May 3, 2008

The Cognitive Age

It's always fun to see my work refracted in the New York Times:

The Cognitive Age


If you go into a good library, you will find thousands of books on globalization. Some will laud it. Some will warn about its dangers. But they’ll agree that globalization is the chief process driving our age. Our lives are being transformed by the increasing movement of goods, people and capital across borders. …

But there’s a problem with the way the globalization paradigm has evolved. It doesn’t really explain most of what is happening in the world.

Globalization is real and important. It’s just not the central force driving economic change.

The central process driving this is not globalization. It’s the skills revolution. We’re moving into a more demanding cognitive age. In order to thrive, people are compelled to become better at absorbing, processing and combining information. This is happening in localized and globalized sectors, and it would be happening even if you tore up every free trade deal ever inked.

The globalization paradigm emphasizes the fact that information can now travel 15,000 miles in an instant. But the most important part of information’s journey is the last few inches — the space between a person’s eyes or ears and the various regions of the brain. Does the individual have the capacity to understand the information? Does he or she have the training to exploit it? Are there cultural assumptions that distort the way it is perceived?

The globalization paradigm leads people to see economic development as a form of foreign policy, as a grand competition between nations and civilizations. These abstractions, called “the Chinese” or “the Indians,” are doing this or that. But the cognitive age paradigm emphasizes psychology, culture and pedagogy — the specific processes that foster learning. It emphasizes that different societies are being stressed in similar ways by increased demands on human capital. If you understand that you are living at the beginning of a cognitive age, you’re focusing on the real source of prosperity and understand that your anxiety is not being caused by a foreigner.

Of course, by this logic, you'd be right to be anxious about foreigners moving into your skill district whose children's cognitive capacity will be deleterious to the education your children will get there.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The Painted Word

From an art exhibit review in the New York Times by Roberta Smith:

Art is long, art criticism is often very, very brief, its Internet afterlife notwithstanding. Its viability relies on a mixture of prose style, sound-bite concepts, timing and its ability to clarify visual experience. Naming a major art movement can also help embed a critic in a period’s cultural achievement or its mythology.

Clement Greenberg and Harold Rosenberg met many of these requirements, especially the myth part. Tenacious Jewish intellectuals formed by the leftist ferment of New York between the world wars, both entered the 1940s as lapsing Marxists drawn to culture and especially the new painting they saw emerging around them. In the late 1940s and ’50s they were Abstract Expressionism’s most prominent champions, defining its leaders, principles and achievements, often in diametric opposition to each other. Mounting mutual dislike was their bond.

Rosenberg and Greenberg are reunited in “Action/Abstraction: Pollock, De Kooning and American Art, 1940-1976,” a fast-moving exhibition at the Jewish Museum. Their names aren’t on the marquee, but their rivalry provides the structure for this exceedingly handsome if somewhat peripatetic show.

Tom Wolfe must be very happy because even though the review doesn't mention his name, this exhibit illustrates his short and very funny 1975 book The Painted Word, which concentrated not on the famous painters of the post-war era, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and Jasper Johns, but on the critics who composed the theories behind them: Clement Greenberg, Harold Rosenberg, and Leo Steinberg, respectively:

As for the paintings --de gustibus non disputandum est. But the theories, I insist, were beautiful. ... I am willing ... to predict that in the year 2000, when the Metropolitan or the Museum of Modern Art puts on the great retrospective exhibition of American Art 1945-75, the three artists who will be featured, the three seminal figures of the era, will not be Pollock, de Kooning, and Johns -- but Greenberg, Rosenberg, and Steinberg. Up on the walls will be huge copy blocks, eight and a half by eleven feet each, presenting the protean passages of the period ... a little "fuliginous flatness" here ... a little "action painting" there ... and some of that "all great art is about art" just beyond. Besides will be small reproductions of the work of leading illustrators of the Word from that period ...

Not surprisingly, the famous painters tended to be gentile, while the famous critics tended to be Jewish, as the different distributions of visual and verbal intelligence would predict.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

May 2, 2008

LA crosses 4,000,000 barrier

The population within the city limits of Los Angeles exceeded 4,000,000 for the first time in 2007, up 1.2% from 2006.

That reminds me of a novel question: What urban area in the U.S. has the highest population density per floor? For example, the wealthy Upper East Side in Manhattan has a very high population density per acre of ground because it's covered with high rise apartment buildings. Yet, the density per acre divided by the average number of floors on the Upper East Side is not all that high because the amount of floor space is large and households are small.

So, where is the lowest number of square feet of residential space per resident found?

One contender for that dubious title would have to be the Hollywood neighborhood in LA. Hollywood is mostly low rise, but the side streets are absolutely crammed with pedestrians. At the corner of two side streets in a residential area of mostly one story homes, you'll see a guy with a card table on the sidewalk selling oranges.

I imagine Chinatown in lower Manhattan has even fewer square feet per resident -- I gather hotbunk dormitories, where the same bed is rented by three different sleepers working on different shifts are not uncommon there -- but Hollywood is still way up there.

I would bet that more than a few people who thought it was a good idea to immigrate to Hollywood find it's not quite as glamorous as they imagined.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

May 1, 2008

Why the DC elite thinks immigration is swell

The Washington Post reports today that from 2000 to 2007, the percentage of children under 5 who are Hispanic swelled from 19 percent to 24 percent in this country.

On the other hand, in Washington D.C., it's raining whites. Looking at the total population:

The District, which the census treats as a state, stands in marked exception to that trend. As once-affordable neighborhoods have gentrified over the past decade, the city has been losing black residents while gaining white newcomers, steadily diminishing its longtime status as a majority-black metropolis.

The latest census figures confirm that pattern, with non-Hispanic blacks accounting for 54 percent of the District's population in 2007, compared with 60 percent in 2000. Meanwhile, the number of non-Hispanic whites increased from 28 to 33 percent in that period, while the Hispanic and non-Hispanic Asian population remained at 8 and 3 percent, respectively.

Every time I visit Washington D.C., it's whiter and wealthier.

(Don't forget, the ethnic clearing of African-Americans from D.C. is actually happening faster than these numbers for "non-Hispanic blacks" indicate -- the African-Americans are being replaced by black immigrants, who tend to be more obsequious and thus make better servants for white Washingtonians.)

No wonder the politicians and pundits are baffled by all those "angry" voters out there concerned about demographic trends. In D.C., everything is good.

That helps explain the lameness of the Washington Post's article:

"Hispanics have both a larger proportion of people in their child-bearing years and tend to have slightly more children," said Jeffrey S. Passel, senior demographer at the Pew Hispanic Center and co-author of a recent study predicting that the Latino population will double from 15 percent today to 30 percent by 2050.

Huh? The Hispanic total fertility rate was 2.96 babies per woman per lifetime in 2006 -- that's 59 percent more than the rate for white women. That's not "slightly." And it's also a lot higher than the rate for blacks, Asians, and American Indians.

"So this means that in five years, a quarter of the 5- to 9-year-olds will be Hispanic, and in 10 years a quarter of the 10- to 14-year-olds will be Hispanic. It's just going to move up through the age distribution with each successive cohort being slightly more Hispanic," Passel said.

At first, this seems too obvious bother putting this paragraph in the article. Yet, when you think about it, what Passel is saying turns out to be a lie -- there is this thing called "immigration" that will keep increasing the Hispanic percentage for each age cohort as time goes by. So, ten years from now, more than 24 of the 10-14 year olds will be Latino.

Moreover, the key but ignored point is that in five years, the 0-5 year old cohort will be somewhere around 4 percentage points higher than in 2007 -- around 28 percent.

And, from there, it just keeps going up.

I realize that it's terribly disreputable to think about the future, but where is this going to end?

Fortunately, according to the Washington Post, there is good news hidden in the numbers. You guessed it: cultural vibrancy!

"Yet the increasing number of Latino youths might enrich mainstream U.S. culture in unexpected ways, Singer said. "A lot of popular culture comes from youth culture, and we already see the effect of the newest demographic waves in current music and new media," she said."

No, on the whole, we don't. This is one of those dog-that-didn't-bark facts that nobody notices, especially if they lunch in Georgetown.

The abstract logic is too seductive -- Young people are creative; lots of young people are Hispanic. Ergo; lots of creative people in the U.S. must be Hispanic!

Except, they're not. In Miami, sure, but definitely not in Hollywood, which happens to be at the center of the largest concentration of Hispanics in America. Mexican Americans must make up, what, 15 percent of everybody resident in the U.S. in their 20s, but they probably don't make up even 1.5 percent of the English language celebrities in America. (Sure, there is a whole parallel universe of Univision stars, but nobody in Georgetown pays them the slightest attention.)

Nobody ever stops and counts. Counting is racist.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

April 30, 2008

Rev. Wright: Black Internationalist

Back in the winter of 2007 I used the term "black nationalist" to describe Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, but on further reflection, that can give the wrong impression of Wright's politics. "Black nationalism" tends to imply a fairly conservative form of separatism with an important role for capitalism. Although, judging from his Porsche and the mansion he's building in a gated community, Rev. Wright is a talented capitalist himself, his ideology, which attracted Obama to him, might better be described as "black internationalist."

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Greg Cochran defends Obama's spending plans

On Jerry Pournelle's blog, Greg Cochran speaks up for Obama's tax and spend plans.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

April 29, 2008

One thing I like about Obama ...

... is that he prefers, all else being equal, not to lie.

Some politicians are like Chevy Chase's character in "Fletch." They'd rather make up lies than tell the truth, for the same reason that composers like to make up music -- that's what they're good at.

In contrast, Barack Obama's preferred mode is the intellectual puzzle. He likes to bury the truth in there somewhere under so many dependent clauses, thoughtful nuances, and "I have understood you" gestures that most people give up trying to decipher what he's saying and just make up little fantasies about how he agrees with them. Obama's view seems to be that it's not his fault that the press and public aren't as smart or hard-working as he is. (I can't say I totally disagree with him there ...)

Unfortunately, with his back finally to the wall over Rev. Wright, with Sen. Howard Baker's question during the Watergate hearings -- "What did the [candidate for] President know and when did he know it?" -- coming to the fore, Obama has been reduced to blatant Sgt. Schultz-style denials("I saw nuthink!!!!") about his exposure to Rev. Wright's beliefs.

More interestingly, Obama asserts:
"You know, I have been a member of Trinity United Church of Christ since 1992. I have known Reverend Wright for almost 20 years. The person I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago."

The fascinating question is why Obama insists that the person who has changed is Jeremiah A. Wright, not Barack Obama. Why not just say, "Well, we've both changed over the years, in opposite directions"?

The person Obama has to disown to be elected President is not Rev. Wright but his own younger self, the one who carefully chose Rev. Wright out of the dozens of black South Side ministers he met as a community organizer.

Why won't Obama admit that he's matured into moderation? As I pointed out a week ago, he's going to need to do a speech along the lines of, "Yeah, I used to be a radical, but then ... I had kids!" But he hasn't come close to that yet.

Clearly, part of the problem is that that would demolish his carefully crafted myth that racial moderation is in his "DNA" (as he asserted today).

Another problem Obama has is that he's strongly emphasized his connections with Rev. Wright and Trinity Church in his campaign materials aimed at Christian voters. My guess is that Obama is a secular nonbeliever who just plays up his church membership for political gain and because its racialist aspect fills the hole in his soul left by his father's abandonment of him, helping him feel "black enough." But that's left him in the ridiculous position of asserting that he went to Trinity all the time, just not, through some amazing statistical fluke, on the days when Rev. Wright did what Rev. Wright does.

Yet, there may be other reasons for refusing to disown his own younger self. Perhaps fear of his wife? Mrs. Obama made herself into a social lioness among Chicago's elite, which may help explain the family's inability to build up any savings until very recently, despite averaging over $200,000 income per year from 1997-2004. Perhaps Mrs. Obama, deep down, is worried that she sold out, so Trinity remains a symbol to her that she's still keepin' it real.

Or perhaps it's Obama who is appalled by his own selling out of his youthful radicalism?

That touches on a different question about who Obama is: Is he the cold-blooded political operative who destroyed the career of a beloved elder stateswoman by having her nomination signatures disqualified to win office for the first time in 1996? Or is he the sensitive, self-absorbed literary artiste who recounted the mild buffets that fate has dealt him with so much anguish in his autobiography? Clearly, he's both, but it's hard to get a sense of the balance within him.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Obama: "That's in my DNA, trying to promote mutual understanding."

Obama denounced Rev. Wright today for, in effect, exposing the basic lie upon which Obama's campaign is built: that Obama's genetic racial make-up, his "DNA," has meant that he has devoted his whole career to racial conciliation. His opening statement about "my DNA" speaks directly to the fantasy Obama has carefully nurtured:

"SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: Before I start taking questions I want to open it up with a couple of comments about what we saw and heard yesterday. I have spent my entire adult life trying to bridge the gap between different kinds of people. That's in my DNA, trying to promote mutual understanding to insist that we all share common hopes and common dreams as Americans and as human beings. That's who I am." ...

"The person I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago. ... They certainly don't portray accurately my values and beliefs. And if Reverend Wright thinks that that's political posturing, as he put it, then he doesn't know me very well. And based on his remarks yesterday, well, I may not know him as well as I thought, either. ... It contradicts everything that I'm about and who I am. ...

And anybody who has worked with me, who knows my life, who has read my books, who has seen what this campaign's about, I think, will understand that it is completely opposed to what I stand for and where I want to take this country.

Of course, in reality, Obama's nature and (especially) nurture left him worried that he won't be perceived as "black enough," so he has devoted much of his career to working to extract money from whites and spend it on blacks (e.g., getting jobs as a community organizer, civil rights lawyer, and state legislator). That's why he joined Rev. Wright's church -- it made him feel black enough.

I'm always being denounced as "obsessed" about race, genetics, and the interplay of nature and nurture because I've learned a lot about them and think about them in a dispassionate manner. And yet, it keeps turning out that everybody else is obsessed, too. (That certainly includes Barack Obama, who subtitled his 442-page autobiography, A Story of Race and Inheritance.)

The problem is that everybody else keeps getting their thinking about race and inheritance wrong, because they only allow themselves to think ignorantly and emotionally about it. For example, Obama has, quite intentionally, elicited in the minds of tens of millions of white people a crude genetic-determinist fantasy that racial reconciliation is in his "DNA."

I'm sorry, but human beings are a lot more complicated than that. Obama is the product of a complex and unusual nurture -- to understand his life, you both have to put yourself in his shoes and pull way back and view him in context, knowing a lot about the sociology of race, including seemingly minor aspects like the Hawaiian view of race.

I was just about the first to put together a plausible story of who Obama is precisely because I'm interested in the same things that interest Obama about himself and so many of his fans about Obama -- the difference is that I allow myself to think logically, objectively, and empirically about "race and inheritance," while respectable people only allow themselves to think with non-rational and intentionally ill-informed parts of their brain.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Why hasn't Obama dealt with Rev. Wright?

One little-mentioned aspect of Barack Obama's on-going fiasco involving his spiritual mentor is that it makes him look feckless.

Rev. Wright has been a problem Obama knew he was going to have for, roughly, ever. But what has he done about it, besides giving a 5,000 word speech? Did he switch to a Washington D.C. church when he was elected to the Senate in 2005? Did he persuade Trinity to stop selling Wright's sermons on DVD? Did he provide any sort of narrative about the evolving ideological differences between the young and mature Barack Obamas?

In contrast, do you remember how in February 2004, Democratic frontrunner John Kerry was rocked by rumors that he was having an adulterous affair with a young woman? You probably don't remember because, although for about a day it looked like it might derail Kerry's victory march through the primaries, the story quickly went away -- when the young lady went away, leaving the country.

Problem dealt with.

I have no idea if the rumors about Kerry were true or if the girl's timely departure from America was a coincidence or what. But, let's assume the worst about Kerry: he wrote a big check from the allowance his wife gives him to his mistress in return for making herself scarce. What can you then say about Kerry?

Well, one thing you can say is that he had a problem and he dealt with it. All else being equal, I'd rather have a President who had a problem and dealt with it than a President who had a problem and failed to deal with it.

Wright should not have been an unsolvable problem for Obama. Wright likes the spotlight, but he also likes other things. (He drives a Porsche, for example).

So, Wright likes money. Obama has friends with money. Right there, you have the makings of a deal. (The payoff didn't have to be crass -- just that in return for Wright maintaining a low profile all year, in December 2008 Obama's supporters would start up a charitable foundation for Rev. to run. Obama could have asked Bill and Hill for advice on the fine points of foundations.)

So, why hasn't Obama dealt with it?

1. Maybe it's all part of some brilliant plan Obama has got to heighten the drama before he delivers his master-stroke.

2. Is Mrs. Obama the key to Sen. Obama's Wright problem? Michelle Obama is a formidable woman, and Sen. Obama wouldn't be the first Presidential candidate who's scared of his wife. Maybe she won't let him deal with Wright? It's an intriguing idea, but I haven't been able to find much evidence for a strong connection between Mrs. Obama and Rev. Wright.

3. Rev. Wright is all tied up with Obama's complicated issues of personal identity, as expounded at endless length is his autobiography, so his normally cold-blooded brain fails to work rationally here. It's not uncommon for highly ambitious and effective people like Obama to have an Achilles heel, an area where their feelings of guilt and inauthenticity get concentrated and paralyze them.

4. He's terrified of losing the black vote? I dunno, that sounds implausible.

5. So what if he can't deal with it? He's not running against FDR and Reagan -- he just has to beat Hillary and McCain.

6. His campaign, going back to the opening of his 2004 Democratic Convention keynote address, is based on white people's assumption that being half-white made him less anti-white than other black leaders. So, Obama is worried that anything having to do with Rev. Wright will just unravel the logic of those fantasies he's elicited in his followers' minds.

I suspect, though, that Obama's overthinking this. People are slow to give up their fantasies due to logical disproof. Sure, Obama misled people about who he really was, but they wanted to be misled. And they still want to be misled.

At the moment, though, Obama doesn't looke like a leader. Obama's problem now is that Rev. Wright's vigor and enjoyment of the situation makes Obama, by contrast, look like a loser. Think about how Reagan wrapped up the 1980 election by turning to Carter in the debate and saying, with a smile on his face, "There you go again." What the hell did that mean? Not much on paper, but on TV it showed that Reagan was enjoying his dominance over the President. Reagan learned that from FDR, who always wore a look of amused mastery as he stuck the shiv in his political opponents. The public likes that in their leaders.

In the Obama vs. Wright battle, Wright is now playing the alpha male.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

April 28, 2008

Rev. Wright on black-white cognitive differences

Here's an interesting excerpt from Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.'s Sunday night Detroit NAACP speech:

Turn to your neighbor and say different does not mean deficient. It simply means different. In fact, Dr. Janice Hale was the first writer whom I read who used that phrase. Different does not mean deficient. Different is not synonymous with deficient. It was in Dr. Hale's first book, "Black Children their Roots, Culture and Learning Style." Is Dr. Hale here tonight? We owe her a debt of gratitude. Dr. Hale showed us that in comparing African-American children and European-American children in the field of education, we were comparing apples and rocks. [Ha-ha.]

And in so doing, we kept coming up with meaningless labels like EMH, educable mentally handicapped, TMH, trainable mentally handicapped, ADD, attention deficit disorder.

And we were coming up with more meaningless solutions like reading, writing and Ritalin. Dr. Hale's research led her to stop comparing African-American children with European-American children and she started comparing the pedagogical methodologies of African-American children to African children and European-American children to European children. And bingo, she discovered that the two different worlds have two different ways of learning. European and European-American children have a left brained cognitive object oriented learning style and the entire educational learning system in the United States of America. Back in the early '70s, when Dr. Hale did her research was based on left brained cognitive object oriented learning style. Let me help you with fifty cent words.

Left brain is logical and analytical. Object oriented means the student learns from an object. From the solitude of the cradle with objects being hung over his or her head to help them determine colors and shape to the solitude in a carol in a PhD program stuffed off somewhere in a corner in absolute quietness to absorb from the object. From a block to a book, an object. That is one way of learning, but it is only one way of learning.

African and African-American children have a different way of learning.

They are right brained, subject oriented in their learning style. Right brain that means creative and intuitive. Subject oriented means they learn from a subject, not an object. They learn from a person. Some of you are old enough, I see your hair color, to remember when the NAACP won that tremendous desegregation case back in 1954 and when the schools were desegregated. They were never integrated. When they were desegregated in Philadelphia, several of the white teachers in my school freaked out. Why? Because black kids wouldn't stay in their place. Over there behind the desk, black kids climbed up all on them.

Because they learn from a subject, not from an object. Tell me a story. They have a different way of learning. Those same children who have difficulty reading from an object and who are labeled EMH, DMH and ADD. Those children can say every word from every song on every hip hop radio station half of who's words the average adult here tonight cannot understand. Why? Because they come from a right-brained creative oral culture like the (greos) in Africa who can go for two or three days as oral repositories of a people's history and like the oral tradition which passed down the first five book in our Jewish bible, our Christian Bible, our Hebrew bible long before there was a written Hebrew script or alphabet. And repeat incredulously long passages like Psalm 119 using mnemonic devices using eight line stanzas. Each stanza starting with a different letter of the alphabet. That is a different way of learning. It's not deficient, it is just different. Somebody say different. I believe that a change is going to come because many of us are committed to changing how we see other people who are different.

Rev. Dr. Wright resents not being taken seriously as an intellectual, and I think he has a point. So, I'll respond at some length.

This is pretty similar to a lot of stuff that I wrote in the late 1990s: for example, "Great Black Hopes" in National Review, my "Nerdishness" essay, and my review of Arthur Jensen's The g Factor.

The problem, of course, is that while Rev. Wright's ex-parishoner Oprah Winfrey can make a billion dollars being America's best nonrational subjective interpersonal improvisational thinker, it's a limited market. If you are the 100,000th best accountant in America, you probably live on a golf course. But if you are the 100,000 best talk show host, you are unemployed.

In my NR review of economic historian David Landes's The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, I wrote:

Interestingly, many of the most striking racial differences can be thought of as resembling faint sex differences. For example, contrast the triumph of Japanese manufacturing with Japan's near-total failure in the brutally competitive global market for celebrities. (A recent survey revealed that Americans believe the most famous living Japanese person is Bruce Lee, a dead Chinese guy.) It's the mirror image of African-Americans' undistinguished technological achievements versus their outstanding performance in producing media personalities.

Why? Japanese talents extend far beyond chopstick-handling to a set of extremely masculine intellectual skills. Tests show they tend to excel at objective abilities like mathematics and mentally manipulating 3-d objects through "single-tasking" (focusing deeply upon a one impersonal logical problem). Blacks, on the other hand, are often better at typically feminine, more subjective cerebral skills like verbalization, emotional intuition and expression, sense of rhythm, sense of style, improvisation, situational awareness, and mental multi-tasking. Michael Jordan's brain, for instance, enables him to anticipate his opponent's every move while simultaneously demoralizing his foe with nonstop trash-talking. (Try it sometime. It's not easy.)

Next, think about physical and emotional/personality traits. Here the races are arrayed in the opposite order. Blacks tend to display more of typically male qualities like muscularity, aggressiveness, self-esteem, need for dominance, and impulsiveness. In contrast, the Japanese economy benefits from a male workforce endowed with more typically feminine virtues like small fingers and fine motor skills, cooperativeness, humility and anxiety, loyalty, long-term orientation, diligence, and carefulness. Combined with their first-rate masculine mental skills, these make Japanese companies powerhouses at exporting superbly engineered machinery.

Compared to Japanese organizations, black communities tend to be physically and psychologically masculine, sometimes to the point of disorderliness. Yet a relatively high percentage of individual black men achieve fame by possessing charismatically masculine looks and personalities, without the nerdishness that Dilbert-style male intellectual skills often induce."

The problem, of course, with the difference not deficiency approach is that there's no subjective way to keep the bridge from falling down. Thus, I suggested in NR in 1996:

The nice liberal white who beseeches black men, "I'm your friend, be like me," isn't always somebody they could be like and frequently isn't somebody they would be like, and thus can't give them a job they'll do themselves proud in. On the other hand, the not-so-nice white often holds the keys to what could be the right career. Another little-understood problem that will also continue to slow black male economic progress is that while Asian immigrants have flourished in part by their objective skills with numbers, blacks' advantages are typically in working with people. Thus, blacks are more susceptible than Asians both to residual bias and to debilitating fear of bias. I don't know of any quick solutions to either of these difficulties.

That said, what careers should black men consider more seriously in the next century? Since this type of question has been unthinkable under the reigning intellectual orthodoxy, my answers haven't yet been adequately assayed by public debate. But somebody has to stick his neck out first. So here goes:

Conservatives often advise blacks to start their own small businesses. However, African-Americans tend to face fierce competition from immigrants who can call upon more dependable relatives for advice, loans, and labor. Thus, for those African-Americans who are the most ambitious members of their families, integrated profit-seeking companies often provide better opportunities. But which jobs within those firms? For better educated black youths, the good news is that there are some fairly lucrative corporate careers that blacks have not yet widely discovered, but that especially reward persuasiveness and masculine charisma. There is always a price to be paid for breaking into new sectors, but these might hold long-run promise: selling big ticket contracts, stock-brokering, headhunting, and motivational speaking. In a word: Sales.

Unfortunately, the media climate saps the confidence blacks need. A salesguy must overflow with the assurance that the next account will love him more than the last one did. By automatically ascribing all gaps between whites and blacks to discrimination, the press drums up the menace of racism to the point of paranoia. This saps both motivation and that virile self-confidence that inspires customers to buy. Of course, some clients are anti-black, but over time blacks can mitigate that by discovering the less-biased industries and sales territories. Anyway, unfair as it is, the relevant question for a young black career-seeker is not whether he'd get richer if he was a white salesman. No, he needs to ask himself whether he'd ultimately end up generating more money and pride as a black salesman than as quota fodder in a make-work posting like Diversity Sensitivity Liaison.

And finally, here's how I summed it up in my review of Arthur Jensen's The g Factor:

Ironically, while diversity models are now popular in the abstract, it's nearly a hanging offense in the current mainstream media climate to actually mention particular talents in which minorities are superior to whites. (Today, "celebrating diversity" is automatically assumed to mean "insisting upon uniformity.") Gardner, for instance, coyly refuses to discuss the obvious racial and sexual disparities implicit in his seven factor model.

In the most publicized recent attempt to honestly flesh out a diversity model, the Reverend Reggie White of the Green Bay Packers asked the Wisconsin legislature, "Why did God make us so different?" He then listed what he saw as the different strengths of America's races, and concluded, "When you put all of that together … it forms a complete image of God." Despite being black, a football hero, an outstanding citizen, obviously well-intended, and in at least some of his examples undeniably right (e.g., Asians are gifted at invention, "they can turn a TV into a watch"), the Rev. White was pilloried by the press: "Stereotypes!"

Of course, none of the tut-tutters asked: Is a diversity model needed to describe specific black mental advantages overlooked by g? As a Reggieist (i.e., one who considers human biodiversity both a reality and a net blessing), I'm pleased to point out that IQ tests can't accurately measure at least one mental faculty in which blacks tend to outperform whites and Asians in real life. Despite lower mean IQ's, African-Americans are not a race of talentless dullards, but are instead the most charismatic contributors to 20th Century popular culture. What mental factor underlies the black revolutions in music, sport, oratory, dance, and slang? Subjective, improvisatory creativity.

For example, like a lot of NBA stars, Scottie Pippen's below-market contract, ill-timed trade demands, team-damaging pouts, and numerous child-support obligations imply that when given time to think, he often chooses unwisely. Yet, in the flow of the game, he's a Talleyrand at real-time decision-making. Leading a fast break, there are no permanent right answers. Even "Pass the ball to Michael Jordan" gets old fast as defenses habituate. Similarly, the NFL running back, the jazz soloist, the preacher, and the rapping DJ all must heed others' expectations and instantly respond with something a little unexpected. IQ tests -- by necessity objective and standardized -- can never measure this adequately.

Further, despite his data's inevitable shortcomings in this regard, Jensen does report that blacks possess particular mental weaknesses and strengths. Among individuals with equal g's, whites and Asians (like males) are typically stronger in those visual-spatial skills so useful in engineering and many skilled trades. In contrast, blacks (like females) often enjoy better short-term memories and thus can mentally juggle more balls in social situations. (This probably contributes to the black advantage in improvisation). Jensen's findings confirm my intuition (NR, 4/6/98) that while whites and Asians tend to be less masculine than blacks in physique and personality, they are typically more masculine than blacks in mental abilities. Put bluntly, whites and Asians tend to be nerdier than blacks. How many blacks would sincerely disagree?

Thus, the IQ disparity is less apocalyptic than is generally assumed. In fact, it's not all that unique -- diversity is among the oldest and most pervasive problems / opportunities inherent in the human condition. Because everybody is less innately talented than somebody else at something, the human race has worked out some pragmatic ways to deal with this.

Since Adam Smith and David Ricardo, economic theory has recommended specializing in whatever's your greatest comparative advantage. The peculiar problem facing blacks, though, is their specific talents are most valuable in winner-take-all professions like entertainment and sports. Still, the masculine bermishness common among blacks should also be helpful in more broadly remunerative occupations like sales.

Even if blacks had no special skills, just a deficiency of g, methods used by white and Mexican athletes to deal with black superiority in team sports might offer blacks practical hints in partially mitigating the g-gap. Specialization, for instance, is still valuable. (As illustrated by their most famous star Fernando Valenzuela, Mexicans don't tend to be endowed with ideal, Ken Griffey Jr.-style bodies for baseball. Yet, through an intense focus on the game they've built a critical mass of baseball expertise.) Avoid affirmative action programs that prevent critical masses from emerging. Look for fields where the inherent demands are less (e.g., golf rather than football) or competition is lighter (e.g., volleyball instead of basketball).

Work harder than your more gifted rivals. Master the fundamentals. Nail the easy stuff. (E.g., the only category in which whites are over-represented among NBA leaders is free-throw shooting). Don't improvise: listen to your coach's wisdom. (E.g., the decline of traditional sexual morality has not lead to a high pregnancy rate among coldly logical Dutch teens. For African-American teens, though, the rise of do-it-yourself morality in the 1960's was a disaster.) Challenge yourself, but realistically. (E.g., I need to get in shape, but an affirmative action program for Sedentary-Americans that sets-aside for me an opening in Evander Holyfield next heavyweight title bout might not be in my best interest. The same goes for racial quotas at elite colleges.)

Finally, the U.S. Army offers the bracing example of an institution that has elicited a high level of black achievement, in part by demanding that those with high-IQ's search out what Richard Epstein calls simple rules for a complex world. In dismal contrast, research universities fail blacks because the publish-or-perish system encourages the high-IQ to wallow in abstruseness. Denouncing Jensen proclaims one's faith in empirical egalitarianism, which serves as the perfect excuse for ignoring the irksome demands of moral egalitarianism. By declaring that everyone could Be Like Me (if only they were properly socialized), the clever can, with clear conscience, continue to surreptitiously wage class war against the clueless.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Rev. Wright has a book coming out later this year!

Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. told the big NAACP dinner in Detroit last night:

"So let me give you the outline of the rest of this message. You can either fill in the blanks for yourselves or you could wait for my book that will be out later this year."

I blogged on April 2:

If you were a literary agent, say, wouldn't you want to sign Wright up for a quickie bestseller, with a release date targeted at, say, 10/1/08? Hustle your best ghostwriter out to Tinley Park and get Wright's memoirs and views on current issues slapped together by the Fourth of July. Make that deadline and you could have it on the bookshelves five weeks before Election Day!No, I don't think we've heard the last from Rev. Wright.

Do you think Obama's campaign manager David Axelrod is wondering what Wright is going to fill into the blanks?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Rev. Wright as an intellectual

One of the things I've been pointing out is that Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. takes himself seriously as an ideological intellectual.

Obama and Wright have both been saying that the Youtubes of Wright's sermons are just snippets, but they are trying to imply different things by that. Obama wants you to believe that Wright is actually much more moderate than a few out-of-context clips might show. Wright, on the other hand, means that he's got lots more where that's coming from, that he's actually a deep thinker who has elaborate reasons backing up the opinions summarized in the notorious clips.

To his credit, despite Wright's ego, I don't get the impression that he sees himself as a creative genius, just as a well-read intellectual who keeps up on the scholarly work of leftist black theologians and philosophers such as James H. Cone.

This seems like a fair self-assessment, so it's frustrating for Wright that almost nobody in the white media has taken seriously his ideology, in fact, has barely noticed that he has an ideology. To whites, it's all just some black thing that we don't have to -- indeed, better not -- pay attention to.

It's especially annoying to Wright that nobody in the white press has paid much attention to the idea that a very bright young man named Barack Obama chose, out of all the black ministers he'd come into contact with during his four years as a community organizer, Rev. Wright because Obama was impressed with Wright's intellect and agreed with his ideology.

To the white media, all black ministers are alike, but not to an ultra-competitive black minister like Wright, who has outcompeted every other minister on the South Side of Chicago, that's a racist travesty.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

I told you so

As I've been saying for a long time, Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. is an attentionaholic far leftist whose career interests do not necessarily coincide with Barack Obama's. Indeed, Wright may well wish to go down in history as the Willie Horton of 2008 who proved what Wright's been saying his whole life, that a black man can't a fair break in America. And I've said for a long, long time that Obama would have to do a Sister Souljah on Wright and do it as early as possible.

Today, the whole world finally noticed. Dana Milbank writes in the Washington Post:

Wright's Voice Could Spell Doom for Obama

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, explaining this morning why he had waited so long before breaking his silence about his incendiary sermons, offered a paraphrase from Proverbs: "It is better to be quiet and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt."

Barack Obama's pastor would have been wise to continue to heed that wisdom.

Should it become necessary in the months from now to identify the moment that doomed Obama's presidential aspirations, attention is likely to focus on the hour between nine and ten this morning at the National Press Club. It was then that Wright, Obama's longtime pastor, reignited a controversy about race from which Obama had only recently recovered - and added lighter fuel.

Speaking before an audience that included Marion Barry, Cornel West, Malik Zulu Shabazz of the New Black Panther Party and Nation of Islam official Jamil Muhammad, Wright praised Louis Farrakhan, defended the view that Zionism is racism, accused the United States of terrorism, repeated his view that the government created the AIDS virus to cause the genocide of racial minorities, stood by other past remarks ("God damn America") and held himself out as a spokesman for the black church in America.

In front of 30 television cameras, Wright's audience cheered him on as the minister mocked the media and, at one point, did a little victory dance on the podium. It seemed as if Wright, jokingly offering himself as Obama's vice president, was actually trying to doom Obama; a member of the head table, American Urban Radio's April Ryan, confirmed that Wright's security was provided by bodyguards from Farrakhan's Nation of Islam.

Wright suggested that Obama was insincere in distancing himself from his pastor. "He didn't distance himself," Wright announced. "He had to distance himself, because he's a politician, from what the media was saying I had said, which was anti-American."

Explaining further, Wright said friends had written to him and said, "We both know that if Senator Obama did not say what he said, he would never get elected." The minister continued: "Politicians say what they say and do what they do based on electability, based on sound bites, based on polls."

Wright also argued, at least four times over the course of the hour, that he was speaking not for himself but for the black church.

"This is not an attack on Jeremiah Wright," the minister said. "It is an attack on the black church." He positioned himself as a mainstream voice of African American religious traditions. "Why am I speaking out now?" he asked. "If you think I'm going to let you talk about my mama and her religious tradition, and my daddy and his religious tradition and my grandma, you got another thing coming."

That significantly complicates Obama's job as he contemplates how to extinguish Wright's latest incendiary device. Now, he needs to do more than express disagreement with his former pastor's view; he needs to refute his former pastor's suggestion that Obama privately agrees with him.

Wright seemed aggrieved that his inflammatory quotations were out of the full "context" of his sermons -- yet he repeated many of the same accusations in the context of a half-hour Q&A session this morning.

His claim that the September 11 attacks mean "America's chickens are coming home to roost"?

Wright defended it: "Jesus said, 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.' You cannot do terrorism on other people and expect it never to come back on you. Those are biblical principles, not Jeremiah Wright bombastic divisive principles."

His views on Farrakhan and Israel? "Louis said 20 years ago that Zionism, not Judaism, was a gutter religion. He was talking about the same thing United Nations resolutions say, the same thing now that President Carter's being vilified for and Bishop Tutu's being vilified for. And everybody wants to paint me as if I'm anti-Semitic because of what Louis Farrakhan said 20 years ago. He is one of the most important voices in the 20th and 21st century; that's what I think about him. . . . Louis Farrakhan is not my enemy. He did not put me in chains, he did not put me in slavery, and he didn't make me this color."

He denounced those who "can worship God on Sunday morning, wearing a black clergy robe, and kill others on Sunday evening, wearing a white Klan robe." He praised the communist Sandinista regime of Nicaragua. He renewed his belief that the government created AIDS as a means of genocide against people of color ("I believe our government is capable of doing anything").

And he vigorously renewed demands for an apology for slavery: "Britain has apologized to Africans. But this country's leaders have refused to apologize. So until that apology comes, I'm not going to keep stepping on your foot and asking you, does this hurt, do you forgive me for stepping on your foot, if I'm still stepping on your foot. Understand that? Capisce?"

Capisce, reverend. All too well.

Sailerian archaeological find

James Fulford of has dug up the first published paragraph I ever wrote: a letter-to-the-editor that appeared in National Review in 1973 when I was a ninth-grader. It turns out to be exactly the same as everything I've written since. (Perhaps I need a new shtick?)

Here's my new column on the 25th anniversary of the "A Nation at Risk" report on the public schools, which contains this rare find.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

NYT confirms my hunch about Diveroli's AEY

When the New York Times broke the story that a 22-year-old high school dropout in Miami Beach had gotten a $298 million contract to supply ammunition to the Afghan army, there was much speculation about the no doubt complicated and nefarious conspiracy behind it all.

But the more I thought about it, as I wrote back in March, the more the scandal sounded merely like the traditional New York mail order camera shop business model of semi-bait and switch: you offer a ridiculously low price, take the customer's money, then see if you can scrounge up something that will keep the customer from taking you to court. Maybe you can bully a supplier into selling you exactly what you've already sold, or maybe the customer will accept something kind of like what they thought they were buying. After your reputation gets too awful, you just change your firm's name.

Indeed, that's the reputation of Botach Tactical, the weapons dealer owned by Efraim Diveroli's mother's family.

It's an easy way to make money if you just don't care when your rightfully angry customers scream at you over the phone. Most people don't like being confronted when they're guilty of breaking promises, but if it doesn't bother you, then you've got a bright future in this kind of business.

Now, C.J. Chivers reports in the NYT:

Several arms-industry officials said the problems were obvious. AEY was a new company with a young and inexperienced staff. Part of its business model, the officials said, was to make extremely low bids on contracts and then seek help from competitors to supply the munitions.

Private arms dealers said the practice caused predictable problems. “They low-bid these prices so low that there was no high-quality source for it,” said Sanford Brygidier, managing director of Aztec International, of Ocala, Fla.

Mr. Brygidier, who said he has been in the arms business for 36 years, added that Mr. Diveroli would tell potential suppliers that they had to accept his prices because he had the contract and there would be no other buyers. “He wanted this, he wanted that, he had immediate cash,” Mr. Brygidier said. “I told him, basically, that this wasn’t kindergarten and that we were not in the education business. I told him not to call me anymore.”

Mr. Shapiro, Mr. Diveroli’s lawyer, declined to answer questions about whether AEY had sought munitions from companies it had underbid. He did not dispute that its prices were generally low.

“It seems to me that Mr. Diveroli’s prices would have had to have been lower than his competitors’ for the Army to have awarded him the Afghanistan contract,” Mr. Shapiro said.

The low-price assumptions, the industry officials said, appeared to be what had led Mr. Diveroli to Albania, where the government sold its munitions for as little as 2.2 cents a round, a price that strongly suggested their age and poor condition.

Ed Grasso, president of Sellier & Bellot USA, which has provided new Czech ammunition to Afghanistan, said new rifle cartridges of the types AEY bought typically cost 20 cents to 30 cents a round.

By early this year, Mr. Diveroli seemed to be desperately searching for munitions, three dealers said. He turned up in Las Vegas in February at the SHOT show, which calls itself the world’s largest firearms exhibition.

He went booth to booth, seeking suppliers to fill the Army’s orders, including those for shoulder-fired rockets, they said. “He was looking to buy RPG-7 rounds, and let me tell you, he wanted to pay $30 for these things,” one dealer said. “You can’t get that item for that price, not if you’re buying quality.”

A round for an RPG-7, the dealer said, typically costs $60 to $85.

He added, “He would just come in and give us a list of stuff that he was trying to shop, and at prices no one would touch.”

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

April 27, 2008

America's Most Hated City

Judging from this poll of 60,000 Americans conducted by Travel & Leisure of visitors' and residents' attitudes toward 25 American cities to find "America's Favorite City," Los Angeles has to be America's Least Favorite City.

Consider the subsets of the "People" category. Seattle came in first in "Most Intelligent People," while Los Angeles came in dead last, worse than Las Vegas, Miami, or San Antonio (perhaps 100-year-old Jacques Barzun raises San Antonio single-handedly?)

Charleston was first in "Most Friendly," while LA was last again.

LA -- surly and stupid, like the cast of "Idiocracy."

LA scored near the top only in "Luxury boutiques," "Shoe-shopping," and "Jewelry-shopping." LA is so hated it only came in sixth in "Weather," behind (besides San Diego and Honolulu) Miami and Charleston (ever hear of this thing called "Summer"?) and 7,000 foot Santa Fe (ever hear of this thing called "not Summer"?).

The only consolation Angelenos can take is that year by year, the rest of the country becomes more like LA (but with lousier weather):

We're the future, your future.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

You can't keep a good publicity hound down

The Guardian reports that Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. has resurfaced in the media, just in time to help Barack Obama woo working class white voters in the final primary states.

If only the Obama family had tithed the full $700,000, instead of a measly $53,000 out of the $7 million they've earned since Barack was elected to the U.S. Senate...

In other news, Sen. Obama has announced remodeling plans for the White House: "I have sworn that we're taking out the bowling alley in the White House and we're putting in a basketball court."

Before he's finished, though, he may feel like inviting a certain minister down to his private bowling alley to discuss money and milkshakes.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer