Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Celebrate diversity!

This is such a good post from La Shawn Barber that I am reproducing it in full below

New York City Fire Department (FDNY) has succumbed to the pressure. One of the finest fire departments in the country will lower its hiring standards to attract more black recruits.

This Newsday article begins with an effusive lead about the new “pro-diversity” campaign to attract “minorities,” but the important part is how the fire department intends to do that. As originally conceived, affirmative action would require FDNY to look farther and wider for qualified black candidates. Affirmative action as practiced today means lowering qualifications.

How low will they go? FDNY is dropping the college requirement altogether if applicants have held a full-time job for six months, but this New York Daily News story reveals more of the truth. The department is “considering a change in the way the test is scored.” That story also notes the “surge” in Latino fire fighters. I'd be interested to know how they scored on the employment test as a group.

(I’d guess that criminal records are disqualifying “minorities,” too. By the way, whenever you see that m-word, it means black.)

Although the article mentions only a change in the way the test is scored (residents are given extra points, for instance), test changes usually mean that reading comprehension and mathematical portions are either de-emphasized, removed or “dumbed down.” I’ll bet $1 that’s what the FDNY plans to do if it hasn’t already.

I happen to know a bit about this. Last year the Denver Fire Department intended to dumb down its test to hire more blacks.

Last year I spoke to Denver’s Chief Larry Trujillo, who said a story in the Rocky Mountain News (one I linked to) misquoted him. If I recall correctly, the story left the impression that he favored a watered down test. He was adamantly opposed to this, expressing pride that he, a “minority,” had gone through the same process as other recruits. But he believed “something” needed to be done to bring in more blacks.

Intending to do a story about this, I called CWH Management Solutions, the consulting company hired to create the department's newer and easier-for-blacks test. There I was, a little ole freelance writer and blogger, talking to three people on a conference call. I kept trying to get to the heart of thing: What sort of test ensures that a greater percentage of blacks will pass it?

Like a good interviewer, I'd done preliminary research before calling. I knew that as a group, blacks tended to score lower than whites on standardized tests. I wanted to know why. I found out part of the answer.

The more “g-loaded” a test was, the worse blacks performed on it. General intelligence is represented as g. Most standardized tests are basically IQ tests. Intelligence is what we use to reason abstractly and solve problems. While there are different sets of skills that can be measured, what is generally being tested is our overall level of intelligence, hence, general intelligence. The more of this ability the test measures, the more g-loaded the test.

Whenever you read or hear about some institution or other changing tests like the SAT or civil service exams (No one advocates changing medical board or pilot exams. I wonder why…) so that more people of races other than white can pass it, it means the test’s g-load will be decreased.

Back to CWH. I knew the consulting firm designed tests that reduced the g-load, but I wanted at least one of the three people on the telephone to say it. No matter how many ways I asked the question, I never got a straight answer. I asked if they planned to make the test easier. No. I asked if I could see a sample of the test. No. I asked exactly how they intended to ensure that blacks would do better on their test than on the current one. Just as the web site reads, the “leader” of the three said the new test would measure a “broader range of job related abilities than traditional written tests" in order to identify “well-rounded, motivated, and qualified” applicants.

In other words, the goal was to play down what made blacks look bad — abstract reasoning ability — and play up “interpersonal” skills.

Why is cognitive ability important? In general, cognitive ability predicts life outcomes, and cognitive tests are the best predictors of job performance. The higher the ability, the better recruits are able to learn and develop the skills necessary to be good firemen or policeman, for example. Study after study has shown this to be true.

(When people speak of different “intelligences,” like the faddish emotional and multiple “intelligences,” they don't know what they’re talking about. Intelligence is the ability to think abstractly and solve problems. Period. People who use those terms are not referring to these abilities. )

Bottom-line: To eliminate the “disparate impact” g-loaded tests have on blacks, test-makers eliminate the g-load.

I googled Chief Trujillo to find out whether the Denver Fire Department ever implemented the dumbed down test, and I pulled up this: “Push to hire more in fire department goes nowhere.”

Oh well.

Why do blacks generally have lower cognitive ability than whites? Is it in the genes, the environment, or both? Read, theorize, discuss — when you find the answer, let us know. In the meantime, we’ll keep pretending it has to do with slavery and segregation.

Addendum: Somewhere along the way, proportionality became the measure of non-discrimination. Since blacks are 13 percent of the population, they should represent at least 13 percent of fire department employees, for example. Anyone of average intelligence knows how unsustainable and illogical that is.

If blacks are overrepresented in certain government agencies, that’s OK.

Update (12:22 p.m.): Whenever you think something goes without saying, it’s best to say it anyway.

When I asked why blacks generally have lower cognitive ability than whites, I’m basing the question on the body of research I’ve read about IQ and employment tests. Commenter Frank offers a point of clarification. IQ tests certainly measure something, and cognitive ability correlates with life outcomes and predicts job performance. If you disagree, make the argument and support it with sources, as I’ve done here and here.

If you don’t think IQ tests properly or adequately measure cognitive ability, or that cognitive ability isn’t all that important, make the argument and support it.

Emotional I-refuse-to-believe-blacks-are-dumb type of responses are part of the problem with this dumbed down country. Think and argue.

For more postings, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. (Mirror sites here, here, here, here, here, here and here). Other backups here


"All the worth which the human being possesses, all spiritual reality, he possesses only through the State." -- 19th century German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Hegel is the most influential philosopher of the Left -- inspiring Karl Marx, the American "Progressives" of the early 20th century and university socialists to this day.

The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialistisch)

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