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Noble Lies and the Superman

With respect to the Zero Group Differences mythology discussed in Maximos' post below, a commenter observes:

Essentially, a "noble lie" (Zero Group Differences) has been constructed to counter an ignoble one (ateleological reductionism), in order to prevent the horrific consequences that would follow from people accepting the latter on its own en masse.
The core of advanced liberal mythology involves a concept of the free and equal superman, emancipated from history and self-created through reason and will. Because this is an utterly inhuman anti-anthropology, though, it implicitly entails the existence of the untermensch, the less-than-human oppressor who through his actions or perhaps his mere existence (think of an unborn child) stands in the way of the full emergence of the free and equal new man. As an impediment to the emancipated equality of the superman, the untermensch is himself not a full member of the human race.

So my understanding of the strength of the "zero group differences" mythology in the face of what has always been massive evidence against is this: that implicitly everyone understands that it is the only thing standing between the advanced liberal superman and the nazi.

Comments (97)

It is worth recalling that pre-WWII liberalism/leftism had openly embraced the cause of eugenics, and had, ineluctably, embraced the logical implications concerning inferior races, untermenschen, and the scientific and progressive "duty" to engineer a superior humanity.

The Dogma of Zero Group Differences is a product of the visceral and morally sane revulsion from the reality of the applied eugenics of the Nazi regime, as well as the totalitarian political ideologies with which such positivist primitivisms were associated. As a matter of liberal/progressive history, let alone fundamental philosophy, the DZGD is the only thing standing between liberalism and meritocratic fascism.

This result of a quick google search for "eugenics, American advocates" might interest some:

http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/shofar/v025/25.1lerner02.html

Yes, some American religious leaders were influential both in the progressive movement generally, and in the eugenics movement specifically; this, because they were progressives, and eugenics was an integral aspect of progressivism in that age. And, yes, their involvement and advocacy was shameful and evil.

As regards mentally handicapped individuals, they are not seeming to feel that revulsion. Wesley J. Smith linked to an op-ed (don't have time to look up the link) by a disability activist (sort of) regarding the case of Ashley. Ashley is the mentally severely handicapped little girl whose parents had several invasive, major surgeries performed on her--a hysterectomy and mastectomy--plus hormone treatments, solely so that she would never grow physically mature. Their motive was in part to make it easier to care for her and carry her around, but they have gone so far as to recommend that this sort of "treatment" be used widely by parents of other mentally handicapped children and that it be called "the Ashley treatment."

There's been quite a bit of outrage about this, quite rightly, in my opinion. Well. The writer of this op-ed actually went so far as to say that since Ashley's handicap is a severe mental handicap, this really _isn't_ a disability rights issue. Her argument? "Disability rights" has to do with the ability of disabled people to make their own choices about their treatment and lives.

So in other words, since Ashley is too badly mentally handicapped to make her own choices anyway, whatever outrages are committed against her aren't really violations of the rights of the disabled, because the only right of the disabled that counts is the right of those who retain their mental faculties to make their own decisions!

Ah, here's the link after all:

http://www.wesleyjsmith.com/blog/2007/10/hastings-center-report-column-validates.html

I believe we're increasingly moving in the U.S., Europe, and Australia towards a Nazi-ish attitude towards the severely mentally and developmentally disabled, and it isn't bothering to hide much, either.

Her argument? "Disability rights" has to do with the ability of disabled people to make their own choices about their treatment and lives.

Exactly. Rights are only for the free and equal superman, self-created through reason and will, not for subhumans incapable of self-actualization as supermen. As Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf,

"The National Socialist state knows no 'classes,' but politically speaking only citizens with absolutely equal rights and accordingly equal general duties, and, alongside of these, state subjects who in the political sense are absolutely without rights."
I believe we're increasingly moving in the U.S., Europe, and Australia towards a Nazi-ish attitude towards the severely mentally and developmentally disabled, and it isn't bothering to hide much, either.

I agree, and for several decades we've had an openly Nazi-ish attitude toward the unborn. The most obvious reason why that I can think of is that these are people who cannot articulate and assert their will: if you cannot assert your will, freely and equally beside all other supermen, then under advanced modern liberalism you aren't fully human and you have no rights. There is I think a "tipping point" still in the future wherein people who are capable of articulating their will become treated as subhuman impediments to the superman. Advanced liberalism has not yet reached that point, and the "noble lie" dogma of Zero Group Differences still stands between us and that eventuality.

The irony (if you can call it that) is that while in the liberal mythology mentally handicapped individuals do not have rights, animals do.
I hope I am not the only person who finds this highly illogical.

I have written on Right Reason about two elderly women who were dehydrated to death following strokes when they were conscious and actually asking for food and/or water--one out loud, one in writing. (I just re-read the post, and it now seems to me rather dull and long, so I don't bother to provide the link.) Such stories abound; these just happen to be two where I can assign names.

What the "disability rights" woman mentioned by Wesley Smith would say about this I don't know. Maybe she'd admit that their rights were violated, since they were conscious and able to choose; maybe she wouldn't. The legal fact is that their deaths were never prosecuted; one was court ordered.

So it seems that what is standing even between conscious, individual, self-actualizing "choosers" and being murdered isn't even their mental ability anymore but rather sheer physical strength. If you are physically or mentally helpless, look out; you could be toast.

It's my observation that it's extreme "subnormality" in either physical or mental strength that seems to bring out the murderous instincts of the liberal elite. The whole "who would want to live that way" mindset then kicks in. Stroke victims are particular targets. One gets the feeling that even if a stroke victim remained a genius and able to communicate, his partial paralysis and difficulty swallowing might be considered sufficient grounds for death by dehydration.

Racial group disparities, in average members of the groups in question, are relatively more subtle. To put it crudely, a physically healthy, large male who is 15 IQ points below average can still stick up for himself pretty well and is viewed by those who have power as having a life worthy of life.

And my guess is that this would continue to be the case even if the "noble lie" of Zero Group Differences were abandoned. The most likely effect of such an abandonment IMO would be the acceleration of the eugenic abortion and population control programs already being pushed on those groups rather than an ethnic cleansing program directed against older and healthy people.

To support this contention I submit the end of a book called _Paved With Good Intentions_ by a fellow whose name I can't recall at the moment. (Taylor?) By my recollection of the book, which I read years ago, he is a realist about racial differences as well as an opponent of welfare. His suggestion at the end of the book is that all welfare mothers be required to be on Depo-Provera or have birth control arm implants in order to continue receiving benefits. As G. K. Chesterton said, apropos of a similar order to a blind couple he had learned of, this is slavery, neither more nor less.

Lydia--
I'm afraid that I still don't understand what you're getting at. You seem to be saying that persons of African descent are, on average, less intelligent than, say, Caucasians. This being the case, you think that most such individuals should not be admitted to colleges, because they would take places that should go to more intelligent persons of other races. You also think it just that such individuals should be excluded from employment where intellectual capacity is important at the whim of the employer, no questions asked. I assume that you would also exclude such individuals from K-12 schools, other than public schools, for the same reason that you would exclude them from colleges. Jobs requiring brawn, rather than brain, are becoming increasingly rare for a variety of reasons, yet these uneducable, unemployable persons must eat and be able to pay for decent housing. At the same time you are, I'm sure, against welfare.
Yet, despite all of the factors above, you are also against any type of program that would slow the growth of the population of people of African descent. In terms of reproduction, you insist on maximum numbers.
What, then, is your plan? How do you foresee any possibility of avoiding disaster, based on these seemingly incompatible factors?

I believe in including or excluding people in all sorts of things based for the most part on one's evidence regarding individual abilities and capacities, and let the chips then fall as they may, w.r.t. to group outcomes. If someone told me that short people are on average less likely to be admitted to some level of schooling or some desirable profession, I wouldn't be up in arms (being short).

So no, of course I wouldn't support "excluding" persons of African descent qua persons of African descent from a single thing you name. I would oppose a plan to do so very strongly. If a person applies to law school, however, and does not meet some cut-off for the LSAT, then it seems to me quite reasonable that he not get into law school. And if this ends up "excluding" many people of a certain group in the pure sense of disparate impact, that really doesn't bother me at all. The same for the SAT and college, and so forth.

As for K-12 schooling, everyone should receive it, and there are many private grammar schools that do not have ability tests for entry, which is fine with me and seems to me entirely wise and sane. Testing of kindergarteners is unreliable and foolish anyway. We're just gettin' started teaching them. That children of any color whatsoever, including green, should receive, say, tuition remission from business-supported scholarship funds to such schools seems to me a great idea. I think people and businesses who contribute to such funds should get tax deductions for it.

Population control is despicable, to use your word from another thread. So whether or not some group of people is, on average, less employable than some other group of people, you can bet your bottom dollar I'm against any type of program that would slow the growth of the population of people of African descent.

Programs to slow the growth of types of people are horrible and beyond consideration by anyone of good will. Is this "insisting on maximum numbers"? Rubbish. It is insisting on not treating people as animals and creatures of either the elite or the state.

"Population control is despicable, to use your word from another thread."

Yes, government enforced population control would indeed be despicable. And, this being the case, it behooves society to take measures to ensure that a growing population does not outstrip the resources available to support that population in an adequate and humane way. Crucial to that societal duty, imo, is the dignity of work.
I'm still not understanding how a population which already--with "affirmative action" programs of various kinds in place--has disproportionately high rates of unemployment can be accommodated, unless they provided with make-work jobs, or paid for not working. Neither of these proposals fully addresses the dignity issue, of course.
The solution this society has so far come up with is building more and more prisons, and filling them to capacity as fast as they can be built.
Not a good solution, at all.

"Government enforced population control would indeed be despicable."

I also happen to think that various "voluntary" population control programs run by "charity" groups (the scare quotes here are very much intended) are despicable. Bribing people to be sterilized, for example, is evil. This was an approach of eugeneicists in the last century, and no one was supposed to mind so long as they bribed the people and hence could say it was "voluntary."

Not a good solution, at all.

Part of the problem from my perspective is this notion of looking for a "solution", as if there is some way of comprehensively arranging things that would solve all problems. Rather than worrying about actually acting justly, and leaving what we cannot control to Providence, moderns take a positivist approach which insists on clearing away all obstacles to the emergence of the emancipated new man. The fact that all obstacles to the universal equally self-created superman have not been paved over by "society" is treated as some kind of existential outrage, as if society were a big mechanism of earth-moving and construction equipment which can be manipulated to produce the conditions necessary for the free and equal new man to flourish without ever facing adversity or, in the end, suffering and death; and that the fact that "society" hasn't constructed a Utopia implies its illegitimacy.

But in the end, every such positivist "solution" is a Final Solution.

I honestly think that some people who search for a solution are well-intentioned and simply think that these large-scale systemic things--differences of income, for example, or employment, especially if an identifiable racial correlation can be found--are The Problem and are either evidences of evil or are somehow evils in themselves subsisting in "the system." They then feel it incumbent on them to come up with a solution. They genuinely believe this is their moral duty.

I humbly submit that the problems with this approach are one reason why we should be (and why I am) skeptical about claims that such-and-such outcome is an instance of "systemic injustice" about which something must be Done. I can think of all sorts of things that are unfair, but nothing should be done about them. It would make more sense to me if the guy who wallpapered my kitchen a month ago made more money than some professors. But he doesn't, and that's all there is to it. I'm not about to try to come up with a plan to rectify this injustice. All that sort of thing is folly, it seems to me, and dangerous folly at that.

"I can think of all sorts of things that are unfair, but nothing should be done about them."

Fine. Then you will agree with me that, although it's unfair to that last Caucasian law school applicant on the list that he not be admitted, so that the Black applicant next on the list can be, in an effort to train more Black lawyers to represent their communities, nothing need be done about it on behalf of the Caucasian. The scales of justice should tip both ways.
I have, in my work, personally seen individuals given that kind of leg-up succeed in medical school--even excel in some cases--who never would have gotten into medical school, based on MCAT scores and undergraduate grades. They started from way behind, and gradually grew and reached their hidden potential after being provided with an opportunity in a supportive environment. I have also seen some fail, but they have been in the minority.
(You, by the way, are free to pay the guy wallpapering your kitchen as much as you think he's worth.)

I honestly think that some people who search for a solution are well-intentioned ... They genuinely believe this is their moral duty.

I think everyone is virtually always "well intentioned" in the truncated sense that they are pursuing some good or resisting some real or perceived injustice, particularly in the earlier stages of these things. So while I agree with this I don't think it necessarily sheds much light on things and indeed can tend to cloud them.

When it comes to understanding the ordinary-Joe attitude during the Nazi atrocities there is a good book called What We Knew which some may find rather eye-opening.

"Then you will agree with me that, although it's unfair to that last Caucasian law school applicant on the list that he not be admitted, so that the Black applicant next on the list can be, in an effort to train more Black lawyers to represent their communities, nothing need be done about it on behalf of the Caucasian."

Some things (about which nothing should be done) are not all things. The act of deliberately favoring the less-qualified purely for reasons of achieving racial equity-in-representation is, in my opinion, morally wrong. What "should be done" is simply that that act of affirmative action shouldn't have been done in the first place. There may sometimes be reasons for preferring people based on non-merit factors--e.g. hiring local rather than moving people in from far away. This isn't one of those reasons. I don't share the moral imperative of having racial group members "representing their communities." I'm about as cold to that pseudo-imperative as cold gets. I think it wrong-headed and certainly not a real moral requirement, not to mention patronizing to the people thus "helped."

Again, I make a big distinction between refraining from doing wrong things to the person in front of you and failing to institute programs to change the whole structure of societal outcomes.

I guess that you don't think much of the principle expressed in the parable of the workers in the vineyard, then?

The act of deliberately favoring the less-qualified purely for reasons of achieving racial equity-in-representation is, in my opinion, morally wrong.

In one of my few disagreements with Lydia on a matter of morality, I dissent on this point (if I understand it correctly). I don't think there is anything intrinsically morally right or wrong about it, but rather that it depends on circumstances and intentions. It is possible for racially-based decisions (that is, discrimination: every decision is a discrimination) to be either moral or immoral. That is, it is neither always morally wrong to take race-qua-race into account nor is it never morally wrong to take race-qua-race into account.

Rodak, I don't know what principle you think that is. The generous vineyard owner was not giving more money to the later-hired people to "achieve racial representation." My point is simply that I don't think that's a good reason to prefer less-qualified over more-qualified people.

Whether it shd. be illegal to engage in that sort of foolish and unfair social engineering depends, IMO, on the surrounding circumstances. In my kingdom I might well allow you to do it in your private law school and content myself with deploring it and criticizing it. But particularly when there are in existence laws that pretend to outlaw racial discrimination, when, in fact, our whole society is constantly uttering maledictions on racial discrimination, then in the name of sheer honesty if nothing else such laws should be applied against the programs you describe.

Zippy, you may in fact disagree with me, but I was speaking of affirmative action for the reasons and in the contexts in which it is in fact carried out--as described by Rodak, for example. I suppose there could be some sort of weird fictional situations (which I'm having trouble coming up with) in which it would not be wrong to try to have a certain racial makeup to your employee set. That is of course aside from the standard "bona fide qualification" situations that get brought up: Hiring a white person to play a white character, for example, or a black person to play a black character. But I was meaning to address the idea of, in our actual world, admitting people to college, graduate school, or jobs based on race because you wanted there to be more people of particular races (including caucasian, by the way) to "represent" those racial groups. Basic affirmative action as advocated by the left. This does seem to me wrong, though of course you may well disagree.

Well, I don't see anything particularly immoral about most affirmative action as presently practiced, though I do think it is unwise and that the advanced liberal world view which is motivating it is horrifically wrongheaded and tyrannical. But is AA immoral per se? I don't think so.

This is a fascinating discussion. I hope I can add something to it by explaining what I think the problems are with affirmative action and “anti-racism” dogma.

I agree with Zippy that there is not anything intrinsically wrong with racial discrimination. Most Americans probably believe that racism in of itself, is morally wrong, but I believe that there is unjust racism and justified racism, if by racism we simply mean racial discrimination. For example, I find it completely appropriate to take race as a factor in any immigration policy. Culture differences, rather than racial differences, is the main factor, but I think it is just a matter of fact that race is highly correlated with ethnicity and culture. Therefore when the Left claims it is racist to defend American culture from on onslaught of Mexican immigration, the Left is correct, however, I think the concern is perfectly justified.

My main problem with affirmative action is the incoherent positions of many of its advocates. On one hand the Left holds that racism is absolutely evil, yet on the other hand they believe that racism is justified when used to benefit minority groups. In order to avoid this apparent contradiction, racism is re-defined. Racism then becomes simply about numbers. If white people are the majority group, then the system is racist against non-whites. It then becomes a zero-sum game where if minorities are to prosper, white people half to decline in status, power and wealth in order to create racial equality. Affirmative action then becomes an anti-racist policy and those who oppose it are by definition racist. What individual, however, would willingly give up a chance to enter into medical school in order to allow a black individual to attend? What individual would live by such affirmative action policies in his or her personal life? Is not this “anti-racist” dogma a little masochistic?

My main problem with affirmative action is the incoherent positions of many of its advocates. On one hand the Left holds that racism is absolutely evil, yet on the other hand they believe that racism is justified when used to benefit minority groups.

Good comments. One of the other oddities of the situation is that right-liberals (think Rush Limbaugh or Shawn Hannity) tend to oppose affirmative action for the same underlying (putative) moral reason that left-liberals endorse it: because racial discrimination - that is, race as one criteria for decision-making - is viewed as immoral per se, no matter what circumstances obtain. The left-liberal response is to attempt to change reality; the right liberal response is (arguably more coherently) to ignore reality. But both agree that race is a fact that simply must not be permitted to matter.

The left-liberal response is to attempt to change reality; the right liberal response is (arguably more coherently) to ignore reality.

I agree, Zippy. It is very interesting how both groups claim that race must be ignored in any and all circumstances and yet they advocate completely different positions regarding policy. The Lefts response is to argue that racial discrimination is always evil accept when it’s not and the Rights position is to argue that race is completely irrelevant even when it’s relevant.

My suspicion is that there are a lot of situations where ethnicity and culture are legitimately, and highly, relevant whether or not race is. For example, a Muslim-Arab background may have a variety of skin colors, etc. (look at some pictures of the Iranian army, for example), yet such a background is certainly relevant to all sorts of situations, including airport screening. Various aspects of ethnic appearance may be used as a marker, but these will include not only physical appearance but also clothing and behavior. A man who might not otherwise be "OMEA" becomes "OMEA" when he wears a certain type of beard, for example. I strongly favor profiling at airports, by the way. I hope that gets me out of being a right-liberal. :-)

In the medical school recruitment program to which I referred, the participants could be either members of a racial group that is underrepresented by percentage in the medical profession, or they could be "economically disadvantaged" as so defined by the federal government. I.e., they could be Caucasian, and some were. In any event, the participants were pre-med students who underachieved as undergraduates, and had virtually no hope of getting an admissions interview for medical school. If accepted to the program, they participated in a six-week summer program, taught mostly by medical school faculty. Acceptance for, and completion of, the program guaranteed the participants an admissions interview which they would not otherwise have gotten. If they did well, and earned good recommendations from the faculty, there was a possibility of being directly admitted. They would have filed a regular application, like any other applicant.
Most did not receive direct admission, however, but were invited to spend the following academic year taking graduate-level science courses through the university. Ten such students were selected per year, some of which went into this program through the office of admissions, rather than through the six-week program. Students who maintained a 3.90 cumulative GPA in the year-long program were guaranteed admittance to the medical college in the following academic year. So, one could say that thise ten or twelve students, most of whom were black or hispanic, displaced ten or twelve, probably white students who might have been accepted had those slots not been earned by the program participants. But the slots were earned. And they did give individuals a chance to become physicians who otherwise would probably never have had that chance. I fail to see anything "evil" in this type of program. In fact, I see nothing but good in it. There is a very good reason for minority individuals to have access to minority physicians where this is possible, for a variety of very real reasons--including, but not limited to, racist attitudes in majority physicians.
Does it entail some preferential treatment based partially on race? Yes. Is it bad in this instance? I don't think so.

And, yes, I know that many Iranians consider themselves Persian rather than Arab.

NOTICE OF TYPO: student had to maintain a 3.0 cumulative GPA in the year-long program to gain admission to the medical college.

Rodak, you and I will never agree on this. I actually believe--partly from anecdotal evidence, some of it from blacks!--that the pushing of AA programs in this way is putting underqualified minority physicians into the medical workplace and that this is harmful to their patients. When those patients are mostly black, it is, of course, especially harmful to blacks! I completely disagree that black patients are best served by black physicians. When you say that the students had "earned" those spots, what you really mean is that they had gone through a second-track program which guaranteed them places in medical school on the basis of achievements that would have been considered insufficient had they not met the criteria of being able to claim a prior disadvantage. That's not the same thing as earning a spot, full stop.

Zippy, here's an interesting question: If you don't believe that AA is wrong, would you participate in it? Suppose you were the chairman of a mathematics department, and you were hiring. Would you boost minority applicants in the pool, as the administration would want you to, solely for being minorities? If it came down to two candidates, one white and one black, and the white candidate were clearly better qualified, would you hire the black candidate under pressure from the administration? Suppose that the black candidate was okay, but that the white candidate was clearly better across the board--in terms of being a good teacher for the students, research, probable success on his merits for tenure, interesting to talk to, etc., etc. Wouldn't you feel at least rather morally uncomfortable about being a sort of AA robot for the administration? (Yes, I admit I'm putting this prejudicially.) But if there is no _moral_ problem, why not just go along with it and avoid a tussle with admin?

"That's not the same thing as earning a spot, full stop."

Yes, it is. Only about 1/3 of the participants each year finally made it into medical school. They all had to apply and be interviewed. Once admitted to the medical college, their retention rates have been no different than that of the general population. The remedial programs in which they participated selected them for their ability to succeed, and they have. At least one of them of whom I'm aware graduated in the top 5% of the class. But they all needed that little leg-up. Society is better for having them in the medical profession, not worse.
I don't claim that all programs work this well. But these programs show that you can design programs that DO work, and benefit all of us.

My suspicion is that there are a lot of situations where ethnicity and culture are legitimately, and highly, relevant whether or not race is.

I tried to qualify by saying that ethnic and cultural distinctions are the important factors rather than race, but race is often correlated with ethnicity and culture simply because tightly knit groups share things in common. I am simply saying that race may be an important factor for a particular decision, but not that it necessarily is. I am rejecting the idea that it is absolutely wrong in every circumstance to use race as a factor. Racial profiling to combat crime is one case where I think it is justified, where as affirmative action is one case where I think it is misguided. In my day-to-day activities race is hardly a factor.

I fail to see anything "evil" in this type of program. In fact, I see nothing but good in it.

You think it is good to systematically deny qualified white students admission into medical school? Isn’t this a self-destructive position for any white person to hold? Do you expect qualified white students to voluntarily give up their hopes of attending medical school just so they can feel good about giving a minority a chance?

If a 3.0 in a year-long program of graduate science classes would not have been considered enough to _guarantee_ admission to the medical college in the following year for any applicant--and let's face it, it certainly would not--then that is not the same as earning a place, full stop. The places were set-asides for people who did a second-tier type of academic track and who also met a particular set of "special claim to prior disadvantaged status" criteria. If some white, rich kid had done similarly poorly as an undergraduate and then had paid, himself, to go and take the identical year-long set of graduate science classes and gotten a cumulative GPA of 3.0, he certainly would not have been guaranteed admission to medical school! That separate track guaranteed the applicants in question admission--regardless of their negative past record and, I'm inferring from your negative reference to the MCAT, regardless of their otherwise below-par MCAT scores.

"You think it is good to systematically deny qualified white students admission into medical school?"


xkvsxe--
Those white students, if their grades, MCATs, and interviews warrant it, will be able to get into some other medical school. The minority/poor students who participate in the program I've described will probably not be able to get into *any* medical school--unless they are afforded this kind of opportunity. The fact that over 90% succeed, some excelling, once they do get in proves that they belong there.

Lydia--
If this society were a level playing field and all factors other than race/ethnicity were equal, I would agree with you. But to say that is the case is to demonstrate either ignorance of the historical facts, or indifference to the prevailing conditions, or both.
And you are absolutely wrong about minority physicians not being preferable for minority populations--particularly as primary care physicians. I could tell why you're wrong, but I'm pretty sure I'd be wasting my time, since the answer should be obvious to anybody who gives it a few seconds of thought.

Those white students, if their grades, MCATs, and interviews warrant it, will be able to get into some other medical school.

You said earlier that "...one could say that thise ten or twelve students, most of whom were black or hispanic, displaced ten or twelve, probably white students who might have been accepted had those slots not been earned by the program participants." Are white students being displaced or not? Why should anyone be obligated to hand over his or her privileged status to someone else?

Rodak: having followed your contributions to this and the earlier thread, I find it more and more difficult to figure out just exactly what you are trying to say here. Could you clarify?

Suppose, for purposes of argument, that "race realists" like Derbyshire and Sailer are right: i.e., that there is a gap of about one standard deviation between AVERAGE black and AVERAGE white IQ, that this gap is largely genetic, a product of differing evolutionary histories, and that this, more than racism and discrimination, accounts for the differential representation of blacks and whites in various highly paid and/or prestigious occupations.

Would it be your view that this information should be suppressed, because it might make some African-Americans feel badly about their chances in life?

And would it be your view that we should go on telling European-Americans that such differential representation is entirely due to white mischief of various sorts, even if it isn't?

And would it be your view that we should persist in racially preferential policies even after such differential representation has been reduced to the levels one might expect in the absence of racial discrimination, given the IQ gap?

"Are white students being displaced or not?"

xkvsxe--
Yes. That's why I said they could probably be admitted to some *other* medical school.

"Why should anyone be obligated to hand over his or her privileged status to someone else?"

Because of the message of the Sermon on the Mount?

Yes. That's why I said they could probably be admitted to some *other* medical school.

And if they did not want to go to some "other" medical school it's just too bad?

Because of the message of the Sermon on the Mount?

Or do you mean "...But many that are first shall be last; and the last first."?


"Or do you mean "...But many that are first shall be last; and the last first."?"

What do you mean by "or"? That is exactly what I meant.

What do you mean by "or"? That is exactly what I meant.

So you think that means giving up your dream to go to med school so a minority can take your place? Should the federal government decide who is "first" and who is "last"

Wouldn't you feel at least rather morally uncomfortable about being a sort of AA robot for the administration? (Yes, I admit I'm putting this prejudicially.) But if there is no _moral_ problem, why not just go along with it and avoid a tussle with admin?

I probably would go along as a rule, though I would probably also protest the stupidity of the policy. It may seem odd to find us on reversed sides of the "follow the positive rules" divide on this one, but I would follow the stupid rules unless the rules specifically attempted to make me do a manifest injustice to someone in particular (and I mean a morally wrong injustice, not a "life isn't fair" kind of thing). A rule being stupid doesn't license me to disregard a legitimate rule-making authority.

"disregard a legitimate rule-making authority..."

Welll. It isn't quite like that. Crash course on hiring in an academic context: The department ostensibly makes its own choice amongst the candidates. Administration reviews the choice and can shoot it down or even hire somebody and place him forcibly in the department whether they want him or not. But that looks bad and is hardly ever done, because the members of the department are the experts in the academic field, and the higher administrators aren't, so of course the whole thing looks (and generally is) a better process for choosing good people for the field if the departments make the choice. But higher admin is often also strongly committed to AA. So higher admin has various ways of putting the screws on the department to make the affirmative action choice "on its own." For example, higher admin can threaten to shut down the search and force the deparment to make do with fewer people, not replacing retirees and so forth, if the department doesn't make the politically correct choice and send that choice to admin to rubber stamp.

As is so often the case, the whole thing involves a lot of fiction and bluff. It isn't breaking a rule to refuse to make the AA decision. And in fact, if the department really wants a particular candidate, then the formal system says they are perfectly free to submit that decision to admin as their choice. That is what departmental interviews, meetings, and voting are supposed to be all about. But refusing to make the AA pick is risking annoying the Powers that Be and courting their displeasure, because it forces their hand. If they want to force you to hire the other guy, they have to do it openly instead of just greeting with a satisfaction _your_ supposed "choice" which was really theirs. And shutting the search down, while it punishes the department, isn't nearly as satisfying for them, because then they don't get another token minority or female to parade around and gloat over.

I'm sure you've run into things much like this little charade in the business world.

As for doing a specific injustice to a particular person, if I were the chairman in question, hired the AA candidate, and then had to phone up the other guy and tell him he hadn't gotten the job, knowing all the time exactly _why_ he hadn't gotten it, and knowing that he was across the board the best and that I and the department would have loved to have had him, I'd certainly feel that I'd done him an injustice by not submitting his name as the departmental choice and letting the chips fall from there as they would. In fact, I'd feel like a cowardly skunk and would scarcely be able to face him over the phone.

I'd certainly feel that I'd done him an injustice by not submitting his name as the departmental choice and letting the chips fall from there as they would.

Couldn't affirmative action laws also force you to lie? If it did, would that not count as forcing you to do something immoral?

It isn't breaking a rule to refuse to make the AA decision.

Ah. Then I wouldn't do it, because doing it is stupid. (I would probably "not do it" with great relish). But I'm probably not the sort who would get tenure in a modern academic institution anyway.

In fact, I'd feel like a cowardly skunk and would scarcely be able to face him over the phone.

Not me. If the rules positively forced me to refuse to hire someone with that refusal on an AA basis I might well tell them that outright.

I actually have no problem telling someone he was not hired, to his face or on the phone, without feeling the need to comprehensively disclose everything that went into the decision. "You are not hired" is perfectly sufficient in most cases. Nobody has a plenary right to have me hire him, nor to have me explain myself, except perhaps in highly contrived circumstances (e.g. if I don't hire him he will be murdered or something, and hiring him is as straightforward for me as scratching my nose or whatever).

Couldn't affirmative action laws also force you to lie?

Nope. Some authority somewhere might attempt to force you to lie; but such an attempt has no normative force as a moral matter, though there may well be material consequences if you refuse.

Nope. Some authority somewhere might attempt to force you to lie; but such an attempt has no normative force as a moral matter, though there may well be material consequences if you refuse.

If I am an employer I want to hire the most qualified individual and it seems that affirmative action laws would require me to be dishonest about who the most qualified individual actually is. I think it would create a tendency to be dishonest, but of course it would not force you to lie in the most extreme sense of the word. You could always tell the person you hired "I hired you because you are black" and the person you did not hire "sorry, but you have the wrong skin color." I was trying to think of a case where applying affirmative action would lack normative force.

I think it would create a tendency to be dishonest, but of course it would not force you to lie in the most extreme sense of the word. You could always tell the person you hired "I hired you because you are black" and the person you did not hire "sorry, but you have the wrong skin color."

Ah. In general you really don't have to say, nor do I see any reason why there is a moral obligation to open one's mouth. In general the ability to keep one's mouth shut is a useful skill in business, and opening one's mouth is in my understanding morally obligatory only in rather narrow kinds of circumstances.

We pilots have a rule for what to do in an emergency: when you first become aware of the emergency, wind your watch. (That is, keep your hands to yourself and don't do anything until you are sure you know what you are doing. Usually small emergencies become big ones when pilots fail to follow this rule). A similar rule applies in business: when you first get the impulse to say something, shut up. Saying something should be a deliberate act with a specific purpose and justification. Otherwise, keep your mouth shut. (It is remarkable how rare a skill this is).

I was trying to think of a case where applying affirmative action would lack normative force.

Ah. Well, if an AA law both required you to hire on the basis of race and attempted to force you to lie about it, the former provision would have normative force and the latter wouldn't, it seems to me. We can't extrapolate from one unjust requirement - which we must disobey - to the notion that the law in general is invalid so we don't have to obey any of it at all. (It is here where the difference between myself and others really becomes acute: some believe that one may not disobey the positive law unless one is licensed to disobey all positive law, in a case where the government has itself become across-the-board invalid and outright rebellion is justified. I don't understand things that way: in my understanding the government or other rule-making authority cannot ever command us to perform an unjust act, but its inability to do so does not constitute a license for us to disobey in other matters).

A similar rule applies in business: when you first get the impulse to say something, shut up.

I know I have had that impulse.

We can't extrapolate from one unjust requirement - which we must disobey - to the notion that the law in general is invalid so we don't have to obey any of it at all.

So it is not as simple as saying "this law is just" or "this law is unjust". Rather, the law may be unjust under certain circumstances and just under others.

If I remember correctly from your previous posts, does this relate to your understanding of SCOTUS striking down certain laws as unconstitutional in every and all cases, instead of judging the particular case in question? Do you think there are such laws that are unjust in all circumstances, like maybe laws that said you had to return a slave to his master?

Do you think there are such laws that are unjust in all circumstances, like maybe laws that said you had to return a slave to his master?

Sure. What that implies is that when Slave Joe is brought before the judge, the judge is obligated to release him. It doesn't imply that that judge's ruling (through for example stare decisis, common law, or judicial review) must as a moral matter necessarily then become a universal positive law applied to all future cases. (The natural law may well demand that of legislative bodies, but does not necessarily demand this of the judge if the judge has no legislative powers). Disposing of a particular case is a natural act of judging; creating positive law, even as a result of a court case, is a matter of legislating. In our polity judges have legislative (through SD, CL, and JR) in addition to judicial powers, but that isn't morally necessary. What is morally necessary is that the judge - since an act of judging just is to dispose of a particular case justly - cannot be compelled to make an unjust ruling. And in at least some conceivable cases it would be unjust for the judge to recuse himself from the particular case, knowingly (say) sending an innocent man to the headsman even though formally at the hands of a different judge.

One of the oddities of Scalia's book A Matter of Interpretation is that he never talks about the particular parties in his cases in the context of whether those parties received justice. (Well, it is an oddity until you realize that his judicial philosophy has nothing to do with justice and everything to do with mindlessly applying whatever he thinks the positive law asserts, where he sees "what the positive law asserts" as something completely independent of legislative intent on the one hand and as existentially necessary as supremely dispositive in a democracy on the other).

"It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits."

"[The madman] is not hampered by a sense of humour or by charity, or by the dumb certainties of experience."

"The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason."

"There is such a thing as a narrow universality; there is such a thing as a small and cramped eternity; you may see it in many modern religions. Now, speaking quite externally and empirically, we may say that the strongest and most unmistakable *mark* of madness is this combination between a logical completeness and a spiritual contration. The lunatic's theory explains a large number of things, but it does not explain them in a large way. I mean that if you or I were dealing with a mind that was growing morbid, we should be chiefly concerned not so much to give it arguments as to give it air, to convince is that there was something cleaner and cooler outside the suffocation of a single argument."

~G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, "The Maniac"

Rodak: Chesterton is, like Oscar Wilde, invariably amusing and charming and all that sort of thing, but, if taken literally, usually wrong.

The claim that "the strongest and most unmistakable *mark* of madness is this combination between a logical completeness and a spiritual contration [sic]" is a pretty typical example of this. Interesting, yes. Thought-provoking, yes. But literally true? Don't be silly.

Anyway, be that as it may, I'd still be interested in reading any answers you might have to the questions I asked way way up above.

Warning--medium-length personal opinion rant follows.

I think X is quite right [X, can't you come up with a handle we can pronounce all the way through?] that affirmative action promotes dishonesty. This isn't to say it's literally impossible for any individual to act honestly within an AA system but that it encourages an atmosphere of dishonesty. The final decision in an AA hire is perfectly ambiguous as far as what part job-related abilities and achievements played and what part was played by purely demographic factors. This is a disservice both to those who get the job and to those who don't. The AA candidate has a question mark placed over his professional achievements. The unsuccessful candidate works hard, gets his hopes and fears involved, spends his time and energy preparing for and giving the interview, all as part of a process that is rigged. When he loses the job, he is unable to tell to what extent he just wasn't good enough and to what extent he was bumped out by a female or minority, and for that reason alone. It is highly inconsiderate, to put it no higher, to put someone through all of this and then to have him not get a job for such reasons.

Then, of course, there is the feeling liberals have that they must justify AA in terms of dishonest pseudo-qualifications they try to connect with AA physical characteristics: There is the "diversity" nonsense, the myth of the "female perspective on _______[insert discipline]," and the nonsense about "role models." This latter also encourages students to care for something other than the things they are learning, which is what we _should_ be teaching them to value. It caters to and even imparts the juvenile idea that a woman ought to be learning mathematics from a woman and can be best "mentored" in that discipline by a woman, a black by a black, etc.

Relatedly, and perhaps most importantly of all, I believe that an academic discipline is a thing that can be served in itself. There are the students to consider, for example. It is a disservice to them to refuse to hire someone who could have inspired them with a love of what is good, true, and beautiful in a good-in-itself discipline and instead to hire someone who will do a notably less-good job at this. (And AA candidates in the disciplines I have in mind do tend to be notably less good, probably because they have received boosts for their demographic features all the way along in their whole schooling lives. By the time an AA candidate gets a job, his demographic features have been not just double-counted, but counted over and over again in his favor.) It is a disservice to the profession itself, and to posterity, to leave unhired excellent candidates--potential teachers and scholars--in order to hire mediocre ones.

In short, the affirmative action hiring process in the academic world reeks of shoddiness, of the absence of love for things that matter, and of pretense. Anyone who is a real lover of what he is doing should refuse to have any part in it.

"And would it be your view that we should go on telling European-Americans that such differential representation is entirely due to white mischief of various sorts, even if it isn't?"

Steve--
Sorry. I somehow missed these questions. My answer to the one above is that, regardless of the answers to the others, "white mischief of various sorts" (which wording is putting the best possible face on it) has been very real. It's getting better, but it's far from over.
I am, of course, opposed to lying. Neither do I believe, however, that it is necessary to tell every hurtful truth. Intelligence is difficult to measure. Every group includes individuals at both the high and the low end of the scale. And I think that we all know that many persons of African descent are very capable. The kind of affirmative action programs that I endorse address the negative effects of poverty on performance, as well as the residual effects of institutional racism. I think that it would be a major disaster, given our history, and our current situation, to make it a policy issue that average black intelligence is slightly lower than that of whites. What good do you see coming of implementing such a thing, if any? How do you see such a thing affecting policies toward sub-Sarahan Africa, Haiti, and other predominately black places? Slavery based on race was morally wrong and now we are harvesting the fruits of our past national sins. We can't just wash our hands of it.

I think that it would be a major disaster, given our history, and our current situation, to make it a policy issue that average black intelligence is slightly lower than that of whites.

How can a true** fact pertinent to policy not be a policy issue?

[**] The truth of this putative fact was stipulated as a premise in Steve's question when he framed it thus:

Suppose, for purposes of argument, that "race realists" like Derbyshire and Sailer are right: i.e., that there is a gap of about one standard deviation between AVERAGE black and AVERAGE white IQ, that this gap is largely genetic, a product of differing evolutionary histories, and that this, more than racism and discrimination, accounts for the differential representation of blacks and whites in various highly paid and/or prestigious occupations.

Well, I'm asking what kinds of policies one would want to develop and implement, based on the fact, (if you will) of a genetic intelligence gap between blacks and whites?
I guess that you would use such data to put a permananent end to all affirmative action programs? So, you would identify people that need extra help due to factors beyong their control, and use that to deny them the help they need?
Or do you set up a network of special "black jobs" of which they are deemed capable, so that they can support themselves. Do you allow stupid white people to take some of those black jobs, if they can't find other ones, due to their stupidity? I just don't see any more good coming from acting on this fact, than I would see of telling Joe that you are leaving him alone out of a dinner party for your professional colleagues because he's ugly and you don't want to have to look at him when you're not being paid to do so.

I'm also wondering what kind of control groups were used to gather these statistics. If, for instance, you measure the IQs of a thousand backwoods Appalachian hillbillies against the IQs of a thousand third generation, middle-class Black Americans, do you still find the intelligence gap going in the same direction?

Well, one policy change that might follow from all of this would be to put a permanent end to various "sensitivity programs" run by the government or given at government schools that teach that, in Steve's words, various forms of "white mischief" are entirely responsible for the current state of affairs.

I also, btw, find it friggin' amusing to recall all the times that Chesterton has been quoted against positions that I've been supporting because he's a saint and a genius; but then, when I quote him, it turns out that he's a little more than a posturing clown. Who knew?

Well, I'm asking what kinds of policies one would want to develop and implement, based on the fact, (if you will) of a genetic intelligence gap between blacks and whites?

Steve Burton asked you:

if it be your view that we should persist in racially preferential policies even after such differential representation has been reduced to the levels one might expect in the absence of racial discrimination, given the IQ gap?

It seems to me that that is a simple yes/no question, though it doesn't resolve the empirical issue of whether "...such differential representation has been reduced to the levels one might expect in the absence of racial discrimination, given the IQ gap." As I understand him, Steve wants to know if you would continue AA programs once we are pretty sure that whatever group differences remain are due to an intrinsic nature of things which we cannot change.

Lydia--
Okay, fine. That's something you *wouldn't* do. But I'm asking what you *would* do to implement social policy based on that kind of information. Would you, for instance, remove all blacks from public schools as currently populated and put them in all-black schools, because you now have evidence that "separate but equal" was actually the correct policy all along? Would you reinstitute "whites only" public restrooms and send Halle Berry to the back of the bus with Barack Obama?

I'm also wondering what kind of control groups were used to gather these statistics.

You aren't really in the same conversation the rest of us are in, though. Obviously the facts are debatable; but Steve's question is what you would do once that debate was settled. Suppose that you, Rodak, were unequivocally convinced that any remaining differences in average group incomes were the result of intrinsic differences between group IQ's having nothing whatsoever to do with external conditions, white mischief, historical disadvantage, and the rest. Would you continue AA under those circumstances?

One need not believe the DZGD in order to believe that some differences in outcomes are the product of racially motivated injustice and should be rectified. But I think Steve is trying (among other things) to get at whether your underlying philosophy is or is not premised on the DZGD. In addition, are you an "affirmative action forever" believer or, if not, at what definable point to we get to say "mission accomplished" and drop AA?

Would you, for instance, remove all blacks from public schools as currently populated and put them in all-black schools, because you now have evidence that "separate but equal" was actually the correct policy all along? Would you reinstitute "whites only" public restrooms and send Halle Berry to the back of the bus with Barack Obama?

I don't think anyone has even hinted at advocating any of those things. I suggest toning down the moral superiority.

"It seems to me that that is a simple yes/no question, though it doesn't resolve the empirical issue of whether '...such differential representation has been reduced to the levels one might expect in the absence of racial discrimination, given the IQ gap.'"

No. You would need to establish quotas to do so (Uh-oh. We're at 8%! Consider no more black applicants until attrition opens some spots!) and quotas are against the laws of God and Nature, as any good conservative knows.
There are also affirmative action programs serving substandard white populations in places like Appalachia. Do we continue those until there's a hillbilly in every corporate boardroom; or do we chuck 'em out with the ones for blacks?

Look. Everybody keeps asking me what I would do. I would keep on keepin' on. I think these programs are good, and I don't fear for the chance of my two white daughters to do whatever they want to do because of them.
The question is--what would y'all do? If you make it harder for blacks to enter the middle-class, rather than continuing to help them do so, how does society benefit from that change, over-all? I don't understand the benefit of it.

You would need to establish quotas to do so

You would need to establish quotas in order to not have quotas?

Everybody keeps asking me what I would do.

Yes.

I would keep on keepin' on.

And now you've finally answered.

"You would need to establish quotas in order to not have quotas?"

Certainly you would. Rather than having a quote that says you must have a *minimum* of 13% black representation, with affirmative action taken to make sure that happened, you'd have a cut-off of black representation when it reached the new, slightly lower, IQ-based *maximum* figure.

"And now you've finally answered."

Has anything I've said previously indicated that I didn't think the programs are both successful and good? I didn't really think that I needed to make it more explicit than I already have.

"I don't think anyone has even hinted at advocating any of those things. I suggest toning down the moral superiority."

It would certainly be unjust, following Lydia's logic, to force white children to have their education dumbed-down by the presence of biologically inferior black students in their classes. How would they compete with students in all-white schools who didn't have to run the race thus handicapped?

"In addition, are you an "affirmative action forever" believer or, if not, at what definable point to we get to say "mission accomplished" and drop AA?"

This is the truly interesting question. If the underachievement of a definable group is fixed by nature, then, certainly, I would be for AA forever, if it could be shown that AA helped members of this group overcome their innate deficiencies and achieve a decent standard of living. If, however, the underachievement is found to a product of nurture and history, rather than nature, AA would be expected to eventually become unnecessary, due to its very success. Presumably the numbers of blacks entering the middle-class would gradually achieve a critical mass that would attract those lagging behind gravitationally into the middle-class, until the AA programs had no participants.

...you'd have a cut-off of black representation when it reached the new, slightly lower, IQ-based *maximum* figure.

So in your view, not having a rule that says how many black people have to be admitted is having a rule that says how many black people have to be admitted? Refraining from imposing a cutoff is imposing a cutoff?

I'm not sure it is possible to talk to you on this subject.

Has anything I've said previously indicated that I didn't think the programs are both successful and good?

It seems odd, to say the least, to think that AA programs are successful and at the same time think that it is impossible to ever reach a point where they have succeeded.

It would certainly be unjust, following Lydia's logic, to force white children to have their education dumbed-down by the presence of biologically inferior black students in their classes.

You can consider this a warning that any additional posts from you insinuating that Lydia or anyone else here supports "remov[ing] all blacks from public schools as currently populated and put[ting] them in all-black schools", or "reinstitut[ing] 'whites only' public restrooms and send[ing] Halle Berry to the back of the bus with Barack Obama" will be summarily deleted. If you insist on being an ass, I don't have to provide you with a forum for it.

If we now have quotas based on percentage of population, and we eliminate those quotas, based on new information that tells us that x% of that minority population are incapable of functioning up to the majority standard, then we would stop using the population-based percentage as a baseline expectation for representation of the minority group in colleges, professions, etc.
In the place of that population-based percentage, we would have a new figure, which would be the population-based percentage, minus x%. So, instead of being expected to educate a *minimum* number of those people, based on their percentage in the general population, we would be expected to educate or employ a *maximum* number of those persons, based on the figure calculated by population percentage, minus x%. That is still a quota. And you would *have to* meet that quota or be susceptible to charges of racial discrimination, since the IQ-challenged part of that population would have been eliminated as eligible for AA, or from making *reasonable* demands for schooling and/or employment.

I think that I answered when AA would be no longer necessary above.

Note: I refer to the newly-calculated baseline as a "maximum" number, because societal responsibility for funding AA programs for the minority population would stop where this baseline percentage was met. Society would be responsible for accommodating a *maximum* number of those persons, based on their percentage of the population, minus x%. More, could, of course, be accommodated, but not through AA; less than that number, however, would indicate functional discrimination.

That is still a quota.

No it isn't. Not having a quota is different from having a quota, no matter how hard you stamp your feet and insist that doing or not doing anything at all is having a quota. (This is quite independent of whether quotas are or are not morally desirable in particular circumstances).

And you would *have to* meet that quota or be susceptible to charges of racial discrimination, ...

You seem to be assuming that charges of racial discrimination are a bad thing independent of the justification for that racial discrimination. That is an odd thing to assume for someone advocating racial discrimination as a good thing in the form of AA. You are taking exactly the self-contradictory approach that X criticized above.

FWIW, I am not at all libertarian on the matter. I agree with you that a more or less permanent "hand up" for those in need - including when that need arises from natural causes which we cannot eliminate - is warranted and desirable, and that a society which rejects that in principle is an unjust society. But I do have prudential problems with AA in particular in our present society, precisely because of how it makes everyone involved lose, treats everyone involved as less than adult, exacerbates racial tensions, and most of all encourages people to adopt the DZGD lie that goes along with advanced liberalism. I suppose that makes me a race realist like Sailer, but without the materialist baggage.

"That is an odd thing to assume for someone advocating racial discrimination as a good thing in the form of AA."

There is a negative form of racial discrimination that treats people unfairly, based on a dislike of their differences from "us."

There is another negative form of racial discrimination, that is based on a refusal to acknowledge the differences of the "other" from people like "us", so as to let them be what they are. This latter type of negative discrimination is the type regularly lampooned by Stephen Colbert.

Our task, then, is to recognize the real differences between groups, accept them for what they are, and try to conduct business in such a way that what people *are* does not count against them. If this means that we need to make sacrifices on behalf of some people, in order to supplement what they are, so as to allow them to have a dignified life, then so be it. Where they can achieve this on their own, we need only get out of their way and let them do it.

Our task, then, is to recognize the real differences between groups, accept them for what they are, and try to conduct business in such a way that what people *are* does not count against them.

Well, I don't think that works particularly well, though it depends on what you mean by "counts against them". It is one thing to provide charitable support and solidarity to our brothers when they are in need, and another thing to try to reconstruct reality to make it so that any negative or confining effects of differences (whether inherent, chosen, or both) are eliminated. But at least these things can be talked about coherently when we all acknowledge that there are inherent, unchosen, unchangeable differences between groups that matter and the effects of which we cannot eliminate or "normalize out" of reality.

Rodak, do you think this should be applied to, say, physics and women?

My own opinion is that there are probably about as many female physicists as can be reasonably expected, and probably _more_ than can be reasonably expected, given the effect of AA already. But is it our duty to try to make sure that half of all physicists are women? Suppose there are innate differences that make that unlikely based on aptitude and interest? Should we just change the discipline of physics--perhaps providing easier made-up new sub-disciplines that women feel more able to handle, or else just dumbing down our physics classes and professional publications--because somehow we _owe_ it, in justice, to women to make sure that half of all physicists are female? But why?

I cannot understand this ethical imperative to give every type of person a place in every profession, and to treat any innate differences as something the effects of which we must try to make invisible by professional gerrymandering. That sense of ethical drive is entirely beyond me. You can have a dignified life without being a physicist, or a mathematician, or...a lot of things.

"...when we all acknowledge that there are inherent, unchosen, unchangeable differences between groups that matter and the effects of which we cannot eliminate or "normalize out" of reality."

Fine. Inherent differences acknowledged. By what means do you propose that we should provide charitable support and solidarity to our brothers in need, if not through government programs?
Private charity never has been, and never will be, anywhere near sufficient to the task. And doing nothing results in crime, disease, and civil unrest. How do we best proceed from where we are now?

I think X is quite right [X, can't you come up with a handle we can pronounce all the way through?]

Yeah. I will use my first name, which is Kurt.

I think that AA permeates the myth that white racism remains a huge problem holding black people down. If you are white and say this, you are "racist", if you are black and say it, you're an "uncle tom". I find it interesting that such a racist country would have programs, in the form of SBA minority loans, minority scholarships, and AA, for the very people that the country apparently hates. Who are these elusive white racists?

I do not think it is good to have centralized planning that attempts to predict and generate certain outcomes. For example, does the NBA have a serious problem because it lacks white players? I don't think so and I do not think we need a government body sitting around deciding how many black, Asian, or white players should be in the NBA. The government should help people on an individual basis and it should determine success by how the program helps that individual.

"I cannot understand this ethical imperative to give every type of person a place in every profession..."

I don't advocate that. What I do advocate is that every type of person--yes, even women--be allowed the opportunity to try to become physicists, if that's what she wants to be. Given the current enrollment patterns in our colleges and universities, it will not be long before either most physicists are women, or there are very few physicists. Institutions are beginning to need to recruit male students using techniques once only used to recruit minorities. Imagine that.
In education, I don't believe in AA beyond the level of recruitment for undergraduate college studies. Once you're in college, you're on your own to the same extent as any other student, regardless of the path you were provided to get there. Post-graduate studies aimed at the completion of Master's or terminal degrees should not be based on anything other than undergraduate performance.
I don't know what to do about employment. I'm pretty sure that there is a lot of tokenism in hiring going on, whereby a man becomes the "house Negro", and I'm also pretty sure that there are qualified minority applicants who don't get the job, simply because they "don't fit in." I don't know how to rectify either of those things.

There is another negative form of racial discrimination, that is based on a refusal to acknowledge the differences of the "other" from people like "us", so as to let them be what they are. This latter type of negative discrimination is the type regularly lampooned by Stephen Colbert.

Wait, so someone like James Watson gets called a racist because he argues that blacks are less intelligent (meaning he acknowledges the differences of the other) and Stephen Colbert gets called a racist because he argues that blacks are just as intelligent as whites? I suppose blacks who refuse to acknowledge these differences are "uncle toms"? I also though white racism was the problem, not internal differences. This kind of sounds like racist if you do and racist if you don't.

Rodak:
By what means do you propose that we should provide charitable support and solidarity to our brothers in need, if not through government programs?

I'm not against alms and tithes from the King to the poor and the Church: indeed they are imperative, under a proper understanding. I'm against AA, and the very notion that everyone's opportunity to be anything at all that he chooses to be is some kind of moral imperative. If anything modern society lacks an understanding of the moral imperative to embrace one's particular vocation rather than railing against God and Man because of the tyranny of being born as onesself.

Kurt/X: well met.

What I do advocate is that every type of person--yes, even women--be allowed the opportunity to try to become physicists, if that's what she wants to be.

I don't. I don't for example see it as a moral imperative that paraplegics be allowed the opportunity to become astronauts, as if there were some fundamental injustice in the lack of that opportunity. If a society happens to have no women physicists at all that is not a moral black mark against it. Furthermore, I think the notion that there is some moral imperative here - that each person is a free and equal immanent superman who is fully human only when he has the opportunity to create himself according to reason and will into whatever he chooses - is an idea that has to be stamped out utterly. The idea of the ubermensch, the notion that impediments to self-creation according to one's reason and will are moral wrongs, needs to be driven into the outer darkness, locked out of reality, banished forever from all respectable civilized thought.

Anticipating that I am going to be called inconsistent for saying that I advocate AA only to the level of undergraduate admissions, when I advocated the program helping minority and/or disadvantaged students get into medical school, let me explain. The year-long program of graduate-level science programs was called simply "The Post-baccalaureate Program." There are several post-bac programs nationally--Columbia University runs a well-known one--that function in the same way as the one I described. The difference being that the program I described received federal funding, and the Columbia one and others like it (so far as I know) were paid for by the participants. I don't know if minority scholarships or grants are available. Similarly, there are many summer programs for aspiring pre-med students needed to enhance their skills/credentials that are not minority oriented. The summer program that I described basically just made the same kind of thing available to students who couldn't have afforded to buy their way in. The guaranteed admission after the post-bac program was a choice of the medical college, and the post-bac program is institutionally, not federally, funded.

Zippy--
So what are you going to do? If some female college freshman announces that she plans to major in physics does the undergraduate advisor tell her that physics is no vocation for a woman, and she should really consider nursing instead?
I don't understand. You can't become a physicist without dedicating about 8 years of your life to studying physics. There is no way for the government to wave a wand and "make" a woman into a physicist, based on her assertion that there aren't enough females in the profession. Neither can she demand to be admitted to a Ph.D. program in physics if she hasn't taken the prerequisite undergraduate and master's degree courses.
Is it your belief that numbers of women do all that simply based on their discovery that the field of physics lacks proportional representation by women? Somehow, I doubt it.

Damn! I misstated the situation again. I must be getting tired. The six-week program that allows one to gain admission to the Post-bac program is fully federally funded. The post-bac program provides its participants a full tuition waiver, so it is institutionally funded to that extent. Their living expenses are not covered, and they need to take out loans to cover those.

Kurt--
Stephen Colbert doesn't get called a racist. Stephen Colbert is calling others racist by satirizing their racist behavior on his show.
Watson got screwed, but he should have known better. As I said above, long ago, it isn't really necessary to tell every hurtful truth, just because it's there to tell.

I think the problem is with this whole "opportunity to do everything" idea. Entitlement to a college education in whatever field one wants to try, in fact. That doesn't seem correct to me. The adviser should advise the female student based on how she does in math courses, high school physics, and so forth. Just as with any student. And if she says, "Well, I didn't do too well in those courses because I felt oppressed as a woman" or some such balderdash, the adviser should, if he's doing his job, tell her, "Tough luck. Then you shouldn't go into physics. It's too late. You should have pulled up your socks in high school. As it is, I have no reason to think you'll do well." Instead of which her excuses would likely be accepted and she'd be given an "opportunity" to do it on the argument that she is _owed_ this. Which is false.

"And if she says, "Well, I didn't do too well in those courses because I felt oppressed as a woman" or some such balderdash, the adviser should, if he's doing his job, tell her, "Tough luck."

That scenario I agree with. I wonder, though, how often that kind of thing really happens? Most of the kids I've known come to college wanting to major in that which they found easiest, and were most successful at, in high school. A girl who felt that way in high school math and physics courses and showed up at college begging for more of the same abuse would be a strange chick, imo.

So what are you going to do?

About women becoming (or not becoming) physicists? Not a thing. What should the government do about women becoming or not becoming physicists? Again, not a thing.

"What should the government do about women becoming or not becoming physicists? Again, not a thing."

No argument there. Is the government denying contracts to corporations not employing female physicists, or denying grants to universities not educating or granting tenure to female physicists? Are there females with Ph.Ds in physics (or analogous fields) out there who can't get jobs because they're women? Is there really a problem here?

There is, by the way, negative pressure put on women in certain fields by their peers and their instructors. Departments of Surgery are notorious for making life hell for female med students who have a vocation to become surgeons--especially orthopedic surgeons. I know this for a fact. And I don't doubt that it goes on in other disciplines thought of as traditionally "male". Just because a woman says she's being given a hard time doesn't mean she's not. And just because she wants to go into a field dominated by men doesn't mean that her vocation is bogus.

There is, by the way, negative pressure put on women in certain fields by their peers and their instructors.

Sure. And vice versa. I spent several years in a "Mr. Mom" type role, and it is far more difficult for men than women. Men are in significant part cut off from the social circles and support network, etc that women share in that role. In general it is considered strange and awkward (though not impossible) - and should be considered strange and awkward - for a man to have a play-date with his kids and a neighbor woman with hers, the only two adults in his or her house. It isn't the kind of thing a man should do, as a rule, unless he has to do it.

I don't have any problem with some professions being traditionally male and some being traditionally female, and with people who buck the trend facing a more uphill battle than those who don't. That's life. We do what we must with the lot we are given, and the idea that society is oppressing us when that is the case is just balderdash. In general I think men should be the primary breadwinner, women the primary childcare, etc -- not that people should go to jail or something silly for bucking the traditional roles, but if it is more difficult that way then that is probably healthy. In general, again, these things matter, and it is unhealthy to pretend that they don't or act as if they shouldn't: as if we all should be self-created supermen rather than accepting and being grateful for what we are.

I did the Mr. Mom thing for about three years myself, when my daughters were 2 and 3 to 5 and 6 years old. I have to admit that I loved it. I didn't have to do it 24/7, however.
I tend to agree, however, that it would be better for kids if mothers could stay home and fathers earned the bread. In today's society, however, the facts on the ground are that most families need two incomes.

...2 and 3 to 5 and 6 years old.

Those are awesome ages.

I have to admit that I loved it.

Oh, just because I think it shouldn't be normative that doesn't mean I would trade my own experience for anything. I just don't see anything unfair about it being difficult for a man to spend his days toting around his kids and hanging out with gorgeous fertile young mothers.

I think there are administrators and other bureacratic types who do worry about any field that has way, way more men than women. They put pressure on depts. to "hire a woman." In math, one effect of this has been the burgeoning of the "math education" sub-field so that math departments can hire more women. And unfortunately, a lot of the publications in math education are either junk or so far below what ordinary mathematicians do in terms of difficulty that it really does end up being a second track just so they can have more women. In philosophy, it's been "feminist philosophy." Sometimes administrators will even try to ask the department to advertise _in_ one of these sub-fields, even if the department doesn't want that sub-field, in order to increase the odds of hiring a woman. I don't know if they've tried anything in physics, but you can bet your bottom dollar there are people out there strategizing on the subject and trying to find ways to get the departments to go along. Certainly there are people who go around lecturing on "why there aren't more women in the sciences" and selling the whole "Ophelia" myth about this. Dan Bonevac just had a post on his blog about pressuring engineering departments to have more women students in engineering.

I would say for all of these that we should just ditch all the, er, breast-beating about why there are so many more men than women in the field.

Oh, and in a non-academic area, the US Chess Federation wastes a lot of ink and whining on why so many more of the highest-rated players are male than female. And lots of strategizing about how to change this. My strong advice (as the mother of 2 avid chess-playing daughters): They should bag it.

I certainly don't deny that there are differences between men and women. That said, women who do have those anomalous vocations in traditionally male fields should obviously be given the proper respect for their abilities and be allowed to prosper therein like any other colleague.

For example, does the NBA have a serious problem because it lacks white players?

NBA most certainly have problem of not having enough of white superstars. Especially so as lately white superstars tend to come from outside of USA.

NBA would love to have Larry Bird back.
Currently NBA has an inner-city, gangsta culture, not very attractive to suburbian women with kids.

However, NBA teams are performance oriented, to promote whites at expense of wins is not acceptable.

But look at promotion chinese players are getting. Fairly mediocre players get promoted as major stars to bring for the first time chinese to the games.

Kurt/X: well met.

Thank you.

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