Racist cop kills migrant woman; the frontlash

came right on schedule. This time the likely explanation is not terrorism; I largely agree with the analysis at the link that a guy “who ha[s] the ability to work a cush ass white collar job but instead make[s] 38K starting pay to referee people’s marriages” is a “disaster waiting to happen”. It’s also more than probable that Noor was an affirmative action hire — and might it be that these incompetent Pokémon points have a greater tendency to mis-apply deadly force (and mess up in general)?

In another frontlash story, Berkeley’s transit authority is refusing to release surveillance video of the recent crime wave on their trains lest it “create a high level of racially insensitive commentary”; David Cole is all over that one.

Hours after the story of Justine Damond’s killing broke, people were posting and reposting it on social media, trying to get answers. This was among the first sources that I saw reporting on the cop’s identity (don’t count on MSM for that), so I pasted it into one of the threads. Immediately, the outrage shifted from an innocent woman’s life being taken to the “racist” comments on the news site.

The death of Justine Damond is a tragedy, but it’s not your personal tragedy or mine. On the other hand, people being more concerned with “racially insensitive commentary” than with preventing crime, or being more outraged at “racist comments” than at an innocent woman’s senseless death at the hands of an incompetent cop, is a tragedy at a national scale. This is pure suicide by better dead than rude. Don’t do it, America.


You really don’t need to read the long and tiresome hatchet-job on Charles Murray discussed in the last post. It’s largely the hackneyed slavery-colonialism-racism (but certainly not genes!) response to the well-documented IQ disparities. Given the pace at which our understanding of the genome proceeds, these science denying superstitions will soon go the way of phlogiston and the humours — but not soon enough.

What is noteworthy about the (Current Affairs*, natch!) piece is the following quote:

For a person of left-wing values, what any correlation between IQ and success means is that the structure of rewards in society should be readjusted so that they do not disproportionately favor people who have some particular random arbitrary characteristic (like being good with numbers), just the same as a society in which the elite is comprised solely of people who are good painters would also be unfair.

You can imagine the author, one Nathan J. Robinson sitting in a Starbucks, pecking away at a MacBook, regularly checking his iPhone, and sincerely believing that men like Steve Jobs are rich because a cabal of cigar-smoking fat-cats conspired in a smoke-filled room to adjust “the structure of rewards in society” so as to transfer wealth from POCs to white** dudes. Yep, that’s the reason, Nate — it’s certainly not because ignorant spoiled brats like you buy too many gadgets.

*Well, well — the joke’s on us: this Current Affairs outfit, while displaying the trappings of a seasoned, professional publication, appears to be an amateurish one-man operation.

**Steve Jobs was half-Syrian, so you can count him as either white (exploitative capitalist) or brown (enterprising child of migrants), depending on the editorial slant. Say, didja hear about the “white hispanic” who shot a black teenager for carrying a bag of skittles? Was this Hispanic cop enough of a POC to benefit from affirmative action but instantly turned white when he killed a more oppressed POC?

Godwin’s law and the PTT diktat

The former states that “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Hitler approaches 1”. Also, “there is a tradition in many newsgroups and other Internet discussion forums that once such a comparison is made, the thread is finished and whoever mentioned Hitler has automatically lost whatever debate was in progress”.

Let the following henceforth be known as the PTT diktat:

As soon as someone being accused of bigotry has his SPLC file adduced as evidence, we declare him not guilty on the spot.

Charles Murray, we have seen “the Southern Poverty Law Center’s long file” on you; you are free to go.

(The PTT diktat is agnostic about people who have a long file on the SPLC.)

Queen prodigy

Queen Izabella is trying her hand at film criticism, and her main complaint boils down to the movie not being about her. (When a woman was awarded the Fields Medal for the first time, you could sorta read between the lines of Laba’s sourpuss post that it was basically sexism that kept her from getting the prize.)

Let’s lay down some markers. Laba, unlike the motha functor and mathbabe, really is a world-class mathematician  (something we’ve previously noted). For non-mathematician readers, it is difficult to convey a sense of just how unevenly mathematical talent is distributed among humans. Take the most abstruse, technical mathematical concept you learned (complex numbers? Riemann integrals?) and try to explain it to an intelligent eight year-old. You’ll see that he probably gets some vague gist, but doesn’t come close appreciating the full depth. This is how an average professional mathematician, from an ordinary backwater school, feels like when explaining advanced math to a layman. This is how a world-class mathematician feels when talking to an average mathematician about his specialized field. Beyond that, at even higher eschelons, I don’t know if the gaps continue to grow exponentially. (I recall reading somewhere that people have a good understanding of the class interactions below but not above their socioeconomic class; something similar is true for math.)

Being a strong mathematician does not make one immune to wandering way out of one’s depth in unfamiliar areas of knowledge. This is worse than political stupidity: In the linked post, Laba is not merely proposing naive or authoritarian social engineering schemes. She is actually dismissing an entire area of study (psychometry) from first principles, based on the central limit theorem and the uneven rate of convergence at the hump vs. the tails. (There’s actually a lot more; sample: “How do we measure for example “math ability” independently of the social and economic context?” Try looking up controlling for a variable, lady.)

Now PTT being a “first principles” rather than “raw data” blog, we can sympathise to some extent with such blissfully uninformed arguments. However, we have a first-principles counter-argument, summarized here. In a nutshell, whenever you discover some trivial gotcha reason why an established area of scientific inquiry is based on false premises and hence entirely wrong, pause to consider that perhaps the luminaries of the field are acutely aware of the difficulties, and have addressed them in copious literature. I was going to leave it at that, but a friend of a friend, Mike Berman, pointed me to the Lotka curve (pp. 87-106 in Charles Murray’s Human Accomplishment). Turns out PTT wasn’t the first to take note of human talent’s extremely uneven distribution. This would be the place for Laba to start if she did not wish to perpetuate the ignorant ditz stereotype threat.

Well, two can play this game. Quoth Laba:

Let me tell you about a layman’s version of Szemeredi’s theorem that I like: given any desired statistical pattern, one can always find data to support it, provided only that a large enough pool of data is available to pick and choose from. […] Szemeredi’s theorem doesn’t take sides, so if you’re looking for data to contradict the same pattern instead, you should be able to find that as well. In either case, you’ll be ignoring the vast majority of the data available to you.

Watch me mansplain Szemerédi’s theorem to this math-broad. See here, babe, I know you think it was clever to name-drop a deep and difficult theorem in an attempt to refute the very premise of The Bell Curve, but Szemerédi has absolutely nothing to do with hypothesis testing. Yes, you’re allowed to choose any wacky “statistical pattern” as your initial hypothesis, but then you must obtain a bunch of new data and check if the hypothesis is in agreement with it. The more attempts at refutation a fixed hypothesis survives, the lower its odds of being a completely spurious “statistical pattern”. This is how science works.

Unlikely bedfellows II

David Cole manages to touch upon several points close our post-tenure heart. The first has to do with the Left’s increasingly militant policing of romantic preferences. His piece covers the well-documented “sexual racism” that’s so rampant in the gay culture, and the cognitive dissonance it causes to the who-whom SJW psyche. (We won’t make detailed predictions on how this intersectional battle will play out, but when a penised “woman” calls out a lesbian for rejecting “her” advances, our money is on the hairy nutsack.)

The other point is how in their flailing logical incoherence, the Left occasionally happens to stumble into a right-wing talking point. We already noted how the tranny bathroom advocates were essentially making a classic pro-gun argument (but ineptly). Now Cole points out (and I kick myself for not noticing it first) that the SJW demand for sexual preferences to be PC-compliant contradicts the Left’s objection to any attempt at a cure of unwanted same-sex attractions: these are supposed to be hard-wired at birth and immutable. Cole further manages to conceptually link the hard Left’s meddling in sexual attraction with white supremacy — a link both parties will be thrilled at, I’m sure. Well done, Cole.

White abortion

This piece, encouraging woke white women to abort their white babies to fight the supremacy, is drawing ire on socia media and the interwebs. Is the piece serious? Satire? Hatebait? A Lombardian two-prong? Who cares! PTT has gone on record as being pro-abortion, and this case is no exception. By all means, woke white women, kill your offspring. We call it a self-correcting error.

Babes of math destruction

John Derbyshire’s review of Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neil is well worth reading; so much so that I won’t bother excerpting the juicy passages. Just go read the whole thing — it’s both entertaining and right-on. All we can contribute is an afterthought, uncharacteristically cruel and petty for PTT. Derbyshire graciously refers to O’Neil as a “mathematician”, which is consistent with the fairly low bar that he has set for that title; after all, Piper Harron made the cut. (We’re reminded of a passage in Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita [control-F “Dostoyevsky” in the pdf] where Koroviev argues with the front desk lady about what makes a writer. According to her, this is determined solely by a writers’ union membership card, to which he retorts that Dostoyevsky didn’t have one — which she trumps with “You’re not Dostoyevsky”.) Her wikipedia page indicates that O’Neil was at one point employed as a professional mathematician and thus passes the card-carrying test (as does the motha functor). According to mathscinet, she has 11 publications, including the aforementioned book. We lack the competence to judge the scientific value of these publications, nor will we speculate whether she “left academia in 2007” by choice or by failing to get tenure. We will, however, briefly pause to ponder the title of O’Neil’s blog: mathbabe. Not “mathlady”, “mathwoman”, “mathgirl” or “mathchick” — she chose to use the word babe, which connotes sexist objectification and leaves us no choice but to evaluate her on this criterion. You be the judge, and for the record, PTT would much sooner consider her a mathematician than a babe.