Infinite Monkey Theorem: How Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa Made It Into The New York Times Discovered

Pull up a seat and let me tell you a little bit about a former San Joaquin Valley neighbor of mine, once an illegal alien but now a prominent Johns Hopkins School of Medicine neurosurgeon and a MainStream Media darling.

Actually, our Brenda Walker already introduced you to Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, who is also an oncology professor, the director of the hospital's neurosurgery clinic director, and research head at its brain tumor lab.

Where Quiñones-Hinojosa's finds himself today is a long way from his earlier life as a tomato-picker, hot dog vendor and a fish/sulfur lard loader—whatever that may be. [A Surgeon's Path from Migrant Fields to Operating Room, by Claudia Dreifus, New York Times, May 13, 2008]

I'm curious about Dr. Q—as he is so lovingly referred to by the New York Times, CBS, etc— for other than the obvious reason that he's an alien success story and therefore the subject of endless media fawning.

As it happens, Quiñones and I arrived in California at virtually the same time—but under dramatically different circumstances.

A California native, in 1986 I returned home from Seattle, where I had lived for over a decade, to take a job at the Lodi Adult School teaching English as a Second Language.

Quiñones, however, jumped the fence at Mexicali to begin his new life in Stockton as a farm worker.

Since Quiñones spoke no English, it's possible that he was a pupil in one of my classes. I had hundreds of migrant farm worker students, especially during the years when Ronald Reagan's infamous amnesty was pending and one of the program's conditions mandated 40 hours of language instruction.

But Quiñones claims that he learned English at San Joaquin Delta College where he paid his own way.

You may find it remarkable that a non-English speaking alien with no high school diploma can enroll in a community college.

But, alas, because of various taxpayer-funded programs tailored to that specific demographic, it is not only possible but also easily and frequently done.

As for "paying his own way," that too is possible…but highly unlikely. Why pay your own freight—especially if you're earning next to nothing picking vegetables— when so many grants, scholarships and other assorted perks are available?

I've known many kids who attended Delta College. The native-born Americans shell-out the token per credit minimum fee; the rest pay even less, if anything at all.

Anyway…I'm mulling over my entire former student body to see if I can identify one who may have risen to the same professional ranks as the adored Dr. Q.

I calculate that during my twenty-two year adult ESL career, I may have had as many as 20,000 students.

That's an astonishing number, I agree. But for years, I taught as many as three daily sections—morning, afternoon and evening. Some of the classes, held with the assistance of teaching aides, had more than 100 in attendance.

And—importantly when considering my aggregate two-decade plus total—many of the students stayed only a day or two, then moved on to be replaced by another transient. So an average daily enrollment might be 35 students but most of those 35 turned over every week. The students I had in the class at the end of the week were not the same as those at the week's beginning.

The exceptional student was the one who enrolled on the semester's first day and remained until the year's end.

I can recall only a handful who fit that profile.

And, not surprisingly, I can't think of a single one who might have had the makings of a brain surgeon.

In fact, the typical student was a 30ish woman, with a few kids, who today is probably out there somewhere in California barely getting by with either direct (welfare) or indirect public assistance (K-12 education for her children and medical care for herself and her family.)

In other words, she isn't a convicted felon. But neither is she arguing in front of the Supreme Court. Nor is she a Certified Public Accountant preparing your income taxes.

In the 21-years since Quiñones arrived illegally in California, approximately 6 million other aliens (using the conservative estimate of 300,000 annually) have followed him into the state. One—and only one—of six million illegal aliens then (0.000000000166667) has become a neurosurgeon.

If you really want to go crazy with the calculations, you can further assume that since Quiñones 1987 fence jumping, more than 14 million additional aliens have come to the other 49 states. Or, going back even further, 40 million aliens since the 1965 Immigration Act with still only the one brain surgeon to show for it.

How then does it happen that the New York Times found Dr. Q, a needle in the multimillion alien haystack if ever there was one?

The answer is simple: the infinite monkey theorem.

According to the IMT, if a random group of chimpanzees sit at a typewriter to type all day for an infinite amount of time, one of them will "almost surely" eventually type the complete word for word text, in order, of King Lear.

The chance of it actually occurring during a span of time of the order of the age of the universe is minuscule. But not zero—just like discovering brain surgeons among a pool of aliens.

IMT is not some screwball concept either. It has a straightforward proof.

Stay with me here.

If two events are statistically independent, (i.e. neither affects the outcome of the other), then the probability of both happening equals the product of the probabilities of each one happening independently.

An example used by statisticians is that if the chance of rain in Sydney on a particular day is 0.3 and the chance of an earthquake in San Francisco on that exact day is 0.008, then the chance of both happening on that same day is 0.3 × 0.008 = 0.0024.

Instead of King Lear, let's assign the more reasonable goal for our monkeys: to type "banana". The typewriter has 50 keys. Typing at random, the chance that the first letter typed is b is 1/50, and the chance that the second letter typed is a is also 1/50, and so on, because events are independent. So the chance of the first six letters matching banana is

(1/50) × (1/50) × (1/50) × (1/50) × (1/50) × (1/50) = (1/50)6.

The same applies to Quiñones relationship to illegal immigration's merits. Although the New York Times wants its readers to conclude that more aliens means more brain surgeons, statistically the two are linked only infinitesimally.

A much more revealing figure would be the correlation between illegal immigration and the aggregate incidents of drug dealing, drunk driving fatalities, identity theft, etc that have occurred since their arrival.

The resulting ratio of those negatives as measured per 40 million aliens to the positive of brain surgeons graduated (one) makes the VDARE.COM argument overwhelmingly —that illegal immigration is devastatingly bad for America.

You don't have to be an ace at math to draw that conclusion.

But apparently it's beyond the editors of the New York Times.

Joe Guzzardi [email him] is a California native who recently fled the state because of over-immigration, over-population and a rapidly deteriorating quality of life. He has moved to Pittsburgh, PA where the air is clean and the growth rate stable. A long-time instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, Guzzardi has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.