February 10, 2007

The personality differences between gays and straights

Tyler Cowen of Marginal Revolution comes around on the question of why there is so little evidence for a lot of male homosexuals in most sports to my position that the fundamental reason is that there aren't a lot of gays in sports:

"Having read through 110 plus comments, I am now more inclined to see genetic correlations -- rooted in the human mind rather than the body -- with athletic achievement …"

(I think it's premature to attribute male homosexuality to "genetic" causes as opposed to the broader category of "biological" causes.)

A reader writes:

When I was going to university, I worked as a bouncer at clubs. I was from a hick blue-collar town called O****** and worked in strictly "straight" bars. After 2 years I moved to downtown Toronto and worked in "night clubs" for 2 years- generally straight but with a significant amount of gay males or clubs that had a "mixed night (gay and straight night)" or "gay night" (it's the big city).

Bouncers all noticed that gay males don't cause problems that are violent in nature (drug OD's and sex in the washrooms are another matter). I remember other managers/head bouncers all agreeing after I commented that gay males are unusually very orderly at coat checks (it's on the order of several orders of magnitude of difference).

My girl friend lived at Church and College, on the edge of the gay area of Toronto. During Pride week we would comment at how polite the crowds were when I went to park in her apartment's underground garage. They'd all stop, sort of smile and make way for us to proceed - all very orderly and non-confrontational.

Gay males are not as aggressive and more polite - traits that put gay males at a disadvantage in competitive straight dominated sports.

If primatoligists can observe aggressive interactions among primates in the wild, I’m sure they could do the same comparing gay males and straight males at night-clubs.
I guess you'd have to control for drugs, especially alcohol, but my guess (invoking Occam's razor) is that gay males are more co-operative and more averse to conflict.

Frank Salter conducted a Jane Goodall-type study of bouncers, which I wrote about here.

Another reader writes:

I think that sometimes rules that work in America, might not transfer well into Europe. I recall a segment on SNL in the 80s that showed pictures of people and asked "Straight, Gay or European?" It was funny because things that only gay men would do in America, were done by heterosexual Europeans. Writing poetry, painting, opera, etc are all seen as gay in America, but not in Europe.

My working-class Detroit friends often make fun of me for my liking classical music. But it's the best when they say that waltzing and tangoing with women all evening is "gay" but sitting on a couch with a bunch of guys, watching a bunch of guys in tight pants slap each other on the butt and grunt, with no women in sight, is not. In modern America, "gay" is synonymous with "aesthete" (though they would probably have to look that word up.

A big example of this is dance. I have been involved in ballroom dancing for a couple of years and, at the top, the male ranks are completely dominated by Russians. In Soviet times, playing chess, dancing ballet, doing gymnastics were not seen as gay at all. So, parents make sure that their sons (and daughters) learn to dance and sing and appreciate the finer things.

I think the difference is class. In Europe, opera, ballet, waltz, etc are markers for the upper class. If your son studies ballet, that signals that you are wealthy and cultured. In contrast, in America, we don't have class markers of that type. What seems upper-class there seems soft and effeminate here. Americans strive for middle class (albeit, comfortably upper middle class) and there is then no place for opera or ballet. Football is a proper middle class activity for a boy. Ballet may be a good thing for a young aristocrat, but in America, there is no aristocracy. If your son studies ballet in America, that signals that you are trying to "turn him gay" or that something isn't quite right.

Another example you gave is articulateness. That is a marker for an elite education more than being gay (as seen in Idiocracy). But perhaps there is a connection after all. Only a man of leisure, an aristocrat, could actively be homosexual because he had the resources to be discreet and could avoid having a family.

Of course, the question remains, why does masculinity seem to be opposed to culture and civilization? Are those "womanly pursuits"? But if so, it seems that that is a very recent trend, as most of the best poetry, painting, literature, etc was created by men. Indeed, civilization was in large part created by men. Then why is it seen as unmanly to enjoy it?

For an answer to these questions, see my 2003 article in The American Conservative, "The Decline of the Metrosexual."

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

February 9, 2007

It's all in the head

I've never seen persuasive evidence that homosexual men have less muscularity or athletic ability than straight men.

If ballet was considered a sport, it would be one of the most physically demanding. If the three greatest male ballet dancers of all time were Nijinsky, Nureyev (died of AIDS, and Baryshnikov, well, you have one flagrant heterosexual and two who were either homosexual or bisexual.

Similarly, I've always wondered how the wonderful Broadway tap-dancer and choreographer Tommy Tune, winner of nine Tonys, who is 6'-6" and gay, would have done as a small forward in basketball back in the early 1960s. I suspect that if he cared about sports, he would have been a star. Instead, he cared about dancing.

So, while sex hormones (and/or sex hormone receptors) likely play a role in influencing whether a man is homosexual or heterosexual, it must be a tightly-focused effect, probably prenatal or in early childhood. It's probably not a case of how much testosterone you have in your bloodstream as an adult. For example, blogger Andrew Sullivan has been taking prescription testosterone boosters since the 1990s, and while they've made him more muscular, they certainly haven't made him straight!

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

Retired NBA journeyman comes out of the closet ...

and he turns out to be exactly the kind of player you'd expect to be gay.

As I've been pointing out for years, male homosexuals are quite rare in most professional sports, except, tellingly, for the dance-like sports such as figure skating, where gays are common.

You can tell by counting all the athletes who died from AIDS in the 1982-1994 era: many figure skaters, but only about one in each of the other major sports (except boxing, where heroin addiction, perhaps to ease the pain, is more common among washed-up fighters).

And, of course, no AIDS deaths in golf, which has almost zero appeal to male homosexuals.

So, now the media is all excited that an obscure former NBA center named John Amaechi is publishing an autobiography in which he announces he is gay, only the sixth male athlete in the history of any of the big four professional team sports. (Economist Tyler Cowen wonders, rather cluelessly, why that number is so low at Marginal Revolution. I try to educate his readers in the comments.)

What's interesting about Amaechi is that he exactly fits my model -- that sports are most obsessively interesting to the most masculine little boys, who are the ones least likely to grow up to be gay -- of what kind of gay would be most likely to wind up a highly paid pro athlete: a gigantic basketball player.

Amaechi is 6'-10" and 270 pounds. There are so few men in the world that size that the NBA will take even a gay Englishman as a project and try to turn him into a productive player.

Amaechi is an interesting Barack Obama-type: born in Boston but raised in Manchester, England, his father was a Nigerian who abandoned his white mother, a doctor, when he was three. And, yes, Amaechi is … articulate. His sole distinction as an NBA player was being named to the 1999-2000 NBA All-Interview First Team. He's now pursuing a Ph.D. in child psychology and has donated lots of money and time to child charities.

Fitting my model beautifully, Amaechi was completely bored by basketball, and was only in it for the money, "earning" $9.6 million over five seasons.

He told Nigeria World that he had never played basketball until he was stopped on the street as a 6'-9" 17-year-old in England: "I wasn't really a sports fan and I didn't like sweating, or anything that puts physical pressure on me, but I just said yes. Maybe, it's because I'd played Rugby before then and I didn't like it and anything else-apart from Rugby-would do."

Basketball Digest enthused during his playing career:

Erudite Orlando center John Amaechi relishes his standing as the most unique player in the NBA

He reads books on child psychology. He visits art galleries and museums. He looks for seminars to attend when his team has an off-day on the road. He writes poetry--and he writes it well. Yes, John Amaechi plays basketball in the NBA, but he isn't really a basketball player. He is a Renaissance Man. The Orlando Magic have uncovered a real breath of fresh air.

Amaechi is bidding to become one of the better centers in the Eastern Conference this season, yet basketball actually bores him. … He would rather be sipping tea in his favorite coffee shop than scouting one of his rivals on television. His life is too short to be consumed by a game. There is little passion to his play, but a wonderful love for his life. "Basketball does not define me," he says. "It's my occupation for now, but it's not my definition." …

Although the NBA is peppered with players who are there only because it's a very lucrative profession, Amaechi might be the only one who openly admits it. "I'm going to be a better child psychologist than I ever could be a basketball player," he says, matter of factly. … Hey, I don't even like to sweat." … "I'm really not a fan of the game, and I'm not keen on this NBA lifestyle. I'm part of the NBA, but I've never been part of the NBA psyche," he says.

Not surprisingly, Amaechi's teammates were less impressed by his basketball-phobic attitude. The Salt Lake Tribune reported:

"[Teammate Jarron] Collins' memory, though, is that Amaechi wasn't just indifferent toward his job, but irritated by it and the pro sports atmosphere. "He just wasn't interested in basketball, period," Collins said. "I never knew someone who just disliked the game. I would say that everyone has different motivations to play the game of basketball. John was very clear that money was his. But it really was like, he didn't like the game. It's kind of hard if you hate it."

Nor is it surprising that, hating basketball the way he did, he was awful. Salt Lake Tribune columnist Steve Luhm explains:

"That's because John Amaechi remains one of the worst players in franchise history. … So on July 19, 2001, the Jazz signed Amaechi to a four-year, $12 million contract. Over the next two seasons - before being traded - the young Brit redefined the cliche, "Take the money and run." Amaechi took about $6 million of Larry Miller's money and didn't run . . . didn't shoot . . . didn't rebound. Looking back, the price tag for his astonishingly unproductive layover in Utah is mind-boggling. …

Oddly, Amaechi suggests the Jazz should have known his level of play might drop after he secured his first big-money million-dollar contract. "Why does the performance of so many players decline after they sign multiyear guaranteed deals?" he wrote. "It's a little thing called human nature. Plenty of guys - Karl Malone and John Stockton are the obvious examples - play hard no matter how much they make. Other guys lack the discipline. Predicting which player falls into which category is the key to scouting."

A few paragraphs later, Amaechi explained: … "The truth is Sloan and Jazz management hadn't done their research - otherwise known as scouting. They could tell you all my court tendencies, how I played the game and why I should fit into the system. But they knew nothing of my character."


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

February 8, 2007

Barack Obama's benign Hawaiian past catching up with him

Brian Charlton of the AP documents something I surmised last weekend about the Presidential candidate who is largely running on his ethnic identity, as asserted in his autobiography Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. As I said then: "Obama's feelings of racial oppression as a youth were more adolescent alienation fantasies than his daily reality."

Obama had multiethnic existence in Hawaii
Sections of potential 2008 candidate's life drawing greater scrutiny

HONOLULU - He was known as Barry Obama, and with his dark complexion and mini-Afro, he was one of the few blacks at the privileged Hawaiian school overlooking the Pacific.

Yet that hardly made him stand out.

Diversity was the norm at the Punahou School, one of the state's top private schools. The 3,600 students came from a wide variety of backgrounds, with a blend of Polynesian, Asian, European and other cultures. Everybody in Hawaii is a minority.

At Punahou, Barack Obama was known primarily for his appealing personality, his honesty and his aggressive play on the basketball court.

"It was a good melting pot. There were people from all different races," said Eric Smith, a friend and classmate of Obama's in the 1970s. "Everyone seemed to meld together." [More]

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

February 7, 2007

Economists forgetting economics to defend immigration, Part XLI

George Mason U. economist Tyler Cowen writes on his Marginal Revolution blog:

"I do understand the concerns raised by Steve Sailer and others against immigrants, and I readily grant that the idea of open borders is a non-starter. But is the United States today in a position where Latino immigrants are tearing us apart? I think not.

"Yes I know your anecdotes, but here is what it would take to budge me. Do a study of real estate prices in San Diego, Santa Ana (a largely Mexican part of Orange County), and the relevant sections of Houston, among other locales. Show me that real estate values in those areas are falling or even plummeting, and yes I do mean in absolute terms and no the recent collapse of the real estate bubble doesn't count. Then I'll give the issue another look. Otherwise the worst I am going to believe is that "things are not getting better as rapidly as they might otherwise be," and that, whether or not you like such a possible state of affairs, does not represent the sky falling."

I'm fascinated by how economists forget everything they know about economics when it comes time to defend immigration. Here are four Econ 101 concepts Tyler is ignoring:

1. Supply and Demand: Why would increased demand from immigration cause lower real estate prices?

2. Actual, Not Nominal, Costs: The standard way economists think (about everything except immigration) is to adjust for cost of living. Minnesota has the highest standard of living, at least in terms of things money can buy (i.e., not weather). At the bottom are Washington D.C., Hawaii and California.

3. Risk vs. Return: What is the risk that America is headed for a Netherlands-style immigration disaster? 20%, say? And what is the risk we're headed for a Kosovo-style catastrophe? 2%? Now, exactly what is the enormous upside to illegal immigration that compensates for risks that bad?

4. Opportunity Costs: Tyler writes:

"Otherwise the worst I am going to believe is that "things are not getting better as rapidly as they might otherwise be," and that, whether or not you like such a possible state of affairs, does not represent the sky falling."

That's a particularly bizarre standard for judging public policy for Tyler of all people to advocate in the light of his own blog posting of August 20, 2004:

"The importance of the growth rate increases, the further into the future we look. If a country grows at two percent, as opposed to growing at one percent, the difference in welfare in a single year is relatively small. But over time the difference becomes very large. For instance, had America grown one percentage point less per year, between 1870 and 1990, the America of 1990 would be no richer than the Mexico of 1990.... But in my view, if you are not supporting growth-maximizing economic policies, you better had a pretty good reason in your pocket."

What would LA be like today without 30 years of illegal immigration? Seattle with sunshine? With its enormous advantages, LA ought to be one of the finest cities in the world by now. Trust me, it's not.

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

First, Do No More Harm

From the Christian Science Monitor:

Coming US challenge: a less literate workforce
A larger share of workers will have minimal reading skills in 2030 than today, according to a report released Monday.

By Amanda Paulson

US workers may be significantly less literate in 2030 than they are today.

The reason: Most baby boomers will be retiring and a large wave of less-educated immigrants will be moving into the workforce. This downward shift in reading and math skills suggests a huge challenge for educators and policymakers in the future, according to a new report from the Educational Testing Service (ETS). If they can't reverse the trend, then it could spell trouble for a large swath of the labor force, widen an already large skill gap, and shrink the middle class.

"There is no time that I can tell you in the last hundred years" where literacy and numeracy have declined, says Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston and one of the report's authors. "But if you don't change outcomes for a wide variety of groups, this is the future we face."

The decline in literacy is one of the more startling projections in a report that examines what it calls a "perfect storm" of converging factors and how those trends are likely to play out if left unchecked.

The three factors identified are: a shifting labor market increasingly rewarding education and skills, a changing demographic that include a rapid-growing Hispanic population, and a yawning achievement gap, particularly along racial and socioeconomic lines, when it comes to reading and math.

The individual trends have been identified before, but this study makes an effort to examine their combined effects, and to project a disturbing future, including a sharply declining middle class in addition to the lost ground in literacy.

"We have the possibility of transforming the American dream into the American tragedy," says Irwin Kirsch, a senior research director at ETS and the lead author of the study. [More]

We only have the vaguest ideas how to improve the schools, and our ability to implement those fixes is severely compromised by the stress the schools are under from immigration. So, the obvious first step is to shut down unskilled immigration. Instead, the President and most of the elites want to boost it.

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

Interracial marriage rates falling for Asians and Hispanics due to massive immigration

Back in 2000, I wrote an article for VDARE.com entitled "Immigration Is Retarding Interracial Marriage." That's visible in Southern California, where Asians used to be widely dispersed all over the suburbs, and thus tended to marry the whites around them. Now, however, Asians tend to cluster in the San Gabriel Valley, and you see a higher proportion of Asian-Asian couples than you did a quarter of a century ago. This has implications for assimilation.

Now, a new study of Census data fro 1990 and 2000 confirms that trend:

Immigration played a key role in unprecedented declines in interracial and inter-ethnic marriage in the United States during the 1990s, according to a new sociological study. The findings, published in “Social Boundaries and Marital Assimilation: Interpreting Trends in Racial and Ethnic Intermarriage,” suggest that the growing number of Hispanic and Asian immigrants to the United States has led to more marriages within these groups, and fewer marriages between members of these groups and whites.

“These declines in intermarriages are a significant departure from past trends,” said Zhenchao Qian, co-author of the study and professor of sociology at Ohio State University. “The decline reflects the growth in the immigrant population during the 90s; more native-born Asian Americans and Hispanics are marrying their foreign-born counterparts.”

The study also found that interracial marriages involving African Americans increased significantly during the 1990s, but still continued to lag far behind other minorities. Qian conducted the study with Daniel Lichter, a professor at Cornell University. Their results appear in the February 2007 issue of the American Sociological Review, published by the 101-year- old American Sociological Association.

The researchers studied U.S. census data from 1990 and 2000. … But the rate of intermarriages began declining in the 1990s, particularly those involving whites and Asian Americans or Hispanics. This study was designed in part to find out why. … “If you look at changes in the 1990s, the bigger picture is really immigration, especially for Asian Americans and Hispanics. Those are the groups that had the largest influx of immigrants during the 90s.”

The study suggests Hispanic and Asian immigrants are likely to marry among themselves. In addition, more native-born minorities are selecting marriage partners from the growing pool of immigrants.

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

February 5, 2007

The Gang that Couldn't Spell Its Own Name Straight:

Across Difficult Country has a report on a New Yorker article on a Denver-area high school that has been recipient of millions from the Great and Good and still stinks:

The bleachers offered a view of the Rockies, forty miles west, and, against them, the towers and cranes of downtown Denver. But his focus soon drifted to the plank on which he sat, which had been freshly tagged with gang graffiti. Studying the elaborate red scrawl, he said to his friends, "The person who did this tag didn't know how to spell the name Chici."

The Chici 30s, a local gang, were in ascendance at Manual now that members of their rival gang, the Oldies, had dropped out. "See," he said, "they think the word 'Chici' begins with a 'Q.' "

"So what's the right way to spell it?" someone asked.

It was quiet then, until the girl with the ponytail protested, "Norberto, stop looking to me like that, like you're some teacher!"

"Well, I don't care to know," another boy said. "I don't like those dudes, remember?"

"No wonder the whole city thinks we're stupid," Norberto said, addressing a recent turn of events that some on the bleachers still refused to accept. "Like, that's our education in a nutshell--we can't even spell our own gangs right."

More here.

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

"The Last King of Scotland"

From my upcoming review in The American Conservative:

The hottest trend on the London stage has been political drama offering fictionalized surmises about recent matters of state. Now, playwright Peter Morgan's two fly-on-the-wall historical screenplays have brought this genre to the Oscar races, with Helen Mirren and Forrest Whitaker winning most of the early acting awards for, respectively, "The Queen" and "The Last King of Scotland."

Whitaker first made his mark in a brief scene in Martin Scorsese's 1986 pool shark movie, "The Color of Money," as a gentle giant who out-hustles (and out-acts) Paul Newman and Tom Cruise. He later starred as doomed saxophonist Charlie Parker in Clint Eastwood's "Bird" and directed the hit "Waiting to Exhale," but has been largely relegated to supporting roles too small for him.

The superstars who emerged in the 1930s, such as John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Gary Cooper, Cary Grant, and Clark Gable, tended to be imposing six-footers (when that was an unusual height). Yet, even though the average American has gotten taller and fatter, leading men, such as Cruise, are now typically energetic little welterweights.

Whitaker finally enjoys a suitably beefy role in "Last King of Scotland" as the 1970s Ugandan dictator with the surrealist name, Idi Amin Dada. At a self-proclaimed 6'2" and 220 pounds, Whitaker is still smaller than the real Amin, who was the most entertaining of all the monsters of the 20th Century, a megalomaniacal cross between Joseph Stalin and Muhammad Ali. Sure, Idi was a semi-literate cannibal, but he was a likeable one.

The Big Man reveled in such self-bestowed titles as Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular.

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

My New VDARE.com column

Who is America's MVP (Most Valuable Politician)?

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

February 4, 2007


What a halftime show in the pouring rain … For a guy lots of people wrote off a long time ago as an egomaniac (I haven't seen him since 1983), he turned in a tremendously professional and generous performance under scary conditions: I wouldn't be too enthusiastic about playing the electric guitar with that much rain coming down. A solid but predictable opening with his own "Let's Go Crazy," followed by the opening chords of his "1999," but then things got interesting, with "Proud Mary" and a ballad arrangement of "All Along the Watchtower." The clear theme behind his choice of those two songs is the interrelationship of American white and black music, which has gotten so separated in recent decades. Both songs were by whites (John Fogerty and Bob Dylan, respectively) and famously covered by blacks (Ike and Tina Turner and Jimi Hendrix). Then, Prince did another cover, of the Foo Fighters recent rocker "The Best of You," which must have struck him the way it always struck me: as very professional sports-sounding. And then into his finale of "Purple Rain," with Mother Nature lending a well-deserved hand.

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

Super Bowl Warm-Up

The storyline in the sporting press had long been that Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning was a choker while Boston Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was a clutch player … until two weeks ago when Manning engineered a last minute drive to take the lead in the AFC Championship game, and Brady responded by throwing a bad interception to seal the Patriots' fate.

Personally, I don't much believe in the popular choker vs. hero distinction for top professional athletes. You can't get to Peyton Manning's level without succeeding countless times in pressure situations going back to age 8.

Now, I've seen golfers clearly choke -- Mark Calcavecchia foozling his teeshot so badly on the 17th hole in the 1991 Ryder Cup that it didn't make it more than halfway across the lake is the most obvious example. But most other sports are less pressure-packed because the players typically are in motion and don't have to initiate the most difficult moves from a dead standstill like in golf.

The difference between Manning's and Peyton's record in playoff games before two weeks ago (5-6 for Manning, 12-1 for Brady) probably had more to do with small sample sizes than with actual differences between the men. They are both outstanding quarterbacks.

One thing, though, is that Brady is a particularly magnificent looking quarterback. The confident way he paws the turf with his right foot just before receiving the snap when in shotgun formation seems like am arrogant stallion just before the Kentucky Derby. Manning, however, is the most skittish-looking quarterback I've ever seen. In contrast to Brady's economy of motion, Manning's constantly shuffling his feet in a seemingly nervous manner, which I suspect contributes to all the second-guessing he has endured. Plus, Brady is very handsome, while Manning is a bit funny-looking for such an outstanding athlete.


By the way, Inductivist updates an analysis he did for me early in the 2005 season, which I turned into a VDARE.com article, and finds once again in the 2006 season that the more white players a team has on the bench, the more games it wins. It's not a superstrong correlation, but it seems to have been consistently there in the last four years.

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