December 7, 2005

Do black women have higher IQs than black men?

Thomas Sowell has been arguing for a number of years that black women score higher on IQ tests than black men:

Years ago, while doing research on education and IQ, I happened to be in the principal's office at a black school in Cincinnati, as he was preparing to open a large brown envelope containing the results of IQ tests that his students had taken. Before he opened the envelope, I offered to bet him that a large majority of the students with IQs over 110 would be girls. He was too smart to take the bet.

Studies had shown that females predominated among high-IQ blacks. One study of blacks whose IQs were 140 and up found that there were more than five times as many females as males at these levels. This is hard to explain by either heredity or environment, as those terms are usually defined, since black males and black females have the same ancestors and grow up in the same homes. Meanwhile, white males and white females have the same average IQs, with slightly more males at both the highest and lowest IQs.

This is just one of many unsolved mysteries that is likely to remain unsolved, because doing research on race and IQ has become taboo in many places. My own research was financed in part by a grant from a foundation that told me to remove any mention of IQ research from the activities listed in my project's application. They didn't care if I used their money for that purpose but they did not want it on the record that they had financed research into race and intelligence. Many schools and boards of education also did not want it on the record that they had cooperated by supplying data for any such research. Only when assured of complete anonymity would they let me into their records.

So, to test this, I asked Charles Murray to take a look at the most recent renorming of the U.S. military's IQ test that all applicants for enlistment must take, the Armed Forces Qualification Test or AFQT, and he graciously obliged, sending me some new and important data that I have not seen reported before.

(Why haven't many seen this elsewhere? The U.S. Armed Forces are both extremely committed to IQ testing of potential enlistees, which they began doing in 1917, and aware that the mainstream media blindly condemns IQ testing as racist pseudo-science. So, the military tries not to draw public attention to its enormous investment in IQ testing and research. The unfortunate side effect of the military's reticence is that this allows know-nothings to blither in the press about how IQ has been discredited.)

As Murray noted in his recent Commentary article (see Footnote 41), the previous renorming of the AFQT in 1980 now appears to have underestimated average black IQ, reporting an improbably large 18.6 point gap between the races, due to low-scoring blacks, especially black males, being more inclined to give up partway through the daunting 105 page pencil-and-paper test and not even trying to answer the remainder of the questions. To make up a fictitious illustration, a black guy who could have scored 75 if he'd toughed it out and tried to answer all the questions might get depressed by looking at so many questions he couldn't answer and give up on p. 57 and get a 65 instead.

To get around this, in the 1997 renorming of the AFQT, the test was given on a computer and if you missed a lot of the early questions, the computer would feed you easier questions to keep you from giving up. This also helps make the test more discerning by finetuning the questions more appropriate for your general level of intelligence.

This points out two sides to the old question of how much does the type of IQ test matter. In some ways, it doesn't matter that much. There's an old saying among psychometricians that "Life is an IQ test." La Griffe du Lion has shown that the roughly one standard deviation difference in IQ between blacks and whites shows up over and over again in the real world -- for example, in Florida in the famous Presidential balloting in 2000, blacks tended to botch up their ballots (e.g., by voting for two different candidates for President) and thus make them uncountable at a rate about a standard deviation higher than whites did, costing poor Al Gore the White House.

On the other hand, when attempting to make subtle comparisons such as between the sexes or to see if the racial gap is closing over time, then the fine points of the different tests matter. I only have one test to report here, but it's a big one, the AFQT, which the U.S. military has invested millions of dollars in validating over the last half century.

So, here is the data from the U.S. military's 1997 renorming of the AFQT on computers, as provided to me by Charles Murray, "using the 1997 cohort AFQT converted to an IQ metric, and employing population weights to reach nationally representative results." The renorming was done on the 1997 National Longitudinal Study of Youth, a large scale sample of people approximately aged 15-23, I believe. "White" means "non-Hispanic white."

AFQT IQ Black White Diff.
Male 88.4 102.7 14.3
Female 90.8 103.6 12.8
Diff (2.4) (0.8)

St. Dev.

Male 13.30 14.75
Female 13.58 13.30

So, at least on the AFQT, Sowell appears to be right: black women score 2.4 points higher than black men, while white women score only 0.8 points higher that white men.

Along these lines, several readers have sent me a new article about a gene variant that drives down IQ in males but not in females. (It was tested only on whites.)

Scientists in North Carolina say they have identified a gene that affects IQ, a finding that, if confirmed, would be a significant step toward understanding the genetic basis for intelligence. The new research could also have ethical implications because the effect of the gene appears to be quite dramatic: The scientists say that males who inherit a particular version of the gene have, on average, an IQ that is 20 points lower than males who don't.

It's also interesting to note that white males have significantly higher standard deviations than the other three groups. This greater variability among white males may be related to the continuing dominance of white males in Nobel Prizes and other measures of extreme right edge of the Bell Curve performance.

Perhaps the most striking aspect is the smaller white-black IQ gap than in 1980. This shrinkage is partly due to the new test format that blacks don't find so discouraging. But, as Murray said in his Commentary article, it may well also represent a genuine closing of the gap. Due to the apples vs. oranges differences in the AFQT methodologies between 1980 and 1997, we can't say for sure. But, this is something that should be tracked closely in the future.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

John Derbyshire on Baseball, Steroids, and Christmas:

More of the Derb's Christmas Classics: To the tune of "Let It Snow!":

Let Them Grow!

The steroid abuse is frightful
But the games are so delightful!
Since the ball players thrill us so —
Let them grow! Let them grow! Let them grow!

Now Giambi and Bonds are admitting
There's more than just skill to their hitting,
And baseball is just a freak show —
Let them grow! Let them grow! Let them grow!

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Commentary Magazine on Slezkine's The Jewish Century

Hillel Halkin grapples with the brilliant Berkeley historian Yuri Slezkine's interesting but slippery Mercurian vs. Apollonian concepts, and largely leaves out the "Stalin's willing executioners" aspect of the book -- i.e., Slezkine's illuminating explanations for why many well-educated secular Jews were such enthusiastic builders of the Bolshevik tyranny, with catastrophic consequences for the world as a whole and for Jews in particular.

But, that's a glass-is-half-empty complaint, and from a half-full perspective, it's a tribute to Halkin that the book is being reviewed at all in Commentary, and in a civil fashion. (Here's an old blog entry about Halkin's article on the Cochran-Harpending theory of the evolution of Ashkenazi IQ.)

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 7th: "Sara Silverman: Jesus Is Magic"

I tend to walk out of stand-up comedy concert movies before they're over since they lack a plot to get me to stick around to find out what happens. But this one is only 70 minutes long, which is plenty for one comedian.

Overall: not bad.

Silverman is a good-looking lady, not exactly a beauty, but she has a nice healthy this-will-be-the-mother-of-my-children look about her, combined with a famously filthy mouth. (Generally, nubile women with dirty mouths are so horrifying-fascinating to people that the public can't tell the talented, like guitarist Liz Phair, from the lame, like the "Sex in the City" coven.)

Silverman's shtick is reminiscent of Wendy Liebman, who perfected a style where she threw away the real punchline almost under her breath:

"My mother is a ventriloquist – but not professionally. For ten years I thought the dog was telling me to kill my father." [ Waiting a beat, she adds quietly.] "I got my brother to do it."

Silverman isn't as mechanical in the format of her jokes as Liebman, but she goes for the delayed reaction detonations too:

When I was in high school, I dated my father's best friend. Now that I think back on it, it was really creepy. [Shaking her head over it.] My father having a 14-year-old best friend ...

Silverman does some race-based humor. Her persona is that she's too narcissistic to know or care that you aren't supposed to say that:

“I don’t care if you think I’m racist. I just want you to think I’m thin.”

Her best bit might be:

I got in trouble for saying the word “Ch*nk” on a talk show, a network talk show. It was in the context of a joke. Obviously. That’d be weird. That’d be a really bad career choice if it wasn’t. But, nevertheless, the president of an Asian-American watchdog group out here in Los Angeles, his name is Guy Aoki, and he was up in arms about it and he put my name in the papers calling me a racist, and it hurt. As a Jew—as a member of the Jewish community—I was really concerned that we were losing control of the media.

Unfortunately, occasionally she throws in an intentionally stupid, untrue racial stereotype ("Mexicans smell bad") so all the nice white liberals in the audience can pretend her other stereotypes ("Asians are good at math") are dumb too.

Her persona as the Evil Innocent is a good one, but she could punch up her jokes a little. Like when she goes on at some length about how weird it is that lots of Jews buy German cars, she could add:

Instead of Mercedes, they should buy Japanese cars like the Lexus. After all, what did the Japanese ever do to anyone?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Nine years in the making and still nonexistent: The new citizenship test.

Alfonso Aguilar's job is to write a test that almost everyone can pass. It isn't as easy as it sounds. Mr. Aguilar heads the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Citizenship, which the Bush administration has charged with rewriting the civics and literacy tests that immigrants must pass to become U.S. citizens. As it is, 97% of those who take the civics test make it through by answering questions such as "Where is the White House located?" and "How many states are there in the Union?" A similar number -- 95% -- pass the literacy test by reading one English sentence and writing another. Last year, 418,332 people became citizens after passing those two exams. No one objects to the high pass rate. "What does the nation gain if you fail people out of citizenship?" asks Mr. Aguilar...

A higher average quality of citizen?

The project to develop a new test is already nine years old -- it predated Mr. Aguilar's appointment -- and has at least two years to go... The Department of Homeland Security, which now oversees immigration, publishes the list of questions. During the test, an examiner picks any 10; a would-be citizen must answer six correctly. To test for English competence, the examiner provides two sentences and asks the test-taker to read one and write another. The examiner can make up sentences or chose from a list of 98 possibilities the government publishes. The list includes "All people want to be free" and "He has a very big dog." ...

That reminds me of one of my favorite true news stories. The LA Times reported in August of 2004:

A chain of alternative high schools accused of selling phony diplomas has taught thousands of immigrants that ...

• There are 53 states in the United States. In addition to the "original" 50 states, the union has added Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. But the flag has not yet been updated to reflect the addition of the last three states.

• There are four branches of government. They are the legislative, judicial, executive and "administrative" branches. Asked about the fourth branch by investigators, one teacher responded that "not much is heard about it because it works behind the scenes." The Treasury Department is part of the "administrative" branch.

• There are two houses of Congress: the Senate for Democrats and the House for Republicans.

• World War II occurred from 1938 to 1942.

• One question in the workbook says: "Read the book 'Death of a Traveling Salesman' and write a commentary."

Who runs this chain of phony high schools? Bart Simpson?

The WSJ continues:

Conservative groups fret that the test doesn't promote assimilation by teaching immigrants about American history and the workings of government. "You want a test that makes people think about what it means to be an American," says Matthew Spaulding, who studies immigration policy for the Heritage Foundation, a think tank.

The essential problem is that only intellectuals think you "promote assimilation" by making people study. Back in 2000, I wrote in VDARE on "How to Instill a Love of America:"

First, the current citizenship test reflects a schoolmarm's bias toward book-learning rather than what really motivates love of country. Neoconservative intellectuals constantly tell us that America is not a nation based on blood, but on ideological "propositions." Yet, these American "propositions" are far less exceptional today than when Abraham Lincoln defined America as "dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal." Why should anybody be more loyal to America than to another country devoted to similarly admirable propositions - such as New Zealand?

In reality, of course, the average person's most visceral loyalties are not to words, but to the other people, living and dead, in the group to which he belongs. Soldiers sometimes enlist to defend ideals. But when the bullets are flying, they don't charge machine guns to preserve the separation of powers. They risk their lives for the other guys in their platoon.

What best builds group-cohesion is working together for a common goal. As Hollywood WWII movies loved to show, sharing a foxhole forged solidarity among mutually suspicious white ethnics. If we don't strenuously emphasize loyalty and sacrifice toward one's fellow American citizens, human beings will naturally gravitate toward promoting their racial group and class.

You can get people to bond across racial and class lines, but seldom by preaching at them. For example, UC Berkeley students are constantly exhorted about equality and interracial solidarity. But the only place on campus where black and whites students can be seen making sacrifices for each other is on the football field. Black and white college football players are far more likely to eat lunch together or listen to each other's music than are their more articulate and politically correct fellow students simply because they have to play together as a team in order to win.

Another basic law of human psychology is this: You don't get somebody to like you by doing them a favor. That only tends to build resentment over the fact that they are needy and you are not. No, you ask them to do you a favor.

Thus, I believe one way to instill a love for the American people in immigrants applying for citizenship might be to require them to put in, say, 100 hours of community service (which could be performed in six weekends). We would have to carefully control what kind of service. Allowing, say, Chinese applicants to work in Chinatown would accomplish nothing. Nor would forcing them to work among the dregs of the native-born. No, immigrant applicants must work in organizations where at least half the volunteers were American citizens and where the people served are not primarily the immigrant's own ethnic group. [More]

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

A trustworthy-looking fellow

The NYT reports:

Syria Attacks U.N.'s Evidence
The investigation of [Lebanese politician] Rafik Hariri's assassination is showing cracks, with one witness dead, another in jail and a third, [right], recanting his testimony. Go to Article

And a snappy dresser, too!

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 5, 2005

Levitt strikes back!

Levitt strikes back! Steven D. Levitt has responded to the Foote and Goetz paper pointing out two major errors he made in his abortion-cut-crime theory in a particularly striking way -- by introducing, at this late date, a whole new data set!

Foote and Goetz showed that Levitt arrived at his popular conclusion that abortion cut crime due to technical incompetence, and that objective analysis of Levitt's own data shows no impact of legalizing abortion on crime. So, Levitt now introduces a new data set, which he claims provides less noisy data on abortion rates by states, than the one he and Foote-Goetz worked with. Unsurprisingly, Levitt claims this new data set proves he was right all along, even though his original data said, when analyzed correctly, that he was wrong.

Is his new data set really better? Is it worse? Did Levitt botch up his analysis again? Who knows? I'm sure it will take months for objective analysts to look it over.

And is that the last word in data sets? I strongly doubt it. For example, America's most dangerous criminals were performing "selective post-natal abortions" on each other at an unprecedented clip in the gang wars of the 1990s. AIDS was also taking a toll on criminals then. Levitt hasn't adjusted for how many criminals died during this period.

Levitt likes to look at arrests for property crimes, but one of the obvious trends during the youth of the first cohort born after legalization was that property crimes were declining in payoff due to target hardening -- more locks, more alarms, more video surveillance cameras etc. In contrast, drug dealing was a booming market. In 1990, for a criminally inclined 15 year old born in 1975, it didn't make sense for him to set out to learn the craft of the thief when there were already so many experienced older thieves out there all searching for the dwindling set of soft targets to steal. No, the hot business was dealing crack, one in which older criminals weren't well established yet. That's why the homicide rate among black 14-17-year-olds born in the late 1970s was about four times as high as among black 14-17 year-olds born in the late 1960s, before legalization.

Levitt notes that something like 30% of older teens aren't living in the states where they were born. That should raise some questions about state-level analyses, especially when they don't agree with the national level analysis. If movement between states was random, that shouldn't cause too much of a problem for his methodology. But what if crime is a driving force in causing people to move?

What if, say, people in socially liberal states (that had lots of abortion earlier in the 1970s) who worried that their children were be crime-prone tended to move to socially conservative states. And what if people who ware less worried about the crime proneness of their children due to the family's affluence were more likely to move to socially liberal states? That would foul up the state-level analyses fatally if there was a steady net flow of crime prone kids to socially conservative states and a steady net flow of crime-unlikely kids to socially liberals states. I'm not saying it happened, but it might have.

But, from a marketing standpoint, in terms of preserving the value of the Freakonomics brand name, Levitt has put a marker down that his true believers can use to ward off Doubts.

We're now way, way out in how many angels can dance on the head of a pin territory. If Levitt really is explaining close to half of the huge decline in crime that occurred in the 1990s, as he has claimed, the evidence shouldn't be so fragile that it collapses when somebody else stares at it hard and Levitt has to throw away his old data and replace it with a new set of data that nobody has seen before.

When I studied marketing models in MBA school a few eons ago, the professor constantly pointed out that the true test of the statistical analyst is creating robust models. You can always fiddle with historical data and variables until you obtain a high r and a high degree of statistical significance and declare victory. But that's not a robust model and it's not much use in making real world business or policy decisions.

Economist Roehlano Briones writes on his Go Figure blog:

"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" is a phrase popularized by Carl Sagan - in turn derived from Hume's examination of miracles-claims. Now the original abortion-crime hypothesis is far from alleging a miracle. It is however extraordinary as it implies that causal mechanisms of crime originate from circumstances prevailing at the time of birth. Moreover, the claim that the behavior of eliminating live births is skewed against this causal mechanism (that is, abortion does not neutrally eliminate future crooks and law-abiders on a 50:50 ratio).

The issue remains, as it has since Levitt and I debated in 1999, who should have the Burden of Proof on his shoulders.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Jerry Pournelle on "Intelligent Design"

His view is similar to mine. He writes:

I do object to calling Intelligent Design "science." As I have said, it is explicitly a statement that "science" is not sufficient for understanding the world. I think that lesson in humility would be no bad thing for inclusion in our schools. We will continue to have people who are certain that the application of science is all that is needed to produce good citizens and understand the universe, but I certainly see no harm in letting everyone know that is not the universal view of the world. Science is important, and the key to power and much understanding; it may be everything; but perhaps it is not everything.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

"Memoirs of a Geisha"

From my upcoming American Conservative review (subscribe here) of the expensive film adaptation of Arthur Golden's bestselling novel. I offer a theory on why the Japanese spend so much money on business entertaining.

American commerce couldn't function without the salesman personality: outgoing, brash, and self-assured. Yet, Japanese corporate life carries on nicely despite a shortage of Donald Trumps.

The Japanese were among the first to develop enterprises far larger than the family firm. To induce the comfort level they needed to strike deals with people who weren't relatives, the relatively shy, sensitive, and easily shamed Japanese evolved an elaborate mode of business entertaining lubricated by food, alcohol, and expert hostesses. At banquets, geisha provided both classy entertainment in the traditional arts and light flirtation, making grouchy old businessmen feel young and optimistic again.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Why are economists such blatant fools about immigration?

Economists are supposed to have a bias toward reductionism and Occam's Razor, but when it comes to using the Law of Supply and Demand to analyze the effects of immigration on the labor market, they start sounding as abstruse as String Theorists: "One might think that the Law of Supply and Demand applies to immigration, but due to an 11-dimensional wormhole in the fabric of the space-time continuum, ..."

Sacramento Bee columnist Daniel Weintraub, who isn't a fool about immigration, writes:

A major piece of conventional wisdom about immigrants - that newcomers take jobs away from native Americans - has been questioned in a new study of urban job growth by a Harvard Business School professor and expert on inner city economics.

The study, in fact, seems to show just the opposite: Cities with higher concentrations of immigrants are the places where the number of jobs is growing the fastest...

But the two groups of cities differed sharply when it came to one demographic measure: immigration. Inner cities that gained jobs had populations that, on average, were 31 percent immigrant. Inner cities that lost jobs had populations that averaged just 12 percent immigrants.

"There is a direct correlation between immigrant populations and job growth in inner cities," Porter writes...

A crucial question left unanswered by Porter's study is the extent to which immigrants cause job growth or are attracted by it. If the presence of immigrants in an economy leads to more business creation and job growth, then that is a very important finding. If immigrants are merely more likely to go to a place that already has a vibrant economy, then the connection between their presence and job growth is not as significant.

"We need to examine that further," Deirdre Coyle, vice president of the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, told me.

Indeed you do.

Perhaps Dr. Porter, one of the most famous business ed gurus in the country, imagines that those casinos employing immigrants in Las Vegas were started by the immigrants, and that if only Pittsburgh were full of immigrants, its steel mills would be as busy as they were in 1944.

The concept that immigrants might instead follow economic prosperity created by others, and, being almost by definition less settled than natives might be particularly mobile in their job-seeking, seems not to have occurred to him.

And, anyway, even if immigrants create jobs, how much exactly does it benefit American citizens if most of the new jobs go to their fellow immigrants?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Here come quotas to France:

Nicolas Sarkozy, Interior Minister of France, has chosen a university campus to be a “laboratory for positive discrimination.” According to Le Monde, the Léonard-de-Vinci campus will become a testing ground for affirmative action, led by Richard Descoings, director of the Institute of Political Studies of Paris. Sarkozy has stepped out in a controversial act, opposed by President Jacques Chirac, to test what he believes to be a necessary step toward economic and racial equality in France.

Affirmative action is a controversial topic in France, where “Liberty, Fraternity and Equality” – the national motto and concept of Human Rights – are expected to be granted without government intervention, by colleges and employers alike. But for many, increasing unrest and last month’s riots prove that this expectation has not been a viable one without further effort. Over the last year, many media-led investigations have revealed that children of immigrants often find themselves excluded from higher education and employment alike, due to the name on their resume.

Those biased employers have somehow gotten in their heads that somebody named "Ahmed" might be the kind of fellow who sets cars on fire.

As I've said over and over again, affirmative action is much less the result of any particular ideology than of the brute fact of demographic diversity. If there are sizable groups within your country with lower average IQs, then there will emerge intense pressure to give them preferences. Similarly, although Brazil has long pushed the ideology that Brazil is a "racial democracy" where nobody notices race, quotas have started up in the last few years. In contrast, Canada, which is stridently multiculturalist in official theory, doesn't have college admission quotas because it has so few people from lower IQ ethnic groups.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Christopher Hitchens finally finds something about the Iraq Attaq he doesn't like!

In Slate, he proclaims:

This time, someone really does have to be fired. The revelation that Defense Department money, not even authorized by Congress for the purpose, has been outsourced to private interests and then used to plant stories in the Iraqi press is much more of a disgrace and a scandal than anyone seems so far to have said.

Personally, I'm more concerned about how American taxpayer money was outsourced to Hitchens' buddy, convicted conman Ahmad Chalabi, and other crooks to plant phony stories in the American press to get us into this war.

It's about time to start the Christopher Hitchens' Long Vacation Fund. The stress of turning out a bazillion words a month is getting to him...

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 4, 2005

Nonscandal of the year

A lot of folks are trying to act shocked over the revelation that the U.S. has been bribing Iraqi newspapers to run pro-American stories. Here, for instance, the Washington Monthly blog approvingly quotes somebody or other getting all huffy over it:

"The payola scheme has immensely corrosive longer-term implications for media institutions, for American credibility, for building the institutions of pluralism and democracy. Most immediately it has devastating implications for the credibility of pro-American voices in the region ... Every pro-American voice in Iraq and in the region now comes under greater suspicion of having been on the take."

Oh, c'mon, this is Iraq we're talking about. I can't imagine a single Iraqi ever believed that local newspapers gave him the unbiased, disinterested truth.

I would suspect that the way Iraqis think is that if they see a lot of pro-American stories in the newspaper, that means America has lots of money to pay bribes, so maybe they ought to suck up to the Americans too so they can pocket their fair share of American bribes. But if there aren't many pro-American stories, that means the Americans must be running out of bribe money, so, who needs them?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 3, 2005

Why have basketball and football diverged?

Over the last decade or so, scoring in basketball has dropped, with brutal scores like the 69-65 in the deciding game of the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals becoming common. Field goal and free throw percentages have fallen. This collapse of offense, while defense remains strong, seems to be related to the dominance of the hip-hop ethos in the basketball world, with its Me First attitude and its animus against all forms of "acting white," such as practicing your shooting by yourself rather than scrimmaging with others so you can show off more.

In contrast, offense in football has ascended to seldom-matched heights. For example, in big games in college ball today, #2 ranked Texas scored 70 points against Colorado and #1 USC tallied 66 against UCLA. USC running backs Reggie Bush, with 260 yards (228 of them in a first half that was as spectacular as any I've ever seen), and Lendale White, with 161, combined to carry the ball 40 times for 421 yards against a team that came in 9-1. USC may have more stars at the the skill positions than any college team ever and an overwhelming offensive line.

So, what's going on? Are defenses getting worse? Or are offenses just so much better? Why is basketball debilitated by hip-hop but football isn't?

Is there just not much practicing by yourself possible in football? The most obvious chances to practice by yourself are in kicking and punting, positions that are completely dominated by whites.

A reader sent me an article recently about all black high school teams in Washington D.C., like Dunbar H.S., who can't kick extra points to save their lives:

The teams combined for 11 touchdowns, but just one kicked extra point that day. Woodson also had a 3-yard punt and several horrendous kickoffs, including one in the fourth quarter that actually went backward. A Dunbar player eventually dove on the loose ball as it sat three yards behind its starting point. The referees took several seconds before deciding that a backward boot should be treated just like a forward one and awarding Dunbar the ball where it died.

Horrific kicking has long been a staple of D.C. high-school football (“Black Men Can’t Kick?” 11/16/2001). Jefferies, who over the years has proved he can turn kids into stars at every position except placekicker, says he’s always figured cultural or racial factors prevent his players from warming to the position.

“Everybody here wants to be the running back or the quarterback or the linebacker,” he says. “Very few kids want to be kickers or punters. And, well, soccer’s not big in D.C., not with African-American kids.” (Dunbar and Woodson fielded all-black squads. Neither school has a boys varsity-soccer program.)

In contrast, my old high school has had a dynasty of kickers going back to the 1990s, when our kicker made all 11 field goal attempts in a four playoff game march to the championship, four of them over 50 yards, highlighted by a game-winning last-second 58-yarder in the rain.

This is just another example of how ethnic groups in a country don't automatically assimilate to become more like each other. We're seeing a lot of examples of how blacks are deciding to become blacker all the time. You probably never even noticed that becoming a good placekicker is "acting white," but apparently most black youths understand that and they are determined to "keep it real" by being atrocious kickers.

By the way, the typical problem with picking the winner of the Heisman Trophy for college's best player is that players can rack up gigantic statistics if they are in the right spot at the right time, playing in an offensive system that rivals can't figure out how to stop. For example, Andre Ware of Houston won the 1989 Heisman for passing for 4,699 yards and 46 TDs in 11 games, but was a famous bust in the NFL and Canada. Jason White won two years ago at Oklahoma, but couldn't catch on in the NFL.

Obviously, the reasons Reggie Bush averaged an amazing 9 yards per carry this season include that's he's running behind an immense offensive line, that's he's spelled frequently by Lendale White who might have been an All-American if was a starter, and defenses have to watch out for USC's passing attack spearheaded by last year's Heisman winner Matt Leinart.

But If Reggie was playing for Rice U. instead of Tailback U., he still probably would have averaged 7 yards per carry. Has there been a more exciting open field runner since Barry Sanders?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Interracial Divorce Statistics

Because my 1997 article on interracial marriage "Is Love Colorblind?" remains popular, I get asked a lot about statistics on interracial divorce rates, but I'd never seen any. A reader now points me to this 1998 government report (PDF) that says about what you'd expect. Marital break-up rates for interracial couples are somewhat higher, but not hugely so:

First marriages in which the husband and wife are both members of the same race/ethnicity are more likely to succeed than those in which the spouses are of different race/ethnicity. After 10 years of marriage, interracial marriages have a 41% chance of disruption and same-race marriages have a 31% chance of disruption. The number of specific comparisons that can be made is limited because of small sample sizes. While specific pairings such as ‘‘white/black’’ or ‘‘black/Asian’’ are not shown, ... ‘‘White/any other’’ couples [which I believe include white-Hispanic as well as white-Asian] have similar chances of marital disruption [40%] as all ‘‘different race’’ couples [41%], which is not surprising as the majority of ‘‘different race’’ couples are ‘‘white/any other’’ pairings. ‘‘Black/any other’’ couples appear to have chances of marital disruption [48%] similar to those for all black couples [47%].

For first marriages between husbands and wives of the same race/ethnicity, the "disruption" (divorce or separation) rates at 10 years are Asians 20%, non-Hispanic whites 32%, Hispanics 34%, and blacks 47%. Lots of negative demographic factors correlate with higher divorce rates, so it's likely that the Hispanic "propensity to divorce" is less than the white propensity, all else being equal. Somebody should do a regression study of the demographic characteristics of interracial couples and see how their underlying propensity to divorce compares to same race couples.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 2, 2005

The War Nerd reviews the 1990s:

Gary Brecher writes that the 1990s featured:

1. Gulf War One, a glorious, magnificent war;

2. A lot of small, crummy wars that hogged all the media attention;

3. Four big, serious wars that nobody noticed...

Even now, I seem to be the only American who appreciates the Prussian-quality planning and execution of the 1991 Iraqi campaign. The rest of you booted Bush Sr. out the year after our victory and elected a draft-dodger who always reminded me of my student body president.

As if that wasn't bad enough, America's voters turned around and reelected Bush's idiot son last year, after the beady-eyed fool drove our Chevy right off the levee into Euphrates mud up to the side mirror. So what are you trying to tell us, guys? That you'll forgive military debacles, but not victories?

Part of the reason America was so ungrateful is that Powell, Schwarzkopf and the troops made it look too easy. After the war people said they knew all along it'd be easy. Well, I happen to remember 1991, and that's a lie. Check for yourself: read the op-ed pages for any U.S. paper from August 2, 1990, when Iraq invaded Kuwait. All the think tanks were predicting a long, bloody struggle to reduce the Iraqi fortifications. Every day you heard that their army was "battle-hardened from the Iran-Iraq War, that the Iraqi Army was "the fourth-largest in the world," and that Iraqi military engineers were brilliant at defensive warfare, with eight years of practice building sand berms, tank traps and moats of crude that they could set on fire as soon as our tanks got close...

It's easy to see now that Saddam had pretty much ensured we'd win easily, by deploying his troops exactly where an enemy whose strength is air power could pulverize them: a flat uninhabited desert. Saddam was the worst civilian commander since Churchill. He was a genius at running Iraq-we may as well admit it now, he did what we haven't been able to do, even with way more men, money and power. But when it came to conventional warfare, he was Schwarzkopf's dream date, the team you want to face in the playoffs.

The 1990s were one of the better decades in human history and I suspect that some of that was owed to the exemplary nature of Desert Storm. It was a message to potential troublemakers around the world that if you stepped too far over the line, that the world, under the leadership of the United States, might come and clean your clock.

I'd love to see a study of the psychological impact of the overwhelming American victory in early 1991 over the Soviet-equipped Iraq army had on the Soviet soldiers. As you'll recall, in August 1991 the Communist hardliners arrested Gorbachev, but their coup collapsed when the military wouldn't follow their leaders and some units defected to Yeltsin. Did they feel that the hardliners would lead them into foreign adventures to to try to hold the Soviet union together and that Desert Storm had shown that would be deadly for Soviet troops?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

For all you visitors to who have been wondering "is teve what?"

Some actual domain names:

Who Represents?, a database for agencies to the rich and famous:

I'd suggest getting her some bling. Don't worry if it's not too tasteful.

Experts Exchange, a knowledge base where programmers can exchange advice and views:

You definitely don't want some amateur doing it.

Looking for a pen? Look no further than Pen Island.

Not after you visit

Need a therapist?

It's the inspiration for a Sara Silverman joke: "I was raped by a Freudian therapist, which, for a Jewish girl, was a very bittersweet experience."

Mole Station Native Nursery, based in New South Wales:

I guess all those daycare center Satanic abuse witch hunts in the 1980s were just looking in the wrong country.

New to Milan and you need electric light? Why not sign up on-line with Power-Gen?

Thanks, but I'll stick with the old fashioned kind.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

UPDATED: Reports on Steven Pinker's lecture on the evolution of Jewish IQ:

A reader writes:

Saw Pinker's lecture [on the Cochran-Harpending theory of the evolution of Ashkenazi Jewish high intelligence] last night, it was great. I didn't feel like taking frantic notes like I was back in school so I quickly came to terms with the inevitability that I'd forget most of it. But I enjoyed it while it was happening. Though not even Pinker could prevent the most technical aspects from blurring beyond my comprehension, the talk overall was very much in his clear, amusing, engagingly constructed writing style.

Noah Feldman was the moderator and he asked if potentially "dangerous" ideas shouldn't be airtight before they can be published.

Funny how nobody asked that question before whooping up Steven D. Levitt's now-discredited abortion-cut-crime theory for the last six years... "A lie goes halfway around the world before the truth gets its boots on."

As I recall, Pinker basically said "Maybe, good question, but no." I didn't quite understand how the theories are going to be sufficiently tested if they aren't allowed into the open until they no longer require testing. Maybe Feldman meant "in popular venues like New York magazine" as opposed to "obscure scientific venues where people are comparatively safe from politics."

Funny how the best overall critique of Levitt's theory appeared in within days of his theory first surfacing in the media. In contrast, professional economists were largely missing in action for years.

But it wasn't clear and Pinker seemed to be saying No either way. (Feldman was asking the question in a fairly nonpartisan manner, by the way; he didn't seem at all to be arguing in favor of the withholding.)

Since it was the segment that I think inspired the most questions, I would say one of the main sources of interest to the audience were the anecdotes Pinker told which went counter the idea that Jews are intellectually accomplished because their culture/parents put so much emphasis on academic achievement (amusingly, Pinker introduced this question as "Jewish Genes or Jewish Mothers?").

Funny how Jennifer Senior in New York denounced attributing Jewish IQ to "Jewish genes" as a "stereotype," when her preferred explanation was "Jewish mothers." Nothing stereotypical about that concept!

One was a quote from Noam Chomsky's mother describing her reaction to her son's decision to study linguistics: "I go up and down the street all the time and I never see a sign that says: 'Help Wanted: Linguist.'"

Pinker seemed to be saying that an emphasis on education to the extent that education helps one succeed in life is not the same as a love of intellectualism for its own sake. So if the latter is a characteristic of Jews it's not the result of parents concerned about financial viability it's the result of raw intelligence desiring a sufficiently stimulating outlet. The audience seemed to be rebelling against this idea somewhat.

I'd sympathize with the audience. Jews definitely have a tradition of unprofitable scholarship. Marx, for instance, was always dunning his capitalist relatives for financial support in angry letters that assumed that they had a duty to support a genius like himself.

It reminded me of John McWhorter responding in the paperback of Losing the Race to the critiques that, contra his argument that blacks don't take enough interest in academics, blacks care very much about education because they realize it's a means of economic success. McWhorter emphasized that he didn't mean that they didn't get the practical value of a degree but rather that intellectualism for its own sake is what makes one do well in school.

My impression is that the intellectual orientation of blacks isn't bad, when you adjust for IQ. I'd guess that African-Americans are significantly more intellectually oriented than Mexican-Americans, who have a higher average IQ. Even adjusting for their high IQs, I'd guess that Ashkenazi Jews were the most intellectually oriented group on Earth, with the French in second place.

But, as Pinker seemed to be saying, that's the reverse of the real cause and effect—being into intellectualism for its own sake is the result of having a highly intelligent mind, and a highly intelligent mind is the most important thing for doing well in school, more so than "Jewish Mothers."


I'm pretty sure he declined to suggest resentment & fear for the No possibilities of the "Is it good for the Jews?" segment, nor did anyone else. I found that very strange, particularly as resentment and envy of middlemen ethnicities' accomplishment was cited as a reason for their persecution—it seems at least a possibility that that would be intensified if the accomplishment were shown to be genetically semi-destined.

That's certainly been the fear among Jews, the most likely reason why people like Stephen Jay Gould and Leon Kamin were so crazy in their demonizaton of IQ research.

Similarly, the issue of how people are going to take this if it gets solidly established and widely known was not very much explored. Noah Feldman's above question was the most I remember.

What was one of the most striking parts of the evening to me was how Pinker concluded he talk. He listed several interesting Final Thoughts and gave each of them at least a couple sentences of attention. But then, rather dramatically, he listed the final one and let it sit on its own without further comment and concluded the speech. It was that intellectual life is not at present prepared to deal with this topic.

At a café on the way home I began a book I just got, The Legacy of Jihad by Andrew Boston, and read the introduction by Ibn Warraq. At the end of the intro, Warraq quotes Albert Schweitzer: "Truth has no special time of its own. Its hour is now, always, and indeed then most truly when it seems most unsuitable to actual circumstances."

He was talking about acknowledging Islam's historic attitude toward kufr and dhimmis (it hasn't been great). But it fit into my mind very comfortably with Noah Feldman's question and Pinker's last Final Thought.

Of course, it's the same topic—diversity.

Lying Eyes was there and has an detailed report here. He summarizes:

I made it over to 16th St. tonight to see Pinker. There wasn't a lot of new material given how much I've read about the paper already, but it sure was a pretty full endorsement of Greg and Henry's arguments. I think the audience was stunned by the sheer weight of the arguments. If they understood it, I can't imagine they weren't convinced. The Q&A was pretty tepid - half-hearted objections.

Another reader writes:

Basically it was Pinker [Harvard professor, author of "The Blank Slate" and "How the Mind Works"] examining the Cochran-Harpending-Hardy paper. He broke it down into seven hypotheses (which I wish I'd been able to write down) and said that a lot of the evidence for the stuff was iffy but that it was falsifiable, and you could check by comparing siblings who were and were not carriers for Tay-Sachs, etc.; if the carriers were smarter, that would prove the hypothesis.

A lot of the questions revolved around the explaining Cochran's hypotheses, which really are pretty complicated if you don't have a genetics background.

As far as I can remember, they were:

1. Intelligence is heritable
2. Jews have higher IQs
3. The Jewish advantage is heritable
4. Jews were concentrated in middleman jobs
5. The pressures of middleman jobs selected for intelligence (the last two were the important ones)
6. The genetic diseases arose specifically as a result of selection for intelligence, which you can see because they all affect a number of common pathways (this one's apparently got a complicated statistical argument behind it)
7. The genetic diseases increase intelligence, People with the genetic diseases have higher IQs

As far as the stuff you're interested in...he said that it was better to know if things like this were actually true because (a) you could disprove any of the old racist stereotypes that WEREN'T true and (b) reality is what doesn't go away when you stop believing it.

He also did raise the possibility of personality traits as well as IQ explaining Ashkenazi success, and said that at least Jews being smart was better for the Jews than Jews being ruthless. (I'm not sure why personality traits predisposing to business success are so bad, especially in a business-focused country like this one. Though maybe in France...)

What I didn't hear was the possibility of anti-Semitism arising from resentment--i.e., your argument that being thought smarter is more dangerous than being thought dumber. But this was basically a New York Jewish audience (older folks mostly), so they probably felt pretty secure.

He also mentioned that middleman minorities, like the Indians in Africa or the overseas Chinese, have also been persecuted because untutored minds have been unable to comprehend the role of the middleman and just see them as parasites. (You can make a pro-capitalist teaching point out of this if you would like.)

Not much a regular reader of iSteve wouldn't get, in other words, but pretty good otherwise.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The Economist on the Freakonomics Fiasco

The Economist on the Freakonomics Fiasco:

Dec 1st 2005
From The Economist print edition
Did Steven Levitt, author of “Freakonomics”, get his most notorious paper wrong?

But a paper published last week† by Christopher Foote and Christopher Goetz, two economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, finds an embarrassing hole in the evidence. Messrs Donohue and Levitt subjected the data to a battery of tests, some suggestive, others more systematic, in an effort to prove the links in the chain. The challenge is to distinguish the role of abortion from other potential influences on crime, many of which cannot be observed directly. Some of these rival factors vary year by year; others state by state. Messrs Foote and Goetz concentrate their fire on those that do both. They offer the crack epidemic, which rose and receded at different times in different places, as an example.

Messrs Donohue and Levitt claim to control for such effects in the final test of their paper. That exercise is meant to facilitate comparisons such as: did arrests of 20-year-olds in New York in 1992 diverge from those of 18-year olds in the same state and year? This automatically takes account of anything going on in the Empire state that year (such as a crack epidemic) that would have affected 18-year-olds and 20-year-olds alike. The principal difference between the two age groups is that one was born after the Supreme Court legalised abortion and the other before.

It was a good test to attempt. But Messrs Foote and Goetz have inspected the authors' computer code and found the controls missing. In other words, Messrs Donohue and Levitt did not run the test they thought they had—an “inadvertent but serious computer programming error”, according to Messrs Foote and Goetz.

Fixing that error reduces the effect of abortion on arrests by about half, using the original data, and two-thirds using updated numbers. But there is more. In their flawed test, Messrs Donohue and Levitt seek to explain arrest totals (eg, the 465 Alabamans of 18 years of age arrested for violent crime in 1989), not arrest rates per head (ie, 6.6 arrests per 100,000). This is unsatisfactory, because a smaller cohort will obviously commit fewer crimes in total. Messrs Foote and Goetz, by contrast, look at arrest rates, using passable population estimates based on data from the Census Bureau, and discover that the impact of abortion on arrest rates disappears entirely. “I am simply not convinced that there is a link between abortion and crime,” Mr Foote says.

It may be asking too much of the numbers to convince everybody. “The debate over abortion and crime will not be resolved within the parameters of our paper,” says Mr Donohue. He thinks the arrest figures are “muddy” and the state population data “sloppy”. Combining the two generates so much noise, it is hard for the statistical tests to hear anything. Ted Joyce, a professor at Baruch College (part of the City University of New York), who has had his own methodological disagreements with Messrs Donohue and Levitt, also thinks the debate is stretching the data too far. He points out that if you add controls for 50 states and 12 years—as Messrs Foote and Goetz do, and as Messrs Donohue and Levitt meant to do—you are, in effect, holding another 600 things constant. This robs the data of most of their variety, and of much of their ability to explain anything.

To say, as Mr Levitt does in “Freakonomics”, that “abortion was one of the greatest crime-lowering factors in American history” may be a bit strong. But the underlying thesis, however unpalatable to some, is not likely to be dispelled by a stroke of Mr Foote's computer key. Mr Levitt says his case is based on a “collage of evidence”, of which the flawed test is one small piece.

No, the flawed state-level econometric data was always Levitt's ace in the hole, the evidence that non-professionals didn't have the skills or resources to subject to critical analysis, since his "collage" of simpler evidence has been debunked repeatedly. But when he finally laid his cards on the table, it turned out he had been bluffing (presumably, by mistake).

He is, in particular, sceptical that crack undermines his thesis: it varied more by age group than by state, he says, hitting 17-year-olds in all states harder than 25-year-olds in any state. He is instead trying to improve his measures of abortion, to take account of the fact that people born under one state's abortion regime might later move elsewhere to commit their crimes.

So, the bottom line is what I've been saying for six years: nobody knows. You can make about as good a case that legalization drove up the crime rate as that it drove it down, but neither case is very persuasive.

The most surprising thing I've learned from this about legalized abortion is, despite the enormous political tumult over it, just how pointless it mostly proved. Legalized abortion turned out to be reminiscent of Homer Simpson's toast: "To alcohol! The cause of, and solution for, all of life's problems."

Legal abortion is a major cause of what it was supposed to solve -- unwanted pregnancies. Levitt himself notes that following Roe, "Conceptions rose by nearly 30 percent, but births actually fell by 6 percent …" So for every six fetuses aborted in the 1970s, five would never have been conceived except for Roe!

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

One out of 20 Japanese marriages are now "international:"

Hiragana Times reports:

Among international couples, foreign husbands and Japanese wives make up about 20 percent. Looking at the statistics by nationality. Koreans were involved in 2,235 marriages, followed by Americans in 1,529 marriages, Chinese in 890, British in 334 and Brazilians in 265 marriages respectively. Foreign wives and Japanese husbands make up about 80 percent, led by Chinese in 10,242 marriages followed by Filipino in 7,794 marriages, Koreans in 5,318, Thai in 1,445 and Brazilians [typically Japanese-Brazilians] in 296...

Statistics prove that men with low incomes and women with high incomes are highly likely to be unmarried. However, Japanese me with low incomes are still rich for those who live in developing countries and the situation will meet their conditions. Among foreigners Japanese women generally want to marry Western men.

How about the divorce rate among international couples? According to statistics from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare in 2003, while the divorce rate among Japanese couples was 38 percent, for international couples, it was 42 percent, a little higher. In the case of foreign husbands, 39 percent and in the case of foreign wives, 43 percent.

I've never seen a divorce rate figure for interracial marriages in America. If you have, please let me know because I get asked about it a lot.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer