Friday, January 31, 2003

Racial Disparities in a Health Related Matter

Warning: This post was written to be provocative and may be offensive to some people.


As I have said previously, I favor abortion on demand not because of any bogus reasons concerning personal privacy or rights, but on utilitarian (Darwinian) grounds.

Which is to say, I refused to hide behind weasel words and concepts like "choice," when a fetus becomes a person, when life begins, and so forth. I feel no anxiety about helping women who choose to abort feel good about that choice by lying to them, telling them they are just ridding themselves of a lump of tissue. I think that we ought to be clear about the fact that when we perform an abortion we kill a child because the imperative to respect human life, whatever little is left of that imperative in our society, demands inclusiveness in the concept of "child", not exclusiveness or dismissal, if there is any doubt. The reality of it is that we have decided for a number of reasons that abortion is good and acceptable regardless of any other moral considerations.

What I mean by abortion being good in a utilitarian sense is that the people who abort their children purely for reasons of birth control tend to be those who ought not procreate, and this works for the good of society. That is, I mean that those whose personality and temperment is to kill their own children are those who are best eliminated from the gene pool. I don't mean by this that these people are of undesireable character because they choose to abort, but that they are of undesireable personality in general, and that personality leads to behaviors such as casual abortions and problems and difficulties in other spheres of life for others that we can all do without. In other words, it is no accident that the women who have had multiple abortions tend to be the selfish, self centered, sociopathic, blame shifting, narcissistic trouble makers amoung us. And, for that matter, so are the men who keep getting them pregnant.

Of course, this doesn't exclude the possiblity that there are a number of women who are perfectly nice, with good character, who need an abortion from time to time, it only means that the evolutionary pressure caused by abortion on demand weighs more on people with undesireable personality.

By contrast, Margaret Sanger, pioneer of the "Family Planning" movement, was quite frank in feeling that it was people of non-white races, the infirm, or people with subnormal intelligence that should be subjected to efforts to reduce fertility and the like. In her book, "Pivot of Civilization," involuntary birth control is clearly implied. However, with the revelations about Nazi atrocities during WWII, she quickly backpedaled and insisted that she only wanted people to have access to strictly voluntary birth control measures all along. She apparently reasoned that people in difficult circumstances caused by their own problems, such as being a member of a disadvantaged race, would choose to limit their fertility. As it turns out, she was right. Of course, this could be either good or bad, depending on your perspective.

Conyers, Rangel, Sharpton, et al. continue to miss the real story of racial disparity in casualty rates: the disproportionate numbers of black casualties in the war on the unborn. While Sharpton and the other Democratic presidential hopefuls celebrated the 30th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade at NARAL's gala, the black community continued to be decimated by abortion rates that are nearly three times the rate of whites.

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Something is Rotten in the State of Denmark

Bjorn Lomborg, author of the Skeptical Environmentalist, continues to get the Galileo treatment from the environmental community. Most recently he was smeared by a politically charged attack from a Danish scientific governmental committee. The committee's review included no specific citations of specific criticisms of the book, but it did cite popular publications like Time magazine at length.

I have personally done a point by point review of Lomborg's book and of the criticisms of the book I've been able to find. If you list the topics of fact in the book and the major conclusions that Lomborg makes, then go back and strike out all the topics of fact and conclusions contested by his critics, then at the end you find that 97% of Lomborg's book is not even touched by the critics. In the other 3% Lomborg is probably right, too.

I invite anyone who is seriously concerned about the environment to do the same analysis, because you are never going to get the truth from environmentalists.

(By the way, Galileo was not persecuted by the Church per se, but by his fellow scientists, who were jealous of him and resentful of his innovations such as using mathematics in physical sciences. These scientific enemies of Galileo used the Church to attack him. In the same way Lomborg's scientific enemies use the quasi-religion, the popular environmental movement, with its wigged out, drooling, druggified, moronic tree hugging zealots and its left leaning, luddite journalists, to attack Lomborg.)

I am Danish, liberal, vegetarian, a former member of Greenpeace; and I used to believe in the litany of our ever-deteriorating environment. You know, the doomsday message repeated by the media, as when Time magazine tells us that "everyone knows the planet is in bad shape." We're defiling our Earth, we're told. Our resources are running out. Our air and water are more and more polluted. The planet's species are becoming extinct, we're paving over nature, decimating the biosphere.

The problem is that this litany doesn't seem to be backed up by facts. When I set out to check it against the data from reliable sources -- the U.N., the World Bank, the OECD, etc. -- a different picture emerged. We're not running out of energy or natural resources. There is ever more food, and fewer people are starving. In 1900, the average life expectancy was 30 years; today it is 67. We have reduced poverty more in the past 50 years than we did in the preceding 500. Air pollution in the industrialized world has declined -- in London the air has never been cleaner since medieval times.

This information needs to reach a broader audience, because it concerns our basic priorities...

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Roe v Wade Reflections

There are a lot of women who had abortions when they were young, who don't have children, and who can't have children now.

But then Margaret Sanger, founder of Family Planning, was a strong proponent of eugenics, who in her 1922 book "Pivot of Civilization" unabashedly called for the extirpation of "weeds .... overrunning the humnan garden"; for the segregation of "morons, misfits, and the maladjusted"; and for the sterilization of "genetically inferior races."

As Sanger writes of the utopia that her eugenics would bring about:

"Let us conceive for the moment at least, a world not burdened by the
weight of dependent and delinquent classes, a total population of
mature, intelligent, critical and expressive men and women. Instead
of the inert, exploitable, mentally passive class which now forms the
barren substratum of our civilization, try to imagine a population
active, resistant, passing individual and social lives of the most
contented and healthy sort. Would such men and women, liberated from
our endless, unceasing struggle against mass prejudice and inertia, be
deprived in any way of the stimulating zest of life? Would they sink
into a slough of complacency and fatuity?

"No! Life for them would be enriched, intensified and ennobled in a
fashion it is difficult for us in our spiritual and physical squalor
even to imagine. There would be a new renaissance of the arts and
sciences. Awakened at last to the proximity of the treasures of life
lying all about them, the children of that age would be inspired by a
spirit of adventure and romance that would indeed produce a
terrestrial paradise.

"Let us look forward to this great release of creative and constructive
energy, not as an idle, vacuous mirage, but as a promise which we, as
the whole human race, have it in our power, in the very conduct of our
lives from day to day, to transmute into a glorious reality. Let us
look forward to that era, perhaps not so distant as we believe, when
the great adventures in the enchanted realm of the arts and sciences
may no longer be the privilege of a gifted few, but the rightful
heritage of a race of genius..."

(M. Sanger, The Pivot of Civilization)

It is precisely the same utopian vision that Adolf Hitler advocated, pursued by peaceful means.

It did not work out exactly the way that Sanger thought it would. She wanted to rid the world of mental defectives, but in the end she succeeded in established policies that, in effect, encouraged women who belong to her sisterhood to eliminate themselves from the gene pool.

Monday, January 20, 2003

Dissent or Sedition?

In the US there are no laws that define penalties against sedition, so in effect there is no point at which a dissident crosses over into sedition in this country, at least not sedition that is punishable. And I know of no dissidents that have been thrown in prison lately over their dissidence, per se.

However, critics of the administration and other dissidents still have to face their fellow citizens and may rightfully come under attack for the stances they take. If they suffer criticism for what they say it is not tantamount to denying them the right to speak out. Speech may be free, but it still has consequences.

The problem for anti-war dissidents is that their stance is unpopular. Most people don't agree with them, so they are getting a lot of criticism. So, among other things, they bring up the Bill of Rights and cry that they have the right to say what they are saying.

Of course, they do, but in saying so they are just using a debating tactic to deflect people from the main issue, which is what they are saying about American policy, and whether what they are saying is right. It is just a tactic especially because criticism against them does not even come close to actually putting them at any real risk or discomfort, much less actually restricting their rights.

What impresses me about most of the anti-war dissidents these days is that they usually don't come across as people who are happy with America but just have some differences on a few issues. No, they talk like people who despise America and all of its institutions and its people, who see America as totally evil in every respect, who automatically assume that America acts on the basest motives that can be imagined. It is literally enough to make one wonder, "Gee, if these people are so angry and unhappy with America, why don't they just leave?" Which is why one is often prompted to ask that very question.

There is anti-war dissent that suggests to me that the dissent is born out of concern for one's country and one's fellow citizens. An example might be to say that war is a very bad idea because of the risk to military men and women and because the country might end up in a quagmire that is costly and risky to American lives, wealth, and political capital. It is also reasonable to wonder if Hussein actually has or will have the kind of weapons capablity that justifies this action. I think that there is enough of this sort of criticism to make one wonder if we would be doing the right thing to attack Iraq.

An example of anti-war dissent that suggests to me that the dissent is born out of hatred for America would be to say that America does not have the moral authority to act because, in effect, America is so evil, or America is acting out of hypocrisy, or America is just trying to get at Iraqi oil, or America just wants to spread its evil imperialist capitalist rule all over the face of the earth.

Do the people who spew this sort of thing really think that many Americans will be convinced by what they are saying? I realize that there is always a certain element on college campuses and the like that is attracted to such thinking, but can't they see that saying these things is just going to make most people mad at them?

When you get behind the reasons for why America is so evil in the eyes of these people it usually gets down to all the things that America had to do to survive the cold war and otherwise insure national security. In recounting such events the dissents always portray the US as acting purely out of bad motives, as if the other side in the cold war didn't exist, as if America has no enemies, or as if the Soviet Union and its allies were only motivated by goodness and light. Their view of history is so strongly biased against the US that it makes their hatred for the US obvious.

Perhaps for some of these dissidents it is that in being so successful America refutes the leftist ideals they hold so dear. Perhaps for others America stands as a Judeochristian bulwark that threatens to forever stymie any spread of Islam except in a watered down, secularized form. Perhaps for still others America upholds values of human rights, freedom, and democracy that they find threatening.

Friday, January 17, 2003

Dishonest Testing

Critics of the SAT and other standardized tests claim that the SAT does not test "real" ability and advocate various alternative ways to test ability.

These alternatives take various forms, but the thing that tends to tie them together is their low reliability, that is, the high variablity of test scores. Standard deviations of scores for these tests, in other words, tend to be high.

That fact alone allows their proponents to claim that these tests are "more fair" and less biased than standardized written tests.

How can this true? Because when the test is administered the examiners can norm the test and set a passing grade in the usual way. A certain percentage of the students will fail, but a student with marginal ability is more likely to make a passing score just by chance. This is especially true if he or she is able to retake the test or take a similar test one or more times after initially flunking. With repeated testing they are able to pass more often just by chance if the test score variablity is high. This is not possible, or is much more difficult, with a standardized exam.

(Of course, the examiners have failed in their primary duty, which is to provide the students and others with an accurate assesment of their ability. When it comes to important things like determining which medical students have an adequate knowledge of medicine, for example, this failure can get to be quite serious.)

In addition, just by chance the class ranking of students taking such tests tends to be different from those of standardized examinations. Ipso facto, these alternative exams are testing a "different kind of knowledge" according to their advocates. This enables some students who don't usually do well in standardized examinations to look better.

That there is no basis whatsoever in educational psychology for the idea that there are "different kinds of knowledge" does not phase them one bit.

The other fact about some of these alternative evaluation methods that endears them to egalitarian educational buffs is their subjectivity. Subjectivity provides examiners with enough wiggle room to insure that the "disadvantaged" students pass at a reasonable rate.

So, whenever one hear critics of the SAT or other standardized written exams talk about other evaluation methods that test "real" ability, or test "different kinds of knowledge" or the like, it should be apparent what the game is.

Thursday, January 16, 2003

Discrimination is Wrong

...even if it is an attempt to remedy discrimination.

So said George W. Bush, thereby jumping in to the affirmative action case now before the Supreme Court.

What about "judging people on the content of their character rather than the color of their skin," do advocates of the Michigan affirmative action in admissions program fail to understand?

In the Michigan program, students were ranked on a point scale. Getting a perfect 1600 on the SAT counted for 12 points, while just being black or hispanic counted for 20. Under this system blacks were 10 to 20 times more likely to gain admission than whites with the same grades and SAT scores. In other words, race in and of itself had become one the main factors in determining who got admitted, outranking even SAT scores or grades.

Bush pointed out that in Texas and Florida colleges have maintained diversity in the student body using other means that do not violate the constitution.

January 16, 2003 -- President Bush yesterday, in a brief but forceful speech to the nation, placed his administration in opposition to race-based admission quotas in higher education - and, presumably, in favor of a color-blind America.

A laudable goal, and one worth the acrimony the president's address quickly began to generate.

Saturday, January 04, 2003

Transformation to the Nightmare of Totalitarianism

Whenever the left has gained significant political power it has resulted in a totalitarian nightmare. The stuggle toward the impossible utopian dreams of the left cannot be effected against the desires of most people without the application of overwhelming state power, and the left always believes that any amount of sacrifice and oppression is justified in the attempt to bring those dreams about. Then the state inevitably becomes stuck as it stuggles futily to transform society. Later, the state becomes its own class interest as it sucks up more resources from the rest of society to perpetuate itself. The struggle toward the utopian dream for society is used cynically as a cover for the resulting oligarchy.

We can see this process of transformation away from democracy taking place in Venezuela now.

Government allies staged the march a day after the leftist president said he would consider imposing martial law to quell the five-week strike and halt escalating political violence.

Gunfire erupted Friday during an opposition march on the headquarters of the armed forces, Caracas Fire Chief Rodolfo Briceno said. Two people died of gunshot wounds and at least 78 others were injured -- five of them by gunshots.

It was unclear who fired on the demonstrators, who were met by hundreds of Chavez supporters throwing rocks and bottles at security forces trying to keep the two sides apart.

"I am obligated to protect the people. I am obligated to protect public order," Chavez said. "If they force me to (decree martial law), I'd have to do it.

Associated Press -- 1/4/2003