September 8, 2006

Schwarzenegger apologizes for privately noticing difference between Mexican and Caribbean Latinos

In an audiotape of a private meeting with aides leaked to the LA Times, the Governor of California points out to them that Californai Republican assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia is not Mexican, but is of Caribbean descent (her parents were from Puerto Rico):

"I mean, they are all very hot. … They have the, you know, part of the black blood in them and part of the Latino blood in them that together makes it," he says..

Schwarzenegger went on to say his friend, Cuban-born former weightlifter Sergio Oliva, is the same way...

A spokeswoman for Schwarzenegger said the conversation was in good fun. The remarks, she said, were taken out of context.

Garcia herself said that she is not bothered at all by Schwarzenegger's comments. She said she has an inside joke with the governor in which she calls herself a "hot-blooded Latina" who is passionate about issues.

Indeed, Schwarzenegger is right that Caribbean Hispanics tend to be on average part black: Here's a triangle created by geneticists Shriver, Parra, and Kittles which shows Puerto Ricans are tri-racially mixed, while Mexican-Americans are primarily European, significantly Indian, and only slightly African.

As Schwarzenegger implied, the more outgoing African personality contribution in Puerto Ricans makes them more extroverted on average that Mexicans, whose Native American contribution inclines them toward solidity and introversion. (Spaniards tend to be fairly extroverted so mestizo come in a wide range of introversion to extroversion while mulatto are more consistently extroverted.

Mexicans are apparently about 3 to 8 percent African, but that has been lost in the idealization of the mestizo of Comsic Race by the Mexican government.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Iran is the new what?

Jonah Goldberg writes:

The Bush administration — and quite a few lifelong liberals — are determined to convince the public that it is 1938 in Iran and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is Hitler. Or that it's 1917 and Osama bin Laden is a new Lenin. Others see Spanish Civil Wars in Iraq or on Lebanon’s southern border. And I shudder to count up all the folks who claim that Iraq is Vietnam...

Nonetheless, there are two problems with all this historical cherry-picking. The first is our own collective ignorance about history. As a culture, we have a tendency to look for our car keys where the light is good. Our usable past is the past that is illuminated to us. One of the main reasons we leap to analogies about World War II and the Cold War is that it’s the only history most of us know....

But what if there are historical parallels lurking in the shadows of our ignorance? What if the jihadists are more like the Muslim Barbary pirates made famous in the Marine hymn with the line about “the shores of Tripoli”? Or maybe they're more like the Thugees, an 18th century murder cult in colonial India? Or the Panslavist Black Hand? ... The point is, we don’t know. But surely the ocean of human historical experience cannot be summed up in terms of the tributaries of Vietnam and Nazi Germany.

That's all very wise, but surely there is one other analogy to Iran lurking out there?

Iran is the new Iraq.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The Scientific Method in action at UC Berkeley

A reader who is an alumnus of Boalt Hall, Berkeley's law school, forward me this email he from Boalt's dean, Chris Edley Jr., the former Clinton Administration official who crafted Clinton's

"Mend it
Don't end it"

approach to affirmative action. Since California voters passed Proposition 209 in 1996, the state constitution has banned affirmative action, which has certainly stimulated the appreciation of UC officials for creativity. They were so impressed with Edley's contribution to public policy poetry that they made him Dean. (Rumors that Edley was Berkeley's 3rd choice after Jesse Jackson and Snoop Dogg are unconfirmed.)

Edley's email refers to a study of alumni that UC is undertaking for the purpose changing admissions requirements. Judging from his description, this 5-year-long research project is so scientifically unbiased that they must have consulted with the ghosts of Galileo, Bacon, Einstein, Fisher, and Popper to make sure that it's not telegraphing what result it wants respondents to provide:

RESEARCH GOAL: Current admission methods try to predict who will get good grades in law school. The new tests try to predict who will be effective as a lawyer. Evaluating a wider range of job-oriented qualifications should select better prospective lawyers and reduce adverse impact on racial minority groups.


MCLE CREDIT OPTION: Completion of the test and self-evaluation allows two units of general self-study credit. Linked reading and quiz allows one "elimination of bias" self-study credit.

To take the test, please go to [here] Please submit your responses within two weeks of receiving this email....

RESEARCH CONTRIBUTION: Admission practices have long been criticized as too narrow, but no alternative methods have existed to assess a broader array of qualifications. Research suggests that assessing more of applicants' job-relevant abilities can also improve racial/ethnic diversity using merit-based, non race-conscious methods.

Chris Edley, Jr. Dean

Marjorie Shultz, Professor and Co-Investigator Boalt Hall School of Law

Shauna Marshall, Academic Dean Hastings College of the Law

Among those urging your participation in this research are:

Thelton Henderson, Senior Judge, U.S.D.C.
Cruz Reynoso, Justice, California Supreme Court (ret); Professor, King Hall, of Law, U.C. Davis
Joan Haratani, President, BASF; Partner, Morgan, Lewis
Kamala Harris, District Attorney, San Francisco
Andrew Giacomini, Managing Partner, Hanson,
Bridgett Maria Blanco, Executive Director, Lawyers' Committee, San Francisco

Okay, is there anybody out there who hasn't got the message yet? We didn't want to have to spell it out too explicitly but some of you numbskulls don't seem too clear on the concept of what this "study" is supposed to "discover." In a nutshell:

- Successful white guy alumni -- We don't want to hear from you. Buzz off. Capisce?

Minority alumni -- Go ahead, make stuff up. Tell us you're Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. What? Do you think we're going to check?

In case you are wondering how unbiased "co-investigator" Marjorie Shultz is, here's from her bio on the website of the Berkeley Women's Law Journal:

With 6 others, she recently coauthored a book on American race policy (Whitewashing Race: the Myth of a Color Blind Society (UC Press, 2003) and is a co-Principal Investigator on a five year empirical research project to develop predictors of lawyering competence that could play a role in law school admissions decisions. Such factors would make it possible for law schools to use broader criteria than the purely academic indicators (LSAT and UGPA) that currently dominate admissions decisions...

Professor Shultz has been active on women's issues since the early 1970's when she was active in women's political and legal organizations such as the National Women's Political Caucus and the Women's Education for Delegate Selection during the 1972 presidential nominating process. She testified at hearings held by State Senator Jackie Speier on the dramatic drop in hiring of women faculty within the UC System after the adoption of proposition 209. Ms. Shultz currently serves on the Board of Directors for Equal Rights Advocates, a women's rights law firm in San Francisco.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

More logic:

A reader writes:

By the way, this "exception that proves the rule" discussion brings to mind something which is worth articulating explicitly.

That is...virtually every single leftist (and pseudo-rightist) argument re: race, religion, etcetera can be reduced to the following form:

A and B have some overlap, hence A and B are equal.

The argument is deployed virtually every time someone wants to cover up an inconvenient truth. It's so mind numbingly frequent that it's easy to miss it as *the* canonical show-stopper of modern discourse, even more so than the whole Nazi/racist/Godwin's Law thing, which is kind of domain specific. It's as slippery as "God did it" and has the advantage of being secular.

Some examples:

1) some women are better at math than some men, hence men and women have the same mathematical ability distribution.

2) Some whites commit more murders than some blacks, hence blacks and whites murder at the same rates.

3) Some fundamentalist Christians commit religious terrorism (e.g. bombing abortion clinics), hence fundamentalist Muslims and Christians commit terrorism at equal rates.

4) Some Christians are just as liberal as some Jews, hence Jews are no more liberal than Christians

5) Some wealthy people are lazy and dumb, hence the wealthy are just as likely to be lazy and dumb as the poor (and so postnatal luck rather than a heritable characteristic is the primary cause of wealth inequality).

...and on and on it goes.

With a few minutes of googling I could probably find explicit quotations for every single one. Usually they are justified in reference to some famous person -- a great example was that RedState thread a while back in which someone purported to refute your New Orleans article by saying that Maurice Ashley [the first African-American grandmaster] could crush you in a game of chess. [Which he could.]

I really can't think of any prominent leftist argument which doesn't fit this mold off the top of my head, though they're probably out there. By the by, it is an exercise for the reader to iterate through many neo-con arguments and see the same base-stealing at work.

Here's a classic one from Christopher Hitchens called "Armchair General: The ugly idea that non-soldiers have less right to argue for war" in Slate in late 2002 in arguing for the Iraq Attaq:

The first thing to notice about this propaganda is how archaic it is. The whole point of the present phase of conflict is that we are faced with tactics that are directed primarily at civilians. Thus, while I was traveling last year in Pakistan, on the Afghan border and in Kashmir, and this year in the gulf, my wife was fighting her way across D.C., with the Pentagon in flames, to try and collect our daughter from a suddenly closed school, was attempting to deal with anthrax in our mailbox, was reading up on the pros and cons of smallpox vaccinations, and was coping with the consequences of a Muslim copycat loony who'd tried his hand as a suburban sniper. Should things ever become any hotter, it would be far safer to be in uniform in Doha , Qatar, or Kandahar, Afghanistan, than to be in an open homeland city. It is amazing that this essential element of the crisis should have taken so long to sink into certain skulls.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

A pattern?

A reader has been going through old political magazines:

Several of the publications I've looked at are old hard-core Communist periodicals from the 1920s through 1950s, I mean "All Glory and Praise to Stalin and the Great Socialist Motherland"-type Communist periodicals.

Most recently, I worked through 40-odd years of National Review which I purchased on the Internet. The earlier decades have a decidedly conservative and restrained feel, even when discussing controversial matters. But the last decade or so, especially since 9/11, are filled with exactly the same sort of endless blood-curdling shrieks, vicious character assassinations of political adversaries, and instantaneous party-line-u-turns I'd only previously seen in publications such as The New Masses and The Communist...

I really do think that America's "conservatives" have reached a very weird state.

I suspect that the new NR looks worse compared to the old NR, which was a very good magazine. It had a suave air about it that's missing from the current version (and from almost every magazine today). Even when it ran we-are-all-doomed articles by, say, Whittaker Chambers, they were a lot more graceful than Cliff May's or Stanley Kurtz's (not to mention John Podhoretz). Of course, it was easier to be elegantly gloomy about the threat posed by the Red Army and a fashionable ideology than about the threat posed by guys in caves animated by a Dark Ages dogma.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

September 7, 2006

The coolest thing about the Mexican election brouhaha

The AP reports:

"The court also dismissed Lopez Obrador's claim of subliminal messages in television ads by pro-Calderon businesses."

Huh? What the heck was that about?

When I was young, every kid knew that movie theatres spliced in frames saying "Buy Popcorn" or pictures of the Sahara to make you thirsty so you would buy Cokes or something (it was never quite clear what they were subliminally advertising). It was all explained in Vance Packard's 1957 bestseller The Hidden Persuaders, but none of us kids had read it. I hadn't heard examples of subliminal advertising paranoia in years until now. Perhaps it's a general rule that dumb American ideas of half a century ago turn into dumb Mexican ideas of the 21st Century.

In uncool news from Mexico:

An armed gang of suspected drug traffickers wearing ski masks threw five human heads onto the dance floor of a bar in western Mexico Wednesday in an apparent revenge killing, prosecutors said.

Wielding hand guns and rifles, some 20 men dressed in black drove up to the Luz y Sombra (Light and Shade) bar in the city of Uruapan, barged into the club and fired shots in the air.

They forced late-night revelers to lie on the floor and pulled the five male heads out of plastic bags, dumping them on the dance floor along with a handwritten message, a spokesman for the Michoacan state prosecutors' office said.

I have to give Mexico some credit for originality here. I don't believe this happened much in America in the 1950s.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Readers take exception to "the exception that proves the rule:"

Nothing generates email like a discussion of what constitutes proper English usage. My interpretation of the common phrase "the exception that proves the rule" is that a fact that is known to be exceptional counts as evidence that the opposite statistical tendency is true. For example, that Spud Webb was famous for being a 5'-7" NBA player suggests that most NBA players are tall..

In contrast, I've never heard of a soccer player being famous for being 5'-7", so I presume that soccer players are not extraordinarily tall on the whole.

But, quite a few readers have offered objections falling into two classes, linguistic and legal:

"I had always heard that this was a mistranslation of the Latin "probat" which can mean either proves or tests. The (seeming) example tests the rule means it puts the rule to the test -- if you can't come up with an explanation then the rule has to be thrown out."

So, I guess, the exception probes the rule.

Okay, but people have been using the phrase in English to mean the opposite for centuries.

Another offers the legal interpretation:

The phrase has been shortened (and its meaning corrupted) from a legal maxim - that fact that certain exceptions are explicitly made proves that a rule is true in all other cases.

In other words, if the sign says, "No Parking 4-6pm" that likely means the rule is that you can park at other times. (Here's a "Straight Dope" column reviewing the controversy.)

Much of the disagreement stems from what is meant by "rule." I'm going to review this in some depth because it's directly related to the problems I've run into in discussions over the existence of race and my definition of it as a partly inbred extended family. I've often been told that race can't possibly be of any importance in the modern world because, "Look at Tiger Woods." I reply that the fact that Tiger Woods is famous for being highly multiracial suggests that an awful lot of people aren't terribly multiracial. Tiger Woods is an exception that proves the rule.

The first alternative definition (the corruption of the Latin phrase about exceptions testing the rule) comes from the math/physics tradition, which (deservedly) has immense prestige. If the orbit of Mercury doesn't quite fit Newton's Law of Gravity, you aren't supposed to say, "Oh, well, that's just the exception that proves the rule." You're supposed to say, "Hmmhmm, maybe Newton's Law of Gravity is wrong, maybe instead we need a ... General Theory of Relativity!"

The second alternative definition above comes from the also prestigious (but perhaps less deservedly so) legal tradition, where rules are supposed to be as precise as possible to avoid confusion. If you build a casino west of Las Vegas to catch weary drivers from Los Angeles, it very much matters whether your slot machines end up located on the Nevada or California side of the the very distinctly defined stateline. They can be either in Nevada or in California, but the rules don't allow for some vague Calivada transition zone.

The problem is that the glamour of these two traditions frequently blinds us to how messy most aspects of reality are. In truth, we really don't have all that much trouble thinking with rough accuracy about concrete things in terms of averages, probabilities, and tendencies.

What we have more difficulty with is thinking about thinking about statistical realities. The relative nature of most of reality seems to strike many Westerners rather lowbrow and unintellectual. No matter how fashionable relativism is in terms of the higher moral thought, Platonic essentialism retains its vast prestige in the intellectual world when it comes to describing humanity. My empirical relativism-squared (I'm a relativist about the importance of blood relatives in social life) simply fails utterly to register with 99% of intellectuals.

In the third tradition, one of empirical observations useful in fields such as biology, sociology, and psychology, the word "rule" means, more or less, a statistical tendency. That's the usage found in the very common phrase "as a general rule," of which Google finds more than 13 million examples. A "general rule" sounds like it ought to be super-universal omnipresent: e.g., "as a general rule, gravity is in operation throughout the galaxy," or "as a general rule, the Pythagorean theorem has been true since the Universe began."

But that's not how it's used at all. Instead, "as a general rule" means that a tendency exits although it's probably not universal. Here are some examples of how "as a general rule" is used in a probabilistic sense:

"And since, as a general rule, the effects of causes are far more accessible to our study than the causes of effects, it is natural to think that this method has a much better chance of proving successful than the former." John Stuart Mill, A System of Logic

"In a future part of this work we shall show that, as a general rule, groups of allied species gradually appear and disappear, one after the other, on the face of the earth, like the individuals of the same species: and we shall then endeavour to show the probable cause of this remarkable fact." - Charles Darwin, 1844

"As a general rule, people marry most happily with their own kind. The trouble lies in the fact that people usually marry at an age where they do not really know what their own kind is." - Robertson Davies, novelist

"As a general rule, the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information." - Benjamin Disraeli, prime minister and novelist

In the last example, Jimmy Carter's tenure as President was a notorious exception to Disraeli's rule. Carter became bogged down as a decisionmaker by the quality and quantity of information available to him once he became President. But that doesn't mean Disraeli's rule should be discarded. Indeed, it offers evidence for its broad applicability.

"It may be that the race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong - but that is the way to bet." - Damon Runyon.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

September 6, 2006

The exception that proves the rule

A reader writes:

I once watched a group of five or six "public intellectuals" here in Britain discussing this phrase on television. None of them came close to getting it right, but they were all full of pompous explanations of the errors of thought which had led our despised ancestors to come up with such an obviously erroneous "cliché".

I put it this way: an "exception" is only recognized as such when there is a general norm which it violates and thus "proves" in the sense of highlighting. No exception is recognized where there is no rule or norm. It is not "2+2=4" which is the sort of rule which is violated and thus recognized, but the sort of "rule" expressed by "Germans haven't much of a sense of humor", a rule which is hardly likely even to be formulated except in the sudden presence of the violating exception.

Similarly, you might not notice that Japanese people are generally not raging egomaniacs until you notice that Yoko Ono is an exception. By the way, according to David Letterman, one of the Top Ten Duties of the Emperor of Japan is "Make sure Yoko Ono's U.S. citizenship is kept up to date."

Is autism linked to older fathers?

The LA Times reports on a study based on Israeli draft records:

Men over 40 are nearly six times as likely to have an autistic child as those under 30, according to a new study that provides support for the role of genetics in the development of the disabling mental disorder.

If this is true, why didn't we know this before now? This would be a huge effect, gigantic compared to what is normally seen in epidemiological studies of unexplained diseases, and it's not all that difficult to assemble this data.

I've been complaining for years that the public health establishment hasn't taken autism seriously. It's roughly about as prevalent as AIDS, and nobody has had any idea how to avoid autism (whereas avoiding AIDS is very, very simple), but the government and the press don't care 5% as much.

P.S. Gregg Easterbrook offers a novel theory for the presumed increase in autism: television. I don't know how plausible that sounds, but he's absolutely right that we need more research into causes. Perhaps his theory could be tested using data from white South Africans, since they didn't get TV until 1976, but had modern healthcare (e.g., the heart transplant was pioneered in South Africa in 1967).

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

September 5, 2006

Babe in the Woods

Twenty years ago, two friends and I were walking down Broadway through Times Square with our golf bags over our shoulders (we were on our way to the train station to head out to the National Golf Links of America in the Hamptons), attracting -- as you might imagine -- attention and comments, when we paused to watch the old shell game in action on a card table on the sidewalk. Two ladies were repeatedly losing money in the most frustratingly stupid fashion imaginable to the man manipulating the shells. A child could follow which shell the pea was under, but not these ladies (who, oddly enough, bore a striking resemblance to the game's proprietor, as if they might be his sisters).

The gentleman running this sporting enterprise noticed my friend John -- who, at 6'5" with flaming red hair and a full set of golf clubs, did tend to stand out from the regular denizens of Times Square -- and invited him to see if he could do better. The game suddenly ratcheted upward in difficulty. Thirty seconds later, John was down $20. Forty seconds later he was down $40. Forty-five seconds later, Bob and I were hauling John bodily down Broadway as he tried to bet the rest of his wallet.

These days, the new Disneyfied Times Square seems to lack that kind of local charm, which must be good for the preservation of Malcolm Gladwell's bank account. The esteemed writer's endearingly naive lack of street smarts about how the world works is on display once again in a "Comment" against Zero Tolerance policies in the New Yorker. And then Malcolm, as is his wont, expanded on the lamest bit of his New Yorker essay on his ever-amusing blog. (Of course, if you are a fan of Gladwell, reading his blog is like watching a trainwreck in slow motion as he performs on the high wire without editors and factcheckers.)

To illustrate the stupidity of "zero tolerance" rules, Gladwell used this example:

"This past summer, Rhett Bomar, the starting quarterback for the University of Oklahoma Sooners, was cut from the team when he was found to have been “overpaid” (receiving wages for more hours than he worked, with the apparent complicity of his boss) at his job at a car dealership. Even in Oklahoma, people seemed to think that kicking someone off a football team for having cut a few corners on his job made perfect sense. This is the age of zero tolerance."

Now I more or less agree with Malcolm that zero tolerance is a bad idea (and, as I wrote a decade and a half ago, I'm also dubious about NCAA rules about amateurism). But was this the best example of overzealous enforcement he could find? Are starting quarterbacks at football factories really likely to suffer from insufficient tolerance?

(In reality, this wasn't Bomar's first offense of his freshman year, but at least his third -- he'd already committed two alcohol infractions significant enough to make the newspaper.)

Then, Gladwell posted a blog entry entitled "Rhett Bomar" to elaborate on his example:

In my "Comment" this week in the New Yorker on zero tolerance policies, I mentioned, in passing, the case of Rhett Bomar. Here are a few more thoughts on his case.

Bomar is--or, rather, was--the starting quarterback for the University of Oklahoma football team. He played last year, as a freshman, and was very good--good enough that people began to think of his team as a national championship contender and Bomar as a potential pro. But this summer he was kicked off the team. His offense? He had a part-time job during last season at a car dealership in town, and he was "overpaid" for his work to the tune of several thousand dollars. Now's he gone. His NFL prospects are up in the air. And Oklahoma is no longer considered a national title contender.

Let's be clear. Oklahama, under the rules, had to do what they did. By being "overpaid" Bomar violated the NCAA's rules on amateurism. His infraction is the kind of thing that gets an entire football program put on probation. But am I wrong, or isn't this whole controversy more than a little nuts?

First, there's Oklahoma. Bomar was one of their best players. He had the ability to put them in line for a national title. Let's say, conservatively, that his presence on that team meant--in additional regular season revenue, TV money, Bowl game revenue and athleticwear sales--many, many millions of dollars.

Then there's the car dealership. They were entirely complicit in "overpaying" him. (Don't you love that word, by the way? It's so quaint! That word hasn't been used, with prejudice, in, oh, at least twenty years). And why? Because having one of the most famous football players in Oklahoma on your car lot is worth a lot of money. It would be as if David Sedaris went back to graduate school at NYU. If you were a bookstore in Greenwich Village, would you "overpay" him to work the cash register? Of course you would. And he'd be worth every penny. But if Sedaris was a football player, and not a writer, that would be illegal. Huh?

To re-cap: Oklahoma made money off Bomar. The car dealership made money off Bomar. Everyone was allowed to make money off Bomar--except, of course, Bomar.

There's a second wrinkle here. Bomar's job was off campus. He entered into a private arrangement with a private-sector employer and was renumerated accordingly. And yet the terms of that private arrangement were sufficient to get him in trouble with the NCAA. Doesn't this make you feel uncomfortable? It's one thing for the NCAA to pass rules concerning the conduct of student-athletes while they are at school. They shouldn't bet on games. They should go to class. They should meet certain entrance requirements. Fine. But isn't it a bit creepy when a organization who's jurisdiction is explicitly athletic starts to tell private citizens how much they are allowed to be paid in jobs they hold on their own time, far away from the athletic field? How on earth do they get away with this?

Ten minutes of Googling should have shown Malcolm that he had completely misinterpreted the nature of Bomar's "job" -- the Big Red car dealership didn't "hire" him as a local celebrity to make more profits for them like Malcolm imagined. Instead, it was a run-of-the-mill recruiting scam to put cash in a prize recruit's pocket. ESPN reported:

Bomar apparently filed for 40-hour work weeks at a Norman, Okla., auto dealership, making up to $18,000, when he only worked 5 hours a week, Schad reported. The car dealership in question is Big Red Sports/Imports in Norman, Okla., reports Schlabach... The dealership is part of the Sooner Schooner Car Program, which supplies vehicles to coaches and athletic department officials.

The "Big Red" dealership's name is a tribute to the Oklahoma football team's uniform color. They were publicly providing cars to adult officials of the team as part of the Sooner Schooner program. In other words, they were fanatical OU football boosters.

I more or less agree with Gladwell about the nefariousness of the NCAA, but he's really got to drop his misinterpretation of this Bomar example, which he stands by once again today, in yet another posting defending his citing Bomar in his New Yorker "Comment." The "Big Red" car dealership did _not_ hire the Oklahoma starting quarterback to lure fans into their showroom to meet him. They hired him to surreptitiously put money into the pocket of a prize recruit.

Everybody (except Gladwell) knows that paying a college football player to use his celebrity to attract attention to your business is so obviously in violation of the NCAA rules against professionalism and endorsements that _nobody_ does it. The whole point of cheating on NCAA rules is to try to keep it secret, not to get publicity for it. Gladwell's understanding of the situation makes no more sense than somebody going into the counterfeiting business and printing $100 bills with their own portrait and signature on them.

Car dealers might be the most fanatical of all college sports team boosters. Dealers tend to be highly competitive, unburdened by ethics, and can loan fancy cars to recruits without any paper trail for the NCAA to uncover. In Tom Wolfe's I Am Charlotte Simmons, JoJo, the power forward on the Dupont (Duke) national championship basketball team, looks forward to the first day of practice because after he showers and goes back to his locker, there is always a new set of car keys in his pocket -- this year, waiting for him out in the parking lot is one of those ultra-vulgar Cadillac Escalade SUV-pickup combination jobs.

Malcolm is Canadian, so maybe that is why there are a lot of things about America he just doesn't get. Personally, I didn't grasp how American college sports worked either until I was 22 and I shared an office with a former UCLA All-American football player. I asked him why USC kept beating UCLA. He looked me straight in the eye and said with intense seriousness: "Because the USC players know that if they do what it takes to win, they - will - be - rewarded."

But Malcolm considers himself a knowledgeable enough about sports to review recently for the New Yorker a technical book on basketball statistics (and, as you would expect, botch it up).

But beyond ignorance, Malcolm possesses an invincible innocence that's part of his childlike charm. You may recall that this isn't the first time he's exhibited a faith in car dealers that most Americans would find bizarre in a 43-year-old man.

Gladwell was baffled and offended that both Judge Richard A. Posner, the distinguished leader of the Law and Economics school of thought, and myself had scoffed at his theory in Blink that, as Gladwell puts it, the reason "car salesmen quote higher prices to otherwise identical black shoppers is because of unconscious discrimination. They don't realize what they are doing. But buried prejudices are changing their responses in the moment."

Posner and I had pointed out that auto dealers aren't tragic victims of their own hidden bigotry. Instead, they are relying on their years of experience at milking different kinds of customers for the highest possible price.

Thus, they make higher offers to blacks and women because they've found they can often manipulate them into paying more.

Gladwell sniffed: "Sailer and Poser [sic] have a very low opinion of car salesmen."

Now, that's a killer comeback!

New Yorker editor David Remnick should realize that it's in the interest of everybody's reputation -- especially Malcolm's -- for him to start providing more adult supervision of Malcolm's brainstorms before Remnick prints them in the New Yorker. Malcolm's a mellifluous writer and he means well, but he has repeatedly shown (as his blog's archives demonstrate) that he lacks both street smarts about how the world works and the inclination and/or ability to perform simple reality checks on ideas that strike his fancy.

Last week Malcolm melted down over Jane Galt's perfectly reasonable criticism of his New Yorker article claiming Ireland's boom could be explained by legalizing contraception in 1979. Gladwell bizarrely posted:

"Gladwell" does not attribute Irish success to falling birth rates. David Bloom and David Canning do. Gladwell is a journalist. Bloom and Canning are two exceedingly prestigious economists at Harvard, who are considered world experts in the field of demography and economics. Gladwell was impressed by them. He talked to them. He read their work. He was convinced by them. But he didn't make this argument up on the back of his journalistic notepad. And to neglect the true source of this argument is to trivilize and demean it. This is not Gladwell v. Jane Galt; journalist v. blogger. It's world experts v. blogger. Just so we are clear on this. And acknowledging the origins of this idea means that you can't depose of the dependency ratio argument just by dismissing Gladwell.

The next day, he recovered enough to post a cogent analysis of his own naiveté (although he doesn't actually realize it is a failing in a nonfiction writer):

I will confess to having a slightly reverential attitude toward academia. I'm the son of an academic. Much of my writing involves taking academic research and trying to translate it for a more general audience. And I've always believed that if you set out to write about the work of academic specialists, you have a responsibility to treat that work with respect-- to acknowledge your own ignorance and, where appropriate, defer to the greater expertise of others.

I don't always live up to this. And on other occasions, I"m sure, some would say that I take this reverence too far. But that's a criticism I'm more than happy to live with.

I've noticed over the years that while the correlation between general intelligence and being able to write good prose is fairly high, it's a lot less 1.00. All the time I come across people who are clearly smarter than me -- Greg Cochran; Razib, GC, and most of the boys at GNXP; John Hawks; Randall Parker, etc. -- but who are merely good prose stylists rather than very good ones. (If I didn't mention your name, it's a tribute to your writing ability.)

And then there are writers like Malcolm, who are better prose stylists than me, but who seem to lack the critical urge, the analytical insight needed for assessing whether some new academic paper is plausible or not. Malcolm's problem is that he's so much better at writing than thinking that he starts translating academicese into New Yorker prose before he's done the reality checks he should to avoid making a fool of himself.

The solution is simple. Gladwell needs to work harder, to spend less time on the lucrative lecture circuit, and more time thinking about what he is going to publish in the New Yorker and in his books before he publishes it. He should not start writing so soon, because he can use his eloquence and verbal facility to persuade himself of the truth of something that would seem doubtful rendered in more awkward prose. He needs to try his ideas out against more skeptical minds than his, people who are better equipped at shooting holes in trial balloons.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

September 4, 2006


"Idiocracy" reviewed by Ilkka Kokkarinen of 16 Volts: The long-awaited satire by Mike Judge, creator of "Office Space," "King of the Hill" and "Beavis and Butt-Head" is being dumped by Fox with no advertising or publicity whatsoever in LA, Dallas, Austin, Houston, Atlanta, Chicago and Toronto, where the man with all those "Ks" in his name saw it:

So the premise of this movie is that an average guy is frozen Futurama-style and due to a few mishaps he wakes up in the far future, in which centuries of dysgenic breeding has had such severe results that he finds himself the smartest man in the world, so that his habit of using complete sentences makes him sound smart and "faggy". The movie immediately starts great by showing us a smart yuppie couple and the trailer trash couple... Whereas the yuppie couple, who were basically taken straight out of the writings of Steve Sailer or Vox Day, remains childless ("We just can't have a child in this market", the woman says echoing Steve's notion of "affordable family formation", and many other of his themes could be seen in this movie, including the military's reliance on standardized tests), the white trash couple merrily breeds back and forth and soon their ever-expanding family tree completely overcrowds the screen, whereas the yuppie female finds that her fertility has fallen, her husband dies and in the end, now considerably aged and thus uglier, in a style reminiscent of Maureen Dowd, she wistfully longs for the "right guy" to one day come along...

Normally an advertising and publicity tour would have indeed been in proper order, but even though this movie is nowhere as satirically biting as it very easily could have been, consisting mostly of fart jokes ... even the few worms that escape by creaking open this particular can of worms are so immensely serious that it is simply unimaginable that any studio boss would take the slightest chance of becoming the next Mel Gibson over the idea that society of stupid people is worse than a society of smart people.

At least deep down, leftists know perfectly well that they don't have any real arguments against soccer mom eugenics, and they also know that IQ is strongly correlated to most good things in life. Therefore they have no choice but to hysterically shout down and crucify anybody who even dares to approach this forbidden territory as a "Nazi", instead of engaging them in a honest debate. And at least nobody who wants to have a future career in the movie industry would want that for himself. As fun as it is to be right, it is way more fun to be successful.

For this reason, I can't even begin to imagine Luke Wilson sitting in some talkshow and casually explaining how the premise of the movie is that dysgenic breeding is currently making humanity stupider and that is somehow a bad thing. That right there would be the end of his career. Even if this basic concept is played only for crude fart and sex jokes the way it was done in this movie, pretty soon people might start asking the real serious questions and perhaps even begin to notice and point out certain tomwolfean phenomena that are happening in the real world in front of their eyes, and we certainly can't have that, now can we?

So my prediction is that the movie will fail financially and be taken out of the theaters. So those of my readers who want to see this movie, go see it some time this week while you still can. After that, it will take a long time until it might come out on DVD. However, I predict by that time it will suddenly sell more than Futurama, Family Guy and Office Space combined, having achieved a cult status. I am sure I missed many little jokes in the background, and while we were walking home, my wife said that she really wants to see this movie again on DVD, so that she can pause the show when necessary and read everything. [More]

For example, a computer screen flashes that the hero is wanted for four crimes, but I only had time to read the first count of his indictment: "#1. Being a dick."

My wife's favorite performance was the Latino surfer dude who is the district attorney: think of John Leguizamo playing Keanu Reeves' role in "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" being called upon to make an opening statement.

Here's a detailed review/synopsis of the 2003 draft of the screenplay. And here's another. All the dysgenic logic was in there from the beginning, but the morons at Fox apparently didn't figure out until after Judge had shot the film in 2004 that You Can't Say That.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

One Cheer for Freud:

Sigmund Freud gets criticized a lot these days, but compared to other bad ideas popular in the 20th Century, his bad ideas turned out less than catastrophic. Freudians didn't set up slave labor camps, start famines by collectivizing agriculture, or invade Russia. They just wasted the time and money of some people who had time and money to waste.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Assimilation, Mexican-American-style

Before bashing immigrants, at least try to get the facts straight
By Linda Chavez

University of California professor Ruben Rumbaut, an expert on immigration and crime, looked at 2000 Census data on the institutionalized population in the United States, most of whom are in prisons, and came up with these astonishing facts. Immigrants are far less likely to be in jail or prison than other U.S. residents.

Of the U.S. population of 45.2 million men ages 18 to 39 (those most likely to be in the criminal population), 3 percent were incarcerated, or about 1.3 million at the time of the 2000 Census. But of these, blacks, whites and U.S.-born Hispanics had incarceration rates that dwarfed those of immigrants. Only .7 percent of Mexican-born males were in prison or jail, compared with 3.51 percent of all U.S.-born males, which includes 1.71 percent of non-Hispanic whites, 11.6 percent of blacks and 5.9 percent of Mexican Americans.

For all foreign-born groups, immigrants have lower incarceration rates than all U.S.-born racial and ethnic groups do, including whites.

Immigrants typically enter America past the prime age to fall into a life of crime via a youth gang. They are also intimidated by fears of deportation, and some immigrant criminals escape imprisonment by fleeing back to Mexico.

These statistics are not actually good news. In fact, they are the opposite. We are always told that the magic of assimilation into the middle class will solve all the problems with the current illegal immigrants, but what this says is that Mexican immigrants assimilate over time toward African-American norms of criminality. The problem of Mexican crime in the U.S. will thus inevitably get worse.

What Linda is saying, although she doesn't realize it, is that America is brewing up an unholy mess for itself in the future by taking in so many Mexican immigrants today. The problem is that as Mexican-Americans assimilate over the generations, they become radically more criminal than their immigrant forefathers, and about 3.4 times more crime-prone than non-Hispanic whites, and more than half as criminal as African-Americans, which is pretty bad.

This leads to a demand from employers for more hair-of-the-dog that bit us. In the 1945-65 era, northern employers wanted more black men from the South, but the generation that grew up on the streets of the Northern cities became much more crime-prone than their fathers who had migrated from the Jim Crow South. So, employers turned from hiring local blacks to hiring Mexican immigrants. But their American-born sons are falling into youth gangs, so American-born Mexicans are following blacks into unemployability. So, employers want more fresh immigrants who are too intimidated to cause trouble. And the cycle goes on and the underclass grows ever larger.

Life in America tends to undermine self-discipline and other forms of human capital, so our immigration system should be designed to only take in immigrants with much more human capital than the American average, so that it will take several generations for their offspring to deteriorate just down to the American mean. Instead, we're taking in millions of immigrants who are already below our average, and a large fraction of their children and grandchildren decline into the underclass.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Gary Becker forgets to mention America

On the WSJ's OpinionJournal website, Nobel Economist Gary S. Becker opines:

Missing Children
Without mass immigration, low birthrates doom society.

Prof. Becker's argument that countries are doomed without mass immigration may or may not be true for some foreign nations, but it's not true for America. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the preliminary estimate of the American total fertility rate for 2004 was 2.05 babies per woman's lifetime, almost exactly equal to the replacement rate. The replacement rate is usually said to be 2.1, but it has apparently recently dipped down to the 2.05 to 2.07 range due to declining mortality among children.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

September 3, 2006

Mike Judge's "Idiocracy:" The movie the Fox studio doesn't want you to see

The most brilliant populist conservative in American comedy, Mike Judge, creator of Beavis & Butthead, King of the Hill, and the cult classic film "Office Space," has a new movie out, a satire on dysgenic IQ trends, that its studio, 20th Century Fox, simply does not want you to see. It's playing in about 100 theatres in LA, Dallas, Austin (where Judge lives), Houston, Chicago, Toronto, and Atlanta, but with no marketing push and no publicity whatsoever. And, it's very funny in a smart/crude R-rated way. I may review it at length, so I won't say more now, but you can find a list of where it's playing here.

Luke Wilson is the most average man in the U.S. Army who is chosen because he's dead center on all the bell curves -- IQ, blood pressure, etc. -- to be the guinea pig in a human hibernation project. But he's forgotten and doesn't wake up until 2505 A.D. only to discover, to his horror, that he's now the smartest man alive in a hilariously dysfunctional world.

What is the deal with the release of this film? I've never seen a studio film where the studio has released it yet is doing so much to kill it dead. Is this some bizarre meta-marketing plan to turn this into a cult film by providing a confirmatory object lesson in the growing stupidity of American institutions? Or did the firms satirized in the picture, including Fox News, somehow deep-six it? Or is it just too politically incorrect to be released in New York City?

Here's my VDARE article on Mike Judge.

A commenter on Ain't It Cool News suggests:

I have a plan. If you want to see the movie, buy a ticket for a non-FOX movie, then sneak in to see Idiocracy. THEN, send your ticket stub to Tom Rothman at FOX, thanking him for financing the financing movie you paid another studio to see.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The Derb on Race and Conservatism

In the New English Review, John Derbyshire posts his speech at the Robert Taft Society last week:

Meanwhile, among nonblack Americans, a rigorous and intolerant ideology of “anti-racism” has grown up. The opinions a nonblack American has, or more precisely voices, about race are now a major in-group (I mean, among fellow nonblacks) status marker.

Let me just elaborate on that a little. Modern neuroscience perceives the human brain as a modular structure, different modules performing different functions. Since humans are quintessentially social animals, much of the brain is given over to processing social information. A big part of this information concerns in-group status. We need to be constantly evaluating, and re-evaluating, the status of ourselves and others in the various groups we belong to. A mistake in this respect can be fatal—as, for example, in the case of an undersized low-status male foolishly challenging one of the group’s alpha males. Evolution has a way of weeding these things out. Some neuroscientists have postulated an entire module of the brain given over to these highly important issues of in-group status evaluation.

Among American nonblacks in the present age, being known to have “incorrect” opinions about race results in catastrophic loss of status.

A literary example will illustrate the point very well. Here is America’s foremost observer of our social mores, Tom Wolfe, writing in the mid-1980s in his novel The Bonfire of the Vanities. In the extract below we have a lower-middle-class but upwardly striving white couple, the Kramers. The Kramers have a baby, and have hired a nurse to help look after it. Their yuppie instincts led them to an agency recommended by the New York Times, and the agency provided them with a crisply-turned-out, briskly efficient, English baby nurse, also white.

The presence of this Englishwoman in their apartment causes considerable psychic stress to the young couple. On the one hand, she is an employee, so of course they, who are paying her wages, ought to outrank her in status. One the other hand she is English. It is a peculiar thing—a very peculiar thing, when you consider this nation’s origins—that being English gives you extra status points in the U.S.A. all by itself. It’s odd, and I do not know why it is so; but I can assure you, being English-born myself, that it is so. So this baby nurse, socially inferior to the Kramers on an employer-employee scale, actually outranks them on status, just by virtue of being English. The psychic stress is, as I said, acute.

Then one day the husband, wife, and baby nurse are watching news footage of a race riot on TV. The English nurse passes some mildly anti-black remarks: “The colored don’t know how good they’ve got it in this country…” etc. I will let Tom Wolfe tell the rest.

Kramer and his wife looked at each other. He could tell she was thinking the same thing he was.

Thank God in heaven! What a relief! They could let their breaths out now. Miss Efficiency was a bigot. These days the thing about bigotry was, it was undignified. It was a sign of Low Rent origins, of inferior social status, of poor taste. So they were the superiors of their English baby nurse, after all. What a #$%@^&! relief.

As always with Tom Wolfe, this is absolutely spot-on social observation. Reveal yourself to be racially “incorrect,” and watch your in-group status points go swirling down the toilet. And look at the emotions on display there. In-group status evaluation is not just a matter of cold arithmetic. Powerful emotions are engaged: pride, humiliation, envy, fear. The co-opting of this key portion of the nonblack psyche by “anti-racist” reformers was a tremendous triumph. ...

What, actually, is that orthodoxy? What defines the meaning of those words I have been putting in scare quotes—“correct,” “anti-racism,” and the rest?

I think a single dogma encompasses it all. For my purposes here, I shall call it the Dogma of Zero Group Differences, or DZGD. ...

The first, and unhappiest, thing to say is that the results are, by definition, statistical. This is a terrible drawback to sensible discussion in the public, the political, sphere. Statistical truth is extraordinarily difficult for untrained minds to grasp. I know what I am talking about, for I was once a teacher of statistics.

I use a different thought experiment to illustrate this sad truth. Imagine you are addressing a room full of people. We can let them be quite well-educated people, so long as they are not trained statisticians. A room full of students from some university Humanities department will do nicely. Now say the following thing to the room: “Men are, on average, taller than women.” I can almost guarantee—it is nearly a dead certainty—that someone in the room will stand up and say something like: “What about Sally? She’s taller than any of us. Taller than you, for sure—Ha ha ha ha!” The room will then consider your thesis to have been decisively exploded. Men taller than women? Nonsense! Look at Sally!

That, I am afraid, is how the untrained human mind works. For the past few years I have been writing pop-math books for a living, and let me tell you, it’s damn hard work. Mathematical and scientific thinking is deeply unnatural. Statistical thinking about our fellow human beings is doubly or trebly so. It goes against all the grain of human nature, against all the social habits programmed into our brains. Anyone can see Sally, but without special training, no-one can see a group average, let alone a standard deviation. We are all interested in other people, but very few of us are interested in multivariate distributions or correlation coefficients. [More]

Actually, I don't think that is exactly true. Humans have an innate talent for thinking in terms of correlations. Teenagers, for example, are remarkably good at sizing up other teenagers from minor visual clues, guessing that somebody with haircut X will like band Y. Similarly, the vast majority of nice white liberals with children don't buy homes in black neighborhoods, even though the houses tend to be cheap and conveniently located near downtown jobs.

What modern Americans are terrible at is not thinking statistically but thinking about thinking statistically. It's only when Americans put on their public pronouncement caps that they turn into the pompous fools that Derb describes in the example about Long Tall Sally.

An important question is how universal is this contemporary American intellectual incompetence about probability. Are humans naturally unable to think intelligently about thinking statistically, or is this just a form of learned stupidity that has been beaten into our heads in America in recent years? Do the Chinese think this way? Did Americans used to think this way?

When I was kid, there was a common phrase called "the exception that proves the rule." It means, in the Derb's example, that the fact that we call Sally, who is long and tall, "Long Tall Sally" implies that most people named Sally are not long and tall.

You don't hear this phrase much anymore. I used it in my first major article, "Why Lesbians Aren't Gay," to point out that Camille Paglia was the exception that proves the rule that lesbians tend to be less interested in European high culture than gay men. (Paglia is famously at odds with most other lesbians, and she has suggested that her personality and artistic interests are more similar to those of gay men than to lesbians.)

Judge Richard A. Posner wrote to me objecting that the phrase "exception that proves the rule" made no sense. I pointed out to him that what it means is that facts that are famous for being exceptional are good evidence of a contrary statistical tendency. That Joan of Arc is famous for being a female general suggests, correctly, that most generals are male.

If Judge Posner can't grasp this, what hope is there for the rest of us Americans?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Daniel Larison's awe-inspiring output:

Sometime this summer, Daniel Larison's Eunomia blog kicked into overdrive. If you graphed all the foreign policy and political philosophy oriented blogs with quantity on the horizontal axis and quality on the vertical axis, Eunomia would be in the extreme upper right corner.

Larison is a Ph.D. student in Byzantine History at the University of Chicago and he knows an enormous amount about West Asia, which, as you may have noticed, is in the news a lot these days, and, as you may also have noticed, is not at all well understood by most commentators.

Beyond sheer knowledge, Larison (who is, I believe, a convert to the Greek Orthodox church) possesses an old man's wisdom rare in someone young enough to have that much energy.

Contrast him with David Brooks of the NYT, who recently opined:

Since 9/11, the U.S. has had little success in influencing distant groups. Americans blew the postwar administration of Iraq because they assumed they were liberating a nation sort of like their own. And yet I can’t seem to renounce my own group, which is America. It would feel like cultural suicide to repress the central truths of my society, that all human beings are endowed with inalienable rights and democracy is the most just and effective form of government.

The hard lesson of the last five years — that we live in a jagged world filled with starkly different and contesting groups — makes democracy promotion more difficult but more necessary. Only democratic habits will prevent the inevitable clash of the tribes from turning into a war of nuclear annihilation.

(As I've warned before, neocon thought patterns have a certain logic to them that is slowly propelling them -- against their conscious will -- toward eventually advocating that America commit the greatest crime in human history: the nuclear genocide of the Muslim peoples.)

Larison deftly skewers Brooks by paraphrasing Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride:

Brooks has made a curious maneuver, wrapping up the effort to spread universalist propositions in supposed loyalty to his “group,” his tribe, which he has defined in the most non-specific and un-tribal way possible. It is as if he has declared a blood debt against Iraq on behalf of the proposition nation: “Hello, my name is David Brooks. You killed my proposition, prepare to die.”

I doubt that Larison, or anybody made of flesh and blood, can keep up his output of this summer, but you should check out Eunomia regularly.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer