Thursday, April 30, 2009

How false Leftist assumptions about race are destroying America

One of my fellow psychologists speaks out about the way accusations of "racism" destroy rational thought and damage the future of American young people. I recycle his whole post below. See the original for links. I am glad I am not the only one willing to speak truth to power.

There are a few simple rules one must follow when talking about race. One must carefully adhere to the position that any inequality between Whites and Asians in which Hispanics and Blacks et al fare poorly must be explained as caused by racism or the legacy of racism while any inequality that favors Blacks and Hispanics must be studiously ignored. Without considering whether the disparity is caused by Nature (genetics, constitution) or Nurture (parenting, community standards, culture) it is clear, but dangerous to one's career for a White person to point out, that Blacks tend to be better athletes than Whites. (It is unexceptional for Charles Barkley to quip that "white men can't jump" but for a White commentator to make a similar point is to risk social opprobrium or worse.)

There is a high cost associated with our inability to speak honestly about race. Several recent examples come to mind.

Part of the reason for the financial collapse and our current recession is that people were given mortgages for over-priced properties that they had no real hope of ever being able to support. A majority of such mortgages were in four "sand states" (Florida, Arizona, Nevada, California.) As Steve Sailor has pointed out, there is something besides sand which these states have in common:
... the bubble was worse in Florida and California than in Georgia and Indiana. In the sand states in the fall of 2006, there were still Greater Fools around who believed that Hispanicization meant an unending increase in home values. The idea never gets fully articulated -- are home prices high because Hispanics can pay high prices? Or are home prices high because non-Hispanics are desperately paying high home prices to get their kids away from public schools full of Hispanics? When you spell out the logical alternatives, neither one sounds terribly sustainable, but the point is that political correctness keeps people from thinking it through. Young Wall Streeters just all emotionally believed Diversity = Goodness = Money.

It's one of those ideas -- that a constant influx of Hispanics meant ever growing property values -- that people get in their heads vaguely, but aren't allowed to interrogate under our reigning worldview and our reigning EEOC regulations, under which Malcolm Gladwell makes a fortune and Charles Murray makes nothing lecturing corporations.

For those with short memories, it is worth recalling that the impetus for the development of exotic mortgage products included the need to hide (and deny) the risk associated with changing lending standards for minorities, who had been "red lined" by racist banks and thus were unfairly denied homes. If we remain mute and in denial of this unfortunate fact, we will find ways to replicate the current disaster. In other words if we understand the disparity in home ownership as being based solely on racism rather than as a multi-factorial, complex array of inputs that eventuate in higher default rates for minorities than Whites or Asians, our "cure" for the financial meltdown will necessarily include the seeds of the next meltdown.

A second area where our denial distorts our social and economic functioning is on display at the Supreme Court. The New York Times offers a classic example of the kind of Mobius strip thinking required to support the insistence that discrimination is the only acceptable discourse to explain the disparity between White and Minority functioning:
A Bad Test

New Haven’s Fire Department administered an exam in 2003 for promotion to captain and lieutenant. A significant number of the 118 firefighters who took the test were black and Hispanic, but their pass rates were far lower than those of the white firefighters who took the test. If the Fire Department had promoted based on the test, two Hispanics and no blacks would have been eligible for the seven open captain positions. No Hispanics or blacks would have been eligible for the eight lieutenant positions.

Faced with a test that had such a strong adverse impact on minority applicants, New Haven decided to throw out the results and leave the supervisory positions open. In their lawsuit, the white firefighters insist that there was nothing wrong with the exam. They argue that the city’s refusal to rely on it was an unconstitutional race-based decision, motivated by a preference for promoting minority firefighters over white firefighters.

New Haven was in a bind once the results came in. If it had used the tests to make promotions, it would have opened itself up to a lawsuit by minority firefighters. When it decided not to use the results, it was sued by white firefighters....

New Haven still bears a good share of the blame for what has gone wrong. With all of the research that has been done on employment testing, it should have had a carefully constructed system for evaluating potential supervisors that could withstand a legal challenge.

The firefighters who took time out of their lives to study, did well on the test and then had their hard work nullified are right to feel as if they were treated badly. It does not mean that they should prevail. New Haven set aside the test results not to discriminate on the basis of race, but in a reasonable effort to avoid discriminating.

Is that clear? Since we cannot tolerate the idea that there might be an objective reality behind the disparity of results, we must discriminate, without calling it discrimination, against the White firemen and leave New Haven for the last five years with a more carefully selected (ie, diverse) set of temporary lieutenants, results be damned!

The sorry fact is that there is an entire industry that has sprung up that for forty years has attempted to create tests that will lead to equal outcomes between Minorities and Whites. The unspeakable secret is that whatever test has been devised, even those that are least reliant on language and those sub-tests that maximize Minority strengths, have consistently found that Whites and Asians out-perform Blacks and Hispanics. This has led to a third problem, the insistence on producing equality of results means that the upper limits of tests must be shifted downward; ie, we are dumbing down our society from top to bottom.

In the style that he has parlayed into a lucrative sinecure at the New York Times (though who knows for how much longer), Tom Friedman discusses the failure of our educational establishment to prepare our children for the modern world, and in his inimitable fashion manages to assume the critical rule without noticing how it impacts his argument:
Swimming Without a Suit

Just a quick review: In the 1950s and 1960s, the U.S. dominated the world in K-12 education. We also dominated economically. In the 1970s and 1980s, we still had a lead, albeit smaller, in educating our population through secondary school, and America continued to lead the world economically, albeit with other big economies, like China, closing in. Today, we have fallen behind in both per capita high school graduates and their quality. Consequences to follow.

For instance, in the 2006 Program for International Student Assessment that measured the applied learning and problem-solving skills of 15-year-olds in 30 industrialized countries, the U.S. ranked 25th out of the 30 in math and 24th in science. That put our average youth on par with those from Portugal and the Slovak Republic, “rather than with students in countries that are more relevant competitors for service-sector and high-value jobs, like Canada, the Netherlands, Korea, and Australia,” McKinsey noted.

Actually, our fourth-graders compare well on such global tests with, say, Singapore. But our high school kids really lag, which means that “the longer American children are in school, the worse they perform compared to their international peers,” said McKinsey. [Emphasis mine-SW]

There are millions of kids who are in modern suburban schools “who don’t realize how far behind they are,” said Matt Miller, one of the authors. “They are being prepared for $12-an-hour jobs — not $40 to $50 an hour.” .....

Using an economic model created for this study, McKinsey showed how much those gaps are costing us. Suppose, it noted, “that in the 15 years after the 1983 report ‘A Nation at Risk’ sounded the alarm about the ‘rising tide of mediocrity’ in American education,” the U.S. had lifted lagging student achievement to higher benchmarks of performance? What would have happened?

The answer, says McKinsey: If America had closed the international achievement gap between 1983 and 1998 and had raised its performance to the level of such nations as Finland and South Korea, United States G.D.P. in 2008 would have been between $1.3 trillion and $2.3 trillion higher. If we had closed the racial achievement gap and black and Latino student performance had caught up with that of white students by 1998, G.D.P. in 2008 would have been between $310 billion and $525 billion higher. If the gap between low-income students and the rest had been narrowed, G.D.P. in 2008 would have been $400 billion to $670 billion higher.

It is easy to talk about closing the educational achievement gap but incredibly stupid to refuse to question the conventional wisdom as to the cause of the gap. It is quite literally unthinkable for Tom Friedman to consider that the educational achievement gap between Whites and Asians versus Blacks and Hispanics, might actually reflect an underlying reality rather than that our schools are subtly racist. Further, the failure to recognize that among the many reasons our students do worse the longer they stay in school is precisely because we must expect less and less from them in order to minimize that gap, is unconscionable.

Again, it matters not for the purposes of understanding our problem whether the gap between Whites and Asians versus Hispanic and Blacks is cultural, constitutional, or some as yet unidentified element of the ether. Further, is doesn't even matter if the gap is, in fact, caused by residual racism. The denial of the gap, the denial that the gap persists despite 30 years and counting of efforts to address the gap with mountains of money and good intentions, is destroying our educational system.

In 8th grade, my daughter, an avid reader, was offered a list of intriguing books by her Honors English teacher. When Mrs. SW met the teacher and asked why these books were no longer on the standard reading list for 8th grade Honors English, she as told sotto voce that the distinct no longer allowed her to include such challenging books for her 8th graders because too many children could not do the work. If that is not the definition of "dumbing down", what is?

The gap exists; the gap in performance is predictive of success or lack thereof, in academic pursuits. Our need to deny the evidence before our eyes is burdening our society with the equivalent of adding epicycles to Ptolemaic cosmology. The system of discrimination to repair the effects of discrimination without allowing the awareness of the new reverse discrimination, just becomes more and more cumbersome until it collapses of its own internal contradictions. Beyond everything else, when our efforts to resolve the problem has still not shown any progress in over 40 years of social engineering, it is time to consider whether or not our assumptions are accurate and warranted.



Fox drops Obama, but is that a big deal?

Yes, it looks bad. Fox announced earlier today that it would not carry Barack Obama's prime-time press conference on Wednesday, opting to air Lie to Me instead. Now, it is rare for a network to tell a president "no,” but before we accuse Fox of political bias, greed, or abandoning civic responsibility, we should take a look at the record on presidential interruptions -- for all networks. In that light, Fox’s decision seems a lot less menacing.

The problem Fox faces is one of perception. Most viewers tend to think of the network as conservative, and think that FoxNews, home of Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity , slants pro-GOP. (MSNBC, by contrast, is widely thought to support Democrats). Plus, Fox was the only network not to air the Democratic response to then-President Bush’s address on Iraq in 2007. Add all that up and it looks like the network simply didn’t want to dish out any of its precious sweeps time to the Democrat in the White House. The thing is, it only looks that way.

For one thing, Obama is not the first president snubbed by Fox. The network didn’t air a 2001 speech by Pres. Bush, then took the same tack three years later, joining all networks in declining to air Bush’s May 2004 speech on Iraq. What aired instead? Fear Factor...on NBC. Plus, if we’re really getting specific, Fox didn’t air two of the 2000 presidential debates, and ABC was the only network that didn’t air then-candidate Obama’s campaign infomercial.

So is it just the almighty dollar, then? Is Fox putting the Tim Roth procedural, Lie to Me (currently trying to attract sweeps dollars even though its ratings are trending downward), ahead of the civic good? Perhaps. But a Fox insider points out that the network typically comes in dead last in the ratings when it airs presidential interruptions (even coming in behind FoxNews most of the time), largely because Fox has no internal news division. There’s no Katie Couric or Brian Williams offering analysis or talking to pundits -- which is why most viewers turn to ABC, NBC, CBS, or the cable news outlets whenever the president invades primetime. And let’s face it, this president seems to enjoy interrupting our favorite shows, having already had three previous addresses/press conferences (and pre-empting Lie to Me before).

But we are in a recession. And two wars. And now we’re all freaked about swine flu. So yes, it would be nice if all the networks carried the president’s press conference. (We should note that an insider says Fox's decision is not a signal from new network chief Peter Rice that Fox will abandon the president indefinitely.) It would also be nice if we all watched, but that doesn’t happen either. Unless and until all of us would rather hear what’s going on with the nation than watch Lie to Me, maybe we should cut Fox just a bit of slack.


This swine flu scare is just another media-created panic anyway. It is now reported that there were only 7 cases in Mexico and other reports indicate that the mortality rate is similar to "normal" flu. And antivirals help cure it, with Relenza being best, I believe



British reservists to be trained for quick move to front line: "The Territorial Army is to be overhauled so that it can be deployed overseas more quickly, the Ministry of Defence has announced, a recognition of the military’s growing dependence on reservists in the war in Afghanistan. News of the overhaul came after months of speculation that the reserve force would be cut drastically to make savings in the defence budget. Bob Ainsworth, the Armed Forces Minister, told Parliament yesterday that there would be no drop in numbers, but that reservists would be relieved of “burdensome training that they don’t really need to do”, making them ready for deployment within three years. About 18,000 of Britain’s 33,000 active reservists have served in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003 and reservists make up 8 per cent of Forces deployed in theatre".

Britain upstaged by Poland: "Gordon Brown's attempt to put the economic misery of Britain behind him on a whistle-stop world tour were stymied today when Poland's Prime Minister embarrassed him with a lecture on the perils of excessive public borrowing and culture of debt. Speaking after a breakfast meeting between the two leaders in Warsaw, Donald Tusk, the Polish premier said that while he did not want to comment on any other economy, the Poles had fared so well because they behaved with "full responsibility in terms of their deficit". While Britain is struggling to cope with the effect of three quarters of economic contraction, Poland is basking in 12 years of consecutive, uninterrupted growth. With Mr Brown standing next to him, Mr Tusk said that one of the main reasons Poland has so far managed to avoid the ravages of the credit crisis was because Warsaw had "efficient supervision to banks and sticking to the rules.... not exaggerating with living on credit. These are the most certain ways of avoiding [the consequences] of financial crisis."


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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" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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