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February 17, 2003

Nerds

On one of the threads we've been talking about Jews and their contributions to science. I decided to check out the 40 finalists for the Intel Science Competition. Among these budding geeks, I counted 6 clear Jewish names-with another possible 3 or 4. On the order of 10-20% Jewish. I also counted 6 Indians, with 3 that are South Indian, likely Tamil. 11 East Asians-mostly Chinese, though one of the surnames (Kim) is obviously Korean (4 with the surname "Li," the nerd version of Jones or Smith?). I also noted 2 "Muslim" seeming names. One seems Iranian, and the first name being "Raphael" indicates either a very assimilated family, or a Bahai or Zoroastrian one (Raphael Farzan-Kashani). The other name looks Arab to me, though I'm not an expert I am pretty sure he isn't a South Asian Muslim as the combination of first and last name just isn't too common (Tahir Ahmed) [1]. A large portion of the "non-ethnic" white finalists have names that can almost certainly be traced to the last pre-World War I immigration wave.

Perhaps this is what MIT is looking for when it means diversity? Uhh...never mind.

PS-I hope no one is taking this as a cue to assume I think WASPs are "inferior" (some of my best friends are WASPs)-just pointing out there is plenty of diversity in the sciences, just not the right kind...also, check out the finalists for the National Geography Bee, much more ethnically balanced, only 4 Asians (3 East Asians, and what looks to me like a Muslim Bengali).

[1] Assume Jews are 3% of the population (though a smaller portion of the youth segment), and Asians + Muslims (overlapped, but not identical) are about 7% of the population (probably about right if age group is taken into account). With 6+11+6 (I'm discounting the possible Jewish names, only the totally certain ones), that's nearly 60% of the finalists coming from 10% of the population. In the interests of equity and fairness, we should perhaps look into doing something about this injustice so that other boys and girls who don't have the same opportunities, with names like Smith, Jones and Johnson, black & white, can also have a chance to reach for geek glory....

Posted by razib at 02:37 AM




"In the interests of equity and fairness, we should perhaps look into doing something about this injustice so that other boys and girls who don't have the same opportunities, with names like Smith, Jones and Johnson, black & white, can also have a chance to reach for geek glory...."

I assume this is a joke/parody Razib of affimative action. Oh, how I dispise 'fairness' and 'equity' for it's masking of the truth about the differences between not only races but of men and women!

Posted by: ShakeyKane at February 17, 2003 04:35 AM



Even with software, there could will still be doubt. I'm Jewish, and every one of my ancestors who immigrated through Ellis Island had their last name changed. Most of the time it was to other Jewish-sounding names, with exceptions like the one who thought my great-grandfather looked like the Kaiser, and named his accordingly. I'm sure that happened to other people. And it may not have been involuntary. My Grandfather changed our specific last name from Cohen to something rather WASPish, that no-one has been able to pick out thus far (My dad has done long term business with Saudi Arabia with it). So there are the false negatives.

There would also be false positives. I've heard people say Donald Rumsfeld is Jewish before, on the basis of his last name, but in fact he has been in contact with distant German family members still in the old country for a few years - with the last name.

It'll never be as easy as identifying names sprung from an entirely different culture and part of the world than Europe.

Posted by: Lollia at February 17, 2003 07:40 AM


Only the terminally uninformed would consider "Rumsfeld" a Jewish name.

David

Posted by: David at February 17, 2003 10:01 AM


david, as a german american, you would have a better clue. also-people should check out the first part of the name-Rumsfeld, no, Rosenfeld, yeah.

Posted by: razib at February 17, 2003 11:13 AM


To be brutally honest, it must be said in their defense that WASPS and WSPS (white, Scottish Protestants) have been responsible for the majority of modern progress up till now, in spite of, or perhaps because of, being cuisinely challenged. From Newton, to James Watt, to the Wright brothers, they've been right there with their pre-Yankee ingenuity. Why, if it weren't for them, the current forum for the talents of mathematically inclined Tamils would be the poorer! As for the gender question, alas, it is true, the ladies never much took to steam engine mechanics, but some did clandestinely discover a planet or two, then modestly allowed fame to slip by. WSPS/WASPS are not winning spelling bees these days as they should, which is strange because they also invented this damn-blasted spelling; but with a little help from their friends, Jews & gentiles, I am sure they will re-ascend.

Posted by: MaryClaire at February 17, 2003 03:24 PM


In my son's high school the honor roll seemed to be predominantly immigrant without regard to place of origin -- not only Chinese, but Vietnamese, Serbs, Russians, and Ethiopians. (Jews and Japanese in that neighborhood were native, though the most successful Jewish and Japanese families probably had migrated to a better neighborhood). I think that the effort of immigration makes a powerful selection for ambition, and immigration also favors educated families.

Posted by: Zizka at February 17, 2003 03:49 PM


Hmm...
Another amusing post from Razib.
And I loved MarieClair's point about us WASPs being cusinely challenged -- how true. I think it is new theory: Bad food drives you to science. Could be true.

But I think the real point is the immigrant effect. Immigrants really try much harder. And an awful lots of Jews still have the refugee mentality -- for good historical reason.

And we WASPs have made the world in our image so we can afford to coast.

And don't forget that a lot of people with surnames like Brown are in fact negroes.

Posted by: John Ray at February 17, 2003 05:14 PM


i think that success is science dimishes for high g immigrant groups over time as they become socially more well connected and enter more genteel professions less crassly meritocratic. some jewish writers have noted that competative public schools that were once mostly jewish are now mostly asian-where have the jews gone? to elite private schools that traditionally have educated the WASP eastern establishment.

notice that among the asians there were no japanese surnames? rather, being an old immigrant group now (very little japanese immigration after 1910)-they have assimilated to the lifestyle and values of the WASP way, diversifying occupationally into law & the arts, fields where connections and cultural saavy count. in contrast, chinese have a large segment of new immigrants who take refuge in the harsh meritocratic traditions of the sciences.

as time goes on, asians will probably be less well represented among the ranks of young scientists as many bright individuals enter law, the arts and the more socially & verbally oriented professions & vocations.

as for WASPs-bill gates, warren buffett & paul allen are WASPs. they are doing fine....

Posted by: razib at February 17, 2003 05:23 PM


Razib should check out how many of the students have mothers or fathers who are university professors. The two students from Austin reside in the affluent Westlake Hills area across Lake Austin from the city. There's a good chance their fathers are professors at UT Austin, or are techie types. I know this as I lived in Austin for five years in the early 80s. At one point I counted 11 individuals I had worked with whose fathers were profs at UT.

Posted by: Roger Chaillet at February 17, 2003 06:43 PM


when i was a little kid in upstate NY in the early 1980s-almost all the south asian students i met were children of doctors, engineers or professors (my father was a chemistry professor-now works in industry). things have changed now as many south asian kids have parents that are blue-collar & low-paid service types, as well as the gujarati business people...i knew a large number of the latter who had kids that ascended (their view of things) into the professions when i was in college in the mid/late 90s.

Posted by: razib at February 17, 2003 06:51 PM


The first three Egyyptians I met here in Portland were 2 PhD's and 1 PhD-MD, all three of them heads of departments. There are presumably not 60 million people like them in Egypt.

Based on people I've met in Portland I don't think I could ever mistake an Egyptian for a Saudi. Both Muslim, both Arab, but completely different behavior and temperament. But then, my Egyptian sample was skewed -- it's a lot easier for Saudis to get over here.

Posted by: Zizka at February 17, 2003 08:55 PM


Here are the results of the University of Toronto's rigorous Leonardo Da Vinci engineering competition from last year.

http://www.ecf.utoronto.ca/apsc/davinci/2002_exam/results.html

View the list of Da Vinci Scholars names and arrive at your own conclusions...about 90% ethnic, composed mainly of Hong Kong FOBs. Continued Asian immigration and virtually nil Hispanics or Blacks should lead Canada into a promising future.

...Or not?

http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1035777395292&call_page=TS_News&call_pageid=968332188492&call_pagepath=News/News

Immigration could be a help or a hindrance, depending the TYPE of immigrants we choose to import. These blacks kids mainly from Jamaica have NO excuse for failure whatsoever. They can't complain of the legacy of slavery ~ in fact Canada provided REFUGE for these immigrants from poverty they faced in the Caribbean and gave them sanctuary from slavery. Remember that, unlike the United States, these blacks immigrated to Canada upon their own volition. When Asian kids Fresh off the Boat from China not knowing a word of English can succeed, blacks have no ground on which to blame racism for their failure.

"Marie Chen of Toronto's African Canadian Legal Clinic said the overrepresentation of black offenders in the justice system is more profound than that affecting the aboriginal community and applauded the weight Rosenberg gave recent studies showing systemic racism in the city and province."

Toronto's is about 50% visible minority, yet appears as if racism afflicts only the black community. And now black youth get special treatment and lighter sentences for crimes that they continue to commit in disproportionate numbers?

What is this "systemic racism" that Chen and Rosenberg (a Chinese and a Jew?) speak of, and why does it only seem to afflict the black community in Canada in particular? I am sick of the whining and complaining of the "black community" in Toronto. If perpetrated further, this pathology of victimhood can and will only lead to the black community's own self-destruction ~ they'll gradually became parasites, dependent on and siphoning wealth from the (generous) Canadian social welfare state. I would hate to see the black community form a permament racial underclass in Canada, a traditionally egalitarian society.

http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1035777453117&call_page=TS_News&call_pageid=968332188492&call_pagepath=News/News

Posted by: Sen at February 17, 2003 09:03 PM


http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1035777731053&call_page=TS_News&call_pageid=968332188492&call_pagepath=News/News

I felt ill when I read this in the Toronto Star. First they say that the courts have to be leniant with aboriginals who comnmit crimes and now some are arguing that blacks should be granted these priviledges as well.

Posted by: the alpha male at February 17, 2003 10:51 PM


These blacks kids mainly from Jamaica have NO excuse for failure whatsoever. They can't complain of the legacy of slavery ~ in fact Canada provided REFUGE for these immigrants from poverty they faced in the Caribbean and gave them sanctuary from slavery. Remember that, unlike the United States, these blacks immigrated to Canada upon their own volition. When Asian kids Fresh off the Boat from China not knowing a word of English can succeed, blacks have no ground on which to blame racism for their failure.

Posted by: ogunsiron at February 17, 2003 10:59 PM