September 16, 2005

American Indians were wimps, says WaPo columnist:

In the Washington Post, sports columnist Mike Wise, having recently written a column on the Navy-Maryland football game that included an irrelevant aspersion on the number of teeth possessed by the average West Virginian, today denounces the use of American Indian names by sports teams:

And, please, enough with this, "We're paying homage to the bravery and warrior mentality of the Native American." That's the same tired excuse Florida State University uses to continue the tradition of a student on horseback in full Hollywood regalia, chucking a flaming spear into the ground at midfield before football games, while thousands of people participate in the Tomahawk chop and the accompanying war chant also popular at Atlanta Braves games. The truth: The indigenous people of this continent were almost all hunters, gatherers, craftsmen and craftswomen before some of our ancestors nearly exterminated them and turned them into b-western caricatures.

Not warriors and braves, just "craftsmen and craftswomen." Yeah, sure... just ask the Hopi about the Navajo...

As I wrote in the September 12 issue of The American Conservative (subscribe here):

In contrast to their attitudes toward blacks, whites, on the whole, long held profoundly mixed emotions about American Indians...

Of course, back then whites admired Native Americans for virtues that are now suspect: manliness, ferocity, bravery, stoicism, self-sacrifice, taciturnity, and dignity. The feminist and civil rights revolutions introduced new social ideals that made Oprah Winfrey -- emotional, glib, self-absorbed, and shameless -- the prototypical modern American.

In this new cultural environment, where Bill Clinton promised to "feel your pain," American Indians, whose elders taught them to try not to feel even their own pain, grew increasingly irrelevant. The role models of today's American youth are rappers, who embody the verbosity and braggadocio that Indians abhorred.

Since we pay so little attention to the real merits of Indians anymore, it's been easy for us to invent fantasies depicting them as fashionable Noble Savages. Schools try to propagandize kids into believing that Indians were ecologists and, hilariously, feminists. (Tellingly, the Secretary-Treasurer of the activist National Coalition on Racism in Sports and Media is Anita Hill of the Clarence Thomas confirmation brouhaha.)

For true believers in the new conventional wisdom about Indians, nicknames like the U. of North Dakota's "Fighting Sioux" sound like racist stereotypes. Who could imagine a Sioux ever doing something so patriarchal and dead-white-European-maleish as fighting? (Well, Crazy Horse and George Armstrong Custer could.)

Not surprisingly, modern boys subjected to this school room cant assume that American Indians must have been total wimps, and go back to listening to Fifty Cent rap about how many millions he's making.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Is Jodie Foster a lesbian? America wants to know!

With the upcoming release of the two-time Oscar-winning actress' movie "Flight Plan," Google is buzzing once again with the ever-popular query "Jodie Foster lesbian." While the facts seem pretty obvious, I think the truly unusual and interesting thing about Foster is her rather creepy eugenicist side. As I wrote in in 2000:

Feminist heroine/single mother/glamour queen Jodie Foster apparently undertook a more methodical search for the perfect sperm donor. According to numerous reports in the British press in 1998, she had proudly announced that after a long hunt, she had had herself impregnated with the gametes of a tall, dark, handsome scientist with an IQ of 160.

While Miss Foster will neither confirm nor deny these articles, this does not at all seem out of character. In her movies and personal life, Miss Foster has often appeared to be loyally trying to reproduce her unusual upbringing. According to her ne'er-do-well brother Buddy's tell-all book Foster Child, Alicia Foster's nickname of "Jodie" is a tribute to "Aunt" Jo, who was their mother's pistol-packing live-in lesbian lover. Jodie was a child prodigy who thrived in this environment, reading at 18 months, becoming the Coppertone Kid at three, and later on graduating summa cum laude from Yale. Thus, her first directorial effort was Little Man Tate, in which she played a single mother raising a seven-year-old genius. Similarly, her production company received multiple Emmy nominations for Baby Dance, a Showtime cable movie about artificial insemination. Not surprisingly, she named her firm Egg Pictures.

Now, just because a wide gamut of the British press runs a story that jibes so well with her personality doesn't mean it's true. (Other rumors suggest various Hollywood players as the donor dad.) Interestingly, according to my web search, the only American outlet to even mention that the London papers were having a field day over the 160 IQ story was the National Enquirer. All the other U.S. newspapers and magazines periodicals just dutifully parroted Jodie's "no comment" responses to Who's Your Daddy questions about her little Charles Foster.

Nevertheless, this hardly disproves the Fleet Street stories. Stars routinely blackmail "respectable" American publications like Vanity Fair by threatening to never, ever again pose for a glamorous cover photo if they dare publish anything image-tarnishing. Since the Enquirer, in contrast, prefers cover pictures of deranged-looking celebrities being hauled off to the Betty Ford Clinic in straitjackets, it is less shackled by the rules of "access journalism."

And Jodie is widely celebrated for her leftist activism. The last story she would want circulating is one that makes her sound like Nazi film directrix Leni Riefenstahl brainstorming with Himmler and Goebbels over the specs for the Master Race's next generation. Especially because Jodie actually is planning to produce and star in an upcoming bio-pic called The Leni Riefenstahl Project.

Whoever the father of Jodie Foster's baby really is, the general truth is that, despite the strident egalitarianism of so many feminists, the process of getting artificially inseminated inevitably turns women who can't bear to be impregnated by a man into practicing eugenicists. They have to ask themselves which sperm donor is genetically superior. Leafing through fertility clinics' catalogs, they are forced to agonize over such politically incorrect questions as, "Does Donor #543's curly blonde hair and 6'-3" height mean he gives better seed than Donor #361, who is only 5'-7" but has an SAT score of 1450?" [More]

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

"Planners Didn't Anticipate Gun Problem After Katrina:"

More evidence of official naiveté about the New Orleans population (via Modern Tribalist) from an AP news story:

Disaster Official At N.Y. Symposium: Planners Didn't Anticipate Gun Problem After Katrina

POSTED: 8:48 am EDT September 13, 2005

NEW YORK -- Emergency officials who prepared Louisiana's plan for responding to a major hurricane never guessed that one of their duties would be to protect aid workers from gunmen, one of the state's senior disaster officials said Monday.

Speaking at a symposium in New York, Arthur Jones, chief of disaster recovery for Louisiana's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, said he was caught off guard by the violence in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

No disaster planner, he said, predicted that people would loot gun stores after the storm and shoot at police, rescue officials and helicopters.

Jones said the flow of aid to the city was delayed because officials were not able to guarantee the safety of American Red Cross workers and other volunteers.

"That's never been in any plan," Jones said in an interview following his speech to the emergency response officials at the symposium. "Unfortunately, in the future, it will have a place at the table."

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer


My review from the October 10th American Conservative (available to electronic subscribers on Saturday).

Philip Seymour Hoffman, the pallid, pudgy, and titanic character actor best known for playing rock critic Lester Bangs in "Almost Famous," confirms his stature as the American Alec Guinness in "Capote," a biopic recounting the six years Truman Capote devoted to his pathbreaking 1966 "nonfiction novel" In Cold Blood, the progenitor of the True Crime genre.

I'd always pictured Hoffman as a bear of a man -- he's long been the fan favorite to play the mountainous Ignatius J. Reilly in the great New Orleans comic novel A Confederacy of Dunces, which has languished in Hollywood's Development Hell for a quarter of a century -- but in "Capote" he almost disappears into a very different son of the Crescent City, the tiny, epicene café society raconteur with the voice of an effeminate child. ("Capote" opens September 30 in NYC and LA.)

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

My article on Alberto Gonzales

will be in the October 10th American Conservative (available to electronic subscribers on Saturday). A brief excerpt:

The day after nominating John Roberts to be Chief Justice of the United States, President Bush addressed the remaining Supreme Court vacancy: "The list is wide open . … And make sure you notice when I said that, I looked right at Al Gonzales…"

Last summer, when Gonzales’s name was first floated as a replacement for Sandra Day O’Connor, Bush lashed out at conservatives for their tepid response. Sounding like a cross between Don Corleone and the narrator of Green Eggs and Ham, the president bristled:

"I don't like it when a friend gets criticized. I'm loyal to my friends. And all of a sudden this fellow, who is a good public servant and a really fine person, is under fire. And so, do I like it? No, I don't like it at all."

No matter whom George W. Bush ultimately nominates, it's clear that the man the he would most like to appoint is Gonzales, his longtime consigliere upon whom he has bestowed the Godfatherish nickname "Fredo." After decades of personally prospering through crony capitalism, Bush wishes to reward his most devoted practitioner of lackey legalism by ensconcing Gonzales on the high court.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Should American judges cite foreign law?

Lots of conservatives are up in arms over judges quoting foreign law in making their decisions, but it's important not to throw out the baby with the bathwater over this.

American judges have always cited English common law cases.. For example, the Constitution guarantees "the Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus," but to understand precisely what the mysterious phrase "habeas corpus" means, American judges still had to look at precedents that had accumulated over hundreds of years under English law.

More recent innovations in the English common law, such as the 1843 M'Naghten Rule defining "criminal insanity," have also been assimilated by American judges (although some frontier states following the Revolution passed Anglophobic laws barring the use of English cases decided after July 4, 1776, but those prohibitions had been repealed by around 1820). The common law is a crucial joint heritage of the English-speaking countries.

This raises the more general contradiction between the strict constructionist stance and the common law, which is both conservative and evolutionary. The common law grows kind of like Wikipedia, although it contains a strong bias toward precedent. But in a common law system, when new situations arise, judges are supposed to make up new rules, although the less pure concoction and the more emulation and adaptation the better -- which is one reason they like to look at what judges in other countries have done.

In practice, strict constructionism and the common law tradition aren't really at each other's throats that much, because the former is largely a philosophy for interpreting the Constitution, which deals with the rules of government, while the common law is much more focused upon the rules of private life, such as contract and inheritance. It's not unreasonable to discourage to discourage judges from relying heavily upon foreign law in interpreting the U.S. Constitution, but there are less glamorous areas where surveying the best that's been done abroad wouldn't hurt.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

September 15, 2005

Brad DeLong, Purifier of the Comments Section

I mentioned below that Berkeley economist Brad DeLong had issued on his "reality-based" blog a self-satisfied mathematical proof that the distribution of genes around the world must be homogenous, even thought as you know and I know, but Brad doesn't know, they aren't. A lively argument then broke out in his Comments section.

What's interesting is that the eminent professor has now gone through his Comments section and deleted many posts that undermine his worldview. Where does he find the time? Unfortunately, he forgets to delete the responses by his supporters attempting to answer the now-deleted heresies, making the experience rather like looking at those pictures from the Bolshevik Revolution pictures where Stalin had Trotsky airbrushed out from Lenin's side.

Physicist Steve Hsu sends me the following section from DeLong's comments, in which DeLong left the original comment by his supporter and then deleted the responses by Gregory Cochran and Hsu. This first commented passed muster with DeLong:

Posted by: bambi vs godzilla | Sep 13, 2005 8:58:15 PM

Defined as genetically distinct groups, races don't exist. That’s what I learned, anyway, and nothing anyone has written here suggests I wasn’t paying attention to the teacher. Yes, some groups differ genetically from others; but how you divide groups depends on which genes you decide to examine. That means that if you are prepared to look obsessively you can find genetic markers to distinguish Poles from Swedes. For example, Swedes might have more wrinkly foreskins. Thus, Poles and Swedes are “different.” Great!

AFAIK (admittedly not very much) genetic diversity is irreducible. But if in fact there is a way to divide groups genetically that isn’t arbitrary, then fine, what is it? If in fact someone has devised a method to place an individual into one and only one racial group, what is that method?

But Cochran's and Hsu's were too horrible to be allowed to remain:

Posted by: gcochran
| Sep 13, 2005 9:52:37 PM

As for your teacher, and the other people who said this kind of thing - well, mistakes were made. The key is that a given allele that is especially common in Swedes is correlated with _other_ alleles that are especially common in Swedes. Do principal component analysis on the covariance matrix for many loci (or cluster analysis) and !presto! - Bob's your uncle.

When someone like Jared Diamond talks this talk, you'd almost think that he doesn't know any population genetics.

Posted by: steve [Hsu] | Sep 13, 2005 11:17:21 PM

gcochran wrote:

"Do principal component analysis on the covariance matrix for many loci (or cluster analysis) and !presto! - Bob's your uncle."

This gets right to the point (see an earlier post by gcochran for a less terse explanation). Too bad that very few readers here will understand (or even try to understand) what it means. Bambi vs Godzilla had the insight to ask the question properly. Will he or she make the effort to understand the answer?

Imagine each individual's genetic code as a point in a space of *very high* dimension. Then look at clusters of points. (Define a cluster as a group of points whose distance from each other is less than some radius; distinct clusters are separated by distances larger than this radius.) These clusters map directly onto traditional groupings of ethnicity. In fact, a recent study by Neil Risch at UCSF showed that self-reported "race" correlates very well with the clustering results. (Mixed race people are obviously an exception, but as discussed they are a small fraction of the total population, and will continue to be for some time.)

People (especially professors of social science) who confidently state to their students that "there is no genetic basis for race" should think through the analysis described above and look at the data carefully if they want to retain their credentials as scientists.

From the conclusions of the Risch paper (Am. J. Hum. Genet. 76:268–275, 2005):

Attention has recently focused on genetic structure in the human population. Some have argued that the amount of genetic variation within populations dwarfs the variation between populations, suggesting that discrete genetic categories are not useful (Lewontin 1972; Cooper et al. 2003; Haga and Venter 2003). On the other hand, several studies have shown that individuals tend to cluster genetically with others of the same ancestral geographic origins (Mountain and Cavalli-Sforza 1997; Stephens et al. 2001; Bamshad et al. 2003). Prior studies have generally been performed on a relatively small number of individuals and/or markers. A recent study (Rosenberg et al. 2002) examined 377 autosomal micro-satellite markers in 1,056 individuals from a global sample of 52 populations and found significant evidence of genetic clustering, largely along geographic (continental) lines. Consistent with prior studies, the major genetic clusters consisted of Europeans/West Asians (whites), sub-Saharan Africans, East Asians, Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans. ethnic groups living in the United States, with a discrepancy rate of only 0.14%.

You know, I'm all for that First Amendment thing, but you've got to draw the line somewhere. I mean, we just can't have physicists going around in public saying things like:

"Imagine each individual's genetic code as a point in a space of *very high* dimension. Then look at clusters of points. (Define a cluster as a group of points whose distance from each other is less than some radius; distinct clusters are separated by distances larger than this radius.) These clusters map directly onto traditional groupings of ethnicity."

Think of the children!

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

John Podhoretz on immigration

A reader writes:

I attended a forum in Skokie outside of Chicago sponsored by the Jewish Policy Center (JPC) — the think tank offshoot of the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC). The forum consisted of a moderator – Michael Medved, and four presenters, including John Podhoretz and David Horowitz.

I would say about 300 people showed up for the event, a lot considering it was a nice afternoon and both the Bears and Sox were playing.

The audience (naturally) had lots of questions about Israel. And here is where John Podhoretz began to squirm. One questioner asked him about his father, and John Podhoretz curtly cut him off, saying he was not his father. But that he would be happy to answer the question as John Podhoretz.

Another questioner from the audience asked the panel about our immigration problems. Medved, unfortunately, began to waffle and squish on the subject. He pointed out that America had (roughly) 3,000 miles of borders and it couldn’t possibly protect them all. He noted that Israel, by comparison, had something like 240 miles of borders and was having a hard time controlling even that. It was a bit disappointing as an answer from a guy I am normally inclined to agree with.

And Israel has 1/50th the population of America and 1/100th GNP.

But Podhoretz decided he wanted to answer this question, and here is where the fireworks began. He started by saying something along the lines of, “Well, first I feel when it comes to any issue of immigration, I have to rely on my Jewish experience. And I think back on the 1924 immigration restrictionist law which excluded so many Jews...”

Here he was interrupted and cut off by boos and jeers from the audience.

He was visibly taken aback by this reaction. He asked, “Why are you booing me?” Clearly shocked. Then he thought he had it figured out and responded by basically, “Oh, well I guess now this is an issue of Mexicans versus Jews...” And this produced even more jeers and boos from the audience, since he was clearly implying the audience was racist.

Damn Sailerites following him wherever he goes.

It seemed that at this point David Horowitz started speaking into his mike, and knocked the ball out of the park. He began by immediately denouncing our lax border controls and reckless illegal immigration — which prompted cheers from the audience. He then noted we needed massive deportations in addition to border controls. More cheers. I forget the rest of what he said on the subject, but he was clearly the hardliner on the subject (if only on illegal immigration I guess) and clearly much more on the audiences side then the bewildered JPod.

Michael Medved recovered his footing by picking up on the Horowitz line for deportations, noting that something like 400,000 illegal aliens with felonies were on the loose and they needed to be deported first.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

September 14, 2005

"Social science is too important to be left to the social scientists"

says physicist Steve Hsu in commenting on a particularly smug and fatuous posting by economist Brad DeLong. Following Bruce T. Lahn's discovery of two brain development genes that are distributed to quite different degrees around the world, the Berkeley economist wrote:

Ongoing Human Evolution

Ah. Andrew Sullivan looks forward--a little too eagerly?--to the division of the human race into subspecies along racial lines: - Daily Dish: Humans are still evolving - and at quite a brisk pace, according to new research. Bad news for liberals: at the rate research is going, you will soon have to choose between believing in evolution and denying any subtle, genetic differences between broad racial groups.

He is, of course, wrong. He hasn't done the math. The human gene pool will be well-mixed as long as there is even a very small amount of cross-population genetic mixing

To see this, let's suppose that you have two groups of humans ...

And Dr. DeLong is off to the mathematical races. The only problem is that he didn't bother reading the NYT article Sullivan linked to showing that in the case of these two brain genes, the human gene pool is not well-mixed.

For these genes (and a lot of other ones) there have either been stronger barriers to intermating among racial groups (e.g., oceans) than DeLong assumes or that there were different selection pressures in different regions (e.g., lactose tolerance was selected for in Northern Europe but not in South America before 1492 because Amerindians didn't milk animals), or both.

DeLong's confidence in his his non-factual assumption reminds me of the classic joke:

A physicist, a chemist, and an economist are shipwrecked on a desert island. Starving, they find a case of canned pork and beans on the beach, but they have no can opener. So, they hold a symposium on how to open the cans. The physicist goes first:

"I've devised a physical solution. We find a pointed rock and propel it at the lid of the can at, say, 25 meters per second --"

The chemist breaks in:

"No, I have a chemical solution: we heat the molecules of the contents to over 100 degrees Centigrade until the pressure builds to --"

The economist, condescension dripping from his voice, interrupts:

"Gentlemen, gentlemen, I have a much more elegant solution. Assume we have a can opener..."

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Good governance correlates with national average IQ

The Right Economy blog runs a correlation of national average IQ from Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen's IQ and the Wealth of Nations with a new measure of Ease of Doing Business by country and finds the two strongly related.

I'm sure there are hundreds of things that correlate with Lynn and Vanhanen's database (looks better in Internet Explorer than in Firefox, for some reason), and I encourage the statistically inclined to try them out.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

More Hitchens hackwork: Stop this man before he writes again!

In Slate, the ubiquitous (and overworked) Christopher Hitchens drops a short, utterly dispensable essay on Arthur Koestler entitled "Darkness at Noon: The novel that made people want to be Communists." Hmmhmmhm, Koestler's account of the Stalin show trials didn't make me want to be a Communist. The world "people" perhaps refers to C. Hitchens, but if you are under contract to churn out thousands of words per day, self-absorption becomes inevitable.

It's well past time for a long vacation, Hitch.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Anybody know anything about the Costa Verde in Brazil?

Top golf course architect Tom Doak has a fairly rich client who wants to create one of the best golf courses in world, and doesn't care where in the world Doak builds it for him. Ideally, it would be on an ocean or large lake. Doak has asked for suggestions. A long time ago, I flew from Sao Paulo to Rio de Janeiro, and the 175 miles of island-strewn coastline in-between looked from the air like absolute paradise.

But, is the Costa Verde too mountainous for a good golf course? (Golf course are best suited to sand dunes or gently rolling hills, with, say, no more than 20 degree slopes. Mountainsides aren't good for golf -- it's fun to play down the mountain but a drag to play back up.) And are there any sand dunes there?

That reminds me of how Edmund Burke's distinction between the sublime and the beautiful applies to golf courses. The beautiful is some place conducive to human habitat -- meadows, valleys, slow moving streams, grassland intermingled with copses of trees, the whole English country estate shtick. The sublime is nature so magnificent that it could kill you, such as by you falling off a mountain or into a gorge.

Beautiful landscapes are most suited for building golf courses, since a golf course needs at least 100 acres of land level enough for a golf ball to come to rest upon. But golfers get a thrill out of the mock sublime, where you are in danger of losing not your life, but your mis-hit golf ball into a lake or canyon. One reason that Pebble Beach on the Monterey Peninsula (above) is so legendary is because it combines sublime sea cliffs with beautiful (and thus functional for golf) rolling plains.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

War Nerd Gary Brecher suspended without pay on suspicion of torching Victor Davis Hanson's vineyard

Read all about it on Encore, I mean, eXile. (Via Thrasymachus.)

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

"Grizzly Man"

I finally took the family to see the documentary that all the culturati are playing up as superior to "March of the Penguins." It's not, but it's amusing. It's the story of Timothy Treadwell, a manic-depressive failed TV actor who became an alcoholic after losing out to Woody Harrelson for the dumb bartender role on "Cheers." He started camping in grizzly bear country in Alaska each summer. Unlike the black bears of the Lower 48, who aren't terribly dangerous unless provoked, the huge brown bears of Alaska are erratic and can be lethal on a whim. Nobody in his right mind spends a lot of time in grizzly country without a rifle by his side.

Treadwell wasn't particularly sane, so he spent 13 unarmed summers making friends with the grizzlies, getting to the point where he could touch some of his old acquaintances on the nose. He also made friends with a family of foxes, who'd follow him around like dogs. The animals apparently found him harmless. His communing with the brutes helped him get off alcohol and drugs.

He shot 100 hours of video, but apparently he wasn't all that interested in traditional nature documentary footage. Most of the footage, at least as shown in the movie, consisted of him standing in front of a camera on a tripod, talking about himself and his grandiose psychodramas, with grizzlies as background. Finally, he stayed an extra week one fall, after all the bears he knew had gone into hibernations, and he and his girlfriend were devoured by a newcomer, an old and extremely hungry bear.

It's a pretty silly story, and isn't helped by German director Werner Herzog's narration, which is in a sort of Schopenhauer-for-Sophomores vein: "But ze uniwerse is actually cold und cruel, und, zus, he vas eaden by a bear." (Or words to that effect. It's weird how all Germans these days strike us as sounding exactly like Ah-nold.)

Personally, though, I can relate to Treadwell: I'd like to make friends with bears and foxes, too. Once in Alaska, I spent 45 minutes stalking a female caribou just to see how close I could get. By moving slowly and reassuringly from the upwind side, I got to within five feet of the 200-pound beast. It was quite exhilarating. I haven't done much hunting, but I imagine the thrill is tied into our heritage as hunters.

Rated R for bad language.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

September 13, 2005

David Brooks on conservatism's evolution over the last decade

The NYT op-edster describes what he has learned in the 10 years since the founding of the Weekly Standard.

The best description of conservatism's evolution comes from David Willetts, the Tory MP. He tells the tale as a personal journey, but it really applies to Anglo-Saxon conservatism as a whole:

"You start by making your own way in the world and what appeals to you above all is the language of flexibility, mobility, opportunity. It is the economically liberal bit which brings many people to Conservatism . . . .

"Then you get more tolerant as you begin to realize people don't always behave as you expect. You recognize how wide is the range of human motivation and how much knowledge and wisdom is dispersed. You see the market as one way in which all this diversity can be respected. Perhaps you become more tolerant and open-minded. That's the social liberalism.

"Then you have children and you start thinking about the environment in which they will grow up. You worry about how to transmit your values to the next generation. It can feel as if you are fighting a battle against not so much the state as an incredibly crude commercial culture that tells them there is no more to life but consumption. You begin to discover that there are deep ties and obligations across the generations. You notice that your friends who understand this best and live up to it are the ones with the most fulfilled and satisfied lives. In fact they are much more satisfied than the people who are just following the thin freedoms of mobility and choice."

The obvious thing Willetts is saying is that the Burke and Oakeshott side of conservatism is just as important as the libertarian, free market side, if not more so. This thought has obviously occurred to a lot of people all at once. (Read Rick Santorum's book, which treats the family, not the individual, as the basic unit of society.)

But the underlying point is that conservative writers are now spending a lot more time trying to understand the substratum of human behavior. Rather than treating human beings as economic actors and lauding the entrepreneur as conservatism's paragon, they are discussing the values, assumptions, and mental landscapes that are passed down unconsciously from generation to generation. Why do some groups succeed and others fail? Why are some people raised in environments that transmit one set of values while others are raised in environments that transmit another set of values? This is what Thomas Sowell, Charles Murray, Samuel Huntington, and even Bernard Lewis, in their different ways, have been writing about.

Everybody knew the complicated and politically treacherous subject of inherited group traits was always down there. Now it is pretty much unavoidable.

Well said.

I imagine Brooks's reference to "inherited group traits" was carefully crafted to preserve plausible deniability -- "I was only talking about 'values, assumptions, and mental landscapes,' not genes, honest, Officer!" -- while hinting to the brave (by mentioning Murray) that the ice has started to crack about talking heredity and race. Honestly, reading big time pundits on race can be like watching POW Jeremiah Denton blink out "T-O-R-T-U-R-E" when his North Vietnamese captors put him on TV.

Still, look at his list of intellectuals: At age 60, Murray is the young buck of the bunch. Sowell is 75, Huntington 78, and Bernard Lewis is ... 89. That does not speak well for conservatism's current intellectual vigor and courage.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Sir Richard Burton and Victorian Elitist Realism

I'm often told that the reason we're not allowed to mention racial reality is that if the public became aware of the truth, then horrible consequences would ensue: e.g., the American people would instantly dig up Hitler's ashes, clone his DNA, and elect Hitler 2.0 as Fuhrer-for-Life. Or something like that.

But, as I've been pointing out for a decade, the mass of Americans does know the basics of the facts, and they talk privately about them all the time. And the world continues spinning on its axis.

Instead, what we're not supposed to do is write about reality for the elites interested in public policy.

This 21st Century attitude toward writing about race contrasts strikingly with the Victorian attitude toward thinking about sex, which was that the masses should not be allowed to read erotic materials, but that the policy-making elites needed hard facts. That explains why the raffish adventurer Sir Richard Burton (not the actor, but the Victorian explorer, writer, and diplomat who was a model for Evelyn Waugh's Basil Seal) was knighted by Queen Victoria three years after he published his translation of the Kama Sutra. Burton was Britain's most outspoken advocate of polygamy, the harem system, and of Eastern erotica, but he was also employed by the Foreign Office for decades. Her Majesty's Government didn't approve of Burton's enthusiasm for non-Western sexual mores, but if they were going to run the Empire, they knew they needed to understand them.

In contrast, the American elite attitude is that the worst sin is to try to understand race honestly.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

From beyond the grave

I've talked a lot over the years about the late William D. Hamilton, the leading evolutionary theorist of the second half of the 20th Century, the man of whom Richard Dawkins said, "W.D. Hamilton is a good candidate for the title of most distinguished Darwinian since Darwin." Hamilton died in 2000 while in his early sixties from health problems contracted in the Congo, where he had ventured to test a theory for the origin of AIDS. More than anyone else, Hamilton invented the gene's-eye view of natural selection made famous in Dawkins's The Selfish Gene.

Something that was largely kept secret by Dawkins, who is a conventional center-left intellectual, and many others was Hamilton's incorrigible political incorrectness. Hamilton's own prose style contributed to this lack of awareness of where he stood on the great issues of human nature, since it is remarkably hard to find a short, pithy quotation to extract from works. Hamilton told me he found writing laborious, but I sometimes wonder whether he didn't intentionally develop his curious prose style to prevent being quoted out of context.

Late in his life, Hamilton became more outspoken on specifically human issues, rather than the more general cross-species issues that had occupied him before. Yet, until a commenter on GNXP pointed it out, I hadn't realized that there existed on the web an extraordinarily frank book review [LINK Fixed] by Hamilton of Richard Lynn's Dysgenics: Genetic Deterioration in Modern Populations that was published in the Annals of Human Genetics after his death.

Here is an excerpt from the beginning:

In a sense a dominance hierarchy has only one satisfied individual: she or he at the top. If the hierarchy is bottom-numerous rather than linear, as is the case with most human hierarchies, it is all the more true that the vast majority of people are dissatisfied, wishing they were higher up, a thought which provides a basic reason why democracies (and especially, within democracies, such institutions as their state school systems) have to be unstable. We see a wobbly pyramid, and particularly within that pyramid we see certain side stairs all human examples have by which demagogues skip up a level or two so as to shout down to the restless base that the whole structure is somehow `wrong'. Under a different system, the demagogue shouts, `You could be higher too'.

A similar image, I believe, can also reduce our surprise not only at the never ending objections to Neodarwinism but, taking the level more relevant to this review, explain the intrinsic popularity of the nurturist side in the `nature vs. nurture' debate. Neodarwinism is just too ruthless in its realism to please a majority of people: even a faint implication that an attained low station in life or education has been inevitable is too much for that hope that we all must have, the simple wish to be higher; so it is too for the feelings the average person has about their children in schools. Demagogues by definition have to be popular; almost equally they have to paint all those who speak out against them as deluded doom-sayers, scheming or fearful rightists, and the like.

All of this sketches a background -- a steep slope of average human preference -- lying behind all the topics covered in Richard Lynn's Dysgenics. His very title guarantees demagogues to be girding against him; it is important to note, however, that among these will be not just the movers and shakers who write the `PC' books with titles like The Iniquities of IQ, and Wonderbrained Woman, even if such authors are the most influential; others girding in gentler ways are simply the sunny optimist we all know in the office, and the neighbour at home telling us, almost without thinking, "Believe me, it wasn't your Tom who failed, it was the school." One has to be brave, thick-skinned, and very persistent to swim against such popular antirealistic currents.

Richard Lynn, discussing the large bank of evidence that still steadily accumulates on heritability of aptitudes and differentials of fertility, shows in this book that almost all of the worries of the early eugenicists were wellfounded in spite of the relative paucity of their evidence at the time. Correct both in their intuitions and in their assessment of the tentative data available, for most of the past hundred years Lynn shows that they have been unfairly derided.

The concerns they had about declines in health, intelligence and conscientiousness are matters that we should still be much concerned with; yet at the same time he admits the blunt and contrary fact that all over the world where it is measured, intelligence, or cognitive ability as it is now more commonly called, seems to be shooting up, thus confounding at least the most direct versions of the selection formulas that he and others have all been using. Something is evidently wrong here and I will come back to it at length. First, however, let me make clear that by the "early eugenicists" above I mean mainly such pioneers as Galton and Pearson and their true followers, not those political demagogues who simultaneously created their own interpretation of Darwinism and chose immediate, forceful action in various directions without much consideration or data. Many new activists who claimed to follow Darwin or Galton were indeed sometimes absurdly bigoted and far more radical in their proposals than any evidence of their time justified. It was they who caused the unfortunate political movements to one side or another which ended in the mid-century giving the whole field of eugenics a bad name. [More]

Hamilton went on to offer three fairly novel theories for the Flynn Effect of rising raw IQ scores in a time when fertility tends to be higher among lower IQ individuals.

1. Better survival rates among large-skulled infants and their mothers due to Caesarean sections and other obstetrical improvements.

2. That more than a few children born into lower class families of low IQ fathers were actually cuckoo's eggs fathered by men with more on the ball.

3. That perhaps Lamarck was on to something and that there are "epigenetic" mechanisms for imprinting future generations with patterns that this generation finds useful. Hamilton points to the seemingly rising rates of nearsightedness as a possible example. This third theory is over my head, but it should be considered by those more capable of evaluating it than me.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

September 11, 2005

John Derbyshire's Spiked Essay on New Orleans

The Derb was commissioned by a prestigious foreign outlet to write about What's Wrong With America in light of New Orleans, but had it rejected for, well, for the reason that title makes tautologically clear. From the Derb's website:

You Can't Talk About That
I nearly fell out of my Barcalounger Sunday morning, watching The McLaughlin Group. The old Jesuit had Pat Buchanan, Eleanor Clift, Tony Blankley, and Clarence Page (who is black) sitting around. They were talking about Hurricane Katrina, of course. Suddenly, McLaughlin turned to Page and said: “Why the correlation between black and poor?”

Good grief, I thought, you can’t ask that. People get taken off the air for less.

Poor Clarence Page didn’t know whether to spit or wind his watch. He mumbled something that wasn’t even close to being an answer. McLaughlin, realizing his gaffe, quickly and deftly steered the talk to other topics. Everybody in the studio, and all of us out there in viewerland, started breathing again. You can’t ask THAT. Nobody wants to hear about THAT.

At my neighbourhood block party that afternoon, a white, liberal neighbour expressed the sense of national shame that we’d all felt at some point in Katrina Week. “It was like some Third World country!” he said. “Like Somalia, or Haiti…” The guy stopped dead in his tracks, suddenly aware of what he had implied, then desperately back-pedaled, trying to erase his thoughtcrime. “I mean, you know, Third World. Like, um, Cambodia…” Those of us listening nodded in sympathy, silently thinking: Nice save there, guy.

All of us, and John McLaughlin, and very likely Clarence Page, too, all of us were still haunted by what we’d been watching on our TV screens through Katrina Week: the spectacle of several thousand black Americans openly, nakedly displaying their helpless, hopeless, clueless, angry dependency. It was there, it was real, though we’re stuffing it down the memory hole now as fast as we can work our fingers. Come on, you saw it too. What did you think? What did you feel?

Speaking for myself, I felt pity, anger, and shame, in proportions roughly 3-2-1.

Pity. It could hardly be plainer that nobody gives a damn about these poor black people, and nobody has any clue how to lift them up, least of all the people who bellyache endlessly about “racism” (see next point). The meritocracy vacuums up every clever, talented black kid it can find and puts him through college, after which he is welcomed joyfully into the Cognitive Elite. (Hey, look at us! No racism here!) The rest are packed off into welfare slums, or jails — anywhere really, so long as we don’t have to think about them. Yale or jail.

Anger. The whole thing woke my anger at liberals, big time. What lying, thieving hypocrites they are! All their vaunted “programs,” all that money, all those decades of preaching to us. What’s it accomplished? Black people don’t actually occupy any space in a white liberal’s mind at all. All their pretended concern is just intra-tribal moral posturing, asserting their moral superiority over other whites. Horrible, horrible, people. Hey, Teddy, Hillary, Barbra: You have a few houses each — how about giving one or two of them over to a poor black family flooded out from New Orleans? Whaddya say? Hillary? Ted? Hello?

Shame. Just like my neighbor. More so, if I may thus flatter myself, since I am a naturalized citizen. I chose this country. And because we can’t stir ourselves to care about this, above the level of posturing and lip service and cooking up convoluted lies to tell ourselves, a bunch of crummy foreigners are laughing at us. The hell with them, except… we kind of deserve it, don’t we?

The lying is the worst. Boy, how we lie to ourselves. What was that thing Orwell said in the Blitz, about how he didn’t mind people flying over and dropping bombs on him half as much as he minded the lies they used to justify themselves? [More]

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer