Week of 15 October 2007
Update: Saturday, 20 October 2007
As usual when I'm in the final stages of a book, I have so many balls
in the air that it's difficult to find time to write much on these
pages, so things will be pretty sparse around here until the book is
finished. This time, things are even more pronounced than usual because
completion of this book follows hard on the heels of completion of
the Illustrated Guide to Astronomical Wonders. At least that book is
finished and off to the printers, at last.
I still have a
significant amount of writing and re-writing left to do. Once I finish
that, I need to head back to the lab and re-do nearly all of the
laboratory sessions, this time in order to photograph them. I
originally intended to photograph the lab sessions as I did them and
wrote them up, but that didn't work out well. This time, I'll do them
with an eye toward having them set up for photography, which will make
things a lot easier.
And, of course, I still need to devote some
time and effort to getting the next book lined up so that I don't run
out of things to do. I'm going to be a busy author for the next month
or so, which means I won't have time to write much here.
Barbara is a member of the board of the Friends of Reynolda Manor
Library, our local library branch. She came home the other day from
helping to set up their book sale, and said the Friends wanted to
buy a digital camera for the head librarian to use to shoot images of
various library events. Barbara volunteered me to pick one for them,
and said we'd order it and they could reimburse us.
I visited newegg.com and started looking. I'd expected to spend $150 to
$200 on a decent point-and-shoot model and a memory card. As it turned
out, $99 was sufficient. That's how much a Kodak EasyShare C613
point-and-shoot camera with a bundled 1 GB Kingston memory card costs,
including shipping, and that camera is more than sufficient for what
they want to do.
I made sure to pick a model that uses standard
AA alkaline cells. This camera may not be used from one week to the
next or even one month to the next, so rechargeables would be likely to
have lost their charge just when they were needed. With alkalines, they
can just pick it up and start shooting without worrying about the state
of the battery charge. And it's easy enough to keep a spare pair of AA
cells with the camera.
sent the proposal/outline for the new book to my editors and publisher
yesterday, so we'll see what happens. Meanwhile, I'm back to work on
the next-to-last of the substantive narrative chapters.
Wednesday, 17 October 2007
- No post.
Thursday, 18 October
- Here's a headline guaranteed to cause a firestorm: DNA Discoverer: Blacks Less Intelligent Than Whites
I admire Dr. Watson's courage. He must have known that his
statements, although undoubtedly true, would be met with outrage, and
that he would be denounced as racist. That significant differences in
intelligence and other characteristics exist among the races is one of
those facts that anyone who cares to look at the data knows is true,
but that no one is allowed to talk about.
As Murray and others
before him have pointed out, there is zero doubt that, as groups, the
Chinese and the Ashkenazi Jews are much brighter than average. The
mean IQ of the Chinese is between a third and a half standard deviation
higher than the general population, and the Ashkenazi mean is one full
standard deviation higher. Equally, there is no doubt that the mean IQ
of American blacks is one full standard deviation below the mean of the
general population, and that of African blacks two full standard
deviations lower. Anyone who understands normal distributions grasps
the profound implications of those facts.
That the IQ of Chinese
and Ashkenzi Jews skews so far to the right on the bell curve and that
of blacks so far to the left allows us to make some predictions with
high certainty. We'd expect, for example, that Chinese and Ashkenazi
Jews would be overrepresented and blacks underrepresented in rigorous
disciplines in our university faculties and research laboratories, and
that turns out to be true. We'd also expect that our jails and prisons
would be filled with people from the left side of the bell curve, and
that therefore blacks are likely to be overrepresented and
Chinese and Ashkenazi Jews underrepresented in our prisons. That
also turns out to be true. No surprises there.
But it's Africa
where the differences really come home to roost, and I share Dr.
Watson's pessimism about the future of Africa. That difference of two
standard deviations in intelligence is simply insurmountable. Consider
what a difference of two standard deviations means in practical terms.
the United States, someone who is two standard deviations above the
mean has an IQ of 130, assuming we're using the SD15 IQ scale. That
person is considered gifted, and is likely to become a physician or an
engineer. Because about 95.45% of a normally distributed population
falls within two sigmas of the mean, about 22,750 people per
million have IQs of 130 or higher. That's more than enough to ensure an
adequate supply of physicians and engineers.
someone who is four standard deviations above the mean has an IQ of
160, which is generally considered the threshold of genius. Because
about 99.9936658% of a normally distributed population falls within
four sigmas of the mean, about 63 people per million have IQs of 160 or
higher. That's enough to ensure an adequate supply of theoretical
physicists and Nobel Prize winners.
In Africa, the mean IQ,
again on an SD15 scale, is only 70, which in the US would be considered
mildly retarded. An African with an IQ of 100, normal for the US, is
two sigmas above the mean in Africa. In other words, of every million
Africans, only about 22,750 are bright enough to be considered normal
in the US. Of every million Africans, only about 63 have IQs of 130 or
higher, what we would consider normal for a physician or an engineer.
That's grossly insufficient to maintain a modern society.
it comes to African theoretical physicists or Nobel Prize winners, the
outlook is much, much worse. In Africa, someone with an IQ of 160 is
six sigmas above the mean. Because about 99.9999998% of a normally
distributed population falls within six sigmas of the mean, well, you
can run the numbers. African geniuses are scarcer than the proverbial
I see no solution to Africa's problems.
Africans on their own simply don't have the mental horsepower to
maintain a modern society, let alone build one. British imperialism
improved the lot of African blacks in Rhodesia and South Africa for a
time, but two-tiered societies divided along racial lines are no longer
As distasteful as it is to current
sensibilities, white rule in Rhodesia and South Africa had the
advantage of actually working. The white regimes in Rhodesia and South
Africa were run for the benefit of whites, certainly, but they also
benefited the blacks in those countries. While most of the world was
condemning these regimes, African blacks were fighting to get into
these countries. Rhodesia was the breadbasket of Africa, producing
enough food to feed all of Africa, with sufficient excess to export
outside of Africa.
African blacks were an underclass, certainly,
but even they were smart enough to know when they had things good.
Blacks in Rhodesia and South Africa had a much higher standard of
living than blacks in any black-ruled country in Africa. Food was cheap
and plentiful, and medical care was free and readily available. Blacks
could not vote, nor could they hope to rise socially to the level of
their white masters, but there were opportunities for advancement, and
in fact a nascent black middle class was developing.
do-gooders in the rest of the world decided that Africa should be ruled
by blacks. Rhodesia became Zimbabwe, and within a few years devolved
from being the best country in Africa for blacks to live in to being
the worst hell-hole on Planet Earth. Zimbabwe confiscated white-owned
farms, and was then shocked to find that food production plummeted to
almost nothing. Zimbabwe expelled white professionals, and was then
shocked to find that no professional services were available. Nowadays,
Zimbabwe is completely controlled by blacks and nearly all of the
whites have abandoned the country. And the blacks are left holding an
I wish it weren't this way, but, as they say, if wishes were horses beggars would ride.
I had to pull the EFF blue ribbon banner from the top of the page. The
EFF site isn't responding, and my HTML editor (Kompozer) refused to
allow me to load and edit the page because the remote image couldn't
Watson is backpedaling furiously from his comments about racial IQ differences. I wonder what kind of pressure was brought to bear on him.
clear to anyone who has eyes that there are differences in ability
between the races. In a pure meritocracy, those differences are obvious
and profound. Sports is one example of a pure meritocracy. Is there a
reason, do you think, why blacks overwhelmingly dominate sports, why
football teams and basketball teams have mostly black players and the
best marathon runners are nearly all black? Could it be because blacks
are, on average, physically stronger, faster, and more coordinated than
whites and yellows? Similarly, hard-science research laboratories are a
meritocracy, one that is overwhelmingly dominated by whites and
yellows. Could it be, do you think, because whites and yellows are, on
average, smarter than blacks?
There are no value judgments here.
No one is saying that blacks are better people than whites and yellows
because blacks are better basketball players, just as no one is saying
that whites and yellows are better people than blacks because whites
and yellows are better scientists. No one is saying that men are better
than women because men excel at some things, any more than anyone is
saying that women are better than men because women excel at some
More to the point, we need to think in terms of
individuals rather than groups. There are first-rate white and yellow
basketball players, just as there are first-rate black scientists. If
someone is a magician on a basketball court, the color of his skin
doesn't, or shouldn't, matter. If someone is a magician in a
laboratory, it doesn't or shouldn't matter what color his skin is. A
white player shouldn't be denied a place on the basketball team simply
because his skin is white, and a black scientist shouldn't be denied a
place in the laboratory simply because his skin is black. Equally
important, a good black basketball player shouldn't be denied a place
on the team to make room for a less-qualified white player, just
as a good white scientist shouldn't be denied a place to make room for
a less-qualified black scientist. Colorblindness should be the rule.
politically correct push the idea that unequal outcome proves unequal
opportunity, which is a lie. The differences in ability between the
races and sexes guarantee that equal opportunity will result in unequal
outcomes. The equalest opportunity in the world won't produce many
female weightlifting champions, nor many white marathon champions, nor
many black astrophysicists. That's reality, and attempting to force
things to be otherwise is simply evil.
Saturday, 20 October
sometimes introduces me to entirely new experiences. Last night, I
got into a fight with my screensaver. It won.
I was working on
my den system, which has had the Ubuntu 7.10 beta installed on it for a
couple of weeks and was updated to the release version as soon as it
became available. I have power management on that system set to power
down the display after 10 minutes of inactivity. Ordinarily, I don't
use a screensaver--it's pretty pointless on a system with an LCD
display and power management enabled--but in this case I had the
Molecules screensaver set to kick in after two minutes of inactivity,
mostly because I enjoy watching the dancing molecules. When the
screensaver kicks in, it doesn't do so abruptly. Instead, the screen
dims over several seconds to black and then the molecules start dancing.
there I was reading a web page, when the screen started to dim. I
bumped the mouse to stop the dimming. It didn't stop. Thinking I hadn't
moved the mouse enough to clear the screensaver, I started moving it
more energetically. The dimming slowed but continued. I started moving
the mouse rapidly and got the screen to brighten up a bit, but as
soon as I slowed the mouse movements the dimming started again.
if I was going to let the screensaver win, I started jerking the mouse
around as fast as I could. For several seconds, it looked like I might
win. I got the screen to brighten up a bit once or twice, but the trend
was generally downward. Eventually, despite my frantic mouse movements,
the screen faded to black, the molecules popped up momentarily, and
then the screen returned to normal.
Linux. Even its screensavers are tough.
1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 by Robert Bruce