July 7, 2005

An interview with me about race

An alumni magazine interviewed me about one of their professors, a population geneticist. Here's part of the interview:

Q. The only protest against BiDil is one that claims it reinforces the idea that race is a biological construct rather than a cultural one. What is your take on that protest?

A. Yes, we do hear frequently from certain "bioethicists" and other intellectuals who, apparently, would prefer that African-Americans die of heart attacks than have their lives saved by a drug that undermines their dogma that race does not exist in the biological sense.

Here's what actually exists biologically: partly inbred extended families. Whether you want to call them racial groups or not is just a terminological issue.

When you think about it, you'll notice that most of the logical criticisms made of the concept of racial groups -- such as, that nobody can count exactly how many there are, or name them all, or individuals can belong to more than one -- apply even more strongly to the concept of extended families. Yet, nobody goes around claiming that "extended families" don't exist biologically.

Indeed, racial groups tend to be somewhat more cohesive and longer-lasting than extended families. The reason is that a racial group is just a large extended family that tends to marry within itself. When you think about racial groups this way, it strips away much of the accumulated deitrus of racialist mythos and politically correct debunkings and you can think about race more objectively. It turns out that race is neither the most important thing in the world nor just some kind of cultural hallucination. It's simply inherent in the human condition that you will be more closely related to some people than to others, and that this will have, on a probabilistic level, implications that might be of some, but not overwhelming, importance for your life.

When you think about racial groups as extended families, it's easy to see why a drug like Bi-Dil could work better for blacks than others, just as a drug that works for your grandmother and first cousin is statistically more likely to work for you than one that doesn't work for your close relatives.

Q. How would a greater understanding of race affect programs like affirmative action and diversity initiatives?

A. I believe that the truth is better for the human race than ignorance, lies, and wishful thinking. At minimum, it's a heck of a lot more interesting!

The job of science is to help us understand how the real world works. The job of morality and politics is to decide what to do about it. The better informed we are, the more likely we are to be able to accomplish our moral and political goals, whatever they may be.

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

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Dr. Levitt, than are dreamt of in your Freakonomics."

A reader who used to be an inner city social worker sends another enlightening message about how legal abortion actually works among the underclass:

Interesting to read about the Brookings policy brief (which I haven’t seen elsewhere). The bits you've quoted line up with my personal experience as a social worker, except for one thing . . . .

The authors of the report follow the now-PC practice of talking about every female over the age of 11 as a "woman." This is understandable, since feminists have banished the word "girl" for all but the youngest kids. It's unfortunate, though, because it obscures the fact that, in a large percentage of cases, we really are talking about teenage girls.

Consider the following line from the Brookings authors: "[W]omen feared, correctly, that if they refused sexual relations, they would risk losing their partners."

Now translate that into, "Fatherless teenage girls feared, correctly, that if they refused sexual relations, they would risk losing their boyfriends, who may well represent the only steady source of male affection they have ever had in their young lives."

Is the picture starting to become clearer? We really aren’t talking about rational post-Enlightenment adults making considered choices. We're talking about hurricane-strength social forces battering the most vulnerable members of the population.

Another fact that I don’t think I've ever seen discussed seriously: A lot of the teenage abortions that Levitt attributes to "unwantedness" may not be initiated by the pregnant girls themselves, but by their mothers or close relatives. Other people (notably boyfriends) may try to pressure girls into abortions too, of course. But quite often, the most effective pressure comes from the girl's own family.

Underclass mothers can put tremendous pressure on their young daughters to abort. Mothers threaten to throw their daughters out, to disown the baby. They aren’t shy about saying (or screaming) it in front of their social workers either.

Why would mothers bully their daughters to abort their own grandchildren? A lot of reasons, I guess, but one leaps to mind immediately if you're familiar with underclass family life: Mothers don't want to lose the free babysitting services their daughters provide.

In underclass families, it's not unusual to see a 13 year old tending several younger siblings. With no father in the home, mothers rely heavily on older children to watch younger ones -- even more so now that society (for good reason) requires welfare mothers to go to work.

The last thing a mother in this situation needs is for her daughter to get distracted by kids of her own -- especially when the mother may still be able to have more kids herself. A daughter's desire to reproduce can directly conflict with her mother's desire to continue reproducing.

This probably sounds utterly bizarre to middle class readers. But middle class people often don’t become parents until their late 20s or 30s, and then have only one or two kids. By contrast, my welfare clients started young. I had many clients under age 25 who already had multiple children. A 30 year old underclass mother could easily have a 14 year old daughter who she relies on to babysit three or four younger kids.

In my experience, girls who have abortions under parental pressure almost invariably get pregnant again a year or two later. And their mothers may again try to pressure them into abortion. But eventually, the daughters wise up and fight back.

This has always raised a question in my mind: Are all these teenage abortions actually reducing the number of kids being born, or just shifting the births down the road a couple of years? Do the girls who have the abortions actually wind up with fewer children overall? It doesn't seem that way, if my experience is any indicator.

I don't know how much impact this phenomenon has on overall abortion rates. But I know that it is not uncommon. And it always comes to mind when I read that, despite the enormous number of abortions after legalization, births decreased by only six percent.

Here are two more messages from this reader: "How underclass women view pregnancy" and "Elvis Levitt".

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

How legal abortion hollowed out the black middle class.

Steven D. Levitt has gotten sensational publicity for Freakonomics implying that legalizing abortion increased the "quality" of the upbringing that children who actually went on to be born received. That idea has proven so attractive that the fact that the crime rate shot up among the first kids born after legalization has been repeatedly dismissed out of hand. That's why, way back in my debate with Levitt in 1999, I offered an alternative theory that would better fit the historical record: that abortion was used more by the more responsible women in the black community, which therefore lowered the overall cultural and moral level of African-Americans, setting the stage for the catastrophic crack years.

A reader sent me a 1996 Brookings Institution policy brief called "An Analysis of Out-Of-Wedlock Births in the United States" by George A. Akerlof and Janet L. Yellen. It has some important data tables comparing the last years before legalization, 1965-1969, the first half-decade after legalization, 1975-1979. The abortion rate for nonwhites peaked in 1977, so this is a good comparison. Blacks born in 1965-1969 had relatively low teen murder and other serious violent crime rates, while those born in 1975-1979 had the worst records ever recorded.

Before legalization, the birthrate for married black women was 129 and for unmarried black women 91. A decade later, the married black birth rate dropped from 129 to 93, while the unmarried black birth rate fell only from 91 to 86. So, social changes, including abortion legalization, had barely any effect on the unmarried black birth rate, but drove down the black married rate sharply.

Moreover, black women weren't getting married as much, in part because of the collapse of the shotgun wedding (i.e., a wedding less than 9 months before the birth of the first child). Akerloff and Yellen write:

We have found that this rather sudden increase in the availability of both abortion and contraception we call it a reproductive technology shock is deeply implicated in the increase in out-of-wedlock births. Although many observers expected liberalized abortion and contraception to lead to fewer out-of-wedlock births, in fact the opposite happened because of the erosion in the custom of "shotgun marriages."...

The increased availability of contraception and abortion made shotgun weddings a thing of the past. Women who were willing to get an abortion or who reliably used contraception no longer found it necessary to condition sexual relations on a promise of marriage in the event of pregnancy. But women who wanted children, who did not want an abortion for moral or religious reasons, or who were unreliable in their use of contraception found themselves pressured to participate in premarital sexual relations without being able to exact a promise of marriage in case of pregnancy. These women feared, correctly, that if they refused sexual relations, they would risk losing their partners. Sexual activity without commitment was increasingly expected in premarital relationships.

Advances in reproductive technology eroded the custom of shotgun marriage in another way. Before the sexual revolution, women had less freedom, but men were expected to assume responsibility for their welfare. Today women are more free to choose, but men have afforded themselves the comparable option. "If she is not willing to have an abortion or use contraception," the man can reason, "why should I sacrifice myself to get married?" By making the birth of the child the physical choice of the mother, the sexual revolution has made marriage and child support a social choice of the father.

So, the black illegitimacy rate climbed from 35 percent to 52 percent over the course of that decade, with the number of black out-of-wedlock births growing from 189,000 to 280,000, despite all the wonderful increase in "wantedness" of children that Dr. Levitt attributes to the legalization of abortion. We sure didn't see an increase in wantedness by fathers.

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

July 6, 2005

"The Pretty Good Four:"

The new superhero movie "The Fantastic Four" is fairly witty about their superpowers -- e.g., the Human Torch cooks Jiffy Pop popcorn on the palm of his hand, and the rubbery Mr. Fantastic gives himself an extra-close shave by pulling his jaw out a foot. Otherwise, it's a little hard to see what the point of the movie is, but then comic book movies always baffle me in that way. Anyway, it's reasonably well made.

The big distraction is the casting of Jessica Alba as Sue Storm, the Beautiful Lady Scientist who is the Director of Genetic Research at Von Doom Enterprises. Apparently, Sue's a blonde, which the dark beauty Jessica most definitely is not. So, they dyed her hair this awful gold color, the color that black stand-up comics joke about in routines about "You Know You're Ghet-To When ..."

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

Good and Bad News

The Good News: Judith Miller of the NYT jailed! The Bad News: it's not for mainlining Chalabi's war-mongering lies into the media.

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

War Nerd

"Massacres Paid Your Mortgage, Dude." Gary Brecher, the War Nerd, channels Thomas Babington Macaulay:

It really pisses me off, the way these Kevin Costner types romanticize rebel tribes, once they're safely annihilated. It's been happening for hundreds of years, too. The Brits totally wiped out the Scottish Highland tribes -- and they were tribes -- after they rebelled in 1745. It was merciless, classic primitive warfare: men hanged on the battlefield, farms burned to the ground, kids dragged away to be trained as Englishmen, the native Scottish language and songs forbidden by law. And then, once they were sure the Highlanders were gone, the English started romanticizing everything about them, even those dumb skirts the Highland men wore because they were too dumb to make pants that fit.

When I was growing up, my teachers tried to make the Sioux into saints and the Seventh Cav into murderers. I had to read that Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee book in high school, and if my teacher had heard me even hint that it wasn't a good vs. evil story, she'd have expelled me on the spot. Everybody had a great time crying for the poor Indians -- but I noticed nobody said anything about giving them California back. [More]

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

"Free to Choose"

"Free to Choose: Insemination, Immigration and Eugenics" -- This week's VDARE.com column is up:

The artificial insemination business isn't as important as immigration in determining America's future. But in that field, fortunately, there's been encouraging progress toward allowing the rightful decision-makers to make their own decisions.

I've long believed that how many and who get born in America are decisions that should be made by American citizens in the privacy of their own bedrooms.

But doctors sure didn't feel that way, as Slate.com's David Plotz points out in his new book The Genius Factory: The Curious History of the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank:

"In this first generation of AID [Artificial Insemination by Donor], doctors tyrannized their patients. When a red-faced couple appeared at the office, mumbling about infertility, the doctor told them he would take care of everything. Mothers were discouraged from asking questions about the donor. The doctor did a little poking around for a suitable donor—often the closest medical student at hand. The doctor would make sure the donor was the right skin color—white parents got white donors. If the doctor was feeling benevolent, he would also try to match the eye color of the father."

Doctors assumed that doctors' DNA was the ideal—and that the parents who would actually raise the child shouldn't get a say.

But today, the consumer's freedom of choice reigns supreme in the sperm market. For instance, if you have a fast web connection, you can download the 26 page (and 2 meg) application that donors at the California Cryobank fill out.

Lesbians and other feminists are particularly enthusiastic and choosy clients.

Thus, according to numerous reports in the British press in 1998, two-time Oscar winning actress Jodie Foster had proudly announced to friends that, after a long search for the perfect DNA, she had had herself impregnated with the gametes of a tall and handsome scientist with an IQ of 160.

She was apparently so pleased with how her first child turned out that she obtained more sperm from the same brainy hunk for her second child.

What accounted for this dramatic increase in customer choice? The single most important individual in liberating the sperm bank industry from elite paternalism, according to Plotz's book, was the elderly, eccentric millionaire eugenicist Robert K. Graham. In 1980 he founded the endlessly-denounced Repository for Germinal Choice, better known as the Nobel Prize sperm bank.

Among his five initial donors were the inventor of the transistor, William Shockley—and also, according to Plotz, the inventor of the polio vaccine, Jonas Salk.

Unsurprisingly, because Graham valued IQ so highly, a disproportionate fraction of his donors were Ashkenazi Jews, like Salk.

Also, unsurprisingly but under the circumstances ironically, Graham was constantly denounced as a Nazi.

Yet, despite the calumny he had to put up with, Graham vastly improved the industry.

Plotz writes:

"Robert Graham strolled into the world of dictatorial doctors and cowed patients and accidentally launched a revolution…All he wanted to do was propagate genius. But he knew that his grand experiment would flop unless women wanted to shop with him… So Graham did what no one in the business had ever done: he marketed his men…

“His Repository catalog was very spare … but it thrilled his customers. Women who saw it realized, for the first time, that they had a genuine choice… Thanks to its attentiveness to consumers, the Repository upended the hierarchy of the fertility industry. Before the Repository, fertility doctors had ordered, women had accepted… Mother after mother said the same thing to me: she had picked the Repository because it was the only place that let her select what she wanted.

“Where Graham went, other sperm banks -- and the rest of the fertility industry—followed… All sperm banks have become eugenic sperm banks.”

I quote Plotz at length to show that, by any objective standard, Graham is an American hero.

Graham's place as a national benefactor is secure not because he accomplished his goal of improving the national germ plasm—donor insemination is rare enough and the results variable enough that the entire industry could barely move the most sensitive needle on a national scale—but because he turned the process of selection over to the people who rightfully should have the choice. [More]

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

WSJ's Taranto pushes his "Roe Effect" half-truth again

James Taranto writes on the Wall Street Journal site:

Compounding the GOP advantage is what I call the Roe effect. It is a statement of fact, not a moral judgment, to observe that every pregnancy aborted today results in one fewer eligible voter 18 years from now. More than 40 million legal abortions have occurred in the United States since 1973, and these are not randomly distributed across the population. Black women, for example, have a higher abortion ratio (percentage of pregnancies aborted) than Hispanic women, whose abortion ratio in turn is higher than that of non-Hispanic whites. Since blacks vote Democratic in far greater proportions than Hispanics, and whites are more Republican than Hispanics or blacks, ethnic disparities in abortion ratios would be sufficient to give the GOP a significant boost--surely enough to account for George W. Bush's razor-thin Florida victory in 2000.

Well, it's definitely not a statement of fact that 40 million legal abortions caused there to be 40 million fewer babies born. What Taranto fails to understand is that legalizing abortion vastly increased the number of unwanted pregnancies, just as it also increased the sexually transmitted disease rate, by making unprotected coitus seem less risky. As U. of Chicago economist Steven D. Levitt notes in his bestseller Freakonomics, after the Roe decision in 1973, “Conceptions rose by nearly 30 percent, but births actually fell by 6 percent …” So, net, for every six fetuses aborted in the 1970s, five would never have been conceived except for Roe!

To paraphrase Homer Simpson, legal abortion turned out to be not just the solution to, but also the cause of, many unwanted pregnancies.

So, let's do the math, because Taranto sure hasn't. If that ratio held true overall (and I'm not sure that it does), then legalized abortion reduced the total number of births by 7 million, not 40 million. Most of the abortees would have been under 18, so that leaves about 3 million eligible voters. Their voting rate, being young and fairly minority would be low, so figure about only 1 million would have voted in 2004. If they would have gone 2 to 1 for Kerry (and who knows what the real ratio would be), that means the Roe Effect increased Bush's margin by 0.333 million, or about one-tenth. So, the Roe Effect would probably not be trivial, but it's not very important either. And of course, any guesstimate of how these aborted young people would have voted is just a guess.

If anybody wants to take a more sophisticated crack at estimating the size of the Roe Effect, please let me know what you come up with.

This is not to say that things like fertility and marriage don't have a huge impact on hows states voted in the last two Presidential elections. In this century, Republicans win in states with a high degree of "affordable family formation." Democrats win where suburban land is scarce, housing prices are high, people (especially whites) get married late or not at all, and have few children. My summary article that explains the red-blue map is here. You can follow the links to my other, more detailed articles explaining the link between affordable family formation and voting Republican.

It's testimony to the lack of clear thinking in our public discourse on the effects of legal abortion that Taranto has been pushing his Roe Effect idea for a long time without anybody ever making clear to him the massive flaw in his logic.

(Or, possibly people have explained it to Taranto and he simply chooses to mislead people about the impact of abortion. That wouldn't be the first time anybody has chosen to mislead the public about abortion's effects! For example, you have to read Levitt's hugely hyped chapter in Freakonomics on how legalizing abortion supposedly cut crime very carefully to understand why his celebrated theory fails most obvious historical tests. The reason Levitt's crypto-eugenic logic didn't work, with the first cohort born after legalization going on the worst teen violence spree in recent American history, is the same reason as Taranto overestimates the importance of the Roe Effect: abortion drove up the number of pregnancies far more than it drove down the birthrate.)

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

Male Bisexuality: Myth or Legend?

The NYT reports on a new study headed by J. Michael Bailey of Northwestern (by the way, here's my 2002 interview with Bailey):

Some people are attracted to women; some are attracted to men. And some, if Sigmund Freud, Dr. Alfred Kinsey and millions of self-described bisexuals are to be believed, are drawn to both sexes.

But a new study casts doubt on whether true bisexuality exists, at least in men.

The study, by a team of psychologists in Chicago and Toronto, lends support to those who have long been skeptical that bisexuality is a distinct and stable sexual orientation.

People [this should say "men"] who claim bisexuality, according to these critics, are usually homosexual, but are ambivalent about their homosexuality or simply closeted. "You're either gay, straight or lying," as some gay men have put it.

In the new study, a team of psychologists directly measured genital arousal patterns in response to images of men and women. The psychologists found that men who identified themselves as bisexual were in fact exclusively aroused by either one sex or the other, usually by other men.

I'm not sure how convinced I am by this research, but, assuming it's true (which could be a big assumption), here's why it's important: As I pointed out to Bailey in about 1998, it suggests that, in terms of sexual orientation, males are distributed along a strange J-Shaped curve, with more homosexuals than bisexuals (and of course far more heterosexuals than either). In contrast, women seem to be distributed along the left half of a normal bell curve, with more bisexuals than homosexuals.

This suggests that male sexual orientation is more like a simple switch than a randomizing Pachinko machine, which is more common among complicated human traits, such as, apparently, female sexual orientation.

Here, Thrasymachus interviews Gregory Cochran about the implications of the J-shaped curve and why Greg thinks it would be a good idea to clone a gay sheep.

And here's my 2003 summary of the theories over the cause of male homosexuality, which remains one of the great mysteries in science.

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

July 4, 2005

My new VDARE.com column

will be up Monday night, instead of the usual Sunday night, due to Independence Day. I'm doing a long review of David Plotz's new book "The Genius Factory: The Curious History of the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank. Here's a short preview:

Sperm banking sounds derisible, but a moment's reflection shows that it's an extremely serious matter to those who have the misfortune to need the industry's services. About one million Americans alive today were conceived with donor sperm, and another 30,000 are born every year.

For the rest of us, the history of sperm banking is worth thinking about in depth because it vividly illustrates two general principles that the American establishment doesn't want you to think about:

1. Humans differ strikingly, so selection -- whether choosing who will father a baby or which foreigners will be allowed to immigrate to the United States -- is important. Yet, in American public discourse we are all supposed to ignore the 800 pound gorilla of nature and talk instead as if the 10 pound poodle of nurture, whether education or assimilation, is all that matters.

2. Just because elites and other interest groups want to banish from polite society debate over human selection doesn't mean these questions don't matter. Somebody always has to do the selecting. What they are trying to do is keep you from doing it. [More]

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

Chesterton on H.G. Wells' eugenics

Although Wells' career was long and productive, he wrote his most ground-breaking science fiction novels -- The War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, The Island of Dr. Moreau, and The First Men in the Moon -- during a short span from 1895-1901. Jorge Luis Borges said that Wells' stories "will be incorporated … into the general memory of the species and even transcend the fame of their creator or the extinction of the language in which they were written."

The greatest American sci-fi writer, Robert A. Heinlein, worshipped Wells and was heavily influenced by him, including incorporating Wells' enthusiasm for eugenics into some of his early novels explicitly (e.g., Beyond this Horizon and Methuselah's Children) and into most of his later novels implicitly (Heinlein's heroes almost always have some extraordinary mental skill, especially in mathematics).

The Catholic writer G.K. Chesterton's 1922 book Eugenics and Other Evils is online, and it's interesting to see what a nonscientific but extremely sharp observer had to say about heredity during the heyday of eugenics. Chesterton's basic objection was that individuals should select whom they are going to marry. It's none of these self-proclaimed heredity expert's business.

But Chesterton also had a keen eye for just how little the experts knew (or know), as he showed in this description of H.G. Wells:

Our press seems to have a perfect genius for fitting people with caps that don't fit; and affixing the wrong terms of eulogy and even the wrong terms of abuse. And just as people will talk of Bernard Shaw as a naughty winking Pierrot, when he is the last great Puritan and really believes in respectability; just as ... they will talk of my own paradoxes, when I pass my life in preaching that the truisms are true; so an enormous number of newspaper readers seem to have it fixed firmly in their heads that Mr. H. G. Wells is a harsh and horrible Eugenist in great goblin spectacles who wants to put us all into metallic microscopes and dissect us with metallic tools. As a matter of fact, of course, Mr. Wells, so far from being too definite, is generally not definite enough. He is an absolute wizard in the appreciation of atmospheres and the opening of vistas; but his answers are more agnostic than his questions. His books will do everything except shut. And so far from being the sort of man who would stop a man from propagating, he cannot even stop a full stop. He is not Eugenic enough to prevent the black dot at the end of a sentence from breeding a line of little dots.

But this is not the clear-cut blunder of which I spoke. The real blunder is this. Mr. Wells deserves a tiara of crowns and a garland of medals for all kinds of reasons. But if I were restricted, on grounds of public economy, to giving Mr. Wells only one medal ob cives servatos, I would give him a medal as the Eugenist who destroyed Eugenics. For everyone spoke of him rightly or wrongly, as a Eugenist; and he certainly had, as I have not, the training and type of culture required to consider the matter merely in a biological and not in a generally moral sense. The result was that in that fine book, "Mankind in the Making," where he inevitably came to grips with the problem, he threw down to the Eugenists an intellectual challenge which seems to me unanswerable, but which, at any rate, is unanswered...

Having given honour for the idea where it is due, I may be permitted to summarize it myself for the sake of brevity. Mr. Wells' point was this. That we cannot be certain about the inheritance of health, because health is not a quality. It is not a thing like darkness in the hair or length in the limbs. It is a relation, a balance. You have a tall, strong man; but his very strength depends on his not being too tall for his strength. You catch a healthy, full-blooded fellow; but his very health depends on his being not too full of blood. A heart that is strong for a dwarf will be weak for a giant; a nervous system that would kill a man with a trace of a certain illness will sustain him to ninety if he has no trace of that illness. Nay, the same nervous system might kill him if he had an excess of some other comparatively healthy thing. Seeing, therefore, that there are apparently healthy people of all types, it is obvious that if you mate two of them, you may even then produce a discord out of two inconsistent harmonies. It is obvious that you can no more be certain of a good offspring than you can be certain of a good tune if you play two fine airs at once on the same piano. You can be even less certain of it in the more delicate case of beauty, of which the Eugenists talk a great deal. Marry two handsome people whose noses tend to the aquiline, and their baby (for all you know) may be a goblin with a nose like an enormous parrot's. Indeed, I actually know a case of this kind. The Eugenist has to settle, not the result of fixing one steady thing to a second steady thing; but what will happen when one toppling and dizzy equilibrium crashes into another.

This is the interesting conclusion. It is on this degree of knowledge that we are asked to abandon the universal morality of mankind. When we have stopped the lover from marrying the unfortunate woman he loves, when we have found him another uproariously healthy female whom he does not love in the least, even then we have no logical evidence that the result may not be as horrid and dangerous as if he had behaved like a man of honour.

Indeed, there is now some evidence that what we call "chemistry" in sexual attraction really is based on the chemistry of the lovers' respective genomes, such as their immune systems. People seem to be more attracted to people who smell a little different from them. Perhaps this is just to avoid incest, or perhaps there's a more general principle at work that individuals actually do have some sort of sense of who would "complete them," as they say, but in a genetic sense.

Somebody who has, say, a strong immune system for repelling Infection X but a weak immune system for repelling Infection Y, might be better off marrying somebody with the opposite combination, rather than risk having their children run into diminishing marginal returns in stomping on Infection X while getting wiped out by Infection Y. But, at present, we have no idea scientifically how to measure most of these factors, and it may be that individuals actually do have some sense, from smell or pheromones or whatever of who is right for them (and their children).

Of course, there are specific genetic diseases, such as Tay-Sachs. A very Orthodox rabbi who lost four children to Tay-Sachs started a eugenic testing service for Ashkenazi Jews that has proved successful in reducing the incidence of the disease. Of course, he was helped by that his brand of Jewish adherents tend to have arranged marriages.

Fortunately, fatal hereditary diseases tend not to be all that common for the Darwinian reason that genes that kill you also kill themselves and thus tend to die out.

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

July 3, 2005

Who forged the Niger yellowcake documents?

Everybody is excited over whether Karl Rove leaked a CIA agent's identity as part of the Administration's efforts to discredit the discovery that the notorious Niger Yellowcake documents that the Bush Administration used to allege that Saddam was building nuclear weapons and thus justify the war. But isn't the more central question the one almost nobody has been talking about? Who forged these documents that helped bring about a war? That's pretty serious, isn't it?

According to Josh Marshall:

We were able determine that the documents had been put into Martino's hands by a then-serving member of SISMI -- Italian military intelligence. And this SISMI colonel had done so using a women working in the Niger embassy in Rome, an Italian national, as a cut-out.

This was, as you might imagine, more than enough to make us want to know a lot more. But we were never able to develop any conclusive proof about who or what was behind the SISMI colonel or what the backstory was within SISMI.

Suspicions, we had plenty. But in terms of hard facts, we hit a wall just inside SISMI.

Just who forged the documents? And, more significantly, who put the whole process in motion? And why had SISMI or elements within it involved themselves?

When I posted a rumor pointing in the direction of the best-known SISMI-connected neocon player, Michael Ledeen, who was a big wheel in Iran-contra, Ledeen emailed me to deny that he had any involvement with the forgeries. But when I asked Ledeen if he was going to use his extensive SISMI contacts to search for the Real Forgers, that International Man of Mystery didn't reply.

By the way, remember the anthrax poisonings right after 9/11? Who dunnit?

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