September 24, 2005

New Orleans v. Bombay

A reader writes:

Many have blamed the looting and violence in New Orleans on poverty, racism, and neglect.

Major recent flooding in the Indian city of Bombay (population about 18 million) lead to severe consequences for the city. Over 1000 people were killed, parts of the city were destroyed, and the government was unable to handle the situation effectively. It's interesting to note that according to the Bombay police, there were no reports of looting or violence. Personal accounts from city residents, foreign travelers, and media reporters also indicate there was no lawlessness - even with all the opportunities that existed in the chaotic situation. City residents actually worked together to provide humanitarian assistance, businessmen handed out free food, slum dwellers and even criminals rescued people, and some provided strangers with a place to stay.

By most measures (poverty, economic inequality, access to education and healthcare, discrimination [i.e., the caste system]) the average poor person in Bombay is vastly much worse off than the average poor person in New Olreans. Yet one city's residents acted like the Japanese and the other city's residents acted like Haitians. It seems to me that the exemplary behavior of the residents of Bombay should disprove the theory that poverty and discrimination lead to lawlessness.

Yahoo News reported:

In New Orleans there was shooting and looting when the floods came last week. When a similar inundation struck India's financial capital Mumbai a month earlier, there was no violence, just free wada-pav bread...

Mumbai police commissioner A.N. Roy confirmed there were no cases of looting, arson or violence when the floods hit. "Even stray cases of robbery were not heard or reported," he said.

Mumbai has nearly 20 million residents. New Orleans had about 500,000.

In case you are wondering, "Mumbai" is the new way to spell "Bombay" that was invented by The People in Charge of Confusing You.

A reader writes:

That account was absolutely accurate by the way. My sister lives in Bombay currently. And she could have corroborated the facts. She was actually quite shocked when she saw the footage of rioting in New Orleans and all the stories about rapes and looting.

Another reader writes:

The scale of the Great Katrina Cover-Up is just dawning on me. (I'm a little slow on the uptake. My mother always said so) ...

What a peculiar thing. Everybody seems to know all about this, yet the public culture is silent. See no black anarchy; hear no black anarchy; say no black anarchy. Amazing, amazing. A complete flight from reality.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The new "Bad Bet" service!

I was thinking some more about the column John Tierney wrote on the NYT op-ed page in which he announced he had made a $5,000 bet with the Matthew Simmons, author of a new doom-and-gloom book on oil prices, that oil would not average at least $200 per barrel in 2010. At the time, I asked, obtusely:

How come Tierney finds these suckers and I don't? I tried to bet Michael Barone $1,000 last year that Hispanic turnout would be closer to my estimate of 6.1% of the total vote than his 9% speculation (according to the Census Bureau, it was 6.0%), but Barone prudently shied away.

What I realize now is that the author of the book was simply buying a NYT op-ed column (back when they were given away free on the Internet) and the attendant publicity for $5,000. When promoting a book, there's no such thing as bad publicity as long as they spell your name right. I wouldn't be surprised if Mr. Simmons has already made back his five grand in speaker's fees.

So, the closing of the NYT op-ed pages to nonsubscribers opens up a market niche for me to exploit. Please allow me to introduce the "Bogus Bad Bet" service. The concept is simple and open to anybody with something to promote. All you do is make up a bet with the odds ridiculously in my favor, I will take your bet, give our wager lots of publicity, and, eventually, collect your money. All on the up-and-up!

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

September 23, 2005

Dept. of Now-They-Tell-Us:

A new cost-benefit analysis by the AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies on "The Economic Costs of the War in Iraq" concludes that the Iraq War is likely to end up costing over twice what it's worth:

We estimate that the expected total net present value of the direct costs [of the Iraq War] through 2015 could be $604 billion to the U.S., $95 billion to coalition partners, and $306 billion to Iraq, suggesting a global total expected net present value of about $1 trillion. The net present value of total avoided costs, meanwhile, could be about $429 billion.

So far, the calculus is even worse: $428 billion in costs versus $116 billion in benefits.

The authors are Scott Wallsten, Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and Katrina Kosec, Research Associate at the AEI-Brookings Joint Center.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Jodie Jodie Jodie

My wife watched Jodie Foster promoting "Flight Plan" on Leno tonight and she said the highlight was when the super-achiever -- child prodigy, Yale honors grad, double Oscar-winner, and would-be portrayer of Leni Riefenstahl -- announced that she plays Candyland and Chutes and Ladders with her children, but never lets them win because she wants to win. If her kids don't want to play by the rules, they should just play a different game.

As I've mentioned before, according to the British press, Jodie spent a lot of time searching for the perfect sperm donor dad for her two children, so she presumably has high expectations.

That reminded me of a spec script I wrote in 2000 for an animated sit-com on the WB Network called "Baby Blues," based on the popular comic strip about the young MacPherson family of Darryl, Wanda, and Baby Zoe. It was kind of an imitation "Simpsons" (not that that's a bad thing to imitate). My spec script, however, came out sounding a lot like "Family Guy," with lots of "pop-out" jokes and even a talking baby. But the producers thought it promising enough that they paid me union scale (i.e., a king's ransom by the standards of an opinion journalist) to write another script for real. (But then the show got canceled so my screenplay never got produced.)

Here's the opening from my spec script. I realize it's hard to read scripts for a show that, judging from its Nielsen rating, you almost certainly never saw and won't know who the characters are..., but, who knows, you might find it amusing:

act one

fade in:

Ext. the Macphersons' street - Day (Early Thursday Evening)

Wanda (the mom) pushes little Zoe's baby carriage. Across the street, Sylvia (the butch lesbian neighbor) is hitting infield practice to Midge (her femme girlfriend) on their front lawn.


Hi, Sylvia, hi, Midge.

Wanda stops in front of Josie's yard to play with Baby Zoe's cartoon toes.


(TO ZOE) Let's count Zoe's toe-ies!



Distracted by Baby Zoe, a grounder hits (femme lesbian) Midge on the shin. She stares at the softball sadly.


Sylvia, is fielding grounders all I'm ever gonna do?


No way. You also need work on your pop flies.

Angle: Wanda and zoe

Multiple close-ups: each of zoe's cartoon toes (in turn)

We focus on each toe as wanda says the appropriate line.


This little piggy went to market, this little piggy stayed home …

Zoe giggles with increasing excitement. Bizzy (their teenage babysitter) skates up.


Hi, MacMom.


This little piggy had roast beef, and (BUILDING TO A CLIMAX AS ZOE SQUEALS IN DELIGHT) this little piggy had NONE!

PAN BACK TO SHOW Wanda's four-fingered Cartoon hand wiggling the fourth of zoe's four Cartoon TOES


Zoe's expression falls, and she bursts into tears.


I always thought it ended on a downer, too.

wanda stares, puzzled. Zoe continues crying.

Another grounder gets by a listless Midge and bangs into Zoe's stroller.




Oh, Zoe's fine. (PICKING HER UP) Here, want to hold her?

As soon as Zoe sees Midge, she stops crying and smiles preciously. Midge's mitt slides to the ground from her stunned fingers. Midge takes Zoe gingerly, but enraptured. Josie (the know-it-all rich lady on the street) emerges from her side yard, hedge clippers in hand.


You've got a way with babies, Midge.


You should have one of your own.


Well, you know …

Midge gestures at Sylvia, who is watching with arms folded. Sylvia turns and begins throwing the ball against her garage door for individual fielding practice.


You know that "Little Man Tate" movie where Jodie Foster is a single mom with a genius child?


Jodie rules! Do you think she's a --


(CONSPIRATORIALLY) Well, I heard that to become a single mom herself, Jodie hired a handsome scientist with a 160 IQ to be the father.

Angle: Wanda's wide-eyed face

Dissolve to:

chryon: "beverly hills"

Int. the nursery of an elegant mansion -- Day

music: a Haydn Symphony

A Beautiful baby of Zoe's age looks up at Jodie Foster.

Jodie Foster's Talking Baby

Oh mummy, Nanny is playing Haydn instead of Mozart. I can just feel my IQ dropping!

Jodie instantly pops in a "Mozart for Mighty Mentalities" CD. We Then hear a mozart symphony, which sounds virtually identical to the previous haydn symphony.

Both sigh with relief, then the superstar and superbaby share a cloying superlaugh.

Later in my script, after many zany hijinks, Wanda's blue-collar neighbor Melinda explains what her husband Carl, a beefy greenskeeper who intimidates Wanda's white-collar husband, did for spare cash in high school, which anticipated David Plotz's recent book The Genius Factory.


Back in high school, Carl used to mow the lawn of a famous scientist, an old geezer who mailed in a weekly contribution to this fertility clinic just for Nobel Prize winners.


I remember something about that.


Some women must want kids their kids to be real nimrods. (SHAKES HEAD) Anyway, the clinic complained that Old Doc was shooting blanks. So he hired Carl to fill his, uh, shoes.


What happened?


100% live ammo. My man's got a green thumb, he can make anything grow. Soon all the other old Nobel Prize-winners hired Carl to mail it in for them too.


Oh my gosh.


Yeah, it's not every high school boy can turn his hobby into a business. Carl was making money hand over fist. In fact, he still keeps his hand in. Recently, one of his old clients needed a favor, this handsome scientist with a 160 IQ.

push in on wanda's face:

chryon: "Beverly hills"

int. the same nursery in the elegant mansion - day

music: the same mozart symphony as earlier

Jodie Foster storms in, in the style of Faye Dunaway playing Joan Crawford in "Mommie Dearest."

Jodie foster

Why, why has it all gone so horribly wrong?

Pan down to a baby who looks just like Carl the greenskeeper, who smashes the cd player, silencing the music, with his polo mallet.

pop back to:


But, what about these women who didn't get the children they were expecting?


Who does? After you've had a passel of kids, you'll realize that who inherits what is a crapshoot. Look at Jack and Jackie Kennedy.


But JFK Jr. inherited their good looks.


So what happened to Caroline Kennedy?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

September 22, 2005

I'm just too darn optimistic

A couple of days ago, I wrote:

To take the most relevant example, approximately 70% of the black population of New Orleans got out before the levees broke. Of the 100,000 or so who were stuck, it's likely that the great majority came from the bottom half of the black population. Among the black males left in New Orleans, it would be likely that around half would end up with criminal records during their lifetimes.

Today, the AP reports:

Half Katrina Refugees Have Records
Thursday, September 22, 2005
MIDDLETOWN, R.I. — After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, federal officials flew Brian Murph and more than 100 other victims to Rhode Island. They were greeted by the governor and cheered by residents.

Then the handcuffs were placed on Murph.

State police did criminal background checks (search) on every refugee and found that more than half had a criminal arrest records — a third for felonies. Murph was the only one with an outstanding arrest warrant, for larceny and other crimes.

Around the nation, state and local authorities are checking refugees' pasts as they are welcomed into homes, schools, houses of worship and housing projects. In some states, half the refugees have rap sheets.

So, I figured half of the male survivors of New Orleans Nightmare of the days after Katrina would end up with criminal records during their lifetimes, but it appears that was an underestimate: something approaching half of the evacuees, male and female, already have criminal records.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Equinox Traffic Alert

If your local roads are laid out on a strict north-south-east-west grid, be especially careful this week while driving at sunset and sunrise because the sun can be directly in your eyes. Today it sets due West, whereas during spring and summer it sets in the northwest and during fall and winter in the southwest. Driving at sunset around the spring equinox, my mother once hit an illegally parked car that she never saw because the setting sun was shining straight down her lane.

In downtown Chicago, you get spectacular effects at sunset today with the sun shining straight down the canyon-like east-west streets, and even shining through underpasses. Commuters leaving the loop toward the west at around sunset (typically 6:43 pm on the equinox during daylight savings time) face terrible traffic jams as drivers are blinded by the sun being directly in their eyes.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

How to test Evolutionary Psychology's "Domain Specific Mental Module" Theory

My teenage son has been reading philosopher Daniel Dennett's book Consciousness Explained (I've never read it -- I'm sure it's beyond me) and we were discussing Tooby and Cosmides's theory that all sorts of different mental skills evolved rather than a general factor of intelligence (although domain specificity and the g Factor are by no means mutually exclusive). I suggested that it's hard to imagine what particular selection pressure would select for the specific skill to write Consciousness Explained, and that the enormous amount of intelligence Dennett musters to attack a problem ("Why are we conscious?") of no conceivable practical importance during the supposed Era of Evolutionary Adaptation implies that we possess, in differing degrees, a fair amount of general problem solving ability (a.k.a., the g Factor).

Turning to a specific example of hypothesized domain specificity, my son mentioned the famous evo-psych experiment called the "Wason four card decision" test. You're supposed to figure out what's on the other side of a card based on logical rules. When presented as purely a test of abstract reasoning, only about 10% of test-takers figures it out. But when it's presented as a concrete way to detect cheaters, 75% figure it out. From this, Tooby and Cosmides have hypothesized that humans have evolved a "cheater detection module" that helps make social cooperation feasible by making us very good at sniffing out and ostracizing free-riders and other cheaters.

This sounds not implausible to me, but an alternative explanation is that we're just better motivated to detect cheaters than to solve abstract problems with little human relevance. Perhaps we evolved a tendency to want to figure out who's trying to slip a fast one past us. Once on a train ride to Machu Picchu, I sat with three English tourists who were on a round-the-world tour. For two hours they discussed nothing but who among their tour group owed whom a drink. This may sound stultifying, but the level of wit that they put into their complaints of how that parsimonious ponce Percy hadn't bought a round the whole time they'd been East of Suez made it quite amusing. (An anthropologist tells me that the conversations of Bushmen bands in the Kalahari Desert sound exactly the same as the English tourist's: Hey, you borrowed my bow and arrow twice and only let me use your Coke bottle once!)

So, the question is whether people figure out the Wason card test more accurately when it's framed as a cheater detection problem because they bring into play a more intelligent problem-solving module or simply because they try harder.. Think of the difference in effort expended between doing your taxes on TurboTax (a very domain specific software program that lets you do your taxes much more easily than on Excel, but is no good for anything else) versus doing them on Excel (a very g Factor software package that lets you do virtually anything with numbers, but not necessarily easily).

One way to approach this would be to have people solve the Wason problem while undergoing a PET scan, which measures metabolic activity in the brain. If people simply burn a lot more calories in their brain when you tell them they need to do it to nail cheaters, that suggests motivation is the key. But if their heads stay cool while solving the problem, that suggests they have engaged a particularly efficient mental module. (Of course, if we do have a highly effective specific tool for detecting cheaters, why not also apply it to other problems like the abstract version of the Wason? Indeed, all the amazing stuff that people have been able to figure out even though it was unimaginable until a few generations ago -- e.g., quantum mechanics -- suggests that humans are particularly good at applying mental abilities that evolved under different conditions to new problems.)

Indeed, you might not need expensive pet scans at all, but perhaps could measure calories burnt in the brain just by measuring perspiration on the forehead, which is a proxy for brain effort (brains that are thinking hard burn a lot more calories than brains that aren't). Keep the laboratory warm and see under which scenario they sweat more.

Perhaps I'm all wrong about this question of the brain generating more heat the harder it works, but I'm highly aware of it in myself. When I start thinking hard, I start sweating from the head down, and it's rather an unpleasant feeling.

In fact, I made sure to get an Intel Centrino chip in the laptop I bought 18 months ago precisely because it generates less heat than a Pentium chip and thus is less likely to overheat my office when I'm thinking hard. The Pentium is working almost all the time, putting out a lot of heat (that's why the fan runs most of the time on your Pentium PC), but the Centrino chip hibernates when it doesn't need to do something, even between keystrokes (which is why when the fan does come on, it's frequently a sign that the PC has gotten hung up in some kind of infinite loop and a "Not Running" program needs to be shut down using the Task Manager).

For example, as I blog this, I'm barely breaking a sweat because I'm not working very hard on this because, well, I'm not getting paid for it, and I expect that readers will recognize this and put up with some rambling. On the other hand, when I'm writing a movie review, I sweat a lot (literally), because I have to make it between exactly 730 and 740 words long, I have to achieve certain tasks I set for myself -- describe the movie to someone who has never seen it, evaluate its quality, and analyze some broader social, political, or artistic issue that the movie raises -- and I have to make all those disparate parts of the essay flow from one to another in a seemingly natural and effortless manner. When I'm working hardest mentally -- such as when trying to figure out what order to put the paragraphs in an essay so they flow most easily -- my PC is typically working least hard, so now that I have a Centrino PC, we complement each other. I much less often need to turn on the air conditioner just to cool down my office, which saves a lot of money.

Bruce T. Lahn recently announced the discovery of a couple of alleles of genes related to brain development, which in defective form can cause microcephaly (pathlogically small brains). These new alleles both appear to have emerged in modern humans somewhere in Eurasia after the Out-of-Africa event, and neither is as common in Africa as in Eurasia today. They are evidently favorably mutations because they spread much more quickly than random chance would allow, at least through some parts of the world.

The following is some loose speculation, which I'm sure I'll be denounced for by all the nice people, because nothing is more disreputable these days than tossing out hypotheses about human differences, especially if the nice people feel uncomfortable reading them because they remind them of things they've vaguely noticed too.

One possible cause of Lahn's new alleles would seem to be that they might have been adaptations suited for cooler climes where the amount of heat generated by the brain was less of a limitation than in tropical Africa. Perhaps one or both of these genes simply made the brain larger (there are modest average differences in brain size among the races with East Asians averaging the largest, when adjusted for body size, Europeans in the middle, and sub-Saharan Africans smaller.)

Skull shapes seem to be related in some way to this problem of shedding or conserving heat. The Eskimos, for instance, have the most spherical skulls, which minimizes the surface area per unit of volume, thus best conserving heat.

That's why you should always wear a hat in very cold weather: because your body prioritizes blood flow to the brain to keep it within its proper temperature range. If necessary, it will allow frostbite to hit your extremities in order to keep the brain at the right temperature. In general, though, I think humans have a harder time cooling their brains than warming them, which is one reason why the invention of air conditioning has done the American South so much good economically -- AC allows hard thinking to go on 12 months of the year in a place like Houston, which was almost physically impossible before it came along.

I've noticed the Kenyan Olympic distance runners, in contrast, seems to have narrow skulls giving them a lot of surface area per unit of volume, allowing them to shed heat quickly.

Or possibly Lahn's mutations just encouraged the brain to run hotter because the chance of overheating was lower in Eurasia than in Africa. By way of analogy, the most famous marathon in the country is run in Boston in April because the cool weather allows faster times than if it were run in Atlanta in August. (It's dominated by men from the cooler highlands of east Africa, by the way, while men from the warm lowlands of west Africa concentrate on the sprints instead.)

Or maybe, paradoxically, these favorable mutations make the brain run cooler. I believe, although I could be wrong, that smarter people tend to generate less heat per unit of problem-solving cognition, just as a well-greased automobile engine is less likely to overheat per unit of work done. Indeed, Edward M. Miller proposed a decade ago that well-greased brains (i.e., with higher myelination) would tend to be smarter:

The brains of the more intelligent actually used less energy than brains of the less intelligent (Haier et al. 1988, also see Haier et al, 1992, and Haier, 1993). The problem is to explain how brains that actually use less energy function better. One possibility is that they are faster and less error prone because of more myelination. Because the myelin is chemically inactive (serving roughly the same function as the insulator on a cable), it uses very little glucose. Most energy is used in the movement of ions in and out of axons. Thus, lower energy use in the more intelligent could be merely the result of more relatively inert myelin.

Knowing zip about neurology, this struck me as pretty plausible sounding, but I haven't heard much about the theory, pro or con, ever since.

All of these hypotheses could be tested in the laboratory, using PET scans or, possibly, lower tech devices.

Brain size is perhaps related to many other important differences. For example, getting the baby's skull out the birth canal is a life-or-death problem for humans. The broader the mother's pelvic saddle, the easier this tends to be. (WWII sailors referred to women as "broads" because attractive women are wider across the hips relative to waist size than are men.) But, generally speaking, the wider the hips, the slower she is as a runner.

While west and east Africans are adapted for different running lengths (short and long distances, respectively), they both tend to have efficient strides built around having narrower hip bones. (I don't think men in Africa would have made up the slang term "broad." They might have come up with "deep" to refer to how the hips of attractive African women tend to be more pronounced in the third dimension.)

This pelvic narrowness may have something to do with why African-American appear to gestate their babies about one week less on average, which is related to the major problem African-Americans have with low-birthweight babies.

I'm not saying that all this ties together, I'm just tossing out a variety of ideas, not all of which could be true, for smarter people to think about. I do think it's likely that once we get our hands on the proper thread and start pulling, we'll find out it's connected to a wide range of racial differences.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

September 21, 2005

More on "Should we ignore the racial gap in IQ?"

A reader below argued (perhaps facetiously) that:

And, from the standpoint of elites with their ravenous appetite for human capital, it may damage the morale of the subpopulations most at risk for underachievement... The best way to see this may be to analogize the cost of civil rights [i.e., quotas] to an option premium. The premium is reasonable in relation to the potential return (fabulous untapped human capital) and the risk (we will overlook the function of time just now). If you are right Steve, we just save the premium. That would be -- disappointing to the elites at this point. They redouble the bet. Fund returns are negative at the moment but we await the convergence event.

Of course, the option payment is paid by elites using Other People's Money and Opportunities. When Harvard's Larry Summers budgets $50 million to make up for his "gaffe" in noticing that there are more superbright male than female nerds by hiring less qualified women, it's not coming out of his pocket, nor is he promising to worsen his own career chances at Harvard -- he's already the President of Harvard!

Look, the reason Harvard has quotas for women, blacks, and Hispanics is not because Harvard doesn't believe in the SAT and other objective measures of IQ-related abilities. No, they desperately want to keep using the SAT and its kin -- the "Harvard" brand name is one of the most valuable in the entire world precisely because it stands for "High IQ" -- so they are buying off with quotas the high IQ individuals in the organized pressure groups that are less represented than average in the far right tail of the Bell Curve. Harvard doesn't fear that the dumb people of America are going to get themselves organized to stamp out the SAT, but it does fear that smart women, blacks, and Hispanics could do that if they truly felt solidarity with their lower IQ comrades. So it buys them off with quotas.

Furthermore, do the American elites actually have a " ravenous appetite for human capital?" Judging from elite opinion on the wonderfulness of illegal immigration, they have a ravenous appetite for uneducated servants who won't offer them any competition. The simplest way to get more human capital into America would be to reform the legal immigration system to make it more selective. For example, instead of admitting 50,000 random people a year through the Diversity Visa Lottery, we could select the 50,000 most likely to succeed out of the 5 to 10 million who apply each year. But how much agitation have you heard among America's elites for that reform?

Nor is there much evidence that the elites preaching a message of "Yale or jail" to African-American youths has increased black human capital. Judging by the incredible increase in blacks in prison versus the relative stagnation of black SAT scores over the last 20 years, African-Americans youths are deciding that Yale is out of the question so they might as well hurry up and go to jail. No, the American elite strategy appears to have been to waste African-American human capital by encouraging blacks to shun honest jobs they could perform, which are then filled by illegal immigrants, while average blacks take make-work white collar jobs and dumber black men go off to prison.

Responses from readers:

Your reader argues that jazz and blues suggest that we need affirmative action to guard against underestimating Black ability. But his remarks destroy his own argument. Has affirmative action been needed for blacks, recently, in sports and music? So is it needed in physics and math and admission to intellectual colleges in general? If a race is superior in a field, it shows. Is affirmative action needed for Europeans and Asians in the short sprints?


Your reader is wrong on his analysis of "the risk of cognitive mismeasurement":

1) Since the bulk of the evidence points to a large average difference in intelligence between whites and blacks a high IQ score for a black is more likely to be wrong than a high IQ score for a white. In fact, don't SAT scores overpredict actual black academic performance once admitted to college? Where's the evidence that test mismeasurement underestimates black abilities?

2) Racial preferences systems are not a "moderate tax on apparent merit". In fact, for whites displaced from slots the tax is very high. For other whites not displaced the tax is much lower. The tax falls more heavily on whites who are equal to or above most blacks in ability but not tremendously above them. The tax falls least on whites in the cognitive stratosphere (like, perhaps, your reader who makes the investment analogies).

3) He says "the risk of cognitive mismeasurement is non-trivial": But Griggs v. Duke Power and the racial preferences system reduce the ability to use cognitive ability as a means to choose people for jobs and openings into training programs. The risk of cognitive mismeasurement is much greater when you are not even allowed to use the most accurate test measures available. That holds true when choosing among whites as well.

4) How can he know that, as he implies, blacks are "most at risk for underachievement"? The risk has to be defined relative to a best guess of average relative ability for a group. Maybe the white working class today is at greater risk for underachievement relative to their absolute abilities. Maybe really smart white kids are most at risk of underachievement relative their level of abilities.

5) Racial preferences are not new. Efforts to improve black academic performance not new. Where is the evidence for "fabulous untapped human capital"? We keep investing and we keep not finding a huge return on investment in human capital. Shouldn't a shrewd investor at some point accept that the return isn't there?


Let's look at the contention that affirmative action is a "premium" paid by society, and if so, of what sort.

You write, "If you are right Steve, we just save the premium."

Now - if affirmative action were at all comparable to a financial "option", I would have few questions:

a) is the premium priced correctly relative to the probability of outcomes and their expected payout?

b) is it justified to force individuals to purchase an "option", if:

1) the option may not generate a profit relative to its expense, or

2) the option may not even have a reasonable expectation of covering its costs, or,

3) the option is explicitly for a social benefit "in future generations"?

Now, let's consider how large this premium is (which you imply is negligible, because America is so rich), which would also help compare the cost of the premium:

a) the expenses incurred in "diversity management" - the bureaucracies and endowments devoted to maintaining "diversity" at universities and corporations

B) the opportunity cost of students/employees who are less qualified taking the slots of students/employees who are more qualified. Keep in mind that this is not a simple substitution. A white student who may have sought out engineering is not replaced with a black engineer, simply with another black person. Thomas Sowell has written how many affirmative action admits study education, which is typically the least challenging major at a university.

c) The "premium" paid by society - in terms of higher crime rates, higher incarceration rates - caused by a refusal to acknowledge differences in educational requirements and job options for low-IQ minorities. A population that could be helped if we acknowledged and addressed different requirements would prevent the taxes incurred for incarceration, the loss of life from murder, etc. I don't see how we can argue that this is a small cost.

Your argument is essentially hopeful that the value of incremental professionals generated by these policies outweighs the costs identified above. An interesting assertion. Since we don't have this data available, let's think about this in theory:

If this were an option with real upside value to it, then corporations would willingly purchase what they saw as the opportunity to reap mis-priced talent. That's what people do with financial options.

If this mispricing were valuable, corporations who benefited from this mis-pricing would succeed to a greater extent than corporations who did not; the demand would change, and the mis pricing would disappear - problem solved.

But, there's a bit of a twist: this is mandatory. There are no market forces at work in compliance with affirmative action at major corporations. The insistence that affirmative action compliance be mandatory doesn't allow any sort of market to work at all.

Now, since we are looking for financial explanations to describe what is happening here, here's what I propose:

There is another type of premium paid in the financial world, which seems to be conveniently overlooked here - an insurance premium (or, if you like, a put option).

Insurance is a recurring fee paid in exchange for protection against large, unanticipated costs, and sadly, this is the only type of obvious empirical outcome related to affirmative action non-compliance that can be clearly and easily measured by a company.

That is: if a corporation is found in violation of "diversity principles", they will encounter litigation, which can be extremely expensive. However, a corporation can protect themselves with an affirmative action policy in place before any lawsuits occur. Of course, the practice of this requires a corporation to accept as true a theory that they did not develop nor have empirical data to support.

The only easily accessible empirical data about the value of affirmative action policies is the data on the cost of non compliance: you can be sued.

Hence, in effect, compliance with the policy is indeed a "premium" in the sense that is an expense occurred; but they are not buying options on upside; they are buying downside protection against potential litigation that would arise from non-compliance with a policy that was designed by activists, not businessmen.

Options are something that private citizens purchase when they believe the value of an asset is being undervalued by everyone else; because of this mis-pricing, they are able to profit by purchasing it.

When you "force" someone to purchase an "option" - you remove the magic that makes real options markets work, and in fact destroy the entire premise and utility of a market.

The mere comparison of "affirmative action" to an option here is classic Orwell: In our politically-correct, thought controlled world, what better name for something mandatory than "option"?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

September 20, 2005

Evaluating excuses for higher black crime rates

A social scientist responds:

And we don't even have to rely on Jared Taylor organization's analysis of the data (sound as it is). Robert J. Sampson and Alfred Blumstein, two of the top criminologists in the world, have concluded there is basically no systemic bias in the criminal justice. The only area where there might be discrimination is in a case of violence where the victim is black: the perpetrator might get a lighter sentence. Sure, you can find instances of bias, but there are too many legal safeguards for it to happen much, and these few cases are offset by officials who go easier on blacks out of paternalism, indifference, or whatever. Many, many liberal criminologists have studied this issue, expecting to find a system rife with bias. They were stunned to find it was not the case. Nevertheless, elties of all sorts--celebrities, pundits, professors, civil rights activists, politicians--completely ignore the research and hold onto one of their favorite myths of evil cops and racist white judges.

A reader writes:

I have tried to find reliable info regarding the confluence of black crime and black poverty and not had much luck. Specifically, I have been trying to verify or refute the claim that differences in poverty account for differences in crime, or at least correlate very highly, such that if you control for poverty racial differences in crime disappear.

One simple way to look at it is to compare racial/ethnic groups with similar degrees of wealth and poverty: blacks versus Hispanics and whites versus Asians.

So, for Asians compared to whites, who are comparable on a lot of socio-economic status measures, we find that Asians are incarcerated only 0.22 times as much per capita as whites.

Similarly, for blacks versus Hispanics, who are roughly equivalent in income and poverty rates, blacks are incarcerated at 7.2 times the nonHispanic white rate while Hispanics are incarcerated "only" 2.9 times the white rate. So, blacks are locked up up about 2.5 times more than Hispanics.

This would suggest that something else besides poverty et al is going to account for these wide differentials between blacks and Hispanics and between whites and Asians. And Asians are locked up only 1/33 as much as blacks!

A professor writes:

I appreciated your comments about shaming people when they do bad things. Elites still cling to the view of economic determinism, that social problems are only a money problem, and blacks have too little of it. The gang member in my class disagrees. (Yes, I said gang member in a college course). He told me that he and some of his homies joined in spite of living in the suburbs. They were drawn to the excitement, the lifestyle, and the glamour that their quiet, sqeaky-clean neighborhoods could not provide. They did not feel comfortable with white firends, but felt at home on the corner in the ghetto. Money had nothing to do with it. In fact, they spend lots of cash on their poor friends.

I read guys like you and Sowell because there are few places to find scholarly writings on the role of genes and culture in behavior, which are absolutely critical parts of the story.

A reader asks:

If you factor out non-violent drug offenses, how do the incarceration rates change for all groups?

Not much. Working from the "Color of Crime" report, I can't take out just non-violent drug offenses, but I can take out all non-violent offenses. Judging from the graph in Fig. 9, blacks are incarcerated overall at 7.2 times the non-Hispanic white rate, and they are incarcerated for violent crimes at approximately 7.1 times the white rate. Hispanics are locked up 2.9 times more than whites per capita overall, but for violent crimes, it looks like the Hispanic to white ratio is about 3.4 to 1.

Another interesting fact is most "white collar crime rates" are higher for blacks. Incarceration rates for fraud, bribery, embezzlement, and racketeering run between 3 and 5 times higher for blacks than for whites. The Hispanic rates, however, are fairly similar to the non-Hispanic white rates. (I have read, however, that price-fixing and anti-trust violations tend to be a white specialty.)

Also, contrary to media myths, blacks appear to abuse illegal drugs in the same proportion as they are arrested for possession of them:

The graph [Fig. 3] shows that the black share of emergency room admissions for illegal drugs in 2002 was slightly higher than the black share of those arrested for drug offenses.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The Color of Crime at Cornell

When the Cornell American, the conservative newspaper on that Ivy League campus, published a piece on high rates of black crime, all the usual suspects professed to be horrified. Robert L. Harris, Jr., Vice Provost for Diversity and Faculty Development, responded in the official Cornell Sun paper with this letter to the editor:

As Cornell prepares to celebrate the 5th Anniversary of its Statement on Diversity and Inclusion, Open Doors, Open Hearts and Open Minds, The Cornell American (9/2005; 8:2) has once more crossed the line with a scurrilous story that violates the call for “constructive engagement without degrading, abusing, harassing or silencing others.” The story by Chris Menzel is blatant in its distortions and gross generalizations. He tries to make a case based on faulty evidence and spurious logic that “blacks are more violent then [sic] whites.” He offers charts to demonstrate that Blacks are arrested more frequently than Whites. It is a given that black males are arrested more frequently than white males, but it does not follow that black males are more violent. According to Human Rights Watch, black youth are six times more likely to be locked up than white youth charged with similar crimes and with similar criminal records. This is the case because when white women like Susan Smith in South Carolina decide to drown their children, they blame it on a black man. Or when white men like Jesse Anderson in Milwaukee and Charles Stuart in Boston decide to kill their wives, they say that black men did it.

The new "Color of Crime" report assembles all the data needed for assessing whether, on average, blacks are treated more harshly by the criminal justice system than their crimes deserve. By comparing data from the FBI's huge annual National Crime Victim Survey of 150,000 people to arrest records, then, according to the New Century Foundation:

"If all the NCVS crimes are taken together, blacks who committed crimes that were reported to the police were 26 percent less likely to be arrested than people of other races who committed the same crimes."

Similarly, among convicts the likelihood of being sentenced to prison and length of prison are all quite similar across the races. Adjusted for previous criminal record, blacks are 2% less likely to be sentenced to prison and average 6% more time.

The Vice-Provost of Cornell's Diversity Nook continues:

Menzel not only distorts the facts, he simply gets them wrong. He reports that “the horrific murder of a black man who was dragged to death behind a pickup truck shocked the nation … those men responsible were dealt with the most appropriate way: they were put to death.” If he had checked his so-called facts, a minimum standard of decent journalism, he would have discovered that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice still houses Lawrence Russell Brewer and John William King on death row. They were convicted of lynching James Byrd and were sentenced to death but have yet to be executed...

Killer comeback, dude! See, those white racist murderers in Texas haven't been "put to death" yet, they are merely "on death row." I'm convinced! Vice-Provost Harris, you should call up Richard Pryor and tell him he's all wrong about that bit he used to do about how when he was filming "Stir Crazy" in a real prison with real prisoners as extras, he started out expecting to get down and rap with some righteous brothers who had been railroaded by the Man, but he ended up thinking, "Thank God for penitentiaries!"

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Kudos to Craig Nelsen of ProjectUSA

Yesterday's arrest of Craig Safavian, the Bush Administration's appointee in the big money job of Federal Procurement Policy Administrator, spectacularly vindicates Nelsen's alert of two weeks ago about Safavian's dubiousness (which I linked to in Nelsen became familiar with Safavian's sleaziness when Safavian was chief of staff for Congressman Chris Cannon, who is President Bush's designated "point man" for pushing through the President's amnesty and open borders plan.

I'm sure we're all shocked to learn that the Open Borders crowd isn't comprised 100% of the pure of heart.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Isn't it safer to ignore IQ?

A reader writes:

Your column today was characteristically lucid & persuasive. However, I don't think the dialogue on ethnic IQ is going to attain quite the level of candor you prefer and I will try to identify an explanation more persuasive than upper class rent-seeking. Such behavior undoubtedly occurs, but I think the self-interest animating restraint on this subject is usually more enlightened.

Consider the risk associated with underestimating the cognitive ability of African-Americans. Relatively poor performance on IQ test may be attributable to: (a) defects in the tests and/or, (b) environmental factors unrelated to natural (genetically-bounded) abilities. With respect to (a) a less sophisticated variant of the argument would be that IQ tests tell us nothing about g; a more sophisticated variant would be that IQ tests do not tell us enough about mental abilities -- a point suggested in several of your interesting articles on the subject.

We have a subset of the population that has been subjected to official discrimination and is overrepresented in the lower deciles of income. This same subpopulation is, interestingly, responsible for a startlingly robust outburst of sustained creativity in the 20th century -- one might argue that African-Americans are responsible for much of America's cultural brand value. Jared Taylor loves the blues. I love jazz. Terry Teachout tries to explain that jazz is white but I remain unconvinced.

I am also unconvinced by AR articles wishing away African-American cultural charisma on the theory that sheer gregariousness can confer on imbecility an infectious charm. To restate the thesis is to refute it. Should we be buying so much from our cognitive inferiors? This question would be less pointed if we were buying drilling rights but the paradox is that we are buying intellectual property -- music, movies, lifestyles. Perhaps this is simply a sign of our decadence. But you are not a puritan. I imagine it gives you pause on occasion.

Having argued, non-frivolously I hope, that the risk of cognitive mismeasurement is non-trivial we should ask how the risk should be best managed. Affirmitive action represents the equivalent of a rational hedging mechanism. It is not explained by class rent-seeking but rather by the consciousness of risk that the meritocracy is overlooking merit. Our surplus is such that we are better served by a moderate tax on apparent merit to preserve the option of identifying overlooked or untapped potential.

We can apply the same logic to dialogue. The mainstream may simply reflect a consensus that the Bell Curve crowd has not carried its necessarily heavy burden. Remember: we do not merely buy from African-Americans, we also sell to them. Indeed, we sell as we inform since newspapers are simply a vehicle for the conveyence of advertisements. If the media conveyed a message of racial cognitive inequality it would possibly comfort a few whites and fewer Asians, but it would clearly cause much more indignation cutting across race & class. And, from the standpoint of elites with their ravenous appetite for human capital, it may damage the morale of the subpopulations most at risk for underachievement.

In short, the chance that you, Steve Sailer, are on the wrong track offers more potential for wealth creation than the chance that you are correct. The best way to see this may be to analogize the cost of civil rights to an option premium. The premium is reasonable in relation to the potential return (fabulous untapped human capital) and the risk (we will overlook the function of time just now). If you are right Steve, we just save the premium. That would be -- disappointing to the elites at this point. They redouble the bet. Fund returns are negative at the moment but we await the convergence event.

This argument would be more plausible if the we didn't see the exact same behavior surrounding the ultra-simple, ultra-certain question of racial difference in crime rates. But, as I wrote yesterday on

In recent weeks, I've written extensively about the racial IQ gap, a subject the press typically ignores—or disseminates disinformation about. Still, we shouldn't blame them too much: IQ is a moderately complex topic, one that many members of the press simply aren't smart enough or intellectually curious enough to master.

In contrast, censoring the news about crime rates can't be blamed on journalists' stupidity. Instead, it demonstrates an appalling degree of moral corruption in our media because virtually every adult in America knows there are racial differences in crime rates. Everybody talks about real estate, and the racial makeup of neighborhood is the largest single factor driving crime rates and thus differences in house prices and apartment rents within a metropolis.

So, it seems likely that a different explanation for the white elite's censorship is needed.

Moreover, there's nothing very complicated about the basic fact of the racial gap in IQ. It correlates with practically everything else. What gets complex is the question of what caused it. But as Thomas Sowell has pointed out, we don't have a clue how to change IQ among people have reached their teens, so the gap will remain in existence for many decades, at minimum.

Nor is there any evidence that lying and censorship improves the morals of blacks. They can see that they are doing worse in school, making less money, and getting locked up more than whites. If it's widely considered racist to mention these things, then why wouldn't blacks feel it's racist for these things to be happening to them? When liberalism became dominant in the 1960s, the black crime rate and illegitimacy rate shot upwards.

Finally, there's the opportunity cost of the stupid things we do under the You Can't Talk About That rule. For example, does pushing algebra down into elementary school actually help most blacks?

Did anybody know that 67% of blacks are ineligible to enlist in the military until I pointed it out last week? No, because You Can't Talk About That. Yet, many pundits assumed that joining the Army was available to all blacks. Perhaps we need some other kind of organization to inculcate discipline? Well, nobody ever wrote about it before me because nobody was allowed to talk about the underlying cause.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

September 19, 2005

Newsweek's cover story reflects the rapidly-congealing Conventional Wisdom

The headline on the cover reads:

"Poverty, Race & Katrina: Lessons of a National Shame" by Jonathan Alter

And on the inside:

The Other America
An Enduring Shame: Katrina reminded us, but the problem is not new. Why a rising tide of people live in poverty, who they are—and what we can do about it.

Sept. 19, 2005 issue - It takes a hurricane. It takes a catastrophe like Katrina to strip away the old evasions, hypocrisies and not-so-benign neglect. It takes the sight of the United States with a big black eye—visible around the world—to help the rest of us begin to see again. For the moment, at least, Americans are ready to fix their restless gaze on enduring problems of poverty, race and class that have escaped their attention. Does this mean a new war on poverty? No, especially with Katrina's gargantuan price tag. But this disaster may offer a chance to start a skirmish, or at least make Washington think harder about why part of the richest country on earth looks like the Third World.

"I hope we realize that the people of New Orleans weren't just abandoned during the hurricane," Sen. Barack Obama said last week on the floor of the Senate. "They were abandoned long ago—to murder and mayhem in the streets, to substandard schools, to dilapidated housing, to inadequate health care, to a pervasive sense of hopelessness."

The question now is whether the floodwaters can create a sea change in public perceptions. "Americans tend to think of poor people as being responsible for their own economic woes," says sociologist Andrew Cherlin of Johns Hopkins University. "But this was a case where the poor were clearly not at fault."

Right. The snipers who shot at rescue workers and the gangs who took over the Convention Center were "clearly not at fault." Who ya gonna believe, us media folk or your lying eyes?

Seriously, if the press wants to help poor blacks, which I profoundly doubt (since ostentatiously refusing to notice poor blacks' bad behavior is a sign of their moral superiority over other whites), the last thing it should be doing is manufacturing excuses for the New Orleans Nightmare. Instead, it should find some small town in, say, Mississippi where the poor black populace cooperated with each other to save lives and property (hopefully, at least one exists), then repeatedly contrast the good behavior of those blacks to the shameful behavior in New Orleans.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The Blogosphere wimps out

A reader writes:

It's interesting; you hear a lot in the Right blogosphere and on talk radio about the things that wouldn't have gone the way they did had the alternative-Right media (ie, Fox News, talk radio, and the Right blogosphere) existed at the time. Things like Robert Bork's rejection, the spin on the Tet Offensive, etc. All would have been resisted like Dan Rather's attempt to pass off fake memos, etc.

So here's Katrina and now comes the time to resist another Great Society and another rallying point for decades of race hustling, and I really don't see the principal and most triumphal voices of the alternative media doing the right job--the story they are resisting is that this is the end of Bush's presidency and an enduring wound for Republicans in general. They're fighting that one but in so doing are not necessarily fighting the one about how American racism caused this disaster and recovery can only be accomplished through a rejuvenated welfare state. That's not what I expected when they claimed Tet could not happen again. But then, I have also long thought that reports of the MSM's decline were well ahead of themselves, and the power of the alternative-Right media was self-exaggerated.

Peter Brimelow's almost-instant reaction to the chaos in New Orleans was that it would turn out to be another Tet Offensive, in which the historical reality is rewritten by the liberal media. That prediction appears highly accurate at this point.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

September 18, 2005

Overlapping Bell Curves can obscure important differences

Richard Lewontin's argument that there is more genetic variation within racial groups than between them is constantly cited and constantly misinterpreted. You often hear people say that this means that a black man is more genetically similar to a white man than two white men are to each other, which is completely brain-dead. That's not at all what Lewontin meant.

What Lewontin pointed out is that the difference between the averages for two racial groups is often less than the difference between two individuals. As so often with race, it helps in understanding to recast the statement as being about family. Consider two nuclear families, the Shorts and the Longs, each with three adult sons. The Short sons are 5'-4", 5'-8", and 6'-0", while the Long boys are 5'-7", 5'-11", and 6'-3". On average, the Longs are three inches taller than the Shorts, while the standard deviation within each family is 4 inches. So, one of the Shorts is taller than two of the Longs, but overall the Longs are notably taller than the shorts on average. Many of the racial differences we see in the world are roughly similar.

A reader sends me an example from statistical mechanics:

This is a Maxwellian distribution, which shows the number of air particles per unit volume as a function of their velocity, for a couple of (normalized) one-dimensional Maxwellians for dry air at about 81 degrees F. The variation within either distribution is obviously much larger than the variation between them. However the red curve represents perfectly still air, while the blue curve represents a hurricane wind blowing at 120 mph. Is there no meaningful distinction to be made between a calm day and a raging hurricane?

What are you, some kind of windist?

A reader responds:

With respect to Lewontin's comments, they're not even true by the lights of your most charitable interpretation. he wasn't talking about phenotypes per se, but about genetic variance, so to rephrase:

"What Lewontin pointed out is that the [genetic distance] between the averages for two racial groups is often less than the [genetic distance] between two individuals [in the same racial group]."

That is in fact *never* the case by any reasonable measure of genetic distance. He pulled a little shell game by focusing on the fluctuations possible in a single locus, fluctuations which will *never* do anything but average out over the whole genome. This is a little bit of a tricky topic, but it's absolutely crucial, so bear with me...

Suppose that there were 100 genes for governing a trait (like skin color or height), of equal effect. Suppose also that there were two possible alleles you could have at each site and those alleles were inherited independently of each other (i.e. you could have any combination with equal probability) and that there was a "low" allele and a "high" allele (say +0 and +1). Finally, suppose that at each locus, population 1 had the low allele 30% of the time while population 2 had the low allele 50% of the time.

At any given locus, yeah, you might find that a guy from population 1 and population 2 had the same allele.

But when you look at GENOME CONTENT -- meaning all 100 loci -- it becomes vanishingly unlikely that a guy from population 2 has the same alleles as a guy from population 1 at all the loci.

This is a bit subtle statistically, but it's the same thing that Cochran and Steve Hsu were talking about at Delong's blog (see the "Zulu" comments).

There's much more here at GNXP along with a figure that'll make it clear:

Pattern Classification in Population Genetics: Why Lewontin Was Wrong

Bamshad in Nature Genetics

And here are four cites to different authors debunking Lewontin:

Edwards, from Cambridge

Bamshad, in Nature Genetics Reviews

Harpending, from the National Academy of Sciences

Risch, from Stanford & UCSF

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Musical Tastes of Looters

The Associated Press reports:

The Wal-Mart store in uptown New Orleans, built within the last year, survived the storm but was destroyed by looters. "They took everything -- all the electronics, the food, the bikes," said John Stonaker, a Wal-Mart security officer. "The only thing left are the country-and-western CDs."

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Political correctness doomed NO Convention Center crowd to chaos

A professor from New Orleans emails:

One of the most shocking things in today’s Washington Post story on the events in the New Orleans Convention center (20,000 people and anarchy) is that during most of the time there was a armed National guard unit there (several hundred men) which never intervened, although it probably could have maintained order. They had another mission and never got the order.

Here is the WaPo story:

Nightmare in New Orleans
By Wil Haygood and Ann Scott Tyson
The Washington Post
September 17, 2005

NEW ORLEANS - For five eternal-seeming days, as many as 20,000 people, most of them black, waited to be rescued, not just from the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina but from the nightmarish place where they had sought refuge...

No one has been able to say how many people died inside the convention center; police, military and center officials estimate the number is about 10.

Nor has there been any attempt to document the number of assaults, robberies and rapes that eyewitnesses said occurred from the time the first people broke into the convention center seeking shelter on the afternoon of Monday, Aug. 29, and when units of the Arkansas National Guard moved into the center on Friday, Sept. 2.

But even without those numbers, what happened in the convention center stands as a harsh indictment of government's failure to help its citizens when they needed it most.

That futility was symbolized by the presence in the convention center for three of the most chaotic days of at least 250 armed troops from the Louisiana National Guard. They were camped out in a huge exhibition hall separated from the crowd by a wall, and used their trucks as a barricade when they were afraid the crowd would break in.

The troops were never deployed to restore order and eventually withdrew, despite the pleas of the convention center's management. Louisiana Guard commanders said their units' mission was not to secure the facility, and soldiers on the scene feared inciting further bloodshed if they had intervened.

"We didn't want another Kent State," said Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, commander of the active-duty military forces responding to Katrina. "They weren't trained for crowd control."

In more than 70 interviews, with both military and law enforcement officials - who were themselves sometimes inside the center - and with many of the survivors who suffered over the course of several nights, a chilling portrait emerges of anarchy and violence, exacerbated by young men from rival housing projects - Magnolia, St. Bernard, Iberville, Calliope.

"Everywhere I went, I saw people with guns in their hands," said Troy Harris, 18. "They were putting guns to people's heads."

The professor continues:

Apparently the commanding officer stated his men were not trained in crowd control and referred to Kent State (where National Guard troops shot students). He is probably correct that if someone had been shot by the guard it would have looked bad (and it is likely the person shot would have been black and the shooter probably white) and hurt his career. However, even the gangs of New Orleans are no match for the La. National guard (and much disorder was apparently due to single individuals who were not organized) and order probably could have been restored by this unit by merely bluffing, firing in the air, and shooting anyone who pointed a gun at them.

Apparently the Arkansas National Guard had little trouble restoring order once they arrived with orders to do so.

If given the job, I would have cleared one hall, then let women and children (and their males) in after searching for weapons, and then let others into another room after doing a weapon search. The liquor stocks could then have been secured (the crowd having access to looted liquor added to the problem).

The account indicates the Convention Center management was there during most of the period and they had a small security force that was unarmed. I speculate that if they had had guns they might have been able to do something. (An obvious implication is to have at least a stockpile under a very secure lock and key available in similar circumstances that could be handed out). The anti-gun crowd may have contributed to this, although in normal times having an unarmed security force is probably wise (use a radio to call the police) given the type of person who often takes such low paid work.

There is a general rule of military history that trained troops can always overcome a mob. For example, in 6th Century Constantinople, when the riotous and rivalrous fans of the Blue and Green chariot racing teams suddenly joined forces and delivered the capital of the Byzantine Empire to rebellious anarchy, the Emperor Justinian prepared to flee, until his wife, the Empress Theodora spoke up. Gibbon relates:

Justinian was lost, if the prostitute whom he raised from the theatre had not renounced the timidity, as well as the virtues, of her sex. In the midst of a council, where [General] Belisarius was present, Theodora alone displayed the spirit of a hero; and she alone, without apprehending his future hatred, could save the emperor from the imminent danger, and his unworthy fears.

"If flight," said the consort of Justinian, "were the only means of safety, yet I should disdain to fly. Death is the condition of our birth; but they who have reigned should never survive the loss of dignity and dominion. I implore Heaven, that I may never be seen, not a day, without my diadem and purple; that I may no longer behold the light, when I cease to be saluted with the name of queen. If you resolve, O Caesar! to fly, you have treasures; behold the sea, you have ships; but tremble lest the desire of life should expose you to wretched exile and ignominious death. For my own part, I adhere to the maxim of antiquity, that the throne is a glorious sepulchre."

The firmness of a woman restored the courage to deliberate and act, and courage soon discovers the resources of the most desperate situation.

Three thousand loyal veterans under Belisarius then quickly put down the rebellion.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer