this doesn't seem that stunningly obvious to me: e.g., Zimbabwe (Where the joke du jour is, "Q. What did we have before candles? A. Electricity"), Burma, Iraq, Nigeria, Sudan, Pakistan ... Maybe these are exceptions that prove the rule, but the rule is starting to look awfully shaky.

In an article in Legal Affairs by Nicholas Thompson about this theory advanced by "Rafael La Porta of Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business, Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes of the Yale School of Management, Andrei Shleifer of Harvard's economics department, and Robert Vishny of the University of Chicago's business school" begins:

MALAYSIA AND INDONESIA COULDN'T BE CALLED TWINS, but they might be called siblings. The adjacent Southeast Asian nations possess similar natural resources and their citizens speak similar languages and follow similar strains of Islam. But Malaysia's economy is prospering while Indonesia's is floundering. Malaysia's stock market is far more vibrant than its neighbor's, and its average resident is three times richer...

Another explanation lies in the countries' legal systems, however. Malaysia was a British colony and its legal system is based on the common law: the set of rules, norms, and procedures that has guided the legal system of England and the British Empire for about nine centuries. Indonesia was a Dutch colony and its legal system derives from French civil law, a set of statutes and principles written under Napoleon in the early 19th century and imposed upon the lands he conquered, including the Netherlands.

According to research published by a group of scholars beginning in 1998, countries that come from a French civil law tradition struggle to create effective financial markets, while countries with a British common law tradition succeed far more frequently. While the scholars conducting the research are economists rather than lawyers, their theory has jolted the legal academy, leading to the creation of a new academic specialty called "law and finance" and turning the authors of the theory into the most cited economists in the world over the past decade.

C'mon, the main reason Malaysia is better off than Indonesia is because about a quarter of Malaysia's population are Chinese, who, according to Malaysia's former President Mahathir Mohamad, are smarter and harder working than the indigenous "bumiputras." Mahathir set up a clever system of affirmative action for the majority that keeps them from rioting against the Chinese while not burdening the more productive group so much that they all leave Malaysia. In contrast, as Amy Chua pointed out in World on Fire, Indonesia is only 3% Chinese, and the ruling Suharto family climbed in bed with the Chinese businessmen, so that when the Suhartos were overthrown in 1998, the Chinese were attacked in populist pogroms, many fled to Chinese-run Singapore, and the new "democratic" government nationalized $58 billion worth of Chinese-owned businesses, with the usual disastrous results for the economy.

Just by spinning the globe, it's easy to see that the correlation between the colonizer's legal system and the ex-colony's economic success is relatively faint. It's quite possible that in the esoteric area of financial markets law, the British heritage is more useful than that of the Code Napoleon, but, obviously, that's merely the icing on the cake of prosperity.

Obviously, a far more important factor is ideology. Vietnam did poorly up until about a dozen years ago, not because it was a former French colony but because it had a Communist economy. Ever since it turned to capitalism, it has grown quickly. Similarly, despite its continuity in common law judicial philosophy, India did not thrive after gaining independence from Britain in 1947 because it also inherited the Fabian socialism dominant in Britain at the time. On the verge of economic collapse in 1991, India began liberating its economy and has grown steadily ever since.

Overall, it's striking how little impact colonialism, despite all the intense emotions it engendered, has had on the post-colonial world. Consider Japan's ex-colonies: South Korea and Taiwan are success stories, while North Korea is a disaster. Similarly, a half century of American rule did not leave the Philippines with an economy has dynamic as America's, or even as it neighbors in the region.

Paul Johnson pointed out that colonialism was an intensely visual process, manifesting itself, for example, in painting the map of the world in the red of the British empire, but much of its impact was on the surface.

A less publicized factor that has become even more important since the collapse of communist ideologies 15 years ago rendered the ideological playing field a lot more level appears to be IQ. Something that strongly correlate with level of prosperity is national average IQ. In their 2002 book, "IQ and the Wealth of Nations," veteran academics Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen estimated, from studies published in scientific journals, the average IQs for 81 countries. Despite the large amount of noise in this IQ data, they still found a strikingly high correlation coefficient of 0.73 between average IQ and average GDP per capita.

It's important to point out that all the obvious problems with estimating average national IQ -- such as obtaining nationally representative samples and finding culturally unbiased tests -- work to lower, not increase, the correlation with average per capita income. So, the correlation between income and the "true" average national IQs is likely even higher than 0.73.

And it's not like there's nothing we can do about national IQ -- UNICEF issued a report early this year, "Vitamin & Mineral Deficiency: A Global Progress Report," spelling out two steps that could raise 3rd world national average IQs: put iodine in salt and iron in flour or other staples. That helped eliminate "cretinism" and similar medical problems lowering intelligence in the industrialized world a few generations ago.

Of course, nobody picked up on this report in the press, because that would require talking about IQ.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The American Prospect Can't Stand the Heat and Wants Everybody Else to Get Out of the Kitchen:

After publishing Garance Franke-Ruta's smear of me, The American Prospect is now threatening legal action against anybody who "reproduces" an old article accusing her of racism. You've really got to read this to believe their hypocrisy.

At the time I wrote,

"I must confess that my eyes glazed over while reading about Franke-Ruta's and The American Prospect's alleged high crimes and insensitivities against Latinos. What I saw of it before nodding off seemed no more persuasive than what she wrote about me.

On the other hand, as Across Difficult Country asks, why should the benefit of the doubt be extended to Franke-Ruta if she won't extend it to me? Good question. It's often those who live in the glassiest houses who are most inclined to throw stones to distract from the fragility of their own abodes.

Well, it being the Christmas season, I shall give Franke-Ruta the benefit of the doubt anyway.

The Winds of Change blog is flabbergasted by the whole deal.

Speaking of glass houses,, although Franke-Ruta wrote some obnoxious and absurd things about me (my response is at ), she shouldn't be silenced for her own political incorrectness.

In further defense of Franke-Ruta, let me point out that she is sometimes quite a bit more honest than most liberals about issues like race and crime. For example, in a 2002 review of Michael Moore's "Bowling for Columbine," she attacked the movie for roughly the same reason I did in my "Baby Gap" article ( ).

She wrote:

"My beef with Moore is this: He has managed to make a movie about gun violence in America -- where 53 percent of the gun murder victims are black -- without interviewing a single black victim of gun violence, or even asking black community leaders, who have spent decades successfully trying to combat the problem, for their insights. Instead, to explore a phenomenon that has devastated inner cities and is a horror primarily in urban areas -- nearly 70 percent of gun murders take place in cities, according to U.S. Deaprtment of Justice statistics -- Moore has made a movie that takes as its focal point the Columbine High School massacre in Littleton, Colo., a type of crime (five or more victims) that represented one-tenth of 1 percent of murders that year and that occurred in a white, prosperous, suburban community...

"Young black men ages 14-24 make up only 1 percent of the U.S. population but around 15 percent of the murder victims. Nor are Moore's suburban white gun owners, no matter how ridiculous their fears, the reason that black Americans were six times more likely to be murdered than whites in 1999, and seven times more likely to commit homicides."

Personally, I think The American Prospect could use more of the kind of honesty Franke-Ruta is showing in the two paragraphs I quoted above.

What she appeared to be doing by attacking me in such a frenetic and irrational manner is the old trick that when the wolves of political correctness are closing in on the sleigh, throw somebody even more politically incorrect to the wolves to distract them. "When they came for Steve Sailer, I led them to him," etcetera etcetera

Obviously, I don't appreciate her ploy, but I certainly don't think it's in American political discourse's best interest for her to be devoured by the politically correct either.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Steroid Rationalizations:

A baseball blog called The Hardball Times writes:

Unlike, I suppose, pretty much everyone, I don't consider steroid abuse to be cheating at baseball. It's cheating at working out, it's probably cheating other players out of playing time in some instances, and it's certainly cheating those players and teams out of money -- but it's not cheating at baseball. The positive effects of steroids are the same as exercise, just dramatically increased. When you take steroids, the ball doesn't jump over the fence on a bunt. Foul balls don't suddenly curve fair, and you can't suddenly hit any ball anywhere at any time. It makes you a better hitter, but you could achieve the same results with actual hard work. The results in the gym are a fraud, the results on the field are not, because the other team will be able to ascertain very quickly your physical attributes, and play you accordingly.

Exactly how can other teams play Barry Bonds accordingly? By buying their outfielders seats in the bleachers?

And how could anyone achieve the same results as Barry "with actual hard work?" After the age of 35, Barry has enjoyed the three greatest offensive seasons in baseball history. By taking steroids, Barry can work out and more often than anybody who isn't taking steroids.

I've noticed that in the blogosphere, unsophisticated libertarianism and hero-worship of manly athletes frequently combine to turn bloggers into saps for steroid-abusers. Look how many bloggers have endorsed the idea that, well, we shouldn't ban steroid use, just limit it to a safe, moderate amount.

What a stupid idea that is! The whole point of using steroids in baseball is not to use the same amount as your competitors, but to use more. If you all just used the same moderate amount, you'd all be better off using none at all. If they implemented that rule, then to get an advantage, you'd have to take the kind of massive jolts that the late Ken Caminiti started taking in mid-season 1996. (Soon, Caminiti came down with terrible depression when not full of steroids, which led him to self-medicate by smoking crack, which led to his recent death in the gutter at age 41.)

Further, if they allowed any level of steroids, it would make it vastly harder to catch cheaters, since each time they caught anybody it would end up in an endless court suit over whether they actually had the illegal 101 parts per zillion in their blood stream or the legal 100 parts per zillion. Now, all they have to prove is you had a single one of these illegal molecules in your bloodstream ... and it's still hard to win the court fights today.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

A Christmas Song Decline Theory:

I like pop classic Christmas songs, such as "Winter Wonderland" or "Chestnuts Roasting Over an Open Fire" for a lot of reasons, including that Christmas is one of the few time of the year when singing in public is tolerated these days. So, like a lot of people lately, I've been wondering why there haven't been any new hit Christmas songs in many years. One of my reader theorized that this is because many of the Christmas standards that were written in the golden age of secular pop Christmas songs between 1934 and 1958 were written by Jews (e.g., Irving Berlin's "White Christmas)," but modern Jews find it ignominious to write Christmas songs anymore. (The reader, in case you were wondering, is Jewish.) "As a great Jewish songwriter sang, 'It ain't me, babe,'" she wrote to me.

That's an interesting theory, and it would be sad if it were true. It probably also wouldn't be, as they say, good for the Jews, because Jews like Irving Berlin helped transform Christmas from purely a Christian holiday into one that was also a secular American holiday, promising peace on earth for men of good will ... of all backgrounds.

I wanted to test this theory, but since nobody of any background is writing good Christmas songs anymore, it's hard to see if the ethnic balance has changed. (Indeed, it's hard to come up with an objective list of good songs of any kind from recent years -- e.g., the recent Rolling Stone magazine top 500 songs list only included three from the last half decade -- two by Eminem and one by Outkast).

However, we live in an an age that still produces some decent Christmas movies -- 2003's "Elf," for instance, hardly compares to "It's a Wonderful Life" (but then what does?), yet it's still a modest delight. The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles reports:

Both are written and directed by persons of the Jewish faith. “Elf” is directed (Jon Favreau), written by (David Berenbaum) and has stars (James Caan, Edward Asner) who are Jewish — a rare trifecta, particularly for a Christmas film — a feat that parallels the success of the 1954 “White Christmas” (Michael Curtiz, Norm Krasna and Danny Kaye, respectively).

Favreau, by the way, is Italian on his father's side and Jewish on his mother's side, and says he "keeps a Jewish home."

2002's "Santa Clause 2" was a funnier film than you would expect and made a deserved pile of money because it featured G-rated jokes that adults enjoyed. It's director, Michael Lembeck, is Jewish, as would appear to be some of its many writers.

Nor is it just the better sort of Christmas movie that features heavy Jewish involvement: I haven't seen this year's "Christmas with the Kranks" and "Surviving Christmas," so I'll skip over evaluating how good they are, but they both appear to have lots of Jews working on them in key creative roles.

(On the other hand, Robert Zemeckis, director of this year's slow-motion Christmas hit "The Polar Express," is, to the surprise of many, of Polish Catholic background. And the big three behind 2000's "How The Grinch Stole Christmas," Dr. Seuss, Ron Howard, and Jim Carrey, are not Jewish.)

So, it looks like Jews in the film industry are still quite happy to make secular Christmas movies. This analogy therefore, doesn't support my reader's theory about the decline of Christmas songs. We'll just have to keep looking elsewhere.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer