Unfinding Brains

Everywhichaway but Right

May 6, 2007

It is a sunny morn, the wind is blowing over the lake, and I am reading a report from the Government Accounting Office. What a dolt.

Anyway, the GAO says that fewer Americans are going into the sciences in school. Ah. And so the GAO, ever alert, boiling over with acuity, recommends…

Yes! It urges the proven governmental remedy for all things, the magical secret elixir that cures dandruff and corns, shrinks piles, removes tartar from teeth and heals the ruptured. What is this curative marvel, invigorated by six herbs unknown to normal science? Why, it is….

Outreach to women and minorities. Who would have thought it? If the country needs people who can do something, then recruit people who can’t, or not terribly well. It is hard to imagine a more practical approach. It is what makes America grate.

In gummint talk, “minorities” doesn’t mean minorities, like Anglo-Saxons, Greeks, Jews, men, or Chinese. No. These latter cannot be minorities because they do not have a solidly established record of incapacity. They haven’t made their bones by nonfeasance. (Since they aren’t minorities, logically they must all be majorities, or at least half the population each, which must play hell with population figures.)

No, “minorities” means “underachieving minorities.” Just the folks we need to reach out to in solid-state physics. Got it.

Actually, I kind of like this outreach stuff. I propose that the NBA improve its talent pool by reaching out to one-legged dwarves with a weight problem. I’m serious. These constitute an untapped repository of athleticism. Clearly untapped, since there is not one overweight dwarf in the entire league. You think I’m kidding? Check out the numbers. The NBA doesn’t like to reveal the true figures, but they can be found. You can’t believe it’s a coincidence, can you? It’s discrimination. Only a right-wing fascist Nazi could deny it.

Now, the sciences. If you look where the talent lies scientifically in America, it’s with the white boys. (And yellow ones too, these days.) I’m not asking where you think it ought to be, or wish it were. We’re talking facts here, and while I’m aware of the risk of trying new things without lengthy consideration, maybe we should do it just once.

So why not reach out to the white (and yellow) boys? Exploit them till they squeak? Mercilessly. Tell them that they are worth a damn. Give them advanced courses in high school, teachers who can count to ten without stamping, books about science instead of the heartwarming theories of Native Americans. Sure, let girls and minorities take these courses too. Indeed, encourage them. Some would make it, and bless them. But don’t get rid of Calc II to avoid invidious comparisons.

That’s how you would get more talent into the sciences.

Now, here I have a confession to make. Yes, I’m going to bare my soul here, expose myself like a starving table dancer. It will be embarrassing. But here it is:

I am a racist. And a sexist. It’s true: I believe in making judgements according to individual merit, without regard to race, color, creed, sex, or national origin. This of course is just a piously disguised way of favoring white boys. No one can deny it.

The shame.

Why are we not looking for talent where it actually is? Aha. Because the United States has become a patronage system, like Tammany Hall but without the candor.

In particular, we has done put the schools in the hands of women with low IQs and little interest in education. Women notoriously care more about feelings and niceness than performance and winning. This is far less true of intelligent women, but they are all in law offices now. The few men involved in the schools are no better, cherishing their scarce neurons like prized marbles. The average education PhD has the scintillating intelligence of a side of bacon. Think not? Read the Graduate Record scores of students going into Education. They are the dark night of the mind, with bats flapping around. Dull-witted bats.

Now, if you wanna be a scientist even barely, or a really good one like Lex Luther or Frankenstein and have a lot of test tubes and knobs, you gotta have at the very least an IQ of 130, which is sort of two percent of the population. At 145 you are only mildly handicapped, though I’d guess 160 won’t buy you coffee at really high-end labs.

These guys are who you need to do science. They are guys, whether you like it or not, and they are extremely scarce among non-performing minorities, whether you like that or not. And storing them during adolescence in feminized dumbatoria, in what amounts to daycare, with purported teachers who neither understand them nor like them and have nothing whatever to offer…well, maybe this borders on suboptimal recruitment.

So why is the gummint, which probably knows this, hollering about outreach to where there ain’t many of what are being outreached for? Far be it from me to be politically incorrect, but let me talk about Washington a tad.

Long time ago, when stem reptiles walked the earth, and trilobites, and probably great honking mastodons (chronology is an overrated preoccupation), there was something called the Federal Service Entrance Examination. That sucker was a real test, about like the Graduate Records, I’d guess. You had to make different scores to get different federal jobs, but it was a pretty good dummy sieve.

Well, the FSEE had to go, because people who passed it were usually white. That would never do. Affirmative Action came in, which ain’t nothin’ but political patronage with a smarmy name stuck to it. I mean, who’s got the swing vote in presidential elections? So tests were gutted and offices filled with minorities who couldn’t have gotten in under the FSEE, and a fair number of people with talent got sick of it and actually bailed out of feddle employ. What had been a pretty impressive government stopped being.

Washington became a repository for otherwise unemployable minorities. These of course hired more of themselves, and wanted to make everybody else do it. At the same time the government became increasingly female as women were affirmative-actioned into jobs. Generally speaking, women do not suffer a competence deficit, but they were chosen not so much for ability as for x-chromosomal redundancy, and they brought the usual baggage of preferring comity to brilliance. And they didn’t like men.

That, sez me, is why we aren’t finding and encouraging high scientific talent: Those who should don’t want to. Many of them want not to. But why does it matter? There are, thank God, no hungry programmers in Mumbai.