December 1, 2007's Unique Selling Proposition restored!

The boys over at are busy engaging in Maoist-style self-criticism, leaving as the only professional publication that writes abundantly and honestly about IQ.

From today's New York Times:

I.Q. Debate Adds a Chapter Online


Ever since the Nobel prize winner James D. Watson asserted six weeks ago that Africans have innately lower intelligence, fervid debates about race, genes and I.Q. have sprung up on the Web, in publications and in conference rooms.

But in recent days, along with long-simmering arguments over evidence, have come others about whether the topic is even worth studying, or whether it can be discussed openly without spurring charges of racism…

The risk of giving ammunition to racists or undercutting principles of equality hovers over such conversations like an uninvited dinner guest. That unwelcome visitor has been loitering at the online magazine Slate since last week, when it ran a three-part series arguing that hard science is showing that blacks’ I.Q. scores are lower than those of whites — and whites’ scores are lower than those of Asians — because of genetically based differences in intelligence.

Appearing on a site with a liberal bent and written by its generally liberal science and technology columnist, William Saletan, the articles drew particular attention — and particular scorn. “William Saletan and the Editors of Slate Demonstrate That They Are Not Members of the Genetic Elite” was the headline on the Web site of the economist Brad DeLong ( On his popular political Web site,, Joshua Micah Marshall referred to it as “Will Saletan’s nauseating foray into black genetic ‘pseudo-science.’” …

On Wednesday, Mr. Saletan posted a fourth article labeled “Regrets,” confessing that he had not realized that J. Philippe Rushton, a researcher on whom he had heavily relied, is the president of an organization that has financed a segregationist group. He also amended his previous position, stating that it was too early to come to any firm conclusions about the causes of racial differences in intelligence.

“If I had to do it again, I would have been much more circumspect about judging” the evidence, Mr. Saletan said in an interview. He later added that he should have written about inequality and left race completely out of it.

Jacob Weisberg, the editor of Slate, said that since Mr. Saletan is a senior writer, his posts went up without anyone there reading them. “Given the sensitivity of the subject, Will’s commentary should have been carefully edited in advance of publication, and it wasn’t,” he wrote in an e-mail message.

Mr. Weisberg said he was disturbed by the casual “what if” thought experiment and some of the sources Mr. Saletan cited. “I wouldn’t have stopped Will from writing on this subject, but I would have challenged him on these and other issues,” he wrote.

He added that a rejoinder by another Slate writer, Stephen Metcalf, was scheduled to be posted Monday.

Metcalf, by the way, is a complete ignoramus on the topic, as I pointed out after reading his 2005 Slate article, "Moral Courage: Is defending The Bell Curve an example of intellectual honesty?"

Metcalf's denunciation of Charles Murray's Commentary magazine article "The Inequality Taboo" was full of howlers such as:
"Before I casually took up the cause of the race realists and assumed that only an overprogrammed PC hysteria had kept their work from gaining widespread legitimacy, I'd want to know a couple of things. I'd want to know why "the data" are always so selective and incomplete, if not hidden or misrepresented, and I'd want to know a whole lot more about the movement's two leading lights, J. Philippe Rushton and Arthur Jensen. Rushton and Jensen came to my attention when Murray fingered them, along with Lawrence Summers, as the impetus for his new Commentary article."

Slate is paying Metcalf to write about the validity of IQ research, and yet Metcalf admits that he had never heard of Arthur Jensen until a few weeks ago! Jensen, who has published 435 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals, became a national figure in 1969 with the publication of his long meta-analysis "How Much Can We Boost I.Q. and Scholastic Achievement?" in the Harvard Educational Review. President Nixon even assigned his top domestic policy advisor, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, to keep him updated on Jensen's research.

You really have to read this article to believe the quality of screeds that can get published these days.

Metcalf's only qualification to write about this topic is that he's named "Steve."

Back to today's NYT:

Mr. Saletan said he was completely unprepared for the voluminous and vehement reaction. “I did not mean to start a wildfire.”

A subject as sensitive and complicated as this deserves to have a higher level of proof, he said, adding that he erred in treating it like any other topic.

“I don’t agree that it’s best not to discuss it,” he said, but “you have to do it in a responsible way and always with a constructive purpose.” Judging from his own experience, he said, the Internet is not a place where that can be done at the moment.

“I’m a little disappointed in myself,” he added.

So, the enemies of free speech win again, due to the cowardice of people with nice jobs who want to keep them.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

What are the demographics of marathon finishers?

Although the running boom in America that began in the early 1970s with Frank Shorter's gold medal in the 1972 Olympic marathon and Steve Prefontaine's heroics in Oregon is long over, the number of marathon finishers continues to rise each year. Marathoning times in America have slowed since the 1980s, however, both at the elite level (the best Americans are not really competitive anymore, not only trailing the Ethiopians and Kenyans, but they're also out of the running versus the best Europeans and Northeast Asians), as well as in the middle of the pack.

Interestingly, marathoning in America has reverted back to a Century of the Common Man mode rather than follow the rest of America into the Century of the Superstar, where a few experts participate but many watch. I can't recall a famous American marathoner since Alberto Salazar and Bill Rodgers many years ago. And yet, despite a complete lack of famous role models these days, as a social movement in America, running marathons is quite healthy these days.

A friend wants to find demographic data on who pays to run a marathon (not the professionals who finish in the top ten, but the amateurs who run to see how well they can do or just to see if they can finish). A Google search on "marathon demographics" brings up detailed data on sex and age, as well as a few marketing research reports saying sponsoring a marathon is a good move for a financial institution (like LaSalle bank, which sponsors the huge Chicago marathon) because marathoners are just like golfers, only younger, more urban, more energetic, and even more into delayed gratification. But I can't find anything on the race or ethnicity of participants / finishers.

Any thoughts?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The Epitome of the Cultural Hegemony of the Baby Boomers

I'm looking out my window and two airplanes are flying by, towing advertising banners. The first one says, "Alvin!!!!!!!!!!" and the second one says, "Get Munk'd, Dec. 14."

I presume they are referring to some sort of upcoming movie about Alvin and the Chipmunks, a 1958 novelty song project by Ross Bagdasarian, in which he sped up his voice to sound like rodents singing a Christmas song.

It's rather pleasing to me that the pop cultural ephemera of my childhood continues to be recycled and inflicted upon new generations. Of course, we Baby Boomers didn't create most of the stuff we loved as pre-teens. Indeed, one reason for the enduring hegemony of our childish tastes is the failure of my teeming Baby Boom generation to come up with replacements for things like the great Christmas songs of 1934-1958.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

November 30, 2007

"Margot at the Wedding"

My review of Noah Baumbach's film "Margot at the Wedding" with Nicole Kidman, Jack Black, Jennifer Jason-Leigh, and John Turturro is in the 12/17/07 issue of The American Conservative. Here's an excerpt:

Few films have more precisely delineated why younger people loathe their Baby Boomer parents' experiments with sexual liberation than Noah Baumbach's painfully autobiographical comedy about his bohemian intellectual parents' 1980s divorce, "The Squid and the Whale." The adults, both writers, calmly set up a fair-sounding joint custody arrangement that has their two children (and family cat) ceaselessly hauled about Park Slope, a literary neighborhood in Brooklyn, but it turns out to be a logistical and emotional catastrophe.

In "The Squid and the Whale," Jeff Daniels won some long-deserved recognition for his hilarious portrayal of Baumbach's father, a pompous "experimental fiction" author and professor given to dinner table pronouncements such as referring to Kafka as "one of my predecessors."

Despite adoring reviews, most critics missed the 2005 film's point: that the actual villain was Baumbach's adulterous mother. They overlooked its central theme -- the destructiveness of female infidelity -- because it's sexist (and therefore unthinkable) to notice that - for obvious reproductive reasons - a wife's cheating is even more destructive for the family than a husband's, although countless human cultures have felt that way.

The irony was that Baumbach's bloviating father was equally clueless about his own nature. In theory, he was an artistic genius above all those deadening bourgeois morals like monogamy. In reality, however, he was a mediocre writer but a faithful husband and reasonably diligent provider who deserved better than cuckoldry.

The younger Baumbach's eagerly awaited new movie, "Margot at the Wedding," with Nicole Kidman as a prominent short story writer and unfaithful wife who inflicts her moral and mental breakdown on her adolescent son when she brings him to her estranged sister's second marriage ceremony, makes his prior film brutally clear.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer


From the New York Post:

With a federal discrimination lawsuit looming, the FDNY announced yesterday that the last firefighter exam had produced the most diverse group of applicants in its history, with minorities expected to account for one-third of future hires.

"We are finally making strides in increasing diversity," declared Mayor Bloomberg at FDNY Headquarters in Downtown Brooklyn.

"This is an unprecedented result," agreed Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta. "The numbers are really quite spectacular."

Of 21,183 applicants who passed the written firefighter exam last January, 38 percent were minorities - nearly double the 21 percent who passed the previous exam, in 2002.

More importantly, according to the mayor, minorities held 33 percent of the slots among the 4,000 highest scorers, the group most likely to be hired off the civil-service list over the next four years.

The test was changed this year, said Martha Hirst, commissioner of the Department of Citywide Services, to reflect "basic aptitude abilities," such as judgment, ability to work with others, reading and memorization skills.


My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

November 29, 2007

Linda Gottfredson on talking about IQ

At Cato Unbound, Linda Gottfredson is debating Jim Flynn, Stephen J. Ceci, and Eric Turkheimer:

Proponents of the taboo on discussing race and IQ assume that the taboo is all for the common good, but whose good, exactly, is served? It is most certainly not individuals of below-average intelligence, who face a tremendous uphill battle in modern, literate societies where life becomes increasingly complex by the day. General intelligence (g) is simply a general proficiency to learn and reason. Put another way, it is the ability to deal with complexity or avoid cognitive error. Virtually everything in life requires some learning or reasoning and thus confers an advantage on brighter individuals. Life is complex, and complexity operates like a headwind that impedes progress more strongly for individuals lower on the IQ continuum. Everyone makes cognitive mistakes, but lower intelligence increases the risk of error.

Take, for example, health care. Patients differ enormously in intelligence level, and these differences have life and death consequences for them. Individuals of lower health literacy, or IQ, are less likely to seek preventive care even when it is free, use curative care effectively when they get it, understand and adhere to treatment regimens, or avoid health-damaging behavior. They have worse health, more accidental injuries, higher health costs, and die sooner—regardless of income, insurance coverage, or quality of health care. Health care matters, as do material resources and motivation, but mental resources matter too. They are critical in the prevention and self-management of chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. Health self-care is an increasingly complex life-long job for all of us, which becomes even more complex as we age and experience more health problems.

It overstates only slightly to say that health care providers currently pay no attention to patient differences in the ability to learn and understand. As health literacy researchers have shown, however, a sizeable fraction of patients in urban hospital outpatient clinics are unable to understand an appointment slip (when to come back), a label indicating how to take four pills a day, or, among their insulin-dependent diabetic patients, the signs of low (or high) sugar and what action to take to bring their blood sugar back under control. Do proportionately more blacks have such problems? Yes, many more. Is that a reason to continue ignoring or disputing individual and group differences in g?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Steve Sailer's "Test Case"

Here's an American Conservative article by me that's never been online before:

Test Case
By Steve Sailer
Bureaucracy fails when civil servants aren’t put to the test.

The American Conservative
September 10, 2007

You might think that liberals who want to expand the federal government and conservatives who want to shrink it could at least agree to improve how well it works. Yet, good government projects, such as boosting the quality of the federal workforce, have largely dropped out of media discussion despite ample evidence that the federal government no longer functions as well as it once did, relative to what's now technologically feasible. In its mid-20th Century prime, the federal government matched up reasonably well in efficiency and effectiveness against, say, Sears-Roebuck. Today, however, it's blown away by Wal-Mart's relentless improvements.

For example, in June, while the Senate was blithely considering mandating a convoluted new immigration system for the federal bureaucracy to administer, the State Department's nearly century-old responsibility for issuing passports was melting down under the strain of merely a moderate increase in demand predictably caused by a law passed three years before. In an era of cheap networked computing, many Americans still had their summer travel plans ruined by federal incompetence.

Everything about the federal government is extraordinarily complicated, and thus there are many plausible explanations, both specific and general, for its current malaise.

Democrats, for instance, have denounced Bush Administration appointments. Indeed, the latest political picks seem prone to "marketing major post-modernism," the assumption picked up in college that some egghead over in France proved there's no such thing as truth, so there's no need to feel guilty about shamelessly spinning everything for maximum political benefit. Still, there are roughly 600 civil servants for each Presidential appointee, so the nefarious impact of the thin top layer can be overstated.

Much less debated is what Steve Nelson, director of the Office of Policy and Evaluation at the Merit Systems Protection Board, a federal watchdog agency, calls the "human capital crisis" facing the federal civilian workforce of nearly two million (not counting the Post Office).

Neither party has much incentive to tackle the problem. Democrats don't want to mention government worker ineptitude because that raises doubt about their hopes to expand the government's power over health care and other areas. Conversely, Republicans don't want public confidence in government to increase, so they can expand the outsourcing of federal duties to for-profit firms.

Clearly, growing economic inequality leaves the civil service hard pressed to compete for the finest workers versus Goldman Sachs's bonuses and Google's stock options.

Ameliorating the pay gap would be expensive. Much cheaper, yet seemingly unthinkable in the current climate, would be for the federal government to do a better job of choosing among its job applicants by employing a tool used by both colleges and the military in picking whom to take: standardized testing.

In fact, the feds themselves once had an excellent test for entry-level job applicants. One of the last malignant relics of the Carter Administration is the enduring hash it made of civil servant hiring by abolishing the Professional and Administrative Career Examination (PACE) in January 1981.

That this disastrous step has disappeared down the memory hole exemplifies the reigning prejudice in modern America against publicly discussing about how best to select people. In private, selection is increasingly an obsession, with the competition to win admission to elite colleges (and even, among the New York media class, elite preschools) ever-growing. Ironically, one of the most popular hobbies to emerge in recent decades has been "fantasy football," which is nothing but selection: fans draft players and then see whose "team" has the best statistics each Sunday.

Yet, nobody wonders about how to select better civil servants.

It will never be an easy job. While the 19th Century federal workforce was "an army of clerks," the need for technically skilled bureaucrats has accelerated since the Progressive Era, with new agencies like the FDA, SEC, NASA, and EPA needing high-end talents. The Volcker Commission on Public Service reported in 2003, "In 1950, 62 percent of the basic federal workforce was in GS grades 1-5, with only 11 percent in the top five grades; by 2000 those relationships were reversed: 15 percent of the federal workforce was in the bottom five grades, compared to 56 percent in the top."

This professionalization of federal employees has changed for the better the greater Washington D.C. area, which was once an economic wasteland with little private enterprise. In 1985, a woman told me her father had owned a factory in Washington. Never having heard before of a normal business in the capital, I asked her what it made. She replied, "Rubber stamps."

Today, the D.C. region ranks with the San Francisco Bay Area for most residents with graduate degrees, providing a beneficial spillover on private industry. The spouses and children of highly educated civil servants are often employed by the region's thriving telecom businesses.

Federal workers are, on average, intelligent, but are we hiring the best available under the mishmash of supposedly temporary selection techniques concocted after the Carter Administration abolished the highly evolved civil service examination?

Job testing began in imperial China two millennium ago. Early Jesuit missionaries to the Middle Kingdom were so impressed by the efficiency of mandarin administrators that they brought back to Europe the notion of competitive examinations. Prussia was the first to try it.

Initially, the American Republic relied upon a spoils system with the President appointing his campaign volunteers to sinecures, but after a disappointed office-seeker assassinated President James Garfield, Congress created the civil service merit system in 1883. Early tests were crude, but beginning in the 1920s, the civil service began to use more scientific cognitive exams. It's not a coincidence that the Volcker Commission said: "The middle decades of the 20th century were in some ways a golden age for public service recruiting and retention."

The U.S. military, which subjected all draftees to the newly invented IQ test during WWI, preceded the civil service in mental testing. It's not widely publicized, but the armed forces remains devoted to their IQ-like Armed Forces Qualification Test, having accumulated abundant data showing that IQ is one of the best predictors of both trainability and performance. With the downsizing of the military after the Cold War, the Pentagon immediately took the opportunity to raise the virtual minimum IQ for enlistment to 92 (the 30th percentile). Even today, despite the difficulties of recruiting during the Iraq War, the typical new boot private has a higher IQ than the national average.

Testing has been shown to work well for selecting federal white-collar employees as well. A 1986 study by Frank L. Schmidt of the federal Office of Personnel Management found that hiring "on valid measures of cognitive ability, rather than on non-test procedures (mostly evaluations of education and experience), produces … a 9.7% increase in output among new hires." Indeed, problem-solving skills may be more useful in government than in private industry because having a salesman's personality is less important.

Compared to soldiers, testing for entry level hiring is perhaps even more crucial for civilians because civil servants are notoriously hard to fire. Moreover, the feds mostly promote from within, seldom headhunting for middle level managers from the private sector.

Hence, government workers are rather like students at the top universities, who are almost never flunked out. At Harvard, 98 percent of freshmen are allowed to graduate, which puts intense stress on Harvard's admission process to not let in clunkers. So, despite the SAT's infamous political incorrectness, Harvard demands high SAT scores, with incoming students averaging about 1500 out of a possible 1600. Whatever their other failings, their SAT scores ensure they have the smarts to make it through Harvard.

Similarly, the federal civil service once invested in increasingly sophisticated brainpower tests to identify young people who could prove competent senior managers in future decades. The Junior Management Assistant test debuted in 1948, followed by the Federal Service Entrance Examination (FSEE) in 1955, a test roughly comparable to the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) now required by grad schools.

In 1972, a lawsuit claimed that that the FSEE was biased because blacks and Hispanics didn't score as well as whites on average. So, the Nixon Administration deep-sixed it and introduced the sophisticated PACE, which was elaborately validated as predicting performance in 118 federal jobs. The PACE consisted of multiple subtests, which could be weighted differently for each post.

Frustratingly, despite PACE's impressive predictive power, blacks and Latinos continued to tally lower on it. In another federal discrimination case, the outgoing Carter Administration signed a consent decree in January 1981 agreeing to abolish PACE. Workarounds were "temporarily" implemented until a non-discriminatory general test could be devised.

Twenty-six years later, the Luevano decree's makeshifts still control federal hiring procedures. (No such new test has proven feasible.) Federal hiring has devolved into a decentralized hodge-podge. There is some job-related testing, but most agencies emphasize credentials, and assess them in a mindlessly mechanical fashion to boot. A 2005 article in Government Executive by Shawn Zeller observed: "It doesn't matter whether a candidate earned his economics degree at Harvard or the University of the District of Columbia. Both are considered equal."

Nelson of the Merit Protection Systems Board notes:

"Our reports show that demonstrating training and experience is not the best indicator of a candidate’s future job performance. Neither is grade point average, yet we use these two methods alone too frequently."

Emasculating testing and focusing more on qualifications for beginners' jobs promoted ethnic diversity, but at the expense of hiring youngsters with future upper management aptitude. The old-timers chosen via testing have been retiring, leaving the Luevano generation in charge.

In effect, our post-Carter hiring methods serve as crypto-quotas. Unfortunately, crypto-quotas produce an inferior workforce compared to honest ethnic quotas, which at least would hire the best from each group.

Shifting demands from applicant's intelligence to work experience has also contributed to what Nelson calls the "upward entry-age spiral:"

"The average age of employees has crept up every year because … we face barriers to bringing in younger people right out of college. Our most common method of evaluating candidates is a system that assesses candidates based on their training and experience, making it difficult for a 22-year-old college graduate to compete with more experienced, but not necessarily higher potential, candidates. Thus the average age of new hires is 34 and 29 for professional and administrative fields respectively… A potential retirement tsunami looms over the Federal workplace."

By age 34, most people have gotten a life, taking on time-consuming responsibilities for a spouse, children, and aging parents. Thus, they can't work cheap and they can no longer put in the relentless hours asked of younger professionals in the private sector.

But, hey, nobody seems to mind. Evidently, it's good enough for government work.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

November 28, 2007

John Derbyshire on the topic of the hour

The Derb has has a three part Q&A on IQ, race, and genes in NRO. Here's part one, part two, and part three.

From Part One:

Q: Is this stuff interesting to anyone but white supremacists?
A: I bet it is interesting to white supremacists, though it should — see above — be even more interesting to yellow supremacists. I know a lot of people who find it interesting, though, and I don’t think any of them is a white supremacist. (Which I take to mean: A person who desires special legal/constitutional privileges for white people.) I’m not one myself.

Who this is mainly interesting to is, science geeks. I am one of those, and have been since childhood. The people I know who are interested in the race-I.Q. discussion would all, I believe, make the same claim. They all seem to have been keen readers of science fiction at some point. One of them writes sci-fi for a living.

I came late to biology and the human sciences myself, finding physics, astronomy, and information sciences more interesting. The human sciences have fundamentally the same appeal, though. Here are phenomena, features of the world, that I see with my eyes every day. Some people are smart, some are dumb. There are different races, accounted for — pretty obviously — by having their deep ancestry in different parts of the world. Different races seem to have different patterns of capabilities. What’s it all about? Here are some accredited researchers, applying the tools of scientific inquiry — measurement, classification, comparison — to try to find the underlying facts. What’s not to be interested in?

What’s that you say? It’s wrong to be interested in these things? I’m supposed to pretend not to notice those things I’m noticing? Those aren’t scientists: they are bad people with dark motives only pretending to do objective research? That’s what you’re saying? Okay, let me put this as politely as it deserves to be put: Bite me, pal. ...

Q: Isn’t all the so-called race-I.Q. research funded by outfits like the Pioneer Fund, which have racist agendas?

Some of it is, but so what? ...

Look: The controversy here is not between research group A, resourced by fund X with bias M, saying this is so; while research group B, resourced by fund Y with bias N, insists no, that is not so — THIS is so!

That’s not the structure of the controversy. The structure of the controversy is: research group A, resourced by fund X with bias M, saying this is so, while a mighty host of journo-school grads, law-school grads, and liberal-arts department heads — yes, and even a few careerist, tenure- or office-seeking biologists and money-seeking, PC-compliant pop-science authors — shriek YOU MUSTN’T TALK ABOUT THAT! YOU ARE BAD PEOPLE! That’s the structure of the controversy.

It’s not as if the underlying data here, which now goes back for decades, was all assembled by twitching clubfooted racists with collections of SS memorabilia and slave manacles in their closets. The biggest single lumps of it were collected by sober establishment outfits like, for example, the U.S. armed forces.

And this whole story about researchers being lap-dogs of their funders doesn’t bear close scrutiny anyway. A couple of years ago, for example, I reported in National Review about the discoveries of human-geneticist Bruce Lahn. Lahn had turned up some variants of genes known to be involved somehow — we didn’t (and still don’t) know exactly how — in infant brain development. These variants showed strikingly different frequencies when tallied by race. Could these variants help explain race-I.Q. differences?

Not hard to find out. Assemble two groups, equalized by age, sex, income, race, and anything else you can think of, one group with variant P, the other without it, this being the only detectable difference between the groups. Give ‘em I.Q. tests. See if there is any statistically-significant group difference.

That follow-up experiment was done. The result was negative. No, these gene variants seem not to be an explanatory factor for race-I.Q. differences.

The lead researcher on that follow-up experiment that got the negative result is J. Philippe Rushton of the University of Ontario. Prof. Rushton has been a major recipient of Pioneer Fund grants, and currently heads the fund. I guess he momentarily forgot he’s supposed to be a lap-dog.

From Part Two:

Q: What is race, anyway? Hasn’t it been proved a meaningless concept?

Race is just common ancestry. More precisely, it’s mostly common ancestry.

If I sit down to work out my family tree, I have two slots for parents, four for grandparents, eight for great-grandparents, and so on.

Go back a thousand years — say thirty generations — and there are, by the well-known doubling rule, a billion-something slots to fill. Now, there weren’t a billion people alive in the world in A.D. 1008. The actual number of different persons filling those billion slots is likely only a few ten thousands, each name repeated over and over hundreds of times as a result of inbreeding across a millennium.

Can I say anything nontrivial about those few-ten-thousand persons of the early 11th century whose inbred contributions make up my genome?

Well, yes, I believe I can, just by looking in the mirror. I can assert with perfect confidence, for example, that it is not the case that any large proportion of them — twenty, thirty, forty percent or more — were Australian Aborigines. If that were the case, I would not look so unmistakably European. (And should my confidence in the mirror test waver, there are now firms that will sequence my genome for a few hundred dollars, from which I would get the same answer.)

Of course, there might be an Aborigine in there somewhere — even two, four, eight, or sixteen. Most of my ancestry, though — look at me, for Pete’s sake! — is European. In fact, given what I know about my ancestry, and about history, and about mobility and mating customs in times gone by, my strong guess is that most of those few ten-thousand people were subjects of Ethelred the Unready, born in England. Most of the rest lived within a thousand miles of England.

In my children’s cases, half of their few-ten-thousands ancestors circa A.D. 1008 would be east-Asian, the other half north-European. They’re mixed race. I don’t personally find this a difficult concept to grasp. Nor, again — boy, I must have ice in my veins! — is it anything I get worked up about. ...

From Part Three:

If you hang out with race-realist types a lot — and yes, I do, and count myself one — a thing you notice is that a high proportion of them, of us, are antisocial loners. Trust me, it’s not just because of their opinions that race realists don’t win any popularity prizes. (And as a corollary, not many of them, of us, are successful in a worldly way. Poor social skills. Jim Watson, though world-famous for what he did, fits the pattern. Talk to anyone who knows him and expressions like “difficult,” “prickly,” and “loose cannon” soon turn up.)

Watson is a complicated fellow, because he's both a loose cannon and a world-class fundraiser and lab leader. He's extremely social, just not in glad-handing kind of way. I feel sorry for him because what has happened to him is likely to hurt him more than somebody more Aspergery, like Larry Summers.

Like every other feature of human nature, the groupish emotions are unevenly distributed. Some individuals are richly endowed with them. They are plunged into despair when their baseball team loses; they bristle to hear their religion criticized; they are furious at insults to their nation; if of eccentric sexual preference, they may swear brotherhood with those similarly disposed; and yes, they are mad as hell to hear their race described as failed, even though they understand at some level that it’s an abstract statistical description that does not reflect on them personally, any more than their baseball team’s losing the World Series does.

Your antisocial loner isn’t like that. He probably has no strong opinion about the relative merits of Yankees and Mets. If he goes to church, it’s for personal and metaphysical reasons, not social ones. He’s a poor employee and a feeble team-sports participant. He may like his country, and be willing to fight for it, but exuberant expressions of patriotism embarrass him. He’s more likely than the average to marry someone of a different race. (Am I describing anyone in particular here? No! Absolutely not!) Tell him he belongs to a failed race and he’ll probably say: “Yes, I guess so. It’s sad. But hey, I’m doing okay...”

To the degree that he has any preference, the antisocial loner is an Americanophile. The U.S.A. advertises itself as the nation of individualism, where you judge a man, and he judges himself, by what he can accomplish — by, as somebody once said “the content of his character” — not by which group he belongs to.

If you are not that type — and most people, even most Americans, are not — it’s much more difficult for you to discuss human-group differences. Too much groupish emotion gets in the way. It was hard not to notice, in the recent kerfuffles about illegal immigration, how many people on the pro-illegals side had names like Rivera, Chavez, Sanchez,...

But see, as I’ve just pointed out, people strongly susceptible to group identification do better in the world — are more successful. It’s a social world, success-wise, and they’re social people. What is social success, but identifying with groups and securing high status within them? Having a set of good robust groupish emotions will do that for ya. Thus, race realists don’t get much of a hearing; and when they pipe up, their views sound strange and eccentric. They heat up the groupish emotions of the majority — of most normal human beings — and shouting breaks out.

The kind of cool, antisocial personality to whom race realism makes sense is not likely to attain the commanding heights of a field like, say, opinion journalism, so when the shouting starts up he’s at a natural disadvantage — a small playa being shouted down by big playas.

The truth content of the argument? Oh, that just gets lost in the shouting. Who cares about truth when careers and money and within-group status are at stake? Not many, I’m afraid; and most of those who do care are quirky loner types that nobody much likes anyway.

Since the Derb is thinking here of me (among others), it seems not inappropriate to engage in a little navel-gazing. Does this describe me?

I was a fierce sports fan up at least through the time I started having kids. Kirk Gibson's homer in the 1988 World Series brought my 23 year love affair with the LA Dodgers to a satisfying high point, after which it trickled away. I was certainly a fanatically hard-working corporate employee and a reasonably exuberant patriot. So, no, I don't think this describes my natural inclination. I'm by emotional nature a very regular guy, a golf-playing family man. I just happen to be, by intellectual nature, relatively better at a sort of cold-eyed pattern recognition than I am at anything else, so over the decades, I've come to focus upon that.

I guess I'm kind of a pro-social loner. In person, I come across as mild, polite, not a strong personality. Strange as it may seem from reading me, in person I don't like causing anyone any emotional discomfort. (But, if you choose to step into the public arena, however, well, no holds barred.) I discovered a long time in social situations that at first I was reasonably popular because I could ask just about anybody intelligent questions about their favorite subjects; but that if I kept talking to that person too long, I'd come up with questions they hadn't thought about before, and frankly found rather disturbing to contemplate.

The development of Internet email and the WWW around 1995 allowed me to find some of the small number of people who voluntarily want to discuss questions that interest me, so I became less social with people around me, which also means I less often disturb my neighbors with unanswerable questions. To them, I'm a nice guy who doesn't make a vivid impression.

Another key aspect of my personality is that I'm a staff guy, not a line leader. I was an adviser to a bunch of CEOs over the years during my corporate career because I was good at figuring out what the facts were and thus what alternative courses of action they had to choose among. But I never had a strong urge to make the decision myself. Similarly, I love informing people in my writing about how things work and what that means, but my enthusiasm for imposing particular solutions on them is limited. I figure that people can make up their own minds about what to do about the facts.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Race is not "just skin deep"

From a CNN article on Lois Gibson, the forensic artist who drew the picture of "Baby Grace" from the toddler's decomposing body that led to her grandmother recognizing her.

But it was decades of research that help her nail the image.

A trained artist can look at a skull and immediately tell the race and gender of a corpse. And that's the beginning of giving a name to the unknown.

"If you turn the skull of a white male sideways, it's almost like a truck hit it. It's just straight up and down flat," said Marla Lawson, a renowned forensic artist who works for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. "The forehead protrudes very little and the chin sinks in. But for African-Americans, they slightly slope at the forehead and they protrude slightly at the mandible and they have these great cheekbones. Their skulls weigh more than white people's skulls, and their teeth will be whiter and brighter usually."

An Asian person's skull will have a wider facial area, Lawson said, but people of Hispanic descent are more challenging because the structures are nearly identical to Caucasians.

But determining male and female is easy, said Lawson who created the first, and dead-on, likeness of Olympic Park bomber Eric Rudolph while he was a fugitive. Run your fingers vertically over your eyebrows. Males feel a defined ridge under the brow line. A woman's face is smoother. ...

Anthropologists spent years taking measurements from various cadavers -- male, female, chubby, emaciated, short, young, old, Asian, Latino, black, white. They've compiled those measurements in how the depth from skin surface to bone differs based on all those factors for 21 different spots on a face and placed those averages in a chart. Forensic artists use those measurements to determine how much flesh and contour to put on a skull to create a bust or make a sketch.

I don't watch much TV other than football games, American Idol, and Seinfeld reruns, but I gather there are many hours per week of shows like the various CSIs devoted to forensic medical investigations. Surely, watching these kind of police procedurals imparts the knowledge that race and sex are the first thing forensic scientists figure out from looking at skeletons, right?

So, how can the popular "race is just skin deep" myth survive? Do most people just compartmentalize their knowledge and never draw connections between the various facts they know? I'm really baffled by how people can fail to notice things like this.

I guess it's a little like how for 2000 years everybody accepted Aristotle's assertion that a heavy rock falls faster than a light rock without testing it. But, when it comes to race, you don't even have to perform an experiment. You just have to apply facts you already know in one realm (your daily life) in another realm (social theory). But almost nobody does that.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Murder by State

A friend got into a discussion of the death penalty with some liberal economists, who were all aghast to hear him point out that variations in the murder rate by states are driven largely by ethnic demographics. He writes:

Predictably, I got involved and ended up running a bunch of regressions using a spreadsheet I built. The spreadsheet is attached. I didn't try to reproduce any of the complex models that economists have used to prove/disprove DP deterrence. That is far beyond my knowledge of statistics and/or access to data. However, I did suggest that demographics might explain state level variations in homicide rates.

As you might expect, this idea was not well received. Any number of alternative explanations were offered. Predictably, they were almost entirely junk. I did find one marginal exception (poverty) described below. My major results were

1. Demographics do a rather good job of explaining state variables in homicide. The basic demographic regression gives a R2 of 0.687 and an adjusted R2 of 0.6734. The P-values are superb.

An R-squared of 67% (or r = 0.82) is extremely high in the social sciences.
2. Contrary to what Jared Taylor says, the white / non-white percentage in any state is not a good predictor of homicide. The R2 is only 0.303 for homicide versus white percentage, although the result is statistically significant. It turns out that a major reason for this poor result is Hawaii. It is 29.38% white and is quite safe, with one of the very lowest homicide rates in the US. Conversely, adding the black and Hispanic populations gives a better result with 0.567. However, as stated above, a multiple regression that uses black and Hispanic as independent variables gives the R2 of 0.687.

It may well be that Jared Taylor suggested simply adding the black and Hispanic populations as shorthand for a more complex analysis. However, the R2 delta separating combining these populations and handling them independently is huge. Note that the coefficients are 0.212 for black and 0.089 for Hispanic. These are quite in line with expected relative homicide rates for these groups. Given my limited knowledge of statistics, it isn't clear if this an accidental correct result or a genuine result of the regression.

4. As stated above, Hawaii is very safe and not very white. At some level this could be interpreted as a positive omen for our nation's future. However, the non-white population of Hawaii is mostly Asian, not black or Hispanic. Ironically, Hawaii is the only place where I personally have encountered street violence and drugs...

5. I didn't include Washington, DC or Puerto Rico in my regressions. DC is truly an outlier in any number of respects (homicide, demographics, etc.). Since my goal was a state-level analysis, DC didn't belong. Not enough data was available for Puerto Rico to include it and it's not a state either.

6. I treated all of the states as equal. In other words, each state was one data point. I am not sure if this makes sense or not. Perhaps a weighted least square regression might have been better. This is quite unclear to me and somewhat beyond my knowledge of statistics.

The folks over at EV kept proposing alternative explanations for state level variations in homicide. By themselves, most did have some limited predictive power. However, once you added demographics back in, they mostly fell apart. They were.

1. Death Penalty - Some folks alleged that the death penalty is actually associated with higher homicide rates (rather than a consequence of them). The worksheet "Regression B H Death Penalty" shows the results of adding the DP (I coded 1 for any state that has the DP, 0 otherwise). The coefficient is positive, but not statistically significant.

2. Southern State - The worksheet "Regression B H Southern State" shows the results of adding Southern State (I coded 1 for any state in the south, 0 otherwise). The coefficient is positive, but not statistically significant. The lack of a better result for Southern State surprised me. Southern whites are known to be more murderous than their Northern counterparts. However, it didn't show up in the regression analysis.

The highest white imprisonment rates (as of 1997) were found not in old Confederate states but in old cowboy states like Oklahoma, Texas, Nevada, Arizona, and Alaska (okay, not many cows in Alaska, but you get the picture -- a heritage of frontiers, saloons, that kind of thing).

Meanwhile, blacks had relatively low imprisonment rates in the old South, suggesting that conservative policies tend to be good for the moral health of African-Americans.

The states with the highest rates of black imprisonment were Iowa and Wisconsin, with Minnesota being pretty bad too. In other words, blacks tended to be at their worst in the Progressive old Northwest, where whites are nicest. A reader once told me that an article in the black press had advised that Iowa had the easiest welfare requirements in the country, so Iowa had attracted some of the worst blacks in the country.

3. Urbanization - The worksheet "Regression B H Percent Urban" shows the results of adding urbanization (from the Census). Interestingly enough the coefficient is negative (higher urbanization is associated with less homicide), but not significant. I found this very surprising.
4. Inequality - The worksheets "Regression B H Family Gini" and "Regression B H Household Gini" show the results of adding inequality. Interesting enough, the coefficients are negative (higher inequality is associated with less murder), but not significant.

5. Population - Many people think that bigger states have more murder. The worksheet "Regression B H State Population" shows the results of adding population. The coefficient is positive but not statistically significant.

6. Poverty - This was the only unexpected result. The worksheet "Regression B H Poverty" shows the results of adding poverty. The coefficient is postive and marginally significant (a P-value of 0.056). Note that this was the only regression that produced an adjusted R2 better than demographics alone. It wasn't much better, but it was better.

The r-squared for a two factor multiple regression with % black and % Hispanic was .673. Making a three factor multiple regression by adding poverty raised the r-squared to .692. That doesn't sound like too much, but it's not a bad little increase.

Robert's Rationale, Audacious Epigone, Antero Kalva, and La Griffe du Lion have taken looks at the problem too.

I think this is one of those situations that are so common in American sociology where race is so dominant a factor that it makes sense to analyze differences by state for one race at a time. That's the only way to find subtle differences in the effectiveness of public policy, because, as with school achievement test scores, the racial composition of a state just overwhelms everything else. It's like doing astronomy near the sun -- you have to have a solar eclipse to see anything besides the sun.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Harvard Hacks

Here's a fun article from 02381 called "A Million Little Writers" by Jacob Hale Russell on how many famous Harvard professors, such as longtime iSteve favorites Alan Dershowitz, Henry Louis Gates, and Roland Fryer, are more brand names and impresarios than they are the actual authors of the stuff churned out under their names. Much of the material in the 12 books Dershowitz has published in this decade, for instance, was scraped together by young people paid $11.50 per hour (one of whom was a high school student).

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

November 27, 2007

The conclusion to James Watson's latest book

I'd already excerpted this a month ago in my first article on James Watson, but, for the record, I want to post the ending of James Watson's recent book Avoid Boring People. This appeared in 02138, which I presume is the zip code of Harvard:

Before leaving -interim Harvard President Derek] Bok’s temporary office in Loeb House [in 2006], mindful of the Summers fiasco, I remarked to Derek that the time was not far off when academia would have no choice but to hand political correctness back to the politicians. Since 1978, when a pail of water had been dumped over E. O. Wilson for saying that genes influence the behavior of humans as well as of other animals, the assault against behavioral science by wishful thinking has remained vigorous. But as science is able to prove its hypotheses ever more indisputably, such irrationality must recede or betray itself as such. In showing that human genes do matter, behavioral biologists will no longer be limited to comparisons of fraternal and identical twins. Soon the cost of sequencing the As, Ts, Gs, and Cs of individual DNA molecules will drop to a thousandth of what it has been, thereby transposing our studies of behavioral differences to the much more revealing molecular level. DNA messages extracted from, say, many hundreds of psychopaths can then be compared to equivalent numbers of DNA messages from individuals prevented by their consciences from habitually lying, stealing, or killing. Specific DNA sequences consistently occurring only in psychopaths will allow us to pinpoint the genes likely malfunctioning to produce psychopathy. The thought that some people might be born to grow up wicked is inherently upsetting. But if we find such behavior to be innate, the integrity of science, no less than that of ethics, demands that we let the truth be known.

The relative extents to which genetic factors determine human intellectual abilities will also soon become much better known. At the etiological heart of much of schizophrenia and autism are learning defects resulting from the failure of key brain cells to link up properly to each other. As we find the human genes whose malfunctioning gives rise to such devastating developmental failures, we may well discover that sequence differences within many of them also lead to much of the observable variation in human IQs. A priori, there is no firm reason to anticipate that the intellectual capacities of peoples geographically separated in their evolution should prove to have evolved identically. Our desire to reserve equal powers of reason as some universal heritage of humanity will not be enough to make it so.

Rather than face up to facts that will likely change the way we look at ourselves, many persons of good will may see only harm in our looking too closely at individual genetic essences. So I was not surprised when Derek, who had spent most of our meeting listening, asked apprehensively how many years would pass before the key genes affecting differences in human intelligence would be found. My back-of-the-envelope answer of “15 years” meant that Summers’ then undetermined successor would not necessarily need to handle this very hot potato.

Upon returning to the Yard, however, I wondered if even 10 years would pass.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The Death Penalty

I was walking past the TV in the living room a few months ago and the local news was broadcasting a segment about a woman who had been knifed repeatedly in her apartment by a robber early Sunday morning who had been seen checking for unlocked doors. As the broadcast went on, introducing more details about the nameless victim, I started to feel a horrible sensation of inevitability: she was somebody I knew. Finally, when the reporter mentioned she had been a Peace Corps volunteer, I went and found my wife to tell her that her friend X had been attacked, but was in stable condition in the hospital.

Just two weeks later, the victim was back at work, speaking through a voice amplifier because she had been stabbed seven times in the neck and face. She told my wife that while doing paperwork on her bed on Saturday night, she had fallen asleep and failed to lock her door. The robber had walked in at dawn and woken her up. When she said, "Take my laptop," he replied, "But you've seen my face" and started stabbing her. Her resistance and screaming brought neighbors out of their apartments, so the would-be killer made a run for it, taking her computer, cell phone, and credit card.

He wasn't exactly a criminal mastermind. He called all his fellow members in his Latino street gang on her cell phone, and used her credit card at his local Jack-in-the-Box. When the cops came to call on his gang friends that he had dialed, they rolled over on him and said he always went to Jack's for breakfast, where the police nabbed him the next day.

The death penalty is debated frequently, but seldom do you hear the best justification for it -- as a way to prevent witness-killing, as this bastard attempted. This guy is an idiot, but he was still logical enough to understand what so many pundits fail to grasp -- that in this era of long prison terms for crimes like robbery (which have successfully lowered the crime rate), murdering a witness can be rational unless there's the deterrent of the death penalty. California has a "three strikes" law mandating life imprisonment for a third felony, so without a death penalty, it makes perfect sense for a two time loser to kill witnesses to what would be his third strike.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Did you know that Jews were the star basketball players in 1932?

One of the most common chestnuts pulled out in any argument over human biodiversity is: "Well, sure, blacks may dominate basketball today, but Jews used to dominate basketball back during the Hoover Administration, so that proves that genes don't have anything to do with it."

Indeed, in I Am Charlotte Simmons, Tom Wolfe poked fun the Jewish liberal sportswriters' obsession with Jewish success back in the Stone Age of basketball as proof that genes don't matter in sports, as the frat boys watch an ESPN talk show:

"… four poorly postured middle-aged white sportswriters sat slouched in little, low-backed, smack-red fiberglass swivel chairs panel-discussing the 'sensitive' matter of the way black players dominated basketball. 'Look,' the well-known columnist Maury Feldtree was saying, his chin resting on a pasha's cushion of jowls, ‘just think about it for a second. Race, ethnicity, all that—that's just a symptom of something else. There's been whole cycles of different minorities using sports as a way out of the ghetto. … In the 1930s and 1940s, you know who dominated professional basketball long before the African Americans? Jewish players. Yeah! Jewish players from the Jewish ghettos of New York."

Let's look at the obvious: basketball, which was only invented in 1895, was not a very popular sport in America back when Jews did well in it. It wasn't close to being one of the top three spectator sports in the country. It was only played intensely here and there around the country, such as in New York City and in Indiana.

Think about the famous stars of the "Golden Age of Sports" in the 1920s: Babe Ruth, Red Grange, Bobby Jones, Bill Tilden. Man O' War, etc. Where are the famous basketball players? Basketball was way behind boxing, horse racing, and maybe track and field. I can't even name any basketball stars before Hank Luisetti of Stanford introduced the one-handed shot to the East at a celebrated game at in 1936. (It was barely a national game at the time, so developments in different parts of the country took years to register on NYC sportswriters.) The first professional basketball player to make much of a dent on the national consciousness was George Mikan immediately after WWII.

There wasn't even a national professional league until after WWII, and blacks didn't play in the NBA until 1950. Basketball was barely played in the South where most blacks lived before WWII. The black sports between the wars were primarily baseball, boxing, and, among middle class / college-going blacks, track and field.

Basketball was a different game back then. You're deluded if you imagine it was then the showcase of athleticism that it became after 1950.

All these facts would be obvious to anybody who knows anything about the history of American sports if people didn't let political correctness and Jewish ethnocentric nostalgia make them stupid.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

"Youths" in France now rioting with shotguns

The endemic disorder in France's North African and sub-Saharan African suburbs (unlike Americans in the 1960s, the French refused to flee their beloved cities) is peaking once again, with rioters now using shotguns to blast away at the police.

It's hard to get a straight story out of France about the riots. It was widely assumed in 2005 during the car-burnings that the rioters were motivated by Islamic fundamentalism, but little evidence of that emerged. It seemed more like an American black riot (but without the looting), with a Gallic twist. Fighting in the streets for ostensible political causes is an honored French tradition, and it's common for immigrants to assimilate toward the more destructive of host country traditions.

It's hard to even find out who is doing the rioting. In 2005, the pictures I saw tended to make it look like black Africans were taking the lead rather than olive North Africans, but there wasn't much direct reporting on the demographics. One exception: Martin Walker wrote for UPI:

AUBERVILLIERS, France (UPI) -- It still smells of smoke along the Rue Henri-Barbusse in the French suburb of Aubervilliers, but the skeletons of burned-out cars are cold now and look oddly like randomly parked pieces of modern sculpture in the shadow of the giant Quatre-Chemins housing estate that saw some of the worst riots in the two-week spasm of riots that swept France.

The sullen faces that gaze on the handiwork of the local rioters and sneer at the vans of the riot police are black rather than brown: Africans from Mali and Martinique rather than Arabs from Algeria and Morocco. ...

One of the striking features of the two weeks of rage that swept France is that so many of the rioters are black rather than Arab, though North Africans from Algeria and Morocco and Tunisia make up more than two-thirds of the estimated 6 million immigrants, their families included, in France.

Another important element is that in places where the rioters were 'beurs,' as the French Arabs call themselves, Islam and religion seemed to play only a minor role. A tear gas bomb fired into the mosque of Clichy-sous-Bois on the first day of the riots infuriated local Muslims, but there have been no Islamic slogans and no taunts against the French as Christians. They are identified instead, by young blacks and beurs alike, as the Gaulois, the Gauls, a taunting reference to the way French primary schools traditionally begin their history lessons with the phrase 'Our ancestors, the Gauls...'

Local Islamic leaders who tried to calm the young mobs have been routinely ignored, as have the fatwas issued by the leading Imams saying rioting and attacks on innocent people are against Islam...

Experts who work with France`s black community point to a different kind of family breakdown. Sonia Imloul of Respect 93, a non-governmental organization, says one of the biggest problems is polygamy, and cites the example of one family she knows with one father, four wives and thirty children, all living in the same standard 4-room apartment of French public housing.

In 2005, I wrote about American pundits' misconceptions about rioting for The American Conservative in "French Lessons."

On the other hand, I'm still confused by the apparent lack of looting in the 2005 riots. Were the rioters in France sober? The 1992 LA riots were essentially one long drunken brawl. It started with looting Korean-owned liquor stores and most of the rioters were drunk the whole time. If the French rioters are sober, perhaps that means they really are faithful Islamic tea-totalers and not the hip-hop inner city American wanna-bes, as I picture them.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Shelby Steele's book on Barack Obama

Former English professor Shelby Steele has a book coming out on another fellow with a white mother and a black father, Barack Obama. John Rosenberg's Discriminations blog reports on Steele's recent visit to Toronto:

"... he believes Barack Obama will not win the Democratic nomination for the presidency, in large part because he is caught between pleasing blacks and whites and can never please all Americans at once....

“He needs a self. There’s no self there. I think it comes from a lifetime of being bound up and playing one side, and another side, and never feeling that he had the right to be his own man,” Mr. Steele said in a hotel bar this week. “This is the tragedy, certainly, of the black intellectual class in America. They don’t think they have the right to be individuals, so they’re all just predictable, victim-focused, old line. It’s a generation that’s failed to really take us further. Obama is a part of that. There’s nobody there.”
He argues blacks in America typically wear one of two “masks”: They are either challengers or bargainers. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are challengers: Such blacks assume whites are racist until they prove otherwise. Bargainers, on the other hand, make a deal with whites by not rubbing their faces in a history of racism — think of Louis Armstrong or Oprah, he says.
Mr. Obama is an archetypal bargainer, says Mr. Steele, whose forthcoming book on the Democratic contender, A Bound Man: Why We Are Excited About Obama and Why He Can’t Win, will be released in time for the primaries.

“The question that hovers over Obama to this day: Is he really black enough? If white people like you, it’s very likely you’re not black enough. Black people are very suspicious of that. To prove himself to black people, he has to be a challenger,” Mr. Steele says.

“White America loves him because they think he’s a bargainer. And so if he goes with whites, blacks don’t like him and say he’s not black enough. If he goes with blacks, whites say, ‘He’s not the guy we thought he was.’ So he’s a bound man.

David Broder says:

Steele writes that "the Sixties stigmatized white Americans with the racial sins of the past -- with the bigotry and hypocrisy that countenanced slavery, segregation and white supremacy. Now, to win back moral authority, whites -- and especially American institutions -- must prove the negative: that they are not racist. In other words, white America has become a keen market for racial innocence."

Steele likens Obama's success to the fame and fortune won by Oprah Winfrey, Bill Cosby, Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods. But the earliest of the crossover heroes he calls "iconic Negroes" was Sidney Poitier.

And it reminded me that in his political biography of Obama, author David Mendell reported the reaction of a focus group of liberal, North Shore (Chicago area) female voters, middle-aged and elderly, when shown a videotape of Obama speaking in his 2004 Senate campaign. Asked whom Obama reminded them of, the answer was "Sidney Poitier." No wonder Hillary Clinton's pollster, Mark Penn, is worried by The Post's report that Obama has tied Clinton among female voters in Iowa.

But while all of the others mentioned by Steele were entertainers of one kind or another, Obama is the first to carry the "masking" technique of the "iconic Negro" into the realm of politics.

Steele contrasts Obama with "challenger" types such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, whose appeal was strictly within the black community and who were seen as threats to the Democratic establishment.

Steele, who shares with Obama the lineage of having a white mother and a black father, writes sympathetically of the pressures that drove both sons to choose to live their lives as blacks while operating in largely white institutions.

"The problem here for Barack, of course, is that his racial identity commits him to a manipulation of the society he seeks to lead," Steele writes. "To 'be black,' he has to exaggerate black victimization in America. . . . Worse, his identity will pressure him to see black difficulties -- achievement gaps, high illegitimacy rates, high crime rates, family collapse, and so on -- in the old framework of racial oppression."

Theoretically, being black ought to free him to take the opposite stands without being denounced with the R-word, just as it has for Shelby Steele.

But, as Obama explained at tireless length in his 1995 autobiography, the preppie from paradise had obsessed his whole life over being black enough, so I doubt if he will do more than make pro forma gestures and do something serious, like dump the Afrocentrist radical Jeremiah Wright as his spiritual adviser.

I've read countless articles mulling over whether he is black enough, but I've never seen one that asked why in the world the 7/8ths of the electorate who isn't black would want Obama to be black enough.

I mean, Mitt Romney, who is the second generation quintessence of mainstream corporate Republicanism (his father George Romney was CEO of a car company, a governor, and cabinet secretary), has to jump through hoops to prove that being Mormon doesn't mean he'll do something weird if he somehow gets elected, while Obama's racial religion gets a free pass. Most of the coverage of Obama assumes that everybody hopes he proves he's black enough, which strikes me as about 179 degrees the opposite of the truth.

Perhaps Obama's humiliating loss at the hands of black voters in the 2000 Congressional primary helped him grow up and get over his obsession with his missing Kenyan father, but, as far as I know, nobody has ever directly and asked him about whether he's stopped obsessing over being black enough.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Brad DeLong versus Charles Murray

Berkeley economist Brad DeLong claims:

"If inherited genetically-based IQ were the source of the extra edge that the children of the rich get in our society, than we would expect a parent with 4 times average lifetime full-time earnings--say $200,000 a year--to have a kid with a lifetime average income of $51,500 instead of the average of $50,000. But it is not $51,500. It is $150,000."

To justify this claim, he cites a Rube Goldberg formula from a multiple regression study that I'll leave to you to ponder.

This is a good example of how complex model-building can wind up in the ditch without the authors or readers noticing where things went wrong. It's reminiscent of the baseball statistical analysis battles of the early 1980s between proponents of all-encompassing models like Pete Palmer and advocates of simpler studies like Bill James.

As a Bill James-style study of the impact of IQ on income, Charles Murray's 1997 follow-up to The Bell Curve remains stunning in its simplicity and power. Murray utilized an insight dreamed up by Sanders Korenman of the City University of New York and Christopher Winship of Harvard: "Compare siblings who have grown up in the same home, and with the same parents, but who have different IQs."

This means that we are comparing pairs with less genetic diversity than typical pairs of strangers, and with very similar "shared environments." (They may well differ in the mysterious "unshared environments" of random bumps on the head or whatever.)

Murray once again used the federal government's National Longitudinal Study of Youth that has been following 12,000 people (and their children!) since 1979. In 1980, the Department of Defense paid to have all of them take the military's AFQT IQ test.

The results look much different than Dr. DeLong would wish you to believe. Murray reported in the London Times in 1997 on his study of sibling pairs in the NLSY:

"To make the analysis as unambiguous as possible, I have limited my sample to brothers and sisters whose parents are in the top 75 per cent of American earners, with a family income in 1978 averaging 40,000 (in today's money) [all figures in the London Times article were in British pounds, but the exchange rate was different then, so just think of the incomes as comparative figures.]

"Families living in poverty, or even close to it, have been excluded. The parents in my sample also stayed together for at least the first seven years of the younger sibling's life."

In other words, this sample represents a utopian America where no child is poor, no child is illegitimate, and even divorce is limited. So, how much income inequality does this model America generate in the next generation?

"Each pair consists of one sibling with an IQ in the normal range of 90-110, a range that includes 50% of the population. I will call this group the normals. The second sibling in each pair had an IQ either higher than 110, putting him in the top quartile of intelligence (the bright) or lower than 90, putting him in the bottom quartile (the dull). These constraints produced a sample of 710 pairs."

So, the Brights had a median IQ of 117, the Normals 100, and the Dulls 83. The differences are a little over one standard deviation (15 points).

"How much difference did IQ make? Earned income is a good place to begin. In 1993, when we took our most recent look at them, members of the sample were aged 28-36. That year, the bright siblings earned almost double the average of the dull: 22,400 compared to 11,800. The normals were in the middle, averaging 16,800."

So, the Brights had incomes 33% higher than the Normals, and the Normals had incomes 42% higher than the Dulls. (It would be interesting to know if Normals with Bright siblings differed from Normals with Dull siblings.)

"These differences are sizable in themselves. They translate into even more drastic differences at the extremes. Suppose we take a salary of 50,000 or more as a sign that someone is an economic success. A bright sibling was six-and-a-half times more likely to have reached that level than one of the dull. Or we may turn to the other extreme, poverty: the dull sibling was five times more likely to fall below the American poverty line than one of the bright.

"Equality of opportunity did not result in anything like equality of outcome. Another poverty statistic should also give egalitarians food for thought: despite being blessed by an abundance of opportunity, 16.3% of the dull siblings were below the poverty line in 1993. This was slightly higher than America's national poverty rate of 15.1%.

"...The young people in our selected sample came from families that were overwhelmingly likely to support college enthusiastically and have the financial means to help. Yet while 56% of the bright obtained university degrees, this was achieved by only 21% of the normals and a minuscule 2% of the dulls. Parents will have been uniformly supportive, but children are not uniformly able.

"The differences among the siblings go far beyond income. Marriage and children offer the most vivid example. Similar proportions of siblings married, whether normal, bright or dull - but the divorce rate was markedly higher among the dull than among the normal or bright, even after taking length of marriage into account. Demographers will find it gloomily interesting that the average age at which women had their first birth was almost four years younger for the dull siblings than for the bright ones, while the number of children born to dull women averaged 1.9, half a child more than for either the normal or the bright.

"Most striking of all were the different illegitimacy rates. Of all the first-born children of the normals, 21% were born out of wedlock , about a third lower than the figure for the United States as a whole, presumably reflecting the advantaged backgrounds from which the sibling sample was drawn. Their bright siblings were much lower still, with less than 10% of their babies born illegitimate. Meanwhile, 45% of the first-born of the dull siblings were born outside of marriage."

This data can be found in tabular form at the bottom of Wikipedia's "Bell Curve" article.

Murray ends his "IQ and Economic Success" paper like this:

"People of different political viewpoints may legitimately respond to this presentation with policy prescriptions that are in polar opposition. In many ways, the Left has the easier task. These data are tailor-made for the conclusion that a Rawlsian redistributive state is the only answer. For its part, the Right must state forthrightly why it thinks that a free society that tolerates large differences in outcomes is preferable to an authoritarian society that reduces them. But though the answers may be different for those of competing political persuasions, the challenge is common to all. It is time for policy analysts to stop avoiding the reality of natural inequality, a reality that neither equalization of opportunity nor a freer society will circumvent."

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

November 26, 2007

Sen. Trent Lott quitting -- Gotta be more to the story, right?

The guy just got re-elected, he's GOP Whip in the Senate, and now he's resigning.

Well, when something weird is going on with a Republican politician, the automatic Google search is:

[politician's name] gay

How big a role do you think blackmail plays in politics these days? If you had a list of all the gay Republicans, plus incriminating photos of them, how much power could you wield in Washington?

In the comments, Tommy points to a story saying:

"So, aides said, the senator decided to leave by year’s end to circumvent new lobbying rules — instituted by Congress this year and effective in 2008 — that that would bar members from lobbying their colleagues after two years. The so-called “revolving door” policy in effect now keeps former members from lobbying their colleagues for one year. The changes were made in the wake of the scandal surrounding former lobbyist Jack Abramoff."

So, perhaps Lott isn't resigning over being with a male whore. Instead, he wants to be a male whore (lobbyist division).

My new column on immigration and fertility

My new column appears in two sections today. Start reading here.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

November 25, 2007

The NYT's Idiocratic Interviewer: Deborah Solomon

Deborah Solomon has established a popular weekly feature in the New York Times in which she snarkily interviews somebody much smarter than herself. The secret to her success: being ignorant and surly. Here's part of her interview with Umberto Eco (with Solomon in boldface):

Q: Although you’re known best as the author of the highbrow murder mystery “The Name of the Rose,” you’re also a prolific political commentator whose essays have now been collected in a book, “Turning Back the Clock,” in which you warn against the dangers of “media populism.” How would you define that term? Media populism means appealing to people directly through media. A politician who can master the media can shape political affairs outside of parliament and even eliminate the mediation of parliament.

Much of your book is an assault on Silvio Berlusconi, the former prime minister of Italy who used his media empire to assist his political ends. From ’94 to ’95, and from 2001 to 2006, Berlusconi was the richest man in Italy, the prime minister, the owner of three TV channels and controller of the three state channels. He is a phenomenon that could happen and is maybe happening in other countries. And the mechanism will be the same. ...

So why would any country besides Italy be at risk of having the media takeover you describe?

Putin has been imitating Berlusconi's path in Russia, and Chavez has been trying, less effectively, to do something similar in Venezuela.

But that's not what caught my eye. Instead, the great bit is how Eco's answer sets Solomon off on an exchange that Fred Willard would be proud to have improvised in a Christopher Guest comedy in one of his roles as a smugly clueless media personality. Eco answers:

One of the reasons why foreigners are so interested in the Italian case is that Italy was in the last century a laboratory. It started with the Futurists. Their manifesto was in 1909. Then fascism — it was tested in the Italian laboratory and then it migrated to Spain, to the Balkans, to Germany.

Are you saying that Germany got the idea of fascism from Italy? Oh, certainly. According to what the historians say, it is so.

Maybe just the Italian historians. If you don’t like it, don’t tell it. I am indifferent.

You’re saying that Italy was a trendsetter in both fashion — or art — and fascism? Yes, O.K., why not?

Earth to Deborah Solomon: trust Umberto Eco, the Italian polymath born in 1932, on this, not your own store of knowledge. See, there was this guy named Mussolini. Hard as it may be to believe, he came (as the narrator of the Time Masheen ride in "Idiocracy" says) before "the year 1939 when Charlie Chaplin and his nazi regime enslaved Europe and tried to take over the world... But then an even greater force emerged, the U.N. [pronounced "un"] and the U.N. un-nazied the world - forever."

Eco goes on to correct Solomon's somewhat less Idiocratic misapprehension of which of his bestsellers was the inspiration for The Da Vinci Code:

I am wondering if you read Dan Brown’s “Da Vinci Code,” which some critics see as the pop version of your “Name of the Rose.” I was obliged to read it because everybody was asking me about it. My answer is that Dan Brown is one of the characters in my novel, “Foucault’s Pendulum,” which is about people who start believing in occult stuff.

But you yourself seem interested in the kabbalah, alchemy and other occult practices explored in the novel. No, in “Foucault’s Pendulum” I wrote the grotesque representation of these kind of people. So Dan Brown is one of my creatures.

Here's my 2006 posting on "The Da Vinci Code versus Foucault's Pendulum."

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer