May 6, 2006

Irate reader defends the economist freakonomizing about football

My dismissal of the methodology of Berkeley economist David Romer's paper claiming that NFL coaches are too risk-averse -- lacking sufficient sample size of teams going for the first down on fourth down, Romer assumed that they'd be as successful on fourth down as they are on third down -- has elicited this reply from a reader:

Did you even read the whole thing? He explicitly considers the difference between third and forth down, based on exactly the reasons you mention. It's on the bottom of page 20. The idea that he's unaware of these differences is simply false. Your failure to acknowledge this is completely misleading.

I read them and they appeared to be empty rationalizations, not worth describing and refuting at 1:30 AM. The fact that Romer's model (Figure 5 - last page) says you should be indifferent between going for it versus punting on 4th and 3 from your own 10 yard line is plenty of evidence that his use of 3rd downs to estimate what would happen on 4th downs is close to uselessly wrong, for the reasons I explicitly explained in my posting below -- the defense tends to play farther back on third down than on fourth down to guard against a long gain or touchdown.

His third down methodology however, might be quite useful for fourth-and-goal situations (within 10 yards of a touchdown), or even just in the red zone (inside your opponent's 20) because defenses won't play all that much different on third and fourth downs.

He concludes that using third down is probably still meaningful, and he gives reasons why he believes this. Now, he might be wrong, and you might be right that his analysis could be improved. But did you actually go through the work to determine how large such an effect might be and how much it might change the analysis? Or did you just declare him to be an idiot and his findings to be "prima facie stupid" without doing any of the hard work?

Of course I didn't redo Romer's entire analysis for him. I pointed out the ridiculous predictions it makes and explained an obvious reason why it fails to offer plausible advice. My role in this is wholly negative -- pointing out how the it gives bad advice and pointing to a bad methodology. from a bad methodology. And I'm trying to do my part to shame economists into being a little less smug about these slapdash freakonomics analyses that are in fashion.

And do you *really* believe that football coaches already do everything optimally?

No, I said it was my vague impression that NFL coaches are, just as Romer contends, too risk averse. But I don't know enough about the NFL to offer anything more than speculation. I suspect Romer and I are right and that coaches like Bill Walsh and Bill Belichick are wrong about this, but there is a possibility that Romer and I might, strange as it sounds, be wrong and Walsh and Belichick be right.

My objection is not to Romer's general prejudice, which I share. I simply find his methodology close to useless.

However, he could salvage some utility from his study. UPDATE: What Romer should do is take his calculations and say, "All right, I admit it, I don't know anything about the chance of making a first down on 4th down. Obviously, my methodology of looking at 3rd down plays is useless for understanding the chances of making it on 4th down, except probably near the goal line. However, here are the expected return in all situations of making it versus not making it. Then, you football coaches should take _your_ estimates of the percentage chance of making it on different 4th down situations, which are obviously better than mine, and multiply it by my estimate of the returns of making it, which are pretty good, and the combined result of our efforts will be useful information."

Haven't you read Bill James? (James, by the way, is someone who has done a lot of interesting work, but who could really benefit from a little more rigorous statistical training.)

Because James, the baseball statistics guru now employed by the Boston Red Sox, is an old English major lacking training in elaborate statistics and econometrics, he prefers quicks and dirty simple analyses to elaborate modeling. There are obvious shortcomings to lacking a Ph.D. in economics, but the humility and practical-orientation it engenders in James have its uses too.

You can see an looming problem with an elaborate model like Romer's -- you design a complicated methodology in your head, then you collect a lot of data, then you work on it and, after infinite labors, it tells you to go for it on fourth and two at your own 10 yard line. If you'd done a Bill James-style quickie study and gotten that results, you'd say, uh-oh, that's wrong, obviously there's something wrong with my model, what is it? And you'd wouldn't be so invested in this study, so you'd be willing to walk away from it if you couldn't make it work.

But if you've built a huge model and it gives an irrational result due to a fatal, unfixable flaw in your analytical approach, you'd be tempted, like Romer, to go ahead and issue it anyway.

It's the same thing as Levitt and Donohue's abortion-cut-crime theory. They put all this effort into the state-level analysis without putting much effort at all into the simpler national level analysis. So when I pointed out to them in in 1999 that murder instead went up sharply among those born right after legalization, their egos and reputations were too invested in their flawed study to walk away from it. Instead, they ended up getting humiliated in 2005 by Foote and Goetz showing that their state-level analysis was based on two fatal flaws. Of course, by then Levitt was a rich celebrity, so he cried all the way to the bank.

Seriously, speaking as someone who thinks you have a lot of good ideas, you could stand to show just a little tiny bit of humility now and then. Even the great Steve Sailer doesn't know everything. You'd probably find more support for your ideas if you weren't so quick to declare everyone else an idiot.

I don't have the ability to build vast econometric models, but I do have a certain talent for proposing reality checks on economists' popular theories, particularly when they wander out of their traditional domains. This is not likely to make me popular, but I suspect, or at least hope, that in the long run, my irritating knack serves the common good. It may even help economists by making them try harder to find the weaknesses in their ideas before they attempt to turn them into conventional wisdom.

UPDATE: If Romer really wants to continue to argue that teams should go for it on 4th and 2 on their own ten yard line, there is a source of data available. There are inner city high school football teams that seldom punt or try field goals because they can't persuade players to specialize in kicking. Romer could study these teams games. My impression is that lacking a punter is a huge problem, but I could be wrong.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

May 5, 2006

More little-known facts about Fox's former Former Minister

The New York Times kindly linked to my blog item about Jorge Castañeda, the author of their latest pro-amnesty op-ed (go here to the op-ed and page down to the bottom). I must say, though, that I've gotten more traffic from Larry Auster's View from the Right linking to it than from the NYT's link.

Here are three more interesting things about Castañeda that I only learned recently even though I read almost everything about him published in English back in 2000-2001, when he became Vicente Fox's foreign minister.

1. He is known in Mexican newspapers "as 'El Guero' ('the Blond One') for his fair complexion."

2. His Soviet mother was an employee of Stalin's government when his father met her.

In 2002, Bianca Vazquez Toness wrote in the Princeton alumni magazine:

"Perhaps the biggest irony of Castañeda’s rise as a full-time opponent of the old system is that he is a product of that system. His father, PRI member Jorge Castañeda de la Rosa, was once foreign minister. His mother, a Russian Jew and naturalized Mexican, met her husband while working as a translator at the U.N. in New York. Young Jorge’s pedigree gave him advantages unavailable to most Mexicans: He grew up a polyglot between New York and Geneva, perfecting his English and his French, while his father served as Mexican ambassador to the U.N. He enrolled at Princeton in 1970...

His doctorate gave him clout upon returning to Mexico at age 25, but his family connections opened the door to the political elite. Castañeda, a political science professor at the national university, called himself a Communist, but that didn’t stop him from moonlighting for his father, who was appointed foreign minister in 1979. The son convinced his father to abandon Mexico’s historically anti-interventionist policy. Calling on contacts made during his school days in France, the younger Castañeda helped negotiate a joint recognition with France of rebel forces in El Salvador, much to the dismay of the U.S., which supported the government in the civil war against the Marxist guerrillas.

3. Castaneda's chief advisor while he was Foreign Minister was his older half-brother, Ambassador-at-Large Andres Rozental, who is his mother's son by a previous marriage. Rozental personally advised Mexico's immigration negotiators with the Bush administration.

Isn't it remarkable how little the press tells us about the men running Mexico?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

What's worse than Freakonomics? Pseudo-Freakonomics!

Why, when economists venture out of their normal ruts, do they routinely make obvious errors? And, more puzzlingly, why don't other economists notice their mistakes?

For example, Tyler Cowen of Marginal Revolution is playing up a study by economist David Romer claiming that NFL coaches are too conservative. According to Romer, they punt way too much on fourth down instead of going for a first down, which risks turning the ball over to the other team if they fail to make the needed yardage. (By the way, for the non-fans of American football, you need to advance the ball at least 10 yards within four downs to get another first down. A "down" is a play.)

That may be true. NFL teams have gotten much better over the decades at completing short passes. The legendary Joe Namath, for example, had a career completion percentage of only 50.1%, while Peyton Manning's percentage so far is 63.9%. My vague impression, however, is that coaches haven't gotten proportionally more optimistic about going for it on fourth down, although I could be wrong. After all, the competition to become an NFL coach is fierce, and NFL offensive coordinators are not stupid or innumerate men.

Unfortunately, Romer's study is pretty close to worthless because he makes a catastrophically bad assumption (at least in the version of his paper that Tyler links to). Romer writes on p. 4 of his PDF:

"Decisions to go for it on fourth down (that is, not to kick) are sufficiently rare, however, that they cannot be used to estimate the value of trying for a first down or touchdown. I therefore use the outcomes of third down plays instead."

In other words, he didn't actually look at whether or not teams make it on fourth down. What he looked at was whether they make it on third down.

But any football fan can realize the big difference between, say, third and two and fourth and two. It's easier to pick up, say, at least two yards on third down than on fourth down, just as it's easier to pick up at least two yards on first down than on third down.

Why? Because the lower the down, the more tries you have left to get a first down, so the safer it is to try a risky play now for a long gain. If on third and two you try to throw a long pass into the end zone for a touchdown, but it falls incomplete, well you still have fourth down. But on fourth down, the penalty for failure is severe -- you turn the ball over to the other team. So, you'll probably run a conservative play to grind out the needed yardage and not much more. Knowing that, on lower downs, the defense tends to play back to prevent giving up a touchdown or long gain.

This leads Romer to make absurd recommendations to coaches. He writes:

On the team’s own half of the field, going for it is better on average as long as there are less than about 4 yards to go.

His Figure 5 (the last page in the PDF) says that when you are on your own ten yard line, you are better off going for it on fourth-and-two than you are punting. That's ridiculous. If you don't make it, you are giving your opponent an almost automatic 3-point field goal and a likely 7 point touchdown. And even if you do make it, the chance of going on to score from deep in your own territory is relatively small. Except when losing and utterly desperate at the end of the game, any coach who repeatedly went for it on fourth-and-two from his own ten yard line would be fired the next day.

The reason this economist comes up with this prima facie stupid recommendation is because on third and two on your own ten yard line (which are the actual plays he's looking at, not fourth down) the defense plays loosely because they don't much mind giving up a three yard gain for a first down out to your own 13, but they would hate giving up a 90 yard touchdown play. So, the last thing the defense will do on your 10 yard line is stack eleven men on the line of scrimmage, because if your man with the ball gets through that line, he's gone. Touchdown.

We seem to be entering an era of Imperialist Economists (a.k.a., Freakonomists) who smugly advise the human race on myriad issues only vaguely related to the traditional field of economics ... while often not knowing what the hell they are talking about. Despite all the grief I give Steven D. Levitt, he appears to be above-average compared to other would-be Freakonomists.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

May 4, 2006

Around the web:

"A gene called dysbindin-1 (DTNBP1) may be tied to intelligence, scientists report in Human Molecular Genetics... "While our data suggests the dysbindin gene influences variation in human cognitive ability and intelligence, it only explained a small proportion of it — about 3 percent," researcher Anil Malhotra, M.D., says in a news release." CBS News. Finding IQ genes has proven slow going. The brain is awfully complicated, so there are presumably an awful lot of brain genes, so getting a big enough sample size to find a statistically significant effect of a single gene is expensive. We'll see in the future if this one pans out.


The Opinionator offers uncommon common-sense on selecting immigrants.


Back in April Steve Burton at Right Reason put the immigration situation in a broader pan-American context.


A reader writes:

The Law & Order franchise's hunt for the Great White Defendant was in prime form on last night's episode of Special Victims Unit. The episode initially seemed to be heading into dangerous waters, actually daring to depict a wealthy white girl as the victim of an assault by two Black youths. Such a distortion of reality (Imagine, Blacks victimizing Whites!) did not persist for long, however. The poor Black kids were merely retaliating against an earlier attack by the true source of urban violence, upper-middle class white teens. Can't wait to see the ripped from the headlines Duke lacrosse episode.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Mexico's Talleyrand Is Back

President Vicente Fox's former foreign minister Jorge G. Castañeda (here's my 2001 article about this slippery fellow: Mexico's Talleyrand) tells America in the NYT that we must cave-in on immigration in order to keep the bad leftist Manual Lopez Obrador from winning the Mexican Presidential election this summer:

Good Neighbor Policy - New York Times

THERE are many excellent reasons to salvage the immigration bill that collapsed two months ago in the Senate. But one of the most overlooked lies not in the protests that have filled streets in Los Angeles and Washington, but in the wave of populism that has swept Latin American cities like Caracas, La Paz, Lima and Mexico City.

An ultra-nationalist candidate, Ollanta Humala, seems poised to win a runoff this month in Peru's presidential elections. He wants, among other things, to renationalize Peru's natural resources, promote coca cultivation and align Peru against Washington with Venezuela's Hugo Chávez and his Bolivian neighbor, Evo Morales (who on Monday sent soldiers to take control of Bolivia's oil fields and refineries).

Mr. Humala is part of Latin America's new left turn — the wrong part of the left. Progressive leaders in countries with a long leftist history — Brazil, Chile and Uruguay — are economically moderate, ideologically tolerant and internationally open-minded. The other left — Mr. Chávez, Mr. Morales, Mr. Humala and Néstor Kirchner in Argentina — springs from a populist past and seeks a populist future: big-time spending, authoritarian governance and militant anti-Americanism.

The great populist hope of that left is, of course, Mexico City's former mayor, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a strong contender in Mexico's presidential race. By background and policies, he clearly belongs to the wrong left... Nothing could contribute more to the continuity of sensible policies in Latin America than a clear signal from the north that cooperating with Washington, and renouncing America-bashing, pays off, even on an emotional issue like immigration....

Let me see if I've got this straight ... Anti-American, anti-white, corrupt, authoritarian leftism is sweeping the electorates of Latin American, and therefore our country should put ten or twenty million more Latin Americans on the path to voting here?

Castañeda continues:

President Vicente Fox of Mexico staked much of his prestige on President Bush's commitment to fix immigration policy. First Sept. 11 got in the way, then Iraq did; and so Mr. Bush left Mr. Fox empty-handed. But immigration reform along the lines of the Senate compromise would still give Mr. Fox a huge boost.Good Neighbor Policy - New York Times

I predicted exactly this tack in in way back in 2000 that Fox would wind up as Bush's Yeltsin, the Great White Hope who needs to be bailed out at all costs. I wrote six years ago:

Fox is likely to become the next American President's very own Boris Yeltsin: a glamorous symbol of democracy, free markets and pro-Americanism that we will feel compelled to bail out over and over again. The two most likely ways we'll bail out Fox: financial rescues – and more legal and illegal immigration. You heard it here first.

What's remarkable is how little Fox has been willing to offer his good buddy George W. Bush in return for Bush's 5-year-long struggle to implement the Mexican elite's immigration plan for America. In early 2003, Bush desperately wanted Mexico's UN vote on Iraq, a move that that would have cost Mexico nothing in tangible terms, but anti-Americanism is so much the bedrock value of Mexico, that Fox wouldn't make even that symbolic gesture.

As this shows, America is so despised in Mexico that Castañeda's claim that America's backing of Fox's party would ensure PAN's re-election is obviously self-serving hooey.

In 2000, I explained:

Like the rest of Mexico's white power elite, Fox wants to funnel as many hungry mestizos and Indians into the U.S. as possible. By getting us to take Mexico's angriest young brown men, Mexico's white ruling class has been able to forestall the kind of brown vs. white race wars that were a recurrent feature in 19th and early 20th century Mexico.

Further, both Fox and the defeated PRI want Mexican immigrants in the U.S. simultaneously both to retain their Mexican citizenship, including the vote, and also to become voting American citizens. From the white Mexican's perspective, brown emigration to America creates a virtuous cycle. The more peasants who head north and become dual citizens of America and Mexico, the more votes in America for letting in even more Mexicans, thus further easing the threat to white privilege in Mexico.

Indeed, Castañeda himself admitted as much back in 1995:

"For Mexico, emigration has also served several purposes, some of them undeniably perverse … it has provided an 'exit' for those who could have a 'voice,' … thus helping to perpetuate the authoritarian nature of the Mexican political system."

Interestingly, in arguing for giving illegal immigrants the vote in Los Angeles, Castañeda has made the following observations about the effects of illegal immigration on California:

"First, the undocumented or illegal nature of much of the flow [of immigrants from Mexico] runs counter to the legalistic nature of a society [America] that has little else to hold it together beyond the belief in and devotion to the rule of law. … [T]he very idea of countenancing an ongoing, widespread, and flagrant violation of legality contradicts the myths and needs of American ideology...

Second, … broad-scale undocumented immigration in California functions as a progressive income tax. … Because migrant workers' incomes are lower than those of virtually the entire rest of society, Mexicans in California pay less tax in relation to their income than others." ...

"Mexicans in California also use many of the services financed by taxes - such as public schools, and public transportation and housing (when it exists) - more than most other segments of society." ...

"In California today, the upward mobility achieved by previous migrants may no longer be possible. … Mexican immigrants are disproportionately represented in the bottom tier of society; and because their numbers are constantly replenished from abroad, even upward mobility does not reduce the size of the poor, Mexican-born share of California's population." ...

"It is true that Mexicans have been far more reluctant to seek naturalization than previous immigrants to the United States. … Moreover, Mexicans who acquire U.S. citizenship continue to be informed by their own political traditions" ...

"The people who vote and bear the tax burden [in California] are also those who least use or consume the goods and services funded by taxes: public education, public health care, public transportation, government-funded job training and so on." ...

"… Latinos should vote for higher taxes, levied progressively on everyone, to finance public services.

Castañeda, for all his flaws, is a Mexican patriot advocating more Mexican immigration because he believes it is good for Mexicans. His analysis shows it's bad for Americans, so lets follow his example and stand up for our country ... not his.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Free trade vs. the Arab work ethic: Free trade loses

The NYT has an article entitled:

An Ugly Side of Free Trade Sweatshops in Jordan - New York Times

Propelled by a free trade agreement with the United States, apparel manufacturing is booming in Jordan, its exports to America soaring twentyfold in the last five years.

But some of the textile workers are complaining about various abuses. All very sad, I thought, but this story seemed to me to be basically happy news, because the rag trade has been, since England in the 1760s the entry level form of industrialization. So isn't it great that we are turning Arabs into productive industrial workers just by granting Jordan free trade? After all, Jordan has an unemployment rate of about 30%, a per capita income about half of Mexico's, and a population growth rate of 2.5% per year. If any place needs its population to get industrialized, to develop productive habits, it's Jordan, right?

Unfortunately, when I read the article more closely, it turned out that it isn't Arabs working hard in many of these sweatshops in Jordan:

In recent years, Jordan has become a magnet for apparel manufacturers, helped by the privileged trade position that the United States has given it, first because of its 1994 peace accord with Israel and then because of a free trade agreement signed with Washington in 2001. Jordan's apparel industry, which exported $1.2 billion to the United States last year, employs tens of thousands of guest workers, mainly from Bangladesh and China....

"These are the worst conditions I've ever seen," he said. "You have people working 48 hours straight. You have workers who were stripped of their passports, who don't have ID cards that allow them to go out on the street. If they're stopped, they can be imprisoned or deported, so they're trapped, often held under conditions of involuntary servitude."

Several foreign apparel workers said that while their factories required them to stay until midnight, the Jordanian workers were usually allowed to leave at 4 p.m.

A reader writes:

The problem here is not free trade (deregulated goods market) . It is "black" labour (deregulated labour market). In the context of Arabic society's rentier mentality.

Open borders in labour encourages importation of workers, not the formation of citizens. Without national citizenship rights there is little to stop "lobbied up" bosses from treating imported workers like factory fodder. Just as factional party bosses treat Balkanised immigrants as branch-stacking and welfare-padding fodder.

When the poorly selected and settled immigrant is of different ethnic origin to the natives then the result can be a caste society.

This is the route down which New Left and New Right multiculturalists are tending to go.

He goes on:

The Enlightenment supported three great political ideologies:

- Libertarianism - institutionalised as capitalism.
- Egalitarianism - institutionalised as socialism.
- Communitarianism - institutionalised as nationalism.

Right wing economic elites more or less support some forms of capitalism. Left wing political elites more or less support some forms of socialism. But cultural elites are ambivalent about nationalism.

Yet the nation state is the key institutional system that under girds communitarianism. And communitarianism is the key ideology that links personal morality to political legality, through the rights and duties of the citizen. The communitarian philosophy requires citizens to be responsible for their actions, care for those who are not and have guaranteed rights and enforceable duties towards the state.

This is an absolutely fundamental aspect of the theory of political obligation that seems to have been lost by cultural elites.

Doing away with sovereignty towards national entities is on a par with eliminating property for corporeal entities and autonomy for individual entities.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

May 3, 2006

The psychology of enthusiasm for illegal immigration

A reader writes:

I think I’ve figured out why the illegals thing isn’t a slam dunk, as first instincts would indicate it to be, amongst otherwise instinctually conservative whites.

Basically, they see Mexicans as much much better than blacks. They work the jobs blacks are most suited for but find beneath their ain’t-keeping-me-down-I-ain’t-your-slave dignity, they commit crime at lower rates, they are more hard working and less welfare dependant, they are not organized into racial political grievance groups (the demonstrations are a big OOPS for their side here) and don’t have an El Al Sharptono and Jesussie Jacksono, and they even score higher on average on standardized tests of all kinds. Heck, they even vote GOP more than blacks!

In short we don’t expect non-whites to act white, but those brown people really are so much better in every way, THEY are the kind of minority we’d really like to have.

The great mental block, the missing link, is that we don’t get to deport one welfare mother in the ghetto for every senorita who crosses the border, or send back to Africa one scary shiftless guy on the corner for every hard working quiet little gardener who arrives from Mexico. We don’t swap a good minority for a bad, we get MORE minorities. We may get more total GOP voters who are non-white, but we also get a total net increase in Democratic voters. The quality of the minority pool is improved, but the quality of the national pool is worsened.

I think for some reason, below conscious thought, everyone thinks of it as a swap, even guys good at math like Karl Rove. I think the block is that every one wants a swap, but because that involves wishing for the absence of troublesome blacks, nobody can let themselves SEE the desire in themselves, so that all that’s left is the pleasing feeling of getting more of the right sort of brown people. Its ok to think of improving the overall quality of the minority population, brown on black. That's not quite thought crime, but thinking that more minorities overall might bring things down ventures too close to, or right into, THOUGHT CRIME.

It’s the sub-rosa swap syndrome.

There, call me Tom Wolfe, I have figured out the great psychological puzzle. Or not...

Indeed, as I wrote in "How to Help the Let Half of the Bell Curve" in 2000:

Many establishment conservatives see unskilled mestizo immigrants as our New, Improved Poor People. The Old, Unimproved Poor People: native-born blacks. But this only makes sense if we could somehow exchange blacks for Hispanic immigrants. Without deporting blacks, immigration will only create a second undercompetitive, and thus resentful, racial group.

Mestizo Hispanics tend to suffer (somewhat) less severe problems than African Americans - but their potential numbers are larger. For example, Fox Butterfield reported in The New York Times (August 10th, 2000) that Hispanics are 1/3rd as likely to go to jail as blacks (Whites? Merely 1/10th). But by the end of the century, Hispanics may be three times as numerous as blacks. We'll enjoy equally large groups of black and Hispanic jailbirds. Quite a legacy to leave our great-grandchildren.

The essential fact about African Americans is that they are Americans. They did not ask to come here. At minimum, our nation's obligation to them is to not worsen their plight by importing competitors who are slightly more competent.

Republicans point to newly-arrived immigrants outcompeting native blacks as proof that blacks shouldn't blame us for their problems. Okay, fine. It's not our fault. But, in what system of ethics is it the average black's fault that his IQ, which is mostly determined genetically, is 85? Is he to blame for failing to choose his parents wisely?

On a subnational level, however, the affluent white residents of elite cities such as New York may, however, might rationally have a self-interest for America importing Mexican illegal immigrants because they tend to "economically cleanse" African-Americans out of a New York or a San Francisco. The black population of NYC, for instance, has fallen in recent years as the Hispanic illegal immigrant population has grown. This process lowers the crime rate in New York City, but not in the country as a whole. Of course, much of the media is based in NYC, so the rest of us get propagandized in favor of what's good for New Yorkers. Of course, that wouldn't be the first time New Yorkers talked the rest of us into doing something stupid.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Hunt for Great White Duke Defendant Pays Off: Nifong Wins Election

The New York Times reports:

Prosecutor in Duke Case Is Winner in Election

Michael B. Nifong, the Durham County district attorney who has led the prosecution of rape accusations against members of the Duke University men's lacrosse team, narrowly won election to a new four-year term on Tuesday, a margin of victory that suggested both the case and the tension surrounding it would continue.

Mr. Nifong won 45 percent of the vote in the three-person Democratic primary, just ahead of Freda Black, a former assistant district attorney, who won 42 percent. A leading candidate had to exceed 40 percent to avoid a runoff, and Mr. Nifong has no Republican opponent in the general election.

In the weeks after March 14, when a local college student told the police that she had been raped the night before by members of the lacrosse team, Mr. Nifong, 55, assumed a highly publicized role in prosecuting the case, giving scores of interviews to reporters, calling the Duke players hooligans and suggesting that Duke students had avoided punishment for illegal behavior in the past.

The actions of Mr. Nifong, who will now continue to lead the prosecution of the case, have come under sharp criticism by lawyers for the two students who have been indicted for rape, as well as from his two political opponents, who suggested that his aggressive posture was intended to win over black voters. The accuser is black, and the students are white; the racial tension in the case has polarized the city and has brought national attention to the election.

The third candidate in the race, Keith A. Bishop, won 13 percent. Though both candidates had criticized Mr. Nifong, they had stopped short of saying whether they would have chosen to go forward in the case, noting that they had not seen the evidence he had collected.

After winning the election, Mr. Nifong said his victory would have no impact on the case. "The case will still go forward," he said. "The election and the case are totally different things."

Mr. Bishop, who is black and who recently won the endorsement of a prominent black community group in Durham after entering the race in February, said he believed that Mr. Nifong feared that Mr. Bishop would dilute his support among black voters. Durham has 53,832 registered black voters, compared with 79,335 white ones, said Joseph Fedrowitz, a geographer for the Durham County Board of Elections.

Mr. Bishop, a lawyer, noted that Mr. Nifong, who has been a prosecutor for 28 years, had never run for office. Mr. Nifong, who is white, was appointed to the district attorney post last year after his predecessor was appointed to a judgeship. "I believe that was foremost in his calculations," Mr. Bishop said Tuesday of Mr. Nifong's public stance in the case. "He needed to create some momentum. He was unknown."

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

A new money-making strategy for!

A reader writes:

I ordered a term paper from Non-Plagiarized College Term to the tune of $59.80, and they sent me a completely plagiarized paper from your review of Jared Diamond's Gun, Germs, and Steel in National Review (5/19/97). What they didn't know was that I wasn't ordering the paper in lieu of writing my own, but as a tool to proof the paper my daughter wrote. In my research, I had run across your review and remembered it as I read the paper "especially written" for me.

I have the order number as well as my correspondence with this firm, if you are interested. I am disputing the charge through American Express and thought you should be aware of the situation. Please let me know if you would like to stop this firm from claiming your works as their own. My oldest daughter is a law student at XXX and is having a field day with this...too bad she's in the midst of finals!

Why plagiarize from plagiarists for $59.80, when you can plagiarize from the original? Whenever you plagiarize a term paper from, just send me a check for $59.79.

I do wonder about the poor goops who shelled out almost $60 on Daddy's AmEx card for one of my articles and then found themselves hauled up in front of both their college's Honor Council and Diversity Sensitivity Inquisition.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

May 1, 2006

May Day: The Wind from the South

May Day: The Wind from the South: From the LA Daily News:

Bolivia military told to occupy gas fields

By ALVARO ZUAZO Associated Press Writer

LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) -- President Evo Morales ordered soldiers to occupy Bolivia's natural gas fields Monday and threatened to evict foreign companies unless they give Bolivia control over the entire chain of production.

Morales said soldiers and engineers with Bolivia's state-owned oil company would be sent "immediately" to installations and gas fields tapped by foreign petroleum companies - including Britain's BG Group PLC and BP PLC, Brazil's Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Spanish-Argentine Repsol YPF SA and U.S.-based Exxon Mobil Corp.

Morales, a leftist allied with Cuba's Fidel Castro and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez in seeking to blunt U.S. and outside influence in the region, had pledged to exert greater state control over the industry since he won the presidency in December, becoming Bolivia's first Indian president.

The companies have six months to agree to new contracts, or must leave Bolivia, he said. "The time has come, the awaited day, a historic day in which Bolivia retakes absolute control of our natural resources," Morales said ...

"The looting by the foreign companies has ended," Morales declared.

The announcement came less than a month after Chavez ordered the seizure of oil fields from Total and Italy's Eni SpA when the companies failed to comply with a government demand that operations be turned over to Venezuela's state oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela SA.

I don't really care what the government of Bolivia does: it's their own country, and voters of Bolivia have the right to get the government they deserve, and get it good and hard (as H.L. Mencken used to say).

But the May Day rallies in the U.S. for more illegal immigration raise a basic political question: If the Democrats thinks more illegal immigration would be good for the Democrats and George W. Bush thinks more illegal immigration would be good for the Republicans, doesn't one of them -- logically -- have to be wrong? And why is Bush so convinced that it is the entire Democratic political class that is wrong, not him?

Here's my new American Conservative article on why the Democrats are right about whom illegal immigration and amnesty benefits.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

More from last night's great Simpsons' episode inspired by the Larry Summers flap

A reader writes:

I used to be a regular watcher of the show, up until about 2000, when I went to college, and the quality of the show hit the toilet. They used to lampoon long standing cultural institutions, but since they've made fun of all those, what they make fun of now are the latest fads of the day, like boy bands, or reality TV, or Fox News, or whatever.

But last night, we got a taste of the old Simpsons brilliance.At the dinner table, Homer and Marge have a conversation along these lines:

Marge: It was a woman who invented liquid paper.

Homer: And you know what a man invented? Actual paper!

Marge: I think it was a woman who invented the wind shield wiper.

Homer: That goes well with another male invention: the car.

Marge: Well, I think a woman might have invented nylon stockings. Women wear lots of those.

Homer: And men invented suspension bridges, rockets, constitutional government...

Like you said one time, the fact that we go out of our way to celebrate the fact that a woman invented liquid paper, subtly implies the truth that men invented just about everything else. Although I have never seen on TV this point being made in such blunt, simply stated terms.

Back in 2002 I wrote in

In my experience: whites who proclaim their anti-white feelings don't really care much about blacks or other minorities, pro or con. What they care about is achieving social superiority over other whites by demonstrating their exquisite racial sensitivity and their aristocratic insouciance about any competitive threats posed by racial preferences.

To these whites, minorities are just useful pawns in the great game of clawing your way to the top of the white status heap. Which, when you come right down to it, is the only game in town.

Imagine some pathetic Euro-American activist grabbing your lapels and demanding,

"Did you know that Euro-Americans invented the airplane? [You nod.] Oh, you did? Well … did you know that Euro-Americans invented the golf cart? Huh? Huh, did you know you that?"

Well, duh, everybody knows—whether or not they're crass enough to mention it—that over the last 500 or 600 years, whites invented pretty much everything worth inventing. (And, of course, a lot that wasn’t.)..

Cheerleading for Euro-Americans seems as pointless as cheerleading for men would be. It's mildly interesting that a woman invented Liquid Paper whiteout fluid (namely, Bette Nesmith Graham, a secretary and the mother of Mike Nesmith of The Monkees). But the fact that a man invented Post-It Notes is not interesting—because we all know that men invent more or less everything. [More]

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

April 30, 2006

The Simpsons do Larry Summers

A reader writes:

Just by chance, I caught the Simpsons for the first time in about a year tonight. It was actually a pretty clever take-off on m/f differences.

- Principal Skinner gets fired for a Lawrence Summers moment. He gets caught saying that boys are better at math and science. The writers hedged their PC bets by making him say a bunch of other things along the lines of "Look, all I'm saying is that girls are worth less than boys..." to rhetorically poison the well regarding the main point, similar to the way you pointed out Sarah Silverman does in her stand-up act ( e.g., Mexicans smell bad). But that was worth it to watch him be reduced to panicky, hyper-diversity mode when he gets jumped on:

"It's the differences (of which there are none!) that... uh, make the sameness... um... exceptional!"

Later on, when he's been bumped down to assistant janitor, he grumbles:

"I'm not allowed to have opinions anymore. All I know is that no one is better at anything than anyone else and everyone is the best at everything."

- A feminist gets appointed as principal and she immediately segregates boys and girls to stop the boys from intimidating and oppressing the girls. She then turns the girl half of the school into the ultimate touchy-feely, self-esteem obsessed, ego-integrity-building "learning environment" ever. During math class, the girls are asked how they feel about numbers and sing songs like "the best thing I can be is to be OK with me."

- There's a Norah Vincent "Self-Made Man" tenor to the thing when Lisa, craving rigorous learning, disguises herself as a boy and sneaks into the boys school. There she gets initiated into the harsh world of social dynamics among young males. The Vincent allusion is strengthened by the fact that at the end, she comes to appreciate that, for all the victim-mongering of modern feminism, men tend to have a rougher time of it in society. However, the Simpson writers were able to outdo Vincent by correcting some of her more silly points. For instance, Vincent took the fact that other men wouldn't look her in the eye as a sign of the deep and abiding respect amongst the brotherhood of men (don't laugh); not (as is obvious to any guy who's been to highschool) because looking another guy in the eye is an invitation to fight. The Simpsons episode made this kind of constant antagonism explicit, however.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

My New column on the Great White Defendant

"Duke Lacrosse and The Bonfire of the Vanities:"

Although few fans follows the old American Indian sport of lacrosse, because of the current "rape" scandal the Duke lacrosse team is now one of the most publicized team in America, with 24,000,000 Google hits, a 30 percent margin over the New York Yankees.

Simultaneously, the mainstream media shows relatively little interest in the not one but three minority football heroes who got in trouble with the law (one assault with a deadly weapon and two rape arrests) just in the last week.

The only justice so far in the Duke travesty: America's greatest living writer, Tom Wolfe, is getting his deserved due. Many commentators have noted the parallels between the lacrosse brouhaha and Wolfe's (originally much-denounced) 2004 novel I Am Charlotte Simmons. It is set at fictional Dupont University, Wolfe's version of Duke U., and the lacrosse players represented the ultimate in arrogant preppy machismo.

Yet almost nobody in the press has admitted that the Duke farce—in which Mike Nifong, a politically-pressed white district attorney in a heavily minority district, has arrested two white lacrosse players for purportedly raping a black stripper, despite ample evidence suggesting the strong possibility of a hoax—is even more brilliantly foreshadowed in the central theme of Wolfe's famous 1987 bestseller The Bonfire of the Vanities.

Let's review the similarities

Bonfire: In Wolfe's classic, the Bronx District Attorney Abe Weiss "was notorious in his obsession for publicity, even among a breed, the district attorney, that was publicity-mad by nature."

Duke: The Durham D.A. did nonstop interviews to publicize the Duke case initially, although he has clammed up since the DNA tests that were supposed to prove a rape had actually been committed came back negative.

Bonfire: Weiss is known to his underlings as "Captain Ahab" for his pursuit of the "Great White Defendant". The D.A. finds the perfect Great White Defendant in Sherman McCoy, a rich, pompous, adulterous WASP bond trader, whom he charges with running over an innocent black ghetto youth with his Mercedes. McCoy is Central Casting's dream candidate for the role of GWD. The only minor flaw is that McCoy is not, actually, guilty. But a little thing like his innocence doesn't stop the DA's office and the New York media from ruining his life.

Duke: On the Duke Lacrosse team, 46 of the 47 players are white. Worse, many come from WASP prep schools.


By the way, here's the NY Times' web page devoted to the Duke lacrosse case coverage, listing 25 NYT stories on the brouhaha.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Mormons and medical school

One of the silent demographic trends is the growth in the number of Mormons. Mormons just have bigger families than other white people (Utah has by far the highest non-Hispanic white Total Fertility Rate in the country), plus they put a lot of effort into proselytizing for conversions. I never thought much about Mormon demographic growth until a couple of years ago when I went to a screening at the Fox Studio in West LA for this little low-budget comedy called "Napoleon Dynamite," which was an odd experience. Most of the people invited to the screening, with the exception of us scrungy film critics, were the usual bright young things who work for the studios, except they were all so wholesome. And they just roared with laughter at all the jokes in the movie that I didn't get. That was my introduction to Mormon Hollywood.

Well, it turned out that "Napoleon Dynamite" (here's my review in The American Conservative) was one of the most profitable films of 2004. My younger son has modeled his laugh ever since on actor Jon Heder's. A whole lot of teenagers across the country, it seems, get Mormon humor, even though I'm too old and over-the-hill to understand what is slaying all the Mormon hipsters.

A reader writes:

I'm a student at a midwestern medical school, and in our class of 200 or so, about 20 of the students are Mormons. I've lived in India, England, and in a few different parts of the U.S., and never in my lifetime have I met a group of people more similar than these Mormon chaps. It's as if they are all cut from exactly the same mold.

There are few if any Mormons in this state. Every single one of these guys is from out of state, typically Utah, but some from other Southwestern states like California and Arizona. They are all graduates of either BYU or U of U. None of them have facial hair. They all have "business" haircuts. They all wear check shirts and khaki pants to class everyday. They are all married with 1 or 2 kids. They have all done 2 years missionary work in some third world country. They never come to the med student parties, since they are not allowed to drink. Nice people though - they never engage in any gossip, and will help you out if you ask for any assistance. If you get them talking about politics, you'll discover they're Republican. Though they tend not to form deep friendships with non-Mormons. Oh yeah, did I mention that they're all dudes? No Mormon women at our medical school.

Now you might think I'm exaggerating on account of anecdotal evidence. But believe me, these guys are everywhere. When I was interviewing in 2003-2004, I ran into 2-3 Mormon guys everywhere I went to interview, including Columbia, Case Western, Emory, etc. And these guys were exactly the same as the ones I've described above: clean cut, 1950's people out of "Leave It To Beaver" with 2-3 kids and 2 years missionary experience.

They say Utah only has one medical school, and that's why so many of these guys are all over the place. But then again Utah is a tiny state, and all else being equal, I don't think that they would need more than 1 med school. I asked one of the Mormon guys if he planned to go back to Utah for his residency, and he told me that in Utah there's too many professionals of all kinds, so it's very hard to get any kind of good job there.

I don't think Mormons in general have higher IQ's, but I think that since they are not allowed to drink, smoke, party, gamble, or any other fun stuff, they are all ultra productive, and even the mediocre ones are able to channel their hard work into success. And medical school does not require all that much in the way of brains (i.e. analytical skills): it's mainly a lot of rote memorization.

Everyone knows about the large number of Jews and Indians in medicine, but in a few years there will be a massive number of these guys too. And you probably won't even notice it because they'll be unassuming Northern European average white guys with nondescript last names like "Smith" and "Young."

By the way, here's my posting on the weird first names you sometimes encounter among Utah Mormons, like EdDean, ElVoid, and LaEarl.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Who is Adam Kidron, the man behind "Nuestro Himno?"

Adam Kidron, "Nuestro Himno"When I first heard of the Spanish rewrite of the "Star-Spangled Banner" that has been released in time for the May Day pro-illegal immigration rallies, I said, "Well, that at least is more financially enterprising than anything you normally see from Mexicans in America, who have otherwise had so little impact on popular culture, despite their vast numbers."

But then I heard that it was created by record producer Adam Kidron. "That's funny," I thought, "Because 'Kidron' sure doesn't sound Spanish."

So, who is this guy?

Well, it turns out Adam Kidron is not Hispanic at all. Indeed, he's from a very interesting family. He was born in England, where his father, Michael Kidron, was a famous Marxist theoretician and his uncle, the late "Tony Cliff," was the leader of the largest Trotskyite party in Britain, the Socialist Workers Party or SWP.

Adam was a producer for a bunch of minor early 1980s New Wave musicians such as East German novelty act Nina Hagen, The Slits, Orchestre Rouge, and Scritti Politti. Many of the artists were leftwingers.

Here's something revealing from the website of an old anarcho-punk band called Zounds:

In the process of recording the record, the band involved themselves with Adam Kidron who was given production credits although his job was more a glorified engineer.

Steve, "We had a guy engineering called Adam Kidron, he was the millionaire son and heir of the Socialist publisher who owned Pluto Press. He was really funny and we were very naive and impressed by him. He talked us in to giving him producer royalties when we didn't even know what royalties were and we thought we were producing the album ourselves.... Adam hated guitars so we ended up with a far less powerful guitar sound than we would have liked. We were a guitar band after all."

To some people, being raised to want to overthrow capitalism seems to give them an excuse to behave like the worst kind of robber baron. Hey, don't blame me for what happened to these poor dumb guitarists' royalties, blame this rotten capitalist system, man! Come the Revolution, my true saintliness will finally manifest itself.

During the dot-com era, Kidron was a co-founder and CEO of the hip-hop website Urban Box Office Networks Inc., which went bankrupt in 2000 after hiring 300 employees, mostly marketing people. wrote:

"After a year and a half of operation UBO has made approximately $150,000 dollars in revenue against nearly $50 million in spending."

Kidron has apparently now converted the remains of Urban Box Office into a Spanish-language record label selling reggaeton (Caribbean rap).

Adam's dad, the Marxist theoretician Michael Kidron, died in 2003, but it sounds like his old man would be proud of Adam's contribution to May Day 2006, "Nuestro Himno."

The Socialist Review began its obituary:

"Mike Kidron, who died last month, was probably the most important Marxist economist of his generation, although he never received the recognition he deserved from the academic Marxism of the 1970s and early 1980s."

Here is the conclusion to Wikipedia's article on Michael Kidron:

Kidron remained a Marxist committed to changing the world and therefore understood the necessity of developing a theoretical understanding of how the world works precisely in order to change it. His final article appeared in the Autumn 2002 issue of the International Socialism Journal on The Decline of Capitalism, and spoke of a sure and certain knowledge that another world is not just possible but demanded. As ever, the revolutionary role of the working class in the core countries of capitalism was reasserted and the goal of a communist society reaffirmed.

Michael Kidron offended pacifist leftists by advocating street violence.

Peter Brimelow writes on's blog:

I remember IS [International Socialism] well from my student days in Britain in the 1960s. Despite the elegiac tone of the reminiscences I see on Kidron’s web archive, they were never anything but a bunch of thugs who would have happily brought the Gulag to Britain if they’d had the chance. It’s a scandal of contemporary culture that the MSM would never have been so indifferent to Adam Kidron’s backgound if he was the son of a Nazi.

According to one obituary, Michael Kidron’s last article before he died in 2003 was still “full of hatred” for the system that brought wealth to himself and his children. Obviously, Adam Kidron has inherited that hate.

Here are excerpts from Michael Kidron's lengthy obituary by Richard Kuper in the Guardian, as reprinted on

Michael Kidron, who has died aged 72, was an economist, a Marxist theorist, an agitator, an editor, a publisher and the co-author of the bestselling State Of The World Atlas (1981) and The War Atlas (1983)...

Kidron played a key role in developing a theory, that of the permanent arms economy, to account for the west’s long postwar boom and the strength of working class reformism...

His sympathy with the peoples of the so-called third world shone through his biting criticism of theories which romanticised their struggles. An internationalist, he always placed the peoples of the world above the interests of their states.

He was born in Cape Town into an ardently Zionist family. ... He left South Africa just after the war to join his parents, who had already emigrated to Palestine. There he went to the Tichon Hadash progressive school in Tel Aviv – where he rejected Zionism almost immediately – then on to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to study economics... But Israel was a backwater for anyone not tied in to the Zionist project. So, in 1955 Kidron went to Oxford as a doctoral student...

He also developed a close working relationship with his brother-in-law Ygael Gluckstein who, under the name of Tony Cliff (obituary, April 11 2000), was trying to chart an independent Marxist course in the Trotskyist-infested waters to the left of the Communist party. [Emphasis mine]

Academic work provided a base for research and independent thinking, but also for political activity in the Socialist Review (later International Socialism) Group...

He also edited the quarterly International Socialism, which first appeared in 1960...

He was an academic at Hull University in the late 1960s and gave his wholehearted backing to the wave of student protest which washed over the country....

In 1972 he and his wife Nina joined Pluto Press, helping to make it one of the most influential socialist publishing houses of that time...

His lifelong project was to understand modern capitalism, to help replace it.

In the early 1990s, Kidron returned to that central project of his life – his attempt to understand (and write about) capitalism. It was becoming a vast intellectual project. Now that his conception of capitalism had broadened, he wanted to address it – not just as an economic system, but in its political, social and psychological aspects as well – capitalism as a truly total system. Alas, his planned book remained fragmentary, despite three-quarters of a million words in draft.

Dogged by illness, Kidron found it increasingly difficult to give the focused attention the subject demanded. But his conviction that an alternative was possible, indeed was being nurtured within the heart of the system, remained undimmed as new networked forms of communication and relationships undermined the command and control relations of earlier capitalism.

In the meantime, before the Revolution, Adam Kidron's sisters seem to be doing pretty well from the capitalist system. Beeban Kidron is the director of a long line of mostly lousy movies, the best known of which are the franchise-killing 2004 sequel to Bridget Jones' Diary (which enjoyed a $70 million budget but was critically-slagged) and the widely-despised drag queen comedy To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar. Cassia Kidron is a photographer of ditches and girlfriend of another movie director, Oliver Parker, who has directed five films, including the unsuccessful 2002 adaptation of The Importance of Being Earnest with Reese Witherspoon.

So, despite the family's evident lack of talent, you can't keep a good (or, to be precise, mediocre) Kidron down and out of the media spotlight for long!

- A reader writes:

I saw Adam Kidron last Tuesday at a conference. He was bragging about buying Al Sharpton's 1 million-person mailing list for use in his label-marketing efforts. He also complimented Sharpton's politics. Kidron, as you might expect, is a very articulate, affable, self-deprecating guy... For some reason, he didn't mention his silly song.

I'm sure you're shocked, shocked, that Al Sharpton's mailing list is for sale.

- By the way, I quite like the bloodthirsty lyrics to the Mexican national anthem -- it's muy macho con mucho sangre. Mark in Mexico, however, points out that the historical record of the Mexican Army's success in battle hasn't quite lived up to its anthem.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer