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Orkney

Mr. Gladwell writes:

"...the point of structuring the experiment as Ayres did--with matching professional-upper-income-well-dressed cover stories for both whites and blacks--was to demonstrate the irrationality of holding a group stereotype in the face of individual evidence to the contrary."

Why "irrationality"? If an experienced car salesman has noticed he can (on average) milk, say, and extra grand from a black buyer by citing him a higher price, why on Earth wouldn't he do it? It seems not "irrational," but "completely rational."

It may or may not be immoral (seemingly the crux of your disagreement with Sailer), but irrational? Doesn't sound that way to me.

Thought experiment: let's say American car dealers discovered they could get, say, (white) French customers to pay an extra two grand per car over white American customers. The salesmen chalk it up to French snootiness. Would this bother anyone?

Simon

Are car dealers sexist when they attempt to drive a harder bargain with my wife than with me? In fact she's a harder bargainer than I am, and knows more about cars, but I do the car buying because we know the way salesmen think. They think she's a woman so she's a pushover.

It seems to be the same with race in the USA, the dealers have an incentive to act in a way that is rational overall even though often wrong in the individual case.

jeff

I couldn't bear to even read most of the comments. Please, please, please just ban him and move on. Let's get these bozos out of here.

I appreciate the free exchange and all, but I like the EXCHANGE of ideas. As in, I listen, then you listen. And we both, um, listen. Which means that everyone keeps an open mind and gives thoughtful responses. After listening to the other side. Which seems to be in surprisingly short supply. Those who read without thinking (then apparently post without thinking as well) don't contribute anything. I wish them good riddance and let Gladwell get back to his thought-provoking, interesting, well-written stuff.

gc

"When I pointed out that violence was not a simple function of testosterone levels in the blood and that in fact testosterone is typically at its highest level AFTER the act of violence has been committed (thus **it is more of a reinforcement than a trigger**), my email was spammed for days with reams of raw genetic data. I told my spammer that **I had no realistic way to evaluate this evidence, since I'm not a biologist**, and he took that as a surrender and left me alone."

What happened there was that you were talking about something you didn't know anything about with someone who knew more than you abou t it.

For example, testosterone is not "more of a reinforcement than a trigger". Inject testosterone into someone's arm and see what that triggers! Ever heard of the term "roid rage"?

There are literally thousands of papers on this topic; here's one from Science:

--------
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/211/4488/1318

Postnatal gonadal steroid effects on human behavior
RT Rubin, JM Reinisch, and RF Haskett

Gonadal steroid hormones, active during fetal life, continue after the birth of a fetus to influence the central nervous system and affect behavior. The characteristically different circulating concentrations of male and female steroid hormones in men and women appear to be partial determinants of certain sexually dimorphic behaviors, interacting in a complex way with psychological and sociocultural factors as well as with other biological factors. This interaction is highlighted in research on testosterone and aggression in men, mood and the menstrual cycle in women, and pubertal sex role reversal in pseudohermaphrodites.
--------

After losing this argument you proceeded to call the people who bested you racists.

Milton

More than fair!

gc

----
"They have decided that accepting the taint of racist thinking is a worthy sacrifice in pursuit of what they see as the truth."
----

In other words, we care more about truth than we do about taboos.


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they will call you a liberal creationist and claim that the day draws neigh when they will be proven right.
-----

And what might give us THAT idea? Might it not be that we actually see DNA streaming down their computer screens on a daily basis, DNA that tells us things like this:

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/science_technology/article2007490.ece

------
A recent study showed that human DNA is far more different from one individual to another that it was previously thought and might hold the key to some diseases' genetic origins.

The research made by a UK-led team of scientists, compared the genomes of 270 people revealing that humans are not 99.9 per cent genetically identical as it was assumed before, in fact, human DNA shows plenty variations from one human to another.

The researchers were astonished to locate 1,447 copy number variants (CNVs) in nearly 2,900 genes, the starting "templates" written in the code that are used by cells to make the proteins which drive our bodies.

"Each one of us has a unique pattern of gains and losses of complete sections of DNA," said Matthew Hurles, of the UK's Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.

"One of the real surprises of these results was just how much of our DNA varies in copy number. We estimate this to be at least 12% of the genome.

"The copy number variation that researchers had seen before was simply the tip of the iceberg, while the bulk lay submerged, undetected. We now appreciate the immense contribution of this phenomenon to genetic differences between individuals."

"We have a common heritage through our common humanity, but we also have a lot of differences that make us unique," says Scherer, director of the Centre for Applied Genomics at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and a co-principal investigator of the research. "Now we have more biology to explain the differences between brothers or cousins or spouses."

Each person inherits 46 chromosomes, 23 from each parent, which means that genes usually come in pairs. But not always, according to Scherer.

"What we found in this study of 270 individuals worldwide is that up to 10 percent of the genes are actually present vary from the general two that we usually see," he said. "So, in some cases there's one. In some cases there's three. In some cases there's five. In some cases, there's actually none."

The consequences of these results could be far-reaching for medical diagnosis, new drugs and the tale of human evolution itself. The newly discovered genome map could help identifying the genetic origins of diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's and various cancers. It represents the explanation why some individuals are more vulnerable to certain diseases or respond better to drugs than others.

The extra variation also expands the ways in which a person's DNA profile can affect temperament and behavior, and points to previously unknown genetic differences between homo sapiens and our closest animal relative, the chimpanzee...

The astonishing results are believed to be the very early stages of a new way to think about evolution. "I believe this paper will change forever the field of human genetics," said James Lupski, vice chair of the Department of Molecular and Human Genetics at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.

"One can no longer consider human traits as resulting primarily from single base-pair changes or influenced only by SNPs."(single nucleotide polymorphisms)

...


Another implication of the finding is that we are more different to our closest living relative, the chimpanzee, than previously assumed from earlier studies. Instead of being 99 per cent similar, we are more likely to be about 96 per cent similar.

The scientists looked at people from three broad racial groups - African, Asian and European. Although there was an underlying similarity in terms of how common it was for genes to be copied, there were enough racial differences to assign every person bar one to their correct ethnic origin. This might help forensic scientists wishing to know more about the race of a suspect.
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So, to sum up: racial genetic differences are larger among this class of variants (LCV/CNVs), a class in which variation is prima facie more likely to be functional than in SNPs.

Note also that structural variation is only the beginning of the story, and has actually been known for a couple of years now. The newest finding? Ethnic groups are *even more disjoint* in expression space than they are in copy number space.

You have to be a creationist to believe that millions of humans spread out among innumerable microenvironments were not subject to different kinds of natural selection pressure. Read Moyzis and Wang 2005 (PNAS) or Voight & Kudaravalli's work (PLOS, 2006) to see the cut and dried evidence.

ramanan

The only people more frothing at the mouth crazy than Steve Sailer are his readers; I fear the comment section here is going to be a big mess soon enough.

Ben P

One suggestion, instead of banning people, why not use a different comments template so that the commenter's name is listed before the comment rather than after it. People who want to skip Sailer's comments can easily do so.

Jen Bidding

Someone commented that Sailer is "for all intents and purposes, gracious." After reading that I nearly spewed my coffee onto my computer screen. Sailer's essay mocks Gladwell from start to finish... plus the comments about his salary and his hair...?? Sailer isn't interested in any sort of intellectual debate, his m.o. is humiliation. Plus he clings to Judge Posner's opinions like they are a life raft.

I could not care less about Sailer's reasoning for this infantile behavior. (jealousy, wasn't breast fed, who knows.) There really is no excuse for him. The biggest difference between Gladwell and Sailer is class. Gladwell has it, Sailer doesn't.

santiago

Malcolm,
As a fan of your work and someone who had never heard of Steve Sailor before this, I was very much looking forward to your response to his arguments. Instead, you replied with the same sort or ad hominems he had been throwing your way. But, in addition to calling you nasty names, he did offer some arguments and cite some data. Flinging shit in response to having shit flung at you is fine (and, in fact, entertaining), but it is not enlightening. By all means, keep up the insults, but let's deal with the arguments too, okay?
I would be more interested in hearing your reasoned response than your retaliation. Frankly, your retaliation makes him look like the reasonable one by comparison. (I emphasize *by comparison*!)

Orkney

Jen Bidding writes:

"Sailer's essay mocks Gladwell from start to finish... plus the comments about his salary and his hair...?? Sailer isn't interested in any sort of intellectual debate, his m.o. is humiliation..."

Sailer's comments about Gladwell's salary and hair were both made in a relevant context: the salary thing was a commentary on how much wealthier you get by telling people cool-sounding or reassuring things that aren't quite true (Gladwell, in Sailer's view) than you do by telling the unvarnished truth (the relatively poor Sailer). The hair thing was a commentary on Gladwell's (according to Sailer, I don't know myself if this is correct or not) recent intensification of identification with his African heritage.

So there was context and substance to Sailer's comments, unlike your comment that Sailer "wasn't breast-fed."

Sweetness

"The biggest difference between Gladwell and Sailer is class. Gladwell has it, Sailer doesn't."

Is 'class' the standard one applies in seeking out which writers to find plausible? I thought 'intellectual rigor' and 'ability to convince' were the standards. Here's the deal: Gladwell tells people what they want to hear; Sailer tells people what they don't want to hear.

Which takes more courage? Which pays better?

Obviously, Gladwell has chosen the path of least resistance, which happens to be the path of profit maximization too. Isn't that nice?

You people who are Gladwell's followers don't like Sailer not because you can substantively disprove his positions, but because his positions threaten your aesthetic worldview. You believe yourselves to be virtuous, and you express that virtue thru a religious belief in racial egalitarianism. Sailer is an apostate of hell to you, so of course, like the evangelicals you are, you seek to cast out the Devil.

"Get thee behind me, Sailer."

Meg

The manner in which Sailer and his acolytes debate says EVERYTHING about the validity of their ideas. Sadly, "yelling" and insulting others doesn't make your notions any less reprehensible.

And moderating comments, from where I stand, is a responsibility you should take on when you are actively encouraging debate amongst your readers and claiming to contribute to a discussion.

Taking comments off of personal blogs makes sense, but political blogs? Seems cowardly. Better to do what Malcolm has done -- and open things up to the point where he can take action on a single abusive commenter -- than to avoid comments altogether.

Sweetness

Meg says:

"The manner in which Sailer and his acolytes debate says EVERYTHING about the validity of their ideas. Sadly, "yelling" and insulting others doesn't make your notions any less reprehensible."

Nope. I don't see Sailer and his supporters doing this. Provide examples, if you can, Meg. What I see is Gladwell and his sheep calling Sailer names and acting as though his ideas are self-evidently refuted.

Nope.

Orkney

Meg, I do want to say that I appreciate Gladwell allowing comments on his blog. While I don't think it's cowardly to disallow them (and I am a fan of Sailer's and wish he had comments on his site -- how about it, Steve?), I know it takes more effort to allow them, so Gladwell deserves credit for keeping them open.

Jen Bidding

Convince the flock via humiliation, that's brilliant.

oh Sweetness, I always knew you were the Devil! But a real apostate from hell would be much more convincing.

JewishAtheist

There seem to be ad hominems flying in both directions. I think Mr. Sailer is correct, though, that the "racist" ad hominem is much worse. Once tarred with that label, people are virtually shut out of public debate.

Mr. Gladwell,

I've been a big fan of yours. I find you mesmerizing as a speaker and your writing is exceptional at grabbing and keeping my attention. I discovered Sailer and others online and I've hoped for a good response from someone of your caliber, but so far have seen nothing but hand-wringing and accusations of racism.

Look, it's simply a fact that there's a scientific consensus that the average IQ differs across races. We might not like it, but there it is. The APA task force agreed that it was not due to bias in IQ tests or to socioeconomic status differences.

The only topical response I've heard at all from you is a dismissive "there is a lot of uncertainty about this subject" kind of answer. I don't find that much more convincing than when creationists (I'm sorry, but the analogy works) insist that there's too much uncertainty in the theory of evolution.

I would love to see you address Mr. Sailer's argument in detail, especially if you quote prominent social scientists who work with IQ.

Silencing Mr. Sailer is absurd as long as you allow comments from everyone else. I was pleasantly surprised to see a blogger of your stature allowing comments at all, and it's obviously your place, but I hope you choose to debate Mr. Sailer (without ad hominems) rather than ban him.

JA

TGGP

I second the comment on names appearing before comments. A lot of blogs have that sort of feature, so it says "[name] wrote" and then you know who is talking. People tend to refer to themselves in their writing (write what you know!), and it is better to understand what they are talking about when you first read it then having to get to the end to sort everything out in your head.

Regarding the study in question, does anyone have any data as to whether the salespeople who treated people the same made more money than those that didn't? That would be the best way to refute Sailer & Posner.

Malcolm states that the difference between Ayres and Sailer is not what they believe to be true factually, but how acceptable they find this behavior. Does Sailer ever actually state that he finds this behavior "just fine"? My impressions is that he and judge Posner really do "have a very low opinion of car salesmen", which is not exactly uncommon.

For the record, I'm a libertarian and don't see Sailer's opinion on this matter to be an attack on my world-view. If you want a truly poorly thought out criticism of a libertarian tenet from Sailer read his piece "The Perils of Legalization". Or don't if you have an allergic reaction to really weak arguments.

paul

Malcolm is in a no-win situation, as others have pointed out. As long as the Steve Sailers of this world hide behind their followers, their "lack of technological prowess. His claim that his archives accept comments still means visitors to his main site won't be able to comment or see the comments of others.

Time for a new topic, I think.

David L Nilsson

Given the evident propensity of blacks to flash cash around on displays of affluence (see rap videos, seriatim) and the known tendency of blacks, controlled for income and class, to spend more on immediate gratification and save less than whites, it's no stretch to imagine that they end up paying more for cars than whites do.

It would also be interesting to know if orientals conform to their phenotype in this respect by driving *harder* bargains than whites-- caring less about ostentation and more about value.

Reg Braithwaite

"Here's the deal. Steve Sailer can post all he wants on my blog so long as he allows readers to post on his blog."

The righteous (in the slang sense of the word, not the religious sense) thing to do is to choose a comments policy that is applied equally to all posters.

So what if one of your detractors runs a blog along different lines? What do you care?

Christopher Horn

As I am no doubt a glutton for punishment, I was spending part of my lunch filtering through the "Ban Steve Sailer!" thread, and came across this interesting assertion from someone named "Jerm" -

http://gladwell.typepad.com/gladwellcom/2006/12/the_lunatic_fri.html#comment-26395648

Jerm claims (obviously with no backup evidence) that blacks have long and special relationships with certain car dealers.

Interesting. If its true that the car dealer reliably clears (15%? 30%?) more profit from the black than the white customer, one might easily imagine a "special relationship" indeed.

The taint of 'racism' in such a relationship...on the part of the dealer? Dreadful!

Orkney

TGGP --

I am a (big) fan of Sailer's but you're right, his "Perils of Legalization" piece was horrible. I remember when it came out.

But hey, we all get a mulligan...

Jim O'Sullivan

Yeah, we agree that "social science" has demonstrated the occurrence of a particular phemonenon. We got that. Why is your explanation for the phenomenon the right one? That's the question.
If you're sure your explanation for a phenomenon is right, and that someone else's (Posner's; Sailer's) is wrong, you have to prove it. The only proof I saw is anecdotal evidence that a notoriously-overpriced restaurant in a white neighborhood in New York has an undescribed-but-purportedly-low percentage of African-Americans among its customers. That's social science?
What you seem to be saying is that the only possible explanation for a phenomenon is the one that offends the fewest. If that's social science, who needs social science?

hikus

Late to the game, I know, but here's my thought and I'm sure others have already covered it.

Whatever rules you impose with regard to blocking comments from users should be applied uniformly across all users, Steve Sailer included. The rules you impose here should not be reflective of rules imposed elsewhere, particularly by those who seem to practice hypocrisy. The irony would be too deep.

I view blogs and their relation to comments as metaphors for nation-states -- some don't block at all and verge on anarchy and some block everything like a fascist dictatorship (or heavily censor, like a modern-day China).

I think this blog is sort of a functioning democracy -- some rules are likely in place, but in general open discourse is encouraged. Mr. Sailer recently opened his blog archive to comments, which I view as a small, but positive step that is the direct result of the open discourse allowed on this blog.

Bottom line -- whatever user comment rules you apply now, they're working. Keep them in place. And let's please move on to a new topic or bring some new wrinkle to this one. The current back and forth is entrenching views not illuminating them.

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