« January 09, 2005 - January 15, 2005 | Main | January 23, 2005 - January 29, 2005 »

January 22, 2005

Much ado about women & Larry Summers

Recap on our take:
Common sense breaks out at Harvard, Sex follow up, Wollstonecraft's legacy...., Summers at the Hub, Difference Day 1, Men, women and math...more, and more...., Welcome to the Madrassa - Summer's Retraction, Estrogen Level Rising at Gene Expression and Men, women and math...even more.... Expect more. If you lose the first battle, sometimes you don't live to fight another day to continue the war....

Update: Check Saletan in Slate. Some of his details are a bit weird, but he triangulates to basically the position of many on this blog....

Related: Imbler Volokh has a post up which recaps his gang's take. Arch-conservative Mark Kleinman is also reasonable. Someone else is a bit unhinged (hint: those who think there are salient neurobehavorial sex differences ~ creationists & Steven Pinker ~ scientists who promote the Young Earth Creationist model).

Update II: Philip Greenspun asks if men aren't just irrational to go into math & science Ph.D. programs when medicine and even teaching public schools seem like they might return more bang for the buck. At Reason Jacob Sullum tries to be reasonable about presenting opinions from "Sex Difference Creationists." Highered Intelligence sees progress, and I do too. Centrist Coalition hugs the rational middle (they don't hate women, and they don't think Summers does either). Dale Franks thinks like an adaptationist. Mark Graber seems to think Larry Summers is dumb (for example: " Why does the president of Harvard focus only on those academic areas where superficial numbers suggest boys do slightly better than girls, ignoring those academic areas where initial impressions suggest girls do much better than boys?" Perhaps because that was the mandate of the conference, to talk about the underrepresentation of females in a few particular disciplines). Kevin Drum thinks it's about appearences. Echidna of The Snakes has a three part series taking on Summers' contention. Though there much to disagree with, I do not see anything pointing to an acknowledgement of neurological differences (also, she suggests that Simon Baron-Cohen asserts there is an "hypothetical 'extreme female brain' which doesn't exist," not imparting the obvious context that Baron-Cohen was making a scientific prediction based on his model. That's what scientists try to do, make predictions that are novel based on their model, rather than just describing what's out there).

Papers of interest: Some PDFs that might interest readers: Cognitive mediaters and sex related differences in mathematics, Sex Differences in Mental Test Scores, Variability, and Numbers of High-Scoring Individuals and Gender differences in cognitive abilities: The mediating role of health state and health habits.

Addendum on "Complexity": Many critics of Summers assert that "biology is complex." The implication is that since the full word on cognitive differences between the sexes has not been rendered, we shouldn't consider it.

  1. Science being what it is, "the full word" might be decades in coming as models are refined and honed.
  2. Though the proximate physiological processes, genetic pathways, developmental differences, neuorological anatomy and biologically rooted behaviors have not been fully characterized, the facts of evolution, that is, the adaptationist paradigm, implies some differences in preferences and talents between the sexes.1
  3. The biology is certainly complex. But the sociology is at least as complex, that doesn't stop many from offering policy prescriptions based on simplified "good enough" models.

Addendum: TangoMan is fighting the good fight over at Kevin Drum's comment boards. Join the fun if you so choose!

Another update: Crooked Timber links to this paper to bolster claims that one should be cautious about asserting male/female differences in mathematical ability. Fair enough, but when I read the paper, one major point is that earlier studies which focused on students at the right end of the distribution tail did not represent the the general student population well because of possible greater male variance. Now, the top 0.1% of students can not explain why men are more than 80% of mechanical engineering students, though I think a combination of compounding factors can explain this (note that female representation in mathematics is usually higher than mechanical engineering, it's more than just math!). But the paper is not as strong of a support for those who argue there is no difference between male and female mathematical cognitive profiles as supporters make it out to be, as we have noted, I would not be surprised if the mean difference was small, but such differences can are not trivial at the tails, and variance can further contribute to this.

Saturday night update: Over as Kos, standard response: discrimination exists, that's the real story. The problem of course, which I see few responses too is why discrimination is a much bigger problem (by nearly an order of magnitude) in Mechanical Engineering as opposed to English (or why across countries it seems more a problem in Mechanical Engineering than in the Humanities). How much of the variation between disciplines is due to preference & aptitude variance rather than variance in discrimination? For the record, I think the dearth of conservatives in academia does have something to do with discrimination, but in large part it is probably a case of positive frequency dependent selection, academia crossed a "tipping point" somewhere in the 1960s and now it is "fixed" in a liberal mode (in contrast, "K street" has been shifting more and more money toward the Republicans rather than splitting it in a bipartisan fashion). Steve Sailer bemoans the lack of encouragement given the Tamil mathematician Ramanujan. My review of a book on the South Indian genius from over a year ago. Jim Hu asks how greater male variance could work, is it due to simply the difference between a Y and X? Simon Baron-Cohen points out the correlation between visual-spatial ability in males between somewhat lower testosterone than the median, and in females in higher testosterone than the median, in other words, there is a "sweet spot." One could posit that females are more "developmentally stable" (male fetuses miscarry more often, etc.). We also know that some primate females seem to be able to "control" whether they gestate male or female fetuses, dependent upon their status and social dynamics within their group (this sort of thing is also found among human female populations, though infanticide mitigates biological options). Finally, back to the developmental stability issue, the relative frailty of males serves as a filter through which all XYs must pass through, and is conducive to the "purification" of deleterious alleles from the population via the lack of reproduction of subnormal males (who by the unluck of the draw received fewer "fit" genes from both their parents than their sibs), preventing "mutational meltdown" in complex eukaryotic species.

On Nancy Hopkins: From the libertarian Women's Freedom Network:

Confronted with these charges, The Dean of the School of Science quite appropriately launched an investigation. But who did he appoint to chair the investigatory committee? Why Nancy Hopkins herself, the chief complainant. Two-thirds of the committee members were other senior women in the School of Science.

The senior women at MIT were thus judge and jury of their own complaints, interested parties who would profit from a finding of gender discrimination. Profit they did. Among other benefits, Professor Hopkins received an endowed chair, a 20 percent salary increase, $2.5 million of research funds from internal MIT sources, a 5,000 square foot laboratory, an invitation to join the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, and an invitation to the White House where the president and Mrs. Clinton praised her courage and expressed the hope that other institutions would follow the MIT example.

In the cuthroat world of elite academia small advantages can be leveraged to great ends. As I've been noting, to counteract the vector that works against women in science, there is also the vector which tends to put the spotlight on, and give succor to, women in science. For some individuals, politicizing differences in gender distribution is extremely rational from an individual perspective.

Update in Nature: Y chromosome reveals hidden sequence.

Update: Here is a follow up post which rebutts the "men and women are genetically the same" argument.

1 - Am I the only one that notices arguments from incredulity, complexity, ignorance and demands for an exact, full, almost quantum level of granularity in modelling, prediction and description resemble another group of individuals. I didn't start it.

Posted by razib at 10:06 PM | | TrackBack

Reaction Time & Mortality

New article out in the latest PS by I. Deary showing that individual differences in performance on chronometric tasks are highly related to mortality even after controlling for smoking, education, and social class.

Related (Thanks to Scott)

New study showing that High IQ mediates liklihood of suicide.

Alex's Comment

It has been known for decades that g mediates the relationship between [name your (psycho)pathology] and outcomes, but the Environmentalists in Psychology (or, name your own discipline) have long inisisted that it is the SES that (often) accompanies g that mediates the outcome. I hope this line of inquiry (i.e., g-->health outcome, inspite fo SES) continues.

This important area of research requires an open mind regarding potential explanatory variables, mechanisms, and direction of causation. It is tempting to posit that cognitive ability in old age relates prospectively to mortality because the brain sensitively reflects deteriorations in the state of the body. In this common-cause hypothesis, the association is more correlation than causation: A deteriorating brain is a part of a body that is deteriorating generally . . . This hypothesis implies that reaction time might be able to pick up bodily deterioration earlier than the terminal decline found in psychometric tests of cognition preceding death. However, this is not the whole story, because IQ of healthy 11-year-olds predicts survival almost 70 years later just as well as IQ of 56-year-olds predicted survival in this 14-year prospective study. Thus, there is something traitlike as well as possibly statelike about cognitive ability that offers a clue to longevity.

Middle-aged subjects provide an interesting case. Here, we found that psychometric intelligence and reaction times were significantly related to survival over the next 14 years, with an effect size comparable to that of smoking status. But what is the direction of explanation? Social class, education, and smoking did not explain the association, so perhaps the present results replicate the 11-year-old effect, reflecting traitlike aspects of even healthy brains that correlate with survival. Or did the IQ test and reaction time indices sensitively pick up preclinical decline in physiological mechanisms that subserve good health and survival? Findings in children support the first explanation, and findings in older people support the second. But perhaps such a trait-state dichotomy is false. It might be the case that, even in children, lower IQ relates to earlier death partly because it is a reflection of a body with suboptimal physiological integrity. This possibility is consistent with the finding that the association between lower IQ and earlier death is especially strong in the lowest quartile of IQ scores . . .

I am sure that most of you will be shocked that performance on chronometric tasks is partially heritable, and that we might even have located a specific gene that is implicated in variance of chronometric performance. Moreover, I am sure you will be aghast at the fact that individual differences in g play a significant part in the variance in chronometric task performance (e.g., 1, 2).

I guess you can add this to the pile of data suggesting not only that intelligence/g has a biological component, but that it also confers a procreational advantage.

Posted by A. Beaujean at 09:56 PM | | TrackBack

Multi-Cultural Math - Teaching the Teachers

Perhaps there are still some skeptics on the topic of Anti-Racist Math, so for them I offer a glimpse into the holiest of holies, the sanctum of teacher preparation, the College of Education at the University of Florida and their course guide for, are you ready, Multicultural Mathematics Supplement & Study Guide. It looks to me like this is an advanced graduate class (EDE 6932) but there is no definite designator. So let's take a look at the cutting edge material that is taught in this class.

II. MAPS OF THE WORLD (6 @ 20 points each: 120 points)

You will be assigned to a map of some portion of the world. You should be prepared each Tuesday to present an exploration to the whole class or a small group based on the mathematics contribution of a person or people from some city, state, country, province, etc. in the region designated by your map.

III. JOURNAL ARTICLE READINGS (7 @ 10 points each: 70 points)

You are responsible for (1) searching for, (2) reading, (3) writing a review of, (4) writing a reflection of and (5) being prepared to present a journal article to the whole class or a small group. If you are not called upon on Tuesday to present, you may be called upon on Thursday. However, I emphasize my expectation that all students are prepared to present on Tuesday.

These articles must relate specifically and explicitly to teaching and learning mathematics from a multicultural perspective and the implications thereof. Your review should be limited to one single-space page,


The class will be divided into assigned groups. Each group will be responsible for the full and complete development and facilitation of a multicultural mathematics display for the public.


You are to develop a multicultural mathematics handbook for the beginning teacher. This handbook has five components. You should take great care to consider the design/style as well as the content for this handbook for the beginning teacher.

1. Defining Your Cultural Self

Each person is cultural and a reflection of your “cultural self” will assist you in your interactions with other persons, particularly the children you (will, may) teach. In this component of the handbook, you are to describe how a person can define his/her cultural self. You are to incorporate at least three references to support your suggestions.

2. Multicultural Mathematics Teaching Resources

3. Tips for Teaching Multicultural Mathematics

4. Multicultural Mathematics from A to Z

For this component of the handbook, you are to include 26 explorations (one exploration for each alphabet: alphabetized by the first letter of the exploration title.

5. Component of Your Choice


Each student is expected to exhibit courteous, mature, and professional behavior. Violation of the following and other inappropriate and irresponsible behaviors will lead to a deduction in your final grade.

Cultural Context

The julekurv is a Norwegian Christmas basket. The Norwegians fill these baskets with treats and put the filled baskets on their Christmas trees for family and friends. You may want to make a basket for any holiday, such Valentine’s Day, or for no special day at all. In any case, you will beautiful, hand-made object.

Cultural Context

Dating from the 12th century, Kente cloth represents the history, ethics, moral values, oral traditions, religious beliefs, and philosophies of African culture. Kings, queens, and other important figures in Ghana, Africa, wear Kente cloth. The cloth is often worn during special occasions and ceremonial events. The word “kente” is derived from the word “kenten” which means “a basket.” The cloth does appear to have the woven design of a basket. In fact, Kente cloth is woven by hand on a loom using strips that are approximately four inches wide and sewn into larger pieces of cloth. The more precious the cloth (e.g., silk), the more wealth, power, and status the wearer of the cloth is thought to have.

During the celebration of Kwanzaa, an African American celebration developed in 1965 by, participants are encouraged to make gifts and other items to be used during the celebration. A Kente cloth placemat is one such item.

Cultural Context

All around the world, people use multiplication procedures to solve problems at work and play. Multiplication as a concept is a progression of addition and therefore serves to make long and tedious addition processes assessable in a more efficient manner. Over the centuries, various cultures have developed and fine-tuned their own multiplication procedures. In this exploration, you will explore the procedures dominant in our common culture and the procedures used in other cultures.

Multicultural Food Day Guidelines

* May 31 is “Multicultural Food Day”. This planned event will give us an opportunity to get to know each other better and provide exposure for each of us to different cultures.
* Your preparation and sharing of an ethnic dish is your exploration for that day.
* As a matter of fact, to keep things simple, you can omit the written review of your article for that day, but be prepared to share your article with the class. Just submit a clean copy of the article with a complete reference and your name written in the top margin of the article.
* For your ethnic dish, please prepare a card that you will place in front of your dish. On the card, provide the following information:
* Name of dish
* Name of cook or preparer
* Complete list of ingredients as some class members might be allergic to particular things or may not eat some foods (e.g., pork, peanuts)
* 2-3 sentences that explain the ethnic perspective of the dish
* I will provide paper plates, napkins, eating utensils, cups, salt, pepper, and ice.
* If no one prepares an ethnic drink (non-alcoholic of course J), we will drink H2O.
* Class will begin 30 minutes later to allow time for set up.
* You do not have to prepare an ethnic food from your region of the world.
* You do not have to prepare for full-size servings; just prepare enough so that each person can get an ample taste of your dish.
* Please make the best financial decision for purchasing items for your dish. This experience is not meant to put financial hardship on anyone.
* Most importantly, if you taste something that you do not like, please refrain from saying “Yuk” J
* This is your exploration for the day. Submit the recipe card (don’t forget to include your name) so I can record your dish as your exploration.

Game Day Guidelines

Game Day is June 20. Bring in a game for the class to experience (and enjoy).

Class will begin 30 minutes later to allow time for set up.

* No commercial games are allowed unless they are truly ethnic in nature. For example, a commercial game of Sorry is not allowed since it does not propose any ethnic characteristics. A commercial game of Mancala would be allowed since it represents a particular culture’s way of recreation. However, we have seen or heard about this game on several occasions, so it is not allowed J I won’t make these kind of suggestions about other games; I will leave it up to you to be responsible regarding this restriction.
* We will also have read Chapter 11 for June 30. The chapter is about multicultural mathematics games. You are not allowed to present any game found in Chapter 11.
* So that we do not have duplications of games, let me know (no later than Monday, June 18) what game you want to present. I will only respond if you’re planning for a game that someone has already planned to present.
* Make sure you have all of the necessary materials for playing the game.
* Write a “About this Game” description (including any pertinent references) on a 4x6 index card – this card is to be displayed with the game.
* Write a “How to Play this Game” description on the other side of the “About this Game” index card. (If you have a commercial game, you may omit duplicating instructions IF the original instructions are clear and straightforward.)
* If you share a game that requires construction (by the teacher or students), be sure to provide all of the necessary directions for making any pertinent items (e.g., game board, etc.).
* You do not have to share a game that is from or related your region of the world.
* You may share a game that was the topic of an article exploration as long as you did not review the article for the class already.
* When playing games on game day, please do not remain with a game longer than 15-20 minutes. Stop playing even if you and your partner(s) are not finished the game so that you will have an opportunity to experience as many games a possible.
* This is your exploration for the day. Submit the index card (don’t forget to include your name) so I can record your game as your exploration.

Well, I can see that the grueling pace of Food Day, Games Day, making maps and understanding a diversity of cultures can dramatically add to the competence of Math Education (not Mathematics) majors if their competence is measured by validating the feelings of their students, but how in all that's holy this gets the concepts of fractions and algebra across to students is beyond me. The time that is wasted in studying 1 + 1 = feelings is lost to the study of more concepts and time on practicing and mastering math. These are the teachers in training that will be charged with preparing our students to enter a complex, math intensive and technologically complex world. If ever we needed a slogan, like John Kerry's "Help Is On The Way" it is now.

Addendum: Joanne Jacobs has taken this story and confirmed that this course is indeed a graduate level course. She ran to ground the actual degree requirements for a Master's in Math Education. Take a look. Graduate level? I was hoping beyond hope that this was one of those basket-weaving electives for freshman interested in an introduction to teaching - afterall the content of picnics and map making sure looked like a survey (if not a high school) class.

See this related post.

Posted by TangoMan at 09:00 PM | | TrackBack

Green Bengal

The Next Islamist Revolution? is about the rise of Islamism & religious thuggery in Bangladesh. I will comment later, but for now, readers might be interested in Up to medievalism and En route back to normal life.

Posted by razib at 06:05 PM | | TrackBack

Off to the catacombs?

The left in Europe is increasingly fining, incarcerating or banning opponents of the multi-cultural project. The most common offence is speaking out against immigration, homosexuality or Islam. With freedom of speech going the way of the Dodo for people who harbour politically incorrect thoughts on my side of the pond, readers of gnxp.com would be well advised to be on the lookout for similar developments in the USA.

These events also leave us with an important question to answer– why should there be freedom of speech? And once freedom of speech is established, how extensive should speech protection be? If we are unable to answer those questions in a satisfactory manner, the oppression of non-leftist thought in Europe will continue to expand. After all, as we are often told, “There is no right to yell fire! in a crowded theatre!” (26 000 Google hits…)

Hold fire!

Freedom of speech is essentially a cease-fire treaty. Politics has been a high-risk business throughout history, with extensive scull-cracking being regular fare. Males battled it out for power and all the perks that come with the territory: goats, women, land.

Various schemes, such as blood-based lineage and succession, as well as democracy in many forms, have all helped make the political scene a bit duller. Indeed, as C-SPAN shows you, modern post-World War II democracy is quite dull indeed most of the time.

Freedom of speech is one of the central mechanisms through which democracy works – the rulers, who control state power; forego the historically popular option of sending people who publicly disagree with them to the dungeons. In exchange, their opponents refrain from assassinations, coups, insurgencies, and so on. Differences in outlook are instead settled at the ballot box. It’s all very neat in theory, and in the modern western world it tends to work out reasonably well in practice.

The rise of free speech

Still, freedom of speech is not a stable state of affairs. As most politically inclined people know, having people disagree with you can be positively infuriating. This in turn gives rise to temptation: the temptation to give those who have stupid views what they deserve.

In order to temper these passions, westerners have been thoroughly indoctrinated into putting freedom of speech on a pretty high pedestal. Just as “democracy” has in many ways come to mean “sugar and spice and everything nice”, the assumed goodness of freedom of speech has allowed its spread far outside the political arena. (Read: “quadruple penetration” - 26 700 Google hits.)

The clash

Thus, freedom of speech is now held in high esteem throughout Europe and the USA, as it has become a central part of the established moral order. Here, the problems start though: because if democracy and freedom of speech are seen by the ruling European elite as “sugar and spice”, Multiculturalism and Homosexuality equal “caviar and champagne”. And caviar and champagne are mighty popular in Europe.

This means that the issue of freedom of speech becomes an issue of pure moral feeling, mixed in with day-to-day politicking. (Having the largest political party in the country outlawed, for instance, gives obvious advantages to competing politicians…) As nice as freedom of speech is, at the end of the day it pales in comparison to The One Virtue: Tolerance. To quote the Swedish court that recently sentenced Pastor Åke Green to prison for quoting the Bible: “the right of gays to be protected from such language outweighs the right to make homophobic statements in the name of religion.”.

The value of pragmatism

This in effect closes the moral avenue for arguing for freedom of speech. While the powers that be might think it neat, they consider locking up politically incorrect people an even more moral act. End of discussion. So, what should those that disagree do?

Sadly, the end of the moral consensus around freedom of speech leads straight back to the bad old days. If your opponents are in power, and they have decided to use the power of the state to shut up those that they disagree with, we are back at the classical options: Fight of flight.

As your opponents are still bound by quite a few moral restrictions though, there is no need to go back to scull-cracking in order to fight the power. Civil disobedience and low-level law breaking should be plenty enough. After all, a Swedish prison is no dungeon. And you get to play ping-pong with people of many different (and diverse!) backgrounds.

The power of example

One of the more powerful tools in the arsenal of the free-speech enthusiast is counterfactual example. The left have for so long dominated our morality-creating institutions that they have become oblivious to the existence of alternatives. A suggestion to ban “incitement to hatred against capital owners” usually turns a few heads, for one. Make sure to point out that capital owners is a historically persecuted and oft-maligned group. Then ask them why you shouldn’t ban such speech? After all, they are banning their opponents at will. '

When they object that this would be in violation of their right to free speech, just remind them that incitement against the hard-working builders of our economy “isn’t speech: it’s hatred”.

Posted by dobeln at 04:44 AM | | TrackBack

January 21, 2005

Jack Johnson

If you haven't, you should see the repeat of Unforgivable Blackness, a Ken Burns documentary about Jack Johnson.

Posted by razib at 04:38 PM | | TrackBack

Classroom Follies

Moebius Stripper, at her blog Tall, Dark & Mysterious, regales us with tales about students asking whether equations will be used in her college-level Math class, a very polite student, and a sandwich artiste practicing his craft in the middle of a lecture.

Posted by TangoMan at 03:12 PM | | TrackBack

Bizarro World Education Policy

Kimberly Swygert has a post about an education reform that is as out there as Anti-Racist Math. Try this one on for size - schools where the pressure for teaching students falls completely on the parents:

All 12-year-olds at a comprehensive will be told today that homework is being scrapped because teachers have better things to do than mark it.

Dr Patrick Hazlewood, the head teacher of St John's in Marlborough, Wilts, who has already scrapped subject teaching, will not put it quite like that, of course.

He will tell them that, to make their schooling more "relevant to life in the 21st century", they are to be given responsibility for "managing their own learning".

Parents, who were told on Monday, are confused because, according to school policy, "regular homework is an essential element of learning and contributes to the development of sound study habits". They are also asked to say if they think their child has been given too little.

St John's sees itself as at the forefront of radical educational change and Dr Hazlewood is testing a futuristic project devised by the Royal Society for the Arts which rejects the notion that a teacher's job is to transmit a body of knowledge to pupils.

The project aims instead to encourage pupils to "love learning for its own sake" and the project is intended to replace the "information-led, subject-driven" national curriculum with one based on "competences for learning, citizenship, relating to people, managing situations and managing information".

The point of schooling, the RSA says, is to acquire competence not subject knowledge. It believes that exams only impede pupils' progress.

At St John's, which has 1,450 pupils aged 11 to 18 - 250 of them 12-year-olds - replacing first-year subjects with "cross-curricular projects" of the kind that used to be popular in primary schools was the first step. Allowing the pupils to mark each other's work was the second. Scrapping homework is the third.

"Homework, like the national curriculum, is a dinosaur," Dr Hazlewood told The Telegraph. "It is repetitious, generates marking that is often just a load of ticks and causes conflict at home.

"I want to give pupils responsibility for, and ownership of, their own learning. I want parents, many of whom are disengaged, to become pro-active partners in the process."

The national curriculum drove teachers into the ground and created a "society of damaged learners". He added: "The time has come to let sunshine flood through the classroom window and place the learner at the centre of all endeavour."

A mother who asked not to be named said: "My daughter has always taken pride in her homework. It gives her the push she needs.

"But Dr Hazlewood told us that it is a waste of time. Of course, he knows more than me but I am very worried about it."

The Department for Education said that homework was "an essential part of a good education". At the same time, its "innovation unit" is helping to pay for the RSA project.

So let me get this straight - the mission of the schools will be to indoctrinate the students into being model citizens who share the same values as the school officials and the job of parents will be to teach the subject matter abandoned by the teachers as being too difficult, and irrelevant for our times. Captain Ed has more.

Be sure to click through on Kimberly's updates about a honors calculus student suing because of summer homework. I thought this was the best part:

"These students are still children, yet they are subjected to increasing pressure to perform to ever-higher standards in numerous theaters," the suit said.

School administrators have told the family that honors courses require some summer work.

Still children? The student is 17 and is chosing to take a calculus class where he knew the requirements before he committed.

Posted by TangoMan at 01:29 PM | | TrackBack

Goodnight Tay Sachs?

Tay-Sachs, the `Jewish disease,' almost eradicated. Of course, as the article implies, the allele is still hanging around, genetic testing has been so successful that those who carry it (that is, they are heterozygotes) don't bring forth children (I also assume that some couples use selective abortion?). If there is a fitness hit on heterozygotes there will still be a gentle negative selection pressure over the long term. Harpending & Cochran have predicted that Tay Sachs carries might have a 5 point IQ advantage over controls, and if IQ is now negatively correlated with fitness, that might do it.

Additionally, if you are Jewish, and you know the carrier/non-carrier status in your family, on average, would you say the carrier(s) is/are brighter than the non-carrier(s)? If you want, submit your answer below. The one example I can think of, the carrier is definitely smarter.

Who is smarter?
About the same
Free polls from Pollhost.com

Related: The Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence (PDF).

Posted by razib at 01:11 AM | | TrackBack

January 20, 2005

White or not?

Given Randy's recent post on Eurabia, I thougt I might post on this though normally I don't like to touch what seems like an Israel-Arab Conflict related topic. I stumbled on to this blog, Eurabian Times via Winds of Change. I know nothing about this blog (perhaps Jinderella does, he has an association with Winds of Change), but I saw a post titled "Caucasian Hamas?"

Now, I know that in the United States "Caucasian" is generally synonymous with European whites, but most of you probably know that in the old school physical anthropological system it always included Middle Easterners, including the peoples of the Caucasus (obviously, they were considered the exemplars of white cranial beauty). Additionally, South Asians were included in the system as well, and sometimes even Australian Aboriginals and Ethiopians. But that's pedantic.

My further point is surprise that someone who is likely a junkie on news about the Middle East would be surprised that some Arabs look "white". He would likely be surprised that many Arabs actually think of themselves as white, and that many Syrians and Lebanese can "pass" with relative ease. I bring this up because on a recent e-list conversation I had to remind folks that not all individuals with blue-green eyes outside Europe need have had a Crusader or colonial white ancestor, this trait is likely present over a wide expanse (though at much lower frequencies than in Northern Europe). Genetically inbred groups like the Chitpavan Brahmins of the southwest coast of India often have blue-green eyes (possibly because of bottleneck & founder effect). Light eyes is also a trait that is found in Kashmir, and famously among Afghans. Recalling my days at mosque when I was a kid, I knew several Iranians with light eyes, and a Syrian, Turk and Lebanese too.

Even aside from the issue of light eyes, many Arabs look similar to other swarthy whites. The actor Tony Shalhoub regularly plays Italians (his Italian is pretty decent from what I hear!). Ralph Nader did not run for president as a "person of color," because most Americans probably think he has a good tan and don't know that he's Arab American. Ditto with Casey Kasem. Spencer Abraham was not generally considered a Senator of color from what I recall when he was representing Michigan. John Sununu was generally not thought of us George H.W. Bush's non-white Chief of Staff. Marlo Thomas, Tiffany and Shannon Elizabeth are not usually considered racially-mixed beauties though they are all part-Arab American (contrast this with Christina Aguilera, who is sometimes labelled non-white because of her Ecuadorian father).

Now, there is selection biasing here. Many Egyptians, Gulf Arabs and Yemenis are quite clearly non-white. My point is that there is a non-trivial overlap between the subsets of the human race termed "white" and "Arab". I would have thought this was quite obvious to those who keep track of the War on Terror, that the enemy aren't just a bunch of brown fundamentalists.

There is a personal aspect to this for me. As someone who every now and then is called a "sand nigger," and is assumed to be Arab, I would like it known by many that I don't really look like any Arab I've met. I doubt any Arab with skin as brown as mine would have my features or straight hair (the dark skin of Arabs of my color usually comes from African ancestry, so they usually have curlier hair and different features). Additionally, the skin tone of many Arabs and their features make them look like dark whites. Frankly, some "white Arabs" look like some Ashkenazi Jews. Most of the people who call me "sand nigger" or told me I looked like Saddam Hussein during Gulf War I aren't really the types who are into analytic discussion, but if they were, I might have tried to point out to them that if you did some cladistics (either genetic markers or phenotype), Levantine Arabs generally cluster closer to Europeans than they do to Asian Indians.

There are many people who don't get this. Some of them are on the Left, and they want to portray Iraqis and Palestinians as oppressed brown folk. Some Iraqis are quite brown. But some of them are also rather white. As for Palestinians, as Natalie Portman pointed out in a letter to the Harvard Crimson in response to a writer who attempted to foist a white/non-white paradigm on to the Israeli-Arab conflict, there is a substantial amount of overlap physically between Jews and Arabs, especially Oriental/Mizrachi Jews and Arabs, at least for the purposes of a white/non-white dichotomy (not to mention that the "blackest" people in Israel are likely to be the large community of Ethiopian Beta Israel). This can be illustrated by a personal anecdote a close friend of mine told me about his Arab cousin in Israel who is quite fair, Russian immigrants often sought him out on the street and begin speaking to him in Russian.

There are others who also fall into the canard. Obviously Arabs and Islam in general are considered threats to Western Civilization. I tend to think that the threat is real...but that's for another post. I do think there is a tendency to "Otherize" those who you perceive as threats. So there is a tendency to blithley categorize Turks & Levantines, who would generally be able to pass as white in many parts of Europe and generally in the United States, as non-white, because they are obviously aliens in a cultural sense. Then there is the "conundrum" of "white Muslims," Bosnians and Albanians (not to mention exotic Caucasian groups, in the literal sense, like Circassians). Many people seem rather confused by the idea that a cultural group can be both white and Muslim traditionally. A few of the people who tend to conflate Muslim/Arab with non-white in an exact and total fashion are probably out & out racists. Most are not, rather, they are simply transferring oppositional categories in their head and letting correlations slip through in a sloppy fashion.

Ultimately though, this post is just a wordy way to state what I'm really getting at. Click the link if you haven't, and look at the picture of the blue-eyed Hamas activist. If you're white, all I have to say is, whose the sand nigger now? ;)

Update: Go to the bottom for the Natalie Portman letter. She's hot.

Update II: An anecdote from a correspondent:

This was brought home to me especially strongly on a recent flight from Israel to Turkey on a Turkish airlines. Half the passengers were Israeli Jews, half Israeli Arabs, and the flight staff Turkish.

By appearance, the people in the flight fell naturally into 3 groups: darkish (half israeli jews, half israeli arabs), fair (again, half israeli jews, half israeli arabs) and much further away than the two other groups, the Turks.

The facial similarities between Israeli Arabs and Israeli Jews are quite remarkable - to the extent of seeing people who could be the same family. In general, an Israeli could tell who is Arab and who is Jewish - by clothing and accent or language spoken, not by facial features, except in very extreme cases.

There are a few outliers who could be only jewish or only arab, but not many.
A foreigner would not be able to tell.

Posted by razib at 10:47 PM | | TrackBack

John Hawks
Posted by razib at 06:41 PM | | TrackBack

Permit Needed to Capture Rainwater

I couldn't believe what my eyes were reading. If you live in the state of Washington, you need a permit to capture rainwater in a barrel:

(4) The department may permit by rule, under conditions appropriate to the water resources inventory area, the use of rain barrels and cisterns to collect rainwater intended to be put to a beneficial use on the same property where the rainwater is captured.
Posted by TangoMan at 03:02 PM | | TrackBack

Men, women and math...even more...

Well, there's been a lot of brouhaha lately over the president of Harvard's comments on women in science/mathematics and the possibility of innate cognitive differences between men and women. Some people -- scientists, in fact -- seem to not even want to discuss the issue in a rational manner.

Thankfully, some do.

From a University of California, Irvine press release distributed today >> "Intelligence in men and women is a gray and white matter":

The study shows women having more white matter and men more gray matter related to intellectual skill....

In general, men have approximately 6.5 times the amount of gray matter related to general intelligence than women, and women have nearly 10 times the amount of white matter related to intelligence than men. Gray matter represents information processing centers in the brain, and white matter represents the networking of – or connections between – these processing centers.

This, according to Rex Jung, a UNM neuropsychologist and co-author of the study, may help to explain why men tend to excel in tasks requiring more local processing (like mathematics), while women tend to excel at integrating and assimilating information from distributed gray-matter regions in the brain, such as required for language facility....

"The study also identified regional differences with intelligence. For example, 84 percent of gray-matter regions and 86 percent of white-matter regions involved with intellectual performance in women were found in the brain's frontal lobes, compared to 45 percent and zero percent for males, respectively. The gray matter driving male intellectual performance is distributed throughout more of the brain.

Here is a link to an abstract of the article which is published in NeuroImage -- and a link to a pre-publication version of the paper.

This research doesn't suggest that all men must be better at higher mathematics than all women. Clearly, some women are likely to be better at higher mathematics than most men. However, such structural brain differences would lead one to conclude that a greater number of men than women will excel at higher mathematics.

Obviously there is a very good likelihood that in academia -- as in any human endeavor -- prejudices do exist and discrimination occurs. Nevertheless, fighting any such discrimination by either refusing to discuss the issue or to undertake research in such a 'touchy' area does not serve to advance our knowledge of who we, as humans, are and what we are like. In fact, such attitudes, if they result in the silencing of certain facts and opinions, will only hamper any further understanding.

Addendum added by Theresa: Here is a more current version of the paper. Download file

TangoMan adds: I don't want people to skip over Theresa's post and this paper she's blogging about because this is what is going to nail down the whole IQ issue. We know know that a picture is worth a thousand words, so take a look at the gender differences in glorious technicolor.


Posted by theresa at 01:57 PM | | TrackBack

Estrogen Level Rising at Gene Expression

Has anyone else noticed a change in the estrogen level here lately? I see a lot more XX types commenting and posting at gnxp. For example, long-time gnxper Jacqueline calls our attention to this article on a possible correlation between iron deficiency and math skills in girls. razib provides the complete pdf here. Also, the whole "Summerian" issue seems to have drawn an influx of females, empirically supporting Summer's position, in that they represent females in science and math, in approximately the predicted ratios. :)

Addendum: Gnxp readers, please take the sex-and-MBTI survey in the extended entry-- I need sample size! :)

It would be nice if something as fixable as iron deficiency totally informed the differences between the sexes in math aptitude, but I doubt that is a viable hypothesis. There are gross morphological variations between male and female brains and hormonal differences as well. Would you help me test my hypothesis? I remember the last time razib polled readership gnxp was 92% XY. Please vote. :)

And while we're polling, let's see the distribution of gnxp readers against MBTI-- If your type is not in the voting box, leave it blank. Note separate voting boxen for guyz and grrls.
MBTI part I XY
Posted by jinnderella at 11:38 AM | | TrackBack

Welcome to the Madrassa - Summer's Retraction

It was only a matter of time before the forces of the unenlightenment had their way. After days of purposely misconstruing Larry Summer's remarks to allow them to launch their baseless attacks, so as to maintain the blank slate facade that underpins their whole world view, the brigades of the Politically Correct have managed to make the President of Harvard grovel for forgiveness:

I deeply regret the impact of my comments and apologize for not having weighed them more carefully. . . .

That includes carefully avoiding stereotypes, being alert to forms of subtle discrimination, and doing everything we can to remove obstacles to success.

I have learned a great deal from all that I have heard in the last few days. The many compelling e-mails and calls that I have received have made vivid the very real barriers faced by women in pursuing scientific and other academic careers. They have also powerfully underscored the imperative of providing strong and unequivocal encouragement to girls and young women interested in science.

I was wrong to have spoken in a way that has resulted in an unintended signal of discouragement to talented girls and women.

[ . . . .]

The Axiom of Equality reigns supreme and we are on the way to equal outcomes, damn the consequences. Anything less is de facto evidence of discriminiation - and the subtle discrimination is the most damning kind and its remediation will require even more intrusion and corrective action on how people think, speak, and act. Godless had it just right when he wrote that Atheism is not Satanism.

Larry Summers made a tactical mistake in heeding the criticisms of academics who called for an end to University Presidents being crass careerists simply focused on fundraising and self-aggrandizement. He thought that a university was a place for open debate. His mistake was twofold; 1.) that his job was anything but fundraising, and 2.) that he was heading a university and not the Madrassa that it's transformed into.

I am utterly disgusted at the suppression of free enquiry we've witnessed these last few days and if anyone wonders why the bloggers on this site use pseudonyms, well wonder no more.

As Dave Schuler, paraphrasing Voltiare, put it "I may agree with what you say but I deny your right to say it."

Addendum from Razib: Glaivester notes that Summers' comments are being misrepresented. That is, a relatively straightforward statistical point about the distributions of two populations has been transformed into an essentialist assertion about all individuals within two categories. But, there is also what I term the "Pascal's Wager strategy," constrain the options, pretend as if Summers was arguing only for innate differences in the distribution between male and female aptitudes as the only factor, and once you can muddy the waters on that issue, he's wrong.

Posted by TangoMan at 11:23 AM | | TrackBack

January 19, 2005

Participate in a Study on One Night Stands

Professer Daniel Fessler of the U.C.L.A. Anthropology Department is looking for people to participate in an on-line study of first impressions. Help him out by reviewing some pictures and anonymously answering a questionnaire.

Posted by TangoMan at 04:33 PM | | TrackBack

Men, women and math...more, and more....

E-mail exchange with Steven Pinker in The Harvard Crimson (via Steve:

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?

This map of tenured female mathematicians by country is interesting. Two things of note:
1) A vey low frequency of women as mathematicians seems to characterize Protestant Northern Europe!
2) Turkey has a greater proportion of female mathematicians than most of Europe!

A graph which shows the frequency of females in various scientific fields in the UK shows the same rank order of discipline as the US. This is important, I think the frequency might differ from country to country, but what would be very curious is if the rank order of disciplines differed (that is, a far higher frequency of females in engineering than biology). The proportion of females within a given field might be elastic given certain variables shifting, but, if there is an innate aptitude/preference difference, the underlaying bias toward or away from certain fields will remain.

Finally, this large PDF is chock full of statistics broken down by European country. Haven't examined it in detail, though many of the tables do show the same rank order, though there is a wide variation between countries.

TangoMan adds: Look to Jane Galt for about the most rational post I've found on this issue, other than our own of course. From what I've seen of the Left's discourse on this issue, I'm of the same mind as Steve Sailer. I thought the issue of gender differences was more understood and accepted than this whole imbroglio has revealed and man, (oops, I must be a sexist, hang on - yeah, strike that last utterance of man) person, we've got our work cut out for us.

Lastly, let's all give a salute to the woman who has made a caricature of herself as a scientist who either blacks out or throws up when presented with a hypothesis that she finds distasteful.

Here's to you Dr. Nancy Hopkins - the laughing stock of academia.

Posted by razib at 01:50 PM | | TrackBack

Difference day 1

I am quoting a few paragraphs from pages 55-56 of The Essential Difference which suggests that newborns (one day out of the womb!) express non-trivial differences in terms of behavior when categorized by sex.

BEGIN QUOTE ...They videotaped over 100 babies who were just one day old, in the Rosie Maternity Hospital in Cambridge, England. Little did these babies know what lay in store for them. No sooner had they emerged from the womb than they were recruited into this scientific study. The babies were shown Jennifer's tanned Californian face, smiling over their crib. Her face moved in the natural way that faces do. They were also shown a mobile. But this mobile was no ordinary mobile. It was made from a ball the same size as Jennifer's head, with the same coloring (tanned), but with her features rearranged, so that the overall impression was no longer face-like. Around the lab we called it The Alien. To make it look more mechanical, we hung some material from it that moved every time the larger mobile moved. In this way, we could compare the baby's interest in a social object (a face) and a mechanical object (a mobile)>. Finally, in order for the experimenters to remain unbiased, mothers were asked not to tell the researchers the sex of her baby. This information was only checked after the videotapes had been coded for how long each baby looked at each type of object. So the question was, would babies look longer at Jennifer's face, or at the mobile. When we analyzed the videotapes, we found that girls looked for longer at the face, and that boys looked for longer at the mobile. And this sex difference in soical interest was on the first day of life. END QUOTE

The original paper (PDF).

Here are some tables with data....

Number (and percent) of neonates falling into each category

 Face preferenceMobile preferenceNo preference
Males (n=44)11 (25%)19 (43.2%)14 (31.8%)
Females (n=58)21 (36.2%)10 (17.2%)27 (46.6%)

Mean percent looking times (and standard deviation) for each stimulus

Male45.6 (23.5)51.9 (23.3)
Female49.4 (20.8)40.6 (25.0)
Posted by razib at 12:56 AM | | TrackBack

January 18, 2005

Myers Briggs

There's been some talk lately on Gene Expression about Empathizing-Systematizing. I haven't read the sources, but I must say it seems like just a rehash of a piece of a much more well-developed theory of personality that has been around for quite some time, and successfully employed in business and government: the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). (Interesting aside: Myers and Briggs were a mother-daughter team.) Since I don't think anyone can claim to intelligently discuss personality without relating to it, if for no other reason than to contest it, I will endeavor to introduce it now. Warning: this is my own slightly idiosyncratic view of the subject.

I, personally have used Myers Briggs productively in both my personal life, and on the job. I was first introduced to Myers Briggs about ten years ago, and it was a transformative experience. (Actually, I knew about it for many years without paying much attention, until one day I saw a book on someone's shelf and began to read...) I can't think of anything else, that can be learned in a couple of hours from a book, that can so utterly change the way a well-educated person sees the world. It was like suddenly being able to see a new color, and with a little reflection and experience it has thoroughly informed the way I understand people and interpersonal relations.

Myers Briggs describes personality types according to four pairs of traits. While often these are treated as binary choices: you are either on thing or the other; I think of them as endpoints of axes: you are somewhere on the continuum between them. An added complication is that personality types describe preferred modes of behavior, while well-rounded people are often quite skilled in behaving in their non-preferred mode, as this site says:

This is analagous to handedness, where you sometimes use your preferred hand (eg: when using a pen to write) and sometimes use your non-preferred hand (eg: the hand you use to change gear whilst driving a car is determined by the design of the car, not your preferences). [It's a British site. In the UK you shift with your left hand - DB]

OK, the first thing people always want to know is, "what's my type". Here are a couple of tests. I didn't take either one of them, so I can't vouch for them. But here's my test:

Extrovert/Introvert (E/I) - If you like to have lots of social relationships, if you enjoy meeting new people, if you often talk to strangers when you encounter them, you are probably an extrovert. If you prefer to concentrate on a few special relationships, if you don't like meeting new people, if you rarely talk to strangers when you encounter them, you are probably an introvert.

Sensing/Intuitive (S/N) - If you like to learn examples first, theory second, if you think in words, if you like details, you are probably sensing. If you like to learn theory first, examples second, if you think visually, if you are impatient with "irrelevant" details (though they may be essential to getting the job done), you are probably intuitive.

Thinking/Feeling (T/F) - If you like thinking about things or ideas, if you enjoy sparring (physical or verbal), if you prefer truth to peace, you are probably thinking. If you like thinking about people, if you especially enjoy making people feel good (or bad, in pathological cases), if you prefer peace (or war, in pathological cases) to truth, you are probably feeling.

Judging/Perceiving (J/P) - If you prefer to make a decision now rather than wait for more data, if you think that there's usually a right way to do things, if you like achieving goals whether or not the goal has any objective value, you are probably judging. If you prefer to wait for more data rather than make a decision, if you think there are usually many right ways to do things, or it usually doesn't matter too much how you do things, if you are comfortable with vaguely defined objectives, you are probably perceiving.

Follow the links above for a description of each of the axes. I think the hardest one to explain, and the most interesting is the S/N axis. (At least to me, for it characterizes my personality more than any of the others - I am an extreme N.) Sensing people tend to relate directly to inputs from their environment, while intuitive people tend to use these inputs to construct complex inner models, and relate to them. A lot of people have trouble differentiating between thinking and judging. If you're having trouble, look at their opposites, for some reason they're easier to distinguish.

So which type are you? (I'm an INTP.) Here are links to descriptions of each type.

Read the description of your type. Does it sound like you? Try varying one letter at a time, especially if you are not sure about one of the answers. Do these types seem somewhat like you? Now switch ALL the letters, how much does this seem like you? (These descriptions are short, and so much less impressive than the descriptions that appear in the book. The first version of this book was my introduction to Myers Briggs. There was another book that I liked better, at the time, but I can't seem to locate it.)

Now comes the fun part. Myers Briggs doesn't just give you a way to describe yourself, it gives you a way to think and talk about personality. For example, the 16 types can be grouped in various ways in order to make more general statements, the most common is: SP, SJ, NT, NF. I often use this particular breakdown when interviewing candidates for a job. Usually I can figure out pretty quickly what a person's personality type is (and when I can't it says something too, that they're probably near the middle of the spectrum, or they're good at using their non-preference). It's my experience that the best predictor of success in a job is not ability but enthusiasm - so I want to know what motivates a person:

SP - Action: These people like activity. All the best athletes are SPs. Soldiers are usually SPs (but officers are usually SJs). The best salesmen are SPs. Lots of really good programmers are SPs - they're they guys that just love programming, I call them computer jocks. To be really good at something, you have to love to do it over and over again, only SPs are capable of this.

SJ - Order: These people love to make order out of chaos. They love directing things, planning things, organizing things. A lot of bosses are SJs. Good secretaries are SJs. Most schoolteachers are SJs. Lots of good programmers are SJs - they're the ones that will research and plan before methodically carrying out the task.

NT - Ideas: These people like thinking about ideas. They like solving problems (not the administrative kind), inventing algorithms, and architecting solutions. Most scientists and engineers are NTs (though a lot of engineers are SJs). Lots of good programmers are NTs (I'm one of those), but they're likely to view programming as a means to an end rather than an end in itself (in contrast to SPs).

NF - Empathy: These people like to help people and express themselves (to people). Naturally, they gravitate to the helping professions: teaching, medicine, social work, social advocacy. They also fill the ranks of artists, writers, journalists. I once saw a claim that they make the best salespeople, and I believe it, but few NFs are interested in sales. NFs are not likely to be interested in programming, but when they are they're motivated by the notion of helping people by what they write, or pleasing the boss.

The 16 types are not distributed equally in the population, by any means. Keirsey claims the following figures (I couldn't find figures for individual types):

SJ: 40% - 45%
SP: 35% - 40%
NF: 8% -10%
NT: 5% - 7%

Assuming that personality types are inherited (and I think they are - my mother is an INFP, my father is an INTJ, and my sister is an INFP), I think this is clearly a case of frequency dependent selection. My skills, for example, as an INTP, are in demand because they are extremely rare. But I don't think I would want to live in a world in which my type were common. I have trouble with a lot of everyday tasks that most people would consider extremely simple, and I'm glad that there are a lot of people around to help me out with them. A typical programming task (for example) can always use another good SP or SJ, but how many NTs does it need? Especially INTPs (NTJs can fake being SJs - their J side enables them to do what is called for at the moment). Ten thousand years ago, I'm not sure what we would do.

The other interesting skew in the percentages is on the T/F axis (and this brings us back to the origin of this post). The T/F axis is the only one which exhibits sexual dimorphism. About 75% of men are Ts, while about 75% of women are Fs. I am quite sure that this explains most of the differences in career choice that we see between men and women, plus a lot of other differences. Anyone ever notice that men and women tend to have different personalities? Does it come as a surprise that most women are feeling, while most men are thinking?

Okay, lets have some more fun. I claimed to be able to tell a person's personality type without much trouble. So let's pick one: Razib. (My estimate of his personality type tells me he won't mind.) First: E or I? Well, that's easy, he's one of the most extroverted people I know (and I don't even know him - I'm judging by the stories he tells, and the fact that he tells them at all), E. Second: S or N? That's a hard one. I would guess S because he writes so fast, and works through so much material. I don't think an N personality is capable of it. Also, his writing style can be very sensual, but that could be an F influence (we'll get to that). However, and this is why I said it was hard, he's clearly very good at building internal models. But I'll go with the preponderance of evidence: S. Third: T or F? Another easy one, he's clearly a thinker. However, I note that he's quite good at using his feeling side when he wants to, T. Fourth: J or P? I think it's a P, I just don't get a goal-directed feeling about him, nor do I see him express strong opinions about a lot of things, usually he keeps his options open: P. So there's my guess: ESTP. Is it right?

(Cross posted at Rishon Rishon.)

Update from Razib: My score:

Your Type is ENTJ


Strength of the preferences % 89/78/67/44

You are:

  • very expressed extrovert
  • very expressed intuitive personality
  • distinctively expressed thinking personality
  • moderately expressed judging personality

I haven't taken the tests many times, but I think I've scored ENTP before.

Another update from Razib: Took the other test, said I'm a "Guardian," which come as, Supervisors (ESTJ) | Protectors (ISFJ) | Inspectors (ISTJ) | Providers (ESFJ). Frankly, perhaps I'm just too special to be easily characterized!

Update from David: I think the results are interesting. The strength of your preferences shows a low preference for J/P, which corresponds to my feeling - I didn't get a strong signal one way or another. The puzzling thing to me was the S/N preference, where I got a strong signal in both directions, and the two tests confirmed this (after a fashion) by giving contradictory results, even though the first test showed a very strong preference. By way of explanation, I have noticed that people often display different preferences over different domains. To extend the handedness analogy, it's like preferring your right hand for some tasks and your left hand for others - which is not uncommon.

Posted by David Boxenhorn at 11:49 PM | | TrackBack

Summers time at the Hub

Statement of President Lawrence H. Summers on Women in Science.

No Break in the Storm Over Harvard President's Words.

OK, as president of Harvard, this was a stupid thing to say. That's pretty obvious. This sort of stuff is left to academics who have tenure and who are battling it out in journals. In fact, some of the scholars Summers cited are doing just that.

The interview in The New York Times illustrates some funny misconceptions. For example: "Among his hypotheses were that...innate sex differences might leave women less capable of succeeding at the most advanced mathematics...." I suspect that >99% of people really can't hack it in the field of algebraic topology. So couching it in terms of "women" is a problem, as it frames it as if this is an issue that is generally relevant to all of us. The difference between men and women might be, for example, 99.8% of men can't hack it in algebraic tpology, while 99.9% of women can't hack it. On a person-on-the-street level, it really doesn't matter much, though the numbers above imply that men are twice as likely to be able to hack it as women, so in the realm of advanced mathematics specifically it matters.

A female scientist says: '"If you were a woman scientist and had two competing offers and knew that the president of Harvard didn't think that women scientists were as good as men, which one would you take?"' Well, he didn't say that, did he? Summers said that the reason there were fewer female scientists in mathematical fields (this is important, as many of the quotes are expanding Summers' intent as if he meant to apply his hypothesis to all of academia to better tar & feather him) is that male variance is greater, the implication being that the women who are in mathematical fields are competent because the stanards are applied equally.

Overall, I guess bad for Harvard (fewer $$$ in donations) and bad for Larry Summers. But good for candid thinking. Perhaps Summers is preprogrammed for altruism, for it might negatively impact his fitness, but I suspect this sort of behavior is what will be needed to open up the intellectual field to more ideas.

Update: Comment over at Yglesias:

So if I believe that the 80/20 male/female ratio in a field at Harvard implies subtle discrimination, then what of the fact that there are almost no Evangelical Christians on the Harvard faculty, in spite of the fact that they account for about 20% of the population? Or the fact that Harvard has almost no faculty belonging to the political party that has won 7 of the last 10 presidential elections?

Posted by razib at 11:25 PM | | TrackBack

Scientific Integrity on Display

Today, Hurricane research scientist Dr. Chris Landsea has resigned from Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. As he writes in this open letter:

I am withdrawing because I have come to view the part of the IPCC to which my expertise is relevant as having become politicized. In addition, when I have raised my concerns to the IPCC leadership, their response was simply to dismiss my concerns.

Readers of this blog are well aware of the costs that some scientists, who become unpopular in their fields, must sometimes bear. Now, I'm not saying that this is the situation that Dr. Landsea finds himself in, but I'm most curious to see what awaits him in the future for I'm not at all reassured by the record of integrity within the climate research community. Their most glaring failure was how they handled the Lomborg Affair.

You don't have to take sides on the Global Warming debate (and I hope the comments don't degenerate into a pro/con debate on Global Warming) to acknowledge that the personal attacks, threats of lawsuits, academic star chambers, and limiting of debate were all shameful tactics.

Among the most scathing of the attacks on Lomborg was an 11-page editorial in the January 2002 edition of Scientific American. With the rather high-handed title "Science Defends itself Against the Skeptical Environmentalist" the editorial declared the book a "failure" and invited four prominent environmentalists to do their worst to discredit Lomborg and his analysis.

Scientific American did not give Lomborg any opportunity to respond to his critics, even though they gave him a copy of the editorial before it went to press. They said they would give Lomborg one page in a future edition to reply to 11 pages of full-on attack. Lomborg's response was to publish the text of the Scientific American article on his own website and to intersperse it with a detailed response to every point raised by his critics. Scientific American then threatened to sue Lomborg over copyright. In response to my complaint Scientific American wrote "This is an infringement of our copyright and interferes with our business of selling the article." Does Scientific American really think that they will lose readership because Lomborg has posted a response to a publication that is already off the newsstands? I believe they acted out of political motivation and are purposefully stifling Lomborg's efforts to defend himself.

Lomborg's full refutation of the Scientifican American charges are hosted on Greenpeace founder Dr. Patrick Moore's website (click on the bottom of the link page to read how, after he departed, he was targeted as an eco-judas by his Greenpeace co-founders.)

We shouldn't take Dr. Landsea's position as a refutation of the science that's conducted by his fellow scientists nor as an endorsement of the discipline's bête noire, Dr. Michael Crichton, but with Dr. Landsea's claim of the politicization of Climate Science I can't help but think about Crichton's charge:

The 1995 IPCC draft report said, "Any claims of positive detection of significant climate change are likely to remain controversial until uncertainties in the total natural variability of the climate system are reduced." It also said, "No study to date has positively attributed all or part of observed climate changes to anthropogenic causes." Those statements were removed, and in their place appeared: "The balance of evidence suggests a discernable human influence on climate."

What is clear, however, is that on this issue, science and policy have become inextricably mixed to the point where it will be difficult, if not impossible, to separate them out. It is possible for an outside observer to ask serious questions about the conduct of investigations into global warming, such as whether we are taking appropriate steps to improve the quality of our observational data records, whether we are systematically obtaining the information that will clarify existing uncertainties, whether we have any organized disinterested mechanism to direct research in this contentious area.

The answer to all these questions is no. We don't.

It is precisely Chricton's claims of politicization, and now Landsea's confirmation of same, that bolster the skepticism of the critics of Global Warming, and it is when we see PR tactics coming front and center, which is the heart of Landsea's concern, and on display in this press release from the Soon & Baliunas fracas, that neutral observers sit-up and take notice.

A group of leading climate scientists has reaffirmed the "robust consensus view" emerging from the peer reviewed literature that the warmth experienced on at least a hemispheric scale in the late 20th century was an anomaly in the previous millennium and that human activity likely played an important role in causing it. In so doing, they refuted recent claims that the warmth of recent decades was not unprecedented in the context of the past thousand years.

I still remember reading that press release and wondering when the act of reaffirmation became equated with refutation. It is these types of tactics and overstepping that lead me to be more skeptical, though not rejecting, to pronoucements concerning Global Warming than I am of almost any other field of science. The politics and overstatement of science are front and center in the community, and critics have noticed this, and now a man of integrity has chosen not to associate himself with such tactics. He could have played gotcha, bided his time, and given IPCC enough rope to really hang themselves in public but instead he chose to not tarnish his reputation by prolonging his association with IPCC and implicitly condoning their politicization of Climate Science. To Dr. Landsea I say bravo and I hope that you can continue to conduct and publish your research without hindrance but as Chris Mooney has noted the politicization of science is a troubling trend and I'm wondering if an honest man can maintain his reputation and still prosper. Chris is writing specifically about the Bush Administration's brazen attempt to pervert the peer review process (here is more background) but my concerns are focused on peer networks and funding agencies, both comprised of Landsea's colleagues, which may not look kindly on someone they perceive as an apostate and I'm sure many of us will be watching to see whether Dr. Landsea will suffer any consequences for his efforts to maintain his honor.

Posted by TangoMan at 10:35 PM | | TrackBack

The New Yorker Does Galton

Considering that the New Yorker skews its content to appeal to its leftist readership I was expecting the worst, but this review of Extreme Measures: The Dark Visions and Bright Ideas of Francis Galton by Martin Brookes comes off as quite complementary. Jim Holt, the author of the piece reviews Galton's early life, his monumental breakthrough in developing the discipline of statistics, some of his idiosyncracies (developing submarine spectacles to allow him to read while submerged in his bath), and takes on the issue of eugenics and fairly makes note of the distinction between positive and negative eugenics. He also treads carefully into the future of germline therapy.

Except for a zinger or two towards the end of the article, Holt doesn't smear Galton as many leftists are wont to do.

Noteworthy in the article is an extended review of regression to the mean and an explanation of Galton's Fallacy as well as reporting the charge that Galton himself committed the fallacy. I'm sure that David B. will make a bee-line for this article and I look forward to his comments.

Posted by TangoMan at 05:27 PM | | TrackBack

Wollstonecraft's legacy....


Increase in women doctors changing the face of medicine

Since 1975 the percentage of female doctors has nearly tripled, from 9 percent to 25 percent. And the wave is far from cresting: 38 percent of doctors under age 44 are women, and half the students in U.S. medical schools are women, a change that is expected to intensify.

Real the whole article, and judge for yourself....

Women go from 4% of law students in 1961 to 49% in 2001 cite.

Women in undergrad engineering:
Sex ratio (male/female) by race in undergraduate engineering enrollment 2002:
White: 84/16
Asian/Pac. Isl.: 77/23
Black: 70/30
Hispanic: 78/22
Nat. Am.: 79/21
Are whites more sexist (cite)?

Female graduate students:
Female share of S&E graduate students, by field: 1991 and 2001.

  • Females accounted for more than half of all graduate students in some science fields: in 2001, for example, females made up 74 percent of the graduate students in psychology, 54 percent in biological sciences, and 52 percent in social sciences.

  • Roughly 30–40 percent of the graduate students in most other science fields were female.

  • Females accounted for 20 percent of graduate students in engineering and 30 percent of graduate students in computer sciences in 2001.

Doctoral degrees awarded in S&E and non-S&E fields, by sex: 1966–2001

  • By 2001, females earned 37 percent of S&E and 57 percent of non-S&E doctoral degrees, up from 8 and 18 percent, respectively, in 1966.
  • The number of males earning S&E doctoral degrees dropped between 1996 and 2001.

OK, I took some NSF stats, and ordered the fields from least female (percentage wise) to most female in terms of doctoral awards in 2001. There are three columns, 1994 & 2001 percentages, and the growth of women in the field in those 7 years, and finall the field. Note some of the samples are small, to see those, go here ("History of Science"). The take home message is that the number of women is increasing, and in some fields they dominate. I am simply skeptical that if sexism is the primary component in this variation that mechanical engineering (yes, stereotypically a male field if any) is that much more sexist than psychology (remember, the recent upsurge in women is a post-World War II phenomena, even though there were more female psychologists than engineers in 1950, the numbers were still small).

30.2 36.5 17.1% All S&E fields
6.8 9.5 28.8% Mechanical
8.8 12.9 31.7% Electrical
11.3 13.0 13.0% Physics
4.8 13.8 65.3% Aerospace
10.9 16.8 35.1% Engineering
11.7 18.7 37.5% Civil
15.2 18.8 19.1% Computer sciences
37.0 20.0 -85.2% History of science
15.4 21.0 26.8% Materials
14.5 21.5 32.6% Industrial
13.6 21.8 37.8% Other
17.4 22.0 21.2% Astronomy
20.2 24.1 16.5% Atmospheric
20.8 24.6 15.4% Physical sciences
15.6 24.8 37.1% Chemical
21.1 27.4 23.1% Mathematics and statistics
22.6 28.2 19.9% Economics
18.7 29.2 36.1% Earth
22.2 31.5 29.5% Earth, atmospheric, and ocean sciences
27.7 31.7 12.7% Chemistry
10.7 32.3 66.8% Other
30.3 33.4 9.2% Political science and public administration
23.1 34.0 32.0% Agricultural sciences
30.4 37.8 19.6% Oceanography
39.3 40.0 1.6% Other
35.7 41.9 14.6% Sciences
37.0 42.9 13.7% Social sciences
40.5 44.8 9.6% Biological sciences
36.5 48.1 24.1% Other
51.6 58.4 11.6% Sociology
53.8 58.5 8.0% Anthropology
60.6 59.4 -2.1% Linguistics
53.3 66.0 19.2% Area and ethnic studies
62.2 66.9 7.0% Psychology

Posted by razib at 04:47 PM | | TrackBack

Reality TV + Genetics, Part Two

It seems some themes have quite a lengthy half-life. Once again I revisit the topic of bizarre reality television programming. You may recall last summer's post about a live fertilization, so it shouldn't come as a shock to you that German TV is planning to find Germany's Most Virile Man:

A new reality TV show has been launched in Germany to find the man with the fastest sperm.

The sperm will be attracted to the finishing line by a chemical lure identical to that emitted by the female egg in the womb.

The aim is to find Germany's most virile man in a new reality show being dubbed Sperm Race.

Twelve men, including two celebrities and a 'health freak', will take part in the show set to be aired later this year.

The show will follow the contestants as they make donations at a sperm bank. The frozen sperm will then be transported to the studio in Cologne.

Borris Brandt, 43, head of production company Endemol in Germany, rejected protests that the show was unethical, saying no human eggs would be fertilised.

"The main prize in the competition is a Porsche, not a baby. It's actually a very scientific programme and the topic of fertility is massive in Germany at the moment," he said.

The sperm will be released into a test tube in which a chemical substance will draw the fluid towards it

The winner will be pronounced by a team of doctors including a gynaecologist, an andrologist and a urologist.

Brandt added: "The programme isn't immoral. We're only testing, we're not conceiving."

Alas, they aren't the fastest out of the gate, the BBC beat them to it. Puns intended :)

Posted by TangoMan at 04:45 PM | | TrackBack

Sex follow up....

I've wasted way too much time on the whole "sex differences" topic in the past day, but I want to link to this post, which starts by stating:

Unsurprisingly, those on the liberal side of the blogosphere have been quite harsh in their criticism of Summers. Does he deserve the attacks? Short answer: yes. Long answer: hell yes.

And finishes near the end with:

This brings us to the real reason why Summers deserves the harsh criticism. He is probably right that there exist real sex differences, across the entire population, in math abilities, but we know too little about the sources of these differences to be speaking definitively about them in public forums.

Read the previous post on this topic on GNXP and follow the links to what Summers is quoted as saying, and I think it is clear he is not making definitive assertions, but throwing out plausible hypotheses! A common trend seems to be that a) we don't know much about what's going on, but, b) let's assume that the gender imbalances are all due to rife discrimination. You can't have it both ways, that is, your own hypotheses are legitimate, but those of others are not. Since this "controversy" showed up a week after I read The Essential Difference, I probably have a "bias" on this topic. Simon Baron-Cohen points out that many of the mean differences between males and females shows up in one year old infants (males stare at mechanical objects longer, females at faces, etc.)!

But a few points.

1) Go here and play around with this applet, and note for yourself how trivial mean differences in two normal distributions can have large consequences at the tails. Simon Baron-Cohen has about a dozen illustrations of male & female normal distributions in his book, as if to hammer in to his readers the idea that a small mean difference can result in outsized ratios at the edges. In Baron-Cohen's work, this is in the context of those who suffer from Autism or Asperger's, who tend to be overwhelmingly male.

2) Yes, we need to be explicit about decomposing the various factors that lead to the peculiar distribution in some fields of male:female ratios. Some of it is probably developmental and related to the transformation of the "female" fetus with a Y chromosome to a male at the end of the first trimester. Baron-Cohen and others have related the correlation between testosterone in females and "Tomboyishness" and visual-spatial abilities (though Baron-Cohen notes that in males normal or subnormal testosterone levels correlate with better visual-spatial skills than high testosterone levels, females with "high" levels of testosterone are actually similar to males with normal-subnormal levels). Some of it is probably related to inputs and encouragement that children of different genders receive as youth (though unfortunate experiments with intersex individuals would tell us to be cautious of these sort of changes wrought by socialization). Some of the differences probably issue from cultural factors which emerge out of various other biases and preferences upstream (both biological and social). The last point is crucial, because social forces are complex. Overt discrimination is relatively easy to banish, but covert discrimination, or, more accurately, covert biases, are far more difficult to reshape because cultural variables are complex and teasing out their constituent parts in an atomic fashion can be very difficult (the interplay between the elements is half the action). Some of the responses to gender imbalances strike me as common sense, for example, I recall an Italian physicist (female) noting that all advanced students in her school were required to take physics, so opting out and "playing dumb" was not an option for girls with higher educational ambitions. This seems a reasonable step if it is important as an outcome for there to be more female physicists (though the biggest long term beneficiaries might be individuals like GNXP reader George Weinberg). Who wouldn't want more Maria Spiropulu's? My personal experience with mathematically gifted girls is that they aren't nearly as nerdy as similarly gifted males, and often gravitate to fields that don't leverage their math skills to the same extent (while male math geniuses might become physicists who are amateur musicians, female math geniuses might become musicians who do math in their spare time, to frame it in an artificial black & white fashion). On the other hand, other points, for instance, that women do better in single gender classes strike me as putting the cart before the horse, after all, isn't gender segregation simply a way to reinterpret traditionalist maxims about how men nand women "naturally" have different spheres? There are other values, other goods, that need to be considered, and sometimes I think those who emphasize the priority of gender equalitarianism of outcome never consider that the "cure" might be more pernicious than the problem, or that it might subliminally reenforce the situation rather than remediate. I think that too much of the conversation neglects the importance of preference.

3) Which forces me to end with the observation that female representation varies by discipline. Even those most offended by Summers' comments admit that the issues with women in science exist far upstream of the academy. The problem is not with women and education, as more females take the SAT and a majority of college graduates are female. Certain fields are packed with women, and high powered professions like medicine and law are, or have already, approached gender parity in numbers, if not in representation at the commanding heights.

Anyway, that's all for now.

Posted by razib at 04:06 PM | | TrackBack

Days of Wine and Rosés

I found this story quite humorous.

Ken Jacques just bought nearly 125,000 bottles of wine for $100. That's less than a penny a dozen.

And this isn't cheap wine, either. It sells for $9 to $15 a bottle at your local store.

[ . . . . ]

One man arrived late, so he was out. The second prospective bidder was a representative from James Estate hoping to push up the bidding amount or buy back the wine, according to Jacques. When the man's liquor license didn't check out, the sheriff's staff escorted him from the warehouse.

That left Jacques and another bidder, a multimillionaire well known in the wine industry.

"He looked at me and checked me out like we were playing poker," Jacques said. "I anticipated we'd have a couple buyers there to purchase everything for $100,000 to $150,000."

Jacques threw down $100, and when the millionaire didn't bid, Jacques won.

"I could have easily bid just a dollar," Jacques said, in retrospect. "But that just didn't seem right - it was too sweet of a deal."

Indeed. The Wine Enthusiast, a top industry publication, gave most of the wines a high 80s rating, meaning it's above average, good-quality wine.

Posted by TangoMan at 03:18 PM | | TrackBack

January 17, 2005

Why "Eurabia" Is Like "Jew York City": An Examination of Terminologies

I really don't like it when sloppy and inaccurate terms--worse, terms which illegitimately polarize legitimate forms of debate and create new and dangerous possibilities--enter into the popular discourse. And yet, doing Google searches I find that "Eurabia" has taken a new prominent role. Created by Bat Ye'or, "Eurabia" has come into a new vogue among conservatives (particularly Anglophone ones) who blame European reluctance to support United States foreign-policy initiatives (like, say, Iraq) on large and growing Muslim populations which will, in the end, destroy Western (read Judeo-Christian) civilization on the far shores of the Atlantic.

There are four reasons why this concept is fundamentally ill-founded.

My first--and this point deals strictly with the mechanics of the argument--is that just as there is no way for the Jewish population of New York to form a predominant portion of that metropolis' population, given what we know about the demographic dynamics of the Jewish and general populations, so is there no way for the Muslim population of Europe to form a predomimant portion of that continent's population. There are--what?--480 million citizens of the European Union, and there are 15 million Muslims. I have no idea what Bernard Lewis was on when he suggested that Europe would become an extension of the Maghreb, but it must have been strong enough to make him completely overlook current trends (diminishing rates of immigration, rapidly falling fertility rates among Muslims) which point to the contrary trend. If it isn't going to happen in France, with the absolutely and relatively largest Muslim population in Europe, it's not going to happen in Europe as a whole.

It's worth noting that in 19th century Poland, the Jewish population grew quite rapidly:

During the years 1816-1913, the entire population of the Kingdom of Poland grew by 381%, while the Jewish population grew by 822%; as a result, their percentage within the population as a whole grew from 7.8% do 14.9%. This was in part due to the influx of Jews into the Kingdom of Poland who had been expelled from other areas of the Russian Empire, and those in search of work. In addition, this population had a particularly high natural growth rate.

Long before the Holocaust, though, this growth was reversed:

Although the numbers indicate a growth trend overall, the percentage of Jews in Poland's total population declined during the period in question: from 10.5% in 1921, to 9.8% in 1931 and 9.7% on the eve of the Second World War. This was the result of a dwindling natural growth among Jews (in 1921-25, it was 15.6%, in 1926-30 - 12.6%, 1931-35 - 12.3% and in 1936-38 - 11.15%), as well as an increase in emigration, particularly among young people.

It's worth noting that intermarriage wasn't an option in states like Tsarist Russia or an independent Poland which legislated against Jews. It is an option in France, where intermarriage seems to have attained fairly high levels already. Populations which tend to boom seem also, it seems, to go bust with at least as much frequency.

The second is that the concepts of "Eurabia" and "Jew York City" impose a false homogeneity on, respectively, European Muslims and New York City Jews, assuming that all members of the two population groups behave in the exact same ways, responding to wider popular culture in the same hostile ways and all planning. Never mind that this overlooks what the organizations claiming to represent their communities actually say, and the fact that their self-appointed roles require them to make the claim to nominal authority over the populations that they claim to represent. This overlooks what people actually do. There is, on the part of the members of all communities, a gap between ideal and actual behaviours. Considering how--for instance--the vast majority of Québécois identify themselves with Catholicism while vanishingly few actually behave in accordance to Papal dictates, this gap can be big. Generally speaking, the more opportunities that people have to escape strict cultures embedded in a liberal society, the more quickly that they'll diminish. How well would the Amish hold up if their children all attended public school? The example of Ayaan Hirsi Ali is suggestive.

A related and important point is the fact that "European Muslims" and "New York City Jews" are categories marked not only by horizontal divisions between ideal and actual behaviour, but by vertical divisions between component groups. What Turkish and Senegalese and Indonesian Muslims have in common, say, or what the secular descendants of German Jews and second-generation ex-Soviet Jews and Satmar Hassidim have in common, isn't immediately obvious. (To say nothing of what anti-clericals like the Netherlands' Hirsi Ali and religious conservatives have in common.) "Islam" and "Judaism" are very broad categories indeed, and next-to-meaningless as definitive categories on the ground. They do have a meaning, and in an era where mass communications allows for a homogenization of being this meaning can be adopted with greater or lesser uniformity across a wider cultural area. At the same time, though, traditional patterns of belief and disbelief are undermined by mass communications

My final, and most critical point, is that both "Eurabia" and "Jew York City" impute causal relationships between the presence of a particular population group and a set of policies that not only overrides all policy-making factors but which is fundamentally illegitimate. Thus, the presence in Europe of Muslims prevents Europeans from adopting a set of foreign-policy and domestic decisions which would see it enthusiastically support Israeli and American policies and reverse a domestic trend towards Islamization. Thus, the presence in New York City of Jews prevents New York City from recognizing the fundamental evil of Israeli policies. This argument assumes that European governments and New Yorkers don't have reasons for supporting the policies that they do for legitimate reasons, that, for instance, the policymakers of the European Union can't believe that Israel is undertaking illegitimate policies of colonization on lands not its own and that the Israeli state must be pressured to stop since it obviously isn't stopping on its own, or that New Yorkers might not support Israel as a decent state trying to do the best possible in a tough neighbourhood. It's rooted in the assumption that one's cause is fundamentally right, and that any objections are fundamentally illegitimate. As I wrote about Bat Ye'or last January, bias should be suspected. The inability to observe what is actually going on, too, is also a factor, inasmuch as the French law on hijabs or the Anglo-Dutch backlash against ill-thought multiculturalisms don't suggest any imminent Islamization.

Racism is, then, a critical element--perhaps a dominant concept--relative to these concepts. If European Muslims or New York City Jews are inherently subversive, undermining legitimate decisionmaking processes in political and social life, how can anyone who belongs to either category be allowed to participate at all? Eurabia and Jew York City are, at their roots, concepts which demand the ghettoization of the groups from which they take their names, their exclusion from any non-subordinate role. These terms' use is a good marker for some sort of highly exclusionary racism.

I really, really hate sloppy thinking, particularly on cultural and demographic trends. Trends do exist; trends do require specific responses from polities and societies and individuals; trends merit discussion. It's very important to know, with as great a degree of certainty as possible, what is actually going on within a community before you can comment usefully on it. Resorting to racist and profoundly exclusionary rhetoric that has little connection with what's actually occurring on the ground only obscures the issues being debated. Worse, racist and profoundly exclusionary rhetoric carries its own serious set of problems. Does anyone remember what happened on the last few occasions when entire national subpopulations were deemed inherently subversive?

More will follow on the topic of demographic dynamics later.

Posted by randymac at 06:49 PM | | TrackBack

Importing revolution

In a continuation of bb's earlier post,"The Problem with Libertarian Open Borders Arguments," I have to point out Will Wilkinson's absolutely disastrous idea in his latest column for Reason Online. The idea?

How can the United States best help the millions of people who were rocked by the Indian Ocean tsunami? America's generosity has been impressive. The federal government has pledged $350 million; private, voluntary donations from Americans will soon surpass that amount. American helicopters and aid workers have been critical for rendering aid in the aftermath of the disaster. All this will help.

But there is something more we can do that will have long-term positive benefits for the citizens of tsunami-battered nations—something that will buy us goodwill but cost us almost nothing.

Let them work in the U.S.

This idea is so incredibly ignorant, in the light of current affairs, that it is almost beyond belief that a person with the intellect of Will would still argue it. What Will completely ignores is the fact that the tsunami did the worst damage to the province of Aceh.

Concerns remained that an unknown number of tsunami survivors in Indonesia's Aceh province have not received any aid, two weeks after the disaster that killed more than 104,000 people there.

For those who don't know, Aceh is an ultra-fundamentalist breakaway province that forms the most Western part of Indonesia. The province has been in a near constant state of war against the military of the more moderate Indonesian government for more than 25 years. In fact, the people of Aceh practice a form of Islam much more similar to that practiced in the Middle East than what is practiced in Indonesia and Malaysia.

For over ten centuries the Acehnese have had the region’s strongest ties with the Arab world. The Acehnese are far more influenced by Arab thought than any of the Malay peoples that surround them. The radical Wahhabi view of Islam held by many of the Bedouins of Saudi Arabia is the Islam of Aceh.

To truly understand the scope of the conflict there, perhaps a brief description of Indonesian military operations in the province in just this past October will help put it in perspective.

In an awesome display, paratroopers have dropped into the province en masse to show the Acehnese that the government means business. Indonesia's generals have promised to flood the province with at least 50,000 troops to fight a foe that, by generous estimates, has fewer than 5,000 men under arms. Lending her support, Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri has urged the army to "crush" the rebels. And even the White House has tacitly signed on: As the Aceh campaign has escalated, the Bush administration has sought to increase military aid to Jakarta.

The article that this was quoted from was somewhat sympathetic to the Aceh people, calling it "Indonesia's Chechnya" and describing many of the atrocities taking place at the hands of the Indonesian military while downplaying just how effective the insurgents are militarily by describing their small numbers (as I'm sure everyone on this blog is aware of, insurgents, terrorists, guerrillas, and other practitioners of asymmetric warfare are extraordinarily effective at making use of various force multipliers). It seems the Indonesian military has the exact same problems that everybody else has when it comes to dealing with insurgents, and are probably making the problem worse. Recent reports indicate that Indonesia wants to bring about a truce, however other reports indicate that Indonesia has exploited the shock the tsunami has had on the province by starting another campaign of military operations while simultaneously calling for the withdrawal of foreign troops.

Back to the point at hand, being that the province is controlled by an ultra-fundamentalist, Middle Eastern sect of Islam means that bringing in hundreds of thousands of tsunami victims would be equivalent to bringing in hundreds of thousands of people from Saudi Arabia, Syria, Pakistan, Egypt, etc. What the open border libertarians don't understand is that there is much more to a country than its economic power and that there are aspects of national security that must be considered when discussing immigration. It's almost as if many libertarians don't read the international news sections of newspapers, because if they did they would not be making such foolish arguments as the one that Will is making.

An even scarier thought is that maybe they simply don't care.

Posted by Arcane at 04:26 PM | | TrackBack

Drive your kin before you....

John Emerson has an interesting post about the kin-slaughter that accompanied the rise of Temujin (Genghis Khan). We also know that there is some evidence which points to the possibility that Genghis Khan's patrlineage is a very successful one. Researchers have suggested that this patrilineage's success might partially be a function of the fecundity of male relatives of Genghis Khan who shared the same marker, and though no doubt there is some truth to this, the historical evidence also points to the elimination of near male kin because of their perceived threats to his power. This is of course a scaled down version of the issue that crops up in the persistent ethnic nepotism debates on this blog: the enemies you elminate to consolidate resources to support your offspring are often those near to you genetically (see here, here, here and here for posts on ethnic nepotism). Genghis Khan's killing of his half-brother illustrates a very elemental aspect of this principle, sibling rivalry fueled by scarcity of resources (the murder occurred in the context of deprivation).

This is not to deny the importance of kinship in solidifying and mobilizing social units. Rather, it is to offer some more texture to the portrait of the various vectors that might work at cross-purposes to build basic up social structures.

Update: Luke points out that fratricidal conflict was often the norm in the Ottoman court (though permanent seclusion also became a common practice). This is simply a specific data point in a general trend: extremely powerful men often view near relatives as assets and favor them, but, they also can judge them to be threats and kill them to better secure their power base. The early 3rd century emperor Septimius Severus did not want his sons to perpetuate their rivalry after his reign, but the struggle and subsequent murder of one of his sons by another occurred immediately after his death. Similary, there was conflict between the sons of Constantine. One can also point to the tendency among the Mughals to engage in fratricidal conflict in the 18th century. Of course, not all relations between siblings of powerful families are so fraught with strife, but it is something to think upon.

Additionally, I think there is a gender angle on this: by killing many of his cousins one could argue that Genghis Khan was acting against his genetic interest in the immediate moment. But, by accruing considerable power to himself Genghis Khan likely increased his individual reproductive capacity by at least an order of magnitude! Clearly, this sort of bonanza is not available to females, who suffer greater constraints upon their fecundity than males.

Posted by razib at 03:16 PM | | TrackBack

Spandrels, be damned

David Geary's new book, The Origin Of The Mind: Evolution Of Brain, Cognition, And General Intelligence
will be of great interest to (almost) all readers of this compendium o' prose. Its content, while not particularly novel to gnxp (e.g., 1, 2), is a massive defense of the idea that intelligence (or, more specifically, g) specifically evolved due to the advantages it gives in (social) problem solving and purposeful planning.

I can't go into much of a review at this time, but I'll say that the book's final two chapters (Evolution of general intelligence, and General intelligence in modern society) are superb reviews and integration of current g literature and Evolutionary (Cognitive) Psychology. If you afford it, buy a copy today. If not, march down to your closest library and demand that they purchase a copy.

Posted by A. Beaujean at 01:06 PM | | TrackBack

Common sense breaks out at Harvard

...and naturally all right-thinking people are aghast.

As detailed by Michelle Malkin Lawrence Summers, president of Harvard, is into HBD with regards to gender differences.

Mr. Summers has enough cojones to stand up for HBD in public in what is one of the most politically correct environments in the US. I can't help but wonder what his real thoughs are on other, somewhat touchier admissions-related subjects...

(Nod to the Corner on NRO for linking Michelle)

Update from Razib: PZ Meyers responds in a rather hysterical manner. Starting off by stating that discrimination is the cause of "100%" of the male-female imbalances at elite universities, he seems to calmed down in the message boards and admits that he doesn't "think presence of an imbalance is necessarily a sign of discrimination. " He seems to be granting that it's a complicated topic, though he won't back off on his contention that Summers is biased.

Update II from Razib: Also, I note that PZ says the following: "I am certainly not assuming there are no genetic differences between males and females — that would be rather silly, don’t you think? I also expect that there are slight physiological and cognitive differences between them." I would observe that the physiological differences between females and males would likely not be characterized as "slight" by many, but, in any case, on the cogitive point, what exactly would a "slight" difference imply? The primary cognitive measure most people think of is some sort of IQ distribution, which ideally, though never in actuality, is conceived of as a normal distribution (a "Bell Curve"). One must remember that slight differences in the mean of two different distributions (imagine male and female mathematical aptitude) might result in very different numbers at the tails. For example, assume a "mathematical IQ test," where the mean for the population is 100, with a standard deviation of 15 points. Assume that the sex ratio is 50:50, if women had a mathematical IQ of 99, and men one of 101, a slight 2 point difference, while 0.47% of males would have scores above 140, 0.32% of females would have such scores. If a mathematical IQ of 140 is the minimum needed for someone to make enough of an impact to attain tenure, then you already have the die loaded toward males by a factor of 1.5. The SAT subtests have a standard deviation of 110, and in 2003 females scored a 503 on the math section, while males scored 537. Despite the modest mean difference, there tends to a rather large skew toward males at the very high end of the score distribution.

With all that said, I will not discount rational discrimination, stereotyping and societal pressures and expectations as factors in shaping the presence of women in any given field. But, that is not where it stops, the variables are confounded together and very difficult to tease apart, and many of the elastic social factors might emerge from slight differences in the means of variables which are less elastic. For every female discouraged from the sciences, there might be others who feel unduly pressured by teachers and parents who assume that because they have mathematical aptitudes they should become an engineer or physicist rather than a doctor, lawyer or musician (I have know of people in this situation). More females than males take the SAT and go on to college and earn degrees. More women attend law schools than males, and in medical schools the gender balance is nearing parity. Does this mean that all these fields are simply far less sexist than science and engineering? Or, is primatology far less hostile toward women than solid state physics? I've heard of some rather blatant sexism in science (usually in the form of so-and-so will not allow women into their lab, or so-and-so tends to hit on his female RAs). But, I don't see that the sexism is any worse than the stuff I hear about going on at law firms or at hospitals, where women are far more numerous and have made far greater strides after the formal and informal bars to their entry in these professions were removed.

Update III from Razib: Universal Acid observes that "There is also covert discrimination, such as...subtle forms of sociability like the guys in the department hanging around chatting about football." Agreed, men and women often have different focii in terms of what they like to talk about. But what would the solution to this be? A ban on non-gender neutral conversation in the office? Explicit regulations and laws can curtail overt discrimination, but the proposed solutions for the more subtle forms of bias (which often emerge out of preferences which might not be socially conditioned!) seem rather clunky and inappropriate in addressing the nuanced complexity of the situation at hand.

Update IV from Razib: Harvard Chief Defends His Talk on Women.

Update V from Razib: Not surprisingly, it seems Summers is aware that male cognitive phenotypes might display greater variance than those of females:

Summers referred repeatedly to the work of University of Michigan sociologist Yu Xie and his University of California-Davis colleague Kimberlee A. Shauman, who have found that women make up 35 percent of faculty at universities across the country, but only 20 percent of professors in science and engineering.

Their analysis of achievement test results shows a higher degree of variance in scores among men than among women. According to Ascherman Professor of Economics Richard Freeman, an organizer of the conference, the research found that “there are more men who are at the top and more men who are utter failures.”

Also, note how the assertion that there might be average differences in male and female aptitudes that translate into different representation in particular fields are transformed into value-based judgements:

Andrew G. Barr ’05, a government concentrator in Dunster House, said that “obviously my instinct is not to buy into any theory that there’s any sort of genetic flaw in women that prevents them from being good professors.

The vast majority of human likely doesn't have an innate mathematical aptitude that is a necessary condition to become a professor of science and engineering. That's not a "genetic flaw."

Update VI from Razib: I went to University of Minnesota at Morris's website and calculated that 28.5% of the science & mathematics faculty is female. If PZ resigned from the biology department, there would be a perfectly balanced ratio! (currently 5 males and 4 females)

Update VII from Razib: See the thread over at Yglesias' place. Another slash under the column "Why I am not a 'liberal'." One thing that is irritating, Summers rather qualified comments (they were embedded with a bunch of other factors and Summers admitted that he hoped he was wrong!) have been caricatured as bigoted anecdotal value judgements. Also, do English and Psychology graduate students and post-docs not have to put in "80 hour weeks?" Just curious, because one thing that is left out of the conversation seems to be the reality that in some fields women are very well, or over, represented. I can't believe math & the mathematical sciences (remember that in many fields of life science parity is almost there) are just so much more biased than other realms of study. Also, one thing I observed in high school, my calculus class had almost a 50:50 gender ratio. In physics there were 4 females out of a class of 30.

Posted by dobeln at 01:02 PM | | TrackBack

Brass Crescent

I received Honorable Mention in my category. Thanks to all who voted for me! (congrats to Zack too)

Posted by razib at 12:34 PM | | TrackBack

January 16, 2005

A different sort of r strategy in Europeans?

Genes Promoting Fertility Are Found in Europeans. Here is the abstract in Nature. Bullet points:

  • A gene inversion is found among Icelanders which seems to confer greater fertility on carriers.
  • This gene is found in ~20% of Icelanders. The macroregional breakdown for the frequency of the inverted sequence is as such: Europe: 21%, Africa: 6% and Asia: 1%. Here is an image showing more detailed distributions.
  • The inversion seems to promote recombination (evolved for "evolvibility"?).
  • The inversion has been increasing in frequency Europe for the last 10,000 years.
  • It is a very old genetic feature. The last common ancestor of variant H1 (normal) and H2 (inverted) is 3 million years ago. In other words, we are tickling the initiation of our lineage of homonids as distinct from the chimpanzees. The theorists propose as solutions to this age: balancing selection or that the inversion "jumped" from another homonid lineage (remember, the MHC genes have variants which predate our species, so this wouldn't be the first time).
  • Also, the inversion seems to be correlated with longevity. As one of the scientists interviewed notes, there is often a tacit assumption that fertility and longevity are trade offs, so this is surprising.

So, what could have been happening in the last 10,000 years? And what's the problem if you have two copies of H2 (assuming balancing selection)? Well, if you followed the link to the image above, you will note that the frequency of two diagnostic SNPs shows that the Druze and Samaritans (two genetically isolated groups in the Middle East) are the modes. Ashkenazi Jews are somewhat lower, but still higher than generic Europeans. Also, the Irish are closer in frequency to Icelanders than Danes (recall that Icelanders are reputed to have some Irish admixture on top of the Scandinavian base), who have a lower frequency of the diagnostic markers, while Finns and Russians are lower down on the total pole than the Western European groups. Though the markers are nearly absent in East Asians (excluding an outlier in Taiwan which the researchers discard as a likely error), they are present at non-trivial rates among Africans and the peoples of the New World, in the latter case, in particular the Maya (those who have access to the full article can tell me if inspecting the SNP frequencies is leading me down the wrong path).

Let the speculation begin. I will throw out a guess and say it has something to do with a particular form of agriculture (based simply on the gradient out of the Middle East and the possible New World mode of the Maya).

Posted by razib at 10:39 PM | | TrackBack

A Wee Bit of Grade Inflation

It's been like manna from heaven this weekend, that is, if you're on the hunt for sad tales of math instruction. I'm sure that a lot of fragile British egos are being protected when all it takes to earn a B grade is to score 17% on the math GCSE exam:

The pass marks for the new exam, which was taken last summer by 7,500 children from 65 schools and is due to be introduced nationwide next year, were an all-time low.

Pupils sitting GCSE maths last year had to achieve about 40 per cent to get a B grade. But with the new exam, designed by the Cambridge-based exam board OCR, those who got as little as 17 per cent were given a B, while those scoring 45 per cent were awarded an A.

The move, revealed just days after Government ministers hailed "record" achievements at GCSE, was condemned yesterday by examiners and teachers, who said it would invite ridicule.

Roger Porkess, a mathematician who designs syllabuses, said: "It really is the most dreadful mess. The new GCSE has replaced one problem with a whole new set of other problems." Kevin Evans, a maths teacher, said: "I have picked up concerns from teachers that people moving on to A-level who have got a grade B have very weak knowledge."

Perhaps the educational establishment have been mastering the techniques detailed by Griffe in this post.

Posted by TangoMan at 08:18 PM | | TrackBack

From the Dept. of Analogies One Doesn't Want to Make

John at Discriminations points me to this Newsweek quote:

Rolling back the legacy of apartheid—essentially an affirmative-action program for the white minority—was the African National Congress's top priority when it took power in 1994. But now the ANC's own affirmative-action campaign is under siege.

I'm not sure that they really want to equate Affirmative Action with Apartheid but who am I to say.

Posted by TangoMan at 02:09 PM | | TrackBack

La Griffe's Latest

It's becoming such a rare event to see La Griffe publishing a new essay I thought I'd alert everyone to his latest, Cognitive Decline: The Irreducible Legacy of Open Borders.

It's pretty well done though I wish he'd have focused a little more on a reduction in GDP per capita growth rather than modeling declines in GDP per capita. As I see it a decrease in the smart faction will first start to erode the growth prospects, and only once the tipping point has been reached will there be actual declines in growth.

Also, there are countries like Canada which seek to attract educated immigrants, and unlike the US, many of those immigrant populations have higher mean levels of education than native born citizens.

These points however don't take away from Griffe's main thesis, though I think that he should have addressed them just to forestall their use as blanket rebuttals.

Posted by TangoMan at 01:20 PM | | TrackBack