Tuesday, January 10, 2006


I commented fairly acerbically in April 2004 on the latest gambit among psychologists for explaining away low average black IQ and educational attainment. It is the "stereotype threat" theory. The theory seems to have a number of incarnations but at its wackiest, it says that blacks do poorly because they are afraid of letting down their race! Nonsense as gross as that hardly needs comment but let me simply ask: If such fears exist at all, why do they not make the student try harder and thus do better?

A somewhat more reasonable theory is that blacks "drop their bundle": They know that they are on average unlikely to do well so don't really try to do well. All the studies that I have heard of over the years tend to show, however, that blacks have unusually HIGH motivation in the testing situation -- so that theory need not detain us.

In that situation, psychologists have had to devise ever more dubious experiments to support their ideas. The latest appears to be a study reported here of which we read: "In their spring study of 81 students at Boca Ciega High School in Gulfport, Brett Jones and Tom Kellow investigated "stereotype threat," a phenomenon in which students worry their failure might confirm a negative belief about their race'.

They found that giving a test under "threatening" conditions -- where students were told that the result would predict their later educational success -- produced much lower scores among blacks than when the test was given with a more reassuring introduction. Under the more reassuring condition, scores of blacks and whites were about the same. The authors concluded that the findings supported their theory.

It is difficult to know where to start in commenting on such nonsense. Quite aside from the total disregard for sampling that is characteristic of most psychological research, Occam's razor has been completely ignored. If the findings show anything, they simply show that blacks handle stress less well. There is no need to bring "stereotypes" into the explanation. But the gaping oddity in the findings is that blacks and whites did in one condition do about equally well on the test. That is totally contrary to all prior findings where some attempt at sampling was used and suggests that the whole setup was severely contrived in some way and that the results therefore tell us nothing at all. To put it as politely as I can, there was at least a very strong "Rosenthal" (experimenter expectation) effect at work.

I am not the first to find the "theory" risible. Steve Sailer also dissects it and there is an even more savage takedown at Gene Expression. Charles Murray is probably the most succinct of us all, however. Of the original study in the field, he says: "Claude Steele and Joshua Aronson, demonstrated experimentally that test performance by academically talented blacks was worse when a test was called an IQ test than when it was innocuously described as a research tool. Press reports erroneously interpreted this as meaning that stereotype threat explained away the black-white difference. In reality, Messrs. Steele and Aronson showed only that it increases the usual black-white difference; if one eliminates stereotype threat, the usual difference remains". See also here and here.



Jeff Jacoby on Abramoff: "The worst is that Abramoff is a Jew. Not only a Jew, but an Orthodox Jew -- someone who claims to be committed to strictly observing Jewish law and faithfully adhering to the Torah's ethical standards. But instead of upholding those ethical standards Abramoff trampled on them, and a "religious" Jew who behaves so corruptly disgraces not only himself but all religious Jews. He brings his faith into contempt. He is guilty of what Jewish tradition calls, with disgust, *chillul ha-Shem* -- a desecration of God's name. For me -- also an observant Jew -- that is the worst thing of all. Honesty in financial dealings is not optional in Judaism; it is mandatory. The Talmud teaches that when a person is brought to judgment in the world-to-come, the first question the heavenly tribunal puts to him is: "Did you conduct your business affairs in good faith?" A Jew who takes the values of his religion seriously must be scrupulous in his transactions with others"

Most Senate Dems Took Abramoff Cash: "Nearly ninety percent of Senate Democrats took money linked to disgraced "Republican" lobbyist Jack Abramoff, according to a list compiled by the Republican National Committee. Though reporters continue to insist that the Abramoff imbroglio is "a Republican scandal," 2008 Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton took more than $12,000 in tainted cash. Compared to the party's 2004 standard bearer, however, she's a piker. John Kerry raked in nearly $100,000 in Abramoff-linked donations. In fact, 40 of the party's 45 U.S. senators made the Jack Abramoff dishonor roll"

Media Critic Donald Rumsfeld: "Defense Secretary's Rumsfeld's speech on Iraq, in which he strongly criticized the conduct of the U.S. media, deserves to be read in its entirety. Unfortunately, the Secretary expressed the false hope that the media might be persuaded to come around to responsible journalism. He said, "it's important also for the media to hold itself to account." Well, don't count on it, Mr. Secretary. Remember how Newsweek had published that phony Koran-in-the-toilet story. Rumsfeld mentioned it, saying, "Not too long ago, there was a false and terribly damaging story about a Koran that was supposedly flushed down a toilet in Guantanamo, and in the riots that followed in several countries, some people were killed." Yet nobody was fired or even reprimanded by Newsweek over that false story. So much for accountability from the media."

MN: GOP blogger served with libel lawsuit: "A dispute between a self-described 'Republican operative' and a former Democratic campaign organizer widely quoted in Minnesota media has turned into a libel lawsuit that could help set legal standards for Internet blogs. The suit pits Blois Olson, a Democratic public relations executive who is a frequent guest on Twin Cities Public Television's 'Almanac' show, against Michael Brodkorb, a former Minnesota Republican Party employee who operates a political blog -- or Web journal -- called minnesotademocratsexposed.com. Olson's lawsuit, which was served to Brodkorb on Tuesday but has not yet been filed in court, seeks damages of more than $50,000 and a court order forcing Brodkorb to remove from the blog a Dec. 28 posting about Olson and his St. Paul-based public relations company. In the Dec. 28 item, Brodkorb suggested that Olson had publicly criticized former FBI agent Coleen Rowley's campaign for Congress because Rowley's campaign staff last summer refused to hire Olson's firm, New School Communications. Olson insists the item was a fabrication; Brodkorb says he's confident it was true."

Keith Burgess Jackson has just done a big fisking of the latest NYT attack on Supreme Court nominee Alito.

Tom Heard updates us on the latest antics of Communist-loving Harry Belafonte. GWB is "the greatest terrorist in the world" etc.

For more postings, see EDUCATION WATCH, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE. Mirror sites here, here, here, here and here. On Social Security see Dick McDonald and for purely Australian news see Australian Politics (mirrored here).


Practically all policies advocated by the Left create poverty. Leftists get the government to waste vast slabs of the country's labour-force on bureaucracy and paperwork and so load the burden of providing most useful goods and services onto fewer and fewer people. So fewer useful goods and services are produced to go around. That is no accident. The Left love the poor. The Left need the poor so that they can feel good by patronizing and "helping" them. So they do their best to create as many poor people as possible.

The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialistisch)

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