Saturday, August 3, 2013

What Mattered This Week?

Afghanistan: reports are that civilian and Afghan army deaths are up, while coalition deaths are way down. Coalition deaths over the last five Julys, starting with 2009: 76, 88, 53, 46, 14. Theory: the backlash on NSA and other such issues this year has less to do with any specific revelations, and more to do with a turn towards peacetime. Not there yet, but it's easier to see now than it used to be. I'd like PPP or someone to do a poll, by the way -- I'd love to know how many people know the was in Afghanistan is going on...and how many know that the US is no longer at war in Iraq.

What didn't matter? The GOP talking points bills they passed on the IRS scandal. It's gonna take more than that, folks.

What do you have? What do you think mattered this week?

84 comments:

  1. Wired article on organizations that are delving into the genetic roots of intelligence.

    Provides little science, but has good description of why this field is going to be dominated by China instead of the US. Hint: anti-science progs.

    I like the Perl anecdote. 10,000 hours, my butt!

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    1. Interesting article. Hard to imagine that the pro-life movement would allow for the creation and destruction of 19 embryos, so that parents could "play God" and select only 1 to become a fetus.

      I have some experience with autism spectrum disorder, so it occurs to me that there are some serious considerations to be taken into account. Autism might be genetic (for example, many more boys than girls are diagnosed). But it also might be environmental, in the sense that there might be some toxin or some chemical in our daily lives that is affecting fetuses in the womb. (Note that no research suggests vaccines are responsible). Some evidence has shown that women who consume folic acid have a lower risk of giving birth to children with autism... which suggests that the causes are, at least in part, environmental.
      Environmental factors might matter a great deal. Kevin Drum likes to talk about the possibility that taking lead out of daily life was in part responsible for the drop of violent crime. I have no clue if he's correct, but research has shown that giving children access to high-quality early education has resulted in increased success rates later in life and possible gains in IQ tests. Furthermore, children who grow up with a stable home life (for example, if their family is not in poverty) have been shown to do significantly better in school.

      All this is to say that environmental factors probably have a huge impact on IQ and performance later in life. Genetic selection might have just as big of an impact... but what if it doesn't? What if parents select the embryo with the highest chance of high IQ, and the child is born with autism spectrum disorder? What if the kid is born neuro-typical, but develops crippling asthma? What if the family falls on hard times, the parents divorce and the child is neglected by over-worked parents and sent to poor-quality schools?

      It seems a lot easier (and much, much cheaper) to focus on mitigating those environmental risk factors. I also like the idea of genetic manipulation creating superhero babies... Certainly there's a reason why the profiled pioneer in the field is a nerdy teenager!

      I just think that, from a practical standpoint, we'll be a lot more successful as a society if we focus on mitigating environmental risk factors before we look into playing with genetics. That said, I think it's fine for researchers to try and correlate different genetic traits. Maybe they'll uncover some important science!

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    2. I just think that, from a practical standpoint, we'll be a lot more successful as a society if we focus on mitigating environmental risk factors before we look into playing with genetics.

      People already "play with genetics." It's called assortative mating, mate selection, or sperm banking. Ask any woman who's decided to have a child by herself whether she'd prefer a random sperm donor or carefully chosen sperm donor. Jodie Foster is a good example. Wired is pointing to research that is simply more careful, focused, and future-oriented, i.e., more scientific.

      The US and other prog-run countries do lots of environmental mitigation. That's what all of the state-run education, food stamps, Head Start, etc. is about. The problem with the US (vs China) is that it's considered "racist" to say that intelligence is principally genetic because that leads to obvious conclusions.

      Kevin Drum's writing on lead is interesting and should be read by all here, but Steve Sailer, et al have a lot of interesting things to say about Drum's over-use of lead's effects.

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    3. Oh backyard, what's to become of you? You cling to your ghosts til your knuckles are beyond white. From the second paragraph of your linked article:

      After being identified early as a science prodigy, Zhao raced through China’s special programs for gifted students and won a spot in Renmin, one of the country’s most elite high schools

      What do you suppose the strongly centrally planning PRC government does with those "early-idenitified science prodigies"? Perhaps an analogy would be useful.

      When they aren't identifying early science prodigies, the Chinese are also known to identify early Chinese ballet prodigies, as anyone who has seen Farewell, My Concubine will recall. After several thousand grueling hours of training, the acrobats in the ballet are capable of world-famous feats of wonder.

      I wonder what it would be like to attend one of those ballets with one such as yourself, I can envision you watching those feats of magic and concluding "damn, these Chinese are smart! How did they know to pick the kids who were genetically predisposed to perform these stunts? Apparently, something something something ballet school, like in that movie - but clearly what we see is a result of genes, genes!"

      I mean, really, you read that article, with the bit about Zhao's extended exposure to a centrally-run program for the "gifted select", and you imagined that he was out in a field somewhere, reflecting happily on how inherently smart he was, and how inevitable his later greatness would be?

      Idk. I think he was probably working his ass off for 10+ long years. Maybe we should ask him.

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    4. CSH,

      You don't seem to think that height (genes) is an overwhelming advantage in basketball because Bogues was a marginal NBA player. If this is your view, then there's no conversation.

      My guess is that you've never been immediately and conspicuously better than everyone you knew at something new. Without that experience, you simply don't believe it possible.

      Maybe you actually believe that you're the equal of geniuses; you just haven't tried hard enough. Keep trying! Someday you can memorize 50,000 digits of Pi or compute cube roots in a second to ten digits. Or learn Perl in a week.

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    5. Research says that environmental factors may affect typical development of children, both in and out of the womb. Any research into the genetic factors that impact development must, as a result, take into account environmental impacts. You see what I'm saying? If developmental delays have an environmental cause, then it doesn't matter if parents pre-select the embryo... if they live in a country where they're exposed on a daily basis to an environmental cause of developmental delays then the child will be at risk for having a developmental delay.
      Is it ethical to try and correlate rates of success of children to their ethnic heritage without first proving environmental factors are not impacting the development of those children? It seems to me that 1) you're going to have a ton of variability in results, and 2) no way to reliably show that the variability is due to genetic rather than environmental causes.
      Is it your belief that public pressure restrains scientists from pursuing research that would show how genetic factor specifically linked to ethnic background affect childhood development? I can't really argue one way or the other on that topic, but I guess that if this is the case then it's only a matter of time before some researcher in some country publishes scientifically-reliable results. From my own experience in the field (I'm currently completing a masters in a childhood development field), I'm not inclined to agree with you... but I'd love to be proven wrong.
      Sorry if I'm being too much of a "prog!" (not sure what that means?)

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    6. Start reading people who take the question of race and IQ seriously. Sailer is a popularizer with some real insights. Here is a good example of how he takes incomplete information to produce useful articles. Note that Sailer is basically a conservative, but has an unusual stance on the quality of US education. There is no way to prove to you that genes are the reason that Jews have higher average intelligence than gentiles or blacks have lower average intelligence than whites. We all decide how probable that is based on the weight of evidence. But the fact that Sailer published that simple graph (instead of the NYT) should be an alarm bell to people who seek real news about the subject.

      Prog:Progressive::Con:Conservative

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    7. I may not be following you. This international test is an assessment of a country's education system, correct? It's interesting that different communities in the United States perform at different levels... but does this data eliminate the possibility that environmental factors are impacting performance? There's a ton of variables that need to be studied before researchers could reliably and ethically begin assessing the impact of genetic heritage on child development.
      If "prog" means "progressive" then why did you say that the US is one of several "prog-run" countries? Do you mean that progressives run the US government? That they run the US culture? On this issue as well, I believe that the data does not support your conclusion :)

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    8. but does this data eliminate the possibility that environmental factors are impacting performance?

      To clarify: zero people claim that environmental factors don't impact performance. Absolutely none of the bloggers, scientists, or writers who follow HBD make this claim.

      There is no way to "eliminate" the possibility that the measured average IQ difference between different races is strictly environmental. Even though West Africans (from all over the world) completely dominate sprinting, progs still say that it's strictly environmental. We've reached the sorry state where a tiny black minority rules high-dollar American sports (which doesn't seem like evidence for some systematic and destructive impoverishment) while progs claim that some (forever changing) environmental effect is causing low average black IQ scores even as some other environmental effect leads to conspicuously robust bodies.

      Couple this with the fact that the poorest white quintile scores better than the richest black quintile on the SAT (and basically any other IQ test proxy) and the nurture-only progs sound deranged.

      My guess is that most progs will be nurture-only-ists until they die... regardless of evidence. There is no way to convince them of something that will harm them to understand.

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    9. Anon, byf uses the word "prog" as a dismissive pejorative for liberal. He nurses many incorrect notions about what liberals believe. He uses name calling to belittle people so that he doesn't have to address the substance of what they say.

      Correcting his fallacies is a waste of typing time, often.

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    10. Is "con" a dismissive pejorative when it replaces "conservative?"

      Too sensitive.

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    11. I don't mind talking about this, and I certainly am not here to correct anyone's fallacies! That's not what a conversation is.

      So, if we agree that environmental factors impact performance, then the next step would be to list all potential environmental impacts. Then we would need to begin looking for real-world test conditions and collect data. I don't have a very good grasp on how much research is out there... is there research showing the impact of childhood poverty on performance on IQ tests? Is there research showing whether nutrition has an impact on future performance in school? Is there research showing if asthma (a possible bi-product of pollution) affects performance on IQ tests?

      You make a statement about economic status having less of an impact as does race on IQ scores. I'd love to see your source for that information! How did researchers contrive that sort of study? I imagine that you would have to find a school in a wealthy majority African-American neighborhood, and a school in an economically depressed majority Caucasian neighborhood. In order to account for environmental factors, both schools would have to be in the same sort of community (rural, suburban, urban). You'd want to account for school resources, so you'd have to make sure that both schools had access to the same level of funding and same quality of curriculum and teachers. You'd also want to go through the data afterwards and pull the kids who come from families outside of a certain pre-set median. Pull all the kids who live with one parent rather than two, maybe. Pull all the kids who are from families above or below a economic median as compared to their peers.

      Again, this isn't about "prog" policy preferences. I think that best practices standards for a scientist looking at this issue would require this level of scrutiny. People don't like hearing scientists say things like, "It's complicated" ... but if you don't account for all of the variables in your study, you're pretty much just guessing.

      BTW, I want to quote Princess Bride for your use of "prog." "You keep on using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

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    12. I guess my question is "Then what?"

      I mean, grant for sake of argument that we'll be able to understand the many different genes which have an impact on intelligence. What, as a society, are we supposed to do with that information?

      Just thinking about sprinters. The overwhelming majority of West Africans in the world are not and could not be Olympic sprinters, and would be beaten in sprints by trained sprinters without West African ancestry. Training does empirically make a huge difference, more than the genetics in the total population, even if genetics makes a statistical difference within a particular group.

      With high dollar American sports, there is a huge amount of cultural difference there--look at the splits between the various sports. Hockey is mostly white. Basketball is mostly black. Baseball is a mix of white and Hispanic players. Sorting-by-sport seems mostly due to cultural rather than genetic differences.

      I guess for me, it all just comes back to "so what?" The pool of people genetically able to be professional athletes is vanishingly small, so what if some folks of common ancestry have statistically higher chances of making it to that level. If we're not looking at the 99.9th percentile, it also just seems like mostly a big whatever. Just thinking of the folks I went to high school (small town northeast) with, it'd make more sense to sort who goes into trade, who goes into sales, and who goes into science on an individual level.

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    13. This whole genes vs. environment for intelligence argument was demolished long ago. Simple answer: "It depends." If environments are similar and genetic differences large, genes will determine who is smarter. If genes are similar and environments are very different, environment will determine the outcome.

      The whole logic of "Blacks score lower on IQ tests and IQ has a genetic component, therefore Blacks are inferior" is simply false. The genetic differences between races are demonstrably a whole lot smaller than the environmental differences.

      And this begs the question "What is intelligence, anyway?" IQ doesn't capture a whole lot of things that are important for sucesss, no matter what the field.

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  2. Congress exempted from following Obamacare.

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    1. Except that's not what the linked story says at all. It's the reverse: congressperson and their staffs will be required to get health insurance through the Obamacare exchanges. The question involved contributions to premiums, i.e. the same subsidies that Congress and innumerable other employers currently make to their employees' non-Obamacare-related plans. Those subsidies will, quite rationally and in line with the law, get moved to the new plans. Again, that's not an exemption from following Obamacare, it's a requirement to follow Obamacare.

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    2. Jeff,

      I did some more reading. Heritage has put together an argument that seems atypically sensible, but afaict, it mostly amounts to the OMB funding giant insurance subsidies for the affected gov workers in an illegal way due to how badly written Obamacare is. But even though the subsidies look fishy, the govs are being thrown into Obama's pool.

      Which means that you're right and I'm wrong.

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    3. So, Politico overhyped a story? Misled its readers? Shocking. :-)

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  3. Sorry to go a bit off-topic, but as a rabid devotee of the cult of 10,000 hour excellence, I really thank you backyard for pushing back on the assumptions. Cults, like ideologies, are dangerous in that you can support them just because you think they make you cool.

    I made the comment a while ago that y'all have a devotion to Darwinism that is a bit anachronistic. Darwin represented a great leap forward, but his belief in survival of the fittest is so, er, 19th century. Today, we know its not fitness that matters, but rather reproductive success. I found this chart with the birth rate by country. To the extent that all of those countries have death rates beyond reproductive ages, the countries at the top of that list are the "fittest", in the sense of the most reproductively successful. Following your formulation, those countries at the top of the list also must have the "smartest" citizens, no? No?

    I also feel like there's something a bit poignant about the desire for intelligence as an indicator of genetic superiority. We took our small children to DisneyWorld recently, where they have redone Fantasyland to introduce a Gaston's tavern and gift shop. Our daughters made (!) me buy a souvenir Gaston t-shirt, as they think its hilarious when I rock the Gaston equity.

    Let's be honest, backyard - dudes like Gaston bag the babes. Smart guys like us...don't. Moderne geek cred nothwithstanding, smart guys aren't sexy. Go to a Mensa convention, and then down the street to the big football game, and there will be little doubt where the ladies of exceptional reproductive capacity will be. For myself, I totally outkicked my coverage when I got married, but frankly, chicks weren't exactly beating down my door back in the day. Nor any of the other smart guys I knew.

    In fact, I saw that Alan Turing is back in the news, a man of surpassing brilliance who also was probably the greatest British hero of the 20th century (Churchill: pfft). His country thanked him by basically murdering him for being gay. Now the Parliamentarians, in a classic illustration of hateful government self-absorption, are talking about exonerating him, 60 years later, to restore his name. (Yeah, its Turing's name they'd restore. As opposed to, say, their own).

    Turing was gay, of course, which was limiting to his reproductive capacity. But if he had been straight, would he have been baggin' the babes like Gaston? The question answers itself and takes the ridiculous conceit of eugenics with it.

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    1. CSH,

      Every thing you've written here is old old! news or erroneous. If you were to read HBD bloggers for a while, this would become clear to you. You would feel sheepish for having written this comment.

      Don't include me in your dreary, girl-free club. Chicks are beating down my door.

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    2. Y'all have addressed these concerns? I envision attending the big international eugenics conference, and at 10 AM there would be a talk entitled "Why really smart people are the result of reproductively successful genes" and then at 11 AM there's a talk called "Why more nubile females are typically not as attracted to really smart men" and at 12 PM would be a lunch and discussion.

      That lunch and discussion would be quite fascinating, in much the same way as a train wreck.

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    3. Darwin was well aware that fitness in the evolutionary sense meant reproductive success.

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  4. Russians who want to immigrate to Israel may be forced to undergo DNA testing to prove that they're Jewish enough.

    While progs in the US insist that race is a social construct and immigration restriction is fascistic, Jews in Israel are swabbing cheeks and taking names.

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    1. I dunno, I think that rather upholds what liberals tend to mean by race as a social construct. If you define "Jewishness" by genetics, sure you'll be able to use DNA tests to determine who passes and who fails, but we made up the concept of "Jewish" in the first place. Someone else could make up a different definition of what Jewishness means, and through history folks have.

      TNC: "If you're a math guy, perhaps your instinct is to point out the problems in the interpretation of the data. My instinct is to point out that your entire experiment proceeds from a basic flaw -- no coherent, fixed definition of race actually exists. [...]

      "When the liberal says "race is a social construct," he is not being a soft-headed dolt; he is speaking an historical truth. We do not go around testing the "Irish race" for intelligence or the "Southern race" for "hot-headedness." These reasons are social." http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/05/what-we-mean-when-we-say-race-is-a-social-construct/275872/

      It isn't that there aren't biological differences between people, but how we categorise folks is pretty damn squishy. The "theoretical definition (already fuzzy) wilts under human agency, in a real world where Kevin Garnett, Harold Ford, and Halle Berry all check "black" on the census."

      Good follow-up with TNC interviewing a geneticist Neil Risch. On some of the problems in how we use the term race: "Definitions can indeed be "clunky." I would use the phrase race/ethnicity rather than just race because in common parlance it is a better description. I tend to think that race has been used more in terms of continental origins (Africa, East Asia, Europe, Americas). On that basis, one would not characterize African Americans as a racial group, but rather as an ethnic group. We sort of implied this in the Genome Biology paper. The reason is that African Americans typically have European as well as African ancestry (and possibly other ancestries as well) and are also culturally distinct from Africans.

      "Groups living in isolation from each other for long periods of time have acquired many genetic differences. The large majority of those are due to "genetic drift" -- i.e. random fluctuations in gene frequencies. That also includes many genetic variants that code for traits and diseases. But then there are some genetic variants that differ in frequency due to differential selection pressure in different environments." http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/05/race-intelligence-and-genetics-for-curious-dummies/276154/

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    2. The Bitter Fig,

      That's just biology. Even the definition of species isn't cut and dried. It doesn't mean the term has no value. It means that one considers the muddy elements when deciding how useful the term is. There is an endless list of words that can be said to denote a "social construct." This is no reason to throw out any of them. Basically all of social science would have to be chucked. Philosophy too. If you're taking that argument seriously, then you've got a big problem. Or you think that feminist studies is more retarded than even I do.

      The "theoretical definition (already fuzzy) wilts under human agency, in a real world where Kevin Garnett, Harold Ford, and Halle Berry all check "black" on the census."

      Are you saying that the federal govt should stop counting race for the purposes of disparate impact lawsuits, etc. because the term is too inexact?

      If you're linking to all these things to educate me, you're wasting your time. I spent about six months reading up on the subject when I first found Sailer. He and his cohort mostly work off of standards like the GSS and other federal data. The stuff your quoting is sub-sub 101 for anyone who follows them.

      The HBD-ists are very interested in the subject of testing the IQ of the "Irish race." TNC doesn't know what he's talking about. Google Irish IQ if you don't believe me.

      Obviously African Americans are a mixture of mostly African and European. Quants like LA Griffe du Lion use data on the estimated percentage of different heritages to puzzle out why African IQ is so much lower than AA IQ and how much of the deficit is due to environment. At ~70 and ~85, the difference can't all be because of the white (~100) admixture.

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    3. I may be chasing phantoms that you didn't mean to imply, but there is a pretty common thing out there. A dismissive argument along the lines of "ha ha it's silly liberals think this is just 'social construct' as though they can't tell the difference between the color of people's skin." If you look at the actual history of racial distinctions, it's been highly social, and has varied widely.

      Meanwhile, how the geneticist uses the concept of race doesn't necessarily bear a lot of resemblance to how race is understood in society. It's just important to keep that in mind if trying to bring conclusions from one field of study to another.

      All that really amounts to is that "race is socially constructed" isn't silly. There's a lot of history that predates genetics, and probably won't go away with genetics. It's also an important history to understand. That's perhaps focusing a little much on one phrase, but here I wasn't trying to do more.

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    4. No, I think that it's basically a meaningless statement. The race of a large group of people is a useful predictive metric. It's an imperfect measure or tool, but so are other "social constructs" like: a coefficient of restitution, a supply curve, calculus, or GDP. If somehow tells me "yo, backyardfoundry! GDP is just a social construct, bra! In the old days, people followed GNP!" I'd respond that GDP has some very useful qualities, so what? Race is more rooted in reality than GDP, so the construct thing is less relevant.

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    5. But to use GDP without understanding it in context, what goes in what doesn't (the stay-at-home parent flaw to GDP) is bad economics.

      Meanwhile, when it comes to predictive measures, I'd rather have a stopwatch than a cheek swab when recruiting a 4x400 team. I'd rather have a college transcript when recruiting for a job. Oh, those are individuals rather than large groups, but when do we deal with large groups as large groups?

      For, say, international diplomacy, setting up alliances, trade compacts, whatever, I'd rather know the GDP and economy, the political situation, the recent history, the educational attainment. And so on. To bring it back to immigration since that was kinda the topic starter, when do folks bring in groups large enough that individual traits don't outweigh them?

      Seriously, when is it a useful measure and for what?

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    6. I'm sure that the best 4x400 runners are almost all black, so I don't know what your point is. Only a moron would choose racing candidates with a cheek swab, but any team not comprised of Africans would probably not succeed at the highest levels.

      Race is a useful measure for deciding how many immigrants to accept from different regions. With average IQs in the 70s and only moderate environment-driven improvements expected from their children, sub-Saharan Africans are guaranteed to be permanent burdens on US taxpayers. Remember, just as almost all of the poorest countries are African, almost all of the poorest US cities and states are the most black. And AAs are smarter than SSAs. How many people with IQ 75 does the US want to import? More to the point, how much like a third world country do we want the US to become?

      So, Richwine again, Hispanics who move to the US will show the same poor results as before (though not as awful as SSAs). And the more indio/less white they are, the worse the results. This is a boon to progs, though, because recent Hispanic immigrants have way more children per mother than do whites (approx 4 per female) and almost all will vote for more gringo tax dollars as they quickly outbreed anglos.

      It's also necessary to study race/ethnicity because progs use it as a cudgel to enact their weird schemes. Disparate impact lunacy needs to be met with sweet reason. If progs sue companies for not hiring a representative ratio of races/ethnicities, the very low average IQs of blacks are desperately needed information. It's insane for companies to be forced to hire or promote unhelpful people. But because all of the arguments are now about implicit bias being sussed out through fantastical statistical arguments, people need to know about things like average IQs.

      To answer, viewing race the way I do is not useful to you because you probably just want to win more exciting partisan battles and grow the government. You probably like the idea of the feds dictating that fewer white males be hired or promoted, etc. And you probably don't want it becoming common knowledge that the most powerful ethnic group is not Christian, but Jewish. Learning the facts about race kills liberalism.

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    7. backyard, I almost hate myself for asking, but if its true that the genetically inferior reliably outbreed the genetically superior...how in the world did such a thing come about?

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    8. Let's say IQ of immigrants is your main criteria. You could come up with your quota system, or you use IQ tests in the immigration application process, or only allow immigration for people with advanced degrees. However, if someone's goal isn't having smart immigrants but is racial purity, well...

      I mean, I had thought conservatism was supposed to about individual merit on issues like this, but maybe I was wrong.

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    9. backyard, you are misunderstanding the concept of a "social construct." This is apparent when you compare race to GDP. Let's back up a little. All human definitions are social constructs. Weights and measures, for instance -- inches and litres don't exist in nature, people created them. But they're useful because they have reasonably precise and unvarying definitions. Same with GDP. That's more complicated, because it's a composite index made up of a number of measures, but there are authoritative definitions and authoritative means of measuring GDP. You'll notice that everyone defers to these: the Heritage Foundation and the Center for American Progress discuss the economy, from their very different perspectives, using the term "GDP" to mean the same thing. They don't each just go ahead and create their own definitions. (Or, if one of them wants to argue that GDP should be measured differently, that's an argument they make explicitly, comparing their own proposed measure with the authoritative one. They don't just assume some other definition that they never precisely specify.)

      "Race" is nothing like this. Definitions of it have been all over the map. As Darwin noted a long time ago, it's idiotic to speak of a category where the number of possibilities (i.e. how many races are there?) has varied anywhere from 2 to 63. You're not really "measuring" anything then. There is not, and never has been, an authoritative way, or a single agency, for producing an agreed definition of race -- for saying, for instance, what traits exactly should be included as "white" or "Caucasian" -- which everyone then uses in common. As you point out, the government, universities and other agencies do rely on racial classifications for some purposes, and they treat these as if they had a common meaning. But these (nowadays) are based on self-identifications, people's own declarations of what races they belong to when they check boxes on census or other forms. They're not based on the admissions officer or census-taker sizing someone up, deciding he looks like a sumo wrestler and checking the box "Asian and Pacific Islander" on his behalf.

      "Intelligence" has more potential to be defined in some common way -- certainly more than running speed, your other example, which is precisely measurable -- but historically it, too, has slid around in meaning, with no authority able to declare what definition we should all use for it. "IQ" is more precise, albeit based on some questionable testing methods (again, unlike running speed), but there's no consensus that it's a sufficient measure of the qualities we're interested in to drive policy. You're welcome, of course, to make the political argument that it should be so regarded, but most people are probably going to think that "intelligence" means something broader than IQ, that it's really a collection of traits or measures -- more like GDP in that regard and less like running speed, although again with no authoritative and agreed definition.

      So, a phrase like "social construct," when it appears in discussions of topics like race and intelligence, is shorthand for a broader critique -- for the idea not only that people created the definition (which is also true of inches and litres), but that there's no clear consensus on meaning, that the term has historically been a weapon of oppression, and that we must therefore be especially alert to any similar abuse we might be importing into our use of the terms today, even if unintentionally.

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    10. Jeff,

      Does this mean that you want universities to stop using race to allot positions, feds to end disparate impact lawsuits, etc.? Should the feds stop collecting data on the census about race?

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    11. theBitterFig,

      I think it makes more sense to just slow immigration by a lot and expel current illegals. Fewer arguments.

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    12. CSH,

      Can you think of any environmental shifts?

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    13. backyard, I favor transitioning to a system of preferences based on actual, individual circumstances of deprivation, like poverty. My own career has certainly been held back by racial preferences in university hiring; you may be pleased to hear that I have a complaint for reverse discrimination (i.e. favoring blacks over whites in promotion) pending before the EEOC at this very moment. And as far as I can tell it's being taken quite seriously, although the outcome has also been delayed by the federal sequester.

      That said, I was never dead-set against racial affirmative action, which I think did for a time (a) serve as a rough proxy for actual deprivation and (b) recognized a historical reality -- even if "race" is a construct in the worst sense, once it's been constructed and used against certain people for a long time, correcting that injustice may require continuing to recognize it in some ways. But I do believe it creates a harmful backlash, ends up helping and hurting the wrong individuals in many cases (especially at this late date), and is intellectually dishonest inasmuch as it's ultimately based on discredited pseudoscience. (I think there's an argument against universities, in particular, using it for the same reason that modern universities shouldn't be relying on astrological charts or looking for a "diversity" of Zodiac signs in their entering classes.)

      Disparate-impact lawsuits are a bit different because there the goal is to stop people from discriminating by race in the old, bad ways. To stop those practices, you have to be able to recognize them, which means continuing to "see" people's races (for that limited purpose) as the wrongdoers are seeing them. For that purpose, you do need some classification data, so I am not against having this collected. For now. I do hope for and expect a future where none of this is necessary or relevant any longer, and where the whole idea of birth into a "race" has gone the way of old concepts like "bastardy," "noble birth," or legal guilt passed down through families ("attaint"? I forget what that was called).

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    14. Jeff,

      1)So you want to end race based hiring/promotion at university because you believe that it harms you personally.

      2)But you want to continue collecting what you view as fully pseudoscientific data in order to sue companies for hiring and promoting too many gentile white males until some future date.

      3)All as you poo-poo the years of psychometric work showing that blacks and Hispanics are (on average) not nearly as smart and should not be expected to be as useful in organizations to employers, etc..

      4)Which is about what I hear from all progs: race is a social construct, but totally reasonable where I want to use it to advance my goals... and Cons should be Richwined.

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    15. Nice try, backyard, but that's not what I said. To the contrary, I have some sympathy for affirmative-action policies despite the harm I think they've done to me personally. Correcting a great historical injustice is a worthy national goal. I myself would have been better off professionally in the world of 1955, but living in a more enlightened society than that is worth the price I've paid for it.

      When large numbers of people have been disadvantaged, and often brutalized, through no fault of their own over a period of hundreds of years -- and that is, after all, what we're talking about -- solutions are both (a) urgent and (b) bound to be imperfect. As I noted above, it's impossible to switch immediately to perfectly racially blind policies when the racists themselves are not being racially blind. Disparate- impact law reflects the recognition that people have been systematically discriminated against on the basis of a supposed condition called "race," and that the people doing the discriminating are inclined to deny they're doing it. I may not think that racial concepts are ultimately well-founded, but they've been active in history, and the results of this are real. There has to be some way of discovering and assessing and those results other than asking the racists themselves to please make them explicit.

      As to your "years of psychometric work," even assuming I agreed about what it proves, I have trouble seeing how a rational employer would make use of such information anyway. What, just don't even consider anyone who identifies as, or who "looks" or "sounds," black or Hispanic? What idiot would do that? The dumbest racists who have ever lived have usually recognized that in any large group, even if you think you've got it pegged, there are going to be exceptional individuals. Why would you deny yourself the chance to employ them?

      It sounds to me like you want absolutes and perfect answers. There aren't any. We work within historical realities not of our making, and can hope only to improve things by degrees. That's called "real life" and "the world we actually live in." Good conservative concepts, I think.

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    16. As to your "years of psychometric work," even assuming I agreed about what it proves, I have trouble seeing how a rational employer would make use of such information anyway. What, just don't even consider anyone who identifies as, or who "looks" or "sounds," black or Hispanic?

      Huh? If everyone internalized the science, disparate impact lawsuits would die. Nobody is talking about not hiring qualified NAMs. I'm talking about the fact that the EEOC, et al get to pretend that all races have the same average IQ, which they then use to accuse parties of implicit bias because said companies hire and promote too many white males. The rest of your comment looks like what I said; you want to count people by race to use as a weapon to beef up the feds and attack white males at the same time that you say that race is a false category and that generations of psychometric data are therefore racist nonsense. It's all really nuanced and a convenient match for prog goals.

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    17. backyard, it seems to me that you are missing Jeff's point. He is not talking about "attacking" white males - quite the contrary! He is agreeing with you about particular societal forces that have run amok.

      The difference between your and his interpretation is what to do about it. Your solution is to act as if the thing those forces react to (the negative legacy of apartheid America) are just and proper. Your view is empirically incorrect (you have one UCLA Finance MBA and a universally-disregarded Harvard PhD against a giant mountain of evidence. Think about it). Beyond just being wrong, your view is terrible marketing! (Apparently, one of Sailer's concentrations? I digress).

      In summary, I cited a story from Ta-Nehisi a while ago about his dad, and how his dad should have made more of his opportunities, but when he was seven he woke up in the back of a Ryder truck. You dismissed that as a "hard luck" story. I suppose it is possible that Ta-Nehisi's dad ended up in the back of that truck as a result of nothing more than shitty genes, specifically, much shittier than yours.

      The problem, backyard, is that no one - except you - believes that. Realistically, if you want to fight the wretched excesses - on which you and Jeff agree - you can't begin from a stance of irrationality. Which, alas, you do.

      So you think you're defending the interest of white guys moreso than Jeff? Whatever's comfortable, I guess.

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    18. I'm talking about the fact that the EEOC, et al get to pretend that all races have the same average IQ, which they then use to accuse parties of implicit bias because said companies hire and promote too many white males.

      I''m not an expert on disparate-impact law, so maybe you can direct me to particular recent cases where this injustice has prevailed. My understanding is that an employer so accused gets a defense, and is permitted to justify its hiring decisions on grounds of "business necessity" or by citing (for instance) test results that favor the people it's hiring, so long as the tests are in fact testing for qualities or skills needed to do the job. Also, my own experience with the EEOC has suggested to me both that it takes reverse-discrimination complaints seriously, and also that it gives employers lots of time and opportunity to reply to them before filing charges (if anything, in my view, over-deferring to employers' claims). Again, if you know of specific outrages where this hasn't been true, I'd be happy to read more about them.

      What it sounds like to me, though, is that you're saying that the employer should have a much broader defense -- that it should be able to point off into the distance and claim that some tests or data somewhere unconnected to the job at hand have pre-determined that people belonging to certain groups are automatically suspect as likely to do the job less well than people in other groups. I can't see what "internalizing" this supposed science -- even if, let's assume, it's correct -- could possibly mean other than allowing employers to rule out hiring people who say they belong, or whom the employer alleges belong, to the allegedly less capable groups. If that's your position, well, yeah, we've made a collective decision as a society (and one that is continually being revisited and tweaked in legislation and court decisions) that it's the wrong way to go in a nation founded on our values.

      I've been setting aside the whole question of the science itself, since CSH and others have been capably handling that part of the argument. Basically, I associate myself with their comments. But I'll just second the point about Ryder trucks: What am I supposed to believe is the cause of the evident disadvantages we've seen some groups subjected to? The white supremacists of a hundred years ago had all kinds of quasi- or crypto-genetic theories about how some races were "creative," some were "imitative" and some where "parasitic," and that this owed to conditions like "4,000 years of living idly in the African jungle" while the Palefaces of the Cold Weather Northern Climes got busy with the business of building civilization (and the Yellow Peoples of the East imitated them, albeit less creatively). This was all pernicious nonsense. You're quite sure your position doesn't amount to reintroducing it in some slightly less offensive guise?

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    19. Mushed a point there. I meant to say that the EEOC is (in my experience) remarkably deferential -- in general -- to employers' claimed defenses, and also, separately, that it takes seriously claims from "whites" like me that they're being disfavored on racial grounds. Again, I'd be happy to learn more about specific cases that suggest otherwise.

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    20. CSH,

      you have one UCLA Finance MBA and a universally-disregarded Harvard PhD against a giant mountain of evidence. Think about it)

      The fact that you disagree with me about so much is one of the reasons that I'm on this site, but you keep saying things that are stupid and wrong that you can check for yourself. Please shed your ignorance. I mention Sailer the most because he's a popularizer who aggregates the work of scientists. You could start with someone who's more techy, but you need to learn a bunch first. This blogger will tell you what you need to study so that you can basically understand what the demographers, geneticists, etc. that Sailer links to and contextualizes are saying, but it's too much work. You won't bother with it.

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    21. Jeff,

      My understanding is that an employer so accused gets a defense, and is permitted to justify its hiring decisions on grounds of "business necessity" or by citing (for instance) test results that favor the people it's hiring, so long as the tests are in fact testing for qualities or skills needed to do the job.

      I'm assuming that you've already perused the Uniform Guidelines, read about the years long and expensive Ricci and Vulcan cases, read about Chicago's black police officers being unable to read, and talked in depth with Human Resources Officers who were willing to tell you how they induce managers to hire fewer white males and more unqualified NAMs to avoid being sued and forced to pay out to avoid going to trial and being called "racists" for months on end in a public forum.

      And you simply trust our incredibly violent government with too much power. So there's no way for you to see the problems in a situation where an employer is presumed guilty of implicit racism based on inumerate statistical arguments and Census data about what you call a false category and then allowed to defend himself in court by proving the business necessity of a test that he uses to decide who he's going to pay money to or promote. It's some backward ass situation. And the fact that the categories of female, Hispanic, and black are on the Uniform Guidelines, but that discussing whether Jewish should be included is a blaring siren. Any gentile can see what's going on.

      Additionally, even if you don't think that the roots of low NAM IQ are genetic, the low IQ still shows up everywhere it's tested. So an employer with a race-blind admissions test of ANY kind is going to run afoul of of the UGs and run the risk of getting thrown in the Ricci meatgrinder. Because greater intelligence is useful to most employers (and other useful traits like low time preference is strongly correlated with it) smarter employees are almost always better.

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    22. backyard, I've already conceded that our solutions to the historic problems that brought equal-opportunity laws into existence are imperfect. I don't know exactly how imperfect, so I will further concede that I may have more to learn on that subject, and I appreciate your pointers about where some of the problems might be found. In general, I am pro-labor, and if you want to find some way in which my (perceived) self-interest drives my politics, it's in that regard more than with regard to affirmative action. My own experience has been that even with the restrictions they operate under now, way too many employers are capricious assh*les -- excellent examples of the "local bullies" that I believe are (much more than "government") the source of most ordinary citizens' actual day-to-day experience of oppression and unfreedom. They certainly don't police themselves, and if they weren't policed at all, as libertarians seem to want, they'd be even more out of control than they already are. We know for a fact, plainly, that if they could cater to the prejudices of a majority (or a powerful overclass) at the expense of a disfavored minority, way too many employers would happily do so, because that's exactly what they did for generations back when the law allowed it.

      So, do I want employers treated unfairly? Roughed up? Worked over by the jackbooted thugs of the EEOC? No. I'm open to continued argument over how exactly the rules should be drawn to best achieve their intended effects. But there are limits to the energy any of us can bring to politics, and therefore we have to decide which issues and causes we find most urgent. To me, in the scheme of things, there are more important goals than protecting a management class made up of people who -- again, in my experience -- make some pretty sweet salaries for treating people like me badly, and already have excellent lawyers on hand to carry their water if anyone complains. (And yes, I say this as someone with friends and even parents who have run small businesses and experienced many of those pressures, including frivolous lawsuits and government red tape. Even so.)

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    23. Jeff,

      No. I'm open to continued argument over how exactly the rules should be drawn to best achieve their intended effects.

      As I see it, the intended effects are to grow the scope of government, disempower white male gentiles (who are supposedly the most powerful people in America), and buy the votes of white women and Hispanics. If it were truly about figuring out problems, then progs would spend all their time talking about how Asians succeed around crazy-racist whites so as to copy that success. Or about copying the always avoided Jewish hyper-dominance. Or the fact that getting rid of white people is the quickest path to poverty and chaos for blacks. One would think that if the presence of empowered white racists lead to black poverty, that ridding a city of whites would lead to a slow improvement in black outcomes. Look at a list of cities or regions that have been nearly cleared of whites.

      To me, in the scheme of things, there are more important goals than protecting a management class made up of people who -- again, in my experience -- make some pretty sweet salaries for treating people like me badly

      You make two prog errors here. No one is "protecting" managers. You want to continue a program that directly attacks managers and presumes guilt for the most ignorant of reasons.
      But it's worse than that. The world is not zero-sum. Harming management/organizations harms everyone because it increases the resources that have to go into production, raising prices and leading to work rules that are designed to make terrible products. Ask Detroit what happened when they persistently treated management as the enemy and used gov power to get their "fair share" from management. Consumers quit buying their embarrassing cars and the factories are now vine covered raccoon tenements.

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    24. backyard, we're not going to agree on this, but just for the record:

      As I see it, the intended effects are to grow the scope of government..... (etc., emphasis added)

      This level of cynicism is really remarkable to me. If there's one thing I thought was almost universally agreed, it's that certain groups were horribly treated and held in varying degrees of serious oppression in this country literally for centuries. You really think the people who wrote the Civil Rights Acts and other such reforms were intending not to right those wrongs, but to do the various things you say? That they weren't seriously motivated by the sorry history I just mentioned? I think you've confused two things: the impetus behind the legal arrangements we have now, and the fact that any set of arrangements or policies, in a big and complex society, will attract a certain fringe of hucksters who figure out how to game the system and who use the well-meant policies for their narrow advantage. Monarchy had its useless courtiers and hangers-on, democracy has its demagogues, capitalism has its banksters, shady financiers and pump-and-dump artists, and the future Country of Ideal Libertarianism will have some version of this crowd as well. Their existence does not negate the original intentions.

      No one is "protecting" managers.

      Wow. You have never been involved in a serious dispute with an employer, or observed one, apparently. Well, good for you.

      The world is not zero-sum. Harming management/organizations harms everyone.....

      I understand that argument. It's true in part, but there's a fallacy: it overlooks the reality of zero-sum transactions within a larger non-zero-sum system. We see this all the time. Families, for instance, have broadly shared interests and are better off overall if all the members pull together -- yet they have internal arguments all the time, arguments that someone wins and someone loses or that force uneasy compromises. Conversely, the logical end result of treating all labor-management transactions as non-zero-sum would be that no one ever argues with management about anything. Even if that were wise policy, which it wouldn't be, it's not viable in a free society. Might work (for a while) in Singapore or China, but in the US, the rise of a labor movement some hundred or so years ago was not an accident, it was the response of free(-ish) people who rightly felt they were being mistreated and that a better deal was possible. (And incidentally, that movement did not prevent American capitalism from subsequently thriving. Progressives believe it helped with this.)

      Ask Detroit what happened when they persistently treated management as the enemy and used gov power to get their "fair share" from management. Consumers quit buying their embarrassing cars and the factories are now vine covered raccoon tenements.

      Right. Detroit's former managers weren't a bunch of cosseted hacks with less sense than the aforesaid raccoons. No, they were visionaries who saw where the global auto industry was heading, and who were all set to launch first-generation, American-made, fuel-efficient subcompacts back around 1965 - 1970. But a sclerotic labor movement demanded that they keep building fleets of giant Buicks and Oldsmobiles instead. Right. Duly noted. ;-)

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    25. Ask Detroit what happened when they persistently treated management as the enemy and used gov power to get their "fair share" from management.

      Who is writing this -- Calvin Coolidge?

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    26. Who is writing this -- Calvin Coolidge?

      I don't know about backyard, but some of the contemporary right's talking points have been coming out of (or glomming onto) the work of Amity Shlaes, a revisionist historian of the Great Depression who's a big fan of Coolidge.

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    27. Jeff,

      Since Asians and Jews have come equal with or surpassed the once-dominant white gentiles in the workplace, why isn't the honest left principally focused on whatever made that possible to copy it for NAMs? To fix a problem, one focuses on past victories and solutions. That's how we advance. If honest progs consider this problem worthwhile and achievable, then why don't they principally talk about current Jewish dominance and Asian normalization in the workplace? Why should any white gentile male view the current left as anything but a bunch of hucksters if it won't drill down on the obvious and normal route to success... which is copying wins. Why do they instead put so much energy into a racist system while claiming that race is a social construct?

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    28. OK, that's a fair question. I'm not really competent to answer, but before giving it a shot, let me say what I would like to see from an "honest right." We're talking about questions of cultural development and formation, of how values, attitudes and skills are transmitted through generations, and of how and why different regions of the world have differed in these regards over a long period. These are immensely complicated questions that we have barely begun to study, let alone understand. The social conditions we see around us were the work of centuries; we've had maybe three generations now to try to get a grip on them. The modern disciplines of sociology, anthropology, and economics came into being only around 1900, and modern biological sciences (to the extent those are relevant, as you've suggested they are) are even more recent than that. An honest right, I think, would take note of this and show some humility about jumping to massively consequential policy conclusions, especially conclusions involving simplistic nostrums that tend to throw all the responsibility for overcoming the burdens of these complex historical developments onto individuals -- as if the nation's collective responsibility for an atrocious record of multi-generational abuse and mistreatment somehow magically dissolved in 1965. That's what I'd like to see from the right. Solutions will come from people of goodwill across the spectrum trying to understand and address these problems in all their sometimes baffling complexity.

      So, that said: I'm all for "drilling down" and copying success. (This, of course, presumes that success isn't genetic.) Put briefly and overly crudely, here's what we're working with:

      > Asian-Americans: People from* countries that, broadly speaking, were isolated from the West until modern times, that stressed family and social cohesion, respect for authority, and "Confucian" values including education. Upon arriving in America, they were victims of a kind of discrimination (partly based on physical appearance) that tended to keep them isolated in ethnically defined local communities ("Chinatowns") and such).

      ( * By "from," of course I mean the individuals themselves or their parents, grandparents or great-grandparents.)

      > Jewish-Americans: Some similar cultural antecedents to thsoe just mentioned, plus a history of persecution based on religion that tended to encourage identification with the group (for those who didn't convert and assimilate); also, an unusual social position in the medieval / early modern West that encouraged working in finance, commerce and trade, and a faith tradition that (for men) stressed working closely with texts and ideas, i.e. the stuff of modern higher education, as well as admiring people adept at this kind of work.

      tcontinued.....



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    29. (.....)

      > Native Americans: Remnants of communities mostly destroyed in a holocaust carried out on American soil.

      > African-Americans: (Mostly) descendents of slaves, i.e. people denied education or opportunities for advancement, subject to having their communities broken up and their own family members sold "down the river" (especially during the forced internal migrations of the early 19th century), then "emancipated" without compensation, denied access to normal schooling, professional positions and most other cultural advantages, and kept in appalling conditions for generations both in the South and, after the "Great Migration," in urban cores that were "redlined" to prevent normal movement and assimilation and were consequently allowed to decay -- especially as, in an unrelated development, changes in global industry caused manufacturing jobs to disappear. As happens in any collapsed society anywhere, underground economies then developed based on trade in contraband, and this plus the absence of nonracist, decently funded police protection encouraged the rise of local warlordism that we call "street gangs."

      > Hispanics: A made-up "group," hence difficult to describe in terms of a common set of historical experiences -- but, on the whole, descendants of people who were not the "winners" in the struggles between, first, native Amerindians and the Spanish and Portuguese colonizers, and then between the "Anglo" and the Spanish-Portuguese nations that developed in the Americas.

      Now, reviewing those groups from that perspective, what does "copying success" mean? Ideally, it would mean rerunning the history of the last three to five hundred years, replacing some of the damaging conditions and experiences just recounted with better ones. But we can't do that. What then? Well, presumably we should at least encourage the kinds of family cohesion, and the high value placed on education, that has helped Jewish- and Asian-Americans. Great. What makes you think "the left" isn't doing that? Obama, for one, regularly speaks to those very issues, especially when he's addressing African-American audiences. Stoking people's educational aspirations also means helping them see such aspirations as realistic. That means that people who identify as African-American need to see others they identify as African-American succeeding in those arenas (and women need to see other women doing so, etc.). Affirmative-action policies, for all their problems, were efforts to make that easier by getting more people who might be so identified into universities, onto university faculties, and into professional and executive positions so they could "role model" those paths of upward mobility. The idea was to replace the vicious cycle of exclusion with a virtuous cycle, in which the previous, exclusive "old-boy networks" are broken down and new networks of self-help and mutual aid are developed that serve the previously disadvantaged in the way those old networks served "white gentile males."

      continued.....

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    30. Concluded:

      Repairing family and community structures broken by centuries of abusive policies and generations of residential exclusion is even harder and more complicated. Which new approaches actually succeed and should therefore be "copied" is hard to determine because there are so many variables, and I can't even begin to settle all those controversies here. But I do think there are plenty of people on the left who are sincerely interested in finding and doing what works. The hucksters and race-baiters whom you rightly find offensive are usually gaming a system that was set up to do something good, like intensify public investment in degraded inner cities where it's badly needed. Policies designed to rein in the cops are driven by a recognition of the way urban police departments were allowed to function for too long as essentially white gangs set against black and Hispanic gangs. All approaches, obviously, are subject to abuse and must be continually monitored for uninteded consequences. That's very different, though, from cynically dismissing them all and telling people to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.

      OK, enough for now. Believe it or not, this is the short answer to your question. The long one is a big academic and political discussion that probably has another few generations yet to run.

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    31. .....enough for now. Sorry, lied. One more point, by way of illustrating just how complex and difficult it is to find solutions: I mentioned cultural traditions above that point in opposite directions. For instance, persecution and second-class status can both help encourage a community's sense of cohesiveness and mutual aid, and cause all sorts of damage, which is part of why groups that were discriminated against in America haven't all fared the same as a result. Or consider this: Asian-Americans have been helped toward success by traditions promoting respect for authority, while Jewish-Americans have been helped by traditions promoting disrespect for authority -- y'know, all those Jewish comedians and political agitators -- traditions that go back to an era when the authorities their great-grandparents were subject to were often persecutors. In higher education, as it happens, students benefit both from respecting authority (which makes for disciplined study) and being skeptical toward it (which makes for freethinking and inventiveness). So, ideally, we should find ways to encourage both these attitudes. Except: they contradict each other! So is this even possible? Anyone who says the right policies are simple and obvious just hasn't given problems like these any serious thought.

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    32. Jeff,

      I didn't notice any links. Where can I go in the nurture-only progosphere to find people talking about the dominance of Jews and the fairly equal position of Asians relative to the old enemy, the WCM? Who among them are actively trying to figure out what works from this context? Progs blog about race/ethnicity constantly, so there must be some who fit the bill instead of acting like the worst of the Trayvon tards, which is what I usually read. I can point to several learned and engrossing blogs where people don't confine themselves absolutely to nurture as the reason why groups of people who evolved separately for thousands of years have different average outcomes.

      Do you know of any prog-blogs that address the permanent state of poverty in virtually every principally black city, state, region, and country? I mean, Steve Sailer wants to know why sub-Saharan Africa has the one slightly decent country of Botswana. Do any progs talk about this?

      I note that you begin your story of Africans at slavery. I guess that the state of Africans prior to that is immaterial?

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    33. Again, we're outside my area of expertise. Of the ideas I summarized above, though, none is original with me, which means that I've picked them up from reading. As Megan McArdle said on her blog, there is a vast literature just on the question of African underdevelopment alone:

      http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2007/10/why-is-africa-so-screwed-up/2072/

      Although generally a libertarian herself, McArdle seems to be specifically responding here to the Sailers of the world or those he influences.

      Actually there's a vast literature on each of thes interrelated topics. On the effects of the great migrations, I learned much of what I know from Ira Berlin's The Four Great Migrations: The Making of African America). On the rise and perpetuation of urban ghettoes and poverty, the following item is useful as a summary of the discussion, with footnotes to most the classic works on it:

      http://journeytohistory.com/History111/Readings/The%20Origins.pdf

      On differences in educational achievement, again, there are big debates, even within what you might call "the left." My summary above generally relies on what people writing in this area would call "cultural-deficit" theories. These are controversial, as is everything else on this topic. (Google that term and you'll see.) Finally, casting further back, the discussion around Jared Diamond's much-touted Guns, Germs and Steel gets at the big issues and controversies regarding cultural development globally, like why the technically advanced civilizations arose in some places more readily than others. The book's Wikipedia entry summarizes these controversies:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guns,_Germs,_and_Steel

      As to blogs that touch on race and related questions, I suppose you're already aware of Ta-Nehisi Coates'. If not, I join everyone and his dog in recommending it:

      http://www.theatlantic.com/ta-nehisi-coates/

      I think what you'd find on further investigation is that what you've been calling "the left" here is more properly understood as the right's idea of the left.

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    34. And to answer your last question, yes, I myself tend to think that African-American experience owes relatively little to Africa, and much more to the conditions imposed by slavery and thereafter. But I'm not an expert and I know there are others who disagree. I'm open to learning more about this.

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    35. Jeff,

      I've read McArdle for years. On race she's a prog whose concession to open mindedness is to say that IF it were shown conclusively that the measured low intelligence of NAMs was because evolution affects humans, THEN there should still be affirmative action.

      The only reason I can see that progs like TNC enough to call him the world's greatest blogger is because he's black. Really smart for a guy who's pretty black, but not really smart for a blogger.

      And I'm not surprised that you couldn't link to any examples. It's a lot easier to find a prog blogger fantasizing that a bombing is due to a WCM than to find one who even mentions that Jews dominate WCMs. I've been kicked off of dozens of prog comment boards for linking to BLS statistics showing that Asians make more than whites and the most common response I got was "model minority" hand waving. None ever talked about Asians as a useful model for NAMs.

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    36. McArdle claimed in that link that a big problem with Africa was the setting of boundaries that mixed people of different ethnicities together when she's also a booster for open third world immigration to the US. This is common among Progs, who don't even see the contradiction in holding these ideas simultaneously.

      Delete
    37. It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when repairing his damaged, fragile ego depends on his not understanding it.

      Delete
    38. I don't know what's in McArdle's head, but my guess would be that she sees a difference between the boundaries around a well-established superpower, over which we've had unrestricted movement amounting to 3% of the total population, and the complicated multi-nation mess that the Western powers created on an undeveloped continent they hadn't bothered to understand.

      I'm not sure why you prefer links to blogs over academic studies and the like. The discussion you wanted to know about on the left may not have its close equivalent of a Sailer, or a Mark Steyn or John Derbyshire, but it's quite active. Nobody denies the fact that some groups persistently do better in school, on average, than others. Perhaps some on the left have even come to embrace genetic explanations for this along with your suggested remedies. We wouldn't know, because those analysts would no longer identify as "left" at that point and would more likely align themselves with the right. Likewise, if Derbyshire wakes up one morning and decides that problems of group underachievement are the legacy of colonialism and of many generations when people were deliberately held back, you and Sailer will start calling him a "prog," and we'll be right back where we started. To keep pointing out that progressives are those who hold progressive views is, you know, true but not terribly insightful.

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    39. I'm not sure why you prefer links to blogs over academic studies and the like.

      Because blogs are public fora that show what committed partisans care about. It appears to those like me that progs believe the reality of Asian normalization and Jewish dominance of the workplace in a country supposedly run by the enemy WCM is a story to be avoided at all costs. Progs appear deeply committed to the idea of WCM dominance because it's a simple story that complies with the egalitarian idea that the state can shape the populace if the right progs are in control. So the existence of minorities that dominate the enemy WCM are not a cause for study or celebration to be copied by NAMs and loudly proclaimed by progs, but an indictment of a worldview. If your view that progs are mostly not hucksters were true, then the story would be on every prog's mind when the subject of NAM inequality in the workplace arose. From long experience on blogs and IRL, I can tell you that progs HATE it when these ideas are brought up and generally go into a purely defensive mode. Zero interest in this reality.

      There are a million prog blogs that tout the idea of WCM hegemony and those blogs are more indicative of the prog mindset than what a tiny cadre of academics publishes in unread journals. For some reason, progs seem allergic to the idea that Jews dominate WCMs.

      It's possible to embrace human evolution and still be a pure prog. I only know of one case on the web, but his outlook is that large scale redistribution is needed to counteract NAM genetic low IQ. And pro-market cultural progs like McArdle are pretty normal.

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    40. For some reason, progs seem allergic to the idea that Jews dominate WCMs.

      Why are they supposed to give a shit?

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    41. Because progs claim that power should not rest too much in the hands of any group. Jewish dominance of WCMs is now obvious to see. Honest progs will question how far Jewish dominance should go. I mean, unless progs are committed to the idea of completely disempowering white males, the giant shifts should be noteworthy.

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    42. .....that power should not rest too much in the hands of any group. Jewish dominance of WCMs.....

      Hold on. I thought you were just misusing "dominance" to mean overachievement in school. You actually mean Jews are exercising too much power over Women Chess Masters, I mean, over White Christian Males? And something should be done about this? Is that what I'm hearing?

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    43. No, I'm saying that progs claim to be interested in balancing power between different races/ethnicities. They don't claim what I see as the truth, which is that they have a list of people that they hate and want to disempower as much as possible, with WCMs at the top.

      Now that so much power has shifted to Jews, the obvious question to progs is, "you guys talk a lot about power distribution. Do you think that Jew/gentile should be in the Uniform Guidelines as protected classes now that Jews run so much and make so much more than the reviled WCM?"

      Keep in mind that I don't think that Jewish bias has much to do with Jewish wealth and power relative to WCMs because I believe that evolution affects humans. But progs don't, so why aren't they clamoring about the incredible overrepresentation of Jews in positions of wealth and power?

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    44. They don't claim what I see as the truth, which is that they have a list of people that they hate and want to disempower as much as possible, with WCMs at the top.

      If there are such "progs," I can't speak for them, because I'm in that other group, the one that publishes in tiny academic journals that no one reads. (Not a great way to advance a power agenda, I'm finding.)

      .....why aren't they clamoring about the incredible overrepresentation of Jews in positions of wealth and power?

      Um... because that's a proven bad way to start a political conversation? Some other countries have tried figuring out what to do "now that Jews run so much." It hasn't ended well, especially when genetic theories got involved.

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  5. The problem with the US (vs China) is that it's considered "racist" to say that intelligence is principally genetic because that leads to obvious conclusions.

    That's not accurate. The antiracist objection to linking intelligence with genetics is focused on Step 2, where the pseudoscientist then suggests that intelligence must be more or less common among groups easily identifiable through some other trait, like, oh, I don't know, let's say..... skin color, just to pick one at random.

    Since we're swapping personal anecdotes, it's always been clear to me that whatever capacity I have for certain kinds of abstract thinking is partly inherited. My sibling is adopted, and the differences between us, and between each of us and our parents, are notable across a range of traits and dispositions. However, all four of us are -- in the outmoded categories of past centuries -- "white," and I can readily think of persons who aren't who are/were at least as adept as I am at various kinds of tasks that involve thinking. (Frederick Douglass, for one; W.E.B. DuBois, for another; Martin Luther King Jr., for a third; Barack Obama, for a fourth.) So the "racial" relevance or upshot of inheritability is lost on me.

    And as to women, CSH, your problem is you were in America. American women were never beating down my door either, but French women occasionally were. France is different that way; intelligence is apparently considered alluring there, or something. The problem is, there aren't enough French women around for the effect to be noticeable unless you're in France. I don't know about Quebec.

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    1. where the pseudoscientist then suggests that intelligence must be more or less common among groups easily identifiable through some other trait, like, oh, I don't know, let's say..... skin color

      What does the bolded section mean?

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    2. The antiracist objection isn't aimed at the notion that intelligence is heritable per se (although there's much debate about what the term "intelligence" means); it's aimed at the idea that intelligence is unequally distributed among groups defined in some other way. That is:

      > I could simply say that intelligence is more common among a group I call "the intelligent." That would likely be true, but tautological and pointless.

      > Or I could say that intelligence is more common among {name your group here}: men, redheads, Eskimos, left-handed people, gays, people under 5' 5", people with big skulls, people with a predisposition to sickle-cell disease, etc. In other words, that the heritability of intelligence correlates with the heritability of something else.

      > There may or may not be such correlations. Again, we're dealing with very complicated problems of definition here, since to make such claims we need to define not only "intelligence" but also the group or trait(s) with which we believe it correlates.

      > Unfortunately, in actual practice, the simple(istic) correlation that's been drawn in the past is between intelligence and "race," a crude category or group definition that biologists no longer rely on (they've switched to a subtler concept, "clines") and that was actually a political-cultural construction based on, meant to rationalize, and oriented toward perpetuating invidious social hierarchies and disadvantages imposed on selected people from generation to generation.

      > In simple layman's terms, it was argued for a long time that "blacks" were, as a group, "less intelligent" than whites. (This was sometimes grounded on intermediate or additional claims, e.g. that blacks had less average cranial capacity than whites. Measuring skulls was a major, if misguided, scientific enterprise in the 19th century.) The problem is that "blacks," "whites" and "intelligent" are all either names for convenient fictions or, at best, moving targets, hence vastly more likely to be describing a socio-political prejudice of some kind than a scientifically reliable finding. This is the abuse to which antiracists are alert and inclined to object.

      Is that clearer, or should I go on?

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  6. The reactions to the Pope's new public relations campaign, to put it crassly, carried on at the World Youth Day in Brazil. If nothing else, he's continued to show himself to be a very charismatic leader with many ready to embrace his embryonic vision for the church as force within social life. And since the Catholic Church remains a huge global institution, this dynamic could have large long-term cultural consequences if he goes on to make substantial use of his leadership skills. So did it matter this week? No, not tangibly. But it was a strong sign of his potential. He seems to have a force of personality sufficient to set an agenda -- not something you can necessarily say about too many global leaders.

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    1. That's a great call, PF. Its a cynical age, and the papacy is an institution that engenders much cynicism. But Francis does seem to be a different kind of cat. The possibility of influence from his leadership style is definitely worth watching.

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    2. Yup, agree with both of these -- with the caveat that it's very early, and it may not turn out to be something after all. But worth watching? Absolutely.

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  7. Is reporting by CNN on the CIa and Benghazi going to open that controversy up to more investigation?

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    1. Freidersdorf thinks so. I present without comment.

      http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/08/the-attack-in-benghazi-worth-investigating-after-all/278299/

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    2. If Congress wants to investigate what the CIA was doing in Benghazi, it's certainly their prerogative. It makes more sense than investigating whether talking points were intended to spin the news (and even that fell apart). On the other hand, the only allegation so far is that the CIA is trying to keep one of their operations secret (together with some embellishments to imply that they really, really want to keep it secret), which is kind of what the CIA does.

      I don't know if it matters to Friedersdorf's understanding of the situation, but the CIA station was a mile down the road from the diplomatic post that was the initial target.

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  8. Hey, since this became a eugenics discussion, NPR had David Epstein on to discuss his book The Sports Gene. I suppose when a fellow like backyard or Sailer sees a book with such a title in the bookstore, they are filled with hope - alas, when they crack the spine, not so good.

    Epstein reminded the listeners (as in the linked story) about how Jennie Finch pitched to a bunch of big leaguers a while ago, and though Finch's pitches are no faster than major league fastballs (adjusted for distance), and though the softball is bigger, and - well - she's a girl, the greatest major league hitters, including perhaps the greatest ever (i.e. Bonds and Pujols) couldn't touch her.

    On page 2 of the attached, Bruce Abernathy explains why Pujols and Bonds struggled with Finch. It turns out they don't have genetically superior reflexes or strength or anything else that the Sailer-types celebrate, they're just exceptional at picking up pitcher cues instantaneously. Cues like shoulder rotation and hand position at the flicker of delivery. When those cues are removed (such as when Jennie Finch is pitching from a different arm position), Abernathy found, great hitters become as hopeless as the rest of us.

    Bringing this back to Sailer and backyard, the genetic explanation for baseball hitter superiority is as follows: in the evironment of evolutionary adaptiveness, Pujols' and Bonds' deep ancestors developed a mutation allowing them to track the movement of a major league pitcher's shoulder, which mutation managed to descend down through the generations and give Pujols and Bonds the tremendous competitive advantage that made them the best hitters ever.

    Look. Steve Sailer is certainly an intellectually accomplished fellow, as indicated by his UCLA MBA in Finance and Marketing. But - its Finance and Marketing. You wouldn't ask Eugene Fama his theory on genetic drift, anymore than you would ask a geneticist his view of the CAPM. Or you could ask them, but you would surely discount their views appropriately.

    You need better heroes, backyard. Unless of course they don't exist.

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    1. Just to overclarify, Bonds' and Pujols' ancestors developed a genetic mutation to track the motion of the shoulder of an overhand pitch; that same gene is incapable of tracking the arm movement of a similarly fast pitch thrown underhanded (by Jennie Finch).

      What. an. amazing. gene!

      (What a waste of precious genetic material!)

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    2. I'm often somewhat surprised that there aren't women playing somewhere in the various levels of pro baseball. I mean, the best woman hitter in the world is worse than the #9 hitter on mediocre single-A teams? No one figures they could get some middle relief with a converted softball pitcher throwing underhand fastballs? The draft is 40 round, 30 teams, plus compensatory.

      It seems like most of the things which put women at substantial disadvantage with men at similar skill levels for most sports aren't necessarily as important in baseball. Being smaller won't matter as much as in football or basketball. Strength and footspeed are important, but a player doesn't necessarily have to be at peak in both. Slow-running power guys, quick and agile fielders, etc.

      I don't necessarily expect huge numbers, but two or three women a year who are enough of a prospect to risk a late-round draft pick on?

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    3. The explanation is pretty easy: it's extremely difficult for girls to play top-level baseball. If through high school played baseball, and not softball, it's likely things would be different. And then on top of that the discrimination is almost certainly intense in the few instances where girls (1)try and (2) are good enough that they could do it. So you need someone who not only is able to master baseball despite being pushed constantly to softball, but is also willing to put up with and good at putting up with the crap that the male ballplayers (and most likely coaches, fans, etc.) through throw at them.

      That said: I'm still surprised at how large the difference between men's and women's basketball is.

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    4. For me, it's the 'never heard of it ever' thing. If it was once a decade you heard of someone trying...

      Just for the heck of it, pulled some shooting percentages (2%,3%,FT%):

      [a] 0.440/0.369/0.853
      [b] 0.493/0.404/0.899
      [c] 0.465/0.386/0.872
      [d] 0.506/0.278/0.742
      [e] 0.416/0.358/0.838

      Challenge: match to players: Dwyane Wade, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Tamika Catchings, Diana Taurasi.

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    5. Challenge: who were they shooting against?

      The best free throw shooters aren't even basketball players because the athleticism required to get around men who are 6'8", strong, and fast is no advantage.

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    6. That said: I'm still surprised at how large the difference between men's and women's basketball is.

      It's because the distributions of height and strength are shifted to the left for women.

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    7. I'm often somewhat surprised that there aren't women playing somewhere in the various levels of pro baseball. I mean, the best woman hitter in the world is worse than the #9 hitter on mediocre single-A teams?

      Why bother with the hassles of bringing a woman onto a pro baseball team just so she can replace a mediocre player? There's no net advantage.

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