Vive la différence!
Cognitive differences between the sexes are not yet a state secret, though someday soon they may be. Anyone who cares to investigate can find out that they exist. The reason males are overrepresented among the world's chess and mathematical prodigies is not that little girls have been dressed in frilly aprons, steered towards the kitchen, and told that they may not become the next Fischer or Euler. Rather, because of how their brains are wired, boys are overrepresented at the two extremes of the bell curve, among both the super geniuses and the super duds.
THE SCRAPBOOK can safely point this out because our appointment to the presidency of Harvard has not yet materialized. When, three years ago, the actual president of Harvard University, Lawrence Summers, alluded to cognitive difference as one possible explanation for disproportionately male engineering faculties at elite schools, he was set upon by a flock of academic Harpies from Harvard and MIT and dragged from his perch.
As other institutions of higher learning tend to follow Harvard's lead, we can say with confidence that the job of a university president these days is to stick to his fundraising and keep his yap shut. Talking about ideas, especially ideas that are true but unacceptable to the Harpies, is what disc jockeys, stand-up comedians, and cab drivers are for.
Journalists, alas, cannot be added to this list. They increasingly see themselves as uniformed officers in the Department of Correct Thinking, enforcement division. On Friday, July 25, to cite a glaring example, the New York Times ran an article on page A12 headlined, "Math Scores Show No Gap for Girls, Study Finds." The Times's Tamar Lewin reports: "Three years after the president of Harvard, Lawrence H. Summers, got into trouble for questioning women's 'intrinsic aptitude' for science and engineering--and 16 years after the talking Barbie doll proclaimed that 'math class is tough'--a study paid for by the National Science Foundation has found that girls perform as well as boys on standardized math tests." (Old slogan of the New York Times: "All the News That's Fit to Print." New slogan: "Your Source for Barbie Doll Rebuttals Since 1992.")
The Times continues: "The researchers looked at the average of the test scores of all students, the performance of the most gifted children and the ability to solve complex math problems. They found, in every category, that girls did as well as boys."
No, the researchers, perhaps to their dismay, did not find that. Certainly it's true that the average girl is every bit as capable in math as the average boy. It was a low blow by the Times reporter to pretend that Summers ever said other-wise. The controversy has to do with the highly gifted, and here the Times is engaged in an ideological cover-up.
The same study was summarized on the same day in the Wall Street Journal, which did an honest job of it: "Boys' Math Scores Hit Highs and Lows," reads the headline. The reporter explains: "Girls and boys have roughly the same average scores on state math tests, but boys more often excelled or failed, researchers reported. The fresh research adds to the debate about gender differences in aptitude for mathematics, including efforts to explain the relative scarcity of women among professors of science, math and engineering." The researchers found that "boys' scores were more variable than those of girls. More boys scored extremely well--or extremely poorly--than girls. . . . In Minnesota, for example, 1.85% of white boys in the 11th grade hit the 99th percentile, compared with 0.9 % of girls--meaning there were more than twice as many boys among the top scorers than girls."
You can see why Harvard and MIT might end up with a few more men than women in the math faculty lounge. These are institutions that pride themselves on doing business at the 99th percentile level and above, not at the 50th percentile. As for the New York Times, it remains securely at the top of the heap in tendentious reporting.
Do They Dare to Impeach?
The left has been jonesing for impeachment for a long time. Since the Florida recount, actually. But it was just a fantasy until the 2006 election put some wind in their sails. It's still a fantasy, but now a much more elaborate one. There are some 200 pro-impeachment groups, with monikers such as Montana Partners for Impeachment and Impeach for Peace. Collectively, they claim 150,000 activist supporters. They seem a tad more desperate than you might expect. In a July letter to Rep. John Conyers and the House Judiciary Committee, the National Impeachment Network implored House Democrats to "give us something so that we know Democracy is not dead." THE SCRAPBOOK is happy to report that House Democrats were eager to string the poor suckers along.
On July 25, Conyers's Judiciary Committee held a hearing on "Executive Power and Its Constitutional Limitations." But don't let the ten dollar title fool you--it was a hearing about impeaching George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Hundreds of impeachment proponents clogged the hallways of the Rayburn building. Only about 100 of them could fit in the main chamber; two overflow rooms quickly filled to capacity. The rest were left in the hallway dyspeptically chanting "Shame! Shame!" and "We want in!" (They did cheer when Dennis Kucinich's hottie wife made an appearance. The committee staff had asked her to go outside and calm the activists; they idolize her because she's living proof you don't have to look gross to be one of them.)
Conyers opened the hearing by invoking the administration's perfidy: the lying to drag America into war, the politicization of the Justice Department, the warrantless wiretapping, the persecution of Valerie Plame. Rep. Robert Wexler added torture to the list and said that impeachment was vital in order to "take our country back." Zoe Lofgren called Bush "the worst president our country has ever suffered." Every dispute of the last eight years was excavated with fresh indignity: Yellow cake! The 16 words! Monica Goodling! Patrick Fitzgerald!
Then came the witnesses. The first group was a collection of impeachment-minded congressmen not lucky enough to sit on Conyers's committee. Dennis Kucinich made his case that Iraq should be the motivating principle behind impeachment; Brad Miller made a more procedural argument, claiming that it's the refusal of Bush administration figures to testify before Congress that necessitates impeachment. Miller may have been the favorite of the impeachment hordes because he maintained that Congress should continue pursuing Bush, Cheney, et al. even after they've left office. "The many disputes between the Bush administration and Congress will not be moot if not resolved before the election in November or the inauguration in January," he explained. "Congress must continue the effort next year." Well, there's something to look forward to.
The second panel of witnesses included one voice of sanity (WEEKLY STANDARD contributor Jeremy Rabkin) and then varying levels of . . . less sanity. Vincent Bugliosi, for instance, claimed that it is already "beyond a reasonable doubt" that "under the law, [the Bush administration] are guilty of murder for the deaths of over 4,000 young American soldiers. . . . And let's not forget the over 100,000 innocent Iraqi men, women, children, and babies who have died horrible, violent deaths."
There was sometimes an air of reunion, as a number of characters showed whom we well remember from the last impeachment--Wexler, Lofgren, Jerrold Nadler, Sheila Jackson Lee, Bob Barr (he was in the second group of witnesses). They're pros, of course, able to argue against impeachment or for it; flipping the indignation on and off because they understand that it's all just a role-playing exercise. But the marks in the audience seemed to really believe. The entire impeachment process is more than a little cruel and unfair. And not just to President Bush.
Sentences We Didn't Finish
"Obama prepares thoroughly for the big occasions. He is almost always well briefed, and he was traveling in sharp company--with Sens. Jack Reed and Chuck Hagel . . ." (David Broder, Washington Post, July 24, 2008.)