May 23, 2007

343

It's little understood how immigration drives the spread and potency of racial and ethnic quotas. It's widely assumed, even opponents of affirmative action, that race quotas are just about blacks, even though Hispanics now make up more of the legally "protected groups" than do African-Americans.

Further, it's widely assumed that quotas are imposed solely as a proactive decision by liberals, as in college admissions, and could thus be banned by Supreme Court decision or by referendum. In reality, they are mostly imposed as a reactive decision by fairly conservative organizations to avoid lawsuits.

Your Lying Eyes points to a Newsday article:


Feds sue city, claim biased FDNY exams
U.S. Department of Justice says previous tests discriminated against black and Hispanic applicants
BY ANTHONY M. DESTEFANO

In a 14-page complaint filed in federal court in Brooklyn, attorneys for the Department of Justice alleged that discriminatory hiring practices were rooted in two written tests given to applicants in 1999 and 2002 that, while not purposely or obviously racist, were littered with SAT-like questions that do not test an applicant's ability to fight fires. The suit seeks an injunction and possible damages.

The two "pass/fail" tests resulted in passing rates for black and Hispanic applicants that were lower than those of white applicants in a statistically significant way, the complaint charges.

In the 1999 test, about 90 percent of white applicants had a passing score, but only 61.2 percent of black and 77 percent of Hispanic test-takers passed, according to the complaint.

The rates for the 2002 exam were 97.2 percent for white applicants, 85.6 percent for black applicants and 92.8 percent for Hispanic applicants, court records stated.

According to federal officials, the use of the tests has contributed to the low numbers of black and Hispanic uniformed firefighters when compared with the NYPD.

According to a 1999 city study, there are 11,000 New York City firefighters, of which about 3 percent are black and 4.5 percent Hispanic, compared with 13.4 percent and 17.2 percent, respectively, in the NYPD, the officials said. ...

City Hall fired back with a statement that took issue with the claim by federal officials.

"In fact, the test plan, which resulted in the development of the 1999 and 2002 exams, was developed by active New York City firefighters, including black and Hispanic firefighters, working with experts at the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, and was job-related," Assistant Corporation Counsel Georgia Pestana said.


Your Lying Eyes responds:


Provided it requires some cognitive skills, it's basically impossible to design a written exam that won't show these kinds of disparities in test results. By making the test easier and easier, and eliminating questions that test logical or reasoning skills, as was obviously attempted here, you can close the gap somewhat, but the statistically significant differential, which the DOJ points to here, will remain. The DOJ argues that the test is not relevant to the job, which is about all they could argue at this point, since the test has been designed to be so easy that almost every white applicant passes.

Compare these test results to this analysis of the July 2004 Texas Bar Exam (which I chose because it showed up first in a Google search). Among first time test takers, 85% of whites, 69% of Hispanics and 53% of blacks passed. These results are very nearly statistically identical (measured in terms of z-score differentials) to the 1999 NYC firefighters exam. They also are similar to what we find with the SATs, NAEP assessments* - just about any written test requiring cerebral energy. As la Griffe du Lion has pointed out, it's one of the few things you can count on in the social sciences, but count on it you can.


The point I want to make however is the extraordinary chutzpah of the Department of Justice in suing ... the NYFD. Why? Let me sum it up in one number:

343

How soon we forget.


My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

So, let me get this straight Steve. Let's leave aside the particulars of this specific case for now. Are you suggesting that because the New York Fire Department lost 343 of its members on September 11, 2001, it is now immune from any lawsuits in the future? The fact that some of its members were victims doesn't mean that the NYFD is above the law

Anonymous said...

All sorts of government institutions exist and grant immense privileges to their members because they claim that they look out for all of us and do things that most people aren't willing to do so we can enjoy our lives. Mostly, they don't do so well at it (CIA, FBI, TSA, etc.).

FDNY does. They've got featherbedded union jobs but they actually do charge into burning buildings. On one horrible day 343 of them didn't come out. They really do do the things that they're supposed to. It's not a good idea to force quota hires in areas where it really counts.

Steve Johnson

fwood1 said...

I'm curious. Has the Department of Justice (sic) ever sued any state for the racial disparity in bar exam pass rates?

ziel said...

Payback for endorsing Kerry, perhaps?

Anonymous said...

Compare these test results to this analysis of the July 2004 Texas Bar Exam (which I chose because it showed up first in a Google search). Among first time test takers, 85% of whites, 69% of Hispanics and 53% of blacks passed.

The situation is actually far, far, far worse than those numbers would indicate.

The most recent figures for end-of-12th-grade mathematics "proficiency", as measured by the "No Child Left Behind" testing requirements, are as follows:

Asian/Pacific Islander 36%
White 29%
Hispanic 8%
Black 6%
American Indian/Alaska Native 6%

SOURCE:
PDF DOCUMENT
http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/pdf/main2005/2007468_3.pdf

However, if you correct for graduation rates

White 75%
Hispanic 53%
Black 50%
Native American 51%

SOURCE: http://www.parapundit.com/archives/001959.html

Then you get the following numbers:

White [0.75] X [0.29] = 0.2175 = 22%
Hispanic [0.53] X [0.08] = 0.424 = 4%
Black [0.50] X [0.06] = 0.03 = 3%
Native American [0.51] X [0.06] = 0.0306 = 3%

Here is an example of "basic" mastery of mathematics:

http://s152.photobucket.com/albums/s198/cottonplytowelhead/?action=view¤t=basic_question.jpg

And here is an example of "proficient" mastery of mathematics:

http://s152.photobucket.com/albums/s198/cottonplytowelhead/?action=view¤t=proficient_question.jpg

Suffice it to say that if the NYFD exam involved even the most trivial algebra problem [e.g. something involving a calculation of water pressure in a hose, or the weight of the hose when empty versus the weight of the hose when filled with water], or the most trivial spatial reasoning [e.g. "Given that the water hydrant is here, and the city block is laid out thusly, and each floor of the building interior is laid out thusly, and your captain wants your team positioned at this point, on the Nth floor, then how many feet of hose will your team require to get to that point?"], then, for all intents and purposes, no Hispanics or Blacks in the general population would be capable of passing the exam.

Dave said...

The limiting factor for blacks getting into the FDNY isn't the pass rate on the written test, but the paucity of blacks on the right end of the bell curve on that test; since the FDNY gets so many applicants, nearly all the ones it accepts are the ones who score about 95% on the test.

Anonymous said...

Correlation is not causation. It doesn’t take a PhD to come up with a coherent argument for or against a test. There are numerous people out there with BAs in the social sciences and education, presumably some even in the DOJ, who could make this argument.

The fact that the group of students who happened to be white had a higher passing rate than either the black or hispanic applicants to decide that the test was somehow culturally rigged to favor whites isn’t very descriptive. Rather than cave to unprovable accusations of institutionalized racism, the DOJ or the fire department could’ve analyzed the characteristics of individual test takers. It certainly would’ve been more informative to correlate success with education level, performance in school, IQ, etc. Despite being statistically significant, race was probably the least relevant trait correlating with success on the test.

Luke said...

Actually the two math questions that anonymous posted from buckethead, especially the 2nd, seem quite irrelevant for fire fighting. It is remarkable how rarely one uses algebra in real life.

Anonymous said...

Ziel -- if anything the Justice Dept. like the permanent bureaucracy has been in open warfare with the Bush Admin since day one. So no it's hardly likely it's punishment for endorsing Kerry, since that was done by the union leadership that is not representative of the union membership (who booed Shrillary when she appeared at some 9/11 event and blamed America, predictably, and talked of "discrimination" against Muslims yadda yadda yadda).

State and CIA leak like sieves, what's that about? See the Brit TV series Yes Minister. Presidents come and go, the bureaucrats remain. Which can be a huge problem, see France (and it's ENArchs).

Here the diversity bureaucracy is trying to punish the FDNY for getting the most able people, as organizations go it's fairly able since they are tested daily as to what works and what doesn't. When something doesn't work, people die. So they have incentive to have the best people, equipment, training, procedures etc. they can.

The Diversity bureaucracy doesn't care. They'd gladly trade the lives of anyone who could be saved for numeric goals that they can point to as part of their resume building. The Justice Dept. of course is not interested in Justice as such, merely building the career prospects of the people who staff it. Some of whom will use positions to springboard as various lobbyists or negotiators with Justice, others who will advance through the ranks of the Priesthood.

Priest-type organizations can be seen as those that don't actually involve any risk in fighting and dying; soldier type organizations take on risks thus as alluded to above find quickly a sorting out of what gets people killed and what saves lives.

This is why Justice, and most bureaucracies are so inept, and the Coast Guard, wartime military, Fire Depts, who take on daily risk are generally competent. They are more soldier oriented. NYPD? Probably somewhere in the middle, more towards the priest rather than the soldier part of the spectrum.

Peter said...

Women are notably absent from the FDNY's ranks. They account for well under 1% of all firefighters, excluding the separate EMS division. You may notice that none of the 343 were women. Paid firefighting is of course a largely male occupation everywhere, among other things most women have considerable trouble passing the physical fitness tests, but the FDNY takes things to an extreme. Most big-city fire departments are at least 5% female, with Minneapolis the leader at almost 20%.

MensaRefugee said...

Great Post Anonymous (at 5/23/2007 6:31 PM)!

tommy said...

And here is an example of "proficient" mastery of mathematics:

My goodness! If taking the composition of two functions is beyond the ability of even a dull student, then our education system really is a tremendous failure.

And here I'm thinking a reasonable mastery of elementary differential and integral calculus should be required for graduation. I was also thinking that students should have to take pre-calculus statistics, pre-calc probability theory, and elementary formal logic while in high school. What planet am I on?

Steve Sailer said...

The handful of women in the FDNY are called "firewatchers" by the firemen.

jody said...

i'm getting nervous that the federal government is serious about this made up "hispanic" category. i want to know how the NYFD is measuring the performance of a group that doesn't exist.

i've asked before, but i'm at a loss to explain how this is going to be handled in a few decades when the stakes really get high.

this is a major issue. the department of justice is initiating lawsuits based on this fake category.

Mark said...

Why are blacks complaining? From what I've seen, they've got the entire New York City Transit Authority under their control.

Mark said...

One thing this illustrates is the penalty of setting up shop in high minority areas.

If you're a business in an area that's 50% black, then you are, of course, expected to hire a whole lot more blacks than a business in an area where there are few blacks. If you don't, you'll be subjected to lawsuits; and even if your numbers are acceptable, you can certainly be assured of more EEO lawsuits by black employees you've fired.

Net incentive: set up shop as far away from large concentrations of minorities as possible, unless your industry pays so little that it attracts mostly minorities anyway.

My gut sense is that this is exactly what Japanese auto companies did when they moved into the US. They built plants in areas of Ohio, Kentucky, and East Tennessee where poor whites were thick on the ground but blacks were (relatively) rare.

Anonymous said...

Actually the two math questions that anonymous posted from buckethead, especially the 2nd, seem quite irrelevant for fire fighting. It is remarkable how rarely one uses algebra in real life.

Suppose you're a sargeant/lieutenant/captain in the NYFD, and you realize that your team is in a situation where something is about to blow, but you're just a little too far away to get the water on the flashpoint, so you send your rookie quota-hire back to the truck to get another length of hose, and he's got maybe 5 or 10 seconds to decide: Should I grab the 50' hose, or should I grab the 75' foot hose?

And because his IQ is too low to do the spatial visualization & algebraic summation in his head, he grabs the wrong hose, and runs back with it, and hands it to you, but you don't realize that the hose is too short until it's too late, at which point there's not enough time to evacuate your team, and the place blows, and...

YOU'RE DEAD!!!

Now tell me that algebra and geometry aren't of any importance to the working man.

Tell a carpenter [or a brickmason] how to square the sides of a house without invoking the Pythagorean theorem.

Tell an electrician how to calculate the amperage on a parallel circuit without invoking Ohm's law.

Tell a plumber or an HVAC guy how he's supposed to ensure the specs of a system he's building without any reference to abstract measurements like pressure, or volume, or temperature.

PS: You can never underestimate the amount of chaos that low-IQ people can cause in life.

It's gotten to the point that the military won't even take them as cannon fodder anymore because the systems are so complicated nowadays that the mere presence of a low-IQ team member jeopardizes everyone else's life.

Even if you assign them the most mundane of tasks - say, making sure that the fire truck is stocked with, I dunno, five lengths of 50' hose, and five lengths of 75' hose, you'll arrive on the scene and discover that the idiot decided to stock you with eight lengths of 50' hose and only two lengths of 75' hose.

Or maybe instead of stocking the truck like you told him to, he decides to sneak off and smoke a few joints with his friends, and you arrive at the fire and there aren't any hoses on the truck at all!

I've spent time with these people - you have to yell and scream and fight with them just to get them to perform the most menial of tasks, and even then, you'll be lucky to get 70% or 80% compliance with what you had ordered them to do.

Dave said...

"My goodness! If taking the composition of two functions is beyond the ability of even a dull student, then our education system really is a tremendous failure."

I don't that's beyond anyone's ability -- it just selects for who took a level of math that included functions, and who spent some time looking at the blackboard versus looking out the window (or who, a couple of months before the fireman test, picked up a study guide from Barnes & Noble and worked through it).

Anonymous said...

There are some excellent threads here now. Good news that, Jupiter, the phony klansman troll with the half tenured professor and half hillbilly vocabulary, has been filtered (he was probably from Southern Poverty Law Center).

Russell said...

Anon,

Jupiter was the real thing, IMHO. The particularities of his hang-ups were too varied and interesting to be some flunky liberal trying to discredit racial realism.

MensaRefugee said...

It's gotten to the point that the military won't even take them as cannon fodder anymore because the systems are so complicated nowadays that the mere presence of a low-IQ team member jeopardizes everyone else's life.

By Anonymous 5/23/2007 10:47 PM
---------------------

I have a post of sorts on this, just fleshing out some of the infamous slate articles' numbers.

http://differing.blogspot.com/2007/05/military-and-iq-redux.html

l. ron hoover said...

Jupiter was indeed for real, as I demonstrated on a previous thread, having been familiar with him from another website. It's not so unusual for people to write in a mixture of "hillbilly" and academic-sounding style in the internet, which allows people lacking in formal education to absorb a lot of high-sounding concepts and jargon relating to subjects they're interested in. Anyway, I'm glad he's gone too.

Anonymous said...

Jupiter was indeed for real, as I demonstrated in a previous thread, having been familiar with him from another website. It's not so unusual for people to write in a mixture of "hillbilly" and formal style in the internet, which allows people lacking in formal education to absorb a lot of high-sounding concepts relating to subjects they're interested in. Anyway, I'm glad he's gone too.

Anonymous said...

Heather MacDonald who has been increasingly Sailer-like in her writing has a great piece on it at city-journal. She has the post-liberal pedigree to pass it off

MensaRefugee said...

Yeah,
But Heather seems to use the Conservative Canard that its all low expectations and culture of Blacks.

To get that view widespread is definitely an improvement, but still a lie.

Emily said...

Ditto that Jupiter was real.

The Moby trolls seemed to post very early in a thread and, in my opinion, were the very same people who were outspoken liberals in comments even earlier, usually the very first comment.

tommy said...

I don't that's beyond anyone's ability -- it just selects for who took a level of math that included functions, and who spent some time looking at the blackboard versus looking out the window (or who, a couple of months before the fireman test, picked up a study guide from Barnes & Noble and worked through it).

Well that's my point. I shouldn't be beyond anyones innate abilities. It isn't that difficult. The fact that our education system manages to crank out kids who cannot perform these sort of mundane mathematical tasks says a lot.

TabooTruth said...

Dave,

Such a function is actually beyond the ability of many students. Just go to any community college and look at the loads of 18+ students struggling with basic algebra.

It's odd that our society's John Edwards types says everyone needs a college education, even though its beyond the ability of many.

Now, on a standardized test, when you actually ask a college education (or late high school) type question, you're accused of bias and racism because, inevitably, many people will not get the answer right.

If only we didn't go to war in Iraq...then maybe more people would want to join the military. Then, we'll start seeing the lawsuits against the army for the NFQT, and then when the army tears the liberals a new one, then maybe a dialogue will start, without the same fury that greeted the bell curve.

Julio said...

Thanks for posting the Heather Mac Donald link. She just demolished the quota-hounds. I wonder what McWhorter has to say about this.

BTW, for those who haven't heard him speak, John McWhorter of the Manhattan Institute is easily one of the smartest black men in America.

David Davenport said...

Innate g4ender differences:



In need of directions? Stay straight
By Roger Highfield, Science Editor
Last Updated: 9:54am BST 24/05/2007



Sexual orientation and gender affects navigation skills, with straight men best at map reading and heterosexual women worst, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Warwick considered how we perform mental tasks in light of sexual preferences, with straight men performing better at map reading than gay men who in turn perform better than lesbians, who in turn do better than straight women.

But old age withers all men’s minds alike, and at a faster rate than women’s, according to Prof Elizabeth Maylor of the University of Warwick, who worked with Dr Stian Reimers of University College London on an online survey with the BBC, published in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour.

advertisement
“This is a novel finding,” she said.

“Only gender has an effect on rate of ageing, not sexual orientation.”

Data was taken from over 198,000 people aged 20-65 years (109,612 men and 88,509 women).

As expected they found men outperformed women on tests such as mentally rotating objects, and matching angles, while women outperformed men in verbal dexterity tests, and remembering the locations of objects. So while men may be better at map reading, women are better at finding the car keys.

Prof Maylor stressed there is a big overlap when the overall spread of performance of men and women is compared.

"In all the tasks, older people did worse than younger people, whether male or female. In fact, for some of the tasks, people in their 30s were significantly worse than people in their 20s. …


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/05/24/ndrive124.xml

Anonymous said...

This is a crock. Unless the federal government has access to the individual item data, it can't make a broad assertion that the passing rates indicate cultural bias. While the numbers shown may be an indicator, you want to see if for example, most black people are getting the same questions wrong.

I have personal experience that a particular test issued by the federal government itself adjusts the passing score until a high enough percentage of certain minorities pass. Take that for what you will.

Anonymous said...

tommy: Well that's my point. I shouldn't be beyond anyones innate abilities. It isn't that difficult.

Well surely the severely retarded can't do the problem.

Nor the moderately retarded, nor even the mildly retarded, right?

The problem for blacks and hispanics is that with their IQ means no higher than 80 [and probably even a little less than that], the lower halves of their bell curves are getting pretty solidly into mildly retarded territory.

To graduate from an American high school with a competency in Algebra [and I can't remember whether composition of polynomials is Algebra I, or Algebra II], you're probably gonna need an IQ up around 105 or 110 [or so I'd guess].

And most of these kids just don't have it.

Where, sadly, "most" is "the vast overwhelming majority of them", as evidenced by the fact that 96% or 97% of them just can't cut the mustard.

MensaRefugee: Yeah, But Heather seems to use the Conservative Canard that its all low expectations and culture of Blacks.

To get that view widespread is definitely an improvement, but still a lie.


Yeah, the great tragedy of this whole racial disparity fiasco is that, by and large, "studying harder" just won't do any good.

These kids are so stupid that their intellectual situations are essentially hopeless.

But maybe her editors at City Journal require Heather to include that kinduva throwaway line so as to prove that CJ isn't just another gathering place for "Evil Nazi Skinheads".

I will say this, though, in re the question of importing [and decriminalizing] another 40M to 100M of these people: No great country was ever built on the backs of a group of people whose IQ mean was down around 80.

Never gonna happen.

Jeff said...

Of course, suing the FDNY ends up suing the people and taxpayers of NYC. All so the FDNY can take some less capable firemen. I've heard the average IQ for firefighters is slightly higher than average at 103 or so. Possibly the FDNY members, because it is prestigious, score substantially higher on average. Oh, and I thought the FDNY endorsed Bush in '04.

Floccina said...

I am and have always been totally against Affirmative Action but Police and Fire might be the only organizations that might actually benefit from AA. I think a black man might be more effective policing a mostly black area. My father was a fireman and in the 1970’s he and his crew often got a bad reception in the majority black parts of town few more black firemen may have helped.

rob said...

If this lawsuit succeeds, all I can say is that if I ever go to New York I want to book into a hotel that's made entirely of asbestos.

Mark said...

sYeah, the great tragedy of this whole racial disparity fiasco is that, by and large, "studying harder" just won't do any good.
These kids are so stupid that their intellectual situations are essentially hopeless.


Having tutored more than a few of these kids in math, I have to concur: some people just don't grasp it, and probably never will. To me, everything I'm teaching them is plain as day. I'm talking about rational, matter-of-fact first year algebra stuff, not the complicated, transcendental things like you get in calculus.

I mean, jeez, it's like trying to talk to a US senator about immigration.

dougjnn said...

You're right a Supreme Court decision determining the opposite of the recent Michigan case wouldn't immediately overturn all private affirmative action. The process would require a number of decisions. It would take time.

However the threat of lawsuits depends upon the current legal environment, ultimately buttressed by a number of Supreme Court decisions.

One of the most important things to change would be the decisions upholding the assumption that if a firm's employees don't come close to mirroring the applicant pool or the avilable applicant pool if proactive steps are taken, then the reason must be invideous and illegal discrimination. Firms have to e.g. PROVE that higher IQ as measured in general tests are necessary for the job, not just statistically helpful. The hurdles are high. So often organizations just employ affirmative action.

Mark said...

By the way, Steve, great choice of the title "343" for this subject. I wouldn't at all presume it was meant to allude to a certain very popular, very pro-Western movie in the theatres right now.