August 13, 2005

New T-Shirt Slogan: "Blood for No Oil"

With oil prices hitting record highs, Gregory Cochran has come up with a new bumpersticker slogan that exposes the secret motivation behind the Administration's Iraq Attaq.

Actually, perhaps George W. Bush's true goal is to make George H.W. Bush look like a great President. After Saddam invaded Iraq on August 2, 1991, the price of oil almost doubled. But after Bush's dad drove Iraq out of Kuwait while abstaining from occupying Iraq, the price of oil went back down to where it had been before. In contrast, since Bush the Lesser did what his father refused to do and conquered Iraq, the price of oil has more than doubled.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Problems with "The Problem with Polygamy"?

A reader responds to my 2002 article on the basic problem with polygamy: if a man has more than one wife, another man has none.

You write that if 50% of Kenyan men have a polygamous marriage, then at least 100% of the women must be in one too, and the remaining 50% men would have to remain bachelors. This would obviously be true if (1) the sexes are equal in numbers, and (2) the population remains constant.

However, to (1), poor countries have high infant mortality which typically affects boys more than girls, and Africa has plenty of civil wars and other violent features which mostly weed out young men. In Africa so far, this is not counterbalanced by mass access to the gender-selective abortion which is weeding out girls in Asia. So, it is very likely that when measured at age 10, age 20 or age 30, the percentage of females will be higher than the percentage of males, and increasing.

To (2), men typically marry younger women, with the age difference increasing in proportion to the age at the time of the wedding. This effect is fairly restricted in the West but very stark in Africa and the Muslim world. As the Persian maxim says, a man must marry a woman who is half his age plus 7 years, i.e. a bride of 22 for a groom of 30, a bride of 30 for a groom of 46. And as the Chinese proverb says, "a man is as young as the woman whose bed he shares". Now, in fast-growing populations, doubling in less than 20 years, as is the case in most places from Pakistan to Senegal, every two 32-year-old men can share three 20-year-old brides between them. And this even if the sex ratio is 1:1. This means that if the creamy layer of the 20% wealthiest or otherwise most attractive men have two or three or four wives, they can still leave one for all the less fortunate men.

Of course, in countries where birth control has caught on along with sex-selective abortion, the picture is the reverse: fewer women in the lower age ranks, and within every age group fewer females than males. I presume that a sociobiologist like yourself can imagine what the consequences will be in another generation: Chinese men fighting amongst themselves or emigrating to scout for Russian women, etc.

I wasn't able to confirm that African countries have low male to female sex ratios. The figures in the CIA World Factbook look pretty similar to Western countries: for example, in Kenya the male population in ages 15 to 64 appears to be about 1% larger than the female population. I also looked at Botswana, Eritrea, and Ghana, three other African countries with functioning governments (as opposed to, say, the Congo or Zimbabwe) and thus some hope that Census figures might be accurate. I found male to female sex ratios similar to the west, with just a few percent more women than men in the 15-64 range.

But who knows how accurate the data are for Africa, especially in violence prone countries? But, then, is the correlation between polygamy and violence accidental, or does having a lot of surplus young men generate violence?

On the other hand, perhaps the slave trade took more men than women, making the male to female ratio lower in previous centuries?

You're right that population growth would mitigate some of the effects of polygamy, especially in gerontocratic polygamous systems, although rapid population growth has mostly been confined to the the last few generations, with only slow growth in Africa before the 20th century. Africa was not densely populated until the last couple of decades because the enormous disease burden prevented urbanization.

Of course, it could be that social norms often become inscribed during a successful expansion, such as the Zulu in the 19th Century, when polygamy's cost to young men is less due to greater growth and more conquest and bride-stealing. Then the customs of the good old days when the tribe flourished become the tradition even when dysfunctional in a more stable world. (I suspect that might be a general pattern: that traditions and expectations tend to get established during a peak period of growth, such as Israel under David and Solomon, and France under Louis XIV and carry on even when the group no longer is winning.)

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

"Give Us Schmaltz!"

From my 2002 interview with Steven Pinker, author of The Blank Slate:

Q: Aren't we all better off if people believe that we are not constrained by our biology and so can achieve any future we choose?

A: People are surely better off with the truth. Oddly enough, everyone agrees with this when it comes to the arts. Sophisticated people sneer at feel-good comedies and saccharine romances in which everyone lives happily ever after. But when it comes to science, these same people say, "Give us schmaltz!" They expect the science of human beings to be a source of emotional uplift and inspirational sermonizing.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Accutane and Testosterone

"F.D.A. Imposes Tougher Rules for Acne Drug" reports the NYT. That reminds me of a a fascinating account by a reader of what it's like to accidentally undergo changes in your testosterone level. To avoid being sued by the makers of Accutane, let me point out that his reaction was probably quite idiosyncratic.

"Your article "The Manly Molecule" and Andrew Sullivan's to which you refer have illuminated a time in my life which you may find interesting, and possibly even useful for your sons.

"Since the later stages of puberty, I have known that I am more sexed, more aggressive, more muscular, more energetic, and more plagued by acne than my peers. Being naturally curious and an avid reader, when I was eighteen I realized (admittedly proudly) that these are all manifestations of high testosterone levels. When I left my home to start college, the gulf between the average male and me became more apparent, as at home I had two sisters, in the dorm I was living in close proximity with a cross section of other males.

"When I was a junior in college, I got over my stoicism and denial about my acne problem and angrily confronted my dermatologist with the total failure of every nostrum he had given me and demanded the Weapon of Mass Destruction of acne - Accutane!

"From the beginning, two things about Accutane's effects were quite noticeable: 1) The stuff worked like crazy - the acne never stood a chance. 2) All of those other testosterone related characteristics greatly diminished. I quickly noticed that sitting still to study in my room in my fraternity was much easier. Before Accutane, the faint happy cheering and howling (especially the female voices) of the inevitable nearby Greek Row party would usually propel me in search of girls. On Accutane I could convince myself to ignore it and study (I was still somewhat prone to distraction, but much less so by thoughts of women). I would no longer glower at guys from rival fraternities, or spend an entire afternoon playing half court basketball, or get antsy at 10 pm and go run five miles. I found I was more pensive and introspective, even wistful, and became occasionally interested in mirror gazing. My sex drive mellowed. Others noticed, too. My mother told me later that my shoulders became slighter, the features of my face had become more delicate and refined and remarked on the personality changes, too.

"At the time, I rationalized these side effects by deciding that they were simply psychological, i.e. my earlier, more intense ways were an outgrowth of my deep frustration with acne and that removing the source of the frustration eliminated the intensity and aggression. And if I was wrong, well, it was a bargain I was willing to make. Even more interestingly, part of me welcomed these changes. For one thing, my grades improved.

"I quit taking Accutane about the time I graduated after a successful 12 month regimen. Although I can't remember any sudden behavior change, my memory of the subsequent years includes a mostly continual (and occasionally even successful) pursuit of sex, some nearly violent confrontations with other men, deep thinking about the feasibility of armed revolution (this was during the post Ruby Ridge and Waco years – pretty embarrassing) plus a lot of other high-T political thinking, and consistent defiance of my boss at my physically demanding, rugged, outdoors job. Cleary the side effects were temporary, which, come to think of it, seems unfortunate in some respects.

"So what happened? The side effects that I experienced are precisely the symptoms of reduced testosterone. Accutane isn't known to cause such an effect, but given the fact that medical science still doesn't completely understand how Accutane works, perhaps there is something related going on here. There has been a steady drumbeat of anecdotal evidence connecting Accutane with depression and suicide - given the connection between a lack of Testosterone and depression, my experience has convinced me that for some patients there is a testosterone related side effect that needs to be investigated.

"Here's something interesting: even though before and after Accutane I reveled in my apparent abundance of the Big T, while I was on it, I could not be roused to do anything to restore that abundance. I was quite happy to be without it. This has given me some insight into something that has puzzled me: why are eunuch harem guards loyal? The most crucial attribute of any despot's palace guard is loyalty to the despot, so why would he arm and place into a sensitive job someone whom he had castrated? Wouldn't such grievous harm create a burning hatred and motive for revenge on the part of the eunuch? My experience with apparently reduced testosterone suggests that a eunuch might well appreciate his calmer status and in any case probably couldn't muster a burning hatred about anything anyway.

"I don't know if your sons are teenagers or if either has acne, but if so, and if he is considering Accutane, I hope that he and you would appreciate the leap into the unknown that Accutane represents. There are topical remedies, including the one I currently use (ProActiv solution) that work pretty well for most. At least wait until he has fully grown and his brain has stopped developing."

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Gary Brecher in

One of the arguments for the War Nerd being Mark Ames, editor of the Moscow eXile, and/or one of his colleagues is that in over three years of writing tremendous stuff, the only time Brecher's work has ever appeared outside the eXile was in my UPI interview with him. You would think that a writing talent like that would get snapped up. Then again, maybe not -- the media's demand for fresh voices offering penetrating insights is limited.

Anyway, here is the beginning of a Brecher column in It's not completely original, but it provides an excellent introduction:

The Insurgency: Neighborhood Watch: The Pentagon won't own up to the fact that it takes a village to run an insurgency.

"Gen. George Casey, the U.S. commander of the multinational coalition in Iraq, told reporters on [June 27] that the worst-case estimate of the size of the Iraqi insurgency is less than one-10th of 1 percent of the country's population -- that is, a top end of 26,000 people supporting the insurgency." -- The Guardian

If you've been following guerrilla wars as long as I have, you have to laugh when you hear Army PR guys say that the Iraqi insurgents are just a teeny-tiny bad apple in a big barrel of shiny Red Delicious Iraqis. One bad apple -- that little beady-eyed Al Qaeda operative Zarqawi -- is supposedly responsible for the whole mess. Sorry, folks, but insurgencies just don't work that way.

Of course, you can't blame US Army guys for doing their job -- lying to the press. But you sure can blame the press for buying it. I can't believe how pig-ignorant reporters are about the basics of guerrilla warfare. This planet has been bursting with guerrilla wars for the past century, but the perky, smiley guys 'n' gals reporting from Iraq still know more about hair spray and "Dating Do's & Don'ts" than they do about urban warfare.

I'm just the opposite. Ever since I flunked puberty, I've dedicated my life to studying war. While the kids who grew up to be TV correspondents were fixing their hair, I was in the library memorizing Jane's Armored Vehicles and reading every issue of Armed Forces Journal and Aviation Week. And the more I read, the more I realized war these days isn't about hi-tech hardware, it's about urban guerrilla tactics. That's my specialty.

So for me, Iraq has been like a bad re-run. I knew it was going to be a disaster, and said so way back in 2002. And sure enough, the situation has gone to Hell strictly by the book, right on schedule.

Guerrilla war depends on two "obvious" facts -- so "obvious" nobody in the press even mentions them:

1. The people who live in a place care more about it than the foreign occupiers, and so they'll outlast them in a long guerrilla war.

2. So the only way to defeat the guerrillas is to wipe out or displace the population.

It's been done. The Brits did it in the Boer War a century ago. They were stuck in a losing war against an insurgency by the Boers, so they dragged the Boers' women and kids into the concentration camps to die of every horrible disease in Africa. It worked. A quarter of the civilian population was wiped out, and the Boers lost heart and surrendered, giving the Brits access to the gold and diamond mines. Even now the Boers still burn with hatred over what the Brits did to them, and you can't blame the poor bastards. [More]

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

"Opposites Attract?"

Not According to Gene Researchers: Study Shows Genetics Influences Choices in Friends, Mates" -- Lee Dye of ABC News explains J.P. Rushton's latest study;

- The reason our friends seem a bit kooky, and our mates may seem strange compared to ourselves, is that opposites attract. Right?

Nope. A large body of research suggests that we pick our friends, as well as our mates, because underneath it all they are very much like us.

So if our friends are kooky, and our mates a bit strange, chances are we are too.

And the latest study in this ongoing research takes it a little further. We can blame it at least partly on our genes. People tend to like others who have the same inheritable traits, so we often choose friends and mates who are genetically similar to ourselves.

"People prefer their own kind," says J. Philippe Rushton, a psychologist at the University of Western Ontario. "Extroverts favor extroverts; traditionalists, traditionalists."

That may not jibe with your own experience, but Rushton notes that genes are not the only players. We're not a bunch of robots that are being led around by genes that even pick our friends. Other factors, according to the researchers, play a significant role.

Rushton says our friends and our mates may also be a product of the "unique environmental effects such as being in the right place at the right time." You can't link up with an ideal mate if the two of you never meet.

Our genes, Rushton says, probably account for about a third of the reason why we pick someone else as a friend or a mate.

"But that's still pretty strong," he says. "Let's say it's a strong whisper from the genes."

Rushton, who has been researching this subject for 20 years, says clear patterns emerged from a study of hundreds of identical and fraternal twins, as well as their spouses and friends. It's no surprise that identical twins, who share 100 percent of the same genes, picked friends and mates who were very similar to those picked by their twins.

But here's the twist. Fraternal twins, who share only 50 percent of their genes, picked friends and spouses who are so much like themselves they could be their brothers and sisters. And, Rushton says, so do the rest of us. "It's almost as similar as siblings," he says. "Not quite, but almost." [More]

When thinking about how much genes drive behavior, it's often useful to think about how surprisingly different siblings can be. Don't leading men Jeff Bridges and Dennis Quaid seem more like they would be brothers to each other than to their own real brothers, character actors Beau Bridges and Randy Quaid respectively?

So, it's not really that amazing that best friends and spouses are as much alike as siblings, since siblings aren't anywhere near as similar as identical twins are.

Of course, spouses need to be different on some dimensions, otherwise you won't get much sexual attraction. Very few people are narcissists. (That's why homosexual relationships tend to run out of steam faster than heterosexual relationships.)

One model might be to distinguish between sexual/romantic attraction, which is driven more by differences; and social attraction, which is driven by similarities. The top advice columnists in the US, the identical twin sisters Ann Landers and Dear Abby, recommended looking for somebody to marry who was from a similar social background as you, but had a different personality.

Somewhat similarly, friends typically need a few differences for a particularly good relationship so that they are complementary, with some synergy to their pairing.

One of the most interesting things I've heard from twin expert Nancy Segal is that identical twins seldom fall in love with the same person. Typically, they approve of their twin's choice, but don't share the passion.

On the plus side of Ruston's genetic similarity theory, I've noticed quite a few times that mentor-protégé pairs in business often look highly similar. For example, Robert Redford helped launch Brad Pitt's career in A River Runs Through It, in which director Redford had Pitt made up to look just like him as a young man. Here's my review of their second movie together, Spy Game, in which I discuss Rushton's theory.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

August 10, 2005

In the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave

The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

Beleaguered [baseball] talk-show host Larry Krueger has lost his job at KNBR -- and two other station employees also were fired late Tuesday night.

Longtime program director Bob Agnew and Tony Rhein, the producer of KNBR's morning show, were let go by the station...

On "Sportsphone 680" last Wednesday night, Krueger made reference to the [San Francisco] Giants' "brain-dead Caribbean hitters hacking at slop nightly." That led to Krueger getting a suspension that was due to end this Monday.

Giants manager Felipe Alou refused to accept an apology from Krueger. Alou appeared on ESPN's "Outside the Lines" program Monday night and called Krueger "this messenger of Satan, as I call this guy now. ... And I believe there is no forgiveness for Satan."

On Tuesday morning, KNBR aired Alou's sound bite from "Outside the Lines" and then parodied it with Satan references from the Comedy Central show "South Park."

That apparently was the impetus for Rhein's dismissal -- and might have had something to do with the termination of Agnew, who had been with KNBR since 1989.

"The segment, featuring inappropriate comedy sound bites," [KNBR executive] Salvadore wrote in the statement, "demonstrated an utter lack of regard for the sensitivity of the issues involved and a premeditated intent to ridicule Felipe Alou's commentary."

So, the next time somebody calls you a "messenger of Satan," don't laugh. Be sensitive ... Be very sensitive.

This is all a by-product of the Barry Bonds steroid scandal. The Giants are imploding this season because Bonds, who four years ago, in his late thirties, suddenly became the most awesome hitter in the history of baseball, has been claiming to be injured all year to avoid winding up busted like steroid-cheat Rafael Palmeiro.

But don't feel sorry for St. Felipe. Alou took the Giants' managerial job in 2003 knowing perfectly well that Bonds was juiced to the max. With Bonds posting absurd statistics, Alou looked like a managerial genius, winning 100 games in 2003 and 91 in 2004. But this year, with no Bonds, they are on track to win only 69, and Alou has to resort to playing the race card, literally demonizing his media critics, and having them fired.

Alou may well have known that his meal ticket was a racist creep as well. Retired slugger Rick Kittle asked Bonds to sign some jerseys for a charity event. According to Kittle, Bonds replied, "I don't sign for white people."

Bonds denounced Kittle's story, saying, "I was married to a woman who was white, so let's get real." I believe that was his Swedish ex-wife. He tried to have his child support payments to her reduced during the 1994 baseball strike, even though he'd made $4.5 million the previous season.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The Return of the Second Panhandling Drive!

Lots of readers have asked where the Panhandling Drive went. Well, after I collected less than 2% of what Andrew Sullivan would consider an adequate fundraising campaign, automatically informed me I couldn't collect anymore for 28 days, for reasons that remain inexplicable. So, here now is a PayPal button. You don't need to have a PayPal account already to donate, just a credit card. (Or you can E-mail me and I'll send you my P.O. Box number.)

Paypal charges $0.30 per transaction and 2.9% of the total, so I only get to keep $0.41 of a $1 donation, but $96.80 of a $100 donation!

I recently listed six extensive statistical analyses I did over the last year that uncovered new facts (that John F. Kerry's IQ was likely George W. Bush's IQ; that the hugely popular IQ table purporting that red states have much lower IQs than blue states was a hoax; that the Hispanic vote was both smaller and more Democratic than was widely reported; that affordable family formation drives voting by state, and that the Freakonomics abortion-cut-crime theory was bogus).

Going back farther in time, here are some of the things I've either A. accurately predicted; B. calculated or otherwise discovered by myself; or C. scooped the rest of the press about:

- In December 1992, ever before Bill Clinton was inaugurated, I wrote "A Specter Is Haunting the Clinton Presidency," predicting that sexual harassment charges by an Arkansas state employee could endanger Clinton's tenure in office.

- The gender gap in Olympic running reached its narrowest point back in 1988, and that it's been larger ever since due to better steroid testing. (In general, I was on top of the steroid story early.)

- In "Is Love Colorblind?" I showed there are striking skews among interracial married couples, with black men and Asian women in greater demand; Asian men and black women aren't happy about it.

- Lesbians and gays have remarkably few behavioral tendencies in common ("Why Lesbians Aren't Gay").

- The fundamental problem underlying the corruption and discord of the Muslim Middle East is an extraordinarily high rate of cousin marriage. Inbreeding turns each extended family into a clan, pursuing it's own welfare at the expense of the nation.

- The biggest reason whites and blacks get along better in the military than in the rest of society is because the military won't take low IQ applicants, so black and white average IQ scores are fairly similar in the military.

- Sexual selection (rich dark men marrying fair women) keeps whites on top in Latin America after almost 500 years of interracial marriage ("How Latino Intermarriage Breeds Racial Inequality")

- The most useful definition of a racial group is "a partly inbred extended family" ("It's All Relative: Putting Race in it's Proper Perspective").

- There are practical ways to "Help the Left Half of the Bell Curve."

- In 2000, Bush carried the 19 states with the highest white fertility rate.

- Contrary to all Karl Rove's hype, in 2000 I explained that "The GOP's Future Depends on White Vote."

- That blacks tend to have better improvisatory cognitive skills than whites do in areas that IQ tests can't measure ("Great Black Hopes")

- That immigration increases inequality.

- That white liberals have lower birthrates than white conservatives ("Will Liberals Become Extinct")

- "Immigration Is Retarding the Spread of Interracial Marriage" -- In California, native-born Americans are three times as likely as immigrants to have a spouse from a different race.

- From 2000, "Will Vicente Fox Be Bush's Yeltsin?"

- When the Human Genome Project honchos told us they had proved race doesn't exist, they were just yanking our chains.

- George H.W. Bush was wise not to push on to conquer Baghdad in 1991.

- The Bush family has had decades of close contacts with corrupt Mexican politicos.

- Blacks are imprisoned 9.1 times more than whites and Hispanics 3.7 times more.

- On the evening of 9/11, I wrote "Bush Called for Laxer Airport Security," pointing out that, in pursuit of the Arab / Muslim vote in 2000, Bush had promised to eliminate ethnic profiling of Arab airline passengers and get rid of the use of secret evidence in terrorism prosecutions.

- In late September 2001, before the Afghan war began, I wrote a long essay on "The Man Who Would Be King" to demonstrate that the U.S. would win easily in Afghanistan but then find nation-building extremely difficult.

- The problem with polygamy that everyone forgets about is that for every man with four wives there are three bachelors left over.

- African Americans are 17-18% white and Mexicans are about 5% black.

- Mass immigration makes affirmative action more costly to individual whites by lowering the "racial ratio" of those damaged by quotas to those benefited.

- "1986 Amnesty Set off a Baby Boom among Ex-Illegals"

- The Bush Administration's briefs (as rewritten by Alberto Gonzales) would signal Justice O'Connor to vote for endorsing racial quotas in the U. of Michigan case.

- Genghis Khan was the world's greatest lover.

- Annika Sorenstam would miss the cut in her men's tournament by four strokes.

- In February 2003, I predicted that the woman golfer most likely to be competitive with top men golfers would not be Annika Sorenstam, but instead a 13-year-old named Michelle Wie.

- A week into the 2003 Iraq invasion, I asked, "Why no dancing in the streets of Iraq?"

- Jews and Muslims each make up 0.3%, and atheists 0.1% of the U.S. Armed Forces, according to dog tag markings of each soldier's religion.

- The number of black pro golfers has declined sharply over the last two decades because of the decline in the number of black caddies.

- The exit poll aggregation software crashed on Election Night 2002, so nobody knew what the demographics of the midterm elections were until I purchased the raw data and crunched it in a series of articles.

- I coined the phrase "Invade the World! Invite the World!" to describe the Bush Administration's contradictory foreign and immigration policies.

- The War Nerd.

- Oscar winners give 40 times more money to Democrats than to Republicans.

- Dynasticism is on the rebound around the world (2000 version) and (2003 version)

- The NAEP test score gap for American-born Hispanics versus whites is 2/3rds as large as the notoriously troublesome black-white gap.

- That micronutrient fortification would be a cost-effective way to raise Third World IQs.

- Regarding the Larry Summers brouhaha, the percent of female Nobel Laureates in the hard sciences has dropped from 2.5% in 1901-1964 to 2.3% in 1965-2004.

- That the fundamental problem of African-American culture (low paternal investment in children) also is the fundamental problem of African culture.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

August 9, 2005

African Family Values

As the mainstream media in America have lost interest in Africa over the decades, Christian journals and websites have become one of the rare sources of information on daily life on the continent. The biggest single fact about life in Africa that the press doesn't want to tell you is that women do most of the work in Africa.

Where Are the Men?
Overseas humanitarian groups target women, and for good reason. But it isn't enough.
by Tim Stafford

Christianity Today, August 2005

wenty-five years ago in Kenya, I saw the male-female divide on public display. Beside a rural road, a woman struggled uphill, bent under a towering load of firewood. Just behind, her husband marched tall and proud, carrying only his walking stick.

My wife, Popie, and I saw this so often, we stopped commenting on it. Rural African women, we learned, worked incredibly hard, barely pausing from their daily labors to give birth to children. Girls and young women joined in seamlessly, caring for younger children and helping with endless chores. For rural men, the situation varied. Some left the farm for urban areas, looking for work and returning at intervals to their wives and families. Others stayed home and occupied themselves with "men's work," which included caring for animals. In many cases, however, the farms had been cut too small to give the men meaningful employment. At the nearest crossroads, you could find them sitting in a small group, talking, drinking, or just staring.

We couldn't help noticing that the women seemed generally happier than the men, even though they had the short end of the stick. Hefting their burdens or bent over in the fields, they worked in groups, chatting together, sometimes laughing. The idle men seemed bored and depressed, alienated and isolated. Alcohol plagued many. I came up with this summary: "Women are oppressed; men are depressed."

Overseas humanitarian agencies have done a marvelous job of dealing with the first issue. But they are the first to acknowledge that the second is a continuing and serious obstacle to development. [More]

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

August 8, 2005

NCAA bans basketball teams with Indian tribe names from March tournament:

Even though the Florida State Seminoles have the permission of the Seminole tribe of Florida for use of their name, they couldn't participate in the March Madness tournament under that name. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are, no doubt, a-ok, because, well, you know, just because...

Back in 2001, I suggested a "A win-win solution to Indian team name disputes."

The current firestorm over whether the University of North Dakota should drop their sports teams' nickname of the Fighting Sioux is neither the first nor likely to be the last such dispute. There are a roughly estimated 2,000 schools using Indian names, providing endless opportunities for racial activists.

Yet, are Indian nicknames truly racist and demeaning? After all, schools don't name their sports teams after things they hold in contempt. For example, the U. of North Dakota chose Fighting Sioux in 1930 to lord it over the North Dakota State Bison.

Protestors often ask, "Think how shocking it would be if some school chose in 1930 to call its teams the Negroes or the Coloreds!" Indeed, it would be shocking to find such a school, precisely because anti-black racism was once so monolithic. There are no American schools that cheer for the Fighting Fulanis or Mighty Zulus. This was not because whites used to respect blacks, but because they used to publicly despise them.

In contrast, whites always held profoundly mixed emotions about American Indians. Settlers wanted to grab the Indian's land, but they were also impressed by how bravely the Indians resisted. Ultimately, the white man required 305 years - from Sir Walter Raleigh's founding of the ill-fated Roanoke colony in 1585 to the closing of the frontier in 1890 - to steal America from the red man.

"One drop of black blood" made a part white-part black person subject to enslavement or, later, Jim Crow. In contrast, millions of Americans boasted of Indian ancestors. And so did at least one Englishman. Prime Minister Winston Churchill was publicly proud of being, according to Jerome family lore, one sixteenth Iroquois. Churchill's maternal grandmother reigned as a major high society battle-ax in New York, London, and Paris, despite being one quarter Indian. Her mixed-race heritage did not stop her from marrying off her daughter to the son of the Duke of Marlborough.

Much of the current controversy over football teams using Indian names stems from the fact that in the old days whites admired Native Americans for virtues that are now politically suspect. They respected Indians for their skills as hunters and warriors, which are not exactly the most admired occupations among the cultural establishment these days.

Early 20th century whites esteemed traditional Indian cultures for inculcating manliness, ferocity, bravery, stoicism, self-sacrifice, taciturnity, and dignity. These are exactly the qualities that make for a winning football team, so pre-WWII whites rushed to name their squads after Indian tribes.

Then, however, the feminist and civil rights revolutions introduced new social ideals. These lead to Oprah Winfrey - emotional, garrulous, glib, and shameless - becoming the prototypical modern American.

In this new cultural environment, where Bill Clinton promised to "feel your pain," American Indians, whose ancestors taught them to try not to feel even their own pain, became increasingly irrelevant. Middle class boys of two generations ago were often obsessed with learning "Indian lore." In contrast, today's boys almost never even think about Indians. Their role models are now the utter opposite - rappers, who embody the verbosity and braggadocio that Indians traditionally abhorred.

Since we pay so little attention to the real virtues of Indians anymore, it's been easy for us to invent fantasies depicting them as politically correct Noble Savages. Today, schools try to indoctrinate kids into believing that Indians were sensitive ecologists and, hilariously, feminists.

In this mental environment, nicknames like "Fighting Sioux" sound like racist stereotypes. Who could imagine a Sioux ever doing something so patriarchal and dead-white-European-male-like as fighting? (Well, Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, and George Armstrong Custer could.)

Not surprisingly, modern boys listen to this school room propaganda, assume that American Indians must have been total dweebs, and go back to listening to Master P rap about how many millions he's making.

Fortunately, the Arcadia H.S. Apaches and the White Mountain Apache tribe have shown that there can be a win-win solution to these nickname controversies, which can help generate more interest in American Indians. [More]

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

In a nutshell, why you read

From the Washington Post:

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology may be a magnet, but it's having a hard time attracting enough minorities.

Tyler Currie, whose article ["The Quest"] about the attempt of eighth-graders Miguel Bustamante and Kiara Savage to gain admittance to Virginia's most prestigious public school appeared in yesterday's Washington Post Magazine , was online Monday, Aug. 8 to field questions and comments.

Tyler Currie is a Magazine contributing writer...

[A Reader in] Washington, D.C.:
Regarding the achievement gap, which you call a "vexing problem" the source of which is elusive, do you ever consider that average IQs in different ethnic groups might differ?; This possible explanation is never touched upon in places like the Washington Post. Yet, if it is true (and I don't know whether it is or not), it has a crucial implication. Namely, that there will never be exactly proportional representation of each ethnicity at a high-achieving school like TJ, absent lower standards based on race. Shouldn't you at least consider (and write about) this possibility?

Tyler Currie:

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

"Brain dead Caribbean hitters hacking at slop nightly"

ranted Bay Area sports radio talkshow host Larry Krueger about why the San Francisco Giants are playing poorly this year. He also said 70-year-old manager Felipe Alou had a brain "had turned to Cream of Wheat." For his "racist" and "ageist" comments, he was promptly suspended (although nobody could explain what race "Caribbean" players are). Manager Felipe Alou refused to accept Krueger's apology and continues to demand that he be fired.

Personally, I think the Giants are so much worse this year because Barry Bonds hasn't been coming through in clutch situations. Or in unclutch situations, for that matter, since Bonds hasn't played all year. Last season, at the implausible age of 39, Bonds had the highest single year OPS statistic (on-base percentage plus slugging average) in the history of baseball. In 2005, he's having his knee tinkered with as he tries to lay low out of the glare of the steroid scandal.

But what about Krueger's charge that the Giants are swinging at bad pitches? Is it true? Well, the Giants are 15th out of 16 teams in the National League in number of walks, and 12th in on-base percentage, so the charge has some prima facie merit. Last year, the Giants led the league in walks with 705, but that was mostly because Bonds set the all time record with 232, which was 33 percent of the entire 25-man team's walks.

On the other hand, this year on the Giants, the Hispanics are doing badly at getting walks, but the Anglo (white and black) players are even worse. Among the Giants with 100 plate appearances, the Hispanics are taking walks 8.2% of the time and the Anglos 7.7% of the time. So, Krueger may be off base talking about the Giants in 2005, although he's watching the team every day, and I'm not.

Nonetheless, the easiest way to get people mad at you is by telling the truth, and the unhinged response to Krueger's "gaffe" stems from the fact that Latin players have long benefited from what I called "Baseball's Hidden Ethnic Bias." In my 2003 article, I pointed out that because baseball executives long didn't understand the run-producing value of walks, "the Anglo white-dominated baseball establishment had actually tended for decades to discriminate irrationally against Americans and in favor of more free-swinging Latin hitters, who on average weren't quite as productive as their batting averages indicated."

This bias has been mitigated somewhat by the recent rise of Bill James-inspired general managers who correctly emphasize on-base percentage over batting average, like Billy Beane of the Oakland Athletics and J.P. Ricciardi of the Toronto Blue Jays (who was criticized for dumping highly paid Latin players like the Raul Mondesi and signing cheaper American whites who were better at getting on base). I pointed out:

Although they are slowly improving, Hispanic players are on average less likely to accept walks than whites or African-Americans. "It's not easy for a Latin player to take 100 walks," said Sammy Sosa early in his famous 1998 season.

In 2002, Hispanics had a combined batting average of .264, while everyone else together hit .260. On the other hand, the Hispanic "walk average" was 0.060, while the non-Hispanics' bases on balls ratio was 0.069, a significant 14 percent higher, leaving the non-Latinos with a five point better on-base percentage.

The patience gap has declined somewhat, from 16 percent in 1992 and 19 percent in 1982, probably because Latinos have largely closed the power gap. Twenty years ago, non-Hispanics hit home runs 42 percent more often than Hispanics, but that difference was only 4 percent last year. [More]

Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen weighed in, demanding Krueger be punished more. Guillen is particularly sensitive about aspersions on Caribbean players' plate discipline because he himself was famously bad at laying off pitches out of the strike zone. His career on-base percentage was a terrible .287.

The San Francisco Giants were the first big league team to seriously tap the mother lode of baseball talent, the sugar cane fields of the eastern Dominican Republic, where black immigrants from Jamaica settled a few generations ago. Besides Hall-of-Famer Juan Marichal, the Giants featured the first all brother outfield in history in 1963, with Felipe (now the manager), Matty, and Jesus Alou.

All three Alou brothers exhibited poor plate discipline. In a combined 47 seasons in the big leagues, none of them ever managed to get 50 walks in one season. Still, Felipe was a good hitter, with some power, and Matty put up gaudy enough batting averages to make up for his lack of homers and lack of walks.

But the only reason Jesus Alou could have stuck around for 15 seasons was because general managers back then evaluated players more by their batting averages (Jesus had a solid-looking career average of .280) and "how they looked in a uniform" rather than their on-base percentage (Jose had an awful .305) and slugging average (a lousy .353 for Jose, who was a slower than average outfielder and miserable base stealer), which dysfunctionally favored Latin ballplayers.

At 6'-2" and 195, Jesus looked like a terrific baseball player, but for his career, he was only 87% as good as the average hitter, which makes him, among below-average fielders, one of the worst hitters to hang around for 15 years. Today, Billy Beane of Oakland would have immediately traded Jesus for a pudgy-looking college educated white ballplayer who could refrain from swinging at bad pitches.

(Felipe's son Moises is playing for his father this season at age 38, and he remains a strong hitter. Moises' plate discipline is better than that of the previous generation of Alous, although it's not great for a power hitter. Moises peaked at 84 walks when he hit 38 homers in 2000.)

A reader writes:

It's the "John Rocker" incident of the this decade, but it's getting surprisingly little play outside of Northern California.

Bay Area sportscaster Larry Krueger made the above-referenced comments about Latino baseball players with low batting averages and on-base percentages due to poor judgment about the strike zone.

Felipe Alou, manager of the Giants, and his son Moises have declared an ethnic "no fly" zone over KNBR, the Giants flagship station that employs Krueger - so already the crawling has started, the apologies that aren't being accepted and the usual sort of thing that inevitably follows an incident like this.

And truth to tell, Krueger's comments certainly indicate a lack of discretion on his part. He might have made the same point with less inflammatory language. But he also must have the balls of a burglar to say such things in the Bay Area.

But while liberals had a field day with Rocker, I imagine that the relative obscurity about this story is the ultra-liberal SF Bay Area deciding "This doesn't happen in OUR family" and waiting for the story to go away. Then too, Rocker was a ballplayer and Krueger is himself a member of the media. The news media inevitably protects its own to a greater extent than it protects those whom they cover.

And like Rocker's comments, Krueger's have more than a little grain of truth to them. I don't think that there's much doubt that if one examined the ratio of walks per plate appearances of Latino versus non-Latino ballplayers, you'd see the Latino ballplayers drawing noticeably fewer walks. Observers of the game - in both the Caribbean leagues and the American major leagues - have politely noted this for some time.

It's said that Latino hitters are free swingers because they are anxious to impress major league scouts with their hitting prowess. The expression is, "You can't walk your way off the island".

But I'm not so sure. I imagine that major league scouts are savvy enough to appreciate a smart hitter who displays patience at the plate, draws his share of walks, and fattens his on-base percentage.

I imagine that the reason why Latino ballplayers swing the bat so readily is more due to the flamboyance with which Latino culture displays itself. Manny Sanguillen, a very good-hitting All Star catcher for the Pirates during the 1970's, was once asked why he ALWAYS swung at the first pitch, and he replied happily, "Because it makes me feel good".

Obviously, there have been some great Latino bad-ball hitters (Roberto Clemente possibly being the best example from the past), just as there have been some great non-Latino bad-ball hitters (Yogi Berra).

But mediocre hitters of all backgrounds (there's a reason why .220 is referred to as the "Mendoza line"; that expression was coined after good-hit, no field shortstop, Mario Mendoza) could probably use a little more patience at home plate.

But I don't imagine that any of this is going to be discussed intelligently now that the latest auto de fe has started.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

August 7, 2005

"The Left Doesn't Like Darwin Either"

"The Left Doesn't Like Darwin Either" is my new column.

"Selection" remains the most underexploited concept in American intellectual life. It has applications far beyond biology.

Conservatives intellectually disarm themselves when they let distaste for Darwinism cause them to ignore the explanatory power of selection.

Of course, what most people are interested in is the religious controversy over Darwinism. I'm not going to end that dispute, but please allow me to explain why it's not as dire an issue as most of the participants on either side assume. Neither stance logically rules out thinking in selectionist terms.

Consider this: When your doctor prescribes a ten-day course of antibiotics to you, he insists you take all ten days worth of pills, even if you feel fine after two days.

This logic is derived directly from Darwin's theory of natural selection. If you only take two days of antibiotics, you are likely to kill just the bacteria most vulnerable to the medicine and leave alive the most antibiotic-resistant germs. If you keep doing that, you may accidentally create a new version of the bacteria that can't be killed by the antibiotic.

The good news is that there are no Creationists so dogmatic that they preach taking only two days worth of penicillin on the grounds that Darwin must have been wrong. Indeed, the logic of natural selection is widely recognized to be virtually tautological.

Darwin seems to lose out with the public primarily when his supporters force him into a mano-a-mano Thunderdome death match against the Almighty. Most people seem willing to accept Darwinism as long as they don't have to believe in nothing but Darwinism. Thus, the strident tub-thumping for absolute atheism by evolutionary biologists like Richard Dawkins, whom the new issue of Discover Magazine rightly criticizes as "Darwin's Rottweiler," is self-defeating.

Instead, what excites vast controversy is the issue of whether Darwinian selection explains everything. Nobody doubts that selection explains the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and much else. But many doubt it can explain every single feature we see about us. Biologists, in contrast, typically assert that Darwinism can explain all of life, with no need for any miraculous interventions.

So is the natural selection glass 100 percent full or just 99 percent full—with the occasional miracle necessary to fully account for the wonder of life as we know it?

Strikingly, that question appears to be fundamentally unanswerable by scientific methods. Although the theory of natural selection has been vastly useful in understanding the biological world, nobody has a time machine to go back and check every possible moment in the history of life on Earth.

The biologists' assumption that no miracles are needed to explain the universe is itself a form of faith.

Interestingly, the concept of a miracle is far less inimical to science than many biologists assume. As science fiction novelist Jerry Pournelle pointed out to me, a miracle is, by definition, an exception that proves the rule. So, a belief in miracles, unlike a belief in magic, presupposes a belief in natural laws, which is a necessary condition for science.

Thus, Christendom could develop modern science, while China could not. Historian S.A.M. Adshead of New Zealand wrote a fascinating little book full of aphorisms called China in World History. He noted that the medieval Chinese focused on magic and technology while the Europeans concentrated on theology and science. Early on, the Chinese profited more from their seemingly more practical approach, but in the long run, the Western approach proved best.

Yet what critics of Darwinism fail to understand is that this a priori dislike of miracles is the appropriate professional prejudice of biologists. The Sidney Harris cartoon summed it up. A lab-coated researcher is filling the left and right sides of a black board with equations, but the only thing connecting the two clouds of symbols are the words, "Then a miracle occurs." Another scientist suggests, "I think you should be more explicit here in step two." Relying on miracles in science is like relying on the lottery in retirement planning.

Different professions require different professional prejudices. If you should ever need a defense attorney, you would want him to follow his trade's ethic of battling to have you acquitted even if he assumed you were guilty. Judging you is not his job. Yet we wouldn't want judges to think that way.

Similarly, biologists will be more productive if they don't just throw their hands up and declare a miracle when faced with something they can't yet explain.

But the problem comes when biologists try to inflate this useful professional prejudice into the primary principle of the cosmos. Indeed, evolutionary biologists’ views on religion tend to be positively sophomoric compared to those of physicists and astronomers.

This is because cosmologists have learned humility the hard way. They were twice burned badly in the 20th Century, when their smug atheistic assumptions about the nature of the universe—that what we can see is all there is and all there ever was—turned out to be radically wrong.

Consider two of the most scientifically fruitful theories in 20th Century cosmology—the Big Bang and the Anthropic Principle of Intelligent Design. [More]

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

How could steroid-cheater Rafael Palmeiro have lied so confidently to Congress?

That's a question many are asking, but the answer might be staring us directly in the face: the first baseman was juiced. Although anabolic steroids are less masculinizing than natural testosterone, they still often have virilizing side effects, one of which can be increased self-confidence. Steroid users seem to be above average liars, perhaps because steroids boost the user's masculine arrogance.

In contrast, retired slugger Mark McGwire's demeanor during the Congressional hearings was widely derided as "pathetic." McGwire, who now devotes his time to golf (a sport that doesn't require as much raw muscle as hitting 70 homers), has lost about 50 pounds since his retirement from baseball, suggesting he has discontinued steroid use. Perhaps not being on the juice anymore is why McGwire's appearance seemed so much less convincing than Palmeiro's?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

NeoconGate Update

The 26 page indictment of the two officials of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee is now online here. It makes interesting reading because lots of the other players involved in what prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald calls a "conspiracy" as described in 57 "overt acts" going back to 1999 are rendered in codenames. Who, for example, does this refer?

"On or about March 13, 2003, Rosen disclosed to a senior fellow at a Washington D.C. think tank the information relating to a draft internal policy document concerning a Middle Eastern country and the internal deliberations of United States government officials that had been provided to Rosen by Franklin. Rosen disclosed details from the document and encouraged the official to use his contacts to investigate further. The senior fellow advised Rosen that he would follow up and see what he could do."

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Is John Podhoretz the American Ali G?

As you probably know, Ali G is a character who interacts with famous people, asking them idiotic questions (e.g., he inquired of Pat Buchanan whether any BLTs had been found in Iraq).

A reader writes:

"I'm wondering if your mockery of John Podhoretz has been unfounded. I had stopped reading NRO a year or so ago because it was a little bit predictable, but since you highlighted Pod's attempt to criticize John Derbyshire, the Corner has become essential reading. Every week John Podhoretz will attempt to argue with a different member of their team. Because he is one of them, they can't just ignore him, they have to engage with him. And so they gradually get more and more frustrated as he doesn't understand their points. He's like an.American Ali G.

For example, there was Andrew Stuttaford, and this week Ramesh Ponnuru was reduced to communicating as if he's telling off a slightly backwards child:

"I'm not upset, but I do have better things to do. The reason I keep noting the fact that I have not made various points is that you keep erroneously attributing these points to me. Knock it off."

Perhaps, but maybe JPod is the anti-Ali G. The comedian Sacha Baron Cohen who plays the moronic Pakistani wigger Ali G is actually a member of a brilliant British Jewish family (his cousin Simon Baron-Cohen is an important autism researcher). In contrast, perhaps John Podhoretz plays being a member of brilliant American Jewish family, but actually is a moron.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Did Marilyn Monroe really kill herself?

John Houston, the director of her last completed movie "The Misfits," argued that she didn't intend to commit suicide, and that she wasn't murdered either. It was just an accident.

An enormous mythology has grown up around her over the years, with vast efforts put into turning her life and death into a symbol of this or that, but Marilyn suffered from a combination of mundane problems that might well have proved deadly.

- The movie industry works on a surprisingly early schedule, with stars needing to be getting their make-up put on not long after dawn.

- Marilyn needed her beauty sleep. Especially as she got older, if she didn't get a full night's sleep she didn't look her radiant best.

- She was highly emotional (as almost all top female stars are, and Marilyn was the greatest ever) and this contributed to her insomnia. And the less sleep she got, the more she worried about not getting enough sleep, and the less likely she was to get to sleep.

- So, she took a lot of pills to try to fall asleep. Over time, the recommended dose of barbiturate had less and less effect. So, she'd take some more. And then some more. But the more barbiturates she took the harder it was to remember how many she'd already taken.

Huston believed that on the fatal night she probably just kept popping pills while in a daze. With the better sleeping pills that exist now, she might well be still alive.

Huston himself was a wreck during the filming of "The Misfits," staying up all night gambling in Reno and falling asleep during the shoots. Monroe and co-star Montgomery Clift were dealing with their pill problems. The only thing saving the movie is Clark Gable's last performance. He'd cut back on the Scotch and looked great.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

"Affordable Family Formation" and "Sailer Strategy" at work in Australia:

Continuing's recent All Australia All the Time theme, I see, thanks to Jack Strocchi, that Tim Colbatch reported in the Sydney Morning Herald last November that much the same process that is dividing the US map up into red and blue is at work in Australia:

New Political Divide Is All About Values:

A new divide is reshaping Australians' political loyalties. Analysis of voting shifts, booth by booth throughout Victoria, reveals that a cultural divide is growing alongside the income divide that traditionally dictates our votes - and, increasingly, is overshadowing it.

In the past six years, many elite suburbs and coastal areas have moved towards Labor [the left party]. The middle and outer suburbs have gone towards the Liberals [the right party].

From its high watermark in 1998, when it won its second-best vote in Victoria for 50 years, Labor has slid from 53.5 per cent of the two-party vote to 49 per cent, a swing to the Coalition [right] of 4.5 per cent.

Yet at scores of polling booths, voters generated swings of more than 10 per cent - while at other booths, Labor was polling even better in 2004 than in 1998.

The new divide is based on values rather than incomes. "Australia is dividing between the cultural elite on one side and middle Australia and everyone else on the other," says social analyst Bernard Salt, a partner at KPMG and author of The Big Shift.

Educated insiders living close to the city are increasingly Labor-oriented, while the outsiders living in middle and outer suburbs are increasingly Liberal-oriented...

Take Melbourne, one of just three seats where Labor did better this time than in 1998. Within two kilometres of each other, two booths swung in wildly different directions. Voters in the booth under Richmond's housing commission flats gave the Liberals a combined swing in 2001 and 2004 of 12 per cent. But over Punt Road and up a dozen income levels, East Melbourne residents voted Labor, with a swing almost as large.

Educated insiders living close to the city are increasingly Labor-oriented." Take Batman in the northern suburbs. Almost all the booths in inner-suburban Northcote swung to Labor or held fairly steady, yet in Reservoir the swings to the Coalition ran as high as 13 per cent.

Similarly, in Maribyrnong, inner middle-class Essendon was slightly better for Labor this time than in 1998, whereas outer working-class St Albans and Sunshine were much worse.

... In outer-suburban marginals such as La Trobe, suburbs dominated by families with children and mortgages - such as Berwick, Boronia and Ferntree Gully - swung heavily to the Coalition [right]. But Sassafras and Mount Dandenong swung to Labor [left]. The analysis suggests that interest rates and the Mitcham-Frankston freeway helped draw Coalition votes, just as the GST inflated Labor's vote in 1998.

In contrast to the role born-again Christians played in US President George Bush's re-election during the week, religion seems not to have been a factor here. Analysis by Andrew Kopras of the Federal Parliamentary Library shows that the electorates with most non-believers are nearly all outer-suburban Liberal seats.

Mr Salt argues that there is a "groovy, inner-urban green culture" that identifies with Labor, even in affluent suburbs such as Middle Park, Parkville and North Fitzroy. And it has spread to coastal resorts and bushland settings by "sea-changers and tree-changers".

"You can almost draw a line around that culture a few kilometres from the city," Mr Salt says... Mr Salt said big swings to the Liberals among people on welfare were no surprise. "Even people in housing commission flats no longer see themselves as aligned to a particular class, but to the values set of middle Australia," he said. By contrast, "I think most sea-changers and tree-changers are Labor voters. These are inner-city people so they've got property wealth and green values."

While Prime Minister John Howard, now in his fourth term in office, is best known in the U.S. for his support of the Iraq Attaq, Australia's actual participation in the fighting has been prudently nugatory. Not a single Australian soldier was even injured in Iraq until October 2004, 19 months after the invasion. As far as I can tell, no Australian soldiers have yet been killed in action. Michael Duffy wrote in March:

At the peak of their commitments to Iraq, Britain had 45,000 people there and the US about 150,000. Relative to population sizes, to match this Australia should have had between 10,000 and 15,000 people in the Middle East at some point. In fact we peaked at just 2000. There are now fewer than 600 Australians serving there, to be joined next month by another 450.

Republicans in America should note that the hot issue for John Howard was cracking down on immigrant refugees. This paid off at the ballot box in recent elections. Howard has been winning on what Peter Brimelow calls the Sailer Strategy:

Michael Millett wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald in 2002:

White fringe fury feeds Labor's fall

But controversial new research suggests an even bigger issue at play, one that Labor [the left party] will struggle to overcome as long as elections are fought on anything other than conventional hip-pocket issues. It is what Melbourne academic Bob Birrell refers to as the "new political divide" of birthplace.

Birrell's thesis, outlined in a just-released article in his People and Place journal, published by the Centre for Population and Urban Research at Monash University, is that birthplace can be just as strong a voting determinant as class or educational background. Moreover, that Howard [the center-right prime minister] is winning the political war by directly targeting the white vote, that is, Australian-born voters in outer-suburban seats with a potent mix of conservative social, cultural and national security policies. Labor's inability to match the Howard pitch is costing it dearly.

Birrell points out that Labor is being forced back to its inner-city strongholds - seats with a high proportion of ethnic voters (more specifically, seats with a high concentration of voters from non-English-speaking backgrounds). At the election in November last year, Labor held 19 of the top 20 electorates in which more than 30 per cent of residents spoke a language other than English at home.

Yet these impenetrable inner-city defences do little to assist Labor out where it really counts - out there in the "white bread" marginals that fringe the major cities.

It is here, asserts Birrell, that Labor's progressive social justice agenda runs up against native-born, middle Australia conservatism. While bipartisanship protected Labor's weaker flanks during the 1980s, it was Howard's hard-edged social conservative agenda, and his attack on Labor's "global vision" that cost it the brick veneers in the late 1990s.

Howard's success lay in turning the anti-Keating movement [Keating was the last Labor prime minister] into a viable new constituency. According to Birrell, it is at its most potent in the outer-suburban marginals, where Australian-born voters are predominant. These voters have a stronger sense of national identity, are wary of immigration and multiculturalism and are most likely to criticise policies involving concessions to minority groups, such as Aborigines and migrants.

Birrell analyses voting data and the highly respected Australian Electoral Survey (AES), which attempts to gauge how the electorate votes across a whole range of criteria, to isolate this new factor. His focus is on NSW, and the mass desertion of Labor votes on the suburban fringes of Sydney.

The figures are stark. Labor dominates the New South Wales [Sydney and environs] ethnic seats, with little noticeable shift in votes there between 1993 and last year. But in the half of NSW's 50 seats where the non-English-speaking presence is low, Labor's hold is almost non-existent. It held 16 of the 25 seats in 1993. It now possesses four.

The swing against Labor on the suburban fringe has been pronounced...

Why such a big swing? For answers, Birrell looks to Mark Latham, the outspoken Labor frontbencher. From his base in Sydney's unfashionable outer-western suburbs, Latham has raised the uncomfortable notion of "white flight", caused by aspirational families fleeing troubled neighbourhoods for perceived safe havens on the city fringe.

"In most cases, the population are changing rapidly due to movement into the areas, overwhelmingly from Australian-born and mainly-English-speaking-born persons moving from elsewhere in Sydney," Birrell writes. "They could well include some of Mark Latham's aspirational voters - voters with enough capital to afford a new dwelling 50 kilometres or more from the centre of Sydney. Latham hypothesises that such people do not want the troubles of other areas to follow them to the fringe.

"Given the attention paid in Sydney to social tensions associated with the city's changing migrant population, it could well be that these people would be especially susceptible to negative messages about Labor's social and cultural vision."

It is obvious that Howard's security message also resounds strongly here. Nationalist sentiment - embodied in Howard's declaration that "we decide who comes here" - was at the heart of the Coalition's response to the Tampa and its strong border protection policy at the last election.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer