The Latest Brouhaha: Tory Data Scientist Andrew Sabisky KNOWS TOO MUCH About Race And IQ
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I’ve long made fun of the Republican Brain Trust for consisting of bears of very little brain like Karl Rove. But Tory Prime Minister Boris Johnson employs an advisor, Dominic Cummings, who actually is really smart.

Cummings recently advertised on his blog for

‘Two hands are a lot’ — we’re hiring data scientists, project managers, policy experts, assorted weirdos…

… There is a huge amount of low hanging fruit — trillion dollar bills lying on the street — in the intersection of:

  • the selection, education and training of people for high performance
    – the frontiers of the science of prediction
    – data science, AI and cognitive technologies (e.g Seeing Rooms, ‘authoring tools designed for arguing from evidence’, Tetlock/IARPA prediction tournaments that could easily be extended to consider ‘clusters’ of issues around themes like Brexit to improve policy and project management)
    – communication (e.g Cialdini)
    – decision-making institutions at the apex of government.

We want to hire an unusual set of people with different skills and backgrounds to work in Downing Street with the best officials, some as spads and perhaps some as officials. If you are already an official and you read this blog and think you fit one of these categories, get in touch.

The categories are roughly:

Data scientists and software developers
Policy experts
Project managers
Communication experts
Junior researchers one of whom will also be my personal assistant
Weirdos and misfits with odd skills

We want to improve performance and make me much less important — and within a year largely redundant. At the moment I have to make decisions well outside what Charlie Munger calls my ‘circle of competence’ and we do not have the sort of expertise supporting the PM and ministers that is needed. This must change fast so we can properly serve the public.

So one of the weirdos hired was Andrew Sabisky, a 27-year old Anglican and super-forecaster. Lots of Sabisky’s old random web comments are being scrutinized, with everybody acting shocked, shocked. For example, from the Daily Mail today:

New calls for No10 to sack ‘weirdo’ advisor Andrew Sabisky, 27, who claimed black people are mentally inferior and advocated forcing ‘underclass’ to use contraception to boost society’s overall IQs
Ministers and special advisers are flatly refusing to work with Andrew Sabisky
The new hiring advocates extreme positions to enforce teenage contraception
He answered Number 10’s call for ‘weirdos and misfits’ and is now in Number 10

PUBLISHED: 19:52 EST, 16 February 2020 | UPDATED: 21:32 EST, 16 February 2020

He’s being dragged for having submitted a comment in 2014 (when he was about 21) to somebody else’s blog that asked for an explanation of why:

There are large differences in disabilities–or at least in disabilities treated in school–between black and white students. I don’t know if this is because students come to school with different disabilities, or if it is because the education system treats black and white students different with respect to disabilities. …

Black students are shockingly more likely to receive services for “Emotional Disturbance” or “Intellectual Disability.”


Any readers know what’s going on here?

Sabisky helpfully explained what has been Settled Science since Arthur Jensen’s 1969 Harvard Education Review article:

If the mean black American IQ is (best estimate based on a century’s worth of data) around 85, as compared to a mean white American IQ of 100, then if IQ is normally distributed (which it is), you will see a far greater percentage of blacks than whites in the range of IQs 75 or below, at which point we are close to the typical boundary for mild mental retardation. Typically criminals with IQs below 70 cannot be executed in the USA, I believe.

That parsimoniously explains the greater diagnostic rates for blacks when it comes to “Intellectual disability”. It simply a consequence of the normal distribution of cognitive ability, because there are significant differences in the group means.

No idea about the “emotional disturbance” bit, though.

In the mid-1960s, Jensen, a top professor of educational psychology at Berkeley, was asked to look into a mystery besetting a local school: Most of the white children who were declared to be suffering from intellectual disability because they had IQs below 70 were visibly suffering from Down Syndrome or some other Funny Looking Kid problem and were seen as retarded by their classmates on the playground. On the other hand, a much larger fraction of the black students scoring below 70 were normal-looking and socialized fine on the playground. What was wrong with the IQ test?

After intensive research, Jensen finally came to the conclusion that the IQ tests were fine: They predicted the future equally accurately for both whites and blacks. The cause was that whites and blacks had a difference in average of IQ of about one standard deviation (15 points), so 70 was two standard deviations below the white mean (2nd percentile) but only one standard deviation below the black mean (16th percentile).

As Linda Gottfredson explained in a 2002 article I wrote about the Supreme Court’s decision banning the death penalty for murderers with IQs below about 70:

The researchers said that the majority of low IQ individuals do not suffer from medical problems such as Down’s Syndrome. Gottfredson noted, “About 75 percent-80 percent of mental retardation is called ‘familial,’ because it mostly just represents the unlucky combinations of genes that are passed in the normal manner from parents to children. Only a small proportion of mental retardation is due to organic problems, such as chromosomal abnormalities or brain damage. This is just like height. Most very short people are perfectly normal.”

The stereotype that most low IQ children are what obstetricians often callously refer to in their notes as FLKs – “Funny Looking Kids” is not true. Elite members of American society tend not to realize this because when an extremely high-IQ person, such as a Supreme Court justice, has a retarded child, it’s generally due to organic causes.

Interestingly, the Berkeley schools were discovered, a half century later, to have the largest white-black gap of any public school district in the country.

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