June 10, 2005

The Iraq-Syria Border: It's worse than we thought...

A grim story from the AP:

Militants killed five U.S. Marines and authorities found 21 bodies Friday near the Syrian border, where American and Iraqi troops bore down in two recent major operations aimed at crushing a tenacious insurgency.

The killings were a clear sign of the profound difficulties faced by U.S. and Iraqi forces in Anbar province around the dusty, lawless frontier town of Qaim, and their inability to seal the porous desert border with Syria despite major efforts to boost their military presence in the area.

The 21 Iraqi bodies were found near Qaim, 80 miles west of Haqlaniyah, along a highway that meanders along the Euphrates River and into Syria. The bodies were in three locations, haphazardly dumped by the roadside in a gravel pit and in sand flats. Three were beheaded and at least one had been mauled by animals.

U.S. military intelligence officials believe the Qaim area sits at the crossroads of a major route used by groups such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's al-Qaida in Iraq to smuggle foreign fighters into the country.

"It's like the Mexican-American border there. There are attempts being made to seal it," a senior U.S. military intelligence official said on condition he remain unnamed for security reasons.

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

Affordable Family Formation at work in the Lonely Hearts columns

John Kass writes in The Chicago Tribune:

Kevin J. McGraw, a student of finches and other birds, is working toward his doctorate in evolutionary biology at the esteemed Cornell University in New York...

It's all in his latest study, "Environmental Predictors of Geographic Variation in Human Mating Preferences," published in Ethology, a European scientific journal.

But if you don't have the latest copy of Ethology handy, let's just call his study by an earthier, more precise title:

What do women really want in a guy, anyway?

"That's what I tried to determine," McGraw said on the phone Tuesday from his Cornell office. "And so we studied the lonely-hearts ads in newspapers from many cities."

One of those newspapers was the [Chicago] Tribune. He read hundreds of personal ads from the Trib and other newspapers across the country. He examined the words in the ads, those that fell into four categories: physical attractiveness, resources, emotional stability and hobbies. The frequency of words in these categories enabled McGraw to figure out what women really want. It's scientific.

You might think big-city women want men who are gentle, kind, compassionate, sensitive.

And you'd be wrong, wrong, wrong.

In cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston and Miami, women don't go weak for sensitive, caring guys, no matter what anyone told you.

Cash wins. As does the big luxury car; the expensive suits; the strong, handsome jaw line; the alpha personality.

"It's a question of resources," McGraw said. "Women want what birds want. They're looking for the strong genes. They're searching for a mate that will provide what they need to raise a family.

"And in big-city environments, crowded areas with lots of people, women are attracted on average to men who will accumulate these resources."

So what happened to the sensitive male?

"The sensitive male?" McGraw asked, snickering politely.

Yeah, the sensitive male, the guy without much money, without the good looks or Scorpion King physique. You know, that caring, nurturing male, the gentle guy that women are supposed to go for?

"Well, now, the sensitive male, on average, he's not going to be able to pass on his genes in a big city," McGraw said. "He'll have to move to a small town."

Yes, it sounds cruel and harsh, but ovenbirds and finches have it tough too. It's not like men didn't already know this truth.

Birds, chicks, lions, guppies, whatever. Men are easily manipulated. The females are the ones with the power to choose.

While big-city women want power, McGraw found that in smaller towns, women tend to prize emotional stability--kindness, gentleness--in a man.

So if you are single guy without much money and you're looking for the woman of your dreams, you better move to a city of more modest size, like Montgomery, Ala.

"A female bird needs resources to complete her breeding attempts in a season, and so she's going to find a male who can provide for her," McGraw said. "We transferred that idea to humans and found, that in a dense population, women really, truly emphasize things about a man that can help her get those resources to survive and reproduce."

"It's an indicator of resources," he said. "But women also highly prize physical attractiveness. They care about emotional stability on average, throughout the survey. Only in larger, more densely populated cities, resources win out."

Happily, the women of the Chicago metropolitan area aren't all that materialistic. Well, almost.

The mercenary women of San Francisco beat them, followed by women in Los Angeles and Boston. According to the study, the women of the Chicago area are slightly greedier than the women of Miami. And that's fine with me.

Women who care more about sensitive men live in cities like Montgomery, New Orleans and St. Louis.

"The big-city girls like the sugar daddies, as people have called it," McGraw said. "And the nice guys win out in the small cities. So there's still hope."

He means, for the species.


Clearly, the correlation is with the cost of living, especially the cost of housing. See my article "Affordable Family Formation" on how the cost of housing, marriage, and children makes some states red and other states blue.

Judging by mass murderer Chai Vang's success with the ladies, however, perhaps when gentlemen fill out their Personal ads, they should also advertise themselves as possessing an "itchy trigger finger." That seems to set feminine hearts aflutter.

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

"Mass murderers -- can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em!"

In a Chicago Tribune article about Chai Vang, the 36-year-old Laotian Hmong immigrant who murdered six hunters in Wisconsin, I found this nugget:

"After living in refugee camps in Thailand, he was relocated to St. Paul in June 1980. After working in trucking jobs in California, he said he moved back to Minnesota in 2000. Vang also said he had been married three times and had seven children."

An Open Letter to the Women of the World: I know there's something about dangerous wackos like this fellow that sets your hearts to going pitty-pat, but, really ... Have you ever thought about how much better this world would be if, when meeting a potentially homicidal maniac, you didn't always act upon that urge to have his baby?

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

Milton Friedman on Bush

Here's an important interview with the 92-year-old grand master economist (via ParaPundit):

Friedman supported Bush's first-term candidacy, but he is more accurately libertarian than conservative and not a reliable Bush ally.

Progress in his goal of rolling back the role of government, he said, is "being greatly threatened, unfortunately, by this notion that the U.S. has a mission to promote democracy around the world," a big Bush objective.

"War is a friend of the state," Friedman said. It is always expensive, requiring higher taxes, and, "In time of war, government will take powers and do things that it would not ordinarily do."

He also said it was no coincidence that budget surpluses appeared during the Clinton administration, when a Democratic president faced a Republican Congress.

"There were no big spending programs during the Clinton administration," he said. "As a result, government spending tended to stay down, the economy grew like mad, taxes went up, spending did not, and lo and behold, the deficit was turned into a surplus."

The problem now, he said, is that Republicans control both ends of Washington.

"There's no question if we're holding down spending, a Democratic president and a Republican House and Senate is the proper combination."

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

Hillel Halkin on Cochran-Harpending theory in neocon NY Sun

A reader writes:

I thought it was also "fair and balanced" as they say.

The link is here, but you have to be a subscriber to read the whole thing:

Halkin says what so many other Jewish commentators are saying: that there's probably some truth here, but that Jewish eugenic practices (marrying rich girls to brilliant Talmud students) probably matters more.

I think the reason why Jewish commentators prefer this theory is obvious: they want to think that their achievement is due to cultural factors, because that means Jewish culture and religion (which they love) are objectively good things. If Jewish achievement is largely due to historical accident (Christian restrictions on Jewish occupations to moneylending and trade leading to natural selection for higher intelligence) then that's less flattering.

In recent years, the main spokesman for this theory of Jewish eugenic breeding for higher IQ that the Jewish commentators prefer over Cochran-Harpending's new natural selection theory has been Cal State Long Beach psychologist Kevin MacDonald. Perhaps MacDonald will now become popular with neocons ...

What I liked best about Halkin's essay, though, was his conclusion: okay, Jews have always known we're very smart. But we're also very stupid - that is to say: we have an incredible knack for being smart but not wise. And wisdom, in the final analysis, probably matters more.

As somebody who is a pretty good analyst about how the world works but a lousy decision-maker when it comes to my own life, I greatly sympathize. I wrote an article about the bright and wealthy Parsis of Bombay a couple of years ago in large part because I hoped it might encourage Jews to study an ethnic group with a lot of similar characteristics to their own, but one that has enjoyed a less tragic history. I don't know whether there is anything for Jews to learn from the behavior of the Parsees or not, but it could hardly hurt Jews to take a look.

So many folks seem to be reacting to the paper through the lens of Fiddler on the Roof, and questioning the premise that most Jews were engaged in finance or trade. Halkin seems to be reacting through the lens of The Chosen (you remember: the plot revolves around a Talmud prodigy who is "raised in silence" by his ultra-Orthodox father because said father is worried that while his son is super-bright he lacks the natural sympathy and compassion that are necessary for a strong ethical backbone). I found that refreshing.

Halkin's a very good guy. He's published regularly in Commentary, and he's been taking a lot of heat for coming out strongly in favor of the disengagement from the Palestinians - both in Gaza and in the bulk of Judea and Samaria.

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

Slapdash Steve Levitt Rides Again: Abortion and Infanticide

Slapdash Steve Levitt Rides Again: I'm starting to realize that you can't trust anything economist Steven D. Levitt says in his bestseller Freakonomics without checking it out on Google for yourself. A reader called my attention today to Levitt's statement on p. 139:

To be sure, the legalization of abortion had myriad consequences. Infanticide fell dramatically.

When I originally read this a few months ago, I thought to myself: "How could anyone possibly doubt that?"

Well, I should have realized that if Levitt tells you the sun is coming up in the East, you'd better get outside and check for yourself. Here is what Child Trends Databank had to say about homicides of infants (below age 1):

The infant homicide rate increased from 4.3 per 100,000 in 1970 to 9.2 per 100,000 in 2000, before falling to 7.8 per 100,000 in 2003 (preliminary estimate). In 2003, 318 infants died due to homicide.

Their graph shows that infanticide increased from a 4.3 rate in 1970 (when there were only about 200,000 legal abortions) to 5.9 in 1980 (when there were about eight times more abortions)!

Moreover, when infanticide is looked at by ethnic group for year 2002, there's a positive correlation between the abortion rate and the infanticide rate.

The FBI statistics for homicides of children under 5 only go back to 1976, so nothing too definitive can be seen here, but you'd expect to see, according to Levitt's statement, a decrease in the white numbers over the first half decade as the white abortion rate continued to rise. Instead, the small child homicide numbers did not fall. Indeed they finally peaked in 1996, and the black numbers peaked in 1993.

Then I looked up the abstract of the paper that Freakonomics cites on p. 223 as the source for the contention that "Infanticide fell dramatically." Here's what the authors of that study actually say:

We examined 1960-1998 U.S. mortality data for children under 5 years of age using an interrupted time series design. The legalization of abortion was not associated with a sudden change in child homicide trends. It was, however, associated with a steady decrease in the homicides of toddlers (i.e., 1- to 4-year-olds) in subsequent years. Although in the predicted direction, the decrease in homicides of children under 1 year of age was not statistically significant.

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

June 9, 2005

Ashkenazi vs. "Sephardic" intelligence

Because the Cochran-Harpending theory applies only to Jews whose ancestors spoke Yiddish, it raises the issue of the long term gap within Israel between the educationally dominant Ashkenazis and the faster-reproducing non-Ashkenazis, who are traditionally called "Sephardic" Jews, even though a large fraction of them are descended from Jews who were never in Spain. (American neocons will eventually figure out that they don't like people talking about this because the Likud Party draws much of its support from the lower IQ sub-ethnicities within Israel. Of course, lower IQ individuals have just as much right to have their votes counted as higher IQ individuals, but everybody likes to believe that their views are self-evident to anybody with brains and that people who disagree with them must be mentally defective.)

Howard Metzenberg has written a critique of the Cochran-Hardy-Harpending paper called "An Unnatural History of Jewish Population Genetics" that argues against a strong distinction between the Ashkenazis and others.

First, Metzenberg rightly notes:

One source of confusion in any discussion of the relative intellectual performance of different Jewish groups, is that the label “Sephardic” is sometimes attached to all non-Ashkenazi Jews, although some are more accurately labeled Mizrahi, and others such as the Ethiopians, are none of the above.

So, it's important to keep in mind that the glittering northwest European colonies of Sephardic refugees that produced Spinoza, Ricardo, and Disraeli aren't totally representative of this All Other category in Israel.

Metzenberg asserts:

The best evidence is that Jews of the urban Sephardic and Mizrahi communities in countries such as Egypt, Iraq, and Iran were concentrated in intellectual occupations just as the European Jews were.

Probably. But we're they concentrated just as much? The historical record shows the Jews in Islamic countries periodically getting kicked out of the good jobs in finance and being sent off to be tanners or other jobs where there's not as much upside for high IQ individuals. That's not true for Northern Europe, where Jewish occupations were consistently upscale until the great Ashkenazi population surge of the last few centuries.

No doubt the Middle Eastern Jews were often smarter than the local Arabs, but that's not necessarily the same as being smarter than the local Germans. With Arab IQs today typically running in the 80s, you don't have to be an Einstein to be brighter than them.

Nor is it clear that Middle Eastern Jews were consistently the brightest minority in their region, as you would see in Europe. I believe Evelyn Waugh reported an old saying he picked up while traveling in the Near East that went something like this: It takes two Arabs to outsmart a Greek, two Greeks to outsmart a Jew, and two Jews to outsmart an Armenian. (Waugh was a big fan of Armenians.)

Then Metzenberg asserts that the three papers the authors cite on the IQ gap in Israel between Ashkenazi and the others are outdated. Granted, there hasn't been, as far as I can tell from a cursory Google search, a lot of published work on the IQ gap in Israel in recent years, although that is more likely to have to do with the rise of the Likud Party to power than that the IQ gap has disappeared. Back when the Ashkenazi-dominated Labour Party beat Likud eight times in a row, data on the IQ gap was less resented by the government than today when Likud is frequently running things. If the gap has disappeared, I think you would have heard about it.

Metzenberg claims that the Israeli population is now so mixed that nobody could possibly unravel the Ashkenazi from all other today, but I don't think that complete melding has quite gone through the formality of taking place yet. It's true that, with the exception of the one-time event of the arrival of the Russian Jews, Israel has been becoming culturally less of a European and more of a Middle Eastern country. But it's hardly true that social science research has stopped on the subethnic gap within Israel.

For example, in 2004, Cohen, Haberfeld, and Kristal wrote:

This paper analyzes gaps in the college graduation rates of third-generation Ashkenazim and Mizrahim (the two major ethnic groups among Israeli Jews), in comparison to the same gaps among members of the second generation. The empirical analyses have been performed using a special file of the 1995 Israeli census which matched records of respondents to their parents in the 1983 Census, thereby allowing identification of the ethnicity of the third generation for a representative sample of men and women, 25-34 years of age in 1995, as well as the identification of persons of mixed ethnicity. The results suggest that the gaps between the two major ethnic groups are not smaller in the third generation than in the second generation. Persons of mixed ethnicity – of both the second and third generations – are located about midway between the two ethnic groups with respect to their college graduation rates.

Even an article in Haaretz entitled "The Ethnic Gap Is Closing" makes clear in its opening line that that's not the general opinion of Israelis:

Despite the conventional wisdom, the ethnic gap in Israel is consistently narrowing, and will be eliminated within a generation, says a new study.

The study goes on to document that the gap between Ashkenazim and "Sephardim" in secondary school attendance has narrowed. However, the last paragraph makes clear that this increasing equality in secondary education is more quantitative than qualitative:

The bad news is that in spite of the narrowing of the gap in high-school education, there are indications of a new trend of a gap in how the students read the labor market. Friedlander, who will be featuring the subject in his next research study, says, "There is a very basic difference between Sephardim and Ashkenazim in the choice of what they study in high school. We feel that students of Asian and African descent do not always study the `right things' in terms of the needs of the labor market or future income. Admission to universities is now very much conditional upon knowledge of English and mathematics, but the percentage of Israelis of Asian and African descent who take enriched English and mathematics in high school is very small in comparison to Israelis of European and American descent. I would say that there is no difference in quantitative exposure to high-school study, but there is a significant difference, I'm afraid, in what they study, and this of course has an effect on admission to university."

This sounds similar to the narrowing of the gap in high school attendance between black and white Americans without much narrowing of the IQ gap.

So, it would appear that there is still a gap within Israel between the Ashkenazis and the All Others.

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

Galton's Theory of Dysgenic Catholic Celibacy:

The publication of the Cochran-Harpending Theory of Ashkenazi Intelligence has stimulated a revival of the popularity of alternative theories tracing back to Sir Francis Galton. Darwin's half-cousin, who coined the term "eugenics," pointed out that since the Catholic Church was the main "career open to talents" in the medieval world, the celibacy rule for priests, monks, and nuns might have lowered the intelligence and morality level of Christian Europe. I have also heard it asserted that Galton pointed out that the Jews practiced the flip side of this by encouraging rabbis to have a large family, but I haven't found proof of that. That particular theory was advanced at least as far back as cyberneticist Norbert Wiener's autobiography.

But is Galton's theory of Christian celibacy, which was only mandatory for priests from 1000 onward, quantitatively plausible? I've never seen an in-depth study. A reader raises doubts bout how how important the effect might have been:

As far as the 'smart boys went to the monastery' theory, birth order is the determining factor in vocations, even into the 20th century. Generally the first son was to inherit the feudal obligations of the father (to work land, fight, etc.). First daughters were to marry others of the same class. It usually was only the third child of either sex that COULD go to the church, so much work was needed and so many children died before adulthood. The Benedictines had no IQ tests to filter their recruits, and even local priests were often illiterate. (Also, they were often fathering children surreptitiously...)

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

Remind me again: why do we want the USA to become more like Latin American?

The Washington Post reports:

Hispanic Population in United States Soars

In July 2004, Hispanics numbered 41.3 million out of a national population of nearly 293.7 million. They have the fastest growth rate among the nation's major racial and ethnic groups. In the 1990s, they accounted for 40 percent of the country's population increase. From 2000 to 2004, that figure grew to 49 percent...

The future of those young people has become the topic of a debate among advocates and scholars, with some noting that Hispanics already have lower average education levels than other Americans and that their children could face a future at the bottom...

Experts have predicted the rise of the Hispanic voting bloc for years, but it has not happened. The Census Bureau recently reported that 47 percent of Hispanic citizens voted in last year's presidential election, compared with 60 percent of blacks and 67 percent of non-Hispanic whites. Part of the reason might be that Hispanics are younger and poorer than other voters, factors that are linked to lower turnout. Hispanic voting power also is lessened because millions of them are illegal immigrants.

Meanwhile, the AP reports on a new study of millionaires around the world. In most regions, the average millionaire has a little over three million dollars in assets, but in Latin America the average millionaire has over twelve million dollars, almost four times as much.

Millions of Millionaires Trillions in Assets Average in Millions
Asia-Pacific 2.3 $ 7.2 $ 3.1
Mid East 0.3 $ 1.0 $ 3.3
Europe 2.6 $ 8.9 $ 3.4
North America 2.7 $ 9.3 $ 3.4
Africa 0.1 $ 0.7 $ 7.0
Latin America 0.3 $ 3.7 $ 12.3

In other words, while Latin America isn't very rich, the rich in Latin America have more money than God. Why do we want to reproduce Latin American social patterns here?

It used to be that liberals could criticize Latin America for its staggering inequality, but that is largely not allowed anymore because it might reflect on immigration.

You can read about the link between illegal immigration and increased inequality in the US here:


where I compare the relatively high levels of inequality in Arizona and New Mexico to the lower levels in the two states directly north of them Utah and Colorado.

And here's a recent column on why California has gotten more unequal as it has gotten more Democratic and more multicultural.


Finally, here's a column of pure crimethink on why, after almost 500 years of interethnic marriage in Mexico, is the Mexican elite still so white looking:



I've gotten numerous emails from Mexicans saying that's the first time they've ever seen the basic fact of the their country's social history explained.

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

June 8, 2005

Jewish Telegraph Agency on Ashkenazi Intelligence by Cochran and Harpending

Good article from Jewish Telegraph Agency: The JTA is the venerable Jewish news wire service.

What we've seen so far in the first six days since the Ashkenazi Jewish intelligence genes story broke in The Economist and the New York Times is extremely gingerly handling in the mainstream press combined with more positive response in the explicitly Jewish press. Judging from the Google News search engine, even though Nicholas Wade's NYT report was the most emailed article in the nation's leading newspaper all weekend, only a single other newspaper picked it up. The AP hasn't dared touch it yet, nor have the newsweeklies.

In contrast, the Jewish Telegraph Agency's report is quite balanced:

Study on Ashkenazi genes sparks intrigue, debate - and reflection

By Chanan Tigay

NEW YORK, June 7 (JTA) - A reported link between Ashkenazi intelligence genes and susceptibility to genetic disorders is clearly mixed news for the descendants of Eastern European Jews. It may come as little surprise, then, that reactions to a new study linking the two are a mixed bag as well.

After all, if what the University of Utah researchers say is true, some Jewish mothers may just have had their dreams for brilliant children turned to nightmares.

Beyond that, it may also mean that Ashkenazim have, albeit unwillingly, "been part of an accidental experiment in eugenics," as The Economist magazine put it in a recent article.

"It has brought them some advantages. But, like the deliberate eugenics experiments of the 20th century, it also has exacted a terrible price."

The mere mention of eugenics - which refers to a movement to improve humankind by controlling genetic factors through mating - is enough to ring bells that many Jews would rather not hear 60 years after the Allied defeat of the Nazis.

To be precise, the main Cochran-Harpending theory does not propose a eugenic mechanism for raising the IQ of Ashkenazi Jews, if "eugenic" is understood to mean a breeding system. They simply show that in medieval northern Europe, wealthy Jews tended to have more surviving children than poor Jews, probably because the wealthy could afford more food, fuel, and living area. In contrast, among Christians, rural folk tended to have more surviving children than urbanites (due to the epidemics that ravaged medieval towns), even though the urbanites may have been self-selected for higher intelligence and greater wealth. Virtually all Jews lived in towns and cities, so this negative correlation between urbanism and health didn't apply to them as much because they were all urban, more or less. Conceptually, that's not Galtonian eugenics, that's just Darwinian selection.

Cochran and Harpending are skeptical about the alternative eugenic explanation for the evolution of Ashkenazi intelligence that goes back at least a half century to the autobiography of Norbert Wiener, the founder of cybernetics, who attributed his brilliance to being descended from a long line of well-bred rabbis. It's often been claimed since that Jewish communities arranged marriages between the smartest young student and a daughter of the richest merchant and encouraged them to have lots of children. Also, having famous scholars in your family tree has been said to have given people more points in the marriage market. If this were true, that would be more deserving of the term "eugenic.' I don't find this idea implausible, but Cochran has challenged supporters of the idea to document it and quantify the magnitude of eugenic breeding for scholarship among early medieval Jews. I would say that the ball is now in their court to come up with hard evidence supporting the notion that this kind of eugenic breeding for scholarship was important enough to drive selection for intelligence to a significant degree.

I will admit that the distinction between Darwinism and Galtonism is not perfectly sharp: Darwin partly got the idea for natural selection from the artificial selection being practiced for millennia by animal breeders, and his half-cousin Galton (they were grandsons of the near-genius Erasmus Darwin) just turned it around and proposed encouraging marriages among people with traits believed to benefit society. Most societies in human history have engaged in something like that so there was nothing terribly radical about Galton's suggestion. (But G.K. Chesterton's objection to Galton's "positive eugenics" seems irrefutable: if arranged marriages succeeded in breeding better men and women, the first thing these healthier, smarter, more robust individuals would do would be to tell society to butt out of arranging their marriages and they'd go back to choosing their own mates!)

Galton, a kindly man of liberal views, was shocked at a 1904 conference to hear how far the new generation of socialist eugenicists, led by H.G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw, were prepared to go to take eugenics in a negative direction by advocating sterilization, or worse, of the "unfit." Eugenics was most popular among WASPy progressives, such as Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., Teddy Roosevelt, Margaret Sanger, and Winston Churchill (during his Liberal phase). It tended to appeal to outdoorsy intellectuals who spent a lot of time around country people who bred horses and dogs.

Quite a few Jews were supporters of eugenics before WWII, as this article from Ha'aretz shows, but with so many not-so-hot Big Ideas to choose from back then, Jewish intellectuals tended to obsess more over their own homegrown Big Ideas like Marxism and Freudianism rather than enthuse over the horsey set's obsession with breeding.

Today, of course, some Jewish organizations strongly back a voluntary eugenics testing program called Dor Yeshorim that has successfully reduced the incidence of the Jewish hereditary disease Tay-Sachs by discouraging marriages between individuals who are heterozygous for the disease.

According to the study, slated to appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Biosocial Science, Ashkenazim do better than average on IQ tests, scoring some 12-15 points above the test's mean value. But they also are more likely than any other ethnic groups to suffer from diseases such as Tay-Sachs, Gaucher's disease and Niemann-Pick - related conditions that can be debilitating and deadly.

The new study hypothesizes that the genetic disorders could be the unfortunate side effects of genes that facilitate intelligence.

But for some people, ascribing collective traits to entire ethnic groups - especially to European Jews - reminds them that the Nazis heaped a pile of supposed genetic characteristics on that continent's Jews and used the characteristics as a basis to exterminate them.

It's worth noting that the Nazis banned IQ tests because Jews averaged higher scores on them than did gentiles.

Indeed, the researchers say they had difficulty finding a journal that would publish their findings.

For other people, criticizing such research on this basis reeks of political correctness. This is real science, they say, with real potential to help save Jewish - and other - lives.

"When you study genetics in order to cure diseases, that's great," said James Young, a Jewish studies professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and the author of "Writing and Rewriting the Holocaust: Narrative and the Consequences of Interpretation."

"But when genetics are studied as a way to characterize or essentialize a whole ethnic group or nation of people, then I think it's very problematic." Still, he said, "I was kind of intrigued by this connection, and the dark irony of what it means to have your intelligence gene linked to a so-called genetic disease gene. It's kind of striking."

For Dr. Guinter Kahn, a Miami physician who lectures internationally on German doctors during the Holocaust, studies like this have real scientific merit. "This stuff is being done with genes, and they're actually finding true results," he said. "The stuff they did in World War II was pure baloney motivated by the greatest geneticists of that time in Germany - but they all fell into the Hitler trap."

Although no one is questioning the researchers' motivations, some observers worry that their findings may be misused. "Will bigots use this? Bigots will use anything," said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation league. However, he said, their abuses should not block research that could benefit the Jewish community.

Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt agrees. When it became clear that fewer Jews were killed at Auschwitz-Birkenau than had originally been thought, some Jews worried that this information would be manipulated by Holocaust deniers to back their claims, said Lipstadt, a professor of modern Jewish and Holocaust studies at Emory University. "I had people say to me, 'We shouldn't talk about these things,' " Lipstadt recalls, "I said, 'No, no, no. It's always good to talk about the truth.' We should never be afraid of the truth."

As to concerns about what it means to say that one group of people is genetically smarter than others, Henry Harpending, a professor of anthropology at the University of Utah and one of the study's three authors, told JTA that such complaints boil down to political correctness.

"It's no secret," he said of the Ashkenazi IQ numbers. "Your grandmother told you this."

Indeed, the study notes that although Ashkenazi Jews made up just 3 percent of the U.S. population during the last century, they won 27 percent of the country's Nobel Prizes in science and account for more than half of the world's chess champions.

However, Harpending added, this is "the kind of thing that you're not supposed to say these days." "We regard this as an interesting hypothesis and are a little surprised at the attention. On the other hand, geneticists kind of know that variation between populations is almost certainly in the DNA and they kind of don't talk about that" for fear of losing federal funding for their research, Harpending said. "What we've done is started out with an idea and followed it, so what we have is a pretty interesting and pretty good-looking hypothesis - and it ought to be tested."

But could this research actually end up helping anybody? Gregory Cochran, one of the study's authors, hopes so. "I don't have the cure to any disease in my pocket. I wish I did," he said. But "if this all pans out, you learn something about how the brain works. Who knows? Maybe you can do something to help some people one day."

Cochran's switch from physics to the evolutionary biology of disease after the Cold War was motivated in sizable measure by a number of close friends who died or barely survived major diseases. He came to realize that the medical profession could benefit from a rigorous application of Darwinian logic, and the medical establishment is starting to agree.

The study says that because European Jews in medieval times were restricted to jobs in finance, money lending and long-distance trade - occupations that required greater mental gymnastics than fields such as farming, dominated by non-Jews - their genetic codes over the course of some generations selected genes for enhanced intellectual ability.

This process allowed these Jews to thrive in the limited scope of professions they were allowed to pursue. Further, in contrast to today, those who attained financial success in that period often tended to have more children than those who were less financially stable, and those children tended to live longer.

It is for this reason, the researchers said, that many Ashkenazi Jews today have high IQs - and it may also be the reason they suffer from the slew of genetic diseases. According to the researchers, many individuals carrying the gene for one of these diseases also receive an "IQ boost."

Rabbi Moses Tendler, who holds a doctorate in biology and teaches biology at Yeshiva University, said there is "no doubt that genetic makeup determines intelligence and, indeed, predisposes as well as offers resistance to genetic diseases."

But he took issue with the study's findings. The fact that Jews did not intermarry until relatively recently, Tendler said, led to a concentration of various genes among their numbers, some good and some bad. "Wherever they were, Jews lived on an island," he said. In scientific terms, arguments similar to Tendler's are known as a founder's effect.

Rabbi Arthur Green, dean of the Rabbinical School at Boston's Hebrew College, wondered whether the findings took into account all relevant factors in the development of Jewish intelligence. He noted that during the period in which the researchers believe the Jewish intelligence gene began to be selected, the majority Christian world was, in a sense, selecting against such a gene. "In that same period of 1,600 to 1,800 years, Christian Europe was systematically destroying its best genetic stock through celibacy" of priests and monks, he said.

"The Christian devotion to celibacy, particularly for the most learned and highest intellectual achievers, diminished the quality of genetic output and created a greater contrast with the Jewish minority," he said.

This argument, of course, is lifted bodily from that arch-demon Sir Francis Galton, founder of eugenics. It's interesting that a Jewish publication has no problem with repeating Galton's contention that Christians were subject to dysgenic selection pressure that would lower their IQs.

Once again, Galton's theory about celibacy is not completely implausible but its supporters should try to assemble quantitative evidence to show it would have had a noticeable effect.

The Jewish devotion to study and learning, meanwhile, also probably worked in tandem with economic factors in the development of intelligence, Green surmised.

This sounds like a vague version of the Norbert Weiner-Kevin MacDonald theory of eugenic Jewish breeding.

In some of the Ashkenazi disorders, individuals experience extra growth and branching of connectors linking their nerve cells. Too much of this growth may lead to disease; increased but limited growth, though, could breed heightened intelligence.

In an effort to determine the effect of Gaucher's on IQ, for example, the researchers contacted the Gaucher's Clinic at Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem. Although the center did not have specific IQ numbers on patients at the clinic, the jobs they held were high-IQ professions: physicists, engineers, lawyers, physicians and scientists.

"It's obviously a population with enriched IQs - big time," Harpending said.

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

John F. Kerry's plastic surgery

That awful Herman Munster college picture of Kerry that the Boston Globe maliciously used yesterday reminded one reader:

It has never been well reported but Kerry had a jaw reduction operation sometime in the late 70's or early 80's just before his run for U.S. Senate. I have been in his presence before, and after the surgery, it is quite a noticeable difference, and improvement...

I'm not a big fan of plastic surgery, but it's perfectly reasonable for people with odd facial features that cause other people to make fun of them to get them fixed.

I wonder if Kerry suffered from a mild case of the pituitary problem called acromegaly that causes bones to keep growing. Famous acromegalics include Gheorghe Muresan, the tallest player in NBA history, and Primo Carnera, the largest heavyweight boxing champ.

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

Now we know why Garance Franke-Ruta smeared me last year: so she could steal my ideas without attribution!

When David Brooks cited a statistic from my "Baby Gap" article last December about how Bush had carried 25 of the top 26 states in white total fertility, Franke-Ruta of The American Prospect wrote a classic anti-Sailerist diatribe trying to anathematize me as unfit to ever be read by anyone. I responded to her in my next article, where I also revealed the even more stunning "Marriage Gap" -- Bush carried the top 25 states in average years married among white women ages 18-44.

I sensed that Franke-Ruta was not attempting to silence me solely out of simple-minded political correctness. No, she had displayed some heretical streaks herself, such as attacking Michael Moore's "Bowling for Columbine" for the same reason I did. As she wrote: "black Americans were six times more likely to be murdered than whites in 1999, and seven times more likely to commit homicides." It's a classic operation of the marginally politically incorrect when they feel the hot breath of the wolfpack of the politically correct on their necks to try to gain credit by hurling someone more honest than themselves from the sleigh.

But I wasn't devious enough to figure out that she was trying to keep people from reading me so she could steal my ideas! Her new, long posting on TAPPED begins:

THE PARENT GAP. Another big gap in voting patterns is the so-called "parent gap," which is actually a marriage and parenthood gap, as single moms tend to be strongly Democratic. [More]

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

June 7, 2005

"Becoming the Sickness, the Head Becomes Good?"

Automatic translation of the headline on a Japanese article about the Cochran-Hardy-Harpending theory of "The Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence."

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

Russell Crowe Arrested

The star of "Cinderella Man" got himself arrested this week for throwing a telephone at a hotel employee who displeased him. This was not a first offense for the guy who is probably the greatest leading man of the era ("Gladiator," "A Beautiful Mind," and "Master and Commander"). Remember back on New Year's Eve 1999 when everybody was too worried about Y2K glitches and terrorism to party hearty? Well, not old Russell. He gave the last millennium a properly Australian send-off by getting involved in three separate drunk and disorderly incidents with the police.

I've been writing a bit about Crowe lately. From my June 20th cover story in The American Conservative on Hollywood's politics, I noted:

In contrast to Hollywood's leftist politics, which have been in stasis for decades, its increasingly moderate values reflect more recent trends, such as the clean-living fad that emerged in reaction to the Great Hollywood Snowstorm of roughly 1975-1985. As cocaine laid waste to a brilliant generation of filmmakers, the Boy Scout of the bunch, Steven Spielberg (who as a lad had earned more than twice the number of merit badges required to make Eagle Scout), went on to stupendous success. Similarly, the top stars of recent years, such as Tom Cruise, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Harrison Ford, are highly disciplined professionals who can be counted on to establish a harmonious atmosphere on the set and market the product relentlessly in the media. A jerk can make it to the highest rank only if he is as talented as Russell Crowe.

And from my upcoming review of "Cinderella Man" in the July 4th edition of The American Conservative (subscribe here):

That Crowe, a hard-drinking hothead who broke up Meg Ryan's marriage to Dennis Quaid, isn't anything like the saintly boxer James J. Braddock only adds to the power of his impersonation. We admire the high-testosterone man who could play the cad but instead chooses to be the dad more than the low testosterone fellow without that option.

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

The Name Game:

The Washington Post published the following letter from a couple of little goody-two-shoes:

Wrong Term for the Kalahari's People

Craig Timberg's June 3 front-page article, "A Culture Vanishes in Kalahari Dust; Bushmen Elders Resist Relocation in Botswana," was informative and thought-provoking, but unfortunately he used the term "Bushmen" throughout.

We are writing on behalf of our classmates in an international baccalaureate social/cultural anthropology class at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington; we have been studying the peoples of the Kalahari.

According to anthropologists Elizabeth Marshall Thomas and Richard Lee, the term "Bushmen" is pejorative and no longer accepted in the anthropological community. In his 1979 ethnography "The Kung San: Men, Women and Work in a Foraging Society," Mr. Lee wrote that "the term Bushmen has both racist and sexist connotations."

In addition, the Kalahari is inhabited by many different peoples, and they should be called by whatever name they give themselves. For example, this year we studied the specific Kalahari group living on the border of Botswana and Namibia who call themselves the Ju/'hoansi, or "the real people."

Back in 2002, I wrote in "The Name Game:"

Ironically, the movement to change ethnic names to those used by the groups themselves frequently restores these kind of self-glorifying terms. For example, Comanche Indians are now supposed to called the "Numunuu," which means "the people."

The fashion of renaming the Bushmen of Southwestern Africa as the "San" exemplifies many of the problems with the name game. University of Utah anthropologist Henry Harpending [coauthor of "The Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence"] who has lived with the famous tongue-clicking hunter-gatherers said, "In the 1970s the name 'San' spread in Europe and America because it seemed to be politically correct, while 'Bushmen' sounded derogatory and sexist."

Unfortunately, the hunter-gatherers never actually had a collective name for themselves in any of their own languages. "San" was actually the insulting word that the herding Khoi people called the Bushmen. ("Khoi" is the term used by those who were labeled "Hottentots" by the Dutch. As you can probably guess by now, "Khoi" means "the real people.")

Harpending noted, "The problem was that in the Kalahari, 'San' has all the baggage that the 'N-word' has in America. Bushmen kids are graduating from school, reading the academic literature, and are outraged that we call them 'San.'"

"I knew very well," he said, "That one did not call someone a San to his face. I continued to use Bushman, and I was publicly corrected several times by the righteous. It quickly became a badge among Western academics: If you say 'San' and I say 'San,' then we signal each other that we are on the fashionable side, politically. It had nothing to do with respect. I think most politically correct talk follows these dynamics."

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

More on the "Acting White" study

In response to my posting below about Fryer and Torelli's study showing that Hispanics lose more same-race friends the higher their GPA than do blacks, a college professor writes:

Your post on educational attitudes among Hispanics and blacks is consistent with my impressions in in the classroom. Apathy towards learning seems widespread among Hispanics. Curious whites are much more common (though not common enough), and among whites and even blacks you have the type of person who is not particularly smart, but who is motivated to play the intellectual. But rarely do I see Hispanics who like to get into a discussion about things--to explore ideas for curiosity's sake, or to project the image of a smart person. As a group, they are a pretty inert bunch. When I see this among black students, it seems like they are simply not getting it; when I see it among Hispanics, they just don't care. I haven't seen them say that someone is trying to be better than them if they act smart, but I have heard this is what you will be told if you excel in school.

The gap between whites and Hispanics in average IQ is only about 65% as large as the gap between whites and blacks, as is the gap between whites and American-born Hispanics on the NAEP achievement test, but Hispanics do worse than blacks on certain measures of quantity of schooling, when their higher average IQs suggest they should be getting more schooling.

Come to think of it, Asians don't seem particularly curious--just very driven and competitive. Similarly, women are also less curious than men. They are better students but are less interested.

That's the same thing you see when looking at who wins the science Nobel Prizes: white guys ask the big, hard questions. Too bad we're the "cancer of history," as Ms. Sontag so felicitously put it.

A reader writes:

The major surprises from the paper were a) that the social cost for blacks in "acting white" [i.e., getting good grades] is much larger in integrated schools, and b) that the social cost for high grades is greatest for... guess who? Private school students of any race.

As for the private schools, a reader urges caution in interpreting the data:

According to the figure on page 47 of the report, the popularity curve for Hispanics and blacks at private schools is pretty flat. Popularity peaks for whites at about a 1.75 GPA and declines significantly to a 4.0 GPA. The curves are very wiggly so I don't think they have a lot of data for private school students.

Another reader responds:

Isn't one obvious reason why blacks and Hispanics with better grades have fewer friends of the same race (or "race" for Hispanics) simply the fact that the ones with better grades are likely to have more white classmates and white friends? Likewise, perhaps low-achieving whites have more black and Hispanic friends. I assume that having more friends of one kind means fewer of another!

Another reader writes:

It would have been interesting to see, for black and Hispanic high achievers, how many white friends each had. In other words, how much all this is basically about students making friends in their academic-achievement class, rather than in their race-ethnic class. I suspect black high achievers have more white friends now than do Hispanic ones, but perhaps I am wrong. And that might not fit all the other ancient axes the Post has to grind.

One also suspects that, in the old days of either pure segregation in the South or ability-tracking in the North, that high-achieving blacks were much more popular and admired by their fellow blacks than they perhaps are today. Blacks could then feel pride in and identify a bit with the most talented of their fellow blacks, while still feeling they shared many of the same experiences. Now, I think the same exceptional levels of achievement among poor-performing minorities are taken as a signal of separation from the main group, which is probably what is happening.

I now see that Fryer and Torelli mention in passing in their confusingly written paper that: "substitution towards other race friendships does not fully explain the stark difference in the popularity – achievement gradient."

In other words, in an integrated school, a smart black kid in the A.P. classes would acquire more white friends, but not as many as he'd lose black friends. This doesn't necessarily mean that black students intentionally penalize black high achievers. They just have less contact with them and less in common with them. So, once again we come back to the brute fact that on average whites are smarter than blacks, and that most other effects hypothesized about the white-black education gap are marginalia.

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

My article on John F. Kerry's IQ Validated

"Does anyone in America doubt that Kerry has a higher IQ than Bush? I'm sure the candidates' SATs and college transcripts would put Kerry far ahead."

Howell Raines
- Former Executive Editor of the New York Times
"The 'Dumb' Factor"
Washington Post, August 27, 2004

Last October, in my VDARE.com article "This Just In: Kerry's IQ Likely Lower than Bush's!" I showed that Kerry's score on the Officer Qualification Test he took when he joined the Navy was no better and probably slightly worse than the score George W. Bush made when he took the Air Force's equivalent test.

I estimated that on the IQ test-like sections of the military aptitude tests that Bush scored somewhere around the equivalent of a 125 IQ (which is in line with his 1206 SAT score [under the harder pre-1995 scoring system]) while Kerry scored around the equivalent of a 120 IQ. Both IQs are adequate to be President, but not hugely impressive. (For more on Presidential performance and intelligence, see my article "Does IQ Matter in a President?")

When NBC's Tom Brokaw asked Kerry about my study showing him scoring lower than Bush, which John Tierney wrote about in the NYT, Kerry told him, "I must have been drinking the night before I took that military aptitude test.” Today, Michael Kranish reports in the Boston Globe:

During last year's presidential campaign, John F. Kerry was the candidate often portrayed as intellectual and complex, while George W. Bush was the populist who mangled his sentences.

But newly released records show that Bush and Kerry had a virtually identical grade average at Yale University four decades ago.

In 1999, The New Yorker published a transcript indicating that Bush had received a cumulative score of 77 for his first three years at Yale and a roughly similar average under a non-numerical rating system during his senior year.

Kerry, who graduated two years before Bush, got a cumulative 76 for his four years, according to a transcript that Kerry sent to the Navy when he was applying for officer training school. He received four D's in his freshman year out of 10 courses, but improved his average in later years.

The grade transcript, which Kerry has always declined to release, was included in his Navy record. During the campaign the Globe sought Kerry's naval records, but he refused to waive privacy restrictions for the full file. Late last month, Kerry gave the Navy permission to send the documents to the Globe.

Kerry appeared to be responding to critics who suspected that there might be damaging information in the file about his activities in Vietnam. The military and medical records, however, appear identical to what Kerry has already released. This marks the first time Kerry's grades have been publicly reported.

The Globe article comes with an amazing college picture of Kerry, which makes him look like the 1933 heavyweight champ Primo Carnera, a simple-minded acromegalic giant with a pituitary gland problem. (In "Cinderella Man," Carnera is the giant that Max Baer thrashes to win the heavyweight title. I wonder if Kerry had acromegaly, too -- his chin is awfully big.) The Globe must really not want Kerry to run again in 2008.

Real Clear Politics asks:

KERRY'S BIG SECRET?: That wasn't so hard, now was it? The mind simply reels at the possibility that Kerry refused for two years to fully release his Navy records because he didn't want people to know he got slightly lower grades at Yale than Bush. Could the ego on a man really be that big and that fragile?

Considering how disturbed Kerry was by my report on his IQ versus Bush's -- on the air with Brokaw, he laughed it off adeptly, but after the camera was off, he was so bothered by it that he returned to the topic to make the excuse that he must have been out drinking (as Brokaw told Don Imus a few days later) -- the answer may well be: yes, Kerry's ego was wrapped up in being smarter than Bush.

As Chris Suellentrop of Slate wrote in "Kerry vs. His Script: Why can't the man read a simple speech? Declaring war on declarative sentences," the candidate repeatedly insisted on padding out the well-written speeches his staff gave him with meaningless improvisations:

The campaign gives reporters the text of each of Kerry's speeches "as prepared for delivery," apparently to show how much Kerry diverges from them...

Kerry proves incapable of reading simple declarative sentences. He inserts dependent clauses and prepositional phrases until every sentence is a watery mess. Kerry couldn't read a Dick and Jane book to schoolchildren without transforming its sentences into complex run-ons worthy of David Foster Wallace. Kerry's speechwriters routinely insert the line "We can bring back that mighty dream," near the conclusion of his speeches, presumably as an echo of Ted Kennedy's Shrum-penned "the dream will never die" speech from the 1980 Democratic convention. Kerry saps the line of its power. Here's his version from Monday's speech in Tampa: "We can bring back the mighty dream of this country, that's what's at stake in these next two weeks."...

Kerry flubs his punch lines, sprinkles in irrelevant anecdotes, and talks himself into holes that he has trouble improvising his way out of. He steps on his applause lines by uttering them prematurely, and then when they roll up on his TelePrompTer later, he's forced to pirouette and throat-clear until he figures out how not to repeat himself. He piles adjective upon adjective until it's like listening to a speech delivered by Roget.

Kerry's health-care speech Monday in Tampa was a classic of the form. The written text contained a little more than 2,500 words. By the time he was finished, Kerry had spoken nearly 5,300 words—not including his introductory remarks and thank-yous to local politicians—more than doubling the verbiage.

In contrast, Bush seldom let his ego get in the way of competent campaigning. If he didn't think his speeches were good enough the way they were written, he'd get new speechwriters, not try to fix them on the fly himself. (Of course, Bush's standards for Cabinet Secretaries, foreign policy advisers, and other trivial officials are laxer than for the important jobs involved in winning elections.)

Before the last election, I wrote:

In the President's lone losing race, his 1978 run for Congress from West Texas, the victor stressed Bush's two Ivy League degrees. Bush resolved never to allow himself to be outdumbed again. And the Democrats haven't outsmarted him since.

The Kerry IQ-grades fiasco was reminiscent of the terrible knots that liberals tie themselves into over IQ:

Liberals tend to believe two things about IQ:

bulletFirst, that IQ is a meaningless, utterly discredited concept.

bulletSecond, that liberals are better than conservatives because they have much higher IQs.

Thus back in May of 2004, hundreds of liberal websites, and even the prestigious Economist magazine, fell for a hoax claiming to show that states that voted for Al Gore in 2000 have higher average IQs—by as much as an incredible 28 points—than states that voted for George W. Bush.

(In reality, no such data exist. But, for what it's worth, Bush and Gore voters were identical in educational level, and the states they won were almost dead even in 8th grade achievement test scores.)

The hoax was revived after the election last November, with sites carrying the bogus table of IQs by state getting tens of millions of visits from Democrats looking for proof of their intellectual superiority. My demolition of the hoax can be found at:


A reader writes:

The only time during last years' campaign when Kerry looked smart was during that first debate. Three years of high school debating [and college debate] and then, 40 years later, practice Presidential debates with a two-minute egg timer made the guy look like a razor-sharp thinker.

Apparently, contrary to initial rumor and obvious impression, Bush's problem in the first debate was not sloth, but overpreparation. He had simply crammed so much into his brain that his untrained speaking style was overloaded. Reagan used to do badly for the same reason, too much preparation for his style.

Among certain educational subcultures in the early 1960s, debating was almost as socially obligatory as playing football. It was probably the most productive thing John Kerry did in his life. It almost won him the Presidency.

How in hell does a country of 300,000,000 come up with two mediocrities like Kerry and Bush as the only choices for President?

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

Aversion to "Acting White" Worse Problem for Hispanics than Blacks

The Washington Post reports:

Among white teens, Fryer and Torelli found that better grades equaled greater popularity, with straight-A students having far more same-race friends than those who were B students, who in turn had more friends than C or D students. But among blacks and especially Hispanics who attend public schools with a mix of racial and ethnic groups, that pattern was reversed: The best and brightest academically were significantly less popular than classmates of their race or ethnic group with lower grade point averages.

"For blacks, higher achievement is associated with modestly higher popularity until a grade point average of 3.5 [a B+ average], then the slope turns negative," Fryer and Torelli wrote in a new working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. A black student who's gotten all A's has, on average, 1.5 fewer same-race friends than a straight-A white student. Among Hispanics, there is little change in popularity until a student's average rises above a C+, at which point it plummets. A Hispanic student with all A's is the least popular of all Hispanic students, and has three fewer friends than a typical white student with a 4.0 grade point average.

Fryer and Torelli based their conclusions on a federally funded survey of 90,118 junior high and high school students in 175 schools in 80 communities nationwide during the 1994-95 school year. The resulting data set contained a wealth of information on each student, including the number of friends they had and who those friends were. To prevent an inflated tally, the researchers counted students as friends only if each listed the other as a friend.

This supports what I've been saying for some time: that Hispanics have a worse attitudinal problem toward education than do blacks. Contrary to the claims of John McWhorter, African-American culture isn't particularly anti-intellectual or anti-education ... at least relative to the average black IQ of 85. Considering that only about 1 out of 6 African-Americans has a three digit IQ, blacks spend quite a few years in school and a surprising fraction at least attempt college.

In general, blacks may suffer from inflated expectations about education: the Yale or jail syndrome. How many times have you seen interviews with poor ghetto children who announce they are going to be a doctor or a lawyer? When it eventually dawns on them that no way no how are they ever going to be doctors or lawyers, too many decide that then they might as well deal drugs.

The average Hispanic IQ is somewhere around 91, but Hispanics don't average more schooling than blacks. In some ways, this is healthy: Hispanics with two digit IQs are more likely to go get a job than waste time at a community college. Still, it reflect an anti-educational bias in Hispanic culture that keeps down many Hispanics who do have the brains to make use of education.

Looking at the actual report by Fryer and Torelli, the peer pressure effect doesn't seem terribly huge:

Put differently, evaluated at the sample mean, a one standard deviation increase in grades is associated with roughly a .103 standard deviation decrease in social status for Blacks and a .171 standard deviation decrease for Hispanics. For students with a 3.5 grade point average or better, the effect triples.

So, for blacks, if their grades go up by a standard deviation, their social status falls by one tenth as much. Is that the cause of their low grades? Perhaps to some extent. It might well be an explanation for why blacks get even worse grades on average than their standardized test scores would predict. But how big is the impact of peer pressure against "acting white" relative to the brute factor of lower average IQ? And would blacks consider getting good grades to be "acting white" if blacks had the same average IQ as whites? Occam's Razor keeps bringing us back to recognizing IQ as the 800 pound gorilla of the racial education gap.

As you might expect, Fryer and Torelli don't mention IQ. Nor do they mention Asians.

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