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While I was writing my new Taki’s Magazine column on Ferguson across Monday night and Tuesday morning, the sense was palpable that the dominant media had taken a humiliating double blow in a battle of their own choosing:

- The grand jury’s finding after months of careful research contradicted the Narrative promulgated in August and tenaciously held to ever since despite the piling up of evidence.

- The looting and arson by “protesters” in Ferguson was disgusting.

The first mainstream media pieces trying to snark about the events of Monday were deluged that night by critical commenters clearly better informed than the paid journalists.

But, as Stalin liked to say, quantity has a quality all its own. Since then, the MSM has doubled down about how you can’t believe your lying eyes. To tell others journalists what the party line should be, the NYT Editorial Board has editorialized:

The Meaning of the Ferguson Riots

Here’s the picture the NYT editorial board chose to illustrate their editorial:

Look what straight white men made them do!

The implications are that the Good People, the True Believers will be able to rise above what their lying eyes see in this photo and understand the gnostic truth:

The St. Louis County grand jury’s decision not to indict the white police officer who in August shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, would have generated widespread anger and disappointment in any case. But the county prosecutor, Robert McCulloch, who is widely viewed in the minority community as being in the pockets of the police, made matters infinitely worse by handling this sensitive investigation in the worst possible way.

First, he refused to step aside in favor of a special prosecutor who could have been appointed by Gov. Jay Nixon of Missouri. He further undermined public confidence by taking a highly unorthodox approach to the grand jury proceeding. Instead of conducting an investigation and then presenting the case and a recommendation of charges to the grand jury, his office shifted its job to the grand jury. It made no recommendation on whether to indict the officer, Darren Wilson, but left it to the jurors to wade through masses of evidence to determine whether there was probable cause to file charges against Officer Wilson for Mr. Brown’s killing.

I thought you were complaining that the Democratic prosecutor didn’t step aside altogether, and now you are complaining that he stepped aside partly.

Under ordinary circumstances, grand jury hearings can be concluded within days. The proceeding in this case lasted an astonishing three months.

A complete failure of the Rush to Judgment process!

… For the black community of Ferguson, the killing of Michael Brown was the last straw in a long train of abuses that they have suffered daily at the hands of the local police.

What percentage of the looters and arsonists are residents of Ferguson? Until America’s power elite decided to destroy what had been a modestly encouraging example of blacks and whites getting along together over the decades, the black residents of Ferguson were, on the whole, content with their government, as a long line of elections demonstrated. After all, they wouldn’t have moved to Ferguson, often from black ruled municipalities like East St. Louis, if the place was so intolerable. And if it was so bad once they were there, they would have bothered to vote.

But since the whole point of the exercise was to rile up black turnout for this month’s midterm elections, the national leadership set about destroying the property values of black and white homeowners in Ferguson.

News accounts have strongly suggested, for example, that the police in St. Louis County’s many municipalities systematically target poor and minority citizens for street and traffic stops — partly to generate fines — which has the effect of both bankrupting and criminalizing whole communities.

Speed traps as justification for riot and mayhem!

By the way, that reminds me that the city of Los Angeles has cranked up it parking ticket enforcement to bring in more revenue, which favors the kind of rich people who get valet parking or pay to park in private lots. Therefore, I should loot the Barnes & Noble’s coffeetable art book section.

In this context, the police are justifiably seen as an alien, occupying force that is synonymous with state-sponsored abuse.

The case resonated across the country — in New York City, Chicago and Oakland

Oakland — the moral leader of the world

When you own the Megaphone, the most important thing is to keep talking, no matter how temporarily depressed you might be by how you’ve managed to embarrass yourself yet again with your previous talk talk. It’s like in Vonegutt’s Harrison Bergeron: whatever you do, don’t stop yapping and let your victim have a chance to think for himself.


Here’s Razib Khan of the Unz Review writing on recent evolution in the New York Times:

Our Cats, Ourselves
By RAZIB KHAN NOV. 24, 2014

DAVIS, Calif. — IT’S commonplace to call our cats “pets.” But anyone sharing a cat’s household can tell you that, much as we might like to choose when they eat in the morning, or when they come inside for the night, cats are only partly domesticated.

The likely ancestors of the domestic dog date from more than 30,000 years ago. But domestic cats’ forebears join us in the skeletal record only about 9,500 years ago. This difference fits our intuition about their comparative degrees of domestication: Dogs want to be “man’s best friend”; cats, not so much.

Fossils are handy snapshots of the past, but a genomic sequence is a time machine, enabling scientists to run evolutionary history backward. The initial sequence of the domestic cat was completed in 2007, but a recent study to which I contributed compared the genomes of the domestic cat and the wildcat (Felis silvestris) and sheds new light on the last 10,000 years of feline adaptations.

Domestic cats are not just wildcats that tolerate humans in exchange for regular meals. They have smaller skulls in relation to their bodies compared with wildcats, and are known to congregate in colonies. But in comparison with dogs, cats have a narrower range of variation in size and form.

Wesley C. Warren, an author of the study, notes that domestic cats have excellent hunting skills, like their wild ancestors. This, too, supports the notion that cats are only semi-domesticated.

Comparing the genomes of the wildcat and the domestic cat added much to what we had known. Michael J. Montague, the lead author, told me he’d anticipated that the two genomes would be very similar, but our study found a specific set of differences in genes involved in neuron development. This brain adaptation may explain why domestic cats are docile.

Scientists have long observed that domesticated species exhibit a suite of strikingly similar traits, from floppy ears to smaller brains, than those of their wild ancestors. Domestication may select for a few similar traits encoded by genetic changes (like smaller brains), but these may produce what we assume are secondary effects (like floppy ears).

Once they were living among us, cats didn’t need to think so much to stay alive; nor did they need such large jaws after we started feeding them our processed scraps. Hence smaller skulls. The same dynamic holds for dogs: Wolves beat dogs in general intelligence tests.

By examining patterns in our animals’ genomes, we’ve confirmed that the same sets of genes seem to be targeted again and again in evolution. As far back as Charles Darwin, domestic animals in particular have yielded insights about evolution because we know what sorts of selection pressures they were subject to. After all, it was us they were primarily adapting to.

Which brings us to the genome of one critical tame animal: ourselves, humans. The Nobel Prize-winning zoologist Konrad Z. Lorenz once suggested that humans were subject to the same dynamics of domestication. Our brain and body sizes peaked during the end of the last ice age, and declined with the spread of agriculture. …

Razib Khan, a doctoral candidate in genomics at the University of California, Davis, writes about genetics, evolution, history, politics and philosophy.

Read the whole thing there.

A couple of general questions I’ve always had about cats and dogs are:

– Why do felines strike us as more feminine than canines?

– Why do we feel house cats have some kind of aesthetic sense, for example, in terms of how they position themselves in a room? In contrast, nobody ever senses that dogs have the equivalent aesthetic eye for where they’re going to flop out and take a nap.

Then the next question would be: are these just random connections to masculinity for dogs and femininity for cats or were sex hormones and receptors selected in particular?


My new Taki’s Magazine column on Ferguson is up.


With much of the national establishment urging on a small fraction of blacks to behave badly in Ferguson, it’s worth remembering the kind of thing that blips once on the news and then is forgotten, like this CNN story from last year about a perv abducting a little girl named Jocelyn:

Temar Boggs, 15, and his friend took off on their bicycles to search. About a half-mile away, they spotted Jocelyn in a sedan. But the driver was elusive.

“Every time we’d go down the street, he’d turn back around, and then … we’ll follow him,” Temar told CNN affiliate WGAL.

The two teens chased the alleged kidnapper on their bikes for 15 heart-pounding minutes. The driver apparently knew he was being followed and gave up.

“He stopped at the end of the hill and let her out, and she ran to me and said that she needed her mom,” Temar said.


Playing quarterback in the NFL is the top job in American sports, so a lot of effort in recent years has been put into quantifying performances. Pretty much just yards per pass attempt (YPA) distinguishes the wheat from the chaff, but the NFL has had a synthetic system for decades using YPA, completion percentage, touchdowns, and interceptions.

In 2011 ESPN introduced QBR, a proprietary system where they go back through game video and grade each play and add it all up in a black box formula. For example, for the last decade, Peyton Manning seldom gets sacked so he’s even better than his passing numbers suggest. On the other hand, he can’t run, so that has to be taken into account, too. (Here’s an article explaining QBR.)

For example, everybody who watches a lot of football (i.e., not me has been saying Andrew Luck of Stanford is a top tier quarterback almost since he entered the NFL). But his traditional passing statistics weren’t that great until this season, his third. It turns out, though, that he lost quite a few yards off his passing totals in his first couple of seasons due to pass interference penalties (e.g., to prevent a touchdown the defender tackles the receiver before the pass arrives). This year his traditional passing numbers look excellent, but he’s fumbling more and getting fewer pass interference calls, so his overall performance is about the same as last year.

I haven’t checked into this, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this more sophisticated statistic just smooths out year-to-year variation. The top ten guys so far this year in QBR are Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Tony Romo, Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck, Joe Flacco, and Eli Manning, names you’ve probably are familiar with.

Football may rank with soccer as a “You can observe a lot just by watching” sport, where statisticians are still trying less to uncover new knowledge than to catch up with what coaches know just from watching a lot of videotape.

Back in 2003 Rush Limbaugh got fired from being a color commentator on a network pregame show for pointing out that the media had been pushing hard for more black quarterbacks for decades. So Rush got fired because everybody knows that the only reasons blacks don’t make up 75% of NFL starting quarterbacks is discrimination, the legacy of slavery, the white male gaze projecting stereotypes upon black bodies, and all that.

So I like to check in periodically on how black quarterbacks are doing. This QBR rating counts their running contributions, so it’s the best measure yet.

Here are black QBs (treating Colin Kaepernick as black) who ranked in the top 20 for each year as far back as QBR has been calculated. I counted the top 20 in a 32 team league since it’s pretty safe to assume that if you rank in the top 20 you deserve to start, whereas if you are, say, 29th, then there’s probably a benchwarmer another team that deserves your job.

2014: 2 (Russell Wilson 14, Colin Kaepernick 16)

2013: 3 (Colin Kaepernick 6, Russell Wilson 12, Cam Newton 13)

2012: 4 (Robert Griffin 5, Russell Wilson 6, Cam Newton 14, Josh Freeman 15)

2011: 2 (Michael Vick 7, Cam Newton 15)

2010: 3 (Michael Vick 5, Josh Freeman 6, David Garrard 13)

2009: 3 (Vince Young 7, Donovan McNabb 13, David Garrard 19)

2008: 3 (David Garrard 16, Jason Campbell 17, Donovan McNabb 18)

2007: 4 (David Garrard 3, Jason Campbell 15, Donovan McNabb 16, Tarvaris Jackson 19)

2006: 4 (Steve McNair 6, Donovan McNabb 7, Vince Young 11, Michael Vick 15)

So, there’s no particular trend going on. There was a time in the past when there were few black quarterbacks, but that was a long time ago. In Los Angeles, it was a really long time ago. USC had a black quarterback in 1969 and the Rams dumped the 1972 NFL MVP John Hadl in mid-season 1973 for James Harris.

This recent data reflect the general pattern that in a lot of areas where there was past discrimination, we seem to have reached a stable state some time ago.

This won’t necessarily stay stable. There is a lot of innovation in football trying to get an edge. For example, a half decade ago Jim Harbaugh revamped Stanford’s game plans to emphasize what white football players were good at, with some impressive success, although Stanford may be running into diminishing returns this year (they’re 6-5).

A lot more people have been trying to come up with ways to give fast black running quarterbacks a long term competitive advantage in the NFL and one of them might make a breakthrough at some point.


From the Washington Post:

Fact Checker

Giuliani’s claim that 93 percent of blacks are killed by other blacks

By Michelle Ye Hee Lee November 25 at 6:00 AM

“Ninety-three percent of blacks in America are killed by other blacks. We’re talking about the exception here.”

— Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Nov. 23, 2014

Giuliani faced major backlash by critics for his comments during a “Meet the Press” segment on the anticipated grand jury decision on whether to indict officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. Giuliani’s comment sparked a heated exchange with Georgetown Professor and MSNBC contributor Michael Eric Dyson over policing and crime in black communities.

… After noting how he diversified the New York City police force, Giuliani said it was very disappointing that “we are not discussing the fact that 93 percent of blacks are killed by other blacks.” The implication was that the so-called black-on-black crime was far more common than white-on-black crime, so the attention should be paid on the former.

The implication is correct.

It quickly became personal. Giuliani and Dyson talked over each other for most of the 2-minute banter. Eventually, Giuliani uttered the line that went viral almost immediately (“White police officers wouldn’t be there if you weren’t killing each other.”) and Dyson fired back at the “defensive mechanism of white supremacy at work in your mind, sir.” (That comment also was picked up widely by Dyson’s critics.)

Is it correct that 93 percent of black homicides are committed by black offenders? And is homicide by police, like in Ferguson, truly in the minority among black victims?

… Giuliani responded by citing a statistic from a 2010 Bureau of Justice Statistics report which did, indeed, conclude that 93 percent of black homicide victims from 1980 through 2008 were killed by black offenders.

I’ve written about this report a million times. Good for Giuliani for citing it.

The statement implied that intraracial violence in black communities is uniquely bad. Giuliani later repeated this statistic in a FOX News interview.

The statement lacks significant context.

As our colleague Philip Bump at The Fix noted, Giuliani omitted the comparable statistic in the report for white homicide victims: 84 percent of white victims were killed by white offenders.

And that’s relevant because …

The TV discussion wasn’t about blacks killing whites, it was about whites killing blacks.

The only way this statistic could be relevant is if the Washington Post is saying, “Let’s be honest, everybody knows that blacks kill more whites than whites kill blacks and obviously that’s the real subject of any discussion of blacks being killed, so you must always mention this 84% figure even though nobody is talking about blacks killing whites because everybody is really thinking about blacks killing whites.”

It’s hard to read people’s minds, but that sure isn’t what the discussion was about. Everybody in the press has been talking about black being gunned down and implying that it’s being done by whites. Remember when Michelle Obama told 60 Minutes: “… as a black man, you know, Barack can get shot going to the gas station …” as if KKK snipers were cruising past the South Kenwood Amoco.

Statements like Giuliani’s perpetuate stereotypes that criminalize black people, [Dyson] said.

I think black people criminalize black people.

… The Pinocchio Test

Giuliani’s statistic is rooted in Department of Justice studies. But it lacks significant context — especially because race relations and police treatment of minorities are complex and emotionally-charged topics. We also found it difficult to support Giuliani’s personal estimation of the rarity of deadly force by white police officers on black victims, but were limited by the unreliable data on homicides by police.

Ultimately, it is misleading for Giuliani to simplify this topic to the 93 percent statistic and then omit the corresponding statistic for intraracial white murders.

Two Pinocchios

In other words, hey, look, a squirrel!

Sorry, but the actual “needed context” is that, according to that Obama Administration report, black are almost eight times more likely to commit homicide than whites are, and over six times more likely to be the victim of a homicide. (If you want more context, the actual black-white ratio is even higher because this is one of the few federal reports that lumps a lot of Hispanics in with whites.)


This video from CNN … ouch.


From the NYT:

Grand Jury Does Not Charge Ferguson Officer in Michael Brown Shooting

As far back as August 15, it appeared likely that there was nothing cold-blooded and/or racist about the shooting. The Democrats should have dropped Ferguson at that point from their Ferguson, Feminism, and Foreigners 2014 campaign, but they were addicted.


From the NYT:

Workers in Silicon Valley Weigh In on Obama’s Immigration Order

Well, not all workers in Silicon Valley were asked to weigh in by Mr. Goel. Specifically, the opinions of American workers in Silicon Valley were not solicited.


From the Washington Post:

How the Kardashians exploit racial bias for profit

By Sally Kohn November 18
Sally Kohn is an essayist and a CNN political commentator.

As you surely know, last week Kim Kardashian posed — naked — on the pages of Paper Magazine. The stated goal? #BreakTheInternet.

Most cultural critics rolled their eyes and cried stunt. But the Kardashians aren’t just trashy. They’re dangerous—actively exploiting and reinforcing racial and gender biases that bite us in the ass.

Kim Kardashian’s picture is an almost exact replica of a 1976 portrait, also shot by photographer Jean-Paul Goude. The original version features Carolina Beaumont, who is black. The portrait was published in Goude’s book called, ahem, “Jungle Fever.”

Both images harken back to even more offensive representations of black women, particularly of Saartjie Baartman — the “Hottentot Venus” — a black woman with a large rear end who was violently exploited as a sexual object in a traveling “freak show” during the slave trade era.

For centuries since (and likely before) black women and their bodies have been smeared by stereotypes of hyper-sexuality simultaneously displayed and denigrated, their individuality and self-determination suppressed by the whims of the white male gaze. Goude, a white man, embodies this exploitative obsession. “Blacks are the premise of my work,” he said in 1979. “I have jungle fever.”

As Yomi Adegoke wrote in the Guardian in September, non-black women have a history of appropriating black women’s bodies and culture.

Other topics touched upon include Ferguson and the KKK.

* Correction: This article has been amended because it’s unclear whether Kardashian identifies as a woman of color.

I have no idea what that means.

Did Ms. Kohn say Ms. Kardashian was a woman of color and then have to retract it? Or vice-versa?

Does it matter? Presumably it’s embarrassing to Ms. Kohn to get a premise of her argument factually wrong, but it seems unfair to focus on that because no doubt she would have written virtually the same article no matter what the facts.

It would be fun to sponsor a computer program that would generate this kind of feminist prose at random. Just ask a woman to list a few people she hates, and, voila, 800 words of Washington Post-quality clickbait! The only difficulty would be in convincing your Gender Oppressive White Alpha Male Brogrammer, Wally, to leave out all the code that he would automatically want to put in to check for logical consistency.

As for Kim Kardashian, her mother Kris Houghton Kardashian Jenner is of pretty standard American ancestry: English, Scottish, French, German and Dutch. Her late father Robert Kardashian, the lawyer from whose house O.J. Simpson set off on his White Bronco ride toward the Mexican border, is usually said to be of Armenian descent.

As I’ve mentioned before, the notion that Armenians are not white appears to be growing in the 21st Century as part of the Flight from White. In contrast, back when Republican George Deukmejian edged Democrat Tom Bradley in the 1982 California gubernatorial election, it was always seen as White Guy Beats Black Guy.

After looking into it, Robert Kardashian’s ancestors appear to be less indigenous Armenians than members of a dissenting Russian sect called the Molokans who were exiled to the Caucasus. Wikipedia explains:

Molokans (Russian: молокане for “milk-drinkers”) are members of a Christian sect that evolved from “Spiritual Christian” Russian peasants who refused to obey the Russian Orthodox Church. Molokan practice was first sanctioned by the Nestorian Church in the 11th century in order to accommodate the conversion of some 200,000 Kerait Tatars, who lived on meat and milk, to Nestorian Christianity. …

It’s unclear from what little I’ve read whether modern Molokans are direct descendants of these Tatars who were found at various times over thousands of miles of Eastern Europe and Western Asia or whether they later emerged among random Russians in a sort of Orthodox equivalent of the Protestant reformation. (Update: To add to the uncertainty, a commenter says the Kardashians in Armenia were Armenians who converted to Molokanism after the Russian Molokans arrived.)

During the early 20th century under his fellowship, about 2,000 Molokans (mostly of the Jumpers and Leapers Sect) left for the United States and settled in the Los Angeles area near the area of Boyle Heights, and some other parts of the West Coast and Canada. …

Some Molokans adhere to the Old Testament kosher dietary laws and do not eat pork, shellfish, or other “unclean” foods. Some refuse to serve on juries or file lawsuits against fellow church members. Church services are conducted predominantly in the Russian language, men and women sit apart, and services are usually quite active – comparable to Pentecostal activities. Molokan families encourage endogamy.

Not really working in this case.

In any case, Ms. Kardashian ought to be honored as an exemplar of the reigning social constructionism ideology, since she seems to be constructed mostly of Silicone and PhotoShop.

From the San Jose Mercury-News last August, we hear of a potential fitting ending for the Kim Kardashian Saga, which began that day in 1994 when O.J Simpson set out from the Kardashian house for the Mexican border:

O.J. Simpson is obsessed with Kim Kardashian, according to Radar Online. …

A prison insider reportedly told the website that the former NFL star — who is serving a 33-year sentence at Lovelock Correctional Center in Lovelock, Nevada, for a 2008 robbery and kidnapping conviction — plastered pictures of Kardashian all over his cell.

“He has several sexy pictures of Kim hanging up in his prison cell from her 2007 Playboy shoot and he isn’t shy about showing her picture to fellow inmates,” the insider supposedly said. …

Radar says Simpson, 67, somehow thinks he can hook up with Kardashian, 33, when he gets out of the slammer, which won’t happen until 2017 at the earliest.

Perfectly sensible. What rich and famous, 30-something mother married to a gaziilonaire celebrity wouldn’t jump at the chance to hook up with a 70-year-old ex-con accused of killing his ex-wife and another guy and rumored to be her sister’s biological father? Seems like a no-brainer.

Radar reports that Simpson told a friend, “She likes black ball players, I am a Hall of Famer — and I still have my Heisman award,” — apparently a dig at Kardashian’s former boyfriend Reggie Bush, who gave back his college football Heisman Trophy after it came out he broke some NCAA rules while at USC (the same school for which Simpson starred).

I’ve always been under the impression that it was Simpson’s ex-wife Nicole’s affair with fellow USC Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Allen that was behind the Juice’s decapitation spree. Not much solidarity among USC Heisman winning running backs, is there?

Simpson also is supposedly not deterred by Kardashain being married to Kanye West, reportedly saying, “As long as I am in prison, I can’t be with her, so Kanye can have her for now. But when I get out, she’s mine.”

… Radar points out Simpson and his ex-wife were friends with Kardashians’ parents, Kris Jenner and Robert Kardashian, even vacationing with them several times in the late 80s early 90s.

“O.J. said he always thought she was a cute girl when she was younger,” the source said, “but it has only been since he’s been in prison his infatuation with her has grown to a full-blown obsession. He reads every magazine he can about her, and when she is on TV, he demands silence from his fellow inmates so he can watch without interruption.

Have Key & Peele done this sketch yet?

He’s even tried to get in contact with her, but so far she hasn’t responded to him.”

I can’t imagine anybody I’d rather see Kim Kardashian and O.J. Simpson wind up with than each other. This has to happen. It would be so fitting.

It would be … Closure.



Watch it here, or on your TV at 11:30 pm if you are in Pacific or Mountain time zones.

Here’s the original that’s being parodied:

From 1975.


Because I could afford to lose a few pounds (and it’s not even Thanksgiving yet), commenter NOTA’s observations hit home:

The [Robin] Hanson article was very obviously carrying out a philosophical thought experiment to try to clarify why we have such a visceral reaction to a particular crime.

For [Noah] Smith to try to smear him as a sexist based on that demonstrates something really ugly about Smith. Would his contention be that nobody must ever engage in philosophical speculations that upset people? Someone tell all the philosophers who talk about pushing fat guys in front of trolleys!

Here’s my Taki’s piece from last year on a series of studies in which liberals were more enthusiastic on average about murdering white fat men than black fat men to stop runaway trolleys, while conservatives were nonracist in their responses to the thought experiment.

Worse, I think Steve’s right that Smith was trying to whip up a twitter mob (much less nasty than a real one, but still enough to fill your email with hate and occasional death threats). Three hundred years ago, Smith would be the guy saying “Y’know that friendless old widow with all the cats? I heard she was a witch….” in hopes of stirring up a little lynching or witch trial action.

This sort of thing works mainly because people react to it based on whose team is being attacked and who is doing the attacking. Smith can count on the support of a lot of otherwise decent people who dislike sexism and don’t much like weird libertarian economists, in the unlikely event he triggers some kind of twitterstorm that makes Hanson’s life really lousy for a month or two.

I expect in a few years, this particular mania will pass. People will remember twitter storms and social media warriors and kind-of scratch their heads at how weird it was that thousands od people would start sending hateful messages to strangers, often based on something they hadn’t even bothered watching or reading, because it felt so good to be part of a big surge of righteous indignation about their favorite social justice cause. (And like participation in mob violence, the best part is that it’s all but risk free–the friendless victim usually has fe defenders and can’t fight back, so you can abuse someone with little risk that it will ever come back on you.)

And here’s Noah Millman from last year engaging thoughtfully with my observation that fat guys are, you know, relatively hard to push to their deaths.


In Bloomberg View, econ blogger Noah Smith writes:

Economics Is a Dismal Science for Women
Noah Smith
19 NOV 21, 2014 3:06 PM EST
By Noah Smith

British physicist Matt Taylor, who was involved with the Rosetta comet landing, recently found himself in the middle of a controversy about sexism and bad taste, after he was interviewed wearing a tacky shirt featuring pin-up girls toting guns. In true Internet fashion, the incident was labeled ShirtStorm, and it sparked a debate about sexism in the sciences. Taylor has since apologized, issued a series of mea culpas, and showed as much contrition as one person could for a sartorial offense. Some of his female colleagues even came to his defense.

But all of this raises a question: Why is it that the sciences look like a feminist nirvana compared with the economics profession, which seems to have a built-in bias that prevents women from advancing?

Consider this 2011 blog post by George Mason University economist Robin Hanson. Hanson writes that “gentle, silent rape” of a woman by a man causes less harm than a wife cuckolding her husband:

I [am puzzled] over why our law punishes rape far more than cuckoldry…[M]ost men would rather be raped than cuckolded…Imagine a woman was drugged into unconsciousness and then gently raped, so that she suffered no noticeable physical harm nor any memory of the event, and the rapist tried to keep the event secret…Now compare the two cases, cuckoldry and gentle silent rape.

There was no outcry whatsoever over these remarks, nor any retraction that I could find.

Noah Smith shouldn’t try to sic the Social Media Justice Warrior mob on poor Robin Hanson. Professor Hanson is a very nice, very innocent, very eccentric man who tries to come up with counterintuitive thought experiments (most of which aren’t very useful thoughts, but he means well). The most publicity he probably ever had was a 2010 New York Times article interviewing him and his wife, a nurse, about how he wants to have his head frozen when he dies, and how she thinks that’s ridiculous:

Until Cryonics Do Us Part


Published: July 7, 2010

… The provenance of this disagreement remains somewhat hazy, as neither Peggy nor her husband, Robin Hanson, can remember quite when he first announced his intention to have his brain surgically removed from his freshly vacated cadaver and preserved in liquid nitrogen. It would have been decades ago, before the two were married and before the births of their two teenage sons. With the benefit of hindsight, Robin, who is 50 and an associate professor of economics at George Mason University, will acknowledge that he should have foreseen at least some initial discomfort on the part of his girlfriend, whom he met when they were both graduate students at the University of Chicago. “I was surprised by her response,” he recalls, “but that’s because I am a nerd and not good at predicting these things.”

“Robin is the kind of nerd who is very excited about the future, an orientation evident on his C.V., which lists published articles like “Economic Growth Given Machine Intelligence” (on why robots will give us growth rates “an order of magnitude” higher than we’ve currently got), “Burning the Cosmic Commons: Evolutionary Strategies of Interstellar Colonization” (on what behaviors we can expect from extraterrestrials) and “Drift-Diffusion in Mangled Worlds Quantum Mechanics” (it’s very complicated). His enthusiasm is evident in the way he talks about these ideas, hands in the air, laughing amiably every time he brings up the distance between his own theories and those of the mainstream. If he is in a chair, the chair is moving with him.

“I’m just really terribly curious,” Robin told me in January over Skype.”

Trying to send The Mob after Hanson is pretty weaselly of Smith. Fortunately, this stuff is awfully random.

It’s striking how it’s turning into Open Season on Aspergery nerds. Various Dilberts are being targeted as the Gender Enemy Oppressing Four Billion Women. Why? Because they are socially maladroit. In reality, Robin Hanson couldn’t oppress Bambi.


From Commenter ABN:

A couple of points:

1. Amnesty in exchange for having anchor babies is simply the reductio ad absurdum of an idea that conservatives have stupidly gone along with–the idea that children should be viewed as morally independent from their parents, and from the actions of their parents. Any Neanderthal could have told you that children exist by, for, and of the parents and tribes whence they come. But as Steve says, what goes unsaid eventually goes unthought, so now the Respectable Right lacks even the language to articulate the fact that America is being demographically cuckolded.

Do we even have the language anymore to articulate the concept of being personally cuckolded? Is the word “cuckold” even in current circulation?

Come to think of it, the leadership of the Respectable Right has lost the ability to express anything that isn’t Whiggish, universalist liberalism.

Here’s a question: in John Milius’s 1984 Red Dawn, you’re watching a low to mid budget teen action fantasy with Charlie Sheen, and it’s pretty okay. But then Patrick Swayze says one four-word line — if you’ve seen the movie, you know what it is — and suddenly you realize you’ve just watched one of the great scenes in movie history. Okay, in the 2012 remake, is that line in movie? I haven’t seen the new movie, but I just watched the trailer and it’s not in that. Nor is it on the memorable quotes page on IMDB. Are they keeping it under wraps to not spoil it? Or did they not use it in the 2012 movie for being insufficiently Proposition Nationy?

2. At what point do Americans get to stop pretending that US citizenship is the same thing as membership in the nation?

I’m trying to think of an analogy for what citizenship is turning into in the conventional wisdom. Qualifying for an American Express card?

Okay, here’s the closest analogy I can come up with for how respectable opinion thinks about illegal immigration: in Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino are watching Pretty Woman and making fun of the scene where Julia Roberts isn’t allowed to buy clothes at a snooty Rodeo Drive shop because she’s a streetwalker.

Lisa Kudrow: You know, even though we’ve watched Pretty Woman like thirty-six times, I never get tired of making fun of it.

Mira Sorvino: Aw, look, poor thing – they won’t let her shop. Yeah – like those salesgirls in Beverly Hills aren’t bigger whores than she is.

Kudrow: Oh my God, listen to that sad, sad music as she leaves. Like, boo-hoo! … But [a tear wells in her eye] … it is actually kind of sad.

But when the movie gets to the happy ending back at the same boutique, Lisa Kudrow dissolves into happy tears. She explains:

Kudrow: [Sob] I just get really happy when they finally let her shop.


Missouri has a white Democratic governor, Jay Nixon. But the national Democrats’ decision to pound the Ferguson drum so hard after The Narrative crashed and burned on August 15th may mean that the days of white Democrats in Missouri are dwindling. From the Kansas City Star:

Steve Kraske: Will Ferguson leave lasting scars on the Missouri Democratic Party?
11/21/2014 4:05 PM 11/21/2014 4:36 PM

… “Democrats … are concerned about losing the support of African-American voters in relatively important numbers for a relatively long period of time,” said Dave Robertson, a political scientist at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Here in western Missouri, we get that Ferguson is a big deal. What we may not fully grasp is just how all-encompassing this controversy is in the St. Louis area, which happens to be the most valuable Democratic Party turf in the state.

The fear, most specifically, is what happens if more violence erupts in such a way as to leave lasting scars in that part of the state. Will Democrats, and African-Americans specifically, take a look at Nixon and his party, who rule much of the St. Louis area, and question their continued allegiance?

Subtract just a portion of Democratic support from St. Louis County, home to Ferguson and the greatest number of Democratic votes in the state, and the party’s ability to win statewide starts sinking.

Democratic leaders are consumed with all things Ferguson, even as critics continue to ride Nixon for what they describe as a slow, dithering response that hasn’t connected with residents there.

This week, for instance, Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill told reporters that she had a “full and complete discussion” about Ferguson with President Barack Obama.

There wasn’t a Senate or Governor election in Missouri in 2014, but the House delegation elected is six Republicans and two Democrats (blacks St. Louis and Kansas City). From St. Louis Public Radio:

Missouri Democrats took a beating on Tuesday in contests for the Missouri General Assembly, losing even more ground in the Missouri House and Senate — including a hotly-contested race for a vacant Jefferson County Senate seat. …

Going into the election, the Republicans already controlled the state legislature. Now they have strengthened that dominance. When the 34-member state Senate reconvenes in 2015, it now will have 25 Republican members — two more than needed to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto. In the 163-member House, the Republican majority will be adding seven members for a total of 117.

The columnist implies that the big danger to the Democrats in Missouri is blacks angry at whites staying home. It’s considered in bad taste to mention this, but isn’t a bigger danger white Democrats flipping to vote Republican over the Democrats egging on the mob in Ferguson? Each worried white who flips costs the Democrats twice what an angry black staying home costs the Democrats.


So it’s likely that the tattooed rocket scientist in England with the cheesecake shirt who has been denounced all over the world as a one-man army barricading women from STEM careers was using his television time to promote his friends’ small businesses. Harry Baldwin explains:

Elly Prizeman, who made the shirt, makes her living doing laser tattoo removal. Her husband did Taylor’s tattoos.

Also, I’m guessing Shirtstorm Guy’s inspiration was President Obama’s favorite, Mohawk Guy:

[Bobak] Ferdowsi became a media “sensation”, or “meme”,[8] when during the August 6, 2012, landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars, he wore an unusual mohawk hairstyle that was seen on NASA TV’s live broadcast of the event. He was seated in a prominent camera position and his mohawk unexpectedly became an iconic image of the landing.[9][10][11][12] Ferdowsi explained that he wore a new haircut for every mission and the mohawk was chosen by his team by popular vote.[13]

When President Barack Obama called to congratulate the team, he noted the popularity of the “Mohawk Guy,” saying “it does seem NASA has come a long way from the white shirts, dark-rimmed glasses, and pocket protectors. You guys are a little cooler than you used to be.”[14]

Uncool dorks who put Man on the moon 45 years ago

Ferdowsi said in another interview that he did it to help lighten the seriousness of the workplace and “If my mohawk gets a few more people excited about science and this mission, that’s awesome.”[6]

Ferdowsi took part in the Second inauguration of Barack Obama (January 2013) marching in the parade alongside replicas of Curiosity and the Orion spacecraft, along with other NASA scientists, as part of the agency’s official Presidential Inaugural Weekend.[15] Ferdowsi also took part in Obama’s State of the Union address on February 12, 2013, where he was seated in First Lady Michelle Obama’s box “to highlight President Barack Obama’s call for more visas for skilled immigrants in the fields of math, science and engineering.”[16]

Commenter Muhry says:

mohawk guy should consider himself lucky that native americans are either less influential or less sensitive (no doubt more the former), after all he appropriated indian culture.

i’m guessing he won’t be wearing an afro for his team’s next mission.

Social media, avant la lettre

You know how in about every other Simpsons’ episode, there’s a scene where the good citizens of Springfield assemble to hear reasoned discussion, but then some random thing somebody says suddenly catalyzes them into an insane mob demanding a billion-dollar monorail or whatever?

I always thought it would be kind of fun to live in a world like that, where random crowd dynamics could ricochet into nonsensical swings in mood and decision-making.

But of course, I reflected, we didn’t live in that world, because we hardly ever got together anymore and listen to speeches. It wasn’t like it was 1858 and going to listen to five hours of political speechmaking was the hottest ticket in Central Illinois.

But now, thanks to social media, we’re all living in that world. Mohawk Guy is the coolest dude ever, Shirtstorm Guy is the New Hitler. It’s all random.

And, it turns out, our new Random Mob Hysteria World is more of a drag than it looked like on The Simpsons.


As we saw in this month’s election, obscure Republican backbenchers in the House snatched victory from the jaws of defeat by not letting John Boehner call for a vote on the Senate amnesty / guest worker bill pushed by GOP establishment elites like McCain, Graham, Rubio, Rove, Jeb Bush, etc. Contrary to all the conventional wisdom about how this base recalcitrance was political suicide for the Republican Party, it turned out to be 180 degrees the opposite. In reality, you don’t win elections by letting your political enemies have their way with you.

The death wish remains strong among Republican stars, however, so the odds were that if they ever got the White House back, they’d push through exactly what the Democrats want, just with even more Qatar-style guest workers/indentured servants.

But Harry Baldwin comments:

The president talked about how the house should have passed the “bipartisan Senate plan,” but the reason the Republicans didn’t do so is that their base HATE, HATE, HATES it. There is no version of immigration reform that addresses the issues that need addressing–end of birthright citizenship, end of chain migration, radical reform of refugee status, drastic reduction of legal immigration, strongly enforced employer sanctions, and deportation (self-deportation is fine) for those here illegally. Since none of those things would be included in any conceivable Republican bill, I believe Obama did the GOP a big favor by taking executive action. By taking the onus for this unpopular legislation on himself, he saved them from shooting themselves in the foot.

Obama has now made it much harder for future Republican insiders to stab their base in the back over immigration by equating immigration with Obamaism.


Screenshot 2014-11-21 06.22.38

This graph is from p. 26 of the Public Policy Institute of California’s 2002 book, Understanding the Future of Californians’ Fertility: The Role of Immigrants by PPIC demographers Laura E. Hill and Hans P. Johnson. They calculated the Total Fertility Rates (babies per woman per lifetime) by ethnicity in California from 1982 onward, demonstrating the huge pig-in-a-python bulge among foreign-born Hispanics that followed the 1986 amnesty legislation. This had a massive impact on California’s public schools, first overcrowding them, then leading to a colossally expensive school construction program (e.g., the $578,000,000 Robert Kennedy Schools building on Wilshire Blvd.). Hill and Johnson write on pp. 27-28:

Between 1987 and 1991, total fertility rates for foreign-born Hispanics increased from 3.2 to 4.4.

And the demographers go on to explain how the amnesty caused this:

“Between 1987 and 1991, total fertility rates for foreign-born Hispanics [in California] increased from 3.2 to 4.4 [expected babies per woman over her lifetime]. This dramatic rise was the primary force behind the overall increase in the state`s total fertility rate during this period. Were it not for the large increase in fertility among Hispanic immigrants, fertility rates in California would have increased very little between 1987 and 1991.

“Why did total fertility rates increase so dramatically for Hispanic immigrants? First, the composition of the Hispanic immigrant population in California changed as a result of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986. In California alone, 1.6 million unauthorized immigrants applied for amnesty (legal immigrant status) under this act. The vast majority were young men, and many were agricultural workers who settled permanently in the United States. Previous research indicates that many of those granted amnesty were joined later by spouses and relatives in the United States… As a result, many young adult Hispanic women came to California during the late 1980s. We also know that unauthorized immigrants tend to have less education than other immigrants and that they are more likely to come from rural areas. Both characteristics are associated with high levels of fertility. As a result, changes in the composition of the Hispanic immigration population probably increased fertility rates.

“Another possible reason for the sudden increase in fertility rates for Hispanic immigrants is also related to IRCA. Because many of those granted amnesty and their spouses had been apart for some time, their reunion in California prompted a “catch-up” effect in the timing of births…”

I’ve been pointing out this piece of history repetitiously since 2002. But it’s never ever caught on. It’s just too alien to the reigning pieties to even think about the subject.

I should be a consultant to some New Media firm in San Francisco, their infallible expert on what won’t go viral. They would just show me memes that they are considering promoting. Any idea I find interesting would immediately be deleted as hopeless.


How is officially rewarding illegal alien parents for having produced anchor babies going to discourage the production of future anchor babies?


At The Federalist, Robert Tracinski writes:

Tattoos? What tattoos?

So a team of scientists landed a space probe on the surface of a comet for the very first time ever, and that’s not really news. What’s news is that one of the guys who did it was wearing a tacky shirt.

No, really. … Since the shirt in question had cartoon images of scantily clad women, you see, it was deemed off-putting toward women in science.

Let’s stipulate that scientists and engineers have a tendency to not be able to dress themselves in a way that is fit to be seen in public. That’s why, back in the day, the guys at mission control used to wear a pretty basic uniform of white dress shirt and skinny black tie. It didn’t make them look suave or hip. All it did was make them look like the kind of guys who could calculate interplanetary trajectories with nothing but a slide rule. Which, ultimately, is way cooler.

The irony here is that the wearer of the offending shirt, astrophysicist Matt Taylor, seems to be some hybrid of geek and hipster. Note all the earmarks: the beard, the big glasses, the “sleeve” tattoos on his arms, and the retro “kitsch” of an obnoxiously colored, comic-book-themed bowling shirt.

I’ve noticed that a lot of the pictures of this guy carefully crop out his forearms, which are covered with tattoos down to his wrists. In other words, this rocket scientist has low class trashy taste. But you are supposed to pretend that his stupid tattoos are “transgressive,” while his stupid shirt is “oppressive.” But what if he had cheesecake tattoos? (See #3 below.)

So he was trying to be stylish after a fashion—and it is, in fact, the current fashion—and he still got into trouble.

In one respect this is all a tempest in a teacup. Who cares what shirt the guy was wearing while he landed a spacecraft on a comet? But our culture does care, and it made him care, reducing him to a tearful televised apology. That’s what makes this a cultural turning point.

There are three big lesson we can learn from #ShirtStorm about the brave new world of feminist grievance-mongering that we have just landed on.

1) They’re not just going after the frat boys. …

2) The new orthodoxy is total. …

3) There are no logically consistent rules. …

It like when you first get off the bus at Marine Corps boot camp and extremely angry people start shouting at you. If you had time to think, you might point out to them that some of what they seem to be angry about logically contradicts some of the other things they seem to be angry about. In fact, you have a little list of contradictions that you’d like to share with them. But that would just make them angrier, so it’s probably not a good idea.

Which is to say that this is a power play. It reminds me of what Shelby Steele has written about the phenomenon of “white guilt”: the presumption that all white people are complicit in the crimes of slavery and segregation and are therefore guilty until they prove themselves innocent. And they can prove their innocence by embracing whatever political agenda the guardians of racial grievance choose to decree.

So call this new system “male guilt.” Every man is presumed sexist until proven otherwise, and his only hope is appease the self-appointed arbiters of offensiveness.

It’s pretty easy for a woman to exploit men by claiming to represent the rightful wrath of Team Women. When you get old enough, you realize that most women don’t really care about Team Women, they care about Team Me and (hopefully) Team My Family. But they know that guys are crazy for being on teams, so it’s simple to get guys to assume that Team Women is a real thing and not just whatever an individual woman happens to be worked up about at the moment.

This will all acquire a laser-like focus very quickly, because accusation of sexism will soon have an urgent, concrete purpose: destroying all opposition to Hillary Clinton’s presumed presidential campaign. As Stephen Miller observes: “If you want to know what #ReadyForHillary will look like for 4 years… This is it.” …

Read the whole thing there. This guy Tracinski has an agile style.

Steve Sailer
About Steve Sailer

Steve Sailer is a journalist, movie critic for Taki's Magazine, VDARE.com columnist, and founder of the Human Biodiversity discussion group for top scientists and public intellectuals.

Confederate Flag Day, State Capitol, Raleigh, N.C. -- March 3, 2007
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