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January 16-22, 2005 Archive

 

http://www.iSteve.com/05JanB.htm#AncestrybyDNA

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)
Southeastern European (Mediterranean) subgroup (MED)
Middle Eastern subgroup (MIDEAS)
South Asian subgroup (SA)

 

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.

***

 

 

http://www.iSteve.com/05JanB.htm#Texas.California

"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:

 

Now 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...

In contrast, Texas ... voted Democratic in four out of five elections as recently as 1960 through 1976. Yet, it has gone Republican the last seven times...

In reality, the Electoral College divide grows out of discordances over the fundamentals of social life: marriage and children. In 2004, Bush carried the 19 states with the highest expected lifetime fertility among non-Hispanic white women (with Texas at 1.93 babies to California's 1.65). Even more strikingly, he won the 25 states where white women are married the most number of years on average between 18 and 44 (15.2 years in Texas to 12.5 years in California),

Why the correlations? Consider how differently one well-known issue can seem depending on your family structure: Should the government let the Boy Scouts ban gay men from becoming scoutmasters? To voters who are single, or married but childless, or have only daughters, this often appears as a purely abstract question of justice: of course, everybody should be guaranteed equal opportunity to be a scoutmaster. Yet, to citizens with sons, a ban may seem like a common sense precaution against temptation: of course, homosexuals shouldn't be allowed to lead their boys into the woods overnight.

Both the marriage and fertility factors are likely tied to another statistic that correlates remarkably well with the 2004 voting: Bush won the 26 states with the least inflation in housing prices between 1980 and 2004... In Texas, where Republicans have grown in strength over the decades, housing prices are up only 89 percent since 1980, the second lowest growth rate in the country...

 

While 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.

In turn, the sizable gap between home prices in expensive blue and expansive red America appears rooted in their dissimilar landscapes, as vividly illustrated by coastal California and sprawling Texas...

 

[Want to read the rest? Become a subscriber.]

***

 

http://www.iSteve.com/05JanB.htm#manhattan.transfer.mlk

Manhattan Transfer gets serious. The bar blogger with the brilliant prose style outlines his ideological evolution:

 

In 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.

The conservatives countered political correctness with a vigorous support for academic freedom, free speech and free press. The best argument of the proponents of political correctness was that political correctness didn’t exist, that it was a figment of right-wing paranoia. This was defeated through endless anecdote—it’s hard to maintain something doesn’t exist when every few weeks a new example became a national scandal. The latest uproar at Harvard is as good an example as any of the censorious mentality that infects so many college campuses.

The conservatives countered relativism with what the left called “ethnocentrism” but the right considered moral universalism. The proposition was that the values of the West might have arisen historically in the Europe but were universally applicable to humans because the Creator or Nature had endowed all men with certain rights and obligations. You can see the appeal of this way of thinking for a conservative—it combines patriotism with a certain kind of high-mindedness. Our ways are the best but not because they are ours but because they are everybody’s.

This was related to the fight against multiculturalism, with it’s emphasis on the rights of minority groups. In various ways, the Left’s emphasis on valuing the perspectives and protecting or advancing the status of minorities was presented as a rejection of the American tradition of moral universalism, equality before the law and individualism. The left wanted a society keenly attuned to the differences and diversity of our people; the right wanted color-blindness, merit-based promotion and an emphasis on both our national unity and individual accomplishments. In the mind of a campus conservative, we wanted a society of character while the multiculturalists wanted a society of race and gender.

If they had issued conservative movement cards, I certainly would have been a card-carrying member. Nonetheless, I could not persuade myself that there wasn’t something wrong with the conservative ideology. It insisted that diversity wasn’t an important fact about our country or the world, when all my life’s experiences taught me the opposite [Manhattan Transfer attended public school in the Lower East Side during the worst of the crack years.] When they did speak up for diversity, conservatives insisted that they stood for a different kind of diversity—diversity of ideology rather than ethnic or sex diversity. But this is one of the least interesting kinds of diversity in the world. Which three women would you rather be stuck in an elevator with: A Stalinist, a neoconservative and a feminist or a Brazillian, a Norwegian and a Thai? What’s worse, no-one mentioned religious diversity, although this has since proven to be extremely salient.

I graduated from college six years after I started. I was an itinerant student, attending seven different colleges, and indifferent to the continuity of my studies, taking time off the spend three boozy months hitch-hiking around Ireland at one point and wandering my way through post-Communist Eastern Europe at another. At some point I started to look at the campus wars of the nineties with a jaded eye. The rhetoric of both sides seemed to conceal what was really going on. The left was engaged in a strategy of subversion in which political correctness, relativism, multiculturalism and feminism were tactics to undermine traditional rules and modes of behavior in American life. The right had adopted what was essentially leftist rhetoric of the early twentieth century—equality and universalism—in an effort ameliorate the effects of the subversion. In other words, the right was trying to use moderate leftist rhetoric to combat extreme leftism. What's worse is that the right hadn't persuaded many leftists but had persuaded themselves--they had adopted their own rhetoric as an ideology.

I wasn’t any sort of leftist. In fact, I was well on my way to becoming a decadent reactionary. The pursuit of whiskey, women and wealth seemed to me honorable ways of stooping below the struggle between the forces of leftism past and leftism future. The country may be divided over the meaning of MLK day—I just want it moved to August so I can better manage my time away from work.

 

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...]

***

 

 

 

http://www.iSteve.com/05JanB.htm#david.c.rowe.under.the.skin

"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?

***

 

 

http://www.iSteve.com/05JanB.htm#denton.lesbian

"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

 

The University of California has quietly created a new $192,000 management position for the longtime partner of the incoming chancellor at UC Santa Cruz.

Gretchen Kalonji, a professor of materials science at University of Washington in Seattle and an expert in international education, has been hired as director of international strategy development in the UC Office of the President in Oakland. She will also receive a tenured professorial appointment at one of the UC campuses -- possibly UC Santa Cruz.

According to UC President Robert Dynes, Kalonji's hiring was part of the recruitment package offered to her partner of seven years, Denice Dee Denton, an engineer who was appointed last December as the new chancellor of UC Santa Cruz. Denton will start in February and will receive a salary of $275,000 and a moving allowance of $68,750.

In addition to Kalonji's $192,000 annual salary, UC will provide her with the usual faculty housing assistance allowance of up to $50,000 to help with her transition to California and UC and pay her moving expenses. It is a substantial increase from her $134,424 salary at the University of Washington, where she holds the Kyocera chair in the Department of Material Science and Engineering and is director of the University of Washington Worldwide, a program that promotes research and study between students in the United States and abroad...

Her qualifications have not been questioned, but some observers wonder whether UC should be creating new management positions at a time when it is struggling with a budget crisis and is laying off workers, cutting student services and increasing student fees.

One employee union official didn't mince words.

"It makes me sick," said Mary Higgins, an administrative assistant at UCSF and statewide president of UC's clerical union, which did not get a raise this year. "It is a violation of the public trust and it is just more of the same. It is just like it is a total corrupt corporate enterprise."

But UC Provost M.R.C. Greenwood, the former chancellor of UC Santa Cruz and a scientist herself, believes UC should be commended for attracting and hiring two very qualified female engineers.

 

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. 

Academic feminism is a financial scam that works to line the pockets of its proponents.

***

 

 

http://www.iSteve.com/05JanB.htm#left.half.bell.curve

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.

***

 

 

http://www.iSteve.com/05JanB.htm#hotel.rwanda

Hotel Rwanda -- From my upcoming film review in The American Conservative

 

As 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 … majority rule.

And what the Hutu majority wanted was vengeance on their traditional rulers, the Tutsis...

Rwanda's true history is more instructive. The medium-height Bantu Hutu farmers arrived 2,000 years ago and drove the pygmoid hunter-gatherer Twa into the forests. Then, about the time of Cortez, the tall, slender Tutsi herdsmen invaded from the north and, according to Gary Brecher, the acerbic "War Nerd" columnist, "claimed all the land, on the legal basis that if you objected they'd kill you."

The Tutsi rulers treated the Hutu peasantry with the same contempt the Norman lords display toward the Saxon yeomen in Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe. Commenting on Rwanda's "indigenous racism," Congo-born sociologist Pierre L. van den Berghe reported that the Tutsis, like other aristocracies, saw themselves as "astute in political intrigue, born to command, refined, courageous, and cruel."

The Tutsi ascendancy resembled the white pre-eminence in Latin America. Intermarriage was frequent, yet physical differences between the classes endured, just as they have in Mexico, where despite five centuries of intermarrying, the elite remains much taller and fairer than the masses. The trick is that Mexico's most successful short, dark men often wed tall, blonde women and have more European-looking offspring, thus replenishing the caste system. Likewise, in "Hotel Rwanda," Don Cheadle's ultra-competent Hutu executive is married to a Tutsi beauty who is taller and fairer than he is.

Prudent imperialists divide and rule, employing as their local surrogates a well-organized minority like the Tutsis in Belgian Rwanda or the Sunnis in British Iraq. In contrast, the Bush Administration disbanded the Sunni-run Iraqi Army on the advice of Shi'ite exile Ahmed Chalabi. Many Sunnis decided to fight rather than let us give the whip hand to the Shi'ites, whose hatred they had long provoked.

When the Belgians went home in 1962, the Hutus voted themselves into power and began persecuting their ex-overlords. Many Tutsis fled to Uganda, from which their sons invaded Rwanda in 1990. Rather like the French Revolutionaries guillotining the aristocrats in response to the old order's attack on France in 1792, fearful Hutu extremists decided upon a final solution.

***

 

 

http://www.iSteve.com/05JanB.htm#pinker.summers.madrassa

Steven Pinker defends Harvard President Lawrence Summers in the Harvard Crimson:

 

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?

PINKER: First, let’s be clear what the hypothesis is—every one of Summers’ critics has misunderstood it. The hypothesis is, first, that the statistical distributions of men’s and women’s quantitative and spatial abilities are not identical—that the average for men may be a bit higher than the average for women, and that the variance for men might be a bit higher than the variance for women (both implying that there would be a slightly higher proportion of men at the high end of the scale). It does not mean that all men are better at quantitative abilities than all women! That’s why it would be immoral and illogical to discriminate against individual women even if it were shown that some of the statistical differences were innate.

Second, the hypothesis is that differences in abilities might be one out of several factors that explain differences in the statistical representation of men and women in various professions. It does not mean that it is the only factor. Still, if it is one factor, we cannot reflexively assume that different statistical representation of men and women in science and engineering is itself proof of discrimination. Incidentally, another sign that we are dealing with a taboo is that when it comes to this issue, ordinarily intelligent scientists suddenly lose their ability to think quantitatively and warp statistical hypotheses into crude dichotomies.

As far as the evidence is concerned, I’m not sure what “ample” means, but there is certainly enough evidence for the hypothesis to be taken seriously.

For example, quantitative and spatial skills vary within a gender according to levels of sex hormones. And in samples of gifted students who are given every conceivable encouragement to excel in science and math, far more men than women expressed an interest in pursuing science and math.

CRIMSON: Were President Summers’ remarks within the pale of legitimate academic discourse?

PINKER: Good grief, shouldn’t everything be within the pale of legitimate academic discourse, as long as it is presented with some degree of rigor? That’s the difference between a university and a madrassa.


CRIMSON: Would it be normal to hear a similar set of hypotheses presented and considered at a conference of psychologists?

PINKER: Some psychologists are still offended by such hypotheses, but yes, they could certainly be considered at most major conferences in scientific psychology.

CRIMSON: Finally, did you personally find President Summers’ remarks (or what you’ve heard/read of them) to be offensive?

PINKER: Look, the truth cannot be offensive. Perhaps the hypothesis is wrong, but how would we ever find out whether it is wrong if it is “offensive” even to consider it? People who storm out of a meeting at the mention of a hypothesis, or declare it taboo or offensive without providing arguments or evidence, don’t get the concept of a university or free inquiry.

***

 

 

http://www.iSteve.com/05JanB.htm#richard.a.posner.blink

Judge Richard A. Posner rips Malcolm Gladwell's Blink

 

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.)


Golomb, the successful auto salesman, is contrasted with the salesmen in a study in which black and white men and women, carefully selected to be similar in every aspect except race and sex, pretended to shop for cars. The blacks were quoted higher prices than the whites, and the women higher prices than the men. Gladwell interprets this to mean that the salesmen lost out on good deals by judging people on the basis of their appearance. But the study shows no such thing. The authors of the study did not say, and Gladwell does not show, and Golomb did not suggest, that auto salesmen are incorrect in believing that blacks and women are less experienced or assiduous or pertinacious car shoppers than white males and therefore can be induced to pay higher prices. The Golomb story contained no mention of race or sex. (Flemington, where Golomb works, is a small town in central New Jersey that is only 3 percent black.) And when he said he tries not to judge a person on the basis of the person's appearance, it seems that all he meant was that shabbily dressed and otherwise unprepossessing shoppers are often serious about buying a car. "Now, if you saw this man [a farmer], with his coveralls and his cow dung, you'd figure he was not a worthy customer. But in fact, as we say in the trade, he's all cashed up." 

It would not occur to Gladwell, a good liberal, that an auto salesman's discriminating on the basis of race or sex might be a rational form of the "rapid cognition" that he admires. If two groups happen to differ on average, even though there is considerable overlap between the groups, it may be sensible to ascribe the group's average characteristics to each member of the group, even though one knows that many members deviate from the average. An individual's characteristics may be difficult to determine in a brief encounter, and a salesman cannot afford to waste his time in a protracted one, and so he may quote a high price to every black shopper even though he knows that some blacks are just as shrewd and experienced car shoppers as the average white, or more so. Economists use the term "statistical discrimination" to describe this behavior. It is a better label than stereotyping for what is going on in the auto-dealer case, because it is more precise and lacks the distracting negative connotation of stereotype, defined by Gladwell as "a rigid and unyielding system." But is it? Think of how stereotypes of professional women, Asians, and homosexuals have changed in recent years. Statistical discrimination erodes as the average characteristics of different groups converge. 

 

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.

***

 

http://www.iSteve.com/05JanB.htm#nancy.hopkins

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."

 

Patti Hausman debunked Hopkins' report here and Judith Kleinfeld did it here. 

 

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?

***

 

http://www.iSteve.com/05JanB.htm#summers.uncles

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. 

***

 

 

http://www.iSteve.com/05JanB.htm#clash.referendum

The NYT Op-Ed Page Hops on the Cochran-Sailer Bandwagon: In this morning's NYT:

 

OP-ED CONTRIBUTORS
Should We Stay or Should We Go?
By FREDERICK BARTON, BATHSHEBA CROCKER and CRAIG COHEN
The decision about when American troops leave should belong to the Iraqi people.

 

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.

***

 

 

http://www.iSteve.com/05JanB.htm#bush.fuhrerprinzip

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:

 

Does loving our country require unquestioning support for President Bush, as many of his most devoted followers insist?

"Stop Doubting and Second-Guessing: Support President Bush and Our Troops," commanded a large billboard in rural Arizona. Accompanying that directive was a toll-free number for a group calling itself "Arizona Citizens." Those who dialed the number were greeted by a recorded male voice instructing callers, in a tone of triumphant hostility, to "get out of our country," perhaps by emigrating to "liberal Europe."

The odd thing about that invitation is that the mentality that created that sign could be described as "European," in a sense. That mind-set was all the rage in certain European circles about seventy years ago.

"It is with pride that we see that one man is kept above all criticism – the Fuhrer," explained Nazi leader Rudolf Hess in a June 25, 1934 speech. "The reason is that everyone feels and knows [that] he was always right and will always be right. The National Socialism of us all is anchored in the uncritical loyalty, in the devotion to the Fuhrer that does not ask for the wherefore in the individual case…. We believe that the Fuhrer is fulfilling a divine mission to the German destiny! This belief is beyond all challenge." ...

Readers may be forgiven for wondering if they stumbled across a talk radio transcript of recent vintage. Hess’s remarks offer a flavor similar to that of the 2002 memorandum filed by Attorney General designee Alberto Gonzalez arguing that the President has the prerogative to order the torture of people he designates "unlawful combatants." And Bush himself summarized the doctrine of fuhrerprinzip quite tidily in an interview with Bob Woodward: "I'm the commander - see, I don't need to explain - I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being President."

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http://www.iSteve.com/05JanB.htm#top.ten.films

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:

 

1. The Passion of the Christ 
2. Hero 
3. The Incredibles 
4. The Aviator 
5. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind 
6. Bright Young Things 
7. Sideways 
8. Spring, Summer, Fall Winter ... Spring 
9. The Motorcycle Diaries 
10. The Battle of Algiers (timely re-release)

 

Runners-Up: Ocean's 12, Hotel Rwanda, A Day Without a Mexican, Fahrenheit 9/11

 

Worst film of the year: Spike Lee's She Hate Me.

 

Notes: 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 Passion.

I think the most overlooked movie of the year had to have been Bright Young Things, English national resource Stephen Fry's directorial debut in a wonderfully entertaining version of Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies.

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http://www.iSteve.com/05JanB.htm#larry.summers

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:"

 

The 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.

Nancy Hopkins, a biologist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, walked out on Summers' talk, saying later that if she hadn't left, ''I would've either blacked out or thrown up." Five other participants reached by the Globe, including Denice D. Denton, chancellor designate of the University of California, Santa Cruz, also said they were deeply offended, while four other attendees said they were not.

Summers said he was only putting forward hypotheses based on the scholarly work assembled for the conference, not expressing his own judgments -- in fact, he said, more research needs to be done on these issues. The organizer of the conference at the National Bureau of Economic Research said Summers was asked to be provocative, and that he was invited as a top economist, not as a Harvard official.

However, the problem of women in academia is one that Summers is confronting in his role as university president. The percentage of tenured job offers made to women by the university's Faculty of Arts and Sciences has dropped dramatically since Summers took office, prompting vigorous complaints from many of Harvard's senior female professors...


He offered three possible explanations, in declining order of importance, for the small number of women in high-level positions in science and engineering. The first was the reluctance or inability of women who have children to work 80-hour weeks.

The second point was that fewer girls than boys have top scores on science and math tests in late high school years. ''I said no one really understands why this is, and it's an area of ferment in social science," Summers said in an interview Saturday. ''Research in behavioral genetics is showing that things people previously attributed to socialization weren't" due to socialization after all...

In his talk, according to several participants, Summers also used as an example one of his daughters, who as a child was given two trucks in an effort at gender-neutral parenting. Yet she treated them almost like dolls, naming one of them ''daddy truck," and one ''baby truck."

It was during his comments on ability that Hopkins, sitting only 10 feet from Summers, closed her computer, put on her coat, and walked out. ''It is so upsetting that all these brilliant young women [at Harvard] are being led by a man who views them this way," she said later in an interview.

Hopkins was the main force behind an influential study documenting inequalities for women at MIT, which led that school's former president, Charles M. Vest, to acknowledge the pattern of bias in 1999...

Summers' third point was about discrimination. Referencing a well-known concept in economics, he said that if discrimination was the main factor limiting the advancement of women in science and engineering, then a school that does not discriminate would gain an advantage by hiring away the top women who were discriminated against elsewhere.

Because that doesn't seem to be a widespread phenomenon, Summers said, ''the real issue is the overall size of the pool, and it's less clear how much the size of the pool was held down by discrimination."

 

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.)

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http://www.iSteve.com/05JanB.htm#gaf

Speaking of gaffes (although in this case you could call it a "gaf"), Geoff Beck at Majority Rights reports on the latest phony hate crime:

 

Police have charged a man with filing a false police report after he claimed someone tried to carve the word “fag” on his forehead.

There was one little problem with 22-year-old Floyd Elliot’s story: The superficial wound was backward, as if it were made while looking into a mirror.

 

fag = gaf

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http://www.iSteve.com/05JanB.htm#sibling.rivalry

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?

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http://www.iSteve.com/05JanB.htm#gay.weddings

Gay Marriage vs. Gay Weddings: A  reader writes:

 

Thank 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 benefits.

When I make these arguments to my children (twenties, educated), they give me blank stares, having been trained in modern notions of sexuality. But, I have hope that maturity will eventually ensue. What a shame that children must unlearn a good deal of an increasingly expensive higher education.

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