March 23, 2006

How Many Dogs Does it Take to Change a Light Bulb?

You probably got the email long before I did...

Border Collie: "Just one. And then I'll replace any wiring that's not up to code."

Afghan: "Light bulb? What light bulb?"

Golden Retriever: "The sun is shining, the day is young, we've got our whole lives ahead of us, and you're inside worrying about a stupid burned-out light bulb?"

Rottweiler: "Just one. You want to make something of it?"

Lab: "Oh, me, me! Pleeeeeeeze let me change the light bulb! Can I? Can I? Can I? Huh? Can I?"

Jack Russell Terrier: "I'll just pop it in while I am bouncing off the walls and furniture."

Cocker Spaniel: "Why change it? I can still pee on the carpet in the dark."

Pointer: "I see it, there it is, there it is, right there . . . ."

Greyhound: "It isn't moving so who cares?"

Australian Shepard: "First I'll put all the light bulbs in a little circle . . ."

Boxer: "If I could stop wiggling my butt long enough to quit falling off the chair..."

Golden Retriever #2: "I'll be glad to change the light bulb for you, but first can't we play catch with the tennis ball, or frisbee - and then I want to lick your face and rest my head in your lap and look up at you with my sad eyes. What, you're changing the light bulb yourself - you didn't have to do that - but I looooove you so much for being my friend and doing that."

Dalmatian: "Just one, but I will really hate the new bulb."

Wolf-dog hybrid: "Let me see that light bulb, anyway. What's it made of, what's inside of it, what will happen if I drop it. I might change it, but let me think about it. You're not trying to tell me what to do, are you? Hey, I just had a great idea. I think I'll change that light bulb!"

Pit bull: "Just one, but then I'll hang on to it, dangling from it until the ceiling falls in."

Good thing nobody ever sent this email to Malcolm Gladwell. He might have exploded in distress at the stereotypes.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

"Inside Man"

Good movie. It's a heist flick with Clive Owen playing the genius bankrobber who takes 50 hostages, Denzel Washington as the NYPD negotiator who slowly figures out the bankrobber has memorized the police manual that he's been working from, and Jodie Foster in a supporting role as a shady fix-it lady for the rich powerful who is hired by the owner of the bank (Christopher Plummer) to prevent the bankrobbers from getting incriminating documents in the vault. Meanwhile, every ethnicity in New York is barking amusing insults at each other. My wife says, "It's 'Crash' with a plot."

Spike Lee directs from a screenplay by (fortunately) someone else, and turns in a solid job. Spike's last movie "She Hate Me" was one of the worst auteur efforts in history. If gays can have marriage, Spiked asked, why can't African-Americans have polygamy? (My AmCon review is here.) But, Spike remains a talented guy as long as he doesn't author the script.

The comparison of Spike to Woody Allen that was widespread when Spike's first movie came out two decades ago, but that seems to have been forgotten since, remains valid: Like Woody, Spike is broadly if perhaps not deeply talented: he's a funny (if limited) actor, an above-average director, and a good writer of dialogue. Spike might be a more interesting social thinker than Woody -- he's a socially conservative black racist -- but his movies have been undone by several problems.

First, Spike is lousy at constructing plots. For example, despite the sterling cast of his 1991 "Mo' Better Blues" (Denzel Washington, Wesley Snipes, and Samuel L. Jackson) and its uplifting family values moral, it's just a mess of a storyline.

Second, he's never really been fully honest with himself about his socio-political views, so his movies tend to combine insight with preachy flapdoodle.

Third, unlike Woody, who can keep making movie after movie knowing that his target audience -- smart Jews -- is big enough (although just barely) to support him, Spike has suffered the disillusioning realization that his target audience -- smart blacks -- isn't big enough to let him make movies on the scale he wants. It's quite sad.

But, lacking control of the script in "Inside Man," Spike's talents can be displayed without his usual self-sabotage. In particular, he's the best director at goading New York actors into displays of ethnic animus. Being a world-class hater himself, he's terrific at bringing out the worst in people. Denzel Washington clearly relishes getting a role where he can be a nasty son-of-a-gun of a hero.

You can tell Clive Owen is a bankrobber with a heart of gold because he's not using a British accent like all the really bad guys in movies these days (e.g., Paul Bettany in "Firewall"). I'm not sure exactly what accent he is using -- it sounds pretty mid-Atlantic, like about where the Titanic hit the iceberg -- but it's not the usual evil English aristocrat criminal's accent.

Jodie Foster is perfectly cast as a Fema Superior, a smug super-fixer who takes on ethically delicate jobs for NYC's richest, like getting Osama bin Laden's nephew into an exclusive co-op building. I'm sure Google will send my way lots of inquiries of the "Jodie Foster lesbian" ilk, but this casting finally reflects the "Jodie Foster eugencist" theme in her personality that I pointed out back in 2000.

The subplot by screenwriter Russell Gewirtz -- Christopher Plummer is a billionaire banker trying to cover up the fact that he made his fortune as a Swiss banker in WWII working with the Nazis to steal from Jews -- is the usual Hollywood hokum. Plummer (of the "Sound of Music") is one of the oldest working minor stars, but even he was born in December of either 1927 or 1929 (sources disagree). So in either case he would have been a minor when World War II ended and thus isn't old enough to have made a fortune during WWII.

The only movie I've seen recently that pointed out that the few surviving genuine Nazi war criminals are now well into their dotage was the good Israeli film "Walk on Water." In contrast, New York and London are full of billionaires in their primes who made their fortunes looting Russia in the 1990s, but Hollywood instead seems to prefer Nazi war criminals as villains in movies set in present times. I wonder why?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Diversity v. Truth and Freedom, Part CCCMXXXII:

From the BBC:

Racism row lecturer is suspended

A lecturer who suggested ethnicity could influence average intelligence levels has been suspended from his job.

Dr Frank Ellis was suspended from his post as a lecturer at Leeds University [in Britain] pending disciplinary procedures. The university emphasised that the suspension was not itself a penalty but said it had been deemed appropriate given "the seriousness of the issues".

The lecturer in Russian and Slavonic Studies told a student newspaper there was a "persistent gap" in IQ levels.

That there is a "'persistent gap' in IQ levels" is of course what makes Ellis's offense so heinous.

More than 500 students signed a petition calling for him to be sacked. Many of them later demonstrated in Leeds against his views. Leeds University had previously said that those views were "abhorrent" but there was no evidence he had discriminated against students.

But on Thursday, university secretary Roger Gair said in a statement that details of the disciplinary process "must remain a private matter" between employer and employee. But he said three issues were being looked into:

- In publicising his personal views on race and other matters, Dr Ellis had acted in breach of the university's equality and diversity policy, "and in a way that is wholly at odds with our values".

- He had "recklessly jeopardised" the fulfilment of the university's obligations under the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000.

- He had failed to comply with "reasonable requests" - for example, to apologise for the distress which his remarks on race and other matters have caused to many people, or to give an undertaking he would make no further public comments suggesting one racial group is inherently inferior (or superior) to another "unless there is no possibility whatsoever that anyone hearing or reading his comments might reasonably associate him with the University of Leeds". Mr Gair said the university was "clearly and publicly distancing itself" from his comments.

"Given the seriousness of the issues I have been outlining, the vice-chancellor, Professor Michael Arthur, has decided to suspend Dr Ellis from his duties while the disciplinary process is underway," he said. He added: "I must emphasise that suspension is not in itself a disciplinary penalty."

Dr Ellis has expressed support for the Bell Curve theory, examined in a book by Richard Hernnstein and Charles Murray, which concludes that ethnicity can play a part in IQ levels.

He has previously maintained he has never treated a black student differently to a white student, and said he had "done nothing wrong".

Labelling him a racist was "an attempt to close down any discussion" and an attack on his freedom of speech, he said.

The disciplinary process might take some time to complete - possibly months. The university said it intended to make no further public comment until it had been concluded.

A reader writes:

Reminds me of the scene in "Deuce Bigelow, European Gigolo," where Deuce (Rob Schneider) finds T.J. Hicks (Eddie Griffin) by looking at the only Waffles and Chicken joint in Holland.

TJ: How'd you find me?

Deuce: It’s the only chicken and waffles place in Holland.

TJ: So a black man's gotta be at a chicken and waffles place? That's racist.

Deuce: But you are here.

TJ: Yeah, but figuring it out is racist.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The three fundamental facts of college basketball

- Roughly one-half of all black basketball players and one-sixth of all white basketball players have IQs below 85, a level at which it is pointless for them to sit in college classrooms.

- Having a basketball team can generate a lot of money for a college, but colleges aren't allowed to pay players a salary, so vast amounts of money are channeled into recruiting and bribing athletes.

- The good news is that there is so much money to be made from college basketball that the odds that a talented athlete will be prevented from playing just because he's a complete idiot in the classroom are nil.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Read the Whole Thing Dept

Once again, Robert J. Samuelson, the venerable economics columnist for the Washington Post and Newsweek, is on fire, eviscerating the conventional wisdom on illegal immigration.

We Don't Need 'Guest Workers'
By Robert J. Samuelson

Economist Philip Martin of the University of California likes to tell a story about the state's tomato industry. In the early 1960s, growers relied on seasonal Mexican laborers, brought in under the government's "bracero" program. The Mexicans picked the tomatoes that were then processed into ketchup and other products. In 1964 Congress killed the program despite growers' warnings that its abolition would doom their industry. What happened? Well, plant scientists developed oblong tomatoes that could be harvested by machine. Since then, California's tomato output has risen fivefold.

It's a story worth remembering, because we're being warned again that we need huge numbers of "guest workers" -- meaning unskilled laborers from Mexico and Central America -- to relieve U.S. "labor shortages." Indeed, the shortages will supposedly worsen as baby boomers retire. President Bush wants an open-ended program. Sens. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) advocate initially admitting 400,000 guest workers annually. The Senate is considering these and other plans.

Gosh, they're all bad ideas.

Guest workers would mainly legalize today's vast inflows of illegal immigrants, with the same consequence: We'd be importing poverty. This isn't because these immigrants aren't hardworking; many are. Nor is it because they don't assimilate; many do. But they generally don't go home, assimilation is slow and the ranks of the poor are constantly replenished. Since 1980 the number of Hispanics with incomes below the government's poverty line (about $19,300 in 2004 for a family of four) has risen 162 percent. Over the same period, the number of non-Hispanic whites in poverty rose 3 percent and the number of blacks, 9.5 percent. What we have now -- and would with guest workers -- is a conscious policy of creating poverty in the United States while relieving it in Mexico. By and large, this is a bad bargain for the United States. It stresses local schools, hospitals and housing; it feeds social tensions (witness the Minutemen). To be sure, some Americans get cheap housecleaning or landscaping services. But if more mowed their own lawns or did their own laundry, it wouldn't be a tragedy.

The most lunatic notion is that admitting more poor Latino workers would ease the labor market strains of retiring baby boomers. The two aren't close substitutes for each other. Among immigrant Mexican and Central American workers in 2004, only 7 percent had a college degree and nearly 60 percent lacked a high school diploma, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Among native-born U.S. workers, 32 percent had a college degree and only 6 percent did not have a high school diploma. Far from softening the social problems of an aging society, more poor immigrants might aggravate them by pitting older retirees against younger Hispanics for limited government benefits.

It's a myth that the U.S. economy "needs" more poor immigrants. The illegal immigrants already here represent only about 4.9 percent of the labor force, the Pew Hispanic Center reports. In no major occupation are they a majority. They're 36 percent of insulation workers, 28 percent of drywall installers and 20 percent of cooks. They're drawn here by wage differences, not labor "shortages." In 2004, the median hourly wage in Mexico was $1.86, compared with $9 for Mexicans working in the United States, said Rakesh Kochhar of Pew. With high labor turnover in the jobs they take, most new illegal immigrants can get work by accepting wages slightly below prevailing levels.

Hardly anyone thinks that most illegal immigrants will leave. But what would happen if new illegal immigration stopped and wasn't replaced by guest workers? Well, some employers would raise wages to attract U.S. workers. Facing greater labor costs, some industries would -- like the tomato growers in the 1960s -- find ways to minimize those costs. As to the rest, what's wrong with higher wages for the poorest workers? From 1994 to 2004, the wages of high school dropouts rose only 2.3 percent (after inflation) compared with 11.9 percent for college graduates. [More]

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Liberal diversity-worship as conspicuous consumption

A reader writes:

There’s probably a decent body of work to be done showing that to some extent liberal beliefs are a form of “conspicuous display” amongst the human animal.

Because one can “afford” to hold such beliefs, a person will espouse things that are actually counterproductive to the group/society/nation.

If all the rubes think immigration is bad, the rich can demonstrate their evolutionary fitness by confounding the rubes and saying “no, it’s not a problem…” and then inventing reasons why.

Displaying insouciance about the impact of illegal aliens' kids on the public schools and contempt toward those who are concerned shows that you're not some loser who has to worry about such things -- you live in an exclusive suburb or send your kids to private school or are too young and sexy to have kids at all.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

March 22, 2006

Chinese, Korean, or Japanese?

Dienekes has been posting a lot of composite photographs of multiple faces (an investigative technique invented by -- who else? -- Sir Francis Galton) of different nationalities. Which of the composites is Chinese? Which is Korean? Which is Japanese? Click here to find out.

I got it right, which I guess is proof that I haven't forgotten quite everything I learned at UCLA from 1980-1982 while getting my MBA.

And here's a pretty easy one: Which is Germanic? Which is Slavic? Click here.

His latest is "The geography of European phenotypical variation: 27 composite pictures of male athletes."

This raises the old question about the difference in looks between a racial average and a "type." As you can see from the composites, the differences between averages, while noticeable, are not huge. On the other hand, if you went to, say, Poland and Germany, you'd be able to find individuals in each country whom represent their types so extremely that very few adults would mistake their nationalities.

For example, Charles De Gaulle, perhaps partly through some act of will involving how he chose to hold his face, always struck me as ineffably French-looking. (Indeed, the incredibly French-looking classic 1960s Citroen luxury car always seemed to me to somehow look like De Gaulle.) That doesn't mean the average Frenchman is as French-looking as De Gaulle. But it does mean that there are tendencies within the French which De Gaulle took to an extreme. (Keep in mind that differences in looks between cultures aren't just genetic, but also involve customary facial expressions.)

Another complicating factor is that there are often multiple types within a nationality. For example, when I went to Moscow in 2001, the first night the young singer in a 1950s rockabilly band was a dead ringer for Putin and his skull-like head. "Now, that's a Russian!" I said to myself. The next morning, an elderly WWII veteran begging in the subway looked exactly like Brezhnev and his luxurious eyebrows. "Now, that's a Russian!" But, of course, Putin and Brezhnev are quite different-looking. Russia, being a vast country, is full of recognizably Russian types that don't look to much like each other.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The Wall Street Journal's Editorial Department: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

WSJ OpinionJournal editor James Taranto is still sore at the article by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, " The Israel Lobby." The two scholars wrote:

No discussion of the Lobby would be complete without an examination of one of its most powerful weapons: the charge of anti-semitism. Anyone who criticises Israel’s actions or argues that pro-Israel groups have significant influence over US Middle Eastern policy – an influence AIPAC celebrates – stands a good chance of being labelled an anti-semite. Indeed, anyone who merely claims that there is an Israel Lobby runs the risk of being charged with anti-semitism, even though the Israeli media refer to America’s ‘Jewish Lobby’. In other words, the Lobby first boasts of its influence and then attacks anyone who calls attention to it. It’s a very effective tactic: anti-semitism is something no one wants to be accused of.

As if to provide them with an object lesson, Taranto beats the David Duke dead horse/red herring for the second day in a row:

This seems like as good an excuse as any to take a second whack at Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, whose shoddy anti-Israel screed, published under the aegis of Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, has won praise from David Duke. Yesterday we eviscerated [c'mon, James, don't be so modest] their moral case against Israel but passed over their dismissal of Israel's strategic value. On that question, reader James Brothers makes an excellent point:

Many years ago I sponsored a Jordanian officer at the U.S. Army Field Artillery Center at Fort Sill, Okla. Ibrahim was quite critical of both Israel and U.S. Middle Eastern policy. He could not understand why the U.S. was so unequivocally pro-Israel.

That is until I asked him the following question: If the Soviet Union attacked the U.S., which side would Jordan be on? He replied that it would depend, but that generally Jordan was pro- Western. Then I asked him which side Israel would be on. You could almost see the light bulb go off. His reply was simply, "Oh."

Oh, indeed. Who can forget the gallant Israeli troops who fought side by side with Americans in Korea and Vietnam? Who can forget how when Stalin died in 1953, the leadership of Israel held a memorial service for his millions of victims in the Ukrainian Holocaust? Who can forget the Lavon Affair in 1954 when Israeli intelligence stopped Muslim terrorists from bombing American facilities in Egypt? Who can forget how, at President Eisenhower's request, Israel stopped Egypt from seizing the Suez Canal in 1956? Who can forget how Israel cooperated whole-heartedly with President Kennedy's anti-nuclear proliferation campaign? Who can forget how Israel rescued the U.S.S. Liberty when it came under attack for hours by hostile Arab air forces? Who can forget how Israel paid Jonathan Pollard to steal the Soviet nuclear war attack plan and then traded it to the United States government?

Oh, wait a minute ... Oops. All that happened in Bizarro World. The opposite actually happened in our world. Never mind ...

Look, Israel is a separate country. I wish it well. Like all separate countries, it does what it feels it has to do. And most of the things it decides it has to do have very little to do with the welfare of America. We shouldn't blame it -- it's located in a dicey corner of the world -- but we shouldn't ignore the reality either.

That numerous Americans truly believe that Israel cares deeply about America's well-being is proof of Ben Franklin's maxim that the way to make a friend is not to do someone a favor, but to have him do you favors.

In his Farewell Address, George Washington (with input from Alexander Hamilton and James Madison) explained the dangers of today's neoconservatism with prophetic clarity. Here's an excerpt:

"Sympathy for the favorite [foreign] nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification... Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government. But that jealousy to be useful must be impartial; else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defense against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests."

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

March 21, 2006

What really happened in the Balkans

A reader writes:

I got really, really interested in the whole Balkan situation at the time it was happening. Read all kinds of stuff, not just current events stuff but Serbian poetry and folklore, that sort of thing. I was still a center-leftie at the time, so I attended all sorts of center-lefty kinds of events about the war, and I got to be known as the guy who confused everybody with too many facts.

Some comments:

In terms of proximate causes, the conflict was basically Germany's fault. Germany, feeling its oats after reunification, immediately recognized both Slovenia and Croatia (historically parts of the Hapsburg Empire and hence in the German cultural sphere) when they broke away from Yugoslavia. Britain and the US were, at the time, trying to figure out how to keep Yugoslavia together, because Major and Bush foresaw that the breakup would be bloody. (BTW, little known fact: President Bush - 41 - made a commitment at the time of the breakup of Yugoslavia that the U.S. would not permit Serbian aggression in Kosovo. This was timely because Milosevic began his populist/nationalist campaign in 1989 by agitating to restore Serb dominance in Kossovo. The subject was of concern to the Turks in particular, which is why Bush made the commitment. People who cannot figure out why we went to war over Kossovo are probably forgetting that we drew a line in that particular patch of sand nearly a decade prior to the war.)

You'll recall that Secretary of State James Baker also tried to convince the Ukrainians not to split, for much the same reason (and I predict he'll be proved right - we continue to inch towards the likely eventual Ukrainian civil war, though thankfully we're still only inching). But, for the sake of European unity, France promptly followed Germany's lead and recognized Slovenia and Croatia, and then Britain followed suit. The U.S. held out for a while, but once all of Europe recognized the breakup of Yugoslavia there was no way to put the cat back in the bag.

The unity of Yugoslavia was a crucial priority for NATO throughout the Cold War, since ethnic divisiveness could be used as an excuse for a Soviet military intervention to re-incorporate neutral Yugoslavia within the Warsaw Pact. The news that Tito was dying of cancer that arrived in January 1980, immediately following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the hostage seizure in Tehran, was perhaps the most alarming moment since the Cuban Missile Crisis. I was in college in January 1980 and the odds that we'd be drafted and have to fight in Europe in WWIII seemed pretty high at the time.

Fortunately, Yugoslavia held together for another decade. Then, the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 broke up the Warsaw Pact and presumably gave an impetus by example to the break-up of Yugoslavia. That raised the question of whether a general trend toward breaking up along ethnic lines was in the West's interest or not. Should the breaking up of Yugoslavia be encouraged in order to make the reincorporation of the Warsaw Pact unthinkable and make the break-up of the Soviet Union thinkable? Our great fear for 40 years had been of a tank invasion from the East and the more the borders of Russian control were pushed back, the less likely it became. Or were we better off with the devil we knew?

(In general, it's easy to forget just how uncertain and perilous the future looked in 1989-1991. For example, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was deeply unhappy about German re-unification. I was sitting with General William Odom, the former head of the National Security Administration, at a dinner in 1999 where Mrs. Thatcher gave her a speech. During the Q&A, the very pro-German Gen. Odom gave her hell about this. Afterwards, Mrs. Thatcher came over to our table and argued heatedly with Gen. Odom for ten minutes. It ended with Gen. Odom telling her, "My ancestors hid behind trees and shot your ancestors wearing those stupid redcoats during the Revolutionary War!" Mrs. Thatcher laughed, and they went off to the bar and shot the breeze amiably for two hours. As we know now, German reunification turned out to be a net drag on the strength of Germany, so Mrs. T's traditional English fear of the might of a united Germany turned out to be misplaced. But, the future wasn't so obvious back then.)

Milosevic tried to invade both Slovenia and Croatia to keep Yugoslavia together. But there was no way he could hold on to either. Slovenia was, luckily for it, already a pretty monocultural entity, over 90% Slovene with no geographically concentrated minorities, so the Slovenian war of independence ended quickly and without too much bloodshed. But Croatia's territory included the Krajina region, which was overwhelmingly Serb and, moreover, the historic home of some of the most rabidly nationalist Serbs (naturally enough, since they were surrounded by Croats and were the top targets for expulsion or murder by the Croats during WWII). So the Krajina broke away from Croatia, and the Yugoslav army invaded to defend them against the Croats.

Bosnia was left surrounded and in an impossible situation. It had to declare independence to avoid being crushed by Serbia, but there was no chance it could hold together as a unitary state. And if it did break up, the largest component of the population - the Muslim Slavs - would have no ethnic state to call their own; they would either be a minority in a Greater Croatia or a minority in a Greater Serbia. It didn't help matters that the Serb region of Bosnia abutted not Serbia but the Krajina region of Croatia, and was separated from Serbia proper by Muslim and Croat regions. The situation is similar to the Armenian situation in Nagorno-Karabakh or the Palestinian Arabs split between Gaza and Judea/Samaria, or the old problem of East Prussia (and the new problem of the Russian enclave at Kaliningrad). So we got the very bloody and nasty Bosnian civil war.

The Croatian war ended when the West backed the Croats sufficiently that they were able to physically expel the Serb population from the Krajina. No people, no problem. If it weren't for the Bosnian Muslims, everyone could have gotten an ethno-national state by some combination of exchanging populations or exchanging territories. Serbia could have gotten the predominantly Serb regions of Bosnia, and Croatia could have gotten the rest, and Kosovo could have been partitioned between Serbia and Albania, leaving Serbia with the historic churches in the north of the region and Albania with the bulk of the Albanian population. But everybody treated Tito's borders as sacrosanct, and nobody was able to convince the Bosnian Muslims (did they try?) that they were better off as a minority in Greater Croatia then as the plurality in a totally nonfunctional multi-ethnic Bosnia.

Why were Tito's internal borders - which did not match the historical borders of the components of Yugoslavia - treated as sacrosanct? Well, once you start accepting the principle of re-drawing borders, where does it stop? Nobody was really worried about what was happening in the Balkans. People were worried about how the precedents set there could spill over into other parts of the world. What if Hungary decided to pursue a "Greater Hungary" strategy? There are big Hungarian minorities in Romania, Slovakia and Serbia. If we re-drew the map of the Balkans to suit the distribution of ethnic groups, wouldn't that encourage Hungary to pursue such a strategy?

But the real fear was Russia. There were very big Russian minorities in all of the Baltic states, in the Ukraine, in Moldova and in Kazakhstan. Once the Soviet Union broke up, everyone was rightly concerned that Russia would make territorial claims in one or more of these states - particularly once some of these states started actively disenfranchising the ethnic Russian population. To a considerable extent, the world's treatment of the situation in Yugoslavia was driven entirely by considerations about the precedents being set for the situation in Russia. The impact on the actual Yugoslavs was a secondary, if not a tertiary consideration.

At the time, I thought that Bob Dole had the right idea about what our policy should be: lift the arms embargo so the Bosnians had a chance to defend themselves, but don't get directly involved. In retrospect, this probably would have meant Hezbollah and al Qaeda providing most of the arms to the poor Bosniacs (which to some extent happened anyhow), and we'd have even bigger problems today. The only really good solution to Yugoslavia was partition into Slovenia, Greater Serbia and Greater Croatia, but this would have left smaller ethnicities like the Macedonians and the Bosnian Muslims high and dry, and besides nobody was in a position to impose such a settlement. And I guess I agree that the precedent such a settlement would have set would have been very bad in terms of its potential impact on Russia and, possibly, Hungary. So the Balkans were just screwed, kind of like they always are.

Even now, after the Iraq War that announced our willingness to use force to reorder the Middle East as we saw fit, we're - properly - constrained by our respect for borders. Iraq isn't a country; it would be far more logical to break it up than to try to keep it together. But we can't let, for example, the Kurds have their own state for fear that the precedent of carving a Kurdish state out of Iraq would just as logically be applied to Turkey. And the first Iraq war was fought to preserve a thoroughly artificial border between Kuwait and Iraq. There's no ethnic difference between Kuwaitis and Iraqis - they're all Arabs, and both sides of the border have a mix of Shiites and Sunnis. Same thing with Saudi Arabia, the eastern provinces of which that abut Iraq and Kuwait are largely Shiite, just like southern Iraq. Once you start saying that we're going to re-draw borders to make more ethnic "sense" it's not clear where you stop, or why, and much of the underpinning of our international system (such as it is) falls away.

Indeed, which is why the Kosovo War of 1999 was so strange: Kosovo was universally recognized as part of Yugoslavia (i.e., Serbia) and, under the Abraham Lincoln precedent, Yugoslavia certainly had the right to forcibly put down an armed rebellion within its own territory. But, that was not allowed by NATO. But then neither has been the natural alternative -- for Kosovo to become an independent state.

One interesting thing about the breakup of Yugoslavia in terms of how people in the West reacted is the weird alliances that were formed. For example: the two groups who were most sympathetic to the Serbs (apart from ethnic Russians and, of course, ethnic Serbs) were paleocons and right-wing Jews.

Right-wing Jews saw an analogy between the situation of the Serbs and the situation of the Israelis. Both felt historically persecuted (and by some of the same people); both were now trying to hold on to maximum territory in a situation where geographic contiguity was elusive (Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria versus the Serbs in Krajina); and both were specifically trying to reclaim a holy territory (Kosovo for the Serbs, Jerusalem and its environs for the Jews) that was now dominated by an alien - and Muslim - ethnic group. Yasser Arafat saw the analogy as well; in fact, he proclaimed more than once in the wake of Kosovo that the West was now obligated by analogy to defend the Palestinian Arabs against the Israelis just as they defended the Kosovar Albanians against the Serbs. This probably had an impact on his unwillingness to come to some kind of a deal with Ehud Barak.

Paleocons identified with the Serbs not so much, I think, because of anything intrinsic about the Serbs or their situation but because they saw the West's war against Serbia as emblematic of Western and American meddling in a part of the world in which we had no justification for sticking our noses. The New World Order was being forged in the war against Serbia, and since they knew they were against the NWO that meant they were for whoever the NWO was fighting. But I remember reading all sorts of paleocon stuff in the late 1990s that crossed way over from antipathy to our involvement to active enthusiasm for the Serb cause. Which was, frankly, bizarre.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the ledger, the two groups most sympathetic to the Bosnian Muslims were left-wing Jews and Muslim fanatics. Susan Sontag flew to Sarajevo to put on a performance of Waiting for Godot, and Osama bin Laden was smuggling guns to the Sarajevo government. Go figure.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Who said this in 1995?

The greatly increased ratio of low-cost labor to capital has raised the wages of highly skilled labor and the return on physical capital but has put downward pressure on the wages of low-skilled labor. The result has been a sharp widening in the differential between the wages of highly skilled and low-skilled labor in the United States and other advanced countries.

If the widening of the wage differential is allowed to proceed unchecked, it threatens to create within our own country a social problem of major proportions. We shall not be willing to see a group of our population move into Third World conditions at the same time that another group of our population becomes increasingly well off. Such stratification is a recipe for social disaster. The pressure to avoid it by protectionist and other similar measures will be irresistible.

He went on to argue for reforming education by implementing a voucher system. While that's probably a good idea, the obvious first step for fixing public education is to stop making it worse. Our education problems would be more manageable if we cut down on the number of illegal aliens imported, which would reduce the number of Spanish-speaking students from a culture that doesn't care much about education.

In general, this is a good argument for my "libertarianism in one country" theory -- that, politically speaking, you can choose to have either a globalized market for low wage labor within your country or you can choose to have relatively few restrictions on the free market within your country, but you definitely can't choose both.

I wrote in 2001:

This is what libertarians must realize: There is staggeringly too much inequality in the world for America's love affair with capitalism to survive importing massive amounts of it...

It's crucial to understand that a hankering for equality is not some fad instigated by Marxist college professors. It is deeply rooted in human nature. Just see what happens when you try to give one of your kids a smaller slice of the pie than you give the others.

America's exceptional devotion to free enterprise was based on our being blessed with a nearly empty continent, populated only by Indians who, while brave and tenacious, were ultimately too thin on the ground to hang on to their property. Throughout American history, cheap land and high wages made possible a degree of equality of land ownership impossible to achieve in Europe without heavy government intervention. Even though 19th Century Great Britain enjoyed a higher degree of social mobility than was typical in Europe, around 250 families owned about 3/4ths of the real estate in the entire country. Today, after generations of punitive death duties, the Duke of Westminster still owns about 10% of London.

Socialism didn't happen here because we didn't need it to happen.

The eternal temptation of the wealthy, however, is to try to acquire cheap labor in order to grow even richer.

Answer: Milton Friedman. (Via Catallaxy).

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The March 27th issue

of The American Conservative:

Hillary the Hawk

By Justin Raimondo
A second President Clinton would lead the Democratic wing of the War Party.

Mission Improbable

By Scott McConnell
Much as they may want war with Iran, neoconservatives concede that forceable regime change isn’t feasible.

Six Ports and a Storm
By Leon Hadar
The Jacksonian populists who fight Bush’s war reject his Dubai deal.

Race War Behind Bars
By Roger D. McGrath
Los Angeles’ black-brown race war goes to jail.

Cheney of Command

By James Bovard
Claiming the right to declassify on his whim, the vice president becomes a law unto himself.

The Radical Lasch

By Jeremy Beer
Social historian Christopher Lasch was both a radical and a conservative.

Downhill Olympics

By Diana Moon
Dude, where’s my Olympics?

Suburban Commandos
By William Norman Grigg
Militarized police treat America like Fallujah.

From Russia With Blood

By Steve Sailer
Russian vampires in “Night Watch”

An Empire Built of Paper
By Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr.
Empire of Debt: The Rise of an Epic Financial Crisis
by William Bonner and Addison Wiggin

Purchase an online edition of this issue immediately!

The Reverse of the Medal
By G. Tracy Mehan III
Patrick O’Brian: The Making of the Novelist by Nikolai Tolstoy

Counterfeit Conservative

By Doug Bandow
Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy
by Bruce Bartlett

Are We Up to the Empire Game?
By Patrick J. Buchanan
Bush discredits Arab democracy.

Ugly Americans on the March
By Taki
Why I cheered for Finland

Fourteen Days: National Review Purges Buckley; Do the Troops Support the Troops?; Free Speech Hits Its Limit in Austria

Deep Background: Suicide Bomber University; Abandoning Abbas; Iran Bombs the Dollar

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Middle Eastern cousin marriage at work

The NYT reports

A Hunt for Genes That Betrayed a Desert People
Dina Kraft

Until recently their ancestors were nomads who roamed the deserts of the Middle East and, as tradition dictated, often married cousins. Marrying within the family helped strengthen bonds among extended families struggling to survive the desert. But after centuries this custom of intermarriage has had devastating genetic effects.

Bedouins do not carry more genetic mutations than the general population. But because so many marry relatives — some 65 percent of Bedouin in Israel's Negev marry first or second cousins — they have a significantly higher chance of marrying someone who carries the same mutations, increasing the odds they will have children with genetic diseases, researchers say. Hundreds have been born with such diseases among the Negev Bedouin in the last decade.

The plight of the community is being addressed by an unusual scientific team: Dr. Ohad Birk, a Jewish Israeli geneticist, and two physicians, Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, a Palestinian from the Gaza Strip, and Dr. Khalil Elbedour, himself a Bedouin from Israel.

Why do the Bedu have such high rates of cousin marriage? I wrote:

Another important motivation -- one that is particularly important in many herding cultures, such as the ancients ones from which the Jews and Muslims emerged -- is to prevent inheritable wealth from being split among too many descendents. This can be especially important when there are economies of scale in the family business.

Just as the inbred have fewer unique ancestors than the outbred, they also have fewer unique heirs, helping keep both the inheritance and the brothers together. When a herd-owning patriarch marries his son off to his younger brother's daughter, he insures that his grandson and his grandnephew will be the same person. Likewise, the younger brother benefits from knowing that his grandson will also be the patriarch's grandson and heir. Thus, by making sibling rivalry over inheritance less relevant, cousin marriage emotionally unites families.

The anthropologist Carleton Coon also pointed out that by minimizing the number of relatives a Bedouin Arab nomad has, this system of inbreeding "does not overextend the number of persons whose deaths an honorable man must avenge."

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Berkeley psychologist: whiny kids grow up to be conservatives

I haven't read the study, but I'll interject in italics possible translations from Berkeley-speak:

How to spot a baby conservative
Kurt Kleiner
Toronto Star

Remember the whiny, insecure kid in nursery school, the one who always thought everyone was out to get him, and was always running to the teacher with complaints? Chances are he grew up to be a conservative.

At least, he did if he was one of 95 kids from the Berkeley area that social scientists have been tracking for the last 20 years. The confident, resilient, self-reliant kids mostly grew up to be liberals. ...

In the 1960s Jack Block and his wife and fellow professor Jeanne Block (now deceased) began tracking more than 100 nursery school kids as part of a general study of personality. The kids' personalities were rated at the time by teachers and assistants who had known them for months. There's no reason to think political bias skewed the ratings — the investigators were not looking at political orientation back then. Even if they had been, it's unlikely that 3- and 4-year-olds would have had much idea about their political leanings.

A few decades later, Block followed up with more surveys, looking again at personality, and this time at politics, too. The whiny kids tended to grow up conservative, and turned into rigid young adults who hewed closely to traditional gender roles and were uncomfortable with ambiguity. [In other words, they are heterosexuals.]

The confident kids turned out liberal and were still hanging loose [i.e., not searching for gainful employment and living in their parents' garages], turning into bright, non-conforming adults with wide interests [mescaline, Grateful Dead music, tying bandanas around their dogs' necks, etc.]. The girls were still outgoing [i.e., slept around a lot, with both sexes], but the young men tended to turn a little introspective [i.e., unmanly and beaten down psychologically by Berkeley's political correctness]...

There was a .27 correlation between being self-reliant in nursery school and being a liberal as an adult. Another way of saying it is that self-reliance predicts statistically about 7 per cent of the variance between kids who became liberal and those who became conservative.

A reader replies:

Maybe you suburban kids missed it, but we "townies" from college towns saw right through this Berkeley study.

"...the whiny, insecure kid in nursery school, the one who always thought everyone was out to get him, and was always running to the teacher with complaints?"

Gee, this 3-year-old "conservative" sounds an awful lot like a 33-year-old liberal.

"Chances are he grew up to be a conservative."

No, chances are he grew up... period!

Perhaps liberals are people who peaked in nursery school, and thus want to turn the rest of the world into a giant nursery school.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

"Charles Manson praises WSJ's defense of Iraq War"

That hasn't happened (so far as I know), but it would be no more lame-brained a headline than this headline on James Taranto's "Best of the Web" blog at the WSJ OpinionJournal website:

"David Duke praises a Harvard scholar's views on Israel."

The New York Sun reports on the latest trouble in Cambridge:

A paper recently co-authored by the academic dean of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government about the allegedly far-reaching influence of an "Israel lobby" is winning praise from white supremacist David Duke.

The Palestine Liberation Organization mission to Washington is distributing the paper, which also is being hailed by a senior member of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist organization.

But the paper, "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy," by the Kennedy School's Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago, is meeting with a more critical reception from many of those it names as part of the lobby. The 83-page "working paper" claims a network of journalists, think tanks, lobbyists, and largely Jewish officials have seized the foreign policy debate and manipulated America to invade Iraq. Included in this network, the authors say, are the editors of the New York Times, the scholars at the Brookings Institution, students at Columbia, "pro-Israel" senior officials in the executive branch, and "neoconservative gentiles" including columnist George Will.

Duke, a former Louisiana state legislator and one-time Ku Klux Klan leader, called the paper "a great step forward," but he said he was "surprised" that the Kennedy School would publish the report.

Is that pathetic, or what? Two scholars put together a lengthy analysis and the best the NY Sun can come up with is to email David Duke and get his endorsement of it. And then Taranto repeats it! It's just embarrassing...

(Here's an evenhanded summary of the report from the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. As I've often pointed out, some Israeli newspapers and American newspapers aimed purely at a Jewish audience, such as The Forward, do a much better job of covering potentially embarrassing issues like this than either the American mainstream media or neocon agitprop mouthpieces like the NY Sun and the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page.)

The ultimate responsibility for the Iraq Attaq lies within the opaque psyches of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Clearly, however, the Israel Lobby was the main cheerleader. The funny thing is that while the Israel Lobby in America was crazy for the war, the Israeli government itself was more ambivalent. As well they should be. As I wrote a few days after Paul Wolfowitz called for invading Iraq four days after 9/11:

The neo-conservatives need to wake up to realize that if America really takes up the Imperial Burden in the Middle East like the Wolfowitz Wing is demanding, then America's special relationship with Israel is history. Support for Israel is purely a matter of domestic idealism. The American institution that thinks in the broad picture - the State Department - has always found Israel to be a nuisance.

The more the U.S. becomes responsible for running the whole Mid East, the more of an inconvenience Israel becomes. Republics can indulge warm and idealistic commitments precisely because their foreign entanglements are limited in number; empires must be cold and calculating because their burdens are so manifold.

As George Orwell pointed out in "Shooting the Elephant," imperialism winds up being much less fun than you thought it would be -- you wind up being, in some ways, the servant of the masses you nominally rule. And if the masses you rule want you to shoot the elephant, or to prove you don't like Israel either, well, in the long run it's hard to keep saying no.

The neocons are trying desperately to have their cake and eat it too -- to make America an imperial presence in the Muslim world at the service of Israel. And if they have to compare anyone who questions them to David Duke to get away with it, well, intellectually humiliating themselves in the service of demonizing dissenters is a price they are more than willing to pay.

This little brouhaha raises a more general issue.

I'm one of the very few conservatives who takes identity politics seriously. Most identity politics warriors are liars and/or fools, but the emotions they feel are very real, and are a very normal part of human nature. When typical conservatives like Jonah Goldberg denounce anyone for even thinking about identity politics, well, in response to this kind of unilateral intellectual disarmament, I can only echo Trotsky's great statement about war: You may not be interested in identity politics, but identity politics is interested in you.

I'm not a terribly emotionally intuitive person, so to understand other people well enough to get along in life, I have to go through a conscious, rational process of putting myself in somebody else's shoes. I try to think about what incentives they face, what emotions they feel, what skills and weaknesses they have, and so forth.

Over the years, I've taught myself to be fairly insightful at thinking like gays, lesbians, women, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and the other usual identity politics categories. But the most important category for thinking about intellectual life and ideology, and one of the most important for thinking about politics, culture, and foreign policy, is by far the most complicated identity category to comprehend well: Jews.

One reason is because in 21st Century America, you aren't supposed to think about Jews as an identity politics category. You really aren't supposed to think about them at all. So, you don't get much help from the media in understanding this hugely influential group.

Moreover, the complexity of Jewish identity politics is quite boggling. Where does this contradictoriness stem from? The difficulty and relative uniqueness of the Jewish historical predicament combine explosively with the Jewish cultural emphases on intellectual creativity, argumentation as test of manhood, and the supremacy of ideas over practicality to create a vast outpouring of ideologies, all of them fundamentally tied to profound Jewish concerns, but many of them at odds with each other. There are no pan-Jewish conspiracies as paranoid anti-Semites assume because Jews are the least likely to agree with each other. But, Jewish identity politics still has a sizable impact that needs to be understood.

The complexity of Jewish identity politics helps create easy rhetorical trump cards for persuading people that there is nothing to think about. Just move along, folks, nothing here to think about. A classic is: "How can Jews be disproportionately both capitalists and Communists? Huh? Huh?" But, of course, historically they have been both, and the interaction between the two has been of world historical importance.

Going back to the 1840s, many of the world's intellectual concerns, and going back to 1917 many of the world's political conflagrations, have been driven by the often contradictory needs and obsessions of Jews.

As Berkeley historian Yuri Slezkine pointed out in The Jewish Century, Marxism appealed to educated secular Jews because it promised to dissolve the Jewish problem. Jews were resented for being so good at capitalism, so intellectuals Jews were excited that Communism would destroy capitalism. They were discriminated against because of religion, so Communism would abolish religion. They were discriminated against because they had no national homeland, so Communism would eliminate nationalism. What's not to like? And, indeed, as promised, secular educated Jews flourished under Soviet Communism for the first two or three decades.

Freudianism made little sense outside of the framework of bourgeois Jewish Mitteleuropean family structures (and not much there either), but Jewish intellectuals needed Jewish intellectual heroes, so Freud's silly waste of time was inflicted on the world for a half century.

Boasian cultural anthropology, the Frankfurt School, and numerous other intellectual cults are most profitably analyzed in Jewish terms.

Even a largely beneficial ideological phenomenon like Milton Friedman's Chicago School of free market economics is heavily based on the sensible post-Marxian realization that if Jews are good at capitalism, well, then capitalism is good for the Jews.

Neoconservatism began in the 1960s as a rebellion by Catholic and Jewish social scientists who saw that liberalism was unleashing black crime and rioting on white urban ethnics like themselves and their relatives. Over time, though, Catholic concerns got marginalized, and the hard work of crunching data got dropped. Neoconservatism turned into a front for pushing conservative Jewish foreign policy concerns. Francis Fukuyama finally figured out that he was being used to promote somebody else's agenda, but poor Victor Davis Hanson will likely never quite get it.

The problem is that Jewish intellectuals, for all their energy and ideological creativity, tend to be poor pragmatic decisionmakers about what actually is good for the Jews. They tend to get emotionally attached to the new ideas they've made up, push them too far, and don't understand how their ideas sound to others outside their hothouse.

For example, many neocons were enthusiastic for the Kosovo War of 1999 without ever realizing how it would backfire on Israel. I wrote in 2002:

Why has Europe turned so sharply against Israel in the last couple of years [since the beginning of the Second Intifada]? One overlooked factor is that Europeans see a distinct analogy between the West Bank and Kosovo. Consider: in 1997 a Muslim intifada began in Serbian (technically, Yugoslavian) owned Kosovo. In Kosovo, Muslims outnumbered Serbs about 2 million to 200,000, which is quite similar to the ratio in the West Bank. Legalistically, the Serbs had a better claim to Kosovo than the Israelis do to the West Bank, since "Yugoslavia's" sovereignty over Kosovo was universally recognized around the world. Further, the Serb population in Kosovo were not new settlers, but the rump of what had once been a larger Serbian population, which had been leaving as illegal Muslim immigrants poured in from Albania in recent decades.

The Muslim intifada in Kosovo was battled by Serbian troops, with about 2000 deaths total on both sides over the next two years. In 1999, NATO, led by the U.S., demanded an end to Serbian attempts to put down the rebellion in their sovereign territory of Kosovo. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright even demanded the Serbs agree to allow NATO to invade non-Kosovo Serbia. When the Serbs refused, NATO bombed Belgrade. Subsequently, the Serbs began throwing vast numbers of Muslims out of Kosovo. (There has been an enormous amount of lying about the order in which these events occurred over the last three years, as the aggressors try to rewrite history to make it seem as if the bombing was a response to Serbian ethnic cleansing, not the trigger. At the time, however, no one disputed that NATO struck first.) NATO proceeded to bomb Serbia's cities back into the industrial stone age. The Serbs eventually surrendered and NATO occupied Kosovo. Most of the Serbs and Gypsies were then ethnically cleansed from Kosovo by the triumphant Muslims.

All of this was accompanied by a vast campaign of ethnic hatred in Western Europe and America aimed at the Serbs and their elected leader Milosevic. You may recall the Newsweek cover photo of Miloscevic and the headline "The Face of Evil." Serbs have become Hollywood's all-purpose bad guys, as seen in "Bad Company" and "Behind Enemy Lines."

Now, is it all that surprising considering this recent history that so many Europeans see the Israelis as the Serbs and the Palestinians as the Kosovo Albanians? You say that the Israelis were slaughtered by the Nazis in WWII, so that makes things different? Well, try asking a Serb about what the Nazis and their Croatian allies did to the Serbs in WWII. Better hit the bathroom first, though, because you'll be there a long time. In reality, the Jewish losses were at least an order of magnitude larger. Still, Israelis and Serbs have long been sympathetic to each other because of their common victimization during WWII. Tel Aviv was quite sympathetic to Belgrade during the 1999 war.

Granted, there are major differences between Milosevic and Sharon. For example, Milosevic was indirectly responsible for a massacre of Bosnian Muslims by Bosnian Serbs that killed 7,000. The massacres that Sharon was indirectly or directly responsible for were one or two orders of magnitude smaller - the massacres of 800 or so Palestinians by Sharon's Christian Lebanese allies in 1982, and the massacre of 69 people in a Palestinian village by Sharon's Israeli army unit in 1953.

Personally, I argued strenuously at the time that the demonization of the Serbs was disastrous for the understanding how to prevent future conflagrations like the one that has engulfed the Balkans for the last eleven years. The Balkan wars were not caused by any race or person being exceptionally "evil." No, the violence was caused by a fundamental human problem that can happen anywhere. (See my National Post essay on the subject.) Fortunately, it can be managed, but only if we drop the intellectually lazy assumption that one side or the other is inherently evil.

The Balkan wars were caused by the collapse in 1991 of the "settled distribution of property." With the central Communist government of Yugoslavia gone, property rights because highly unsettled. People feared losing their property if they ended up on the wrong side of the new borders. So, they teamed up with their kin to try to preserve their property, and to prevent future threats to their property by driving their non-kin away.

Likewise, the distribution of property west of the Jordan River has been unsettled ever since WWI, when the Ottoman Empire was defeated, but the victorious British had made contradictory promises to both the Arabs and the Jews.

But this kind of dispassionate analysis seems to be something American neo-conservatives are largely incapable of. The same crew - Kristol, Kagan, etc. - who were beating the war drums for crushing Serbia's attempt to put down the intifada in Kosovo are baffled that Europeans might apply the same analysis to Israel's attempt to put down the intifada in the West Bank. Don't the Europeans realize, Kristol and Co. ask, that the Palestinians are evil? Don't they understand Moral Clarity? How could they not grasp this simple truth: Israelis Good - Palestinians Bad. Maybe the Europeans are evil, too! Yeah, that's the ticket. Everybody is Evil except for whomever is on my side!

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

African IQ

Dennis Mangan writes:

As anecdotal evidence for Steve's thesis, I'll just point out that while living in Sierra Leone for nearly two years, I encountered lots of people who were playing with much less than a full deck. Leaving aside the genetics, it's readily discerned that the environment played a huge role. Just about everyone is ill in some form or another just about all the time, and the reader will know how being ill affects mental wattage. A partial list of diseases that I personally dealt with there (I ran a hospital laboratory) would include: schistosomiasis; hookworm disease, which is the leading cause of iron deficiency anemia there; various other helminthic intestinal parasites; onchocerciasis, which causes "river blindness", the leading form of loss of sight in Africa; amoebic dysentery; malaria; tuberculosis; lymphatic filariasis, which can lead to elephantiasis; not to mention the ubiquitous skin and wound infections, diarrhea, etc., that people deal with daily.

On health grounds alone, IQ must be drastically affected, and with it the African economy.

I had lots of friends in Sierra Leone, and naturally I don't go around thinking of them as dumb as rocks. There were Africans in competent positions, for example as the lead nurse at the hospital. But facing the facts, most of them weren't so bright, and it's not a lack of education that makes them appear so.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

NCAA Basketball News

Redick, Morrison To Share 'Larry Bird Trophy For Certain Intangibles'

INDIANAPOLIS—Duke's J.J. Redick and Gonzaga's Adam Morrison joined previous honorees Christian Laettner, Keith Van Horn, and Shawn Bradley Tuesday as co-recipients of the Larry Bird Trophy, which recognizes "certain athletes" each year for possessing "that particular quality" which "really sets them apart" from almost 80 percent of all other basketball players. "In this sport, it's very unusual to find two great players of their…uh, let's see, how should I put it…'stripe,'" said college-basketball analyst Digger Phelps, who immediately asked that his previous statement be stricken from the record. "They really…hmm… You see, not a lot of players are even qualified for this award, you know, in the sense that… Well, let's just hope that, if and when these guys are starting in the NBA, they are able to compete with the league's other more athletic, instinctual…folks." This marks the first time that there have been two winners of the Bird Trophy since 1993, when Bobby Hurley and half of Jason Kidd shared the award.

The Onion

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

More fun with IQ and the Wealth of Nations

A reader has updated and expanded the analysis of the factors behind variations in national differences in per capita GDP pioneered by Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen in IQ and the Wealth of Nations. He finds a very close fit with a model four explanatory factors (average IQ, economic freedom, oil production per capita, and membership in either the European Union or NAFTA), and he discusses the remaining outliers.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

A reader responds:

1. Corruption is perfectly compatible with economic development. If we take 1965 as a starting point, then countries like Brazil, Mexico, Italy, Indonesia and India all made considerable economic progress since then, but all five are quite far from being squeaky clean. If corruption prevents economic progress in Africa, then it must be because it is quantitatively and qualitatively different from corruption in the 5 countries mentioned above. If that is so, it raises the obvious question why African corruption is worse than elsewhere. It has to be a reflection of African culture. We are left with two alternatives: either African corruption is worse than in other parts of the world or else it is not the cause of Africa's failure to develop.

2. The explanation provided by the Economics student doesn't really address the question. He explained why economists don't do research and write articles on immigration, not why they ignore fundamental economic principles in their public statements about immigration.

My explanation is that economics is essentially a liberal discipline. All its assumptions are about individuals, households and firms maximizing their utility without regard to collective well-being. The core assumption of economic liberalism is that individuals acting separately in their own interest will produce better results than individuals acting collectively. Immigration is a case in which individuals, both the immigrants and those who employ them, by acting separately can produce a result that is detrimental to the interest of the majority of the collectivity that receives the immigrants. When we talk about collectivities, we should of course specify which collectivity we have in mind and not overlook the fact that different individuals within the collectivity can have different interests. That brings us in political territory, which economists might want to avoid.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

March Madness -- Maybe it's not so mad after all

The press is full of its annual men-bite-dogs accounts of all the upsets in the NCAA college basketball tournament, but when you look at the big picture over the last 20 years, you can see that the regular-season rich generally get richer in the post-season. And that has implications for how to bet in office pools if you don't know anything about college basketball.

(Some background: The NCAA divides the 64 teams qualifying for the tournament into four regions of 16 teams apiece. In each region, colleges are seeded from #1 to #16. In the first round, #1 plays #16, while #2 plays #15, and so forth. In the second round, the winner of #1 versus #16 (which 88 times out of 88 games has been #1) plays the winner of #8 versus #9, and so on. Losers go home. Eventually, the four winners of each Regional meet in the fifth round (semifinals), and the two winners play for the championship in the 6th round.)

The graph above shows that the actual results come out about as you'd expect from the seedings. There are anomalies -- for example, #6-seeded teams have outperformed #5-seeded teams, but generally the curve is pretty smooth. This is partly a tribute to the good work down by the NCAA seeding committee, and partly an inevitable outcome of the bracket. For example, the #1 teams are almost guaranteed at least one victory because #16 teams are so bad -- they are generally teams that are in the tournament solely because the NCAA has an obligation to take the winner of their obscure conference, no matter how awful the winner is. In contrast, #15s are often mildly competitive (although they are more likely to scare #2s than beat them), while #14s are usually pretty decent teams that often have a fighting chance against #3s.

So, next year when you get pressured to enter the office March Madness pool even though you don't know anything about basketball, you can be assured of a respectable showing if you just pick the higher seeded team in each game. (When you get to the final four, then pick among your four #1s based on the end-of-the-season AP poll rankings.) If the pool gives one point for each victory, you'll do quite well and will impress your co-workers with your quiet basketball expertise. Unfortunately, most pools give much heavier weights to later games, so this strategy doesn't work as well, but you'll still do better than average (on average).

In other words, the seedings are a fairly efficient market. And even if you can find mistakes in the seedings, well, the bracket tends to cover up the mistakes. Like doctors, the NCAA seeding committee often buries its mistakes. Say you know that team X shouldn't have gotten only a #13 seed, that it's really good enough to be a #9 seed. If it had been seeded #9, it would have been matched in the first round with a #8 seed, and it would have had close to a 50% chance of winning the game. But because it was unfairly relegated to #13, it gets stuck playing a #4 seed in the first round, and most likely loses even if it plays well enough to beat a #8 seed.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

March 20, 2006

Colby Cosh's "The Terror" -- An Attempt at a Definition

This may not be what Colby had in mind, but here's my idea of a definition of an athlete who is a "terror" -- a one dimensional athlete who can humiliate or physically hurt opponents real bad with that one skill. The prototypical terror might have been boxer George Foreman in 1973-74, the awesome peacher who destroyed Joe Frazier with his punching power and shocked Ali in the first round of the Rumble in the Jungle with how hard he hit. But could be beat if you could avoid his one skill. During his comeback in the 1990s, when he won a share of heavyweight crown at age 45, he was much less of a terror, but much more of a boxer.

A terror in baseball might be a slugger like Dave Kingman, Gorman Thomas, or Rob Deer who will strike out or hit a homer.

You may not remember Roscoe Tanner in tennis back in the 1970s, but he had an incredible serve and could make better all-around players look bad when it was working.

A pitcher who can throw 100 mph, but without much control would be a terror -- Sandy Koufax or Nolan Ryan early in their careers. The Yankees had one of the first terror relief pitchers, Ryne Duren, who wore thick glasses and put on a big act about how he couldn't really see all the way to home plate and was just as likely to bean you as throw a strike because the whole world was a blur to thim.

The concept can probably be extended to acting. I just saw the new Sam Shepard movie, "Don't Come Knocking," in which his performance is quite inadequate. I compared it to how good he was as Chuck Yeager in "The Right Stuff." Perhaps he's a terror, capable of an iconic performance in a very narrow range of roles, but out of his depth otherwise. In comedy, you could think of Michael Richards as Kramer on "Seinfeld."

In acting, perhaps a "terror" is the same as a "scene stealer."

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

"Don't Come Knocking"

There's some big name talent in this indie snooze. The screenplay by Sam Shepard, who also stars as a burnt-out Hollywood cowboy actor (think Kris Kristofferson) tracking down the son he fathered in Montana while filming the equivalent of "Heaven's Gate." It's directed by Wim Wenders, who was a top art house director in the 1980s with "Paris, Texas" (screenplay by Shephard) and the wonderful "Wings of Desire" (guardian angels along the Berlin Wall). Jessica Lange, Shepard's girlfriend, plays the mother of his son.

But, it doesn't really work and I suspect it won't get much attention. A big problem is that Sam Shepard, who looked like the second coming of Gary Cooper in "The Right Stuff" as Chuck Yeager, has lost his looks, and he's not enough of an actor to carry the movie without them. Plus the plot has lots of holes in it. Shepard's mytho-symbolic stagewriting style just looks goofy when filmed.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

My new column: "Undercover Economist Underperforms On Why Poor Countries Are Poor."

"Undercover Economist Underperforms On Why Poor Countries Are Poor." An excerpt:

Tim Harford has a new book out called The Undercover Economist that offers a fairly good introduction to economics. (I reviewed it in the New York Post.) Now, Reason magazine's website is running a chapter from the book describing Harford's visit to Cameroon in West Africa under the headline "Why Poor Countries Are Poor." Harford begins:

"They call Douala the 'armpit of Africa.' Lodged beneath the bulging shoulder of West Africa, this malaria-infested city in southwestern Cameroon is humid, unattractive, and smelly."

That reminds me of an old friend from Douala, the largest city in Cameroon, who was getting his Ph.D. at UCLA a quarter of a century ago. On the rare occasions when the July temperature in Westwood reached 90 degrees, he'd complain bitterly about how hot it was. When I'd point out that his hometown was just north of the equator and it had to be 90 degrees there every day, he'd respond:

"Ah, but, Steven, you don't understand. That is the soooooothing African heat."

So, while Cameroon might seem like an armpit to you, me, or Tim Harford, to 16 million Cameroonians, it's home. And I wish them well.

Harford's explanation for Why Poor Countries Are Poor is corrupt and predatory government and other institutions, which he documents with many depressing examples from his visit.

He goes on to make the ambitious claim:

"It is not news that corruption and perverse incentives matter. But perhaps it is news that the problem of twisted rules and institutions explains not just a little bit of the gap between Cameroon and rich countries but almost all of the gap."

Well, yes, that is indeed news to me. For one thing, there are obvious noninstitutional problems with trying to get work done in Cameroon, such as endemic malaria and all that soothing African heat that just makes you want to lie down and take a nap.

But Harford's assertion raises an obvious question: how can he know "why poor countries are poor" from inspecting just one of them? Wouldn't it also be useful to compare countries?

Surely, a few of the dozens of sub-Saharan African countries must have better policies and institutions than Cameroon and thus must have closed "almost all of the gap"?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer