December 23, 2009

Top Movies of the Year/Decade

I don't like to make up such lists because there are so many movies I haven't seen, so if I exclude your favorite, am I insulting your taste or just admitting my own ignorance? (Mostly the latter, no doubt.)

But, feel free to post your own suggestions in the Comments. Explanations for why they are good are helpful.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 22, 2009

Updated: Immigrant crime

Jason Richwine of the American Enterprise Institute had a post up recently with the above awkwardly large graph, the key of which can be seen by doubleclicking on the graph. The white bar is American-born whites, the green bar Hispanic immigrants, and the orange bar American-born Hispanics.

Richwine was responding to a Center for Immigration Studies report arguing that Census reports showing much lower crime rates for immigrant Hispanics than American-born Hispanics are misleading. The graph above shows 2000 Census data, with % of young men institutionalized (largely, imprisoned) being very low for Hispanic immigrants, below the American-born white average, and considerably higher for American-born Hispanics.

Steve Camarota and Jessica Vaughan of CIS point out dubious aspects of the data -- e.g., illegal immigrants have an incentive to lie in order to avoid deportation.

Richwine counters: " ... increased crime in the second generation is consistent with an increase in several other underclass behaviors. As the chart above indicates, labor force dropout, illegitimacy, and welfare usage are all much higher among Hispanic natives than among Hispanic immigrants. (Those data come from reliable interviews of normal people outside of prison.) It makes sense that crime would increase if all of those other underclass problems are increasing as well."

I suspect that the 1996 legislation to restrict immigrants from getting welfare has had a good effect, in contrast to immigrants to Europe. Also, the horrific rise in gang crime in Mexico has provided a more exciting alternative for criminally inclined Mexicans than immigrating to the U.S. Why go through all the hassle of going to the U.S. and becoming a roofer when you can be a Big Man with a Gun for a salary on the Mexican side of the border. So, we may have been getting in recent years the better sort of poor young Mexican.

I would also point to the macro evidence that first generation immigrants have low crime rates. If you look at murder and nonnegligent manslaughter rates by sizable cities, the rankings are dominated by cities with large black populations: New Orleans, St. Louis, Baltimore, Detroit, Washington, Oakland, Kansas City and so forth.

The bottom of the FBI's list of cities is Lincoln, Nebraska, which is something like 88% white. Then comes Honolulu. Then come some highly white, slightly Hispanic Southwestern exurbs like Henderson, NV, Chandler, AZ, and Plano, TX.

Then comes El Paso, which is now 80% Hispanic. El Paso has been famous for its pacific citizens for several decades. Even an all Hispanic entrepot destination like Santa Ana, CA has a murder rate of 8.8, less than twice Portland, Oregon's.

On the other hand, within a heavily Hispanic area, the great majority of murders involve Hispanics. For example, here is the LA Times' Homicide Report. By this point in LA's social evolution, Philip Marlowe would have nothing to do. The white criminal element has largely been priced out of the Los Angeles area.

For example, there is a single legendary Los Angeles Unified School District public middle school in the extreme northeastern corner of the San Fernando Valley, up against the edge of the mountains, that is notorious for having white underclass students from biker / addict backgrounds: parents show up drunk for teacher-parent conferences and try to punch out teachers, fathers have Aryan Nation prison gang tattoos, moms' teeth are falling out from crystal meth.

But that school is a notorious exception to the rule that white people in the LA are law-abiding. Moreover, even that school is only 1/3rd white.

Similarly, the LA cop novelist Joseph Wambaugh has just finished up his Hollywood Station trilogy (Hollywood Moon is another good read). He likes to have a white criminal or two in each one, but realistic ones. He puts in a lot of effort to explain how they can afford to live in Hollywood (e.g., meth head inherited his house in Hollywood from his mom) and what kind of crimes they specialize in typically, identity theft, burglary, or dressing up in superhero costumes and harassing tourists on Hollywood Blvd. for tips. Few of Wambaugh's contemporary white criminals have anything in the way of a gang for support. They're just isolated nasty lumpenproles left over.

The LAPD's colorful Most Wanted website tends to be dominated by immigrants, but a large reason for that is that wanted immigrants are more likely to skedaddle back home where the LAPD can't get them, in contrast to the homeboys who have nowhere to go. So, over time, the Most Wanted list fills up with Mexicans, Russians, Armenians, Salvadorans, and the like, who are overseas, but still on the LAPD's books.

So, the overall crime rate in LA is fairly low right now -- the 2007 homicide rate was the lowest in four decades -- but the white crime rate (outside of various Middle Eastern and ex-Soviet gangsters, and, lately, a few subprime-related incidents, which are colorful but not common) is incredibly low.

Ironically, if the city was still mostly white, the crime rate would be lower, but the white crime rate would be higher because it would be less expensive to live there.

That of course raises questions about the sons of the immigrants. Will they continue the historic pattern of higher crime rates than their fathers?

P.S. A reader points to this June 10, 2006 article in the LA Times breaking out homicide rates by race/ethnicity:
The numbers reveal a wide racial divide regarding violent crime.

Blacks make up about 11% of the city's population but account for 38% of all homicide victims and 29% of suspects, according to the statistics. By contrast, whites make up 30% of the population but account for just 6% of homicide victims and 2% of suspects. Latinos make up 47% of the population and constitute 50% of homicide victims and 66% of suspects.

My reader writes:
The black murder rate is about 40 times the white rate, and the Hispanic rate is 21x the white rate. The 'other' rate is almost 4x the white rate.

My methodology: (race crime rate %/race population %)/(white crime rate %/white population %). E.g., for blacks (29%/11%)/(2%/30%)= 39.5

It's also interesting that you can calculate the Who's Winning ratio by dividing suspects by victims. Hispanics make up 50% of the victims but 66% of the suspects, so they are giving better than they get. Blacks, in contrast, make up 29% of the suspects and 38% of the victims, so that suggests that more Hispanics are killing blacks than vice-versa. There have been a few highly publicized incidents that would suggest this, but I've never seen any figures before.

That Who's Winning ratio is rather unexpected since the Hispanic homicide rate is nationally less than half the black rate, and in LA is half the black rate. But it does jibe with reports that Hispanic gangs in the Southland have gained the upper hand over the notorious black gangs (e.g., the Bloods and the Crips) that became so celebrated during the gangsta rap days.

The white murder rate is so low that domestic homicides among LA whites must now be rare. My guess is, based on anecdotal evidence, that the higher homicide rates among LA's Others (who are primarily Asian) than among whites stems in part from more domestic homicides.

Of course, we are dealing with small sample sizes here.

Anyway, all this helps explain some of the paradoxes involved with crime rates right now. White homicide rates in big cities, it appears, have now dropped to extraordinarily low levels.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

African-American admixture

Over the weekend, I started thinking about a 2002 article I wrote called "How White Are Blacks? How Black Are Whites?" about Penn State geneticist Mark D. Shriver's research that came up with an estimate of self-identified African Americans having 17% to 18% European admixture. I wondered: What's the latest on that number? The technology has certainly improved over the years.

Last May 22, Sarah A. Tishkoff of Penn published a paper in Science called "The Genetic Structure and History of Africans and African Americans." It featured a huge number of samples from within Africa, and a small number of African-Americans.

Anthro blogger Dienekes said:
The importance of this new paper from the Tishkoff Lab cannot be emphasized enough. It is probably the most comprehensive study of African genetic variation to date. The supplementary material (pdf) is itself 102 pages long and should keep you busy reading for a while (free for non-subscribers [the Science paper is not free, however]).

What this study has found in a nutshell is that "black" Africans belong to 14 distinct clusters. Black Americans belong overwhelmingly to the Niger-Kordofanian cluster [beginning mostly in Cameroon and Nigeria, and spreading broadly from their], consistent with their origin largely from Western Africa. ...

As I have stated many times before, Bantu speakers have recently expanded from their cradle and contributed genetically to almost all other Africans, while remaining relatively pure in their own homeland. [See p. 12 of Tishkoff's supplementary material.]

You hear a lot of stuff about how "Africans are the most genetically diverse population on earth, therefore, they have the most geniuses, etc." Malcolm Gladwell was trumpeting that argument way back in 1997 with his New Yorker article about "Why blacks are like boys and whites are like girls."

Unfortunately, this whole line of thought is based on a misunderstanding of what kind of genetic diversity population geneticists are interested in. You, me, and Malcolm Gladwell are interested in genes that affect IQ, sprinting skills, and the like. But population geneticists don't like to look at genes that do important things because those get altered over time by selection precisely because they are important. They like to look at genes that don't do much of anything, because they only change by random mutation, so they are the most useful for genealogical purposes.

The press release for Tishkoff's paper says:
A median proportion of European ancestry in African-Americans of 18.5 percent, with large variation among individuals.

Which is very similar to Shriver's work. Shriver had more crude technology but a larger sample of African-Americans from a couple of dozen areas, while Tishkoff has 365 drawn from Chicago, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and North Carolina.

Yet, here's Tishkoff's abstract, which says Europeans make up about 13% of African-American genetic ancestry.
Africa is the source of all modern humans, but characterization of genetic variation and of relationships among populations across the continent has been enigmatic. We studied 121 African populations, four African American populations, and 60 non-African populations for patterns of variation at 1327 nuclear microsatellite and insertion/deletion markers. We identified 14 ancestral population clusters in Africa that correlate with self-described ethnicity and shared cultural and/or linguistic properties. We observed high levels of mixed ancestry in most populations, reflecting historical migration events across the continent. Our data also provide evidence for shared ancestry among geographically diverse hunter-gatherer populations (Khoesan speakers and Pygmies). The ancestry of African Americans is predominantly from Niger-Kordofanian (~71%), European (~13%), and other African (~8%) populations, although admixture levels varied considerably among individuals. This study helps tease apart the complex evolutionary history of Africans and African Americans, aiding both anthropological and genetic epidemiologic studies.

If you look at Table S6 on page 89 of 102 in her supplementary materials, you can see that her 13% figure apparently comes from a subsample of 98 African-Americans in four locations.

Interestingly, they come up with less than 1% of the genetic ancestry of African-Americans are American Indians but 5% are Asian Indian! Dienekes suggests that may be related to backflow from Out of Africa populations that went back In to Africa. Tishkoff says they are probably getting Asian Indians and Europeans confused in their analyses (they're basically all Caucasians), so the actual European admixture figure is likely higher and the actual Asian Indian figure lower:
Low levels of ancestry from several additional populations were also detected (Table S6): Fulani (means 0.0 - 0.03, individual range 0.00-0.14), Cushitic East African (means 0.02, individual range 0.05 - 0.10), Sandawe East African (means 0.01- 0.03, individual range 0.00 - 0.12), East Asian (means 0.01 – 0.02, individual range 0.0 - 0.08), and Indian (means 0.04 – 0.06, individual range 0.01 -0.17). The Fulani are present across West Africa and, therefore, would be expected to have contributed to the slave trade, and the Cushitic and Sandawe ancestry could represent slave trade originating from the east coast of Africa (S126). It should be noted that the levels of Indian ancestry in African Americans may be slightly overestimated, and the levels of European ancestry slightly underestimated, due to moderate levels of the Indian AAC in European/Middle Eastern individuals (Figs. 3 and 4). We did not observe significant levels of Native American ancestry. However, other regions of the US, may reveal Native American Ancestry, as previously reported (S125). Finally, European and African ancestry levels varied
considerably among individuals (Fig. 6).

Also, her Other African origins include some Saharan and Ethiopian groups that are somewhat Caucasian.

So, the 18.5% figure in the press release jibes fairly well with the supplementary materials if you add in the Asian Indians and some of the Northern Africans.

So, seven years later, Shriver's work is reasonably well confirmed.

By the way, Figure S28 shows Tishkoff's best guess for the origin of modern humans (the Atlantic coast of Namibia) and the Out of Africa exit point (half way up the Red Sea -- that may just be because there were two exit points, one at the Sinai and the other at Djibouti-Yemen, and their statistics are just splitting the difference).

Lots of interesting stuff in Tishkoff's paper on Pygmies, Bushmen, and others within Africa, but the African-American stuff is basically what I've been telling you all decade.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

"From Poverty to Progress"

Arnold Kling and Nick Schulz have a new book, From Poverty to Prosperity, which David Brooks writes about in his NYT column:

The success of an economy depends on its ability to invent and embrace new protocols. Kling and Schulz use North’s phrase “adaptive efficiency,” but they are really talking about how quickly a society can be infected by new ideas. ...

There's a distinction between how fast a society can adopt new ideas and how fast it can invent new ideas. For example, Mexico's standard of living has improved in recent years because there are now 109,000 people in Mexico working for Wal-Mart. But, how many Wal-Mart-scale ideas have spread from Mexico to the U.S. in recent years? Outside of cuisine, I can think of "human directionals" (those poor bastards standing on the side of the road obnoxiously wiggling big arrows) but that's about it.

Brooks goes on in a Gladwellian vein:
But they are still economists, with worldviews that are still excessively individualistic and rationalistic. Kling and Schulz do not do a good job of explaining how innovation emerges. They list some banal character traits — charisma, passion — that entrepreneurs supposedly possess. To get a complete view of where the debate is headed, I’d read “From Poverty to Prosperity,” and then I’d read Richard Ogle’s 2007 book, “Smart World,” one of the most underappreciated books of the decade. Ogle applies the theory of networks and the philosophy of the extended mind (you have to read it) to show how real world innovation emerges from social clusters.

"Banal character traits" -- has Brooks ever worked in an entrepreneurial company? In 1981, Apple employee Bud Tribble coined the term Reality Distortion Field to describe the impact of Steve Jobs on the people around him, getting them to accomplish the implausible. It's now 28 years later, and we can see the repeated impact of Jobs' charisma, passion, and bluster. Charismatic Reality Distortion is real.

On the other hand, taboos are a huge drag on innovation. It's like heliocentrism in post-Galileo Italian science -- if you aren't supposed to mention that the Earth goes around the sun, well, it's pretty hard to get anything else right..
Economic change is fomenting intellectual change. When the economy was about stuff, economics resembled physics. When it’s about ideas, economics comes to resemble psychology.

That of course leads to the question whether the best quantified idea in psychology, IQ, will ever become admissible in economics.

If I had a magic wish that would radically improve the quality of public policy discourse in the U.S., it would be that African-Americans, Jews, and white gentiles all had average IQs of 100. It wouldn't matter for the popularity of good social science if the Asians were a little above average and the Hispanics a little below average. If Jews and blacks were, on average, average, then David Brooks would be applying insights from IQ research in his columns every couple of weeks.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer


The NYT has a fairly skeptical article, "Taking Mental Snapshots to Plumb Our Inner Selves" (which is sorely lacking in credulity-inducing color brain scan images.) It's about UNLV psychologist, Russell T. Hurlburt, who studies how people's minds work by having them wear a buzzer that goes off randomly at which point they record whatever they were thinking about at that moment.

After hundreds of introspective interviews, Dr. Hurlburt still hesitates to generalize from his findings. But he has observed that the basic makeup of inner life varies substantially from person to person.

“My research says that there are a lot of people who don’t ever naturally form images, and then there are other people who form very florid, high-fidelity, Technicolor, moving images,” he said. Some people have inner lives dominated by speech, body sensations or emotions, he said, and yet others by “unsymbolized thinking” that can take the form of wordless questions like, “Should I have the ham sandwich or the roast beef?”

In a 2006 book, “Exploring Inner Experience,” Dr. Hurlburt suggests that these differences may be linked to personality and behavior. Inner speakers tend to be more confident, for example, and those who think in pictures tend to have trouble empathizing with others.

It's interesting that we evolved to be so different mentally. Obviously, we're better off with a variety of thinking types, so we can get more mileage out of each one's overall brainpower through division of labor. Yet, I've been repeatedly assured that natural selection can't create a mechanism to diversify our portfolio of descendants, the way a mutual fund manager diversifies his portfolio of stocks to reduce risk. Most of the non-group selectionist theories for this diversity, however, don't really grab me, so I don't know what to think.

If had one word to describe how I think, it would be "prosaically." I'm primarily one of Hurlbert's inner speakers, with a single-threaded monologue. (No multi-tasking above the rudimentary. For example, although I can drive a car and carry on a conversation, I can't simultaneously drive, navigate to a new destination, and talk about anything other than navigating.) It's not a particularly articulate monologue, so writing requires a lot of rewriting for me, which the computer word processor, which I started using in 1981, made much more efficient for me. (I didn't have access to a word processor in 1983, so I did much less writing that year.)

Differences in thinking style may also help explain some aspects of mental illness. In studies conducted with Sharon Jones-Forrester and Stephanie Doucette, Dr. Hurlburt found that bulimic women experienced a clutter of simultaneous thoughts that could often be cleared by purging.

“Why is that? I have no idea,” Dr. Hurlburt said. “But I haven’t found anything about it in the bulimia literature.”

That's weird, but it could prove helpful to someone.

It might be helpful to categorize writers. At the highest level of giftedness, the Nabokovs and Updikes have extraordinary multi-sensory receptiveness (input) to go along with their tremendous skill at expressing themselves (output). Waugh, despite all his aesthetic sensitivity, strikes me as more gifted on the output than the input side.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 21, 2009

Advanced Placement Tests

The New York Times holds a discussion on whether too many Advanced Placement courses and/or tests are being offered to high school students.

Leaving aside for the moment the more subtle issues (some of which are explored surprisingly well in the discussion), I noticed in the NYT's comments a "B.P." who makes one helluva case for the basic existence of Advanced Placement testing:
I was the first person in my extended family (35 siblings and first cousins in this generation) to graduate from a 4 year university. My parents both left high school at age 16. My father finished high school by correspondence, my mother has her GED. I was raised in a religious minority with lower U.S. college attendance rates than the Native American population (per Pew research). As late as my last semester of high school, I doubted whether I would be able to attend college upon high school graduation.

I was also the (male) AP State Scholar from AZ for 1994. I qualified for free AP exams based on family income level, and I took all offered AP courses consistent with my schedule as well as taking exams in several other areas where AP courses were not offered. The 63 credits I earned in this fashion allowed me to complete a BS in Electrical Engineering in 3.5 years, while taking a light enough (12-15 semester hour) course load that I could schedule all of my classes for two or three day schedules, allowing me to work 3-4 days per week, while continuing to spend roughly 20 hours per week in religious activities. While supplemented by an AZ tuition waiver (class rank based) to attend a state school, a National Merit Scholarship, and proximity to campus (4 miles from ASU), this course credit was the key factor which allowed me to make the case to my father that I would be able to continue to work in the family business while attending college for an unextended period, and it wouldn't cost him a dime, nor would we incur debt.

Had my high school (with its roughly 50% dropout rate) not had an extensive AP program, I have no doubt that I would not have gone to college. I would currently be a sub-par unemployed electrician, instead of a registered professional engineer for the past 9 years. I would be looking for a job rather than having been employed in 5 progressively more responsible engineering positions at the same utility over the past 11 years. At least three family members would currently not own the houses they are living in, my youngest sister wouldn't have graduated from ASU, and I would currently be worring about how to support my parents in retirement.

... Denying students opportunity is no service to students or society.

Sounds like the hero of a Heinlein juvenile novel from 1958.

I wonder which "religious minority" is this fellow from? Polygamous Mormon? Jehovah's Witnesses? Syrian Jewish? Shi'ite? Mennonite? There are a lot of clues in his comment (which can be read in full here), but I haven't been able to come up with a good guess.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Matthew Yglesias' Top 10 Blue-Eyed Utopias of the Decade

1. Sweden
2. Denmark
3. Norway
4. Finland
5. Netherlands
6. Germany
7. The northern part of Belgium
8. Spitzbergen
9. Santa's Workshop
10 (Tied). Canada
10 (Tied). Portland, OR
10 (Tied). Portland, ME
10 (Tied). Manhattan south of 96th St.

Iceland is no longer eligible. In fact, Iceland may never have existed. The archives are unclear.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

James Cameron

If James Cameron had been born in Canada in 1854 instead of in Canada in 1954, but with the same huge combination of ambition, technical skills, vision, and persuasiveness, he probably would have migrated to London, the reigning power center. There he would no doubt have forged an equally spectacular career, and become a leading figure in the British Empire at its Edwardian apogee: perhaps he would have been a jingoistic Fleet Street newspaper baron like his fellow Canadian Lord Beaverbrook, or (considering his obsession with mighty machines) an admiral in the Royal Navy (Lord Cameron of Jutland?), or an imperialist in the Cecil Rhodes mode.

Born in 1954, he instead migrates to the new power center Hollywood and, outwardly, conforms to the reigning minoritarian conventional wisdom : e.g., WASPS are evil (as in Titanic -- "Hey, I'm not one of those awful Angl0-Saxons! I'm a poor oppressed Celt. See Mel Gibson's movies for the historical background"), technology is evil, corporations are evil, money is evil, majorities are evil, etcetera etcetera ... All the while pushing the boundaries of technology, movie production spending, marketing, and majority appeal to spread Anglospheric cultural dominance of the world.

So, underneath it all, he's the same guy he would have been if he was born in 1854, just a tad more disingenuous.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 20, 2009

15,000,000 or 150,000,000: What's an extra zero when it comes to carbon emissions?

My new column is up:
With President Obama barely back from the climate change conference in Copenhagen, his anti-global warming accord is evidently already working its wonders, unleashing a blizzard to blanket the East Coast with snow.

With climate in the news, it’s a good time to review the Census Bureau study of the factor that will have the single greatest impact on U.S. carbon emissions over the next 40 years: immigration.

With a couple of weeks left in the decade, the Census Bureau has finally gotten around to releasing What If? projections showing the impact of various immigration policies on America’s population (which is today 308 million):
“… a greater number of migrants arriving in the United States will correspond to a larger increase in the size of the total population. Under the assumption of a high level of net international migration, the population is expected to grow to 458 million by 2050. … “
[United States Population Projections: 2000 to 2050 by Jennifer M. Ortman and Christine E. Guarneri of the Census Bureau]

That’s an increase of 150 million carbon-belching residents of America.
“In contrast, for the Zero Net International Migration series the population will increase slightly by 2050 to 323 million. “

That’s an increase of only 15 million.

In other words, immigration policy will determine whether the population grows over the next four decades by 150 million or by 15 million—an order of magnitude difference!

Although the new Census Bureau projections were released last week at the peak of the media frenzy over Copenhagen, not a single one of the 387 articles tabulated by Google News mentioned “carbon,” “climate,” or “warming.”

Americans are just not supposed to think about the link between immigration, population, and carbon emissions. Ignorance is Strength!

Mark Twain famously said: “Everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it.” Yet the conventional wisdom in this decade has been that we should be passionately doing something—anything—about the weather, but not even talking about the population.

Read the whole thing there and comment upon it below.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The Name Game

Hugo Chavez has caught Western academia's renaming bug, turning his ire upon the world's most fortuitously perfect geographic name:
President Hugo Chavez said Sunday that the world's tallest waterfall has been called Angel Falls too long and should revert to its original indigenous name instead of commemorating the U.S. pilot who spotted it in 1933.

He called for renaming the Venezuelan falls Kerepakupai-Meru, saying during his weekly television program that Indians had a name for the majestic waterfall long before adventurer Jimmie Angel flew over it.

How can Venezuelans could accept the idea that "the highest waterfall in the world was discovered by a man who came from the United States in a plane?" Chavez asked. "We should change that name, right? With all respect to that man who came, who saw it."

Of course, most indigenous names are hard to spell and hard to remember:

He initially said the name should be Churun-Meru, but then corrected himself after receiving a note from his daughter Maria pointing out that the Pemon Indian name of the waterfall is Kerepakupai-Meru.

But, that's the point, isn't it? Being hard to remember means more chances to look down your noses at commoners who can't remember Kerepakupai-Meru.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer