Life or Something like it - Angelina Jolie's attempt at a chick flick. What's with her Australian Aborigine look in this movie? Here's my review.
March 23, 2002
Anti-Teutonism is the anti-Semitism of the elite: Check out this hilariously biased NYT article slurring a German-speaking Swiss patriot who works tirelessly to preserve Switzerland's unique (and remarkably successful) national character. The nearly-hysterical reporter's assumption is that Switzerland must take in a few million immigrants so it will become "diverse," and thus no longer so irritatingly diverse from the rest of Europe. (Sounds like the media's opinion of Utah!) In reality, Switzerland, with its four national languages, is one of humanity's rare triumphs of language diversity co-existing in a republic with liberty and peace. Here's my article on how Switzerland accomplishes this remarkable feat.
In reality, of course, Anita Hill's absurd campaign against Thomas did make Bill Clinton's impeachment almost inevitable. Clinton rode to the Presidency in 1992, "The Year of Women in Politics," in large part on the back of the Anita Hill brouhaha. But it was obvious to anybody, like myself, who had spent time in Arkansas that Gov. Clinton had been hitting widely on state employees. Under the silly standards that the Anita Hill foo-fraw drummed up, Clinton was surely much guiltier of sexual harassment than Thomas. What proof do I have of this chain of logic? I predicted it all in December, 1992 in my article "A Specter Is Haunting the Clinton Presidency."
Today, though, schools are mostly ranked on the IQs that their students bring to schools, which in modern America are probably 50% or more genetically determined, and much of the rest of the variance in IQ appears related to random infections and the like, not schooling. It's unfair to the principle of, say, Malcolm X H.S. to downgrade him compared to the principle of Beverly Hills H.S., just because his kids do worse on tests. He could do be doing a great job relative to the raw materials he has to work with.
To make school comparison testing useful, every 6 year old in the U.S. should be given an IQ test - and by an independent tester, not the school. From then on, schools should be evaluated by their students' performance on achievement tests relative to their aptitude at age 6.
One reason we seldom hear this logically obvious idea of testing for value added is because colleges' reputations rest 90% on the high school SAT scores of their students. But that topic is largely off limits, because the media is run by people with fancy resumes who don't want the reputations of their colleges' besmirched by objective research into whether the college is actually any good at educating.
Fascinating review by J.P. Rushton of Richard Lynn's IQ and the Wealth of Nations in VDARE. Lynn's book lists average IQs for scores of nations, from Equatorial Guinea on the bottom to Hong Kong on the top.
I take a somewhat more optimistic view of the data than Rushton. The correlation Lynn found between IQ and per capita income is extraordinary, around 0.75 - maybe the highest correlation ever seen in the social sciences for a world-historic issue like this. As a former marketing researcher, I have some doubts about how demographically representative the samples from each country were (I haven't seen the book yet), because t's extremely expensive to get a perfectly nationally representative sample. But keep this crucial point in mind: better data would almost certainly raise Lynn's correlation!
But which way does the arrow of causation run? It probably runs both ways. Higher IQs lead to higher average incomes (for obvious reasons), but higher incomes probably also lead to higher IQs. If the latter wasn't true, it would be very hard to understand why African-Americans outscore Africans by 15 points (an entire standard deviation).
The good news is that it should be possible to set off a virtuous cycle of higher IQs leading to a wealthier, more civilized society that in turn leads to even higher IQs, and so forth. In fact, this has probably been happening in a lot of the world. But how could we fully ignite this process in the low IQ portions of the 3rd World? There's probably no way short of 22nd Century genetic engineering to make Equatorial Guinea into Hong Kong, but it ought to be possible to do something to raise the next generations' IQs.
But we don't really know yet. Education probably helps. But there may be other, cheaper ways that focus on alleviating biological problems that prevent people from reaching their genetic potential in intelligence. Perhaps some IQ-cognizant philanthropic computer zillionaire should fund intense research into how to raise IQ's in 3rd World countries. (Hey, Larry Ellison - this is how you could trump Bill Gates at saving the world!) A rise of just a few points could mean a big improvement in the workings of these countries. Lynn and the New Zealand scholar James Flynn, working separately, have shown that raw IQs scores have been rising in many countries - the Lynn-Flynn effect - but we know very little about what causes this or how significant it is. Lynn himself has demonstrated that malnutrition hurts IQ, but we need to know more the precise mechanisms. Perhaps getting enough of certain nutrients early in life can make a modest but significant difference. Arthur Jensen thinks that is likely.
Further, I strongly suspect, based on twins raised apart data, that infections sap IQ. Tropical countries are more germ-ridden than temperate countries. Unfortunately, we really don't know much about which germs knock a few points off IQ. This is something that ought to be studied in depth. But practically nobody is doing it because IQ researchers are considered the devil's spawn these days.
One of the least predicted phenomena of recent decades was the emergence of a huge number of people with brilliant technical skills in South India. As far as I know, nobody saw it coming. It doesn't fit either standard cultural theories (e.g., the "center" flourishes at the expense of the "periphery" - until recently, you couldn't get much more peripheral than Bangalore) or evolutionary theories (e.g., cold winters may select for high IQ, but South India is awfully warm).
A young Bangladeshi-American population geneticist named Razib Khan has done one of the few studies in this area, confirming via survey that professors of mathematics in India are disproportionately Southerners. Razib wrote to me:
"South Indians (from my experience) seem to have somewhat of an inferiority complex visa vis the north, especially the Hindi cow-belt. This is partly because of the north's cultural domination. But it's also because southerners are small and darker. If fact, I would hazard to guess that many northern fathers would object to their daughters marrying a southerner purely on racial grounds-backed up of course by traditional caste prejudices.
"This being said-pretty much everyone also agrees the southerners are damn smart. Smarter than the average northerner. Doesn't seem to matter though-the northerners are still higher on the pecking order anyhow. Kind of like High School. Jocks, not nerds, rule.
"By the way, I happen to think there probably isn't much evolutionary advantage in the ability to figure out higher level topology in mathematics. I have to think genetic drift is important in this sort of thing."
Genetic drift (i.e., randomness) might well be the answer, but it's kind of the Theory of Last Resort for when we can't come up with anything else. Of course, I sure haven't come up with anything else other than "maybe it has something to do with caste," which isn't exactly a theory. Does anybody have any other suggestions? What role does caste play in this? (My impression is that caste is essentially Jim Crow-style segregation taken to surrealistic extremes. Does that make sense?) 3/03/02
Why are there so many extremely smart people from the South of India? I mean, there's certainly nothing lacking about the big, fairer-skinned folks from the North of India, but the small, dark-skinned Dravidian-speakers from the South are something.
Clearly, the Catholic Church can no longer recruit many young heterosexual men to a life of celibacy the way it did in the glory days of the Irish-American Church in the first half of the last century. This strikes me as reflecting one of the big overlooked changes of the 20th Century - the spread of the idea that everyone would, should, and deserves to get married. I don't know the statistics, but I gather that throughout much of Western European history, a sizable minority of the population didn't marry. Even in Victorian England, there were lots of professions in which marriage was difficult - domestic servants, sailors, army officers, Oxford dons, and so forth.
Anthropologist Peter Frost has talked about how one of the distinguishing features of Western Europe, going back into barbarian times was late and non-universal marriage.
The 1950's, which seem to us like the bedrock era of unchanging stability, may have been the first time when the universality of marriage became economically feasible in the U.S.
All in all, this seems like a happy change. As I've argued before, monogamy (one man-one wife) may be at the heart of Western individualism and freedom. This trend spread that notion of sexual democracy even farther.
However, the spread of the notion that everyone should have an active sex life has obviously caused big problems for the Catholic priesthood. The Church doesn't like to move fast - it has seen lots of fads come and go. But this one seems permanent.
Ending celibacy would also set the stage for dealing with the issue of female ordination a few decades in the future. The Church can't afford female ordination now because it would turn the priesthood into an overwhelmingly gay male and lesbian-dominated institution, further alienating the straight male laity. But a few decades of building back up the proportion of straight men in the priesthood would put the Church in position to open the doors to women as priests.
Perhaps the Catholic Church's boy-groping scandal will cause the New York Times to publicly reassess its condemnation of the Boy Scouts for discriminating against adult homosexuals who want to lead boys into the woods. I doubt it, though.
How to prevent anti-Semitic paranoia: So, it turns out that Carl Cameron's five-part series that was briefly posted on FoxNews.com in December before being spiked was on to something when it reported Israelis were spying in the U.S.. At least, that's what The Forward, the fine Jewish newspaper of New York, reported in an article entitled, "Spy Rumors Fly on Gusts of Truth." Apparently, at least a few of the many Israelis arrested after 9/11 were Mossad agents keeping an eye on Muslim extremists in the U.S. (Too bad our spooks weren't.) The Forward denies that they had any inkling that 9/11 was going to happen.
It's confusing though, because the same reporter in the same issue of The Forward published another article called, "FBI Probe Defuses Israeli Spying Rumors." The argument in this one is that the scores of Israeli "art students" detained since 9/11 for spying on government agencies weren't Mossad agents, but were Israeli mobsters scoping out the DEA probably to help themselves deal more Ecstasy. (An earlier Forward article reported that Israeli organized criminals have cornered 75% of the American market for ravers' favorite drug.) These two stories are not necessarily fundamentally contradictory. There could have been two separate intelligence gathering operations going on - one run by Mossad, the other run by gangsters. Or, they could have been in some way linked, as the CIA and the Chicago Outfit were in the Castro assassination attempts. Just as I like to point out that the line between freedom fighter, terrorist, and gangster can be awfully thin, so can the line between gangster and intelligence agent, as so many KGB agents have shown over the last decade.
Obviously, I don't know what was going on. One thing I am certain about, though, is this: The mainstream press only encourages anti-Semitic paranoia when it shies away from publishing true stories about the activities of Israeli spies and gangsters. In particular, they are throwing red meat to the paranoid set when they post articles, then try to delete them. Don't they know that nothing disappears on the Web?
Al Gore shaves off his beard - The main purpose behind having a beard is to make your jaw look larger and thus more manly. (A beard can also serve to cover up jowls and a spotty complexion.) I have a weak jawline, so I look better with a beard. (At least, that's how I feel when I look at myself in the mirror.) The problem with this is that the whole world has figured out - on a subliminal level - that guys with mediocre testosterone levels grow beards to make themselves look studlier. So, everybody assumes that a man with a beard is just a professorial-type trying to cover up his wimpy chin. That's why when I was a corporate executive, I always shaved off my beard when I needed to look for a job. Granted, this let everyone see how unformidable my jaw was, but that was less damaging than covering it up with a beard and thus encouraging them to assume it was even less dominant-looking than it actually is.
(Allen Mazur did a great little study where he showed people pictures from the 1950 West Point Yearbook and asked them to guess which cadets rose to the rank of general. Having no other information, people tended to pick the young officers with the strongest jaws and other masculinely handsome features - and they turned out to be correct more often than not.)
This popular (and fairly accurate) prejudice against men with beards caused Gore no end of trouble over the last year, and needlessly, because he has an impressive jaw. (Of course, it didn't help that Al refused to engage in basic beard-care. Gore had the classic "Go to hell, World" scruffy beard, which, while understandable after all he went through, wasn't helping him look like 2004 Presidential timber.)
For example, I had a horrible, convulsive cough for six weeks. I went to my doctor and he prescribed some stuff, but none of it worked. Then the coughing became debilitating - I'd suddenly start coughing, then gasping for air, then gagging, then vomiting. That kind of cuts down on your social life (although I was losing weight nicely on the Blow Chow Diet). So, I got on the Internet and figured out I had Whooping Cough (pertussis). My doctor didn't believe me - whooping cough is rare these days - but I had a stack of printouts showing that my symptoms were precisely those of whooping cough in adults. So, I eventually badgered him into giving me Erythromycin, the antibiotic for pertussis. Within two days, the coughing was under control (although it comes back when I overwork).
So, to improve health care for blacks, encourage them to probingly question their doctors and to do research on the web.
This illustrates something I try to do - relate big political, social, and racial issues to daily life. Too many journalists just use a prefabricated set of abstract concepts for thinking about race, and never examine how it actually plays out in the real world.
"Globalization Proves Disappointing" reports the NYT. "Globalization, or the fast-paced growth of trade and cross-border investment, has done far less to raise the incomes of the world's poorest people than the leaders had hoped, many officials here say. The vast majority of people living in Africa, Latin America, Central Asia and the Middle East are no better off today than they were in 1989..." On the other hand, hundreds of billions in private investment have poured into China.
So, what's the story behind the story? Capital flows to where wages are low but IQ's are high - pre-eminently China, where the average IQ is two points higher than the U.S. already, according to Richard Lynn's IQ and the Wealth of Nations. China's IQ advantage is likely to grow greater in the future as the Chinese get better fed and educated. In contrast, these other regions (with the exception of the self-destructive Argentineans) average IQ's of 90 or less, sometimes considerably less.
The new issue of National Geographic reveals that after 17 years, the magazine has found the subject of its most popular photo ever: that green-eyed Afghan Pashtun refugee girl. It's remarkable how much power that rare eye-color mutations hold over the human imagination.
The dress designers for bony actresses Jennifer Connelly and Gwyneth Paltrow continue to take abuse for how awful their clients looked at the Oscars. Yet, the real crime is what these women have done to their own bodies. One of America's wisest coeds wrote to me, "Carving a naturally fleshy body type like Jennifer Connelly's [left] down to the mannequin she is today [right] also plays hell with a woman's hormonal system. When a C-cup like Connelly loses so much weight that she barely has any breasts to speak of, her hormones are thrown perilously out of whack. This can cause mood swings, menstrual irregularities and it can even compromise the immune system. I suspect that this is why actresses like Calista Flockhart and Angelina Jolie adopt instead of tackily giving birth themselves. A woman who maintains a body fat percentage far below her genetically determined minimum fights a daily war with nature. Of course, bearing children is the most archetypal surrender to body fat. Get thee to an adoption agency. Could fat phobia be at least partially responsible for dropping birth rates?"
One of America's wisest socialists asked this question in response: "What is the relation between a woman's size and her reproduction rate? For most of human history it was probably pretty close to straight-line positive [i.e., the less malnourished she was, the more children she had]; but now in advanced nations I would guess that it is some sort of Bell Curve-like figure, with very fat and fashionably thin women having far fewer children than the averagely "overweight" women in between. (The mere fact that average women can be described as overweight is in itself interesting.)" Anybody know of any studies?