January 5, 2008

How many gay male golfers are there?

I never made it out on a golf course in all of 2007, but I have been playing since 1971. Over the years, I've played in foursomes with hundreds of people, the majority of them strangers, and run into hundreds of others around the golf course or driving ranges in Chicago and LA. Not one has ever triggered my gaydar. A gay friend who is an intense sports fan and I went to several pro tournaments together, but I could never talk him into actually trying to play the game.

Sure, private country clubs would likely tend to discriminate against homosexuals, but 95+% of my rounds have been played at public courses where anybody who pays the greens fee can play. By way of comparison, my playing partners over the years include perhaps two dozen blacks, almost as many Latinos, and more Asians.

Golf isn't much of a team sport, so discrimination by teammates wouldn't be an issue as it is with gays and other sports.

Even stranger, golf doesn't seem particularly macho either. It's non-violent and there's no danger involved. There are some polite, upper class rituals involved in the game that would seem not uncongenial to gays.

So, it could be very informative to understand why golf appeals to some straight men but almost no gay men. But we don't really understand the appeal of golf yet. (I take my best guesses here in this 2005 American Conservative article.)

Since lots of celebrities are golfers and lots of celebrities are gay, for years I've been trying to falsify my hypothesis that gay men almost never find golf appealing by finding a bunch of gay golfing celebrities. But I haven't found any, other than maybe Danny Kaye, the amazingly talented comedian-actor-musician of a half century ago (Michael Richards's Kramer on "Seinfeld" channeled a little of Kaye's shtick), who was an avid golfer and baseball player/fan (he owned the Seattle Mariners). He was married for 47 years, but, at least in the years since his death in 1987, has been subject to rumors of bisexuality.

As you know, one of my favorite tricks is to take a list (The Top 100 Whatevers) and use it to investigate some question that never occurred to the people who created the list. That way, my question doesn't bias the data, which could happen if I made up the list myself. The list might not be particularly good at ranking the Top 100 Whatevers, but it provides a decent source of data unaffected by my preconceptions.

So, here is Golf Digest's 2007 list of "Hollywood's Top 100 Golfers," which lists actors/actresses, but not behind the camera talent. It's ranked in terms of handicap (the lower the better).

Soap opera star Jack Wagner is the only actor with a "plus" handicap (meaning, roughly, that he is expected to break par).

The list reveals what Billy Crudup, the New York actor with the superb diction, is doing besides voice-over commercials and turning down Hollywood roles: he's ranked #3. Recently it became possible to live in Manhattan and play a lot of quality golf with the opening of two super-expensive courses in New Jersey's industrial wastelands just across the Hudson River. Crudup plays to a 4.5 handicap at the new faux-Irish Bayonne Golf Club amidst the docks.

The biggest stars in the Top 20 are probably Dennis Quaid, Samuel L. Jackson, Bill Murray, and Hugh Grant.

I'm sure they are missing some people who should be on the list and some who shouldn't be on the list are making up handicaps. Generally, the players who list a handicap to a decimal point actually have played enough to have a handicap, although that might not be, technically, their current handicap. I'm a 16.9, for example (or that's what I was for one glorious week in 1990).

The ones who round it off to a whole number may be just blowing smoke entirely. For example, Sean Connery has dropped to a "22.0," but he definitely is a fanatical golfer. On other hand, while I'd like to believe that lovely Jessica Alba is a "22," it sounds too much like Cameron Diaz's male fantasy character in "There's Something About Mary" who hangs out at the driving range on her days off from healing sick children. (Cameron is a 34 on the list). Jessica has been photographed playing golf with her fiance, the world's luckiest man, but, somehow, I don't think she's quite as dedicated to the game as the old Scotsman.

Among actresses, Alba ranks second following the more plausible Cheryl Ladd (from the original "Charlie's Angels") at 18.

Anyway, this list mentions 92 men in a profession with an above average number of homosexuals, so there is a lot of data to work with. Quite a few of the actors are fairly obscure, like Richard Kind of "Spin City" and "Mad About You" (who is indeed kind -- he helped me look for a club I had lost at Robinson Ranch). But you can look up a lot of information about each one. For example, Kind is married and has three kids.

So, how many of the 92 are rumored to be gay?

There's Tom Cruise (#95). I have no opinion on all the rumors, but he's clearly not a very intense golfer, if somebody that coordinated is only a 32 handicap. And there's young Zac Efron of Disney's "High School Musical," who is #52 at a 14. He gets a lot of crap from the celebrity snarksites who are jealous of his girlfriend Vanessa Hudgens (e.g., "he's basically a dancing candy cane come to life"), but, who knows? (Getting totally off topic, here's a picture of her father that you have to see.)

I'm sure there are others on the list, but I think my old hypothesis is supported.

Update: Here's Golf Digest's list of the best 100 golfing singers and musicians. The only scratch golfers are Kenny G and Vince Gill. Bob Dylan is supposedly a decent 17 handicapper, while Neil Young is an 18.6. (When Young's band Buffalo Springfield signed their first contract, Young's last request of Ahmet Ertegun was: "I'm a golfer. Can you help get me in a country club out here?") The list has lots off country singers and lots of black singers and even a black country singer (Charley Pride).

And there's a black gay golfer in Johnny Mathis, who plays to a fine 10.5 handicap at mighty Riviera. I don't think it's all that secret that he's gay.

The only other gay on the list who jumps out at me is Lance Bass, who is in the "New to the Game" category with a 36 (the worst handicap allowed under USGA rules).

I'm sure more expert researchers might find a couple more, but far fewer than in a list of top 100 singers or musicians who don't play golf.

In summary, we have two lists with 185 men on it in two professions, acting and music, that are well know to feature an above average number of gays. If you exclude the men with handicaps over 30 as not very serious golfers, that leaves one obvious gay out of about 160 men, and, likely, several more discrete gays.

But if you took a random list of 160 prominent male musicians and Hollywood actors who aren't golfers, what percentage would be homosexual? Let's say 15%, just for sake of argument. So, at 15%, you'd expect 24 gays out of 160. Right now we've got Johnny Mathis, so we'd need to dig up 23 closet cases off the lists. I don't think that's going to happen.

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

ANC head adds a fourth wife

I hadn't been following the election of Jacob Zuma as president of the African National Congress, the ruling party of South Africa, other that this item from the genially witty I, Ectomorph:
Quote of the day:
"I am happy Zuma won because under his rule women will have fewer rights," said Johannesburg parking attendant Brilliant Khambule.

It just works on all levels.

But, Brilliant does seem to have a point. The Washington Post reports:
Zuma, 65, is a former guerrilla with no formal education and a personal theme song, "Bring Me My Machine Gun" [Zuma sing it to his supporters here], that evokes the party's history of armed struggle rather than its more recent emphasis on the unglamorous work of reconciliation.

As a polygamist with a reported 16 children -- as well as a former rape defendant acquitted in 2006 -- Zuma has alienated many South African women, and his personal life threatens to tarnish the party's image as a champion of gender equality. The wedding, scheduled for Saturday, would bring the number of his current wives to four, news reports say. ...

His ex-wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, is South Africa's foreign minister and, according to many reports, Mbeki's preferred successor as party leader before Zuma's election last month. Another wife, Kate Zuma, killed herself in 2000. In a scathing suicide note, published by a South African newspaper, she wrote that her married life was "hell."

Among Zuma's three current wives is his first, Sizakele Zuma, news reports here say. His marriage to Ntuli would make four.

Zuma's sexual encounter with a family friend infected with HIV also became public fodder after she accused him of rape. Zuma defeated those charges in court, but statements from the trial -- including his assertions that her knee-length skirt made clear her sexual intentions and that his culture compelled him to satisfy her -- outraged women's rights groups.

But many of his supporters reached a different conclusion about that trial, saying the rape charges came only after the family of the woman, who was not publicly named, tried but failed to have Zuma take her as a wife.

My Cameroonian friend always said he wanted four wives. He wasn't Muslim, but he agreed with them that four was enough.

He planned to add an additional wife each decade. Anthropologists call this "gerontocratic polygamy." One theory is that it tends to appeal to women in disease-ridden environments, like Africa. If a man survives to age 65, like Zuma, then he must have a good immune system, so his offspring would be more likely to inherit good immune system genes, thus making him a good father.

Incidentally, my friend had gotten married in Cameroon as a teenager and had a son. Then he went off to UCLA and kind of forgot about being married. Much to his surprise, about a half dozen years later, his wife showed up in LA one day, leaving their son behind with relatives. He wasn't sure he wanted a wife, but quickly came to enjoy having her around, and they had had another baby just before I met them.

A Ghanaian friend in Chicago told almost the exact same story about how his semi-forgotten wife had showed up one day. It's a happier variant on the one John Updike tells in The Coup, which matches the story of Barack Obama Sr. almost exactly: a married African student attends an American college and bigamously marries an American girl. (Updike has an African son-in-law and an African daughter-in-law, so he knows Africa far better than most Americans. Plus, he's John Updike, so he notices stuff.)

Update: Ben Trovato asks:

Why, in the name of God, won't someone bring Jacob Zuma his machine gun? I can no longer stand by and watch the man suffer like this. Has he not been through enough?

There is an organisation called the Friends of Jacob Zuma, and yet not one of its members is willing to do as he asks. Some friends.

Jacob Zuma has anywhere between two and five wives. But what good is that if none will go the extra mile? Who brings him his pint of Ijuba after another exhausting live concert outside the Pietermartizburg High Court? As a proud Zulu man, he cannot be expected to fetch his own sorghum beer and automatic weapon.

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

January 4, 2008

Marginal Decisionmaking

Are you ever in a situation, such as when shopping, where it's about time to finally make a decision, like between buying the GyroXdisk 6800 or the MutantBlaster 970, and so you announce, "I choose the ...," but then you are immediately surprised at what came out of your mouth? As the salesman is ringing up your new MutantBlaster 970, you're thinking, "How the heck did that happen? I was sure I was going to say 'GyroXdisk 6800.'"

But pretty soon the relief of having made a decision, any decision, even if you can't tell why you made it, overcomes your dismay, and soon you're home blasting mutants without a care in the world. It's not like you sputtered, "I'll buy that big bag of mulch over in the Gardening Dept. instead of one of these electronic gizmos. And I live in an apartment so mulch makes no sense at all." No, you knew you wanted some kind of gizmo and so you were standing in the gizmo aisle talking to the gizmo salesman, so which precise gizmo you wound up with is moderately random. But it's not at all random that you bought a gizmo instead of a bag of mulch.

This happens to me all the time. I'm probably just the world's worst decision maker and this never happens to you, but maybe it gives a hint of something important in understanding history.

I started thinking about this again because Freeman Dyson, who is one of the last surviving physicists to have done war work during WWII (although John Archibald Wheeler, who worked on the Manhattan Project at Hanford is now 97), says that he's changed his mind and now no longer believes that the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan didn't end the war:

1. Members of the Supreme Council, which customarily met with the Emperor to take important decisions, learned of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima on the morning of August 6, 1945. Although Foreign Minister Togo asked for a meeting, no meeting was held for three days.

2. A surviving diary records a conversation of Navy Minister Yonai, who was a member of the Supreme Council, with his deputy on August 8. The Hiroshima bombing is mentioned only incidentally. More attention is given to the fact that the rice ration in Tokyo is to be reduced by ten percent.

3. On the morning of August 9, Soviet troops invaded Manchuria. Six hours after hearing this news, the Supreme Council was in session. News of the Nagasaki bombing, which happened the same morning, only reached the Council after the session started.

4. The August 9 session of the Supreme Council resulted in the decision to surrender.

I don't see this timeline as undermining my long-held assumption that the 1-2-3 punch of Hiroshima, the Soviet entry into the war against Japan, and Nagasaki -- three cataclysms in four days -- was what finally broke the ferocious will of the Japanese militarists after endless arguing.

I don't know much about the Japanese decision-making process, but I can imagine what it would be like if I had been emperor on August 9, 1945. The Supreme War Council would turn to me and say they were hopelessly divided, "Your Divine Imperialness, we need you to break the deadlock. Shall we fight until we are all dead ... or surrender?"

They'd all look at me. I'd go, "Uh, uh, uh ... surrender!" And I'd immediately think, "Oh, crap, why did I say that? I meant 'Fight on!' Where'd that 'Surrender' come from? I'd better tell them I didn't mean it. ... But, that wouldn't look very divinely imperial -- now would it? -- to admit I just blurted out the most important decision in Japanese history at random. Maybe it's best just to keep my mouth shut and see what happens? In fact, yes, 'Surrender' is what I intended all along. It's becoming very clear to me now. Indeed, there was never really any doubt."

I'm sure it didn't actually happen that way (just that it would have happened that way if I was the Emperor of Japan).

Why did the Japanese surrender when they did? What weight did the two atomic bombs have in their decision? (Sure, surrender made all the sense in the world, but nothing the Japanese militarists had done since 1941 made much strategic sense.)

Who knows?

In contrast, nobody debates why Zanzibar surrendered 38 minutes into its 1896 war with the British Empire. Of course, they surrendered -- they were Zanzibar. What, they were going to do: beat the Royal Navy? It's just not very interesting because it's an obvious decision: Zanzibar was getting its butt kicked. Randomness didn't play much of a role.

My point is that the most interesting decisions in history, the ones that historians argue over endlessly about why they were made, are the virtually 50-50 tossups that could have gone either way. Those are the most interesting questions, but they are also the least likely to be fully explicated by historians.

The other decisions that are most argued over by historians are the ones that are the most over-determined.

That makes the Japanese decision of 1945 perhaps the ultimate in endless arguability. The Japanese leadership had many good reasons to surrender, each one perfectly adequate, and no reason to fight on other than to save their own necks from war crimes trials, but all the assassinations by the Army of non-insane statesmen before the war had bequeathed an atmosphere of militarist hysteria, so it was also a very close run thing -- overdetermined but also a toss-up.

This is relevant to the distinction between history and social science. I define social science (perhaps idiosyncratically) as fields where statistics are crucial.

Much of history is driven by unique personnel decisions that often didn't necessarily get a lot of reflection at the time -- e.g., the Bush dynasty is due to Ronald Reagan rejecting at the last moment at the 1980 GOP convention the popular idea of Gerald Ford for VP and picking George H.W. Bush. If something else had happened, George W. Bush never would have become President.

Now, Reagan probably put more thought into choosing a VP in 1980 than the average Iowa Caucus voter put into his or her choice, but the results are less random because thousands of semi-random individuals decisions were aggregated. So, the rise of the Bush Dynasty is the reserve of history, while elections are both history and political science.

Much the same is true about forecasting. The forecasts that interest us most are those where the chance of being wrong is highest. If you predict that NAM high school dropout rates will be higher than white and Asian drop outrates 30 years from now, nobody cares, even though it's clearly an important and highly plausible prediction, because it's boring and depressing. But tell me who is going to win the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament and I'm all ears, even though your chance of being wrong is probably at least 90%.

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

January 3, 2008

Another iSteve public service

Back on September 1, 2007, my lucky readers were the first to hear that Mike Huckabee would win the GOP nomination, when I revealed that:

Republican nominee Mike Huckabee will outpoll Democratic nominee Bill Richardson 51%-47% in the November 2008 Presidential election.

I meant Obama, not Richardson, of course. It was just a typo.

"What an idiot!" you say, "Don't you know that the Clintons will stop at nothing to get back to the White House? Richardson and Huckabee? You don't know anything about the election!" And you're right. I don't. I'm not even sure where Huckabee is from. I think it's that state, you know, the one you drive through to get to that other state.

Mere details ...

And I punctured the college football convention wisdom of the time:

Now, here are some more predictions. USC will not finish #1 in college football this season.

I had a strong hunch SC would lose to 41-point underdog Stanford. I guess I should have put that in my post, but I didn't want to bore you with a lot of trivia.

Instead, Rutgers will bring the national title home to Delaware. (Or maybe to Connecticut, depending on where, precisely, Rutgers is located. Assuming it's located somewhere. Maybe it's like the DeVry Institute and is located everywhere. But I digress.)

Rutgers did win, didn't they? Or maybe Cal won, they were off to that 6-0 start and ranked #2. Whatever happened to them? To be honest, I kind of lost track after Central Southern Florida reached #2. Maybe nobody won.

For lots more of my predictions, see here.

More seriously, in case you missed it, here's my 12/25/07 review in the Washington Times of Shelby Steele's book about Obama, The Bound Man, in which I write:

"Indeed, Mr. Obama has a plausible shot at riding strong early showings in virtually all-white Iowa and New Hampshire to the nomination."

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

Failing Upward

As Marcus Epstein notes on VDARE.com, William Kristol, recently fired as a columnist by Time, has now been hired as an op-ed columnist by the New York Times.

Yet, the NYT already had David Brooks as their invade the world / invite the world columnist, so it's hard to see what Kristol brings to the table that the more talented Brooks wasn't already supplying better. Granted, Brooks sometimes sounds like his calls for more war aren't really sincere, that he doesn't pay much attention to which foreigners to slaughter next, that he's just recycling stuff Kristol, Krauthammer and Ko. fed him. But, the pro forma nature of Brooks's bloodlust is a good thing.

I guess the neocon world view has been proven so valid over the last four and a half years that the NYT just had to double up. After all, the neocons are the only respectable voices of conservatism.

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

Not the Onion: "Congress bans incandescent bulbs"

Congress has banned traditional electric lights bulbs as of 2012-2014. Instead, we're supposed to use those squirrely CFL bulbs that cost six times as much, cast ugly flickering light, start up slow, burn out faster, don't fit in many lamp coverings, and can't be discarded in the trash because they contain poisonous mercury.

Seriously, about half of my twisty fluorescent bulbs burn out within a month. I'm told I'm using the light bulbs wrong. That I turn them on and off too much, and should just leave them on, which seems like it's defeating the purpose of saving electricity. Other people suggest my fixtures are causing them to overheat. Others have other suggestions.

Do I really need to complicate my life over light bulbs?

Is this technology really ready for federally-mandated prime time?

Wouldn't this technology advance faster if it had to compete with Thomas Alva Edison's proven invention instead of getting a federal monopoly?

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

Craptocracy is back

Since I refuse to read about Campaign 2008 except on C. Van Carter's Craptocracy blog, and he can go weeks without posting anything, I was kind of under the impression that they'd called this whole voting thing off due to lack of interest. But now, there are a bunch of new craptastic postings, so it appears that there will be an election this year after all. (Although Dennis Dale's future history series on Untethered recounting the Fall of 2008 raises questions about that assumption.)

Here's Craptocracy on Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank:

Dana Milbank is a neurotic paranoid. We know this because he wrote a bizarre essay about the genial Tom Tancredo in which he repeatedly describes the principled and soft-spoken former presidential candidate as “angry” without providing a single real example of Tancredo's supposed rage. ...

Milbank obviously believes any opposition to illegal aliens indicates a person is angry. I don’t think Milbank cares about actual illegal aliens because people in his position never do (if he’s ever had a conversation with one except to complain the bathroom wasn’t cleaned properly I’ll eat a sombrero). No, Milbank’s real concern isn’t illegal aliens at all, it’s preventing Nazis from taking little Dana Milbank and putting him in a concentration camp. In the diseased mind of Dana Milbank the only way to prevent a Fourth Reich from erupting on American soil is to flood the United States with non-whites. Because Milbank is gripped by this strange fantasy it causes him to lash out at a gentleman like Tom Tancredo. I hope the mentally unbalanced Milbank gets help; until he does the Washington Post should refrain from publishing his ravings.

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

Kenyan tribalism explains why Barack is so black

Democracy is working its magic in Kenya at the moment:

Kenya Torn by Tribal Rage: In a flash, ethnically integrated neighbors turn on one another ... -- Washington Post
Kenya Topples Into Post-Election Chaos -- NY Times

So, it's worth recounting the views of Barack Obama's Kenyan relatives, who belong to the Luo tribe, on the tribal situation in Kenya. The Presidential candidate writes in Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance (p. 348):

Anyway, the divisions in Kenya didn't stop there [between Africans and Indian merchants]; there were always finer lines to draw. Between the country's forty black tribes, for example. They, too, were a fact of life. You didn't notice the tribalism so much among [half-sister] Auma's friends, younger university-educated Kenyans who had been schooled in the idea of nation and race; tribe was an issue with them only when they were considering a mate, or when they got older and saw it help or hinder careers. But they were the exceptions. Most Kenyans still worked with older maps of identity, more ancient loyalties. Even Jane or Zeituni could say things that surprised me. "The Luo are intelligent but lazy," they would say. Or "The Kikuyu are money-grubbing but industrious." Or "The Kalenjins -- well, you can see what's happened to the country since they took over."

Hearing my aunts traffic in such stereotypes, I would try to explain to them the error of their ways. [At this point, Obama has spent a little less than two weeks in his life in Africa.] "It's thinking like that that holds us back," I would say. "We're all part of one tribe. The black tribe. The human tribe. Look what tribalism has done to places like Nigeria or Liberia."

And Jane would say, "Ah, those West Africans are all crazy anyway. You know they used to be cannibals, don't you?"

And Zeituni would say, "You sound just like your father, Barry, he also had such ideas about people."

Meaning he , too, was naive; he, too, liked to argue with history. Look what happened to him ...

The reason Obama is just about as dark in skin tone as the average African-American even though he is nearly three times as white genetically is because the Luo are darker than most other Africans. Obama describes the crowd at a Nairobi nightclub (p. 364) as comprised of:

"... tall, ink-black Luos and short, brown Kikuyus, Kamba and Meru and Kalenjin..."

Obama's Luo tribe are one of the tall, thin, very dark "elongated Nilotic" groups who originated in the Southern Sudan. They are rather like their relatives, the famously tall Dinka and Nuer, only not quite as much. In contrast, most Africans today (and almost all African-Americans) are primarily descended from the "Bantu expansion" that originated in the Nigeria-Cameroon area of West Africa.

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

January 1, 2008

"What have you changed your mind about?"

Every New Year's Day, literary agent John Brockman promotes his stable of science writers by having them propound on a question of interest. This year's query is "What have you changed your mind about?"

Evolutionary Biologist, Reading University, England

We Differ More Than We Thought

The last thirty to forty years of social science has brought an overbearing censorship to the way we are allowed to think and talk about the diversity of people on Earth. People of Siberian descent, New Guinean Highlanders, those from the Indian sub-continent, Caucasians, Australian aborigines, Polynesians, Africans — we are, officially, all the same: there are no races.

Flawed as the old ideas about race are, modern genomic studies reveal a surprising, compelling and different picture of human genetic diversity. We are on average about 99.5% similar to each other genetically. This is a new figure, down from the previous estimate of 99.9%. To put what may seem like miniscule differences in perspective, we are somewhere around 98.5% similar, maybe more, to chimpanzees, our nearest evolutionary relatives.

The new figure for us, then, is significant. It derives from among other things, many small genetic differences that have emerged from studies that compare human populations. Some confer the ability among adults to digest milk, others to withstand equatorial sun, others yet confer differences in body shape or size, resistance to particular diseases, tolerance to hot or cold, how many offspring a female might eventually produce, and even the production of endorphins — those internal opiate-like compounds.

We also differ by surprising amounts in the numbers of copies of some genes we have. Modern humans spread out of Africa only within the last 60-70,000 years, little more than the blink of an eye when stacked against the 6 million or so years that separate us from our Great Ape ancestors. The genetic differences amongst us reveal a species with a propensity to form small and relatively isolated groups on which natural selection has often acted strongly to promote genetic adaptations to particular environments.

We differ genetically more than we thought, but we should have expected this: how else but through isolation can we explain a single species that speaks at least 7,000 mutually unintelligible languages around the World?

What this all means is that, like it or not, there may be many genetic differences among human populations — including differences that may even correspond to old categories of 'race' — that are real differences in the sense of making one group better than another at responding to some particular environmental problem. This in no way says one group is in general 'superior' to another, or that one group should be preferred over another. But it warns us that we must be prepared to discuss genetic differences among human populations.

Arnold Kling has some highlights of other answers here.

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

My New VDARE.com Column: "The Real Dropout Rate"

Here's a short part of my new 3000 word VDARE.com column:

The Real Dropout Rate—And Why Some Students Should Drop Out of School

By Steve Sailer

January 01, 2008

In the grand tradition of Ebenezer Scrooge, economist James J. Heckman, a Nobel Laureate and 2002 Statistician of the Year, says "Bah! Humbug!" to the happy-clappy statistics the federal government has been feeding us on a key omen of America's future: high school dropout rates.

In an important paper with the bland title of The American High School Graduation Rate: Trends and Levels, [PDF] Heckman of the U. of Chicago and co-author Paul A. LaFontaine of the American Bar Association report:

"The true high school graduation rate is substantially lower than the official rate issued by the National Center for Educational Statistics."

The Department of Education's NCES claims that the graduation rate has been rising since back in the late 1960s, when it stood at 80 percent…

According to the feds, as cited by Heckman and LaFontaine:

"U.S. schools now graduate nearly 88 percent of students and black graduation rates have converged to those of non-Hispanic whites over the past four decades."

But in fact Heckman and LaFontaine's exhaustive study of the widest array of data sources consulted to date finds that the high school dropout rate isn't 12 percent, but about twice that. And the racial gaps have been steady since the early 1970s.

Moreover, although the high school dropout rate improved consistently through the middle of the 20th Century, falling from 75 percent in the early 1920s to 20 percent in the late 1960s, it has worsened, by up to one-fourth, since then.

Dropout rates have gotten slightly worse for all three big ethnic groups, but I estimate that the majority of the deterioration for the country as a whole is simply because Hispanics and blacks make up a larger share of the population than they did 35 years ago.

In contrast to the federal propaganda, H&L find that the dropout rate is around 35 percent for both African-Americans and for those more assimilated Hispanics who either were born in America or have been here at least a decade.

In fact, despite somewhat higher test scores than blacks, these Americanized Hispanics still appear to leave school early at a somewhat greater rate than blacks.

H&L report that the dropout rate for all Hispanics, including recent immigrants, is significantly worse because

"… almost half of Hispanics in this [18-24] age group immigrated within the last ten years. These recent Hispanic immigrants are primarily low-skilled Mexican workers … The migration of workers with low levels of education has increased substantially over the past 40 years.…"

One of H&L's crucial findings: the ethnic gaps are not getting better:

"In fact, we find no evidence of convergence in minority-majority graduation rates over the past 35 years."

… This intractability of racial differences is something that is constantly assumed away by popular pundits who demonize anyone who suggests that these gaps might have genetic origins. "All we have to do is change the environment!"

Perhaps. But, despite 35 years of rapid changes in the social environment, nothing has happened to the dropout disparities. The only difference is that there are now far more low-performing minorities than in 1972.

With racial gaps, this is a common pattern seen across many different measures. Relative quality differences among the races languish virtually unchanged from decade to decade. But, primarily through immigration policy, we allow relative quantity to change relentlessly—in inevitably unfavorable directions.


I go on to suggest a number of ways to improve the situation.

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

The future of the GOP

To prosper in the long run, the GOP needs to wean itself off its addiction to neocon money and media influence, which has been so disastrous in foreign policy. But that's hard to do because of, well, neocon money and media influence. (E.g., Krauthammer and Kristol get fired as columnists at Time, but Kristol pops up instantly at the NY Times).

It will be doubly hard for the GOP to wean itself off the neocons because anybody who points out the mere fact of neocon money and media influence is denounced as an anti-Semite. And most people in public life would rather let America blunder into more Middle Eastern wars than be denounced as anti-Semites.

Of course, neocon/neolib loyalty to the GOP is a lot less of a sure thing -- they are maneuvering to try to dominate the foreign policy of the next Democratic administration.

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

December 31, 2007

Nature, red in tooth and claw

Speaking of wild animals attacking, here's the amazing 8 minute "Battle at Kruger" safari video on Youtube, depicting a wild fracas at a watering hole over a baby Cape Buffalo, complete with a happy ending. The combatants are a pride of lions, a couple of surprise guest stars, and the return of the herd. Whichever Cape Buffalo somehow convinced, nonverbally, his buffaloed herdmates to turn and fight for their calf displayed more leadership skills than all the Republican and Democratic Presidential candidates combined.

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

Man-eating beasts

I finally got around this morning, New Year's Eve, to reading a news story about the Christmas Day tiger attack at the San Francisco zoo. I haven't been in any hurry because I knew this story wasn't going to be out of the news for a long time. There's nothing that interests human beings more than the threat of being eaten by a wild beast (as Matt Drudge, who plays up every animal attack on the planet, as profitably noticed over the last dozen years). And a tiger is the most magnificent predator of them all.

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

Last day for tax deductible contribution

Happy New Year!

Although looking at the steady drop in my net worth over the last seven years, I'm not sure how many more happy ones I've got left as a writer. It's an intriguing experiment to see if I can survive financially without big institutions backing me, to see if I can rely upon the kindness of readers. I shall follow my future career with great interest.

So, I'm back begging, which I don't like doing, but I really, really need the money.

There are four ways to give me money.First, through Monday, 12/31/07, you can make tax deductible credit card contributions here (click on the first "Make a Donation" button you come to on the screen); or fax credit card details here (please put my name on the fax); or you can snail mail checks, postmarked 12/31/07, made out to "VDARE Foundation" and marked on the memo line (lower left corner) “Steve Sailer” to:

VDARE Foundation
P.O. Box 1195
Washington, CT 06793

Second: Fourth: You can use Paypal with any credit card (or if you already have a specific Paypal account, you can use that). Just click here and fill in your credit card info on the left (scroll down to bottom left-center to go on), or your Paypal ID on the right. It works fine with the mainstream MS Internet Explorer browser.

Third: You can send me an email and I'll send you my P.O. Box address.

Fourth: You can use Amazon and pay by credit card. Just click here. The limit on the amount in a single donation via Amazon, for some reason, is $50.


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

December 30, 2007

The South Asian Dynastic Tendency, Part XLVII

From the NYT:

"Pakistan’s largest political party picked Benazir Bhutto’s 19-year-old son to succeed her as chairman and vowed to forge ahead with elections next week."

Sure, why not pick a 19-year-old? How old was Alexander when he succeeded Philip? How old was Pitt the Younger when he became Prime Minister?

It's the blood that matters. (Or just the name -- next door in India, Sonia Gandhi, the widow of Rajiv, daughter-in-law of Indira, and granddaughter-in-law of Nehru, led the Congress Party to victory in the last election, even though she's an Italian ex-stewardess and doesn't really speak any Indian languages well.)

My 2003 National Interest article on the trend back toward dynasticism is here.

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

Night People vs. Morning People

At what time of the day do you concentrate best?

Night people and morning people tend to be found in different professions, with, say, musicians tending to be night people and business managers tending to be morning people. I'd never seen, however, any data on how the distribution of night and morning people differs by nationality or ethnicity.

I wonder how heritable it is? My guess would be that it's one of those traits, like handedness, that are only mildly heritable.

My supposition would be that this would be one of those traits you'd want widely widely varying among your relatives. In caveman days, when keeping a fire going could me a matter of life or death, you'd want some members of your clan to wake up early and be rarin' to go collect firewood and get the day started, while you'd want others who naturally stayed up late and made sure the fire didn't go out. But geneticists tend to scoff at my idea that there could be selection for variation.

The only evidence I've seen of national variations in night and morningness is in E.T. Bell's famous 1936 book Men of Mathematics: The Lives and Achievements of the Great Mathematicians from Zeno to Poincare. Bell, a fan of Sir Francis Galton, was interested in a lot of questions that are considered improper today. The chapter on Poincare discusses a 1902 survey of 100 mathematicians that asked them 30 questions about how they worked.
"Again, anyone with mathematical friends will have noticed that some like to work early in the morning ... while others do nothing till after dark. The replies on this point indicated a curious trend -- possibly significant, although there are numerous exceptions: mathematicians of the northern races prefer to work at night; while the Latins prefer the morning."

That's the reverse of the stereotype of Latins who stay up late because they take a siesta during the hot afternoons. Perhaps mathematicians tend to be out of sync with their societies?

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