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God Forbid That People Should Look at Demographic Data

(except, of course, when God forbid that people should ignore demographic data): The Feminist Law Professors blog writes:

[TITLE:] Oh for the love of...

Exactly what possessed Eugene Volokh to look into the sexual orientation of female law profs whose scholarship gets cited a lot? See his "update" at end of this post and try to avoid banging your head on the computer monitor.

Hmm — what would possess an academic to look into disproportionate representation by sexual orientation when one is looking at data showing disproportionate representation by sex and ethnicity? Could it be academic curiosity? A desire to find — and then to call attention to — interesting data points that might help shed light on the degree to which personal attributes correlate with professional success, and potentially influence professional success?

Look, let's say the data I give did generalize beyond its very small sample. I stressed that it was quite limited, since it revealed only that 2 of the 6 women law professors on the list of the 50 most cited professors who entered law teaching since 1992 were lesbian or bisexual; at this point, it is at most very tentatively suggestive. But let's say it did lead some readers to look more closely, and find that indeed lesbians and bisexual women are substantially overrepresented among successful women in certain fields.

Wouldn't that be a matter of some scholarly interest? It doesn't matter what one thinks the cause for this disproportion might be: different patterns of discrimination by outsiders, different internal cultural norms within the group, different social and familial structures, biological differences, or whatever else. It doesn't even matter if one is unsure of the cause at the outset, but is just trying to find data that may eventually help identify the cause. Wouldn't the data be pretty interesting to people who are seriously interested in sociology, biology, demography, the legal profession, and a wide range of other fields?

To me, the glory of the academic life is that you're supposed to look for interesting data, bring it up to colleagues, investigate it, speculate about it, and the like. All people should be entitled to do this, but for us this sort of inquisitiveness is part of our jobs. It's too bad that identifying such data leads some to want to bang their heads against their monitors.

More broadly, if you're curious about human behavior — as a scholar or just as a fellow human — isn't there something striking and intriguing about the marked correlations between sexual orientation and participation in various professions? Male homosexuals are notoriously overrepresented in some fields, and while some such claims might at times be spurious, my sense is that on balance conventional wisdom reflects reality. Lesbians are also often said to be overrepresented in other fields (chiefly athletic, in my experience, though not only that); again, some of this may be myth, but I see no reason to assume that it's all myth.

Why is this? Is it culture? The effects of discrimination? Biology? Some mix of these factors? Does it relate only to different rates of interest in the fields, or also to different rates of success? Fascinating questions, it seems to me, and ones that get more fascinating as one acquires more data. So that's what possessed me, and I don't see what's wrong with such possession.

Zathras (mail):
The sample is way too small to be "interesting data." 2 out of 6? That's well within 1 standard deviation of being consistent with the general population--almost any result would be with only 6 data points.
7.12.2007 5:44pm
Me123 (mail):
The point is that Prof. Volokh included appropriate caveats. This criticism is totally unwarranted and only serves to chill interesting and worthwhile inquiries.
7.12.2007 5:54pm
Zathras (mail):
The criticism is indeed goofy. However, speculating about how 2 out of 6 data points is higher than the average is the statistical equivalent of determining how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. There is nothing worth talking about.
7.12.2007 5:57pm
JWB (mail):
I think the Feminist Blog's point was that, given that 2 out of 6 isn't sufficient data to represent much of anything, reporting orientation merely leads to a bizarre red herring of "why are heterosexual women underrepresented?" When in fact, those data points are perfectly compatible with "Why are homosexual women underrepresented?" Given only 6 data points, why look into sexual orientation at all?

That said, I don't think there's anything wrong with it, but I also think it has no policy implications.

And to be honest, the 50-point data set that Eugene started with isn't a great data set either. Symposia don't only invite the top 50 academics. What do the stats look like for the top 150? How about top 500? Then you'd have enough data to make some judgments.
7.12.2007 6:00pm
ifoughtthelaw (mail) (www):
So basically you're using admittedly unreliable and totally inconclusive data to make a point that ultimately has no factual support whatsoever. But it's okay because you used caveats.

"Hey, this data is really interesting. Of course, it's too small of a sample size and too 'tentatively suggestive' to actually be interesting, but it's still interesting."
7.12.2007 6:03pm
whackjobbbb:
Yeah, too small a sample group for solid statistical analysis. No doubt the academics likely threw in a couple lesbians, but that's to be expected from academics, I'd say. But if that's your point, to expose potentially illegitimate efforts towards "diversity", you'll have to do it absent statistical analysis, I suspect.
7.12.2007 6:12pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
JWB: One has to start looking somewhere, no? I noted the 2/6 data for the top 50 list, and the 2/19 data for the top 120 list. It's the sort of information that might lead people to want to start looking further. Before people get to statistically significant results, they usually start by making intriguing but at most suggestive observations.

If you don't want to follow up and look further, fine. (I'm certainly not going to be doing much deep research on this myself; it's a field I'm curious about, but not one I do original scholarship in, though I hope others would.) If you're confident it's just statistical noise, fine. But don't ask what possess people to even "look into" the information.
7.12.2007 6:12pm
Don Miller (mail) (www):
I served in the US Navy in the mid to late 80's. I spent 4 years on, at the time, one of the small percentage of navy ships that had women on board.

At that time, it was felt, and demographics seemed to suggest, that Lesbian, Bi-sexual women were over represented in the military population than in the general population over all.

I remember some speculation back then that the military lifestyle was more attractive to women with these tendencies than it was to straight women. I don't remember anyone doing any research to confirm that, but it seemed at the time to be a reasonable hypothesis. To this day, I would think it reasonable.

Does this woman find all research in this area objectionable? Or just when it focuses on things she doesn't want people to notice?
7.12.2007 6:14pm
paul lukasiak (mail):
I have to go with the Feminist Law professors here... the assumption that there is anything worthwhile to be found by looking at that data is kinda silly.

And BTW, lack of inclusion on the Gay, Lesbian &Bisexual Community Law Teachers list doesn't mean your not Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual -- ever hear of the closet?

And I have a question --- do you have to be "gay, lesbian, or bisexual" to get on that list? Or can a heterosexual with an interest in laws that concern "sexual minorities" get on the list as well? (i.e. are you assuming that someone is a lesbian because they show up on that list?)

Finally, you seem to ignore the possibility that "gay and lesbian law" might well have been a "hot topic" in law journals in 2002 --- and that the supposed disproportion is simply a reflection of the number of articles that dealt with sexual orientation and the law.
7.12.2007 6:19pm
whackjobbbb:
It's sorta like Howard Stern says... when rating time rolls around, programming centers around one thing... LESBIANS.

Sorry, Volokh, I couldn't resist!
7.12.2007 6:21pm
olli:
"Wouldn't that be a matter of some scholarly interest? It doesn't matter what one thinks the cause for this disproportion might be: different patterns of discrimination by outsiders, different internal cultural norms within the group, different social and familial structures, biological differences, or whatever else."

Uh oh. You're repeating your "possible feelings about menstruation" sin again. Feminists don't like speculation. Just ask Larry Summers.
7.12.2007 6:22pm
Zathras (mail):
EV: It's the sort of information that might lead people to want to start looking further.

And how is that supposed to happen? Checking the number of lesbians in next year's list? That's not going to be useful.

Also, I dispute the characterization of it as information. What you have is about a 0.2 sigma detection. That is utterly meaningless and belongs in the regime of conincidence rather than statistical correlation. There is just no information here.
7.12.2007 6:26pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
I'm with Eugene. Clearly not much can be made of such a tiny data set, but it is perfectly reasonable to observe something about it and speculate about it as a basis for further research. Lots of ideas start out this way.

This is far from the first time that "feminist scholars" (scare quotes for several reasons including the fact that the ones I'm talking about have a particular ideology that not at all representative of the scholars I know who are feminists in the usual sense of the word) have in my experience exhibited very narrow ideas as to what it is legitimate to study.

A little over ten years ago a right-wing Member of the Legislative Assembly complained that the recently established University of Northern British Columbia was devoting excessive resources to the study of "Indians and feminists" and not enough such things as forestry. The Chair of Women's Studies made the idiotic but revealing response that given their limited resources it made sense for Women's
Studies to concentrate on feminists! Not only could only people with a certain ideology be in the Department but only kindred women were suitable objects of study!
7.12.2007 6:30pm
Tek Jansen:
When you have such small numbers of statistics, I think this "research" becomes more personal. You question of "what percentage of some population are lesbians?" becomes "Is person A a lesbian? Is person B a lesbian?"

Your question requires finding out about individual people's personal lives, and the Feminist Law profs express their discomfort with such a question. Even if someone is openly part of a GLBT law prof organization, they may not want to publicize their sexuality to everyone in the Law prof world. I doubt the Feminist Law Profs would express similar discomfort with an anonymous questionnaire sent around to many more people.
7.12.2007 6:35pm
theobromophile (www):

"Wouldn't that be a matter of some scholarly interest? It doesn't matter what one thinks the cause for this disproportion might be: different patterns of discrimination by outsiders, different internal cultural norms within the group, different social and familial structures, biological differences, or whatever else."


It seems beyond the realm of academic scholarship to presume biological factors. Scholarship should, at least in some sense, reveal something new and interesting. Suggesting that women are biologically inferiour to men is nothing new (having been suggested for most of recorded history); hence the head-on-monitor effect.

Prof. Volokh, though, did not make this presumption; in fact, his comment regarding the higher proportion of lesbians in the higher echelons of law mentioned something about a "zany data point" and offered no explanations (if I recall correctly).

I'm not sure how you can even begin to assume that a higher success rate for lesbians in the law would be, ipso facto, biological. In fact, it just as easily suggests sociological factors (such as the lack of a husband - there is an idea that marriage inhibits women's success)... so count me in as one who doesn't understand the head-on-monitor effect as applied here.
7.12.2007 6:41pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Tek Jansen: I gathered the sexual orientation data from List III in The AALS Directory of Law Teachers: 2006-2007. I don't quite see why people should ignore that information out of a concern for the supposed privacy of those who have asked to be included on that list.
7.12.2007 7:02pm
ifoughtthelaw (mail) (www):
I don't get it. You're using a completely meaningless set of numbers as a jumping-off point for further scholarly interest. This is no different from a post saying, "Hey guys, I just saw a lesbian on the street. I wonder how many lesbian law professors there are. Interesting, no?" Or even, "I had waffles for breakfast this morning. Made me wonder about how many lesbian law professors there are. I'm not going to find out, but maybe you should. You know, on account of the waffles."
7.12.2007 7:10pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
What's particularly bizarre about criticisms of Eugene's comments on the subject is that they come from the same people who were busily tabulating the number of women at FedSoc events.
7.12.2007 7:22pm
Zathras (mail):
ifoughtthelaw: "...This is no different from a post saying, "Hey guys, I just saw a lesbian on the street. I wonder how many lesbian law professors there are. Interesting, no?" Or even, "I had waffles for breakfast this morning. Made me wonder about how many lesbian law professors there are. I'm not going to find out, but maybe you should. You know, on account of the waffles."

This reminds me of the old statistical canard that goes along the lines of "I just saw a red ball. That makes the possibility of a blue cube less likely." It may be true, but it has absolutely no information associated with it.
7.12.2007 7:26pm
theobromophile (www):

What's particularly bizarre about criticisms of Eugene's comments on the subject is that they come from the same people who were busily tabulating the number of women at FedSoc events.


Exactly. Apparently, we are only supposed to tabulate for the limited purpose of pursuing diversity (i.e. a perfect reflection of American demographics).
7.12.2007 7:31pm
whit:
"I served in the US Navy in the mid to late 80's. I spent 4 years on, at the time, one of the small percentage of navy ships that had women on board.

At that time, it was felt, and demographics seemed to suggest, that Lesbian, Bi-sexual women were over represented in the military population than in the general population over all. "

don, i have found the exact same thing to be true in law enforcement.

but you have to remember page 1 of the leftist handbook only allows one to look at this sort of data if the intent is to prove discrimination against one of the "oppressed" groups. iow, if one is not intending to prove that evil white straight men are oppressing (insert racial/ethnic/genderidentity here) a given group, then it is never proper to note that (for example)...

lesbians appear overrepresented in law enforcement

west african blacks are overrepresented in elite 100 meter sprinters (specifically west african origin blacks who held (recently) 484 of the top 500 spots)

jews are overrepresented vs. christians in ivy league
protestants are overepresented vs. catholics in ivy league
blacks are overrepresented in basketball

etc.

i have read some studies that show on average, that lesbian women have higher T (testosterone) levels than straight women. for that reason alone (although there are probably cultural reasons as well), it makes sense that lesbian women would be overrepresented in "traditionally male" careers that have higher elements of physical risk, and other such factors.




I remember some speculation back then that the military lifestyle was more attractive to women with these tendencies than it was to straight women. I don't remember anyone doing any research to confirm that, but it seemed at the time to be a reasonable hypothesis. To this day, I would think it reasonable.

Does this woman find all research in this area objectionable? Or just when it focuses on things she doesn't want people to notice?
7.12.2007 8:00pm
chris c:
out of curiosity, is there any section of society that's not disproportionately composed of this or that group or sex? provided there is no bias at work, this should be of interest, but not concern.
7.12.2007 8:04pm
whit:
"It seems beyond the realm of academic scholarship to presume biological factors. Scholarship should, at least in some sense, reveal something new and interesting. Suggesting that women are biologically inferiour to men is nothing new (having been suggested for most of recorded history); hence the head-on-monitor effect."

except academics of the left (for many decades) did the exact opposite. they presumed, nay proclaimed that all or nearly all of gender differences (behavior, job seeking,etc.) could be explained by socialization/environment.

the data CLEARLY says that there are incredibly important biological factors, but that never stopped somebody with an agenda from claiming facts that run contrary to science, let alone that presume about science. when the facts and evidence run contrary to your social policy desires, ignore the facts and call people "sexist" who dare oppose you.

this, after all, is what happened to the president of harvard for daring to even MENTION that there was research that suggested differences in cognition between men and women.

also popular (in addition to accusing one of sexism) is to hiss, boo, and catcall.

i'm not aware of any more obviously blatant falsehood than the several decade long attempt by many "social scientists" to completely ignore (and even discourage research into) the biological basis of gender differences.

the reasoning is clear. if some (or more than some) of the differences between men and women's behavior could be shown to be largely influenced by biology, then social programs and policies that attempted to create egalitarian results would rest on a flawed premise: that differences in pay, job choice, etc. were solely due to sexism.
7.12.2007 8:06pm
William Spieler (mail) (www):
Given the Lee whats-her-name error, maybe they should have asked the FedSoc members to "raise your hand to indicate your gender" too.
7.12.2007 8:31pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
By the way, perhaps the statisticians here can tell me more on this: Lesbians and bisexual women appear to be about 4% or fewer of all women. In one subgroup of women I pointed to, though, lesbians and bisexual women made up at least 2 of the 6 people; in another, they made up at least 2 of the 19.

I would have thought that this was something that was at least suggestive of something beyond random noise -- not as striking as the 12/50 Asians (when Asians are also about 4% of the population) or 19/50 Jews (2% of the population), but still something noteworthy. Am I mistaken, just as a matter of the statistics?
7.12.2007 8:39pm
ifoughtthelaw (mail) (www):
I don't have a problem with looking at demographic data, but it's been acknowledged that the "data" at issue here wasn't reliable. If you're curious as to whether there are a lot of lesbians in legal academia that's fine, just don't cite a sample of six professors in support of your hypothesis.
7.12.2007 8:40pm
George Weiss (mail):
nobody seems to complain about standard deviAtion and N when they point out here has been no woman or black presidents..that ginzburg is the only supreme court justice..etc..
7.12.2007 8:43pm
ifoughtthelaw (mail) (www):

nobody seems to complain about standard deviAtion and N when they point out here has been no woman or black presidents..that ginzburg is the only supreme court justice..etc..


It's much easier to draw conclusions from 0/43 and 2/110 than 2/6, standard deviations or no.
7.12.2007 8:49pm
Tek Jansen:
With 4% population, there'd be a 0.2% chance of getting at least 2 in a random sample of 6 and a 17% chance of getting at least 2 in a random sample of 19. Obviously, 19 is much better number than 6. On the other hand, if the underlying population is 10%, then the numbers change to 11% and 57%. Since you should use the larger sample, the results are pretty insignificant.
7.12.2007 8:55pm
Bryan DB:
Eugene,
You said "I would have thought that this was something that was at least suggestive of something beyond random noise....Am I mistaken, just as a matter of the statistics?"

You'll note that as your sample size gets bigger (from 6 to 19), it gets closer to the expected percentage; the observed percentage drops from 33% to 10%, and the expected is 4%). This leads to the conclusion that your data is not suggestive of anything, and that as a matter of statistics this would be proven as your sample size increased.
7.12.2007 8:57pm
theobromophile (www):

the reasoning is clear. if some (or more than some) of the differences between men and women's behavior could be shown to be largely influenced by biology, then social programs and policies that attempted to create egalitarian results would rest on a flawed premise: that differences in pay, job choice, etc. were solely due to sexism.


(Emphasis mine.) Assume, for the sake of argument, that the intellectual bell curves for men and women are similar; however, men occupy more positions on each extreme end.

For the vast majority of people, the differences are negligible - i.e. the overlap on the bell curves overrides any small deviations. Ergo, they should receive the same treatment.

When the differences are not negligible, as on each extreme end, there is still no justification for discrimination against individuals: the one woman in a group of ten ought to be paid, promoted, and treated in an equal manner to her equally-qualified male peers.

If sexism is at all a factor in how women are treated, it's wrong and needs to be changed. The presence of other factors does not justify inequitable treatment for reasons beyond merit.

Moving onwards:

Some research suggests that theorising about sex differences can negatively influence women's performance. As such, it is not unreasonable to say that suggesting biological differences is not benign.

Biological differences remain relatively constant over time. The numbers of women in medicine, engineering, MBA programmes, and the like continues to increase (i.e. change). As an engineer, I find it to be a mistake to attribute a non-constant phenomena to a constant phenomena. It is not as if we have lived in a society in which women have ceased to make inroads at any measurable rate - it is simply that we have not done so "fast enough." The Summers argument seems to suggest 1) that there is some quantifiable, measurable rate at which a formerly-discriminated against group will reach parity; and 2) women have not been doing that fast enough.

If we're going to talk about Summers, I'll save someone the work: his speech is here.
7.12.2007 9:04pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Tek Jansen: Hmm -- do you have any reliable data suggesting that lesbians and bisexual women are 10% of the population? The best data that I've seen suggests that the numbers are roughly 4% or less. Under this, the 2/6 result would be pretty noteworthy, given your calculations. At least noteworthy enough to merit some more looking, no?

Bryan DB: As I mentioned, the 2/19 vs. 2/6 difference may also be related to the age effects; self-identification as lesbian or bisexual may be common among people who grew up in a time when lesbianism and bisexuality were more tolerated. But in any case, is it really the case that the 2/19 and 2/6 numbers "lead[] to the conclusion that [the] data is not suggestive of anything"? I would think that the presence of the 2/19 data point might make the 2/6 data point less suggestive -- not that it would lead to the conclusion that the 2/6 data point is not suggestive.

How is it exactly that you can be so definite in disregarding the possibility that the observed numbers are indeed suggestive (not by any means conclusive, but suggestive)?
7.12.2007 9:07pm
George Weiss (mail):
ifoughtthelaw:

the point is when the group is small but highly selective...more scrutiny is warrentled even in a sample that seems unreasonableby small

thats because thats the only ddata we are ever going to get.

the only "real" data is the actual demographic of the minority in america (50% cor women 12-14% for black)

that is to say:

we should epect about 20/43 woman presidents
andabout 3-5/43 black presidents

only problem=0/43

similarly we should expect at the most 25 women instead of 6 (in the 50)..and find it exceptionally unlikeyly that even 1..much less 2 of those six should turn up lesibian.


these are the "interesting data" eugent talks about....and, given our constant worry about affirmative action/discrimination in this country, it is quite interesting to me.

someone above claims his comment is no different from seeing a lesbian prof on the street and wondering how many there are..this is true it is similar in that both are unscientific and anecdotal...they call for more investigation......

but they dont call for feminist law professor to post a picture of federalist law society underwear with eugene's name on it.
7.12.2007 9:12pm
whit:
"Some research suggests that theorising about sex differences can negatively influence women's performance. As such, it is not unreasonable to say that suggesting biological differences is not benign. "

i don't care if it's "benign" or not. i'd rather be exposed to an "inconvenient truth" than a "benign lie". that's just an amazingly insulting and patronizing attitude, and oh so typical in this debate.

the idea that you can't discuss these issues without making people FEEL bad. how absurd. i'd rather know the truth and discuss the evidence.

this is exactly what is wrong in academia. it's the classic example of "political correctness", the idea that if evidence/truth hurts people's feelings (especially those that are considered "oppressed" or not "privileged" ) that they need to be protected from the truth

"When the differences are not negligible, as on each extreme end, there is still no justification for discrimination against individuals: the one woman in a group of ten ought to be paid, promoted, and treated in an equal manner to her equally-qualified male peers."

nice strawman. i never said discrimination (gender ) was acceptable. what i said is that GIVEN biological differences between the genders, that casts doubts on the liberal's theories (for a very generous use of the word "theory") that disproportionate gender representation in various careers etc. is DUE to discrimination

for example.

men are less risk averse, and have (on average) numerous biologically (and socially ) influenced behavioral factors that make careers like firefighting and law enforcement likely to ALWAYS be dominated by men.

only in the (non-scientific world) of the academic left can disproportionate representation of women in various fields solely be the result of evil external discrimination.

you can present these people with a million points of data, and their response is "that's sexist"

i don't care if theorizing, studying and presenting studies negatively influences anybody's performance. so what? false self-esteem and living one's life ignoring reality is not an option in a free society with free debate.

summers was vilified for actually referencing science that went contrary to the leftist-academics religion - the tabula rasa gender identity theory (which is more first wave feminist than anything).
7.12.2007 9:24pm
Tek Jansen:
Studies are pretty unreliable, but 4% seems more accurate than 10%. If you limit your population to college-educated white (with large Jewish contingent)+Asian women, that may increase the percentage of people who self-identify as lesbians. The underlying population you want to use depends on what you want to infer from the data, and is therefore pretty uncertain. I chose 10% to demonstrate how the numbers change for a larger underlying population.
7.12.2007 9:35pm
Jackson Benson (mail) (www):
Eugene,

Why are you even arguing with Ann Bartow? She's a hopeless case of an anti-intellectual in the grip of ideology. Any facts that don't serve her ideological purposes are out of bounds.
7.12.2007 9:46pm
Rubber meet glue:
Jackson Benson,

Why are you even arguing with Eugene Volokh? He's a hopeless case of an anti-intellectual in the grip of ideology. Any facts that don't serve his ideological purposes are out of bounds.
7.12.2007 10:21pm
George Weiss (mail):
Rubber meet glue:

i dont see any juvinille pictures of underwear on eugene's site
7.12.2007 10:31pm
DougS (mail):
Highly successful male law professors are more likely to be divorced than the general population. Highly successful male law professors are more likely than the general population of males to have extramartial affairs. Highly successful male law professors are more likely than the general population to have children with criminal records. etc. etc. etc.

So are these characteristics of academic interest? Surely, they say something about these male law professors.
7.12.2007 11:19pm
Ricardo (mail):
This criticism Eugene is especially striking as one of the more common arguments being made in academia these days is that women are underrepresented in part because many choose to start a family rather than try to make tenure. Of course, women of extraordinary talent can do both but for many the time commitment of producing high-quality research is not consistent with raising children, especially if the husband has a demanding career as well.

If it was the case that lesbians were overrepresented in academia among women, that would tend to support this view. My impression is that most male academics tend to be married or have partners while a disproportionate number of women are single and not actively dating. Biology does not necessarily play a role.
7.12.2007 11:42pm
Houston Lawyer:
Why is it taboo to notice that a lot of competitive positions for women have a disproportionate number of lesbians? My ex could have played college volleyball, but was turned off by the lesbian dominated teams that recruited her.

I suspect that any group of women who are highly competitive exhibit behaviors that most women would not want to emulate. I think it is OK to discuss this in public.
7.12.2007 11:48pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
DougS: If you can point to some data supporting your assertions, then they would indeed be interesting. Why would "[h]ighly successful male law professors [be] more likely than the general population to have children with criminal records"? I'd like to know -- if, of course, there were any reason to believe this was true.
7.12.2007 11:54pm
DougS (mail):
Eugene: Its of academic interest! How about the fathers were too busy being successful to spend time with the kids.
7.13.2007 12:02am
Laura S.:
Eugene:

You may find this useful: http://www.surveysystem.com/sscalc.htm
http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/PD006
7.13.2007 12:16am
whit:
"Why is it taboo to notice that a lot of competitive positions for women have a disproportionate number of lesbians? My ex could have played college volleyball, but was turned off by the lesbian dominated teams that recruited her"

it's "taboo" because it's a stereotype. the fact that it's TRUE is irrelevant. it's "icky". i find it hilarious that, for example, the local WNBA team (the storm) disproportionately spends advertising in gay and "gay friendly" publications. i saw an interview with a rep. who admitted this. and why not? they KNOW their audience. but if somebody (like a straight white male) were to remark that there appeared to be a disproportionate # of lesbians who attend WNBA games, he would be labeled a homophobic bigot. the fact that that's a reasonable observation, that it actually is true (apparently) and that the rep's of the team believe it to be true based on their advertising $$$ is of course irrelevant to this mindset.

political correctness is truly orwellian.

it's also taboo to note differences in sports talent (on average) between athletes of different races, but moreso when it "denigrates" an "oppressed group". that's why it's ok to have a movie called "white men can't jump" and not offend anybody.

jon entine wrote a great book about racial differences in sports performances and compiled some amazing data on sprinters specifically. he was mostly vilified by white liberals. far more black sports experts were less PC and thus willing to accept the rather startling data.

but again, he was vilified for the mere ACT of studying these differences. it's just like summers at harvard. the mere act of asking questions, researching etc. is "insensitive"

the stats are stunning. the reaction was disturbing
7.13.2007 12:54am
Kingsley Browne (mail):
I find many of these comments quite amusing. Eugene points to the fact that 2 of 6 women who have attained exceptional professional success by a particular measure appear to be lesbians and suggests that this is an interesting data point that *might* be reflective of some general tendency. People go ballistic and attack this "foreign-born" young man personally, asserting that the numbers he points to are totally meaningless. In other contexts, however, no one would think twice about noting this kind of statistical anomaly.

Women who self-identify as lesbians are probably well under two percent of the population. Thus, while one would expect only 2 out of 100 to be lesbians, in this sample it is 2 out of 6. Suppose we knew that the incidence of a particular form of cancer was two percent in the general population, but we found that in a small department in a chemical plant, two out of six employees suffered from the cancer. Who thinks that the company should respond by saying that calls for an investigation are out of order because the sample is so small that this isn't really "data"?
7.13.2007 8:45am
Mateo_G:
The only important question: are these 2 lesbians hot?
7.13.2007 9:00am
Parker Smith (mail) (www):
Mateo_G, et.al. -

Can we assume that all the obvious lesbian jokes ("hot lawyer on lawyer action", "getting into her briefs", etc.) have now been made?

Kind of an interesting thread - it seems like something of a Rorschach ink blot, where what people think they see tells more about them than it does about the picture.
7.13.2007 9:31am
DWPittelli (mail) (www):
1) The only significant finding here is that heterosexual women are underrepresented. The lesbians are probably somewhat overrepresented, but certainly not to a statistically significant extent. (We would expect exactly 1 lesbian if they are 4% of the female population, and thus 2% of the overall population.)

2) I am reminded of another case, with even smaller numbers. Janet Reno, of uncertain sexuality, became Attorney General because Clinton's #1 and #2 choices, being heterosexuals and mothers, had been caught up in the reality of the market for nannies in DC: they are mostly illegal aliens, and few of them are, or want to be, on the books tax-wise.

3) Volokh, don't you know that only members of the LGBT community (or whatever acronym they're up to) are allowed to make note of who is, or may be, a member of the LBGT community? You bigot!
7.13.2007 9:58am
Beth B:
Women who self-identify as lesbians are probably well under two percent of the population. Thus, while one would expect only 2 out of 100 to be lesbians, in this sample it is 2 out of 6.

Open disclosure: I am a college student and a queer femme woman with a female life partner.

Umm, 2% of the population would be 4% of women, so assuming that this is a correct assumption (which I don't entirely concede), the comparison for "2 out of 6" should be to "4 out of 100". Furthermore, the 2 out of 6 sample is really 2 out of 19 women (arbitrarily excluding the other 13 women from the larger sample space seems hard to justify), and more importantly, it is 2 out of 120 people - almost exactly what one would expect.

But why the assumption that lawyers that list themselves as "Gay, Lesbian &Bisexual Community Law Teachers" are lesbian women? It seems rather obvious to me that (at the very least) some of them might be bisexual. My personal experience with college LGBT organizations is that at least as many of the women that join such groups are bisexual as are lesbian. (Actually, my completely statistically-irrelevant experience is that I'm about as likely to meet a confused heterosexual woman who is down on men as I am to meet another lesbian woman at such a group.)

Also, there are still some second-wave feminists who believe that all feminists should identify as lesbian on general principles (not an opinion I share, but then I'm not a second-waver), and there are many feminists from later schools of thought who believe that being supportive of free expression of sexual orientation and gender presentation are core feminist positions. I'd hazard a guess that some prominent female lawyers are feminists, so some of these women might well be heterosexual but LGBT friendly/supportive.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if the number of women who are lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, genderqueer, and/or "feminists who identify strongly with LGBT legal issues" in academic fields in general exceeds 10%. I wouldn't be surprised if a high percentage of women that take women's studies classes were to list themselves as concerned with LGBT-law.

I'd actually be personally surprised if only 4% of women were lesbian/bisexual - I can cite studies showing that 11% of women under 45 and over the age of consent report having had sexual experiences with other women.
7.13.2007 10:10am
interesting:
Despite some of the comments in this thread (e.g., Lukasiak), the feminist blog post didn't actually criticize Prof. Volokh's use of statistics. So is the blog's point that the demographics of sexual orientation are simply off limits? What tenet of feminism does such an inquiry violate? Just curious.
7.13.2007 10:20am
Beth B:
Another note on a point that often seems to elude heterosexual people is that the meaning of the word "lesbian" is not really the same in many queer women circles as it is in heterosexual culture.

I personally marched in a Dyke March a few weeks ago with a queer woman who is married to another woman, but who does not consider herself "lesbian". I could explain this phenomenom, but it's complicated and irrelevant why she feels this way. The important point is that many women who are attracted primarily (or exclusively) to other women do NOT identify as lesbian.

A recent CDC reported study showed that 90.3% of women describe themselves as heterosexual, 1.3% are lesbian, 2.8% are bisexual, and 3.8% are "something else" (which I would propose consists largely of queer women who do not identify as "lesbian" or "heterosexual". Which adds up to 7.9% of women as being lesbian, bisexual, or otherwise queer. This is not necessarily even including transsexual women and genderqueer women who prefer men. So I'd guess that the actual percentage of LGBT women in the general population of women is closer to 8% than 2-4%.
7.13.2007 10:28am
Kingsley Browne (mail):
Perhaps I was unclear. When I said that self-identified lesbians make up less than 2 percent of the population, the population that I was referring to was all women, not all people. Even if it were 4 percent of the female population, my point would still stand, however.
7.13.2007 10:28am
rarango (mail):
Doesnt the scientific method work based on observations (where statistical tests may not be appropriate) and hypotheses based on those observations created that can be tested with larger studies that do have statistical validity?

Thats the way I read Professor Volokh's point. It is simply a restatement of the scientific method.
7.13.2007 10:31am
Beth B:
Oh, and more than one third of lesbian women have children.

According to studies on the subject, 41.4% percent of lesbian women and 59.2% of bisexual women want to have children (as compared with 53.5% of heterosexual women). A higher percentage of same-sex female couples adopt than heterosexual women. An astonishing 38% of same-sex female households with an adoptive child have attended graduate school (adoption is expensive, but the same study showed that only 13% of heterosexual couples have someone that has attended graduate school).

As it happens, my life parner (a salaried professional) is due next month. The fertility clinic we used told us that more than 10% of their clients for insemination services were lesbian couples.

So the notion that lesbian couples aren't parents and don't have familes is not as strong as some people seem to have assumed.
7.13.2007 10:44am
Beth B:
Even if it were 4 percent of the female population, my point would still stand, however.

However, if more like 8 percent of the female population is lesbian/bisexual/trans/genderqueer, then 2 out of 19 women citing an interest in LGBT law is not even remotely interesting or statistically significant. Women, both straight and queer, appear to be underrepresented to me.
7.13.2007 10:53am
p. rich (mail) (www):
Some interesting "logic here, including that a small or non-representative data sample is somehow not a data sample.

Then there's the overlooked possibility that lesbians might not self-report, and the proportion is actually greater (A good study could support or refute this.). And IQ curves for men and women are not similar beyond being bell curves. And there is absolutely no basis on which to presume that the percentage of any gender or racial group in any occupational field should mirror the population. And at least one study has shown that biologically, bisexuals do not exist. The list is much longer, but at some point interest wanes.

As for Eugene's "Why is this?":

Most likely some combination of hormonal and brain anomalies. Unfortunately, research funds for investigation into the whys and hows are hard to come by when the study subject is a protected anomaly.
7.13.2007 10:56am
AnonSTL:
I've got to agree with whit here: I don't care if it's "uncomfortable". I think exploring these differences is fascinating. And as EV points out in his thread, it is certainly worth looking into.

That's how original research works all the time: you notice a data point that stands out for a particular reason, so you decide to explore it a bit further. You don't just drop/ignore it if it doesn't immediately pass every statistical test (see rarango's post).

Off topic, I've always been fascinated by the over-representation of white pitchers in baseball (compared to the over-representation of black athletes in nearly every other position). Why is that? Surely no manager keeps an awesome pitcher off the mound simply because of skin tone...
7.13.2007 11:05am
rarango (mail):
AnonSTL: re the pitcher's question. Does sabermetrics address that? they do fascinating detailed statistical analysis of baseball.
7.13.2007 11:09am
CatoRenasci (mail):

I can cite studies showing that 11% of women under 45 and over the age of consent report having had sexual experiences with other women.


Do you mean to assert that every woman who has had a sexual experience with another woman is a lesbian (or at least bisexual)?

That would be the equivalent of the old (hopelessly politically incorrect homophobe's) stereotypical wisdom:

you s*ck one c*ck and you're always a c*cks*ckr


What ever happened to the notion (variously attributed to Voltaire and Ben Franklin) that
once is philosophy, twice is perversion
?

Seems to me that if someone tries a behavior and doesn't make a habit of it, they can hardly be categorized as a one who practices the behavior.

I think the only legitimate objection to Professor Volokh's observation is that the sample size (6, even the larger 19) is too small for any analysis of the data to be statistically reliable. Unfortunately, when you're looking at very small datasets, you have to accept that fact. If you can't enlarge the data set, you'r efaced with the choice of saying nothing (which seems to be popular here) or being tentative in your conclusions, emphasizing the lack of statistical reliability.

Do not confuse a lack of statistical reliability for irrelevance or an inability to make observations about the data.
7.13.2007 11:09am
Beth B:
And at least one study has shown that biologically, bisexuals do not exist.

I haven't seen any study suggesting that biologically women can't be bisexual. Most of the experts that have expressed doubts about the existence of bisexual men have not expressed similar doubts about the existence of bisexual women.

Which is all completely (and unbelievably) irrelevant. Women who describe themselves as bisexual certainly do exist - one of my closest friends is a self-described bisexual woman who has slept with mutiple members of each sex. So why does it matter (for these purposes) how they arrived at their sexual orientation?
7.13.2007 11:17am
Beth B:
Do you mean to assert that every woman who has had a sexual experience with another woman is a lesbian (or at least bisexual)?

If I'd meant to make that assertion, I'd have made it.

I was merely countering Professor's Volokh's quoting of a statistic that only 4% of women had reported a same-sex sexual encounter - I've seen recent studies with much higher numbers.

And the same criticism goes both ways. Prof. Volokh assumes that the number of lesbian women is necessarily lower than the number of women who have had sex with other women. I personally know more than one woman who identifies as a lesbian but who has not had sex with another woman yet. And I know lots of queer women who belong to LGBT social groups who are not exclusively attracted to women. So I think there have been a lot of falacious assumptions made about people who choose to associate themselves for some unidentified purpose with queer issues and queer groups.
7.13.2007 11:24am
whit:
"I'd actually be personally surprised if only 4% of women were lesbian/bisexual - I can cite studies showing that 11% of women under 45 and over the age of consent report having had sexual experiences with other women"

which proves nothing.

going to a synagogue once or twice doesn't make you jewish
7.13.2007 12:10pm
A.C.:
Strange that no one has mentioned it, but at least one woman in every lesbian partnership is under serious pressure to get a "primary breadwinner" job. Possibly both women, if the first does not get domestic partner benefits from an employer. Married heterosexual women work, of course, but some can choose to pursue part-time or intermittant work to supplement the family income rather than provide the bulk of it. So it seems reasonable that a larger proportion of lesbian women would pursue careers the same way men do, putting in longer hours and seeking traditionally male jobs in order to earn more money and get better benefits.
7.13.2007 12:28pm
Beth B:
which proves nothing.
Again, Prof. Volokh presented a statistic on the same thing (the number of women that report having had same-sex sexual experiences) as evidence of the number of queer women.

"(According to Laumann et al., 4% of women report some same-sex partners since age 18, which I suspect slightly overstates the fraction who would report themselves as lesbian or bisexual; that 4% of women maps out to 2% of the public generally.)"

For which he received no criticism. Did none of the people responding to me on this aspect of my comments read his initial post? I merely provided a contrary set of numbers (and, also again, I did NOT claim that 11% of all women are lesbian).

going to a synagogue once or twice doesn't make you jewish
Do you really think that visiting a synagogue and having homosexual sex are comparable experiences that people are equally likely to do on a whim? If not, then this isn't much of an analogy.

And again, identifying as queer DOES NOT equal being lesbian. Why do people (including Prof Volokh) keep making this assumption?

(And it's still not completely clear to me that only queer women would identify as someone that is a LGBT law teacher.)
7.13.2007 12:56pm
whit:
i am not arguing or supporting prof volokh's #'s/analysis. i am arguing against the leftist notion that the study of such things is wrong and/or that this sort of analysis is only acceptable when one is trying to forward 'social justice' and prove discrimination
7.13.2007 1:10pm
theobromophile (www):
Whit,

It's not about feelings. If you actually read the article I cited, you would see that it's about concrete, empirical results - i.e. worse performance on math tests.

As a basic scientific principle, when your theory acts as a variable, you have to either find yourself a different theory (or method) that does not skew what you are studying; quantifiably determine the effects of your theory upon the observed phenomena; or examine every other variable and try to backsolve for the theory in question.

What you cannot do is to use your theory (or method of testing) anyway and pretend that it does not change your results. It's not "feelings;" it's good science.

Beth: I could be mis-reading you, but you seem to be arguing about terminology, mostly. It seems as if Prof. Volokh used the word that, to him, seemed to best describe women who self-describe in GLBT magazines.
7.13.2007 1:25pm
byomtov (mail):
Actually, if 4% of a population is Lesbian, and you randomly select six members, the chance that at least two will be Lesbian is only about 2%.

The chance that none will be is 78.3% (that's .96^6)
The chance that exactly one will be is 19.6% (.96^5 X .04 X 6)

So the chance that at least two will be is 2.1%

The chance that at least 2 out of 19 will be Lesbian is around 17%, not really significant.
7.13.2007 1:42pm
whit:
"It's not about feelings. If you actually read the article I cited, you would see that it's about concrete, empirical results - i.e. worse performance on math tests. "

and again. even if true, so what?

assume that studying gender differences in cognition causes some women to perform worse?

so what? we don't hide truth because it causes people to feel bad, or might discourage others from performing as well.

that's the point

fwiw, i think the evidence is pretty strong that there are biological factors at play that affect the male/female disparity in math (and language) abilities.

regardless, it is not wrong to study and talk about studies this topic because of how it makes people feel OR perform

men have been performing better at math than women since LONG before anybody studied it scientifically fwiw
7.13.2007 1:51pm
SIG357:
Off topic, I've always been fascinated by the over-representation of white pitchers in baseball (compared to the over-representation of black athletes in nearly every other position). Why is that?

Same reason that whites are over-represented as football quarterbacks, or gold-medalists in throwing the discus or javelin, or weightlifting. Whites tend to have greater upper body strength, just as blacks tend to have stronger legs, which is why they dominate running-oriented activities.
7.13.2007 2:17pm
hey (mail):
DWP: Many organisations have included Queer, Questioning, and Two-Spirited in their panopoly. Very Python-esque, interesting that you need ethnic discrimination (two-spirited), need to accept lesbian/gay antipathy (bi-sexual), need a spot for the extra-radical (queer), those who are really confused (Questioning, like they don't have enough options already).

Outside of the social dynamics, you only need two letters: G and T. That covers the specific issues with respect to sexuality and psychology. The rest is just the hilarious result of having too many leftists in one room - of course for me one leftist is too many, but whatever.

As to the numbers issue: "Feminist Scholars" should be happy with this line of inquiry and what it says. This would seem to indicate that there are dramatic downward pressures on women pursuing academic careers thanks to the demands of family life. To what extent this reflects voluntary behavioral differences vs societal pressure will of course be debated, but it does provide more evidence that marriage and children are inhibitors of professional success for women while they tend to be correlated with success for men. EV being attacked for this observation/inquiry demonstrates the irrationality and utter uselessness of so many "feminist scholars". You aren't a scholar if you can't have a vigourous discussion of a controversy in your field, and you're not a feminist if you faint at the sound of an offending word. Their behavior supports the most retrograde stereotpyes of women as delicate flowers or inherently irrational while their "work" claims the opposite. Never has a more deserving group been hoist by their own petard.
7.13.2007 3:06pm
whit:
um...
weightlifting (the sport of weightlifting) is dominated by lower body strength.

and blacks do EXCELLENT in weightlifting. cuba has fielded some phenomenal black wl'ers. blacks tend not to live in the countries that dominate wl'ing (bulgaria and much of eastern europe) which skews these results. same reason why we don't see tons of black hockey players or cross country skiiers

but the modern versions of the clean and jerk and the snatch are very dependant on leg strength. as a weightlifter, i NEVER do bench press. but i squat 3 times a week in addition to lots of pulls etc.

i've never seen any evidence to the upper vs. lower strength differentiation you claim. not saying its not true. but i have seen no evidence for it.

the pitcher example is absurd since limit strength is not the issue. it's a matter of plyometric reversal (which is more a disinhibition/tendon/etc. thang, and ability to generate limb speed)

very bad example.

you can be very physically weak (in terms of limit strength) and be a great pitcher.

your comments about quarterbacks is also absurd. these athletes are NOT known for their strength. they are among the weakest athletes (on average) in pro football, on average. i have spent a LOT of time in weightrooms training with football players. btw, the power clean is a staple exercise for them.

no offense, but you come off as having almost no knowledge on this subject.

there are profound differences in physiological differences but you miss them mostly

west african blacks have (on average bla bla) much greater speed, which is why they completely and totally dominate 100 m sprinting WORLDWIDE. even countries like england (with relatively small #'s of blacks) field elite sprinters who are almost always black. sprinters are born not made which substantially supports a strong genetic component.

west african blacks also have (on average bla bla) lower bf and higher testosterone levels.

east african blacks dominate distance running. not ONE east african black has ever dominated sprinting, otoh.

two VERY distinct groups. most nba players who are black are of west african origin. burst speed and jumping ability are prevalent in west african blacks.

the chinese fwiw, do PHENOMENALLY well in weightlifting (great training program and great joint flexibility). they also have a greater percentage of athletes who squat jerk vs. split jerk (see: flexibility).

despite the huge #'s of chinese, not ONE has broken 10 sec in the hundred meters.

guess who consistently do?
7.13.2007 3:17pm
byomtov (mail):
To add to whit's comment, pitching depends a great deal on leg strength. Ask Roger Clemens. Maintaining balance and pushing off the mound strongly while throwing are quite important.
7.13.2007 3:31pm
whit:
yes, that is true too. as do all throwing sports.

hammer throwers, shotputters, etc. are VERY VERY dependant on leg strength (and they train limit strength as well as "speed-strength)- that's why these athletes are constantly doing power cleans and squats.

pitchers do not need nearly as much limit leg strength as those that throw the hammer or shotput do, but they need plenty of explosive strength (speed-strength) and a fair amount of limit strength

boxers too.

pretty much any sport where you are standing and transfer force up through your core and into your limbs - this applies

DEFINITELY for example, MMA
7.13.2007 3:37pm
theobromophile (www):


When the "truth" in question is exactly the harm visited by such theories, yes, you do! You presume biological inferiourity to be a truth, which is exactly what you are trying to prove.

I can't even dream up a better example of circular reasoning.
7.13.2007 3:47pm
rightwingprof (mail) (www):

this data


Not to be pedantic or anything, but I'm sure you meant these data. Perhaps it's old-fashioned, but I feel anyone with a PhD should be able to use "data" correctly. Anyone else, and I don't particularly care.
7.13.2007 3:48pm
whit:
who presumed biological "inferiority".

i didn't PRESUME anything

i said the data strongly supports biological differentiation

leftist anti-science types don't like the results of the science, or even that people are allowed to research these topics, so they try to quell debate, shut down research, ignore research, and call people like summers "sexist" for daring to mention scientific research

it's liberal creationism, frankly
7.13.2007 3:49pm
SIG357:
no offense, but you come off as having almost no knowledge on this subject.


No offense taken. I'd have to care what you think for that to be the case.

I have noticed that a certain type of person takes exception to the practice of punctuation and capitalization. People like yourself.

Here is a list of all Olympic weightlifting medalists. There are some Chinese, in the featherweight division. The heavier weight divisions are dominated by Europeans and those of European extraction.. I'm afraid it shows precious little support for your claim that "blacks do EXCELLENT in weightlifting". Of course, you don't strike me as someone who lets mere data interfere with his preconceptions.

Link.


blacks tend not to live in the countries that dominate wl'ing (bulgaria and much of eastern europe) which skews these results. same reason why we don't see tons of black hockey players or cross country skiiers

Interesting. For one thing, you just insisted that blacks "do EXCELLENT" in weight lifting. In any case you are arguing that if black's do not excel in a certain sport, like weightlifting, it is because of local cultural reasons. But if they do excel in a certain sport, say sprinting, it is because of their inate "physiological differences". I can tell that this is not going to be a productive exchange.

you can be very physically weak (in terms of limit strength) and be a great pitcher.


That is true, clearly. I did not say or mean to suggest in my brief comment above that Joe Montana was the strongest guy on the Niners, or Koufax with the Dodgers, in terms of how much weight they could bench press. But I suspect you are the only person who took it that way.
7.13.2007 4:03pm
whit:
sig, get a clue

" In any case you are arguing that if black's do not excel in a certain sport, like weightlifting, it is because of local cultural reasons. But if they do excel in a certain sport, say sprinting, it is because of their inate "physiological differences"."

compare weightlifting to a UNIVERSAL sport.

sprinting. every nation on earth has tons of RUNNING. it's universal. weightlifting is not. weightlifting is mostly concentrated in eastern europe, china, etc.

i can tell you firsthand, even among gymgoers, most have never done a clean and jerk or snatch

almost everybody has run as fast as they could

so (west african) black superiority at sprinting is clearly biological

how come china, england, etc. don't field lots of elite white or asian sprinters?

get real

weightlifting is primarily practiced (and in state run camps in many places) in eastern europe (especially former soviet states), cuba, china, etc.

it is EXTREMELY technique dependant

this is why you don't see a lot of elite black weightlifters

similar to how youdon't see a lot of elite black curlers, hockey players, cross country skiiers etc.

arguably one of the greatest us wl'ers ever (barnett) was black.

cuba's lara was also black and was among the best.

but the bulgarian etc, machine is near unbeatable. there are not a lot of blacks in bulgaria, turkey, qatar, iran, the former soviet republics, china, etc.

these are countries that have state run programs, and where weightlifting is massively supported

the US, as a counterexample, has a tiny wl'ing program.

blacks are not going to excel at any sport they are not exposed to. duh

regardless of physiology

the reason why sprinting is such an excellent example of (west african black) sprint superiority is that it is

1) done in nearly every nation on earth
2) requires realtively less technique training (compared to pole vault, swimming, wl'ing etc)
3) requires little equipment/financial means

etc.

and guess what

484 of the top 500 100 m sprint times - west african black males

an asian has NEVER broken 10 seconds in the 100
blacks have done it dozens of times

those are meaningful stats because they account for culture, geography, etc.
7.13.2007 4:18pm
whit:
iow, let's replay

west african black males make up less than 12% of the world's population

sprinting is universally trained and competed in

484 of the top 500 times come from that small minority WORLDWIDE. even countries nearly all white (or nonblack) field their elite 100 m sprinters from the black ranks.

see: linford christie, ben jonson, etc.

wl'ing is a niche sport in the US, and is primarily practiced in specific areas that have very little to no blacks (bulgaria). it is extremely technique dependant.

i can tell you that not 1 out of 100 people in the US could even DO a power snatch, let alone a full squat snatch

every single one has (and can) pretty much (quadraplegics excepted) done some fast running...
7.13.2007 4:22pm
theobromophile (www):
or even that people are allowed to research these topics, so they try to quell debate,


But the act of doing research directly influences the results!

It's much akin to studying atoms: when you hit them with light (or any type of energy), it substantially changes the previous state.
7.13.2007 4:23pm
whit:
yes, i am aware of quantum physics principles.
and i say again, so what?

studies have been done on cognitive and behavioral differences between the genders, starting with infants. the evidence is very very very strong

if some people feel icky because their "group" out or underperforms in various areas, and that creates a feedback loop and they then perform less well.

so what?

if i learned tomorrow that my racial/ethnic whatever group is 30% less capable on average in differential calculus, would that affect me? no. because we are individuals. group attributes are nice but say nothing about ME. similarly, the fact that women are on average less capable in math and more capable in language says NOTHING about how good sally will do in math,.
7.13.2007 4:36pm
A.C.:
If I shine a flashlight at you, do you shoot across the room and bump into the wall?

Physics analogies can go to far. SOME research in other fields MAY influence the underlying reality being investigated, but you always have to ask how and to what extent in each individual case.
7.13.2007 4:40pm
A.C.:
Previous comment was to theobromophile. Whit got in while I was typing.

Also, should be "too far."
7.13.2007 4:41pm
rarango (mail):
Agree with AC: heisenberg uncertainty (or the Hawthorne effect in some social sciences) is not relevant in some many types of research.
7.13.2007 5:40pm
SIG357:
so (west african) black superiority at sprinting is clearly biological

I'm not saying otherwise. I'm just puzzled by your refusal to accept that white (European) superiority in other sports is biological. When this happens, and it happens at lot, you insist without any evidence that it CANNOT mean what it seems to mean, but that it is merely a reflection of cultural differences. Running backs are mostly black? Physical differences. Quarterbacks are mostly white? Must be a cultural thing.

You accept on this thread the idea that man have an edge in math over women. But there are plently of women who will insist that this is due to "centuries of discrimination". I'm not sure on what grounds you would try to refute them.

You are claiming here to be a gym goer and weight lifter. Tell me, in all your time in the gym, have you noticed a shortage of black guys there? If they are not making it through to the top levels of the sport it is not because black guys don't have access to weight lifting equipment.

Maybe, just maybe, it comes down to those "physiological differences" which you are willing to conceed exist when it suits you.

I just did a fairly quick web seach on the topic of racial differences in strength. Fitting in with what EV has said, there seems to be an almost complete blackout on this topic. Some things science just won't touch.
7.13.2007 5:41pm
whit:
"I'm just puzzled by your refusal to accept that white (European) superiority in other sports is biological.

that is not what i am saying. i am saying i do not think there is sufficient EVIDENCE to believe that, although it certainly MIGHT be true. we are talking about weightlifting here.

caucasians tend to best fwiw, if we can narrow down to simple sports (that don't tend to have a whole host of cultural aspects such as access to hightech training) in middle distance races.

iow, west african blacks COMPLETLEY dominate 100meter sprinting. the chances of this being a "coincidence" are literally tiny fractions of a percent given the #'s i quoted (and the #'s are crunched quite extensively in Taboo by entine).

east african blacks tend to dominate distance running (see: kenyans for example), but there is at least some evidence that environment MAY play a bit of a factor due to altitude and the fact that many kids literally have to run several miles back and forth to school every day, and the weather is conducive to year around training, etc.

middle distance is where whites do best fwiw. which suggests at least that in terms of the biological factors, that they are in the middle - not as specialized as west africans for the power/speed required in sprinting or the endurance in ultra long distance.

"When this happens, and it happens at lot, you insist without any evidence that it CANNOT mean what it seems to mean, but that it is merely a reflection of cultural differences. Running backs are mostly black? Physical differences. Quarterbacks are mostly white? Must be a cultural thing. "

what i am saying is that the sample size and cultural aspects are taken into account in ALL instances. the skill set for a quarterback are rather diffuse, and the reality is that there has been a history of racism in terms of LETTING blacks train for and play quarterback. there very well may be an innate superiority at that position by whites, i just don't see the evidence as nearly compelling

see, with sprinting you have an "n" of literally MILLIONs of people who run in every country on earth. and you can't not see talent. it is very objective as to who is the fastest. as to who has the most talent in quarterbacking, which as a "field general" has a diverse set of skills (and ones that need extensive practice and development etc.) it is MUCH harder

"You are claiming here to be a gym goer and weight lifter. Tell me, in all your time in the gym, have you noticed a shortage of black guys there? If they are not making it through to the top levels of the sport it is not because black guys don't have access to weight lifting equipment. "

see, this is what you don't understand. the SPORT of weightlifting is VERY VERY different from WEIGHT TRAINING, which is what most guys do at the gym. it is extremely technique dependant. my coach was a former olympic team coach and it took me over a year before i could even do a DECENT snatch. that's with 3-4 workouts a week. i am talking about weightlifting

in the sport of POWERLIFTING, which is MUCH LESS dependant (especially at the lower levels) on extensive technique training, there are LOTS of black dudes, and many many many elite black powerlifters.

but weightlifting is a niche sport in the USA. i would hazard a guess that less than 1 in 100 gymgoers could do a full squat snatch and clean and jerk. they don't train it, the gyms don't encourage it (they almsot never have bumper plates and platforms), the literature deemphasizes it (never mentions it at all) in preference to bodybuilding type stuff.

please google "olympic style weightlifting"

on the other hand, olympic style weightlifting is EXTREMELYA popular in bulgaria, turkey, greece, etc. so its not surprising that the champions so frequently come from there. there are not a lot of black dudes in bulgaria.

i have several dozen training hall tapes, i've written articles for an elite strength training journal, and i've been in the iron game for 15 years. these are simply facts.

i have seen NO reason why blacks could not excel equally or better than whites in the sport of weightlifting. i know they do very well in powerlifting.

weightlifting requires - timing, explosive strength, limit strenght, high rate of force development, and especially vertical jumping ability.

are we going to say blacks don't have good vertical jumps? :)

the first thing my coach looks at to gauge potential in olifting is vertical jumping.

as an example, nicu vlad, a 105 kilo lifter could do a standing vertical jump of nearly 4 ft. 4 ft vertical from a standstill at 231 lbs. that is the kind of explosiveness we are talking here.

as for racial differences in sports, i strongly suggest "taboo" by jon entine. it really crunches the #'s and is quite good.

please do not confuse WEIGHT TRAINING, WEIGHTLIFTING (the sport), POWERLIFTING and BODYBUILDING.

here's a hint... who DOMINATES Bodybuilding? blacks. see: ronnie coleman, flex wheeler, etc.

that is the most popular of the three main iron sports, and it is dominated (disproportionate to their per capita #'s) by blacks, specifically west african blacks.

powerlifting is a little more even, but again powerlifting is not a sport that many are even exposed to.
7.13.2007 7:06pm
SIG357:
who DOMINATES Bodybuilding?

I don't know. I do know that bodybuilding is a hundred times more subjective than weighlifting, or any real sport. It's the male version of figure skating or rhythmic gymnastics.


weightlifting is a niche sport in the USA

Most sports are niche sports. So you can dismiss pretty much all emperical evidence with this argument.

Football and baseball are not niche sports, but you still seem able to come up with various reasons why the fact that whites dominate at pitching and quarterback are not indicative of superior natural ability at these tasks. Hmm.

the reality is that there has been a history of racism in terms of LETTING blacks train for and play quarterback.

Well, there you go. Are you black by any chance?
7.13.2007 7:39pm
whit:
"Most sports are niche sports. So you can dismiss pretty much all emperical evidence with this argument. "

running is NOT. it is also ENTIRELY objective (unlike bodybuilding, gymnastics, etc.)

that's why it is so easily quantifiable. when comparing athletic abilities, you want an event that is universal, objective, and requires less skill training and more natural talent.

you cannot make somebody fast. a person born without natural speed will never be fast. period.

"Football and baseball are not niche sports, but you still seem able to come up with various reasons why the fact that whites dominate at pitching and quarterback are not indicative of superior natural ability at these tasks. Hmm. "

im gonna say it one more time because you seem to be missing my point. whites MAY have innate natural ability at these positions. i am saying i do not think the evidence is sufficient to come to that conclusion yet. that's because of a host of subjective and cultural factors, little to none of which are present in running. there is no more universal sport on earth than running, and it also nicely measures ONE skill, whereas there are a very diffuse set of skills with quarterbacking.

so, again. i am not saying whites are or aren't innately superior at these positions. i am saying that i operate on evidence and i have not seen enough evidence to say either way.

you are correct that bodybuilding is subjective, so i'll stick with the powerlifting example.

from my experience (training with football players) really good quarterbacks (less so really good pitchers) tend to be immensely talented athletes in general. they are the kind of athletes that can adapt to numerous sports (like skiing, soccer, pretty much anything) very quickly.

i have not seen this ability necessarily present in elite sprinters, as frequently. they need one thing - speed. although i like mussabini's claim that sprinting is custom made for neurotics because it's all about controlling nerves, whereas distance running is about pushing guts.

just as the skillset for sprinting is narrow and very easily quantifiable, as opposed to quarterbacking which is more subjective (the best sprinter is the one with the best time, but who is the best quarterback - highest pass completion percentage, fewest # of interceptions per 100 passes, lower sack percentage, scrambling #'s, etc. etc.)

west african blacks have also been shown to have three factors that would lead to success in sprinting, but miserable failure in distance running

1) lower bodyfat
2) higher testosterone
3) higher %age of type II-b fibers.

so, there is scientific reasons as well, to back up the data.

whites may very well be better at quarterbacking and/or pitching INNATELY. i am simply saying i think the jury is still out until more data comes in.

as for your last question - i never answer questions about my religion (or lack thereof) on blogs, or my race.
7.13.2007 8:16pm
theobromophile (www):
Physics analogies can go to far. SOME research in other fields MAY influence the underlying reality being investigated, but you always have to ask how and to what extent in each individual case.

We agree. My point was that there is evidence that theorising about biological inferiourity causes women to underperform...

...which is more apparent in conversations with a more linear flow. My Heisenberg comment didn't come out of nowhere; it's an apt analogy to a situation where testing skews the results.
7.13.2007 8:28pm
byomtov (mail):
Quarterbacks are mostly white? Must be a cultural thing.

Are QB's disproportionately white? What is the ethnic makeup of NFL starting quarterbacks? If there are three or four blacks then that would be about in proportion to the population.
7.13.2007 8:40pm
whit:
that's a good question, byomtov. i frankly have no idea. which is why i drew no conclusion either way.

i do know that west african blacks make up less than 12% of the world's population, and 484 of the top 500 sprint times and EVERY one of the sub 10 second 100 meter times.

there is no explanation other than biology to explain this worldwide phenomenon.
7.13.2007 9:08pm
Randy R. (mail):
Whit: . but if somebody (like a straight white male) were to remark that there appeared to be a disproportionate # of lesbians who attend WNBA games, he would be labeled a homophobic bigot. political correctness is truly orwellian. "

Okay, let's not play the victim card, Whit. There are plenty of straight white males who remark talk about lesbians attending WNBA games. Being gay, I've never heard of any such man being labeled a homophobic bigot. I have no problem with finding out facts about gays, or using those facts for one's benefits. We all benefit, for instance, because companies can better market to us, which we quite like.

Just come to any gay pride parade. You will find plenty of straight people, even white males, there marketing to gay people. No one labels them homophobic bigots -- we instead applaud them for their marketing savvy.
7.16.2007 12:13am
Randy R. (mail):
Whit: "similarly, the fact that women are on average less capable in math and more capable in language says NOTHING about how good sally will do in math,."

Nope. Go to China, or other places in Asia. You will find that the women excel at math and science at rates virtually equal with men.

Now, perhaps women have to work a bit harder at math to gain this equivolancy, but I haven't seen any studies that suggest that.

As for sports, I guess everyone here forgets that jews in the 20s were the leaders in such sports as basketball and other sports, and everyone said that they must have a 'natural' advantage. It was nothing of the sort, of course, but rather an opportunity for immigrants to get ahead in society. Much like blacks for today.

Oh yeah, and those blacks are great at music because, as Archie Bunker used to say, they have better rhythm, right?
7.16.2007 12:20am
Randy R. (mail):
Getting back to original post, I would myself like to know why gay men are disproportionately more active as hairdressers, florists, fashionista and interior designers. I myself can see why, as I love all that stuff. But is there a biological reason? There are plenty of gay man who play professional sports and serve as Marines, so we can't make too many trite conclusions.

But it would be interesting to know.
7.16.2007 12:23am