December 8, 2007

My high school football article: "Smells Like Team Spirit"

My American Conservative high school football article is now online. Here's an excerpt:

High-school football also displays some modern virtues, such as a reasonably good relationship between whites and blacks, based on the common goal of victory and an informal division of labor. Football mania builds social solidarity, which is helpful in getting things done, especially in multiracial communities.

The missing pieces of the puzzle have been Hispanic athletes. Latinos make up 20 percent of public-school students, but they don’t make much of a splash in the sports pages. For example, David Lopez, a 6’3”, 225-pound linebacker at Garfield, is expected to be only the second participant in the East L.A. Classic during this decade to earn a Division I-A scholarship. In contrast, last year’s graduating class of 149 at Oaks Christian in posh Westlake Village, California saw 11 players receive free rides to Division I-A football factories.

One reason that Mexican-Americans don’t compete more evenly with white athletes is due to the early specialization and intensive training that middle-class youngsters now undergo. Today, when tennis pros typically grow up at costly boarding academies, it seems unimaginable that the greatest player in the world from the mid-’50s into the early-’60s was an ex-juvenile delinquent from East L.A. named Pancho Gonzales, a public-courts player who never took a lesson.

There used to be more room for individual initiative, but children are increasingly dependent on their parents. The USA Today 2006 Offensive Player of the Year, Oaks Christian’s Jimmy Clausen, was raised to be a quarterback by his father, an insurance executive. Two older brothers had started at quarterback for the University of Tennessee. All three brothers were kept out of kindergarten until age 6 and repeated sixth grade, so they were 19 instead of 17 as high-school seniors. From seventh grade onward, Jimmy worked ten hours per week during the off-season with his private quarterback coach. He arrived at the press conference to announce his signing with the University of Notre Dame in a Hummer limo—though playing behind the miserable 2007 Fighting Irish’s porous offensive line has been a less glitzy experience for him. [More]

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

High School Football Demographics

As I mentioned in my recent American Conservative article (now on line), state high school football titles these days tends to be won mostly by Catholic or mostly white exurban or small town schools. One reason for this is that in small towns, voters care about the high school team representing local honor. So the school boards invest in winning football programs. In a big city, however, where the public schools compete against each other, nobody is going to get voted out of office if one team in the school district beats another team.

In my high schools days, my old Catholic school wasn't really competitive with the Los Angeles city schools because they had so much more "speed" and "athleticism," but that's changed radically over the decades. Until this year when Birmingham, an LAUSD team, beat Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks fair and square.

Birmingham went on to win the City title with ease. California doesn't have a playoff system (because it's so big, travel would he enormously expensive and the playoffs would run into Christmas) but it now has three bowl games matching the top big, medium, and small schools from Northern and Southern California. Birmingham will now wait around to find out if they get the invite to play mighty De La Salle of Concord in the Bay Area in the big schools bowl.

Here are the conditions Birmingham, as an LAUSD school, plays under:

The entire budget for the team this season is $13,000.

I asked Prizant when the last time he sent off the helmets and pads for reconditioning and he just laughed.

"I wish we could give them more money, but we just don't have it," Prizant said. "I wish we could have a freshman team, or more than one bus to send them to games. I wish we could pay our head coach more than $3,200. But ..."

Birmingham, like many schools in our public school system, has to make do with less. That means bringing in volunteer coaches, working long hours without ever expecting to get paid overtime, then drawing anything you got left, blood, sweat, tears, and a ton of heart.

In contrast, at Hoover High, in exurban Birmingham, AL, the boosters raise $300k annually, and the coach is paid close to six figures.

It's interesting to compare the demographics of the Birmingham (Lake Balboa, CA) football team to its student body. The team is 60% black, 20% Latino, and 20% other. Last year, the "other" included 9 Polynesians, although this year it's down to 3.

The school of 3,176 students in 2006-2007, in contrast, was 72.5% Latino, 12.9% white, and only 8.5% black. Last year, 9 of the 14 Pacific Islanders were on the football team! I imagine the other 5 were girls. (That actually might be a good test of how much recruiting of football players a high school is doing -- examine the gender imbalance among Polynesians. If there are a lot more boys than girls, the school is bringing in football players, which is supposed to be a no-no.)

When Notre Dame got beat in the CIF finals a couple of years ago by Dominguez of Compton, Dominguez's whole offensive line was Polynesian, including a 319 pound tight end.

It's becoming traditional among the top Southern California football teams to do a Polynesian war chant before games. Mighty Long Beach Poly started the tradition, and Birmingham took it up two years ago.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 6, 2007

The Man Who Is Thursday takes the "Charles Murray Challenge"

Murray offered his challenge in an interview with me in 2003 about his book "Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950:"

"I think that the number of novels, songs, and paintings done since 1950 that anyone will still care about 200 years from now is somewhere in the vicinity of zero. Not exactly zero, but close. I find a good way to make this point is to ask anyone who disagrees with me to name a work that will survive -- and then ask, "Seriously?" Very few works indeed can defend themselves against the "Seriously?" question."

I collected readers' suggestions for potential survivors here.

Now, Thursday, who has much better taste than me, offers his list here.

You can make your nominations in the Comments.

Just remember, after each one, you have to wrinkle up your brow and raise your eyelids and say, "Seriously?"

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

"We are those mutants"

I've been posting teasers for awhile about an upcoming big paper on evolution co-written by the Murderer's Row of Greg Cochran, Henry Harpending, John Hawks, Bob Moyzis, and Eric Wang. It officially comes out Monday evening, Dec. 10, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

I'm not going to say anymore about it now so that the big boys at the NYT and The Economist can have time to write their stories without anyone jumping the gun ... other than to leave you with a Cochran quote as the title of this post.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Putting in a good word for the Pew Hispanic Center

In Slate, Mickey Kaus says he's dubious about some argument on Hispanic voting and the GOP advanced by the Pew Hispanic Center:

The Pew Hispanic Center reports that between July 2006 and October 2006 Hispanic voters went from 49/28 Dem-Republican to 57/23--a net Democratic gain of 13 points. In an excellent bit of 'comes-at-a-time'-ism, Pew attributes the shift to Republican anti-comprehensivism:

This U-turn in Hispanic partisan allegiance trends comes at a time when the issue of illegal immigration has become an intense focus of national attention and debate

HuffPo's normally sophisticated Thomas Edsall makes the argument less 501-c-3-ishly: "GOP Driving Hispanics Away with Anti-Immigrant Push." The problem, of course, is that the Pew Center doesn't tell us how many points the Democrats gained among non-Hispanic voters, or all voters generally. These were not good months for the GOP.

I'm perfectly willing to believe that the immigration debate has hurt the GOP among Hispanics, but without any sort of control group it's impossible to tell how much. (Gallup, for example, has the Republicans losing about 5 points among all voters over the same period--suggesting that the real Hispanic immigration backlash amounted to 8 points net, not 13.) ...

P.S.: What are the chances that the Pew Hispanic Center is going to conclude that Hispanics are not important or distinctive--they're really just like everyone else and really not worth studying much? I'd say close to zero. The study would be more credible if it came from the Pew Hellenic Center. ... 3:32 P.M. link

Personally, I've found the Pew Hispanic Center to be one of the more objective and useful sources on immigration, a topic where ignorance, lies, and wishful thinking are the norm. Robert Suro and the others at the Pew Hispanic Center are willing to publicly state, for example, that the Hispanic vote isn't as big or powerful as the media typically assume. This is "testimony against interest," because clearly the "Pew Hispanic Center" would become wealthier and more influential the more people believe Hispanics are electorally powerful, so it's particularly credible. The Pew people, to their credit, have always resisted the unspoken assumption common in the media that one Hispanic's vote somehow counts for more than one non-Hispanic's vote.

I often cite Pew Hispanic Center research. For example, here's something I wrote in last August:

And now the Pew Hispanic Center has crunched the Census Bureau's numbers for 2006 and discovered that the total Latino share of the vote last year fell—to 5.8 percent [from 6.0 percent in 2004]. According to Pew:

"while Latinos represented nearly half the total population growth in the U.S. between 2002 and 2006, the Latino share among all new eligible voters was just 20%. By comparison, whites accounted for 24% of the population growth and 47% of all eligible new voters."

Overall, whites cast almost twelve ballots for every one ballot cast by a Hispanic.

So, let's give some respect to the Pew Hispanic Center. They're not perfect but they're a lot fairer than they would have to be. Indeed, they'd probably get more media attention if they catered more to the conventional wisdom about the purported Latino Electoral Tidal Wave, rather than pop balloons about it as did their report last summer entitled "The Latino Electorate: A Widening Gap between Voters and the Larger Hispanic Population in the U.S."

So, the answer to this question is that, yes, the GOP may have lost 3 or 4 points among Hispanics on 2006 due to resistance to amnesty, but the size of the Hispanic vote is so small, that it's insignificant -- 5.8% times 4% = 0.23% -- compared to picking up votes (or at least not losing them) among the other 94% of the population.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

VDARE's fundraising appeal

Peter Brimelow writes:

I believe that VDARE.COM plays a particularly vital role even among all these patriotic immigration reform groups. We operate at the high end of the intellectual food chain. Our articles are carefully researched and written. They break news and introduce new concepts. They are of the highest professional quality and could appear anywhere in the Mainstream Media—except for the epidemic curse of Political Correctness.

And except for epidemic media cowardice.

We exist to take risks and push the envelope in a way that most professional (i.e. housetrained) journalists and columnists will not.

Our theory is that, when an idea has been sufficiently ventilated and tested, it will filter down to the more cautious, to the less imaginative and to the mass-media popularizers.

We see this happening all the time.


And you can donate to me via VDARE here, tax-free!

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

My Hudson Institute Presentation on the Hispanic Vote

Back on September 26, 2007, I was part of a panel discussion on "The Future Politics of Immigration" with Mickey Kaus, Mark Krikorian, Rosemary Jenks, and Kate O'Beirne at the Hudson Institute in Washington D.C. My topic was "The Hispanic Vote: Hysteria v. History."

You can listen to the audio by opening this link in a new window:

When you get to that page, click on the Play arrow under the second group picture down on the right – I’m the big lug in the white shirt. I'm the fourth speaker, after O'Beirne, Krikorian, and Jenks. My spiel starts about 1/3 of the way in.

You can see my Powerpoint slides here:

They look good on an Internet Explorer browser, but look awkward on Firefox for reasons I don't understand. Click on the title of each slide in the vertical tile on the left. My speakers' notes are at the bottom. You'll want to click on the horizontal line and drag it up a little so you can read my pearls of wisdom.

You don't need to listen to my audio narration to make sense of my Powerpoint, but the two work together better than they do separately.

Other speakers that day (audio available at the link above) included: Robert Rector, David Coleman, Nick Eberstadt, Peter Skerry, and Peter Brimelow. And from the Hudson Institute, John Fonte, Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Michael Horowitz, and John O’Sullivan. The Brimelow-Furchgott-Roth debate is pretty funny.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 5, 2007

I heard about this tribe that ...

In 2002, the Supreme Court outlawed the death penalty for murderers with IQs below, typically, 70. If you are a justice of the Supreme Court, any relative of yours or of a friend of yours with an IQ below 70 is likely to suffer from a visible organic syndrome of mental retardation, such as Down's. They are what doctors abbreviate in their notes as FLKs -- Funny Looking Kids.

But in sizable swaths of American society, an IQ below 70 doesn't mean you are retarded in a medical sense -- it just means you're dimmer than normal. You walk and talk like everybody else on your block. You just aren't any better at abstract reasoning than the Supreme Court Justice's nephew with Down's Syndrome.

Lack of understanding of this leads to the widespread incredulity at hearing of the low average IQ scores in some Third World countries, and the even lower IQ scores found among some hunter-gatherers, such as the Australian Aborigines: "You're saying that half the people in the country are retarded! That's insane!"

Some poor people overseas are physically retarded, due to lack of micronutrients like iron or iodine. But a lot just don't do much abstract thinking. This doesn't mean their offspring wouldn't be able to, but they don't. So they score low on IQ tests, and perform poorly at real-world tasks that require higher IQs.

I've heard of an anthropologist who has spent years with the Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert who can't recall ever hearing a conversation among them about something abstract.

An extreme example of concrete, here-and-now, nonabstract thinking appears to be a tribe in the Amazon called the Pirahã. They've been known to Portuguese-speakers since the 1700s, but they've successfully resisted being assimilated by their remarkable lack of curiosity about and contempt for anything outside their own time and place.

John Colapinto reported in the New Yorker last spring in "The Interpreter" on a linguist named Dan Everett:

The article described the extreme simplicity of the tribe’s living conditions and culture. The Pirahã, Everett wrote, have no numbers, no fixed color terms, no perfect tense, no deep memory, no tradition of art or drawing, and no words for “all,” “each,” “every,” “most,” or “few”—terms of quantification believed by some linguists to be among the common building blocks of human cognition. ...

Unlike other hunter-gatherer tribes of the Amazon, the Pirahã have resisted efforts by missionaries and government agencies to teach them farming. They maintain tiny, weed-infested patches of ground a few steps into the forest, where they cultivate scraggly manioc plants. “The stuff that’s growing in this village was either planted by somebody else or it’s what grows when you spit the seed out,” Everett said to me one morning as we walked through the village. Subsisting almost entirely on fish and game, which they catch and hunt daily, the Pirahã have ignored lessons in preserving meats by salting or smoking, and they produce only enough manioc flour to last a few days. (The Kawahiv, another Amazonian tribe that Everett has studied, make enough to last for months.) ...

The tribe, he maintains, has no collective memory that extends back more than one or two generations, and no original creation myths. ... Everett also learned that the Pirahã have no fixed words for colors, and instead use descriptive phrases that change from one moment to the next. “So if you show them a red cup, they’re likely to say, ‘This looks like blood,’ ” Everett said. “Or they could say, ‘This is like vrvcum’—a local berry that they use to extract a red dye.”

Gordon had visited the tribe with Everett in the early nineties, after Everett told him about the Pirahã’s limited “one,” “two,” and “many” counting system. Other tribes, in Australia, the South Sea Islands, Africa, and the Amazon, have a “one-two-many” numerical system, but with an important difference: they are able to learn to count in another language. The Pirahã have never been able to do this, despite concerted efforts by the Everetts to teach them to count to ten in Portuguese.

During a two-month stay with the Pirahã in 1992, Gordon ran several experiments with tribe members. In one, he sat across from a Pirahã subject and placed in front of himself an array of objects—nuts, AA batteries—and had the Pirahã match the array. The Pirahã could perform the task accurately when the array consisted of two or three items, but their performance with larger groupings was, Gordon later wrote, “remarkably poor.” Gordon also showed subjects nuts, placed them in a can, and withdrew them one at a time. Each time he removed a nut, he asked the subject whether there were any left in the can. The Pirahã answered correctly only with quantities of three or fewer. Through these and other tests, Gordon concluded that Everett was right: the people could not perform tasks involving quantities greater than three. Gordon ruled out mass retardation. Though the Pirahã do not allow marriage outside their tribe, they have long kept their gene pool refreshed by permitting women to sleep with outsiders. “Besides,” Gordon said, “if there was some kind of Appalachian inbreeding or retardation going on, you’d see it in hairlines, facial features, motor ability. It bleeds over. They don’t show any of that.”

Shortly after Gordon’s article appeared, Everett began outlining a paper correcting what he believed were Gordon’s errors. Its scope grew as Everett concluded that the Pirahã’s lack of numerals was part of a larger constellation of “gaps.” Over the course of three weeks, Everett wrote what would become his Cultural Anthropology article, twenty-five thousand words in which he advanced a novel explanation for the many mysteries that had bedevilled him. Inspired by Sapir’s cultural approach to language, he hypothesized that the tribe embodies a living-in-the-present ethos so powerful that it has affected every aspect of the people’s lives. Committed to an existence in which only observable experience is real, the Pirahã do not think, or speak, in abstractions—and thus do not use color terms, quantifiers, numbers, or myths. Everett pointed to the word xibipío as a clue to how the Pirahã perceive reality solely according to what exists within the boundaries of their direct experience—which Everett defined as anything that they can see and hear, or that someone living has seen and heard. “When someone walks around a bend in the river, the Pirahã say that the person has not simply gone away but xibipío—‘gone out of experience,’ ” Everett said. “They use the same phrase when a candle flame flickers. The light ‘goes in and out of experience.’ ”

To Everett, the Pirahã’s unswerving dedication to empirical reality—he called it the “immediacy-of-experience principle”—explained their resistance to Christianity, since the Pirahã had always reacted to stories about Christ by asking, “Have you met this man?” Told that Christ died two thousand years ago, the Pirahã would react much as they did to my using bug repellent. It explained their failure to build up food stocks, since this required planning for a future that did not yet exist; it explained the failure of the boys’ model airplanes to foster a tradition of sculpture-making, since the models expressed only the momentary burst of excitement that accompanied the sight of an actual plane. It explained the Pirahã’s lack of original stories about how they came into being, since this was a conundrum buried in a past outside the experience of parents and grandparents.

Personally, I haven't met any Pirahãs, so I can't tell you if Everett's theories are true or not. Anthropologists have gotten things wrong before.

The Pirahãs survive fine in the jungle -- there are about 250-300 of them -- and they seem to amuse each other no end, although they find outsiders boring, unless they bring them stuff.

They're kind of reminiscent of that NYT Magazine article about the Syrian Jews in Brooklyn: about IQ 50 points lower, but just as xenophobic (although that's not quite the right word -- the Amazonians appear to be not scared or repulsed by the outside world, but simply uninterested in it). The Syrian Jews aren't very interested in science, higher education, or other creations of abstract thought, either, although they have no problem using abstract thinking to make lots of money.

Maybe that's the future of the human race. If we curious moderns can't keep up our birthrates, the distant future may belong to cultures that raise their members to be not curious.

By the way, the article has a long section on how this one tribe supposedly undermines Noam Chomsky's venerable theory of Universal Grammar. I don't really see that. We know that a really bad environment, like being chained to the water heater in the basement for your whole childhood, can severely retard a child so that he might never catch up after he is freed. Perhaps this tribe's culture is the cultural equivalent of being chained to the water heater. It sounds like they more or less intentionally create a stupid cultural environment to dampen curiosity about the outside world. Maybe it's not intentional but it seems to work -- they appear to have survived intact for over 200 years of contact with the Western world, whereas tribes with what we think of as better cultures, more conducive to curiosity, have just blended into the mestizo mass by now. It shouldn't invalidate Chomsky's general theory of Universal Grammar that some tribe has constructed a culture that keeps themselves too stupid to use useful features of the Universal Grammar.

I'm not sure if a culture can make you smarter, but I bet it can make you less interested in abstract thinking.

But, I don't know anything about linguistics, so don't take my word for it.

Anyway, you aren't supposed to think like that:

"Some scholars believe that Everett’s claim that the Pirahã do not use recursion is tantamount to calling them stupid. Stephen Levinson, the neo-Whorfian director of the Language and Cognition Group at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, in the Netherlands, excoriated Everett in print for “having made the Pirahã sound like the mindless bearers of an almost subhumanly simple culture.” Anna Wierzbicka, a linguist at the Australian National University, was also troubled by the paper, and told me, “I think from the point of view of—I don’t know—human solidarity, human rights, and so on, it’s really very important to know that it’s a question that many people don’t dare to raise, whether we have the same cognitive abilities or not, we humans.”"

Okay, Dr. Wierzbicka, you don't sound real comfortable with where this could be going, and we don't want to get you Watsoned.

I was, however, amused by Steven Pinker's reflections on his old mentor:

Steven Pinker, the Harvard cognitive scientist, who wrote admiringly about some of Chomsky’s ideas in his 1994 best-seller, “The Language Instinct,” told me, “There’s a lot of strange stuff going on in the Chomskyan program. He’s a guru, he makes pronouncements that his disciples accept on faith and that he doesn’t feel compelled to defend in the conventional scientific manner. Some of them become accepted within his circle as God’s truth without really being properly evaluated, and, surprisingly for someone who talks about universal grammar, he hasn’t actually done the spadework of seeing how it works in some weird little language that they speak in New Guinea.”

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 4, 2007

More questions?

I'm in the mood to add to my Frequently Asked Questions about IQ list, so if you have anymore questions you'd like me to answer, please let me know.

Also, I'm thinking of doing an FAQ on race, so any questions would be appreciated.

I won't necessarily answer them, of course! The key to doing an FAQ is not to be comprehensive but to get in a flow where one thing leads to another, so not everything can be covered.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Not dead yet

Although the reigning hope among the great and the good has been that 79-year-old James Watson would just go away and die quietly, I suspect we haven't heard the last from the old boy yet.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Makes you proud to be an American

I never know how seriously to take international school achievement tests, such as the newly released results for the 2006 Program for International Student Assessment that tests 15 year olds in the 57 richest countries in reading, math, and science. Math seems reasonably straight-forward to compare (although the order in which topics are presented in high school could mess up comparisons if the test expects some things that will only be taught later in that country). But how do you compare reading across dozens of languages? It sounds awfully dependent upon the lucidity of the translator.

I presume there are a lot of ways to game these tests if you really wanted to try. A commenter suggests that Finland, a perennial powerhouse in these rankings, dumps more students into special ed classes off limits to testers. Or it could be that Finland has fewer immigrants. (Finland's traditional main minority are prosperous Swedish-speakers.) Or it could be that the lack of underperforming minorities helps Finland concentrate on practical ways to improve educations, whereas in the U.S., educational strategy is dysfunctional due to the need to not think about the Bell Curve gaps. Who really knows?

But maybe it all doesn't much matter, since the international test results seem to correlate with Lynn and Vanhanen's IQ scores reasonably well.

Anyway, here's the Financial Times' summary of the 2006 PISA:

Asia-Pacific’s strong showing is one of the clearest themes of the Pisa survey, which was carried out in 57 countries that account for 90 per cent of the world gross domestic product. The region contributes five of the top 10 in the mathematics and science league tables, and four of the top 10 in reading – thanks to strong contributions from Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Macao, Australia and New Zealand. Mainland China did not participate.

But the league tables show Finland is the most consistently high performer – repeating its sterling performance in the last survey in 2003. It comes top in science, and second in maths and in reading – where it is bested only by South Korea.

The US, the world’s largest economy, is below the OECD average in science and maths, and fails even to make the tables in reading because a misprint in the test confused too many students and invalidated the results.

Makes you proud to be an American, doesn't it?

At least we're not Mexico. PISA ranks students on a 7 stage scale from Below Level 1 up through Level 6. According to PISA, you need to be at least at Level 2 to actually start making use of all this book-learnin'. In the U.S. 10% of the kids are Below Level 1 in math, and 18% are at Level 1, for a total of 28% below the minimum level of any kind of math competence. In Mexico, however, twice that percentage, 56%, are at those two bottom levels, with 28% being Below Level 1. And that's after a sharp improvement since 2003. In other words, Mexico's 19 year olds are even less educated.

So, we can take pride that we aren't Mexico. Oh, except that lots of the worst students in Mexico are moving to America every day. Never mind ...

By the way, Mexico's high end in math isn't very good either -- just 1% are at Levels 5 and 6, versus a little under 8% in the U.S. But we're pretty bad compared to 32% at the top two levels in Taiwan and 24% in Finland.

Nine countries out of 57 did even worse than Mexico in math: Montenegro, Indonesia, Jordan, Argentina, Colombia, Brazil, Tunisia, Qatar, Kyrgyzstan. (The study was not conducted in any sub-Saharan African country.)

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Stephen Metcalf: Giving Dilettantes Called "Steve" a Bad Name

Backtracking rapidly from a brave (but brief) show of character by its human sciences correspondent William Saletan in his defense of legendary scientist James Watson, Slate has now published a "Response to 'Liberal Creationism'" by Stephen Metcalf, who writes a column for Slate named "The Dilettante: Reading and lounging and watching." Slate describes him as their "critic at large. He is working on a book about the 1980s."

His article confirms my comment over the weekend that "Metcalf's only qualification to write about this topic is that he's named 'Steve.'" (As this cartoon sent to me by Steve Pinker points out, a ludicrously high proportion of the people who have regularly written about genetics and behavior are named Steven or Stephen: Gould, Rose, Jones, Levitt, Olson, and so forth.)

The key questions in the controversy are:

- Was the firing of James Watson for making politically incorrect statements about African intelligence justified?

- Were Watson's comments "utterly unsupported by scientific evidence" (to quote the head federal genetics bureaucrat, Francis Collins)?

Metcalf simply ignores the treatment of Watson.

What's striking is not how ignorant Metcalf is, but also how hate-filled, making him the epitome of the many pundits who have weighed in with so much more rage than reason this fall.

His favorite mode is character assassination, devoting much of his "Dilettante" column to trying to smear scientists who argue that genetics plays some role in IQ gaps such as Richard Lynn, J.P. Rushton (a VDARE.COM contributor), and Arthur Jensen.

Metcalf admitted in his 2005 article on IQ in Slate, a screed against Charles Murray's article "The Inequality Taboo," that "Rushton and Jensen came to my attention" from reading Murray's Commentary article. In other words, he'd never heard of Arthur Jensen, the leading figure in IQ research since 1969, until he started working on his essay for Slate!

Let me focus here on Jensen.

Metcalf sneers:

"Does it feel as though researchers like Jensen and Rushton, the so-called "race realists," have spent their careers examining a range of competing hypotheses for the black-white IQ gap, and carefully scrutinizing the quality of the research at their disposal? Or have they been attempting, at all costs, to prove a single hypothesis—that blacks are congenitally dumber than whites?"

Having spent a month in 1998 reading Jensen's 649-page magnum opus, The g Factor: The Science of Mental Abilities, which I would bet heavily that Metcalf has not read, I can answer Metcalf's question:

Jensen's career, serenely carried out despite hooting from angry fools like Metcalf, and even under threats of violence, represents the very model of the disinterested scientist.

But don't take my word for it. Metcalf cites James Flynn as one of the two leading scientists on his side. Here's what Flynn had to say on Sunday in an interview with the Gene Expression blog:

[GNXP] Over the decades, you've carried on an extensive correspondence with Arthur Jensen, the controversial and enormously influential intelligence researcher at UC Berkeley. You summarized some of your early thoughts about Jensen's work in your 1980 book Race, IQ, and Jensen, a book that, in my opinion, sets the standard for how do discuss this controversial topic. What have you learned about Jensen over the years, and what have your interactions with him taught you about the nature of scientific research?

[Flynn] "I never suspected Arthur Jensen of racial bias. Over the years, I have found him scrupulous in terms of professional ethics. He has never denied me access to his unpublished data. His work stands as an example of what John Stuart Mill meant when he said that being challenged in a way that is "upsetting" is to be welcomed not discouraged. Before Jensen, the notion that all races were genetically equal for cognitive ability had become a dead "Sunday truth" for which we could give no good reasons. Today we are infinitely more informed about group differences. Equally important, the debates Jensen began are revolutionizing the theory of intelligence and our understanding of how genes and environment interact."

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The Manchurian Ex-Billionaire

In the Slate Fray, "Podesta" comments:

"I suspect that Saletan is another Steve Sailer brain-washee. For those not aware, Sailer, a failed journalist, is the main purveyor of racist pseudoscience on the Internet. He charms his targets to the extent they lose the common sense required to check up on him and his sources before adopting his beliefs."

Why, yes, I do possess brain-washing powers. (And, as Podesta notes, oodles of charm.)

But why would I waste them on a moderately-compensated scribe like William Saletan when there are riper targets like, say, Saletan's old boss or my new best friend, Carlos Slim? I don't want to spill any beans, but let's just say that when Forbes brings out its next ranking of the world's richest men, there's going be a little surprise at the top ...

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Discussion on Wednesday evening: Murray, Derbyshire, Bailey, Bethell

Marcus Epstein of the Robert Taft Club has put together an impressive panel discussion for this Wednesday evening, 12/5, in Arlington, Virginia. It's open to the public, but you should rsvp by email to Marcus [email link fixed].

Darwin, Genetics, and Conservatism: Friends or Foes

Charles Murray, John Derbyshire, Ron Bailey, Tom Bethell

When: Wednesday December 5, 7:30-10:00 PM
Where: The Boulevard Woodgrill

2901 Wilson Blvd
Arlington, VA 22201
Get directions

Many conservatives are critical of Darwin's theory of evolution. Some base their reservation on religious grounds, while others criticize what they call Scientism -- a belief that faith in Darwinism and/or science in general has become a secular religion. Others are concerned by the social and political conclusions that some advocates of Darwinism apply to human affairs.

At the same time, Some conservatives believe that studies evolutionary and genetic theory have many conservative implications. Scientists in the fields of sociobiology and evolutionary psychology have suggested that human nature is fixed, rather than being a blank slate. Others argue that work in behavorial genetics shatter egalitarian notions. National Review editor John O'Sullivan has dubbed conservatives who apply these theories as "evol-cons."

Is the study of evolution and genetics necessary to understanding human nature and the limits of politics, or does it lead to what C.S. Lewis called "the abolition of man"?

To discuss these controversial issues will be:

Charles Murray: Dr. Murray is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. He is the author of several books including Losing Ground, Human Accomplishment, What it Means to be a Libertarian, and the best-seller The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life.

Ron Bailey: Mr. Bailey is the science editor for Reason Magazine. He is the author of the new book Liberation Biology: The Moral and Scientific Case for the Biotech Revolution and ECOSCAM: The False Prophets of Ecological Apocalypse.

John Derbyshire: Mr. Derbyshire is a contributing editor at National Review. He writes frequently on the subject of evolution and genetics. He is the author of the books Seeing Calvin Coolidge in a Dream , Prime Obsession, and Unknown Quantity.

Tom Bethell: Mr. Bethell is a senior editor at The American Spectator. He is the author of the book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science, and The Noblest Triumph: Property and Prosperity Through the Ages.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 3, 2007

Who says poetry is dead?

From the Nation of Islam Sportsblog, a tribute to #2 LSU's 1000 yard rusher:

Jacob Hester: Ode to the White Running Back

In days of yore, you ran free in packs
All over the field, white running backs.

Fast Negro runners with amazing grace,
Slowly began to take your place.

Once there was Riggins and his mohawk,
Now you line up and mostly block.

Slow of foot and without much style,
We watch you try and it makes us smile.

You lower your shoulders and get three yards,
Moving less like backs, more like guards.

They talk of your motor and how hard you compete,
And try not to mention your clumsy feet.

But like the infrequent moon that's blue,
There are the times you still come through.

At the end of the game; it couldn't come later,
You drove through the line to defeat the Gator.

Jacob Hester, we will cut you some slack
You aren't too bad for a white running back.

Note: The Nation of Islam Sportsblog may not actually be written by a member of the Nation of Islam. Who knows?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer


Here's an excerpt from my long interview with myself in VDARE.COM on how to think about IQ:

I figured I'd step back today and answer some common questions about IQ.

Q. Is IQ really all that important in understanding how the world works?

A. In an absolute sense, no. Human behavior is incredibly complicated, and no single factor explains more than a small fraction of it.

In a relative sense, yes. Compared to all the countless other factors that influence the human world, IQ ranks up near the top of the list.

Q. Why do you harp on IQ so much?

A. It's an underexploited market niche. The quantity and quality of writing in the Main Stream Media [MSM] on IQ and its effects is so abysmal that, simply by being informed and honest about IQ, I can explain how certain important things work that other journalists can't.

Q. What are IQ questions like?

A. They vary wildly. The nonverbal Raven Matrices look like the instruction manual for a DVD player from Mars. Some of the Wechsler questions look like the Word Power vocabulary quiz in the Reader's Digest.

Q. How can different questions give similar results?

A. They're validated to make sure they do a good job of predicting real world performance. Obviously, different tests are better at different tasks, such as testing small children, illiterates, or people who speak a different language, but, when used properly, all the major tests present similar results because they are proven predictors of actual behavior. ...

Q. Isn't character more important than intelligence?

A. I believe so. Work ethic, honesty, conscientiousness, kindness, together they're more important than intelligence. (Of course, when it comes to making money, less endearing personality traits like aggressiveness also play a big role, but we'll leave that aside for now.)

Can I quantify that? Well, that's where things get tricky…

Q. So why not test for work ethic and the like instead of IQ?

A. We do test for it, in many different ways. Consider the process of applying to college. The two most important elements in the application are high school GPA and the SAT or ACT score. The SAT and ACT are more or less an IQ test, while high school GPA is driven by a combination of IQ and work ethic.

But demonstrating work ethic via GPA is a time-consuming prospect for the applicant … and even for the admissions committee. The student spends four years in high school achieving a GPA, which he presents to the colleges to which he applies. But what does his GPA really say about him? Did he go to an easy school or a hard one? Did he take easy classes or hard ones? Does he have the brainpower to go far beyond high school material? These are complex questions, and it's no wonder that almost every college supplements GPA with the nationally standardized SAT or ACT.

Similarly, how does a would-be employee prove he's honest enough to handle large amounts of money? By slowly working his way up over the years from handling small amounts of money.

In contrast, the SAT takes only a few hours, while the widely used Wonderlic IQ test (mandated by the NFL for all pro football prospects) takes only 12 minutes.

Q. Couldn't somebody invent paper and pencil tests to measure character?

A. They have. They're pretty accurate … overall.

On the other hand, these tests haven't been all that popular, perhaps because they are liable to occasional catastrophic failures. The danger is that somebody with a high IQ but poor character would use his smarts to figure out what answers on the test would make him sound like the second coming of George Washington. And a high-IQ scoundrel is the last person you want to select.

You could call it the Ahmad Chalabi Problem. The Iraqi convicted embezzler with a Ph.D. in math from the U. of Chicago used his enormous brainpower to figure out how to dupe the neocons into believing that he literally was the George Washington of Iraq, so America should invade his homeland to make him president.

In contrast to character tests, the good news about IQ tests is that they are un-outsmartable. If you can use your brain to figure out what answers the test makers want, well, then you have a high IQ.

Q. So, do IQ tests predict an individual's fate?

A. In an absolute sense, not very accurately at all. Indeed, any single person's destiny is beyond the capability of all the tests ever invented to predict with much accuracy.

Q. So, if IQ isn't all that accurate for making predictions about an individual, why even think of using it to compare groups, which are much more complicated?

A. That sounds sensible, but it's exactly backwards. The larger the sample size, the more the statistical noise washes out.

Q. How can that be?

A. If Adam and Zach take an IQ test and Adam outscores Zach by 15 points, it's far from impossible that Zach actually has the higher "true" IQ. A hundred random perturbations could have thrown the results off. Maybe if they took the test dozen times, Zach just might average higher than Adam.

But for comparing the averages of large groups of people, the chance of error becomes vanishingly small. For example, the largest meta-analysis of American ethnic differences in IQ, Philip L. Roth's 2001 survey,[Ethnic group differences in cognitive ability in employment and educational settings: a meta-analysis, Personnel Psychology 54, 297–330] aggregated 105 studies of 6,246,729 individuals. That's what you call a decent sample size.

Q. So, you're saying that IQ testing can tell us more about group differences than about individual differences?

A. If the sample sizes are big enough and all else is equal, a higher IQ group will virtually always outperform a lower IQ group on any behavioral metric.

One of the very few positive traits not correlated with IQ is musical rhythm—which is a reason high IQ rock stars like Mick Jagger, Pete Townshend, and David Bowie tell Drummer Jokes.

Of course, everything else is seldom equal. A more conscientious group may well outperform a higher IQ group. On the other hand, conscientiousness, like many virtues, is positively correlated with IQ, so IQ tests work surprisingly well.

Q. Wait a minute, does that mean that maybe some of the predictive power of IQ comes not from intelligence itself, but from virtues associated with it like conscientiousness?

A. Most likely. But perhaps smarter people are more conscientious because they are more likely to foresee the bad consequences of slacking off. It's an interesting philosophical question, but, in a practical sense, so what? We have a test that can predict behavior. That's useful.

Q. Can one number adequately describe a person's intelligence?

[More, much more here]

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Too optimistic?

The headline in the New York Times, based on a National Intelligence Estimate, says:

U.S. Says Iran Ended Atomic Arms Work

On the other hand, Greg Cochran, who made the correct call back in 2002 that Iraq had no active nuclear weapon program, thinks that might be over-confident, saying that the line between civilian and military uranium-enrichment is fuzzy. He figures that the grown-ups in Washington, such as the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, don't want a war with Iran and just want to run out the clock on the 13.5 months left in the Bush Administration without anything too stupid happening. So they might be spinning this report to calm the war fever.

Back in 1994, when Bill Clinton wanted to invade Haiti as a sop to the Congressional Black Caucus, an operation the Joint Chiefs thought was pointless, the brass hats misled the militarily-ignorant President for several months about how tough the job would be. Perhaps something similar is happening here?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Iraqi jumping jacks

Remember back in the 2004 Presidential election, when everybody was talking about how all we needed to do was to train the Iraqi forces and then everything would be swell?

Well, a reader sent in links to Youtube videos showing what training our "allies" actually looks like:

And just in case you suspected the first one was rigged, here's the Afghans:

That's right. Our newly trained local peace-keeping force is the stuff Special Ed PE is made of.

The Afghans' trouble with the symmetrical nature of jumping jacks may be related to the asymmetrical nature of South Asian choreography, as seen in all those Bollywood movies, where the main dance step is, as the American fellow in "Bride and Prejudice" complains: "You screw in the light bulb with one hand and pat the dog on the head with the other."

It reminds me of the first scene in "The Man Who Would Be King," where Sean Connery and Michael Caine try to teach military drill to the inept Kafiristani villagers:

Daniel Dravot: You are going to become soldiers. A soldier does not think. He only obeys. Do you really think that if a soldier thought twice he'd give his life for queen and country? Not bloody likely.

We're always hearing about how "They hate us for our freedom," but, perhaps, one reason why we enjoy more freedom than Middle Easterners do is because we're more cooperative, less individualistic, less prone to do our own thing than Iraqis and Afghans?

UPDATE: Here are Afghan trainees doing pushups:

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Cross Country Running Demographics

A friend who is running in a marathon in a couple of months asked about the demographics of people who are nuts enough to be amateur marathon enthusiasts. Frustrated by the lack of published ethnic demographics, I followed up his request by looking at the boys who had recorded the 300 fastest times in the nation in 2006 in high school cross country running (5000 meters distance) because there is a remarkable amount of information on the Web on high school runners.

These top 300 times last year were earned by 185 different individuals. I looked up pictures or biographies of anybody whose first or last name sounded less white than, say, "Cameron Quackenbush." (I counted one red-headed guy named De'Sean Turner as half black and half white.) This methodology probably overstates the non-Hispanic white percentage by a point or two by missing people with minority mothers or name-changers.

Here are, roughly the demographics weighted by number of times in the top 300:

Non-Hispanic White 82%
East African 9%
Spanish Surname 5%
Black American 2%
American Indian 1%
East Asian 0.7%
South Asian 0.3%

Clearly, the East Africans are wildly over-represented (just as they are on Olympic medal stands), since they must be well under 1% of the US population. They are as common as all other minorities combined! If you subtract the East Africans out, you get whites at 90%, whereas they make up less than 60% of the teenagers in America today. That's rather interesting for what it might say about willingness to put in enormous amounts of effort. (Cross country requires minimal cost, other than shoes, so it's wide open to the less affluent, as the remarkable success of East Africans in it shows.)

This method of analysis could be unfair to people of West African descent (like most African Americans) because 5000 meters may just be too far for their aerobic capacity. (Here's a graph I made up in 1997 showing that men of West African descent weren't competitive at the world class level in anything longer than 1500 meters).

There is, however, a fellow named Mikel Thomas, who looks like a conventional African-American, who had three times in the top 50 last year. (His online signature includes an Ethiopian flag, however, so he might be Ethiopian on his father's side -- Michael and Thomas are old Biblical names, and Ethiopia has been Christian for 1700 years. Or he could just like Ethiopian runners.)

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 2, 2007

Saletan's Editor Jacob Weiselberg Weisels Out

My VDARE.COM column will be out Monday night this week instead of Sunday night. I think you'll like it. In the meantime, James Fulford dissects William Saletan's craven editor.

VDARE is having a fund-raising drive.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

"Go South, Young Han"

According to the BBC, up to three quarters of a million Chinese people are now living in Africa, either as temporary contract laborers or settling down and buying farms and shops:

They are part of China's bid to secure raw materials and markets for its manufactured goods, but they are also carving out their own opportunities.

The head of China's Export-Import Bank, Li Ruogu, recently suggested just how important Africa could be for ordinary Chinese people.

In a speech in Chongqing, an administrative region with a large rural population, he urged Chinese farmers to move to Africa.

"Chongqing has a relatively strong agricultural base. Africa has many countries with plenty of land, but food output that is not up to expectations," he said, according to a local media report.

"There's no harm in allowing [Chinese] farmers to leave the country to become farm owners [in Africa]," he added.

Mr Li said the bank would fully support this migration with investment, project development and help with the sale of products.

But Chinese farmers have already started moving to Africa, according to Liu Jianjun of the China-Africa Business Council, which helps Chinese firms find business opportunities in Africa.

Mr Liu has personally sent several thousand Chinese people to Africa over the last few years from his home city of Baoding in Hebei Province….

Mr Alden says with so many poor farmers in China unable to make a living off the land, Africa presents a host of inviting opportunities.

"There's not the sense that the streets are paved with gold but, for people who cannot find work, Africa is a realistic opportunity."

I believe that African explorer Francis Galton argued in 1873 that if let in, Southern Chinese used to warm climates could take over Africa.

The post's title is of course a reference to the famous phrase attributed to 19th Century newspapeer editor Horace Greeley: "Go West, young man."

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The Blogosphere on Race and IQ

A friend writes:
"It's completely absurd to attempt to draw some sort of deep relationship between animals which have wings and animals which fly. There are just too many exceptions! Lot's of things have wings but don't fly, like ostrichs and also that serving of chicken which I had for lunch yesterday. There are also lots of things that don't have wings but still fly, like my cousin Bob, the airline pilot. Also, Time sometimes flies, but I don't see how wings can be reasonably incorporated into the theory of Einsteinian four-space. So Einstein himself has disproven all this racist nonsense!

"Furthermore, both "wings" and "flight" are very poorly structured definitional categories, hence neither one really exists. Exactly the sort of "categorical mistake" we learn to avoid in Modern Philosophy 101."

BCS national title game to feature white tailback

LSU will play Ohio State for the college football national championship in January. In the interest of "undermining stereotypes," it's worth pointing out that the LSU Tigers' #1 running back, Jacob Hester, is white.

You could call Hester a stereotypical white tailback -- he's more bruising than brilliant -- except there aren't enough white tailbacks in big time college and pro football these days for there even to be a stereotype anymore, except among old-timers who remember the likes of Larry Czonka.

Hester's not a superstar, but he is the main ball carrier (with twice the yardage, 1017, of anybody else) on a team that's been at or close to #1 all season. In LSU's biggest games, he's been at his best, rushing for 120 yards in the SEC title game yesterday against Tennessee and 106 yards (and something like five first downs on fourth down) against 2006 national champion Florida.

The LSU website's biography of Hester, written before this season when he emerged as the mainstay of the running game, says:

Consummate team player who wears a variety of hats... Brings a great attitude and work ethic to the field everyday ... Can play both tailback and fullback, while also serving on special teams ... A throwback player who gets the most out of his ability ... Tremendous blocker as well ... Has 30 special teams tackles for his career ...

Born May 8, 1985, in Shreveport ... Married the former Katie Tilley on July 28, 2007... Proposed outside War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock moments after LSU’s 31-26 win over the Razorbacks in 2006 ... Loves to listen to Elvis and Dean Martin ... Part of his pre-game ritual is to listen to an Elvis CD ... Is a relative of former Pittsburgh Steeler great Terry Bradshaw ... Majoring in sports studies.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer