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Live not by lies. - Solzhenitsyn
To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle. - Orwell
Knowledge is good. - Animal House
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January 16-22, 2005 Archive
AncestrybyDNA's new Euro-DNA 1.0 genetic test -- Genealogy is a huge hobby and genetic testing services have emerged to sell to people interested in their ancestral backgrounds. Most have focused on the easier to test Y-chromosome (direct male line) and mitochondrial (direct female line) tests, but those only tell you so much. In contrast, AncestrybyDNA offers tests on your autosomal or "pan-genome" DNA which give you a statistical picture of your whole family tree.
They've now introduced a test for Caucasians that can tell you your admixture as broken down into four groups:
Northern European subgroup (NOR)
Their paper introducing the service gives lots of interesting details on the genetic background of Europeans and white Americans. In general, Europeans appear to be the most homogenized of all the continental-scale racial groups, so I suspect that customers are typically going to be underwhelmed by the findings: E.g., "You're 50% NOR, 35% MED, 10% MIDEAS, and 5% SA." That's probably not going to satisfy somebody who puts a lot of emphasis on his ethnic identity as a Walloon or Slovak or whatever. But, the write-up is most interesting.
The entire website is loaded with neat stuff, but it's important to keep in mind that this autosomal DNA analysis is still a long way from being 100% accurate. For example, here is one family where the mother was measured as 22% black and the father as 0% black. The test reported that the three children were 15%, 2%, and 6% black by ancestry -- not bad, but not great either. There's a certain amount of statistical noise in the results, so the website offers a lot of caveats -- for example, a lot of Jews who know all four of their grandparents immigrated from Poland take the test and show up as a few % Native American. So, don't put much weight on small numbers.
"A Tale of Two States: America's future is either Texas or California," my new exploration of the red-blue divide is now available to electronic subscribers to The American Conservative in the upcoming February 14, 2005 issue. An excerpt:
that California is a bastion of liberalism, having given the Democratic
Presidential candidates victory margins of 10 to 13 points in each of
the last four elections, it's easy to forget that Republican hopefuls
carried the state nine times out of ten from 1952 up through 1988...
the arrow of causality no doubt points in multiple directions, it's
plausible that the price of a house with a yard can sometimes make the
difference between how far down the path young adults go toward
marriage, children, and voting Republican.
[Want to read the rest? Become a subscriber.]
Manhattan Transfer gets serious. The bar blogger with the brilliant prose style outlines his ideological evolution:
college I somehow got mixed-up in the conservative movement... The main
targets of campus conservatism were political correctness. relativism
and multiculturalism. Nowadays everyone has some idea what these are but
in the early nineties we were still discovering them.
Later in the same posting, Manhattan Transfer sets off to test Robert Nisbett's theory of the context-orientation of the East Asian mind on some sushi chefs but gets distracted trying to explain his more plausible alternative to Nisbett's epistemology to a race car driver's girlfriend:
She had blonde curls that fell in front of her eyes when she talked. It was hard to pay attention to what she said because the long legs stretching out from her a tiny sweater-skirt demanded so much attention... The music had gotten louder, and she had to lean in close to hear me. Her knees were pressed against my legs, and she was propping herself up with a hand on my thigh. Her hair smelled like rosemary and mint. [Continued here...]
"Under the Skin: On the Impartial Treatment of the Environmental and Genetic Hypotheses of Racial Differences" - The final article by the outstanding U. of Arizona researcher David C. Rowe, who died two years ago, appears in the January 2005 issue of the American Psychologist. The entire issue is devoted to the subject of race, and most of the contents are the usual bilge, but Rowe's article "was written and revised during his yearlong convalescence prior to his death, and he clearly viewed it as his final contribution, at the end of a long and celebrated research career."
Do you think Larry Summers wouldn't have apologized so cravenly today if he knew he had only one year to live?
"Speak truth to power" and simultaneously help your lesbian lover cash in at the taxpayer's expense: One of the funnier parts of the Larry Summers' Brouhaha was this quote from the NYT:
Several women who participated in the conference said yesterday that they had been surprised or outraged by Dr. Summers's comments, and Denice D. Denton, the chancellor designate of the University of California, Santa Cruz, questioned Dr. Summers sharply during the conference, saying she needed to "speak truth to power."
Yes, I can't think of a better example of Speaking Truth to Power than one university supremo attempting to intimidate another one into not mentioning inconvenient facts.
But the Denice D. Denton Story gets better.
A reader sent me this article from the San Francisco Chronicle:
UC hires partner of chancellor: Creates $192,000 post for Santa Cruz chief's lesbian lover
University of California has quietly created a new $192,000 management
position for the longtime partner of the incoming chancellor at UC Santa
UPDATE: One Hand Washes the Other Dept.: I just found out a possible personal reason why Ms. Greenwood thinks the Denton-Kalonji deal is so wonderful. M.R.C. Greenwood was recently promoted to Provost (second highest official) of the entire University of California system, and, surprise, surprise, Greenwood's close friend from Santa Cruz Lynda Goff went with her and got an extremely vague-sounding, but no doubt nicely compensated, job as " Executive Faculty Associate to the UC Provost."
Greenwood's orientation is discussed here by an angry lesbian. (Yes, I know that raises the question of whether there are any other kinds of lesbians.)
Let me say
it again: It's a racket.
Why are high IQ people so reluctant to admit that IQ is substantially genetic? My wife points out that when high IQ people try to censor reports that IQ is heavily tied to nature rather than nurture, their motives are seldom as altruistic and disinterested as they claim. She writes:
Many people simply don't accept the biology of their brain. They don't understand how the brain works, so the best they can do is to use fuzzy (and reflexive) biology-logic from the rest of their bodies. "Working out gives me bigger muscles, eating less makes me skinny, etc. If I do these things I'll be fit, and if I'm fit, then I must be doing the right things." So just as being fit represents their hard work, dedication & sacrifice, so must being smart. They worked hard for it so they deserve their superior intelligence. To recognize it as a genetic gift is to fail to recognize the moral chops it took to for them to "get smart". Dumb people either deserve to be dumb or ... well, it must be discrimination.
That reminds me: I've finally amalgamated into one convenient web page my formerly awkward to read five-part VDARE.com series from 2000 on "How to Help the Left Half of the Bell Curve." Perhaps the time will be riper than it was in 2000 for my discussion of how the right half of the bell curve (e.g., the readers of this blog) exploit the left half:
Nobody is willing to publicly admit that a whole lot of young people just didn't draw winning hands in the genetic lottery for intelligence. To state this fact is considered insensitive and, horrors, bad for self-esteem. Maybe, but to ignore it is to acquiesce in the IQ elite setting policies that are starkly self-interested and uncharitable.
Hotel Rwanda -- From my upcoming film review in The American Conservative:
America strives to prod Iraq to "democracy," which President
Bush defines as sugar and spice and everything nice (such as protection
of minority rights), "Hotel Rwanda" could serve as a timely
reminder that long-oppressed peoples, like the Hutus in Rwanda (and
perhaps the Shi'ites in Iraq), generally assume the word means …
Steven Pinker defends Harvard President Lawrence Summers in the Harvard Crimson:
From what psychologists know, is there ample evidence to support the
hypothesis that a difference in “innate ability” accounts for the
under-representation of women on science faculties?
To illustrate where rapid cognition can go wrong, Gladwell introduces us to Bob Golomb, an auto salesman who attributes his success to the fact that "he tries never to judge anyone on the basis of his or her appearance." More unwitting irony here, for Gladwell himself is preoccupied with people's appearances. Think of Reilly, with his runner's build; or John Gottman, who claims to be able by listening to a married couple talk for fifteen minutes to determine with almost 90 percent accuracy whether they will still be married in fifteen years, and whom Gladwell superfluously describes as "a middle-aged man with owl-like eyes, silvery hair, and a neatly trimmed beard. He is short and very charming...." And then there is "Klin, who bears a striking resemblance to the actor Martin Short, is half Israeli and half Brazilian, and he speaks with an understandably peculiar accent." Sheer clutter.
I love Judge Posner dearly, but I have this sneaking suspicion that he is ever so slightly autistic, or an Asperger, as they now say. Anyway, there's something slightly autistic about how he hates novelistic detail in a book that's supposed to be be making an argument.
I remember Posner corrected me once for using the term "the exception that proves the rule," saying that was impossible. I replied that what the phrase actually means is an exception that is so famous for being exceptional that it demonstrates how rare exceptions to this tendency are -- e.g., Beethoven is an exception supporting the assertion that composers aren't usually deaf, as showed by how famous he is for a being a deaf composer. But the Judge had a hard time grasping that rather obvious point. The judge has a tremendously powerful intellect, but perhaps not the most supple.
Posner goes on to destroy Gladwell's nonsense about racial discrimination. (Gladwell, by the way, calls himself black, but you probably wouldn't notice he had any black ancestors.)
There are big differences in how hard different kinds of people will bargain. When you are selling something, you can get a higher profit out of some kinds of people than out of others. A friend of mine who is a small businessman in LA can rattle off a list of how hard a bargain different ethnic groups tend to drive with him. The most ferocious bargainers are the Armenians, Koreans, and Israelis, while the most aristocratically insouciant about the precise terms of the deals are the South Americans.
I'd almost forgotten that so many liberals are either morons or liars: Four years of conservatives contorting themselves to rationalize cheering on George W. Bush's mistakes had shaken my opinion of my fellow conservatives so much that I'd started to forget the low intellectual and moral standards of liberals. But this absurd Larry Summers brouhaha over gender differences among top math, science, and engineering professors is bringing it all back. The Washington Post headlines Harvard Chief's Comments Assailed on the second day of the controversy, while the NYT says No Break in the Storm Over Harvard President's Words. Liberal child-blogger Matthew Yglesias conclusively proves that not all males are good at logic with his meanderings here and here, but the comments he elicits from his liberal readers are even stupider or more mendacious.
Obviously, the only reason women aren't as productive scientists as men on average is because of extremely subtle discrimination, discrimination so subtle that the only evidence for it is that women on average aren't as productive.
Gosh, it's a good thing no male scientist ever had to put up with insensitive remarks or they never would have accomplished anything at all. Look at Austrian physicist Gernot Zippe, who invented the centrifuge used in modern nuclear weapons construction while a prisoner of war in Soviet Siberia. Sure, Stalin's boys had him locked up in the Gulag at the time, but at least nobody was insensitive toward him. No academic institution would give the young Einstein a job, so his spirit was crushed working at the patent office 100 years ago, which is why he never amounted to anything.
In reality, these cries of discrimination at MIT and Harvard are a scam to line the pockets of interested parties.
MIT biologist Nancy Hopkins walked out of Summers' speech, saying later that if she hadn't left, ''I would've either blacked out or thrown up." Now, that's the scientific attitude for you! What a role model for young women considering becoming scientists!
Hopkins has a long history of financial conflicts of interest at MIT. Wendy McElroy reported in 2001:
"The [MIT] Committee was established to investigate complaints of sex discrimination that were levelled by Hopkins herself. Yet she became the Chair, heading an investigation into her own complaints. As a result of her findings, Hopkins received -- among other benefits -- a 20 percent raise in salary, an endowed chair and increased research funds. Indeed, most of the Committee consisted of women who benefited substantially from the 'guilty' verdict. The only evidence of sex discrimination produced was the fact that there are more men than women in the faculty of the School for Science."
At the Harvard / MIT Professor level of intellectual talent, men vastly outnumber women in mathematics, science, and engineering. For example, before the SAT's scoring was dumbed down in 1995, males were 24 times more likely to get a perfect score on the SAT-Math test. Small differences in the mean on two bell curves translate into big differences at the extreme right edge of the bell curves, which is where Harvard and MIT professor come from.
So, in this decade, MIT got to keep Nancy Hopkins but lost Steven Pinker to Harvard. Which college do you think came out ahead?
One reason Larry Summers believes genetic differences may have something to do with intelligence -- The Harvard President, who is being pilloried for suggesting that genetics may have something to do with why so many more top mathematicians and scientists are male than female, is an economist who was formerly Secretary of the Treasury. Interestingly, he is the son of two economics professors and is the nephew of two Nobel Laureates in economics:
Kenneth Arrow´s sister and Paul Samuelson´s brother, the economists Anita and Bob Summers, are married and have a son, Lawrence Summers. He is former professor of economics at MIT, former US Secretary of the Treasury and currently president of Harvard University.
The NYT Op-Ed Page Hops on the Cochran-Sailer Bandwagon: In this morning's NYT:
Back in May 2004, I wrote on iSteve.com:
A New Iraq Exit Strategy
The Clash Referendum: Should we stay or should we go?
If we go there will be trouble.
An' if we stay it will be double.
The U.S. is in a bind in Iraq because we don't want to be seen as being driven out by a bunch of punks with RPGs before we establish democracy. On the other hand, nobody really believes anymore that we can establish an enduring, working representative government there.
So, why don't we let the Iraqis democratically vote us out of Iraq? Let's announce that we will abide by the will of the Iraqi people as expressed in a national referendum on, say, June 30. The ballot will have just one question on it:
Should we stay or should we go?
If the Iraqis vote "go," then we go (within, say, 60 days). In leaving, we give the Arab world an impressive object lesson in how the United States of America believes in democracy and the rule of law. We leave with our honor intact.
If they vote "stay," well, then we're stuck there, but at least we've shown the world we're wanted.
Greg Cochran came up with the idea. He argues that a referendum can be pulled off more quickly and peacefully than an election because when you have different candidates running for office, their militias will be sure to start shooting each other. But a referendum is simple enough for people with no experience at (or talent for) self-rule to deal with.
Bush worshippers denounced as right-wing extremists by John Birch Society magazine! Curiouser and curiouser: in the magazine of the John Birch Society, The New American, William Norman Grigg writes:
loving our country require unquestioning support for President Bush, as
many of his most devoted followers insist?
My Top Ten List: I spend far less time worrying over my Top Ten lists than most film critics because, unlike most critics, I'm not convinced that you should listen to me because I have better taste than you do. Instead, I write film reviews because the studio marketing departments do a tremendous job in focusing public attention for a week or two, and any movie raises issues of interest, upon which, if I put in some hard work, I can be informative and interesting.
For example, my upcoming review in The American Conservative of Hotel Rwanda will the be the first thing I've ever seen that explains the true nature of the Tutsis and Hutus. They aren't exactly tribes or races or ethnicities or classes, so you read a lot of nonsense about them.
Anyway, for whatever it's worth, here's my list:
Passion of the Christ
Worst film of the year: Spike Lee's She Hate Me.
I never found that much to say about Sideways: it's a nice little
picture, but the fact that so many critics have it at the top of their
lists says a lot about what a weak year it was overall. It was an
especially weak year if, like most critics, your irrelevant prejudices
and hatreds prevented you from acknowledging the
roll-the-dice-death-or-glory artistic knockout punch of the year, The
College President Tells Truth. Film at 11! -- To become a university president you pretty much have to intellectually neuter yourself and never let another politically incorrect remark pass your lips. The one current exception to this is dismal rule is Larry Summers, the former Clinton Administration Treasury Secretary who is president of Harvard. The Boston Globe reports on his latest "gaffe:"
president of Harvard University, Lawrence H. Summers, sparked an uproar
at an academic conference Friday when he said that innate differences
between men and women might be one reason fewer women succeed in science
and math careers. Summers also questioned how much of a role
discrimination plays in the dearth of female professors in science and
engineering at elite universities.
I think it's highly relevant to this that one of Summer's first accomplishments at Harvard was hiring away MIT's superstar evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker. (Here's my interview with Pinker.)
have charged a man with filing a false police report after he claimed
someone tried to carve the word “fag” on his forehead.
fag = gaf
We need a word! I talk a lot about "nepotism" -- the tendency to be altruistic toward (or at least cooperative) with relatives. But the flip side of nepotism is the tendency to compete more with relatives than with strangers because your relatives are also most likely to be your rivals for many resources, such as Mom's approval or Grandma's inheritance. Similarly, France and Germany were more likely to go to war with each other despite their kin ties than either was likely to go to war with Tibet because they both wanted Alsace and Lorraine more than they wanted some yak pasturage in Tibet. I usually refer to this as "sibling rivalry writ large" and (I hope) most readers get what I'm talking about, but it would be very helpful to the future of intellectual discourse if we had a generic term for the overall phenomenon of which sibling rivalry is just one example. For example, the terms "nature" and "nurture" are highly convenient for structuring thought, but we don't have a lot of clear thinking about the tradeoffs between nepotism and "sibling rivalry" because we lack a general term for the latter.
So, what are your suggestions for what word should be yang to nepotism's yin?
Gay Marriage vs. Gay Weddings: A reader writes:
you Steve, I was beginning to think I was unique in my opposition to gay
marriage on the grounds of it's imagery being a deterrent to young
straight men taking the plunge. Marriage is, in many ways, problematic
to young males, given their natural propensity to promiscuity,
independence and slovenliness. Thus, wives make young males into better
men. They raise nuclear families in a responsible manner. And society
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