December 31, 2006

Where does the greenback go farthest?

The Audacious Epigone has a clever table of potential countries to retire to showing where your American pension dollars would go the farthest.

His methodology was simple:

"To get an idea of how far my money US dollars will take me, I compared the GDP of the globe's nations at the official exchange rate with the US [dollar] to the CIA's best estimate of each nation's respective GDP in terms of purchasing power parity."

The bad news is that you pretty much get what you pay for.

Here's the dozen cheapest. (A $100 dollar Social Security check from America would buy you $1,073.30 worth of the Burmese lifestyle, such as it is.)

Where to get the most bang for your buck

1. Burma -- 1073.3%
2. Zimbabwe -- 801.1%
3. Burundi -- 740.3%
4. Ethiopia -- 734.0%
5. Cambodia -- 720.7%
6. Gambia -- 707.2%
7. Rwanda -- 690.1%
8. Uganda -- 603.9%
9. Nepal -- 588.1%
10. Ghana -- 582.8%
11. Dem. Rep. of Congo -- 555.0%
12. Vietnam -- 537.6%

Hooooh, boy. That's quite a list. I guess I'd pick Vietnam first as a place that's coming up in the world, with maybe Nepal second for scenery, but only if the Maoist uprising ever calmed down.

How about the bottom of the list, which consists of random islands, plus the really civilized countries:

174. Finland -- 87.9%
175. Ireland -- 87.6%
176. France -- 87.3%
177. Qatar -- 87.1%
178. Seychelles -- 86.7%
179. Japan -- 86.3%
180. Palau -- 85.9%
181. Netherlands -- 85.7%
182. UK -- 81.6%
183. Iceland -- 81.1%
184. Vanuatu -- 81.0%
185. Saint Vincent -- 79.9%
186. Marshall Islands -- 79.9%
187. Norway -- 79.5%
188. Denmark -- 77.8%
189. Sweden -- 77.1%
190. Niue -- 75.9% 191.
Tonga -- 73.2%
192. Liechtenstein -- 71.8%
193. Switzerland -- 65.6%

That $100 Social Security check that's worth $1,070.30 in Burma is only worth $65.60 in Switzerland. So, I guess I won't be retiring to the ancestral Sailer realm in the St. Gallen canton of northeastern Switzerland. Similarly, my 1980s dream of someday playing golf everyday in then-cheap Ballybunion, Ireland is now a pipe dream, with the greens fee on the Old Course at Ballybunion up to $250.

Where are the bargains? Well, Costa Rica at 235.7% remains a reasonable value for retirees looking for political stability, a pleasant climate without excessive altitude (around 4,000 feet -- really thin air can be a problem when you are old), a fairly middle class society, and enough other old yanquis to speak English with.

Newly separated from Serbia, Montenegro (214.4%) has Adriatic beaches and some fantastic architecture built by Venetian merchants. I was disappointed that "Casino Royale," although supposedly set in Montenegro, which I've been wanting to see more of, was actually filmed, like so many movies today, in the Czech Republic (186.6%). Prague wasn't destroyed in WWII, so it has great architecture.

Tough Midwesterners who don't mind cold weather might find Poland at 205.2% attractive. Prosperous, uncorrupt Estonia at 191.5% could be a bargain for a summer home when the sun shines 18 hours per day there.

It would solve a lot of problems if Mexico (153.5%) became a major retirement destination for American baby boomers, providing jobs at home in Mexico for people who would otherwise illegally immigrate to America, but the relatively small cost of living advantage at present doesn't look like it's big enough to compensate for the beheadings, dual Presidentes, and other harbingers of chaos. (Malta (151.4%) looks better than Mexico, except for distance from America.) Okay, Fred Reed has moved to Mexico and is very happy there, but most of us aren't as tough as Fred.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 30, 2006

The War Nerd gets the Christmas Spirit

Writing last week, before the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia:

So here's my positive helpful hint, to the men who have the power. We have a great chance right now to see how to settle Iraq, and all we have to do is let the Ethiopian Army invade and occupy Somalia in force. In fact we have to insist that the Ethiopians go in full force. Right now they're doing it CIA style, maybe 8000 troops with one foot sort of flirtatiously over the Somali border. That's no use to us at all. We need them to occupy the entire country so we can use it as a no-cost lab to see what works.

Because as soon as Ethiopian troops are in the streets of Mog, all Hell will break out. And when it does, we have to make it clear to the Ethiopian elite (which is actually Tigrayan at the moment) that they have a free hand. And we want to see that hand develop RSI from machete chops. We want those trigger fingers to ache. We want those shoulders to get bursitis from AK recoil syndrome (ARS, leading cause of complaints in the Horn of Africa).

The guys running Ethiopia killed 500 people in their last election campaign, when they were being democratic. Let's see what they can do with an armed, Islamic population in rebellion against them. We won't lose a man. We just keep the ammo and propaganda support comin' and they'll do the rest. We'll see whether going all-out in Iraq would actually work or not. (And by the way, that's not as "obvious" as amateurs think. Large-scale massacres are not easy, and they often backfire. The logistics alone are scary, and the effect on enemy morale can be very dangerous. Frankly, I don't think any genocide-based strategy short of nukes can solve our little Mesopotamian jock-itch at this point, but after a few months of Ethiopian hijinks in Mog, we'll know for sure.)

There. How's that for being positive? I feel all proud and Xmas-time, like a mass grave with red and green lights all over it. [More]

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Guess what's missing from this Slate Top 10 list?

The Bill of Wrongs:
The 10 most outrageous civil liberties violations of 2006.
By Dahlia Lithwick

Yeah, you guessed it: DA Mike Nifong's Hunt for the Great White Defendants in the Duke Lacrosse Frame-Up is a no-show. You see, the long-running pattern of hate crime hoaxes victimizing white male college students is nothing compared to, say, #8 on Lithwick's List, the Bush Administration "Slagging the Media."

In recent news, the hoax continues to implode. Nifong dropped the rape charges but is pressing on with other felony charges. Meanwhile, the North Carolina State Bar is investigating Nifong for ethics violations. And now the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys has asked him to recuse himself from the case.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Has anybody ever read an interesting Letter to the Editor in the New York Times?

It's easy to criticize the NYT for political correctness, but if the Grey Lady's letters column is representative of what the paying subscribers actually believe, the NYT's journalists are practically Fred Reed by comparison.

By the way, that John Tierney is leaving the barricaded NYT Op-Ed page for the open-to-the-Internet Science section of the newspaper, where he'll have a column and a blog, is good news. The Science page, with Nicholas Wade as the genetics reporter, is already the paper's strongest suit, and Tierney will liven it up.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 29, 2006

Charles C. Mann replies about 1491

I read your blog fairly often so was quite surprised to see you talking about my book. I'm sorry you thought I was being "slippery" in not specifying more often when I was talking about the area north or south of the Rio Grande. You probably saw an artefact of my struggle with terminology. Problem is, the way we divide things up now (splitting the area north of Colombia into North America and Central America) doesn't fit very well with how things were then, when you had a bunch of related, highly urbanized societies in a region extending from about the Honduras-Nicaragua border to the American SW, and then everything else. In earlier drafts I tried saying when referring to the not-as-urbanized places something like "the area north of the Rio Grande except for the Southwest," but this was shouted down by my editors. I tried not using that kind of label as much, and hoping the reader would catch on to what area I was talking about, but obviously that didn't work for you. My apologies .

No, I should apologize. I was rushing to feed the blog beast after a spell of computer troubles and I posted something quick and dirty about an impressive book that Mr. Mann had clearly worked on for years, a topic where experts hold conflicting views, which he rightly refused to oversimplify.

I would say, though, that you're not quite right about Cahokia. Cahokia was by far the biggest of the mound cities of the SE and Mississippi Valley, but there were many thousands of these places--ten thousand is the estimate I've heard most often. Most of them probably held 3-10,000 people, so they weren't huge places. It's as if the moundbuilders went straight past urbanization to suburbanization, skipping the cities and going right to the strip malls. A lot of these places are just a few miles apart, and presumably would have had maize fields between, exactly the sort of situation that most urban historians think would have led to cities.

The other thing is... ten thousand of these places. If you do the math, 3K x 10K = 30M = far more than the total number of people supposed to be north of the Rio G (<20m).>

Another interesting topic would be the population of California Indians -- how dense can a population in a pleasant climate but fairly dry get without agriculture? We know the Northwest Indians were pretty thick on the ground due to fish, even without farming, but California Indians didn't leave a lot of relics behind.

I would argue with you a little that urban life was MORE feasible in the New World than the old because of the lack of pathogens. A lot of archaeologists think that it was LESS feasible because of the lack of draft animals, which made communications and infrastructure-creation much harder. It seems to me that the situations were so different that it's hard to make useful comparisons. Mesoamerica was almost freakishly urbanized, with some geographers claiming it was the most urbanized place on Earth in 1000-1400. But the second most urbanized place was China, which was absolutely swimming in disease. You can look to Africa for insight, as you do, but the situation is muddy. In Sub-Saharan Africa you certainly had major cities--Great Zimbabwe, Ingombe, Mbanzakongo, Loango. But there weren't as many packed in as Mesoamerica, that's for sure. A good book on this is Chris Ehret's Civlizations of Africa.

The Yucatan Peninsula is a horrible place -- not just hot and humid, but the limestone soil means that water sinks into the ground almost immediately. It's completely flat, with no rivers or lakes, and covered with low scrubby trees about 15 feet tall. Looking out the back window of a hotel room on a beautiful beach in Cozumel, I had a hard time shaking the feeling that I was an astronaut in some Twilight Zone episode who had landed on a planet where the beach was wonderful, but the rest of the planet was just a cheap backdrop slapped together in some alien movie studio. And yet the Mayans built extraordinary urban centers like Chichen Itza and Tikal on this unpromising landscape, while North American Indians, blessed with a temperate climate and rich soils, rarely created cities.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Inbred dogs, faddish Japanese:

Here's an interesting NYT article that reminds me of the kind of articles I wrote when I was a reporter. It ties a lot of my themes together, and discreetly leaves unspoken but subtly implied the question of whether the national tendency of the Japanese to all hop on the exact same bandwagon at the exact same time, such as these overly inbred dogs, might not be related to the genetic and/or cultural homogeneity of the Japanese.

Japan, Home of the Cute and Inbred Dog

TOKYO, Dec. 27 — Care for a Chihuahua with a blue hue? Or how about a teacup poodle so tiny it will fit into a purse — the canine equivalent of a bonsai?

The Japanese sure do. Rare dogs are highly prized here, and can set buyers back more than $10,000.

But the real problem is what often arrives in the same litter: genetically defective sister and brother puppies born with missing paws or faces lacking eyes and a nose. There have been dogs with brain disorders so severe that they spent all day running in circles, and others with bones so frail they dissolved in their bodies. Many carry hidden diseases that crop up years later, veterinarians and breeders say.

Kiyomi Miyauchi was heartbroken to discover this after one of two Boston terriers she bought years ago suddenly collapsed last year into spasms on the living room floor and died. In March, one of its puppies died the same way; another went blind.

Ms. Miyauchi stumbled across a widespread problem here that is only starting to get attention. Rampant inbreeding has given Japanese dogs some of the highest rates of genetic defects in the world, sometimes four times higher than in the United States and Europe.

These illnesses are the tragic consequences of the national penchant in Japan for turning things cute and cuddly into social status symbols.

But they also reflect the fondness for piling onto fads in Japan, a nation that always seems caught in the grip of some trend or other. “Japanese are maniacs for booms,” said Toshiaki Kageyama, a professor of veterinary medicine specializing in genetic defects at Azabu University in Sagamihara. “But people forget here that dogs aren’t just status symbols. They are living things.”

Dogs are just one current rage. Less consequential is the big boom in the color pink: pink digital cameras, pink portable game consoles and, yes, pink laptop computers have become must-haves for young women. Last year, it was “bug king,” a computer game with battling beetles.

A number of the booms in Japan, including Tamagotchi — basically a virtual pet that grew on a computer screen — and the fanciful cartoon characters of Pokémon, have made their way across the Pacific and swept up American children, too. The affection for fads in Japan reflects its group-oriented culture, a product of the conformity taught in its grueling education system.

But booms also take off because they are fueled by big business. Companies like Sony and Nintendo are constantly looking to create the next adorable hit, churning out cute new characters and devices. Booms help sustain an entire industrial complex, from software makers to marketers and distributors, that thrives off the pack mentality of consumers in Japan.

The same thing is happening in Japan’s fast-growing pet industry, estimated at more than $10 billion a year. Chihuahuas are the current hot breed, after one starred in the television ads of a finance company. In the early 1990s, a TV drama featuring a Siberian husky helped send annual sales rocketing from just a few hundred dogs to 60,000; sales fell when the fad cooled, according to the Japan Kennel Club. The breed took off despite being inappropriately large for cramped homes in Japan.

The United States also experiences surges in sales of certain breeds, and some states have confronted “puppy mills” that churn out popular breeds by enacting “puppy lemon laws” that prevent breeders from selling diseased animals. But in Japan, the sales spikes are far more extreme, statistics show.

The kennel club says unethical breeders try to cash in on the booms, churning out large volumes of puppies from a small number of parents. While many breeders have stuck to healthy mating practices, the lure of profits has attracted less scrupulous breeders and led to proliferation of puppy mills.

Some veterinarians and other experts cite another, less obvious factor behind widespread risky inbreeding in Japan’s dog industry — the nation’s declining birthrate. As the number of childless women and couples in Japan has increased, so has the number of dogs, which are being coddled and doted upon in place of children, experts say. In the last decade, the number of pet dogs in Japan has doubled to 13 million last year — outnumbering children under 12 — according to Takashi Harada, president of Yaseisha, a publisher of pet industry magazines.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The NYT is catching up to on how to raise IQ in the 3rd World

The Times runs its second article of 2006 on how micronutrient fortification can help reduce the problem of low IQs in the Third World, equaling the number ran in 2004 (see here and here):

Malnutrition Is Cheating Its Survivors, and Africa’s Future

SHIMIDER, Ethiopia — ... Yet almost half of Ethiopia’s children are malnourished, and most do not die. Some suffer a different fate. Robbed of vital nutrients as children, they grow up stunted and sickly, weaklings in a land that still runs on manual labor. Some become intellectually stunted adults, shorn of as many as 15 I.Q. points, unable to learn or even to concentrate, inclined to drop out of school early.

There are many children like this in the villages around Shimider. Nearly 6 in 10 are stunted; 10-year-olds can fail to top an adult’s belt buckle. They are frequently sick: diarrhea, chronic coughs and worse are standard for toddlers here.

Most disquieting, teachers say, many of the 775 children at Shimider Primary are below-average pupils — often well below. “They fall asleep,” said Eteafraw Baro, a third-grade teacher at the school. “Their minds are slow, and they don’t grasp what you teach them, and they’re always behind in class.”

Their hunger is neither a temporary inconvenience nor a quick death sentence. Rather, it is a chronic, lifelong, irreversible handicap that scuttles their futures and cripples Ethiopia’s hopes to join the developed world. “It is a barrier to improving our way of life,” said Dr. Girma Akalu, perhaps the nation’s leading nutrition expert. Ethiopia’s problem is sub-Saharan Africa’s curse.

Five million African children under age 5 died last year — 40 percent of deaths worldwide — and malnutrition was a major contributor to half of those deaths. Sub-Saharan children under 5 died not only at 22 times the rate of children in wealthy nations, but also at twice the rate for the entire developing world. But below the Sahara, 33 million more children under 5 are living with malnutrition. In United Nations surveys from 1995 to 2003, nearly half of sub-Saharan children under 5 were stunted or wasted, markers of malnutrition and harbingers of physical and mental problems.

The world mostly mourns the dead, not the survivors. Intellectual stunting is seldom obvious until it is too late.

Bleak as that may sound, the outlook for malnourished children in sub-Saharan Africa is better than in decades, thanks to an awakening to the issue — by selected governments, anyway. South Africa provides nutrient-fortified flour to 30 million of its 46 million citizens. Nigeria adds vitamin A to flour, cooking oil and sugar. Ethiopia’s government hopes to iodize all salt by year’s end. United Nations programs now cover three in four sub-Saharan children with twice-a-year doses of vitamin A supplements.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 28, 2006

King George II allies with Prester John, Christian King of Abyssinia, to thrash the Musselmen

The Bush Administration has revived the grand strategy of the Crusaders -- to link up with Prester John to mount a a two front attack on the Islamic world. From the NYT:

Opponents of Islamists Seize Somali Capital

Troops from the transitional government, along with Ethiopian soldiers who had been backing them up, poured into Mogadishu from the outskirts of the city.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 27, 2006

Another job Americans just won't do

The logical implications of Bush's Invade the World / Invite the World strategy continue to unfold:

Military considers recruiting foreigners
Expedited citizenship would be an incentive
By Bryan Bender, Globe Staff | December 26, 2006

WASHINGTON -- The armed forces, already struggling to meet recruiting goals, are considering expanding the number of noncitizens in the ranks -- including disputed proposals to open recruiting stations overseas and putting more immigrants on a faster track to US citizenship if they volunteer -- according to Pentagon officials. ...

The idea of signing up foreigners who are seeking US citizenship is gaining traction as a way to address a critical need for the Pentagon, while fully absorbing some of the roughly one million immigrants that enter the United States legally each year.

The proposal to induct more noncitizens, which is still largely on the drawing board, has to clear a number of hurdles. So far, the Pentagon has been quiet about specifics -- including who would be eligible to join, where the recruiting stations would be, and what the minimum standards might involve, including English proficiency.

In the meantime, the Pentagon and immigration authorities have expanded a program that accelerates citizenship for legal residents who volunteer for the military. And since Sept. 11, 2001, the number of immigrants in uniform who have become US citizens has increased from 750 in 2001 to almost 4,600 last year, according to military statistics.

With severe manpower strains because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- and a mandate to expand the overall size of the military -- the Pentagon is under pressure to consider a variety of proposals involving foreign recruits, according to a military affairs analyst.

"It works as a military idea and it works in the context of American immigration," said Thomas Donnelly , a military scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute in Washington and a leading proponent of recruiting more foreigners to serve in the military.

Hey, it worked out great for the Roman Empire in the Fifth Century. Or we could buy slave soldiers like the Egyptians did with the Central Asian mamelukes. Of course, the mamelukes eventually overthrew the government and ruled for centuries, but that would be a small price to pay for continuing our neocon foreign policy adventures.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

NYT pretty much admits Duke lacrosse team was framed

From another news story buried over the pre-Christmas weekend by the newspaper that did more than any other to facilitate DA Mike Nifong's travesty of justice:

DNA Witness Jolted Dynamic of Duke Case

DURHAM, N.C., Dec. 23 — The moment that may have changed the course of the Duke lacrosse rape case came in a packed courtroom two Fridays ago.

On the stand at a pretrial hearing was Brian W. Meehan, director of a private laboratory that performed extensive DNA testing on rape kit swabs and underwear collected from a stripper only hours after she said that she had been gang-raped by three Duke lacrosse players after performing at a team party in March. Mr. Meehan’s tests on the swabs and underwear had detected traces of sperm and other DNA material from several men.

But his tests had found something else, too: none of that DNA material was from the three players, or any of their teammates.

Mr. Meehan had promptly shared this information with Michael B. Nifong, the Durham district attorney. Yet his summary report — the one that would be turned over to the defense — mentioned none of this.

It was an awkward omission that Mr. Meehan struggled to explain under withering cross-examination from defense lawyers. At one point, he was forced to admit that the incomplete report violated his laboratory’s own protocols.

Finally, a defense lawyer asked Mr. Meehan if the decision not to report complete test results was “an intentional limitation” arrived at between him and Mr. Nifong. “Yes,” Mr. Meehan replied.

The courtroom, packed to standing room capacity with supporters of the players — who have always said they were innocent — erupted with applause. [More]

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 26, 2006


I've seen just about all music biopics, like "Ray," "Walk the Line," "Great Balls of Fire," and the Temptations TV miniseries. Much of the appeal of the genre lies in all the personal connections between the future legends before they became famous. For example, the Supremes started out as a sort of ladies auxiliary of the Temptations, back when they were all in high school in Detroit.

The downside of music biopics is typically the lack of compelling drama. The young prodigy receives a quick lesson in how to sell a song from a crafty old mentor, then becomes a superstar by his or her early 20s, so there's not much left to do than show the ensuing struggle with "inner demons," which almost always turn out to be boring old drugs and/or alcohol (although Kevin Spacey's unfairly dismissed Bobby Darrin-biopic "Beyond the Sea" featured a bum ticker in the place of an addiction).

In contrast, "Dreamgirls" is the fictionalized version of the Supremes, and there's a lot to be said for making stuff up. Founding Supreme Florence Ballard's decline after Motown Svengali Berry Gordy makes the thinner-voiced (i.e., whiter-sounding) and skinnier Diana Ross the lead singer is a lot more compelling when the writers give Florence an Aretha Franklin-sized vocal talent. And it works even better because former American Idol contestant Jennifer Hudson really does have Aretha-quality pipes.
By the way, you might be as confused as I was until I looked it up this morning about all the (well-deserved) hype about Jennifer Hudson being a sure thing for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. I kept asking "But didn't Jennifer Hudson win the Tony as Best Actress in the Broadway version of 'Dreamgirls' when it opened 25 years ago? Isn't she too old for this role by now?" It turns out that that Jennifer H. was the similarly talented (and large) Jennifer Holliday.

This is a near perfect example of Sailer's Law of Similar Initials Confusion, as illustrated by the doctors who didn't believe I could have Whooping Cough in 2002 because they confused the disease with the nearly extinct Whooping Crane, which is a bird. Similarly, we've recently discovered that seemingly few in power in Washington can tell the Shi'ites and the Sunnis apart (they're all S's to them). And, I suspect, an awful lot of Americans supported the Iraq invasion to get back at Iran for seizing the hostages in 1979.

Anyway, "Dreamgirls" is quite a success, but within the limitations of the post-"Cabaret" era of musicals. This is an era of great female singers, but not of great songwriters. Even "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going" turns out to be more of a showcase for Holliday/Hudson than a song you'll hum on the way out of the movie theatre.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

News to Save for Christmas Day when Nobody Reads the Paper:

Boy, the Establishment really wants amnesty and guest workers, but they sure don't want you to know they do. From the NYT:

Bipartisan Effort to Draft Immigration Bill

By RACHEL L. SWARNS WASHINGTON, Dec. 25 — Counting on the support of the new Democratic majority in Congress, Democratic lawmakers and their Republican allies are working on measures that could place millions of illegal immigrants on a more direct path to citizenship than would a bill that the Senate passed in the spring.

The lawmakers are considering abandoning a requirement in the Senate bill that would compel several million illegal immigrants to leave the United States before becoming eligible to apply for citizenship.

The lawmakers are also considering denying financing for 700 miles of fencing along the border with Mexico, a law championed by Republicans that passed with significant Democratic support. Details of the bill, which would be introduced early next year, are being drafted. The lawmakers, who hope for bipartisan support, will almost certainly face pressure to compromise on the issues from some Republicans and conservative Democrats.

Still, the proposals reflect significant shifts since the November elections, as well as critical support from the Homeland Security Department. Proponents said the prospects for such a measure, which would include tougher border security and a guest worker plan, had markedly improved since Nov. 7. The Senate plans to introduce its immigration bill next month with an eye toward passage in March or April, officials said. The House is expected to consider its version later. President Bush said last week that he hoped to sign an immigration bill next year.

The major lawmakers drafting the legislation include Senators Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, and John McCain, Republican of Arizona, along with Representatives Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, and Luis V. Gutierrez, Democrat of Illinois. The four met this month, and their staffs have begun working on a bill. “I’m very hopeful about this, both in terms of the substance and the politics of it,” said Mr. Kennedy, the incoming chairman of the Senate Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship Subcommittee.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 22, 2006

Why Stephen Hunter is the best film critic working

As his review of Robert De Niro's CIA story "The Good Shepherd" shows, the Pulitzer Prize winner simply knows more than other critics.

Most movie reviewers these days are sensitive English major types, while movies in recent decades have been in a quite masculine phase driven by the economic fact the males pay for most of the tickets. So, a comprehensive education in the poetry of Wordsworth and Browning doesn't actually teach you much you need to know to review adequately the typical contemporary movie.

In contrast, Hunter's hyper-masculine intelligence (he is, for example, a world class gun nut -- here's my review of his book American Gunfight about the shootout in which Puerto Rican nationalist terrorists almost murdered Pres. Truman) is much better attuned to the subject matter of current films.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

A reader writes:

The Washington Post claims:

"Maryland and the District are losing residents to other jurisdictions but making up for the loss by gaining immigrants, according to new census estimates released today. Virginia has followed a similar pattern, attracting vastly more newcomers from overseas than from within the United States and growing only marginally since 2000. The influx of immigrants has saved the three jurisdictions from what might otherwise be a precipitous population decline."

Or the influx of immigrants drove up housing costs and congestion and lowered wages, and drove out the Americans who were living there...?

The American media's philosophy of journalism when it comes to immigration is:

Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad
Other things just make you swear and curse.
When you're chewing on life's gristle
Don't grumble, give a whistle
And this'll help things turn out for the best...
And...always look on the bright side of life...
Always look on the light side of life...

From The Life of Brian

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 21, 2006

Surprise, Surprise! Highly educated white liberals are hypocrites

From the Rice U. Sallyport:

Does Education Help Breed Segregation?

Most of us think that education broadens an individual’s perspective and helps diminish racist attitudes. Prior studies have validated that conventional wisdom, but new research indicates just the opposite may be true. A study, co-authored by Rice sociologist Michael Emerson, shows that increased education of whites, in particular, may not only have little effect on eliminating prejudice, but it also may be one reason behind the rise of racial segregation in U.S. schools. Furthermore, higher-educated whites, regardless of their income, are more likely than less-educated whites to judge a school’s quality and base their school choice on its racial composition.

Black–white racial segregation has been on the rise in primary and secondary schools over the past decade. While whites, especially those who are highly educated, may express an interest in having their children attend integrated schools, in reality, they seek out schools that are racially segregated. In the study, researchers found, on average, that the greater the education of white parents, the more likely they will remove their children from public schools as the percentage of black students increases.

“We believed from prior studies that education has a significantly positive impact on racial attitudes,” says Emerson, the Allyn and Gladys Cline Professor of Sociology. “We found when studying behaviors, however, that acquiring more education is not a means of combating segregation. Education may broaden an individual’s world, but it also leads to greater negative sensitivity toward blacks’ presence in public schools.”

Emerson and research colleague David Sikkink, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Notre Dame, know that income and other factors come into play in terms of school choice, but their study shows that, even after controlling for these variables, education has an unintended effect. Whites with more education place a greater emphasis on race when choosing a school for their children, while higher-educated African Americans do not consider race.

“I do believe that white people are being sincere when they claim that racial inequality is not a good thing and that they’d like to see it eliminated,” says Emerson. “However, they are caught in a social system in which their liberal attitudes about race aren’t reflected in their behavior.”

According to the researchers, part of this behavior is explained by the place and meaning of schooling for children of more-educated white parents. Degrees, for example, become status markers, regardless of income. Parents seek quality education for their children to ensure they are not hindered from achieving the “good life.” As earlier studies indicate, education is a key to social mobility and one of the most important forms of cultural capital.

Emerson and Sikkink cite earlier work on school choice in Philadelphia, where race was found to be a factor in whites’ evaluations of the quality of a school. Unlike blacks, who judged schools on the basis of such outcomes as their graduation rates and students’ test scores, whites initially eliminated any schools with a majority of black students before considering factors such as schools’ graduation rates.

When they analyzed a national data set of whites and non-Hispanic blacks to see if the level of their education would have an impact on their school choice, Emerson and Sikkink found a similar pattern. “Whites with higher levels of education still made school choices based on race,” explains Emerson, “while blacks did not.”

The researchers found that regardless of income, more-educated whites in their data set also lived in “whiter” neighborhoods than less-educated whites...

“Our study arrived at a very sad and profound conclusion,” says Emerson. “More formal education is not the answer to racial segregation in this country. Without a structure of laws requiring desegregation, it appears that segregation will continue to breed segregation.”

Titled “School Choice and Racial Residential Segregation in U.S. Schools: The Role of Parents’ Education,” the study will be published in an upcoming issue of Ethnic and Racial Studies.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

"Fairy Tale of New York"

Back in 2004, my readers leaned heavily towards the Pogues's "Fairy Tale of New York" as the best Christmas song of the last 25 years. It's highlighted by a duet between Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan and Kirsty MacColl, who was never as big a star in America as she was in Britain. [Via Mickey Kaus.]

Just from this one recording, however, it's clear she was something special. She was killed while scuba diving in Mexico just before Christmas, 2000. She saved her children, but was virtually sliced in half by the propeller of a Mexican billionaire's speedboat illegally racing through a swimming zone. In, Carl F. Horowitz has the story of Kirsty's mother's struggle to obtain justice from the Mexican government in "Mexican Microcosm: The Unsolved Death Of Kirsty MacColl."

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

More of my movie reviews

from The American Conservative:

All the King's Men - Sean Penn as Huey Long
The Science of Sleep - Gael Garcia Bernal in Michel Gondry's comedy
Quinceañera - Chicanos vs. gay gentrifiers
Cars - Pixar hit
A Prairie Home Companion - Robert Altman and Garrison Keillor

All of my film reviews back to 2001 are here.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 20, 2006

Udolpho on the Razib Brouhaha

Poor Razib at GNXP made the misogyny-exposing mistake of seeing an attractive woman talk about science fiction and then remarking on it in his weblog. Well, Razib, OR SHOULD I SAY HITLER, your sexist stereotyping has not gone unnoticed among your moral betters:

Why the heck would it be freaky that an attractive woman reads mainstream sci fi? [More]

Personally, I only see attractive women browsing in the Self-Help section. And the only magazines they look at are Beauty & Fashion (if they don't have a wedding ring) and Home Decorating (if they do).

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 19, 2006

Things I like about Malcolm Gladwell

A reader writes:

"But considering all Gladwell has to lose, and how easy it would be just to ignore you, perhaps he should be given some credit for how far his honesty and intellect take him. He knows he's giving you free publicity; and though he's conflicted about it, at least he doesn't mind much.

"He sounds like he's almost agonizing. He seems to have just enough of a conscience to realize that you deserve to be heard, as well as just enough intelligence to understand that your arguments are actually substantial.

"As far as I can see, what he's missing are 3 things.

"Courage--He's got too much to lose; he's too afraid of losing it

"Humility--I have a feeling that he would be far more welcoming of you if he didn't think you would consistently outclass him.

"Audacity/Zeal--distinct from courage, I refer to the kick one gets from sticking it to the man, taking down sacred cows, exposing charlatans, etc come hell or high water. Gladwell's a bit timid and deferential."

One thing to Malcolm's credit is that he really does like new ideas. Most journalists have a small stock in trade of novel ideas that they came up with by age 30 or so and just keep using those over and over. Malcolm, in contrast, is constantly out there searching for new ideas. Of course, when you swing for the fences, you are more likely to strike out.

Malcolm's boyishness, lack of cynicism, naiveté, cluelessness, whatever you want to call it, is one of his most endearing qualities. It comes out in his "Gee willikers, sir, what a great idea! I would never have thought of that" enthusiasm for every single promoter he endorses in the pages of The New Yorker.

Malcolm reminds me of Asok the Intern on the Dilbert comic strip. When a manager comes to pitch his new idea, the Pointy-Haired Boss introduces the team: "Asok will be full of enthusiasm for your concept because he hasn't yet learned how the world works."

I have no idea how at age 43 Malcolm gets so fired up for each new half-baked idea that comes down the pike. He's like the world's highest IQ Labrador Retriever: "What?!? You want to take me for a walk? What a fantastic idea, Master! How did you ever think of that?"

Malcolm's guilelessness leads him into poor decisions and hence into humiliations, like picking a public fight with me by dishonestly slurring me, and then getting voted down on his own blog 127-44! And then failing to cut his losses and proceeding to slam his head into the wall on his own blog a second time, a third time, and then a fourth time.

It ought to be pretty obvious that I'm just about the last person any famous public intellectual in his right mind would choose to get into a battle of wits with. Do you think, say, Jared Diamond would be so short of cunning as to go out of his way to tangle with me? There would be no upside for him. If he won, big deal, he beat up so guy most of his readers hadn't heard of. And Diamond would also realize that in all likelihood he'd get beat like a drum by me. And who needs that?

Malcolm certainly doesn't. When the world's hottest movie star, Leonardo DiCaprio, is attached to play you (more or less) in the film version of your business advice book, well, arguing with me makes no sense whatsoever from a practical career advancement standpoint.

The especially bizarre thing about Malcolm choosing to go to war with me this month on his own blog over Ian Ayres's study of discrimination by car salesmen is that … we had already fought that battle a long time ago. And I had won. Big time.

Back in 2005 or early 2006, Gladwell had written on his website a highly aggrieved 1,000 word response to the criticisms Judge Richard A. Posner and I had made of his interpretation of Ian Ayres' car dealer study in his bestseller Blink. (This is where he famously sputtered, "Sailer and Poser [sic] have a very low opinion of car salesmen.") When I discovered Gladwell's reply last February, I unloaded on him with both barrels in "Malcolm Gladwell Blinks Again" in

And yet last week he still decided to fight me on the same grounds again!

When somebody makes as much money as Malcolm does, it's natural to assume that he is a conniver who has consciously plotted his every move to fame and fortune. But the more I deal with Malcolm, the less that seems true of him. He now strikes me as an artless innocent, Forrest Gump with a felicitous prose style.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Female Command Presence

A reader writes:

Hi Steve, I was at a dinner the other night and saw a woman about my age, whom I didn't recognize, who seemed to have command presence, or at least something. She was later introduced to me as Susan Eisenhower.

That reminds me of anthropologist Anna Roosevelt, who is always complaining that people want to talk to her about her great-grandfather Teddy, when she's actually an extremely fascinating person who deserves to be the center of attention, the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every wake.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 18, 2006

More data on IQ and fertility

: Darwinian Individualist digs up some data from the long-running General Social Survey, which gives a 10 word vocabulary quiz to each participant. This serves as a crude IQ test. He looked at 21,625 people of all races over the age of 35. The mean and modal score right was 6 words out of 10.

People who got only 1 word right out of 10 averaged 2.99 children, with their first child born when they were 21.24 years old. Brainiacs who got all 10 words right averaged 1.95 children, with their first child born at 26.77.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Flynn says Flynn Effect winding down

From the London Times (via GNXP):

We are about as smart as we're going to get, says IQ pioneer
Alexandra Frean, Education Editor

It is a common refrain, repeated in response to every new television reality show and every bumper crop of school exam results: society is dumbing down. Scientists have long argued the opposite, pointing to the now widely accepted “Flynn effect”, which shows that over the past century average IQ scores have improved across the developed world, irrespective of class or creed.

Now the man who first observed this effect, the psychologist James Flynn, has made another observation: intelligence test scores have stopped rising. Far from indicating that now we really are getting dumber, this may suggest that certain of our cognitive functions have reached — or nearly reached — the upper limits of what they will ever achieve, Professor Flynn believes. In other words, we can’t get much better at the mental tasks we are good at, no matter how hard we try. If we are to make any further progress, we will have to start exercising different parts of our brain, particularly the parts controlling language acquisition and empathy, according to Professor Flynn, an emeritus professor at the University of Otago in New Zealand.

In a lecture in Cambridge yesterday, he said that the study of intelligence has for too long been asking the wrong question: “The questions are not ‘Are we getting smarter?’ and ‘Are our children really smarter than we are?’ If the rise in IQ scores meant that we were smarter, that would mean our grandparents were dull and our great grandparents idiots, which is clearly not the case. The question should be, ‘Have certain cognitive skills risen?’ And the answer to that is yes.”

What accounts for our rise in intelligence test scores, Professor Flynn believes, is social and environmental changes that have given us the opportunity to exercise the kinds of skills that IQ tests measure. We increasingly fill leisure time with cognitively demanding pastimes, such as puzzles and computer games.

We have also developed a more scientific way of viewing the world. “In 1900 if you’d asked a child what do a dog and a rabbit have in common, they might have replied with a concrete answer like, ‘Dogs are used to hunt rabbits’. Today a child would be more likely to say, ‘They’re both mammals’. We classify things scientifically.”

Another factor in rising test scores concerned our ability to deal with complex abstract ideas. This is demonstrated in our ability to absorb abstract “shorthands” — for example the term “market” to signify laws of supply and demand.

Professor Flynn believes there is no reason to believe IQ gains will go on for ever. He points out that although gains are still robust in America, they have stopped in Scandinavia.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Greg Cochran-John Hawks Clan of the Cave Bear paper out:

Cochran says (on GNXP):

"The major point is that Neanderthals and modern humans were probably interfertile and most likely interbred - and that we would then have picked up most favorable Neanderthal alleles. Which may have something to do with the cultural ' big bang' that happened not long after."

From Paleoanthropology:

Dynamics of Adaptive Introgression from Archaic to Modern Humans

Recent evidence from the genomic variation of living people documents genetic contributions from archaic [e.g., Neanderthal] to later modern humans. This evidence of introgression contrasts with earlier findings from single loci that appeared to exclude archaic human genetic survival. The present evidence indicates that many “archaic” alleles may represent relicts of African archaics, and that some “archaic” variants both inside and outside of Africa have attained relatively high frequencies. Both observations may be surprising under the hypothesis that modern humans originated first in Africa and displaced archaic populations through expansion and drift. Here, we outline how natural selection may have enabled the uptake of introgressive alleles from archaic humans. Even if admixture or gene flow were minimal, the introgression of selected variants would have been highly probable. In contrast to neutral alleles, adaptive alleles may attain high frequencies after minimal genetic introgression. Adaptive introgression can therefore explain why some loci show evidence for some archaic human contribution even as others apparently exclude it. The dynamics of introgression also may explain the distribution of certain deep haplotype branches in Africa. Open questions remain, including the likelihood that archaic alleles retained their adaptive value on the genetic background of modern humans and the scope of functions influenced by adaptive introgression.

John Hawks Department of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin–Madison
Gregory Cochran Department of Anthropology, University of Utah

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Is America Headed Toward Idiocracy?

My new column:

Is America headed toward Idiocracy?

To sum up, there are three trends that will lower the national average IQ:

1. More black (and possibly Hispanic) children are born to women with IQs below the black mean

2. Faster growth for racial/ethnic groups with lower average IQs

3. Shorter generation times for lower IQ mothers

Over the course of two generations, these three effects combined would drive down IQ by approaching four points. National average IQ would fall from a little under 97 in 2000 to around 93 by the middle of the century.

Bear in mind that this is not a complete forecast, just a model that simplifies some complicated trends. It no doubt leaves out other important changes, such as the potentially countervailing but poorly understood Flynn Effect of rising raw test scores.

A four point decline by the middle of the century is not catastrophic. So we can rest assured that 2055 won't look precisely like 2505 in "Idiocracy."

Yet, a three or four point decline would have broad, noticeable impacts. Call it Idiocracy Lite. As the population gets dumberer, entertainment will become even dopier than it is now. The population is likely to get surlier, less interested in higher culture. And the competence of the workforce will drop.

The irony is that white liberal elitists, who see themselves as better than the rest of America because (A) they loudly proclaim their belief in equality; and (B) they have above average IQs, are particularly likely to find disagreeable the new America that they have helped midwife through their support for open borders.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

A clue as to why there are so few women CEOs

Here we are, three dozen years into the feminist era, and only 1.6% of chief executive officers of Fortune 500 firms are women. The NYT runs a long article entitled "How Suite It Isn’t: A Dearth of Female Bosses" complaining about that fact. One vignette in it, however, might reveal more than the journalist thinks:

"Carol Bartz, the former chief executive of Autodesk, said that it was not uncommon for men in business meetings to assume that she was an office assistant, not a fellow corporate executive."

Of course, the NYT interprets this as proof of male bigotry. But another interpretation would be that Ms. Bartz, and possibly many another female executive who otherwise has the requisite smarts and work ethic to make it to the top, lacks what the Marines call "command presence."

Some men and a few women have the kind of personal bearing that advertises to others that you are in charge and that they should follow your lead.

This reminds me of when I was applying for a job in 1982 at the new marketing research firm I ended up working at for a decade and a half, on and off. The vice-chairman was a professor of marketing, so the HR department gave me his Marketing Research 301 exam as a job qualification test, which turned out to be quite difficult. While I was struggling over it, a man walked in and said, "Hi, I'm John M." I had never heard the name before and my first reaction was annoyance at his breaking my concentration. But, my second reaction, a tenth of a second later, was that whoever this guy was, judging just from how he said those four words, that he absolutely radiated power and leadership. He is obviously a Big Man. So, I'd better give him all the time he wants. Not surprisingly, he turned out to be the founder and chairman of the board, perhaps the most important figure in the marketing research industry in the 1980s, and my boss for many years.

Now, if Ms. Bartz was the CEO and she had walked in on me, yes, I might have assumed she was from HR and wanted me to fill in some forms, so the whole encounter would have gone differently.

A minority of females do have command presence. Mrs. Thatcher has it in spades. Vanessa Redgrave can turn it on any time she wants (for example, in her fairly minor role in "Howard's End" she completely dominates the screen for the few minutes she's on, quite unbalancing the story). It just another trait that's distributed stochastically, with some demographics groups having more than others. Unfortunately, contemporary intellectuals are completely befuddled by how to think about the omnipresent reality of probability distributions that aren't identical.

A majority of males lack command presence. God knows, I don't have any at all. Indeed, one reason I've become rather reclusive since ending my corporate career in 2000, and now prefer to deal with people in cyberspace rather than in reality is because my real life nice guy personality means I get pushed around by other people more than I prefer. Mental quickness is important for command presence, but I'm not quick in interpersonal situations. I'm more interested in how deep I can push my thinking, which means I'm unimpressive in real time. So, I greatly appreciate the asynchronous nature of cyberspace, since I can take whatever time I require to think through an idea. (Which is why I hate instant messaging.)

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 16, 2006

Joy Joy!

The Malcolm Gladwell debate appears to have inspired another new aphorism in the style of G.C. Lichtenberg from Deogolwulf at the Joy of Curmudgeonry website:

"Many have devised for themselves an additional criterion of knowledge: that it may not offend their sensibilities or disturb their repose."

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 15, 2006

32 months late, the New York Times catches up to

Tonight in the NYT:

In Raising the World’s I.Q., the Secret’s in the Salt
By DONALD G. McNEIL Jr. 17 minutes ago
Kazakhstan’s iodized salt campaign is an example of how a country can achieve a remarkable public health success.

From my 4/4/04 VDARE article:

"The survey notes, for example, that iron shortages are driving down national GNPs by lowering national IQs:

"In most developing countries today, iron deficiency is now estimated to be preventing 40% to 60% of children from growing to their mental potential… In the last 10 to 15 years, iron deficiency has assumed even greater importance as evidence accumulates linking iron deficiency with mental impairment. In various tests of cognitive and psycho-motor skills, for example, lack of iron has been found to be associated with significant levels of disadvantage—affecting IQ scores by as much as 5 to 7 IQ points."

"Similarly, iodine shortages cause the swelling of the thyroid gland called goiter, which can lead to what the U.N. report calls "cretinism."

"In the U.S., these two problems were almost completely solved decades ago—by fortifying salt with iodine and flour with iron and other micronutrients. Similar methods should work in the Third World.

"Of course, the expense and organizational challenges are greater. In Pakistan, for example, there are 600 commercial salt producers. Getting each to iodize is a sizable undertaking.

"Yet it can and must be done.

"Even if we all have to start mentioning the dread letters "IQ.""

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 14, 2006

More free publicity from the $5 per word man

Malcolm Gladwell keeps picking away at his self-inflicted wound:

Bad Stereotyping ...

This is my third (and last) comment on the Ayres study. My first point, as those of you who have been following my thoughts on this know, is that price discrimination against black males by car salesmen is morally wrong. My second point is that it is a bad business strategy. My third—and in some ways most important point—is that its lousy stereotyping.

Let’s go back to the study. The male and female, black and white testers who Ayres sent out to car dealerships all gave the salesmen the same set of facts. They were all roughly the same age (late twenties). They all drove the same kind of car into the lot. They all dressed neatly and conservatively. They identified themselves as college-educated professionals (sample job: systems analyst at a bank). And they said they lived in the upper-income Chicago neighborhood of Streeterville. The car salesman, then, has several pieces of data from which to create his stereotype. He has the gender, race, age, occupation, educational level, and class (or at least a class proxy) of his potential customer. And what did he do? With the black men, he zeroed in on age and race, and ignored everything else.

In his critique of my analysis of Ayres, Judge Posner did the same thing. When he says that it may be “sensible to ascribe the group's average characteristics to each member of the group,” the “group” he’s talking about is race. But why is Posner—like the car salesmen—so hung up about race? Wouldn’t it be just as sensible, in the case of black men, to define their “group” as the group of college-educated, upper income professionals? So too with Steve Sailer. He says that car salesman are acting rationally, based on the fact that black men—as a group—like to be seen overpaying for cars. I have made my feelings known about what I see as the motivation behind that particular comment. But let’s just focus here on its appropriateness. Why is Sailer—like Posner and Ayres’car dealers—so intent on zeroing in on what is only one of many available and relevant facts about the customer?

The short answer to that question, I think, is that this is what racial prejudice is: it is the irrational elevation of race-based considerations over other, equally or more relevant factors.
But let me make two other points. First, thinking of the Ayres study this way gives us, I think, some insight into the anger that continues to be felt in the African-American community over discrimination. Put yourself in the shoes of one of those black males in Ayres study. You go to college. You get a good job. You make a lot of money. You move to a posh neighborhood. And when you walk into a car dealership all of those achievemens—and what they signal about you—vanish, and the salesmen only sees the color of your skin. Can you understand now why I’ve been hammering away on this subject?

Second, some of the commenters to my previous posts seem to have been of the opinion that price discrimination represented a kind of shrewd, profit-maximization strategy by salesmen. Shrewd? Tell me what’s so shrewd about being given four critical facts about a potential customer, and deciding to discard three of them?

The logical implication of Malcolm's argument is that Americans need to cultivate more sophisticated stereotypes, which is what I've been pointing out for years. In 2003 I wrote:

"I think it would be good for society if whites become more aware of black social class markers. Something that drives black anger is when a young black man with a college degree is crossing the street and he hears from inside all the cars at the stoplight the "ka-chunk" of white motorists locking their doors to keep him from carjacking them.

"For about a decade, I've assumed that a younger black man wearing those small, typically round wire-rimmed glasses is making a statement about his social class and aspirations, indicating something like "I'm no nerd, but I have definitely been to college. I'm hip-hop, but I'm not ghet-to. I'm cool, but I'm a thinker."

"The first celebrity I can remember with this look was John Singleton, director of "Boyz 'n the Hood," back about 1992. Laurence Fishburne's guru Morpheus in "The Matrix" (above) is another example. (The head doesn't have to be shaved and the lenses don't have to be tinted, but that doesn't hurt the image). You often hear a particular accent from wire-rimmed glasses wearing black guys, too: it sounds both black and educated, but rugged, not prissy."

In the past, the educated black man would adopt a white accent and white visual styles. But, the more recent generations of college-educated black men don't want to do that. They want to assert their blackness. On the other hand, they also want to assert their social class. So, they've adopted some subtle clues that other blacks can easily pick up on. Unfortunately, the little glasses and this new accent are too subtle for many whites to notice.

So, what America needs is More and Better Stereotyping!

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

What I'm really obsessing over these days: vicious birds!

Forget Malcolm Gladwell, because what I've actually been dwelling on is the prospect of carnage in my backyard. As Matt Drudge long ago discovered, nothing interests the modern mind more than ferocious beasts trying to eat you or your pets.

As I mentioned last week, about a half hour after dark I was stepping into my backyard when a giant bird of prey swooped down and just about caught my son's sprinting white bunny, who lives out back. I want to thank everybody who offered advice on what to do about it.

One reader pointed out that I might have been arrested on federal environmental charges for throwing lemons at the huge predator to scare it off when it returned for a second attack.

Many others suggested blasting the bird with a shotgun, which is excellent advice assuming I owned a shotgun, could aim it accurately, had a non-tiny backyard, and wouldn't soon afterwards have LAPD helicopters circling overhead, shining spotlights on me and announcing in the Voice of Doom from Above: "Put down the weapon, sir."

I thought about stringing fishing line over the backyard to snag the brute as it dives, but then I started to wonder what exactly I would then do with an extremely angry three foot tall raptor with a broken wing hopping around my backyard.

Falconry guru Steven Bodio and birdwatcher and statistics maven Audacious Epigone both suggested it was probably not a hawk, as I initially assumed, but a Great Horned Owl, in which case the rabbit is toast, since GOH's are smart and determined.

On further reflection, however, I now think it wasn't a hawk or an owl, but a golden eagle. A few days afterwards, I saw a huge golden-brown bird circling over the freeway (rodents live in the landscaping alongside LA freeways). Perhaps he was commuting back to his home in the hills after sunset and caught a glimpse of the white rabbit below. This would probably be good news compared to it being a GOH because golden eagles are rare this far south and no doubt have huge territories.

Then I started wondering whether this kind of thing might not happen all the time to Fred the Rabbit. It was purely a fluke that I saw it this time. Maybe he narrowly escapes a bloody death once a week.

You sure can't tell from the rabbit's demeanor. What I admire about Fred is that, unlike the teenagers in my house, he never sulks. If an eagle almost got your cat, his dignity would be offended for a week. If a mountain lion almost ate your horse, he'd be skittish for a month. But rabbits don't worry about the past. They don't take offense for long. If you pick Fred up and carry him outside, he might fight you desperately all the way, but within one to two seconds of being put down, he'll be contentedly munching on some greens.

So, all we've done to protect the rabbit so far is strew even more junk around the backyard than was already out there, so that he's never more than 6-8 feet from a chair or something else to sprint under. Give Fred a chance to turn around and face the bird so he could slash at him with his powerful back paws, and he'd stand a fighting chance. W

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Not all the precincts are in yet, but …

On Sunday, bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell of The New Yorker wrote on his blog:

"I think we can all agree that comments like "black men enjoy being seen as big spenders" or black people "possess poorer native judgment" can be accurately described as examples of racism, and the kinds of people who say things like that can be accurately described as racists. Do those examples work better for you, Steve Sailer? Oh--wait. I forgot to say the name of the reviewer who wrote those two racist statements: Steve Sailer.

"Is there anyone who would object, at this point, if I made this blog a Steve-Sailer-free zone? I suggest that we vote on it. A simple "in" or "out" will suffice, although any accompanying commentary would, of course, be welcome. I promise to abide by the result."

One commenter counted up the votes on Malcolm Gladwell's own blog in response, and as a couple of days ago, I was winning 98-36.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Readers respond on car salesmen and discrimination

Readers respond about car salesmen and price discrimination: A reader writes:

Gladwell fails to understand that it is the existence of the trait within a group that attracts the sharks, not a particular animus towards that group. The car salesmen couldn't care less if the trait is possessed primarily by blacks or Asians or whites. It's the fact that some traits/vulnerabilities do exist within groups that gives them their edge. He's making the issue black when it is green$$.

Example: I live in Utah, a state that is 70% Mormon, most of them white. The religion is weird, but the people are decent, hard working and trusting. Utah is known as the scam capital of the world; pyramid schemes, downline schemes, penny stock swindles, etc.

Why is this the case? Because Mormons have two traits easily exploited by con-men: thriftiness and gullibility. They save money and they trust people who are members in good standing with the Church. Almost all of the scam artists in Utah history have pulled off their swindles by attending LDS wards, getting in close with the bishops (think priests) and presenting themselves as faithful followers of Joseph Smith. Once you're in tight with one ward, it spreads like wildfire because of the tight-knit, trusting nature of the community. Indeed, those are the traits that the cons count on. And again, the LDS membership is overwhelmingly white.


About 15 years ago, we had a hilarious exchange in The Washington Post and The New Republic on a startling discovery by a team of crack Post investigative reporters. In downtown DC, it seems, many jewelry shops have locked doors during business hours. Owners have to 'buzz' new customers in through the door before these customers can check out the sparkling wares. The Post investigators found that young black males were buzzed in at a slower pace and less frequently than were other shoppers.

Much kibitzing followed. At least two-thirds was composed of either: 1) outrage at the insult to young black males undoubtedly looking for wedding rings; or 2) Gladwell-esque lectures on the unconscious biases that governed the behavior of the doltish jewelers. Only a few people pointed out that jewelers: 1) prefer to live; and 2) know nothing about new customers except their physical appearance. Thomas Sowell, who has heard all the BS before, called it a matter of "Bayesian inference" under fairly high-stakes circumstances.

I would distinguish between jobs where you can get killed by your customers, like jewelry store employee and taxi cab driver, and jobs where you can't, like car salesman (it's impractical to violently steal a car from a dealership).

Back in the early 1990s, several dozen cabbies were being murdered each year in New York City alone. When the government tried to force them to pick up black males, they would stage huge protest parades down Fifth Avenue. Too bad Malcolm Gladwell wasn't employed at the New Yorker back then to explain to the cabbies (many of them black immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean) that it wasn't really their fault they were discriminating; they were just suffering from "unconscious prejudices" against black males. Obviously, he would have told them, it would be completely irrational for a cabdriver to decide who it would be safer to pick up at 3 AM based on their skin color, so there can't be a rational explanation for the drivers' reprehensible conduct. I'm sure the slain cabbies' widows and orphans would have appreciated Malcolm's views.


Here's a quote from a very long and informative article entitled "Confessions of a Car Salesman" by a writer who went undercover and got a job as a new car salesman at a California dealership peddling Japanese models:

"My manager had, at one point, described the different races and nationalities and what they were like as customers. It would be too inflammatory to repeat what he said here. But the gist of it was that the people of such-and-such nationality were "lie downs" (people who buy without negotiating), while the people of another race were "roaches" (they had bad credit), and people from that country were "mooches" (they tried to buy the car for invoice price).

"I'll repeat what Michael, my ASM, told me about Caucasians. He said white people never come into the dealership. 'They're all on the Internet trying to find out what our invoice price is. We never even get a shot at them. I hate it. I mean, would they go (to a mall) and say, "What's your invoice price on that beautiful suit?" No. So why are they doing it here?'"


You wrote:

“Of course, a 99th percentile salesman would be precisely the one most likely to figure out what Mr. Gladwell wants to hear about the car business and feed it back to him.”

Maybe Borat should be sent to talk to the car salesmen.

Too bad Borat (or Ali G) didn't interview Malcolm.


The Inductivist blogs:

Do blacks bargain hunt as much as whites? This debate between Steve Sailer (I like) and Malcolm Gladwell (I'm indifferent to) has been very interesting. As is usually the case, my response to this sort of thing is what does the crystal ball (i.e., General Social Survey) say? Are blacks big spenders or bargain hunters, the same as whites?. (By the way, their reputation for cheapskate tipping suggests the latter).

According to the GSS, 51.5% of whites (138 out of 268) who bought a car in the past 5 years chose a particular dealership because, after searching out the best price, they decided that it was the place to go. The number for blacks: 47.8% (22 out of 46). A small difference. As much as I'd hoped these data would back up Steve, there's not much evidence here. Keep in mind the black sample is small, and doing one's homework before buying a car is a bit different than face-to-face interactions with a salesman.

I'm pretty much a penny pincher, and I do seem to see quite a few blacks shop where I frequently shop: Walmart, dollar stores, Big Lots. I don't care that being seen there makes me look like a tight wad, and some blacks evidently feel the same. (Of course, this is anecdotal, and I don't know if blacks are truly over-represented or under-represented in these stores. I believe there is a lot of data that blacks typically spend a lot more of their income on clothes than do whites.

Across Difficult Country cites a PricewaterhouseCoopers study of inner city black spending habits that finds poor blacks like spend a lot on ostentatious purchases:

"African-American inner-city shoppers are 35 percent more likely than the population as a whole to buy women's dress shoes. They're also 54 percent more likely to purchase teen boys' clothing, and 64 percent more likely than average to buy fine jewelry... "

While American households in general spend an average of $1,069 annually on apparel, inner-city African Americans spend $1,502."

This question of wanting to be seen as a big spender versus driving a hard bargain is extremely circumstance specific. Ethnic groups differ -- a friend who is a small businessman in LA tells me the most difficult customers tend to be Armenians, Koreans, and Israelis, while the most aristocratically insouciant tend to be South Americans.

But even within ethnic groups, the classes differ, with the hereditary rich and the poor tending to be more embarassed about being seen as overly concerned with getting their money's worth.

And then even within each class, whom you are supposed to impress with your largesse differs. For example, among Oxford undergrads back in the Brideshead Revisited days, honor demanded that gambling debts be paid immediately and in full. But it was perfectly gentlemanly to ignore bills from your tailor, since he was just a tradesman. In contrast, an American corporate executive who is hard as nails negotiating in the board room might tip his caddy lavishly. To him, the golf club is the place to spend the money you save at the office. Social rules vary a lot.

That's what makes Malcolm's frenzied denunciation of me -- "Is the comment malicious or intended to wound? Again, yes" -- for mentioning that black males tend to "enjoy being seen as big spenders" so hilarious. Malcolm betrays his extremely bourgeois upbringing. An awful lot of people around the world prefer being seen as big spenders that as tightwads. And just about everybody likes to be seen as a big spender at some time and place.

African-Americans tend to be poor tippers of service workers. Ian Ayres, who did the car salesman study, went on to document:

We collected data on over 1000 taxicab rides in New Haven, CT in 2001. After controlling for a host of other variables, we find two potential racial disparities in tipping: (1) African-American cab drivers were tipped approximately one-third less than white cab drivers; and (2) African-American passengers tipped approximately one-half the amount of white passengers (African-American passengers are 3.7 times more likely than white passengers to leave no tip).

Many studies have documented seller discrimination against consumers, but this study tests and finds that consumers discriminate based on the seller's race. African-American passengers also participated in the racial discrimination. While African-American passengers generally tipped less, they also tipped black drivers approximately one-third less than they tipped white drivers.

Of course, car salesmen work hard to establish in the eyes of male customers that they aren't lowly waitresses you can stiff and still feel good about yourself. They are real men, major players. Are you man enough to earn their respect? Or are you some wimp who doesn't expect to ever earn much money, so you haggle down the price of the crummy DX model and refuse the undercoating? Blacks tend to have the large but fragile male egos that are particularly vulnerable to this sales approach.

One of the major themes of Tom Wolfe's work from The Right Stuff onward is the interpersonal power of masculinity. When I mentioned to him that I had to be on the lookout all the time not to be intimidated or cajoled into doing something I didn't want to do by more masculine men, Wolfe replied that they also were always on the lookout for opportunities to intimidate guys like me.


If Malcolm would move away from the typical American thinking about race, that there are only two, black and white, and observe a culture outside the continental United States, you'd see that the car salesman discrimination phenomenon is alive and well in other places and (gasp!) with other races.

Take Hawaii, for example -- car salesman there who I've talked to have a whole system of who-will-buy-what-at-what-price, and it has nothing to do with blacks and whites -- it's exclusively about the various types of Asians which are so richly represented in Hawaii. I.e. Chinese are the most difficult to do a deal with, the hardest to rip off, while Japanese are the easiest, etc. Wake up, Malcolm -- racial and ethnic diversity exists, and those in the trenches will make assumptions based on their observations about various groups out of necessity (and greed) even when the subjects are not black and white.

There's a big difference between Japanese and Chinese on the sensitivity v. brusqueness dimension. I wonder why?


Am tremendously enjoying your fisking of Gladwell. (Perhaps with a bit too much Schadenfreude on my part.) Wanted to point out a couple things.

It is clear that Gladwell, sadly, does not really understand business and/or sales. When he writes:

"This is the context for Ayres' study of car salesmen. Cars are high-ticket items with an awful lot of discretion built into their price—and because of a variety of cultural and historical quirks in the car marketplace there isn't a lot of freely available information about who paid what for what. (Imagine, for example, if we bought cars the same way we bought real estate. You would ask the salesman about the Passat, with the sport package and the leather interior, and the salesman would give you "comparables" for every Passat sold in the United States in the past six months with the sport package and the leather interior. End of story. But for the inability of car dealers to join the 21st century, we wouldn't be having this discussion about price discrimination)."

He is actually undercutting his own argument. Both markets, real estate (and especially real estate) and automobiles, are characterized by strong information asymmetry. The seller has all the info (costs, market conditions) and has been through the process hundreds of times, you, the buyer, have very little info (depending on how much research you have done/purchased), and probably don't purchase that many homes or cars throughout your lifetime, so don't have the equivalent experience either.

Regarding his comparables example, this is laughable and a horrible fit. As if the selling real estate agent would actually seek to not maximize his commission and show comps that don't suggest the highest price possible for his product? Neither is the buyer's agent always properly incentivized either. The buying agent will always show the highest price-point comps to gain the business of the prospective seller -- what the market will bear might be a bit different. (Plus, you don't have the equivalent of a buying agent in car shopping.)

Anyhow, keep on keepin' on.

Perhaps Gladwell should try reading Steven D. Levitt's Freakonomics, which has a chapter on real estate agents as the source of all evil in this world. Of course, Gladwell provided the front cover blurb for Freakonomics, but maybe he didn't have time to read it.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer