One of the funny things in life is that the liberal elite spends a lot of its time contemplating its genius, much in the manner of Aristotle’s Prime Mover. And this takes the form chiefly of feeling superior to and contrasting itself with Red State America. The usual basis of this feeling of superiority is a belief in its own greater wisdom and moral enlightenment, as evidenced by things like recycling, a belief in evolution and global warming, or the merits of “multiculturalism” and diversity. But the religious belief in equality, on which much of their identity is based, is in fact beset by major evidentiary problems. For instance, the persistent racial “achievement gap” on test and educational performance, which the media, politicians, and the like so earnestly spend time trying to correct. It must be racism, but this belies common sense, since so many teachers, administrators, and the like move heaven and earth to help minorities do well on these tests.
One dimension of the confusion on the racial achievement gap is a real ignorance of test results and the ways that making tests too easy, or too hard, can eliminate the gap, just as these changes eliminate the value of the test itself in identifying the range of ability. The graph above by “La Griffe du Lion” illustrates this and is explained here. (Hat tip to Steve Sailer, of course.) This is actually pretty easy to understand when you think about it, yet facile references to this or that latest achievement-gap-creating test abound.
Innumeracy, I’ve found, is pretty extreme among the elite, which mostly consists of verbally talented media, legal, and educational personalities. This is especially true at the second tier–community college professors, journalists in hinterland newspapers, congressmen. Things like standard deviations or regressions or even basic concepts like a Gaussian distribution are all over their heads. Math reminds them that they’re not as smart as they think, and when confronted, they usually stamp their feet and mutter something about “lies, damned lies, and statistics.” God forbid they drill down on methodology and make a mathematical argument.
I’m not sure being right always trumps being popular. In the short to medium term, lies can persist quite a long time. The Soviet Union, itself built on myths of equality, lasted some 70 years. And education graduate programs are filled with propagandists, mediocrities, and committed leftists. Then again, how many times can a school district try this or that latest fad, come up with the same result, and not have people wonder if this is just the way it is? I mean, no one worries about the achievement gap in marathon running or NFL running backs or armed robbery. In dark corners of the internet–places like La Griffe du Lion, Gene Expression, VDare, and Steve Sailer’s website–the basic foundations of reality on matters of group difference, what is lovingly called human biodiversity, are being settled in a way that any intellectually serious person would ascent to. And there is evidence this is trickling into the mainstream media, such as David Brooks and Malcom Gladwell.
One possible collateral benefit of having Obama as president will be greater candor on matters of race among all groups. Perhaps we’re in the early stages of the national dialogue on which we’ve been too “cowardly” to proceed. But like the Soviet Union’s glastnost and perestroyka, this may lead in directions unintended and unforseen by today’s ruling class.