July 18, 2009

Where getting old isn't quite so bad

Tom Watson, age 59, has a one-stroke lead going into the final round of the British Open. Watson has won five British Opens already, but no major championships in 25 years. Watson won't win, just as 53-year-old Greg Norman couldn't hold his 3rd round lead in last year's British Open.

Still, it is conceivable that Watson could win because I once was there to see an even older player almost win against a major championship quality field (featuring, among others, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Johnnie Miller) under major championship conditions. So, please forgive me indulging in some golf nostalgia.

The first time I saw Watson play in person was 35 years ago at the final round of the 1974 LA Open at historic Riviera, back when he was known as the best player on the PGA tour without a victory. Powerful Santa Ana winds dried out the greens making them US Open fast. The wind also made the course play the opposite of normal, when the prevailing winds blew off the ocean. For example, playing into the wind on the 426 yard 9th hole, Lee Trevino had to hit driver off the fairway to reach the green. In contrast, on the downwind 315 yard tenth hole, Tom Weiskopf hit a towering teeshot that was blown at least 50 yards past the hole. That would be the equivalent of about a 450 yard drive today with today's technology.

In a wild scramble, Watson took the final round lead and looked headed for his first victory. Then he hooked his approach shot out of bounds on the 12th and faded. As the leaders faltered in the wind, an unlikely contender began to rise up the leaderboard, a player in his 39th PGA season who was only two weeks shy of his 62nd birthday: Sam Snead. A double-jointed marvel who liked to win bets by kicking the ceiling, Snead's swing was as fine-looking as when he had defeated Ben Hogan in a playoff at the famous 1950 LA Open at Riviera, which was Hogan's first tournament after a horrific car crash 12 months earlier that almost led to Hogan's legs being amputated.

In golf, your fine motor skills are the first to go, so Snead had taken to putting croquet-style through his legs. When that was banned as undignified, he shifted to the semi-croquet side-saddle method, with his feet together, facing the hole. It looked odd, but that windy day in 1974, it worked.

When Snead birdied the 71st hole to pull only one shot behind 32-year-old Dave Stockton, the roar was the loudest I ever heard on a golf course until I turned on my TV during the 1986 Masters just as 46-year-old Jack Nicklaus's eagle putt on 15 fell in.

On the 18th tee, Snead, a master psychological gamesman, slyly told Stockton, "'You probably don't remember this, but in 1950, I birdied the last two holes to beat Hogan." Snead fought his way to a par on the uphill, into-the-wind 18. Stockton drove weakly, barely clearing the cliff. In In the rough, 245 yards from the green, with Snead standing close to fluster him, Stockton slashed a three wood as hard as he could swing to knock it to 12 feet for his winning birdie. Stockton told Snead, "I'll bet Hogan didn't hit it that close."

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

July 17, 2009


If we win the war in Afghanistan, all we would have done is win a war in Afghanistan.

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

"Mortal Skin"

William Saletan in Slate has a good article, Mortal Skin: Race, Genes, and Cancer, about how blacks are more likely to die of three sex-related cancers (breast, ovarian, and prostate) than whites, even when researchers statistically hold all else equal.

But, Saletan goes on to make his usual argument that "race is a rough, transitional category:"

Taken together, these points form the beginning of a sensible way to think about race. It's a fluid category. It can be economic, cultural, and genetic. It can be salient but also coarse. Analytically, it's a primitive tool. Can it tell us useful things? Yes. Should we use it? Yes, but judiciously. In the case of cognitive ability, it probably does more harm than good. But in the case of drug reactions or cancer, lives are at stake.

Our responsibility is to use this tool wisely and, at the same time, begin to replace it with more sophisticated models of interacting dynamics—economics, culture, genetics—that more accurately fit the data. If we succeed, tomorrow's doctors won't have to guess your prognosis from your race. They'll have your genome and plenty of other biological information about you, much of it inherited. And they won't have to pretend it doesn't matter.

But race isn't about individual gene variants, it's about family.

Say you have two children and you have them tested with a very sophisticated model of interacting dynamics and it turns out that one has variant X of important gene Z and the other has variant Y. So, genetically, they're different.

But, guess what? They're still both your kids.

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

David Axelrod's Obamafication of poor Sonia Sotomayor

You have to feel a little sorry for Sonia Sotomayor. Here she's spent all these years giving speeches about what she believes to boring little Diversity colloquia. And now she finally gets on the big stage ... and her P.R. handlers tell her she has to dissemble about everything closest to her heart, that if the public knew what she really stood for she might not get ultimate power. ("Trust us, Sonia, it worked for Obama, didn't it?")

And, then, some Republicans, surprisingly, grow a bit of a spine and make her repudiate all her best zinger lines ... over and over and over.

It had to have been humiliating for her. And she probably figures that when she finally gets on the Supreme Court, now Scalia will mock her by quoting constantly her testimony back to her. "Of course, we all know where Madame Justice stands on this issue; as she so eloquently put it during her colloquy with Senator Kyl etc. etc.," while Alito chuckles and Thomas does that thing where he just stares at you like you are the most boring waste of time ever.

Seriously, as deficient as these hearings were in various respects, they were still better than the utterly innocuous questioning that Obama bathed in during the 2008 election campaign, when the only man to stand up and speak truth to (future) power was Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. Obama spent 20 months running for President without anybody reading to him from his own memoir.

We need Presidential candidates to be subjected to more hostile questioning by truly hostile, well-informed individuals. Presidential debate cross-questioning is lame because candidates can't afford to be too hostile or probe too deeply. And moderators are useless at hostile questioning because they are supposed to be moderate.

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

July 16, 2009

America's Cuba

I'd never thought about it much before, but reading Stephen Hunter's nonfiction book American Gunfight about the two Puerto Rican nationalist terrorists who came close to assassinating Harry Truman in his bedroom in 1950 turned me into a Puerto Rican nationalist.

Seriously, why does America rule a populous Spanish-speaking island in the Caribbean?

It's just a leftover from the era of Teddy Rooseveltian American imperialism, a war prize from the Spanish-American War of 1898. It's hard to figure out from Googling around why the U.S. government ever wanted Puerto Rico.

In contrast, there was at that time a popular notion that owning the Philippines would pay off for America because the Philippines were said to be the key to opening the door to the China trade, and if all 300,000,000 Chinamen bought a pair of American shoes, that would be 600,000,000 shoes! Well, maybe, maybe not, but at least the Philippines land-grab had a theory to explain it.

But what was Puerto Rico supposed to be the key to: the Haiti trade?

The only theory I've ever heard of why the U.S. wanted Puerto Rico was that it was supposed to protect the approaches to the Panama Canal. Yet, I don't see any evidence that Teddy's strategic oracle, Admiral Mahan, thought much of Puerto Rico's strategic value. In the chapters on naval strategy in the Caribbean in his 1911 book, Mahan barely mentions Puerto Rico, and instead spends many pages salivating over Jamaica's strategic location. (The U.S. closed its last naval base in Puerto Rico, Roosevelt Roads, in 2004, relocating its operations to Florida. In 2003, the Navy gave up on its Vieques firing grounds after protests.)

As far as I can figure, the U.S. kept Puerto Rico more or less as a souvenir of that "splendid little war" with Spain. We couldn't keep Cuba, which with its huge length, long coastline, and more developed economy, was sort of worth something strategically and economically, because we had gone to war in the name of Cuban independence. So we demanded Puerto Rico as an "indemnity" from Spain for making us declare war on them by their being so colonialist.

Cuba helped bankrupt the Soviet Union by costing the Russkies about $6 billion per year in subsidies. Economist Art Laffer estimates that Puerto Rico costs the U.S. government almost four times as much, mostly in tax breaks to corporations. And the cost of Open Borders between Puerto Rico and the U.S. has been sizable, especially to Eastern Seaboard cities during the decades before the government started bribing Puerto Ricans to stay home. And Puerto Ricans become instantly eligible for affirmative action benefits the moment they step off the plane in the 50 States, which doesn't do Americans any good.

The U.S. pays Puerto Ricans to conduct all their politics around the statehood v. commonwealth polarity, but nationalism remains in their hearts: Puerto Rico sends its own teams to the Olympics and the World Baseball Classic, and Puerto Ricans cheer loudly when their teams beat the Americans.

And why shouldn't they? It's only natural for an island nation to feel little emotional tie to the continental power that conquered them, especially if they have different languages.

Puerto Rico is never going to progress like Hawaii did into an English-speaking place where Americans would want to settle. It's full of Puerto Ricans. (Hawaii has almost twice the land mass of Puerto Rico but less than one-third the population.)

Recent referendums in P.R. have been slightly tilted toward staying a subsidized colony, but someday "statehood" will win a referendum. And then the Democrats will have a field day demanding that we respect the wishes of the Puerto Rican people and give the Democrats two more U.S. Senators.

It's time for Puerto Rican independence.

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

"Rat Beach" by William Styron

The New Yorker features a powerful short story, "Rat Beach," left behind by the late William Styron (1925-2006), author of Sophie's Choice, about a young Marine second lieutenant training on Saipan in the summer of 1945 to invade Japan.

This fictional story more or less fits with Styron's life: Wikipedia says his troop ship was still in San Francisco Bay when the atom bomb fell, while The Encyclopedia of American War Literature says he was on Okinawa.

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

Ricci and Vargas's Testimony

You can read what the two discriminated-against firemen had to say here. (Vargas's testimony is toward the bottom here.)

It sure would have been better theatre to have plain-spoken witnesses like these guys testify first before the Senators and Sotomayor plunged into the legalistic thickets.

And here's today cross-examination of Sotomayor by Sen. Kyl, who pretty much comes out and chants liar-liar-pants-on-fire over Sotomayor's claim that she was just following precedent in trying to deep-six Ricci. "What precendent?" Kyl aks repeatedly and never gets a satisfactory response.

There's so many weird customs here that apparently preclude asking obvious questions like, "Judge Sotomayor, on Ricci, you say you were bound by precedent as a non-Supreme Court judge. But now you want to be a Supreme Court Justice. How would you have voted on Ricci as a Supreme Court Justice and why?"

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

Disparate Impact in Business v. Academia

One of the conundrums of American law is that cognitively-demanding tests that are legally frowned upon due to disparate impact in hiring and promotion are perfectly A-OK in the university classroom ... even when they are the exact same test.

I experienced this firsthand in 1982 when I walked into the offices of a 2-year-old marketing research firm in Chicago that was the first research firm to use data from supermarket scanners. I had just earned an MBA from UCLA with double concentrations in marketing and finance, and had letters of recommendation from the most quant-intensive professors that I was the second best quantitative marketing analyst in that year's graduating class. (The best one, no fool, opened a scuba diving shop in the Florida Keys.) I was looking for a job in marketing model, but they didn't have any openings, so they asked if I was interested in the more general Client Service area.

The Human Resources department gave me their Client Service hiring test, which was the final exam given by a co-founder of the firm, U. of Iowa professor Gerry Eskin, to his class in Marketing Research 402: Senior Seminar on Quantitative Methods (or something like that). I sweated over it for three hours, computing correlation coefficients on my HP hand calculator. The next day, having graded it, they called me back for a day's worth of interviews. I worked there, on and off, through 2000.

The firm continued to use Dr. Eskin's final exams until a number of years later, when it had grown large enough that it was now on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's radar. The Griggs decision said that tests that had racially disparate impact, as no doubt this one did, being cognitively demanding, caused the burden of proof in discrimination cases to be placed on the employer, unless the firm demonstrated that it met the stringent level of "business necessity." Some of our clients, such as Procter & Gamble, the paladin of the consumer packaged goods industry, went through the considerable expense of validating their hiring tests to the standards demanded by the federal government, but our HR department decided to give up on using something as idiosyncratic as a Big Ten test.

My personal view is that the quality of our hiring never recovered from this change.

The interesting contrast, however, is that while the firm gave up using this U. of Iowa test, the federal government never had any complaint about the U. of Iowa going right on using Dr. Eskin's test to determine grades, credits, and diplomas, which obviously has an indirect impact in the employment market. Disparate Impact just doesn't much apply to universities.

As Justice O'Connor wrote in her majority decision upholding the U. of Michigan's quota system (just don't call it a quota) in 2003's Grutter decision:
"Our holding today is in keeping with our tradition of giving a degree of deference to a university’s academic decisions, within constitutionally prescribed limits.... "

One might think Supreme Court Justices would logically give less deference to universities -- what with all the Justices having at least seven years experience with higher academia -- and more deference to, say, marketing research firms, few of the Justices having any experience in that business. Instead, however, the opposite is true.

The long term effect of Griggs's Disparate Impact theory is explained well in The Bell Curve: It pushes the evaluation process required for hiring back from the employer to the university. It exacerbates the tendency toward credentialism in American life.

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

Double Jeopardy

This is really sleazy:
Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Monday announced his intent to introduce the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act as a bipartisan amendment to the National Defense Authorization bill this week.

I don't know if Leahy will be able to pull this off. Apparently, it doesn't have enough support to pass on its own, so the ploy is to attach it to something that has to pass.
Existing hate crimes law covers race, color, national origin, or religion, but only where the victim is engaging in one of the following federally protected activities: (1) attending or enrolling in a public school or public college; (2) participating in a benefit, service, privilege, program, facility or activity administered by a state or local government; (3) applying for or working in private or state employment; (4) serving as a juror in a state court; (5) using a facility of interstate commerce or a common carrier; or (6) enjoying public accommodations or places of exhibition or entertainment. The bill eliminates the outdated “federally protected activities” requirement and expands the federal government’s ability to prosecute crimes targeting victims because of their sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or disability.

In other words, eliminate all "outdated" federalist limitations on federal intrusion into state business.

As you may or may not be aware, murder and other crimes of violence are already against the law in just about any state you can name. Most states already have hate crimes legislation, as well. The initial point of this bill is to violate the Constitution's prohibition on double jeopardy by giving prosecutors two bites at the apple with politically unpopular defendants. Leahy's press release explains that it will be used when "a state prosecution has failed to vindicate the federal interest against hate-motivated violence" -- i.e., when a state jury has acquitted somebody the feds don't like.

The long term goal is likely to lay the groundwork for eventually prosecuting dissident voices on the Internet, such as, oh, me.

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

July 15, 2009

My new Taki article

is now up at TakiMag.com:

Every so often, an action hit comes out of nowhere—Mad Max, Terminator, Ricci v. DeStefano. Inevitably, we start hoping that the big budget follow-up can keep the same excitement going, just with huger explosions. A few times—Road Warrior, Terminator II—our dreams come true.

I’ve got to say, though, that this Ricci sequel, The Senate Sotomayor Hearing, has so far been the dullest successor since Matrix Reloaded.

Can’t anybody afford a decent script doctor?

You might almost imagine that Sotomayor was crafted to drive away its audience. It’s as if the people in Washington don’t really want American citizens paying attention.

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

July 14, 2009

Anti-Awareness Campaigns

Stuff White People Like picked "Awareness" as #18 on the list:
An interesting fact about white people is that they firmly believe that all of the world’s problems can be solved through “awareness.” ... What makes this even more appealing for white people is that you can raise “awareness” through expensive dinners, parties, marathons, selling t-shirts, fashion shows, concerts, eating at restaurants and bracelets. In other words, white people just have to keep doing stuff they like, EXCEPT now they can feel better about making a difference.

Yet, even more than the "Awareness Campaign," it strikes me that the pervasive leitmotif of our age is the "Anti-Awareness Campaign," the semi-organized efforts to keep people from connecting the dots.

Consider how the facts in the Ricci case are repeatedly described as some weird anomaly, when they are simply business as usual in most big cities, barely distinguishable from, say, the Biondo case that dragged on for years in Chicago. But pattern recognition is despised.

The goal is not to impose hypocrisy, but stupidity.

If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human mind -- forever.

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


Last week, there was one of those now-traditional Two Minute Hates in the national media, familiar to people as diverse as James Watson, Don Imus, and Michael Richard. This one was directed at a swim club in suburban Philadelphia, which had agreed to allow an inner city daycare center to use its swimming pool each Monday all summer. But after the first visit by 65 black and Hispanic children, the club hastily changed its mind.

Of course, the swim club was denounced universally for "prejudice," but wouldn't the word "postjudice" be more appropriate? After all, before hand, the swim club had presumed that hosting 65 inner city children in its pool (two-thirds of which is deep enough to drown in) would be a swell idea, and only then developed an aversion after they had experience with them.

I look forward to a future in which we will all engage in Obamaoist self-criticism sessions beginning, "I hadn't realized I was postjudiced until ...

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

The Welsh Genghis Khan

7 Million People Direct Descendants Of Single Smooth-Talking Ancestor

BALTIMORE—Geneticists at the Johns Hopkins University announced Monday that an estimated seven million people worldwide carry a distinctive genetic marker linking them to a single smooth-talking common ancestor.

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

How Sotomayor and Co. tried to bury the Ricci case

Here's a National Journal article by Stuart Taylor on how Sotomayor and two other judges almost got away with making the Ricci case disappear without their ten fellow judges on the Second Circuit hearing about it. Sotomayor's old mentor, Jose Cabranes, read about it in his local New Haven newspaper and blew his stack at their tactic, which is the only reason it didn't disappear down the Memory Hole.

Presumably, Cabranes, a New Havenite, didn't feel like taking a chance on burning to death due to incompetent New Haven firemen.

Tuesday live update: Orrin Hatch is asking some tough questions about the Cabranes scandal, to which Sotomayor is not replying well, but now Sen. Hatch is rambling off into a speech instead of following up with tougher questions, and now has given up. And now it's time for lunch. Man, the action is just non-stop!
Anyway, I then had to go out and couldn't catch the thrill-packed conclusion of Tuesday hearings, so did anything interesting happen?

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

July 13, 2009

Every single AP Test fails EEOC's Four-Fifths Regulation

At the heart of the Ricci case, which Judge Sonia Sotomayor attempted to bury so that it couldn't be appealed when she heard it by upholding the lower court's anti-Ricci decision without an opinion (outraging her mentor Judge Jose Cabranes), is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's Four-Fifths Rule.

This regulation says that on any employment test, the lowest scoring ethnic group better pass at a rate at least 80% as high as the highest scoring ethnic group.

The fashionable Advanced Placement tests provide us with a database to test the reasonableness of the rule that gives the Disparate Impact theory its teeth. As I mention in post below, blacks only pass AP tests at a per capita rate not Four-Fifths but One-Twentieth of the Asian rate.

But what about just those more elite students who bother to take AP tests? How reasonable is the Four-Fifths rule for them?

The gaps are smaller, but not a single AP exam would pass the EEOC's Four-Fifth's Rule, as the table below shows. (And many colleges require not just scores of 3, but 4s or 5s, which make the racial gaps substantially larger.)

Passing Rates White Asian Black Hispanic Min / Max
Total Exams 62% 64% 26% 42% 40%
Italian 47% 28% 19% 66% 29%
Econ: Macro 56% 62% 21% 27% 34%
Hum Geography 59% 61% 21% 34% 34%
Enviro Sci 60% 58% 20% 31% 34%
World History 55% 59% 20% 27% 34%
Chemistry 57% 65% 23% 30% 35%
Econ: Micro 66% 70% 25% 36% 35%
Statistics 63% 68% 24% 34% 35%
English Lit 69% 63% 24% 36% 35%
Spanish 53% 55% 28% 80% 35%
Biology 54% 59% 21% 26% 36%
US History 53% 56% 21% 27% 38%
English Compos. 67% 64% 27% 33% 40%
Gov: US 57% 54% 23% 28% 40%
Comp Sci A 61% 61% 25% 35% 41%
Comp Sci AB 73% 78% 32% 61% 42%
Physics B 64% 64% 27% 31% 42%
Gov: Compar. 64% 67% 30% 42% 44%
Chinese 77% 99% 75% 44% 45%
Music Theory 71% 78% 36% 46% 46%
Calculus AB 65% 66% 30% 39% 46%
Japanese 57% 84% 44% 40% 48%
Art: History 62% 57% 31% 43% 51%
Euro History 65% 65% 33% 40% 51%
Psychology 72% 71% 38% 48% 53%
French Lit 70% 71% 38% 48% 53%
Physics C: Mech 75% 76% 44% 50% 58%
Latin Lit 67% 69% 42% 52% 60%
Studio Art: Drawing 70% 77% 48% 56% 61%
Latin: Vergil 62% 69% 47% 44% 63%
German 66% 73% 46% 60% 64%
Physics C: E&M 70% 73% 47% 55% 64%
Calculus BC 82% 82% 55% 63% 67%
Studio Art: 2-D 70% 72% 52% 59% 72%
Spanish Lit 70% 77% 56% 60% 73%
Studio Art: 3-D 64% 67% 50% 49% 73%
French 57% 57% 49% 42% 74%

Whatever happened to Barry Ritholtz, anyway?

Barry Ritholtz used to come around here a lot talking smack about how he had so much data proving I was wrong about diversity being a major factor in the mortgage meltdown. So, we laid our cards on the table ... and now he doesn't seem to want to talk about it anymore.

How come?

UPDATED: In the comments, Barry writes:
Ritholtz said...

Im busy with real stuff . . .

Hmmmhmmmh ... He seemed to have plenty of time before we had our little showdown.

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

Evil Steve's How-To Guide to the Softest AP Tests

Following up last night's VDARE.com article on Advanced Placement testing, I've been mulling some more over the problem off how to find the easiest Advanced Placement tests for high school students to pass in order to get free college credit. All AP Tests are fairly hard, but which ones take the minimum combination of IQ, math skills, and midnight oil to squeeze by with a passing score of at least 3 out of 5?

So, I've come up with a methodology that I suspect you wouldn't find anywhere else: Relative to Asians, which AP tests do blacks do best on in terms of passed tests per capita? In other words, if all you want to do is to find some AP Test where you can skate through with a passing score like a cool black kid rather than grind it out like an Asian nerd, then you want to look at tests where blacks do best relative to Asians.

(Obviously, this is a relativistic comparison, not an absolute one. Overall, in absolute per capita terms, Asians pass 20 times as many AP tests as blacks do, so Asians do much better on each of the three dozen AP tests than blacks do. I won't bore you with a detailed explanation of my relativism-squared methodology: in brief, I'm comparing black passing rates per test relative to the overall black passing rate relative to the same comparison for Asians.)

The rank order turned out to fit my a priori stereotypes to a T. Relative to Asians, blacks did worst on the monster science and math tests like the upper level Computer Science AB test, Physics C: Electricity & Magnetism, and upper level Calculus BC. Blacks did best on the softer-sounding social science, humanities, hands-on art, and language tests.

Black Asian Black/Asian
Total Exams Passed Per 1,000 Youths 57.9 1,148.1 100
Computer Science AB 0.0 5.5 18
Physics C: Elec. & Magnet. 0.1 11.3 22
Calculus BC
1.2 73.1 32
Physics C: Mechanics 0.4 23.3 32
Chemistry 1.4 66.7 41
Computer Science A 0.2 10.7 42
Physics B 0.8 34.2 45
Economics: Micro 0.7 24.0 56
Statistics 1.8 58.1 62
Economics: Macro 1.0 33.0 63
Biology 2.6 78.8 65
Calculus AB
4.3 107.8 79
European History 1.7 40.5 85
Latin: Vergil 0.1 2.1 86
Art: History 0.4 7.9 94
German: Language 0.0 1.0 96
Latin: Literature 0.1 1.4 100
Government & Politics Comp. 0.3 5.2 103
Environmental Science 1.1 20.2 104
Spanish Language 0.9 16.7 105
Spanish Literature 0.1 1.7 115
Music Theory 0.4 6.1 118
Government & Politics U.S. 3.6 57.6 124
US History 6.7 107.8 124
World History 3.1 49.1 124
Studio Art: Drawing 0.5 6.5 150
English Lang. & Composition 8.6 102.9 166
English Lit & Composition 8.3 97.4 168
French: Literature 0.1 0.6 170
Psychology 4.9 55.2 175
Human Geography 1.2 12.1 205
Italian Lang. & Culture 0.0 0.1 214
Studio Art: 2-D Design 0.5 4.7 217
Studio Art: 3-D Design 0.1 0.6 224
French: Language 0.8 6.3 251

In this table, the first row is the aggregate across all AP tests per 1,000 students. In 2008, blacks passed a little under 0.06 AP tests per kid, while Asians pass about 1.15 tests each. In other words, on average, blacks pass about 1/20th as many AP tests per capita as Asians, so we'll set that level of relative performance to 100. For, say, Calculus BC, 1.2 out of every 1,000 blacks of the relevant age passed versus 73.1 out of every 1000 Asians, or 1/62nd as many, which is only 32% as good as the overall 1/20th rate. In contrast, at the bottom of the list on French Language, blacks did 1/8th as well per capita as Asians did, which is 251% of their typical performance relative to Asians.

So, Psychology, Human Geography, the two Englishes, and World History look pretty doable, with Environmental Science the easiest of the science tests. In contrast, on this scale, European History is the hardest of the purely verbal tests.

One bias to keep in mind in this scale is that I would bet that females take a large majority of the AP tests among blacks, but not among Asians. This might partially account for the relatively strong black performance in French. (Also, there may a certain number of black immigrant families that speak French at home, from Haiti and West Africa.)

Also, remember the distinction between one year and multi-year subjects. The French Literature AP Exam is, apparently, a piece of cake ... assuming you've already spent years learning French and reading the classics of French Literature. On the other hand, the Psychology exam is intended to cover what you'd learn from scratch in a one-semester college Psychology 101 course.

In the comments, Lucius Vorenus points out that this table doesn't constitute hatefacts or hatestats, but an until-now never before defined category of knowledge: hatecalcs.

Also, the term "Stevil" could be useful for the act of looking up diversity data for objective, non-Who? Whom? purposes.

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

July 12, 2009

My useful new VDARE.com column on Advanced Placement testing

Here's an excerpt from my new VDARE.com column, which is based on a big spreadsheet I built of 2008 Advanced Placement Test results, and has lots of graphs (click on this one to make it readable -- this one shows something I've never seen before: What percentile does your score rank not out of just the kids who took that AP test, but out of all the 4.3 million kids in America who are the same age as you? As you can see in this graph that starts at the 90th percentile with passing scores in green, orange, and red, a remarkably small percentage passes any single AP test.)

Last week, all across America, high school students who took Advanced Placement (AP) tests in May began receiving their scores in the mail.

So now is a good time to take an in-depth look at this rite of passage. It’s grown remarkably popular. The number of AP tests taken rose from one million in 1998 to approaching 2.7 million in 2008.

This article serves both parents wondering what their kids’ AP test strategy should look like, and citizens wanting to learn more about testing so they can evaluate Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s anti-objective examination decision in the Ricci case. (Her Senate hearings begin Monday). ...

Although the College Board is responsible for both the Advanced Placement tests and the much-denounced SAT, the APs have, so far, largely escaped criticism for "disparate impact:” i.e. Non-Asian Minorities doing badly. That’s mostly because few have bothered to look as rigorously at the numbers as we’ll do here.

If you are wondering how your kid’s scores from last May compare to whole population, rest assured that a 3 will put him or her in the top 5 percent of the country on any test and in the top 1 percent on many tests.

Above is my graph "2008 AP Scores by Percentile" (click on it to make it big enough to read) For example, U.S. History (the third bar down) is the most widely attempted AP test. Yet, it’s not even tried by 92 percent of the 4.3 million kids in each year’s age cohort. And less than half of those eight percent who try it succeeds in passing it. (By the way, you only get to take each AP test once in a lifetime.)

The most widely passed test in 2008 was English Literature, with 189,000 young people scoring 3s or higher. That sounds good; however, 189,000 is merely 4.4 percent of the relevant population.

As you may have noticed by now, I’m not the most happy-clappy commentator when it comes to evaluating the intellectual capabilities of today’s youth. Yet, even I have to concede that it wouldn’t be impossible to, say, double that 4.4 percent passing rate on English Lit. The key step would be for whites in the middle of the country to imitate Asians on the coasts (currently, Asians take three times as many AP tests per capita as do whites): become more confident about signing up for AP tests and more industrious in studying for them. Asians aren’t exceptionally great at English Lit—but, currently, 9.7 percent of Asians pass that AP versus only 5.4 percent of whites.

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

We're really in deep state

From the NYT:
Goldman Sachs Likely to Post Huge Profits, Analysts Say

Most of Wall Street, and America, is still waiting for an economic recovery. Then there is Goldman Sachs.

Up and down Wall Street, analysts and traders are buzzing that Goldman, which only recently paid back its government bailout money, will report blowout profits from trading on Tuesday.

Analysts predict the bank earned a profit of more than $2 billion in the March-June period, because of its trading prowess across world markets. If they are right, the bank’s rivals will once again be left to wonder exactly how Goldman, long the envy of Wall Street, could have rebounded so drastically only months after the nation’s financial industry was shaken to its foundations.

The obsessive speculation has already begun, along with banter about how Goldman’s rapid return to minting money will be perceived by lawmakers and taxpayers who aided Goldman with a multibillion-dollar cushion last fall.

“They exist, and others don’t, and taxpayers made it possible,” said one industry consultant, who, like many people interviewed for this article, declined to be named for fear of jeopardizing business relationships.

Startling, too, is how much of its revenue Goldman is expected to share with its employees. Analysts estimate that the bank will set aside enough money to pay a total of $18 billion in compensation and benefits this year to its 28,000 employees, or more than $600,000 an employee. Top producers stand to earn millions.

On The American Conservative's blog, Dennis Dale noted this last week:
From Bloomberg, Johnathan Weil reports a US prosecutor says a stolen Goldman Sachs computer program capable of manipulating global markets may fall into the wrong hands (wrong being other than the world’s most powerful investment bank). About the first of this month Goldman notified authorities that former employee Sergey Aleynikov, not content with post-its and paper clips, ripped off the program in his last week working for the company. He was arrested getting off a plane in Newark on July 3.

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

Civil Rights v. Civil Service

From the New York Times:
Trial by Firefighters
by Lani Guinier and Susan Sturm

... But the Supreme Court’s 5-to-4 decision last month — that New Haven should not have scrapped the test — perpetuates profound misconceptions about the capacity of paper-and-pencil tests to gauge a person’s potential on the job. Exams like the one the New Haven firefighters took are neither designed nor administered to identify the employees most qualified for promotion. And Ms. Torre’s identity-politics sloganeering diverts attention from what we need most: a clear-eyed reassessment of our blind faith in entrenched testing regimes.

New Haven used a multiple-choice test to measure its firefighters’ retention of information from national firefighting textbooks and study guides. Civil service tests like these do not identify people who are best suited for leadership positions.

This one sentence is the most interesting part of the op-ed: Sturm und Guinier give away the hushed up fact that "civil rights" -- as currently understood by, say, Sonia Sotomayor -- is an assault on America's once proud tradition of civil service reforms.

As you'll recall, when a disappointed government job-seeker assassinated President James Garfield, elevating the Republican ringmaster of the spoils system, Chester Arthur, to the White House, a national outcry against the politicization of lower level government jobs forced Arthur to sign a major Civil Service bill.

Objective written tests for would-be government employees originated in Imperial China, and the idea was transmitted to Europe by early Jesuit missionaries, such as the great Matteo Ricci, who were impressed by how much better China was administered than their own countries. The Chinese tests were not seemingly all that "job-related" -- they consisted of questions requiring elegant essays on the Confucian classics, with bonus points for artistic calligraphy. That doesn't, at first glance, seem to have much to do with, say, keeping the Grand Canal dredged and open to shipping. But, of course, they were tests of IQ, literacy, and diligence, which predicts a lot more about job performance than, say, who you know.

Civil service testing in the U.S. consistently improved in the 20th Century, with the PACE federal civil service test introduced in the mid-1970s being a masterpiece of state of the art social science.

Objective civil service benefited blacks in the first half of the 20th Century, with the heart of the black middle class settling in Washington D.C. because they could get federal jobs by passing blind-graded written tests.

However, as minority political power grew, minorities stopped wanting blind-graded testing extended to fight bigotry and instead wanted it rolled back to benefit themselves over more qualified job applicants. Thus, in January 1981, the outgoing Carter Administration signed a consent decree in the Luevano discrimination case junking PACE, and promising that the federal government would replace it in the future with a test that would be both predictively valid and have much less disparate impact. Of course, 28 years later, the federal government, despite its vast resources, has never been able to come up with that mythical replacement test. So, federal hiring has been based ever since on a hodge-podge of evaluative techniques, with unfortunate consequences for the competence of the federal government.

The most important skills of any fire department lieutenant or captain are steady command presence, sound judgment and the ability to make life-or-death decisions under pressure. In a city that is nearly 60 percent black and Latino, the ability to promote cross-racial harmony under stress is also crucial.

I dunno. I kind of think that knowing what the hell you are doing has something to do with leadership. And, how, exactly does promoting minorities who know less about what they are doing into leadership positions over whites promote "cross-racial harmony under stress"?

Look, I think a reasonable argument could be asserted that police jobs are so inherently political (as the etymological roots suggest) in terms of interviewing suspects and witnesses and the like that a racial quota system might make, sometimes, police departments more effective. That's a much, much harder argument to make plausible for fire departments, however, since fires don't have race.

Fire departments, like most government agencies, are monopolies, so they aren't inherently incentivized by market competition to hire the most effective managers and employees. Thus, strict civil service rules have been developed to produce objective competition for jobs. The diversicrats like Guinier and Sotomayor hate blind-graded competitions, precisely because they are honest and fair.

These skills are not well measured by tests that reward memorization and ask irrelevant questions like whether it is best to approach a particular emergency from uptown or downtown even when the city isn’t oriented that way.

Jeez, this uptown / downtown question is going to be the Regatta Question of the next three decades, isn't it? Instead of calling these kind of specious talking points "folklore," we should call them "elitelore."

As far as I can see from this essay, "uptown/downtown" is the entire factual content of their critique of the New Haven test.

The Civil Service Board in New Haven declined to certify the test not only because of concerns about difference in scores between black and white firefighters but also because it failed to assess qualities essential for firefighting.

C'mon, stop yanking our chains. The city spent a huge amount of money having a good test devised. Read Alito's opinion for the full behind the scenes play by play. The politicians only decided to change the rule after they found out what the score was. That's a violation of Hammurabi 101.

As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted in her dissent, tests drawn from national textbooks often do not match a city’s local firefighting needs.

May I respectfully suggest that Ruth Bader Ginsburg doesn't know much about fire department testing. Moreover, she's not interested in learning. Look, New Haven spent $100k having the test customized, so that's wildly misleading. Personally, I suspect a national test would have worked fine.

The point of the customization is to get minority leaders, such as the black guy who is #2 in the NHFD, to agree that the test is fair and valid -- which he did. As Alito pointed out, the mayor's staff maneuvered to keep the black deputy chief's opinion of the test's fairness hushed up.

Most American fire departments have abandoned such tests or limited the multiple-choice format to 30 percent or less of an applicant’s score. In New Haven, the test still accounted for 60 percent of the score.

Gosh, why do you think so many fire departments have gone over to subjectively graded tests where the judges can see the race of the applicant? In order to racially discriminate. (This really isn't that complicated.)

Compounding the problem, insignificant numerical score differences were used to rank the firefighter candidates.

This is the kind of thing that people say after the game has been played and they know the outcome. "Hey, when our would-be tying baserunner got tagged out by the catcher at home plate with two outs in the 9th inning, he was only 3 inches from scoring, so therefore, there should be like a 3 inch wide penumbra around home plate that counts the same as home plate, so we shouldn't have lost!" Obviously, when you put it that way, you can see the special pleading involved. But people don't think as rigorously about law and public policy as they about baseball, so this kind of sophistry is very appealing to the Who? Whom? crowd.

Guinier rolls on:

What should a city do when its promotion test puts a majority of its population at a disadvantage and is also unlikely to predict essential job performance? People who excel on such a test may expect to be promoted. But testing should not be about allocating prizes to winners. No one has a proprietary right to a particular open job, even if that person worked hard preparing for a test.

There's a basic rule of ballfield fairness that you don't wait to see what the final score is and then change the rules to benefit one side.

When a city replaces a bad test, as New Haven wanted to do, the employees who did well on it do not lose their right to compete for promotions; they merely need to compete according to procedures that actually identify people who advance the mission of saving lives and property — and enhance the department’s reputation in the community for treating all citizens with respect.

All the evidence that it was a "bad test" was ginned up post hoc, after the results were in. The city had spent a lot of money to have a legally defensible test, but, having seen the results, it junked it.

Yet many Americans believe so strongly that tests are fair that they never question the outcomes, especially when those outcomes conform to stereotypes about people of color. Such preconceptions lead to the conclusion that blacks or Latinos who don’t do well must lack individual initiative or ability.

I wonder where those stereotypes come from?

The basic statistical fact is that, relatively on average, blacks and Latinos lack individual initiative and ability. But you can get Watsoned out of your job for pointing that out in public.

As the plaintiff in the New Haven case, Frank Ricci, declared, “If you work hard, you can succeed in America.” His lawyer went further: White officials who voted for a better assessment system must have been lowering “the professional standard of competence,” she said, “for the sake of identity politics.” Yet, in New Haven, no one was promoted instead of the white firefighters.

Jeez, the politically favored folks got "acting" promotions. Can't the NYT afford better dissimulators than these two?

In fact, many fire departments with a history of discrimination, like New Haven’s, still stack the deck in favor of candidates who have relationships to people already in the fire department. Those without $500 for the study materials or a relative or friend from whom they might borrow the books were put at a disadvantage.

Those damn "fire buffs" are racist because they try hard to learn their jobs.

Moreover, it was the firefighters union — which sided with the white firefighters in the Supreme Court — that negotiated the contractual mandate giving disproportionate weight to the multiple-choice test. Those negotiations occurred two decades ago when the leadership of the department was virtually all white.

So, the guys who will be risking their lives under the officers wanted the officers selected by a method that is at least 60% objective and blind-graded. You'll note that the 40% that was oral was rigged by the city in 2003 by having two out of three judges on the panels be minorities.

Taking this into account, after five days of public hearings, Malcolm Webber, one of the white members of the New Haven Civil Service Board, said: “I’ve heard enough testimony here to give me great doubts about the test itself and the testing — some of the procedures. And I believe we can do better.”

Oh, come on... Please read Justice Alito's account of what really happened in this charade.

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court blessed entrenched testing regimes that do not advance public goals and fell for the story about identity politics run amok. That doesn’t mean, though, that cities need to hire and promote firefighters who are “book smart” but “street dumb.”

Fortunately the court left room for municipalities to develop alternative assessments to promote people with the skills needed to advance public safety in a diverse citizenry. Indeed, most American fire departments have already rejected written tests in favor of “assessment centers” that simulate on-the-job challenges and focus on problem-solving in the relevant context. In so doing, city officials demonstrate that their decisions are wiser than the Supreme Court’s.

In other words, let's use testing methods where the judges can see the race of the applicant, so a proper thumb can be put on the scale.

Lani Guinier, a Harvard law professor, and Susan Sturm, a Columbia law professor, are the authors of “Who’s Qualified?

The jokes write themselves.

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