February 24, 2012

Minority victimhood kicks in at 0.1 percentile

There's a fair amount of national chatter about the U. of Texas affirmative action case, but the far more revealing 5-year-old Vulcan Society v. Fire Department of New York lawsuit remains mostly of interest in the Outer Boroughs. The truth is that "affirmative action" pales in importance to "disparate impact," but practically nobody in the U.S. understands "disparate impact" law. Do you think, say, Matthew Yglesias, Kevin Drum, Rachel Maddow, Keith Olbermann, or Maureen Dowd could explain the EEOC's Fourth-Fifth's Rule off the top of their heads?

From the New York Daily News today:
Seven applicants who failed the FDNY written exams that a federal judge tossed out as discriminatory are not entitled to damages because their grade was less than 25. 
The Vulcan Society of black firefighters, the city and U.S. Justice Department lawyers all agree that a score of 25 is too abysmally low to merit compensation. 
“Such a candidate would not have succeeded due to his or her lack of effort and therefore should not be eligible for relief,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Elliot Schachner wrote in papers filed Tuesday in Brooklyn Federal Court. 
Only seven black and Hispanic applicants out of 7,100 who took the tests scored less than 25 on the exams, according to court papers. Of nonminority applicants, 20 scored less than 25. 
The U.S. Justice Department filed suit against the city in 2007 alleging the written exams in 1999 and 2002 discriminated against minorities. 
Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis later ruled that minority candidates who were not hired and those whose hiring was delayed as a result of the test scores may be entitled to damages.

Except for the dumbest 0.1% (i.e., 7 out of 7,100) who took the test.

My recollection is that this was a multiple choice test with four answers for each questions. I don't know if 25 means 25%, but if so, that means the only minority applicants not eligible to share in the booty were those who did worse than random guessing.

But, what about firefighting applicants who were unable to finish their exam because they accidentally set their test booklets on fire? Surely, they deserve to share in the loot from the fight against racism, too?

30 comments:

rightsaidfred said...

Looks like a bone, thrown out to imply that they really care about merit. Ha ha.

Marlowe said...

Your point about the minimum mark attainable by random answers on a multiple choice test reminds me of an incident in my long ago youth when, in a school test of this kind, a boy of my class scored far below it. The teacher humiliated him in front of the whole room of girls and boys by saying that a chimp could have done better. He endured the ridicule fairly well (character building I suppose). Somehow I don't think a teacher could get away with such a critical evaluation today. Thinking on it, the lad must have led the trend for poor white boys at British comprehensive schools.

Anonymous said...

"those who did worse than random guessing."

Kinda impressive I say, you gotta have skills to beat randomness and do that bad.

Anonymous said...

OT--heard about the idiot NY Times columnist Charles Blow (what an apt name) who tweeted insulting things about Mormons/Romney? So far, no one calling for his ouster...

http://bigjournalism.com/dloesch/2012/02/23/nyts-charles-blow-mocks-romneys-magic-underwear/

Marlowe said...

Mr. Sailer jokes about firemen setting light to their books but a relative of mine works for London Fire Brigade and mentioned that on one occasion a group of their finest managed to burn down an expensive and brand new fire tower (in Britain a tall structure used to practice fire fighting techniques and not an observation platform) during training. Fire crews also regularly damage the doors on fire houses while driving the appliances out. The Brigade has tried to phase out poles because of injuries sustained by the men sliding down them.

Anonymous said...

The good side of this is the SYSTEM will go bankrupt sooner than later. We are already out of money. How much longer can this charade go on and who's gonna pay?

Anonymous said...

The seven should sue for disparate impact against the superdumb.

Doug1 said...

It looks to me that disparate impact is on its way out. Obama’s Justice Department and the left is sure as hell worried that this Supreme Court will throw it out as violating equal protection under the 14th Amendment.

St. Paul released a statement Friday saying it "likely would have won" at the Supreme Court but that "such a result could completely eliminate 'disparate impact' civil rights enforcement, including under the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. This would undercut important and necessary civil rights cases throughout the nation. The risk of such an unfortunate outcome is the primary reason the city has asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the petition."

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203824904577215514125903018.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

swimming swan said...

"But, what about firefighting applicants who were unable to finish their exam because they accidentally set their test booklets on fire? Surely, they deserve to share in the loot from the fight against racism, too?"

Ha, ha, ha. That's such a clever joke, such dry wit you have there.

I know, all those stupid, accident-prone brown people, unlike you oh special one.

Anonymous said...

This is the funniest thing you've ever written.

Hunsdon said...

swimming swan said: I know, all those stupid, accident-prone brown people, unlike you oh special one.

Hunsdon replied: To quote Homer Simpson, "It's funny because it's true, Marge." (Funny in the tragic sense.)

Anonymous said...

Obama’s Justice Department and the left is sure as hell worried that this Supreme Court will throw it out as violating equal protection under the 14th Amendment.
oh come now, when has the law ever meant a think to liberals? Prop 87 and ruling supporting it? ignored.

Anonymous said...

Consider for a moment, the fact that this even became a court case and subsequent news story.
Consider what sort of society produces such things.

David said...

>I know, all those stupid, accident-prone brown people, unlike you oh special one<

He's talking about stupid people as measured by test scores everyone agrees are ultra-low. If the shoe fits, though, then wear it, brother.

GMR said...

Only 0.1% got below 25, so I doubt there were 100 questions with four choices each (with one point for each correct question).

Otherwise, many more than just 0.1% of the takers would likely get below that score. A binomial calculator on the web estimates under straight guessing on a 100 question test with a 25% chance of answering each one right, 45% of test takers would score 24 or lower, assuming just random guessing.

The only way such a result wouldn't happen is if a certain portion of the questions were so easy that almost everyone answered correctly (so if for instance, 15 out 100 questions were slam dunks for almost everyone, and the rest were answered randomly, you'd only have to get 10 out of 85 to get over 25).

Checking my fire alarm batteries said...

I love how the reporter throws out that there were 20 non minorities who scored under 25, but does not put any reference point on it.

Blacks and Hispanics were 11.5% of test takers,(http://www.justice.gov/crt/spec_topics/fdny/documents/doc_385.pdf)
There were 7,100 black and Hispanic test takers,
Therefor the total number was 61739
The non nam takers were then
54639
...so 20/54639 is .00037
Whereas nams were at .001
Which is over twice the rate of whites
Point being, the raw number of 20 white applicants who were below 25 is absolutely meaningless and intended only to distract: look more white people than black people scored this idiotically low, whites are just as dumb.

But the real stinger is this: of the 20 whites who were below 25, about half of them were probably minorities who erroneously filled out the demographic information. Those bubbles are confusing, just ask Bubbles.

Drowning swan said...

Swimming Swan,

As Steve would say, you're "not getting the joke"; literally this time. It's not funny b/c minorities are accident prone, it's funny b/c starting a test on fire would be the surest way to DQ yourself from a job as a firefighter in a sane world, but we live in an upside down world.

It actually is pretty funny. In Irish jokes this is what would happen to Murphy, it's the worst conceivable performance on the test.

B├ębert said...

Man, the trolling quality has sure gone downhill around here. I used to find them annoying, but now I can scarcely muster a roll of the eyes as I scroll past. I suspect that one of two things has happened: either they have started to run out of inspiration, which is not farfetched given the monotony of the obsessive day in and day out effort to irritate a tiny fraction of the online population, itself a small fraction of the complete population (what a noble endeavor!); or their paymasters have decided to offshore their function to Bangladesh, in which case their (which is to say, their doppelgangers') reasonably coherent writing deserves applause.

Or maybe there's a vast and secret and sinister Nazi Christian--working in close conjunction with Christian Nazis--conspiracy to subvert and eventually overthrow the coalition of honorable right-wing blogosphere trolls. Whichever.

swimming swan said...

"It actually is pretty funny. In Irish jokes this is what would happen to Murphy, it's the worst conceivable performance on the test."

Don't blame the Irish for the lame humor. It's almost St Pat's day.

Rachelle said...

It is strange that on the one hand we are supposed to 'celebrate' diversity and yet demand that out of all of this diversity equally qualified individuals appear.

At least that is the pretense.

The reality is that diverse conditions produce diverse results.

"Disparate impact" is a fraud.

Anonymous said...

The reality is that diverse conditions produce diverse results.

Could we get this on a bumper sticker or on a t-shirt?

Or, for us flyover-country hayseeds, on a tractor cap?

DIVERSE CONDITIONS PRODUCE DIVERSE RESULTS.

Conatus said...

Steve has mentioned(6/29/2011) Amy Wax at he the University of Pennsylvania Law School and her law review titled Disparate Impact Realism. It is online, not that it is fun to read but the point is she actually criticizes the present legal regime concerning disparate impact. This woman has balls to go against the prevailing conformity that is enforced in law schools. You have to look long and hard to find a law review that ventures out from the umbrella (or is that a penumbra? or an adumbration perhaps?) of political correctness that passes for justice in the law reviews.

Jim O said...

Look, I'm as opposed to judge-made AA and disparate impact law as anybody, but the firefighter's test is absurd.

A fireman must have two essential qualities: strength and courage. Neither can be measured with a written test. Nobody was solving quadratic equation in his head while running up the staircases of the South Tower with a full load of gear. I dare say I would crush the written test, but I'd be a lousy firefighter, since I am weak and cowardly.

That's why it irks me so much that they watered-down the physical test so that women could pass it. Call me sexist, but I'd rather have a muscular 220 lb. black man trying to carry my kids out of a burning building, even if his IQ were only 91, than a 120 IQ, 120 lb. woman.

Mr. Anon said...

"Rachelle said...

"Disparate impact" is a fraud."

Yes, but it would be amusing to see the Supreme Court - one third of whom belong to a distinct ethnic group that constitutes no more than about 3% of the American population - ruling that it is prima facie evidence of discrimination and/or racism. That would be funny.

Doug1 said...

As Steve has alluded to in this post and stated in detail in some previous ones, the EEOC’s 4/5 rule for determining whether there’s a disparate impact on blacks is this. If more than 4/5ths as many blacks as whites fail the test in question or fail to get a sufficiently high threshold mark to get promoted or hired, then the test is deemed to have a disparate impact on blacks and hence be deemed discriminatory, even without any showing of discriminatory intent.

The whole business is absurd. On virtually ANY test of reasonable difficulty fewer than 4/5ths as many blacks as whites will fail it, because blacks are a whole standard deviation less intelligent as whites by young adulthood. The whole theory of disparate impact is based on the utterly fallacious theory that whites and blacks have equivalent mental ability on average and that any gap in outcome MUST be due to discrimination.

The basic way around this is to make the tests so easy that nearly everyone passes them, and to then simply have lotteries or other random methods for promotion.

Anonymous said...

Did the 0.1% at least have the decency not to fondle themselves during the test?

Jack said...

I'd love to meet the man who scores bottom 1% on a fireman test. Or maybe not.

dogzma said...

"If more than 4/5ths as many blacks as whites fail the test in question or fail to get a sufficiently high threshold mark to get promoted or hired, then the test is deemed to have a disparate impact on blacks and hence be deemed discriminatory, even without any showing of discriminatory intent."

I wonder if you couldn't narrow this 4/5ths rule down to individual questions. 4/5ths as many blacks as whites missed question 3 for example. Then you don't factor those questions into the grading. Seems a much more accurate way of determining which questions contained some kind of cultural bias.

ben tillman said...

If more than 4/5ths as many blacks as whites fail the test in question or fail to get a sufficiently high threshold mark to get promoted or hired, then the test is deemed to have a disparate impact on blacks and hence be deemed discriminatory, even without any showing of discriminatory intent.

You may want to review this. It should read: "If FEWER than 4/5ths as many blacks as whites PASS the test...."

Mr. Anon said...

"Doug1 said...

As Steve has alluded to in this post and stated in detail in some previous ones, the EEOC’s 4/5 rule for determining whether there’s a disparate impact on blacks is this. If more than 4/5ths as many blacks as whites fail the test in question or fail to get a sufficiently high threshold mark to get promoted or hired, then the test is deemed to have a disparate impact on blacks and hence be deemed discriminatory, even without any showing of discriminatory intent."

That's not how it works, is it? I thought the DoJ's disparate impact doctrine worked like this: if the fraction of those from a particular race in some organization is less than 80% of that race's fraction of the general population then it is taken to be prima facie evidence of discrimination.

Blacks make up about 13% of the population, so if fewer than 10.4% of a company's employees are black, then the DoJ will suspect that company of discrimination.