William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

The Purposeful Lowering Of Physical Standards: More Consequences Of Egalitarianism

We're ashamed to report, sir, that we have no women!

We’re ashamed to report, sir, that we have no women!

Remember how we were told that when women joined the military there was no danger of lowering standards to accommodate them? Letting them join was a question of “fairness”, which we saw yesterday was a theory of egalitarianism.

But do you also recall that realists predicted that because women are vastly less physically capable than men that standards will have to be lowered else few to no women would succeed? Egalitarians agreed about the importance of standards and swore the standards would never be abandoned.

There are recent reports about the lowering of standards in the military. Before those, I remind the reader that physical requirements for women have long been set lower.

I was in the basic training in the early 80s and the women had PT next to the men. I am a witness that women had it much easier. For example, the women were allowed to do push-ups from their knees (try it) and they had to do fewer of them than the men. And a strange sort of blindness overcame the instructors when assessing marginal women, who despite their inabilities somehow passed. Now when I bring this up as a for-example to an egalitarian, the first thing I hear is “Would ya look at the time?”

The more intelligent realize the paradox and resolve it thusly: “You know, those old standards weren’t really necessary. We’re better off having equality and allowing women greater opportunity.”

This argument is viciously circular and thus fallacious because simply stating the standards “were necessary”—standards that up until yesterday in the absence of egalitarianism worked just fine—without offering any reasons why fails. And the conclusion is merely a restatement of egalitarianism, which is what we wanted to prove.

Fast forward to today. Here’s a headline “The Marines are dropping a fitness test meant to level the playing field for women because more than half of female Marines have failed it.Saepe fideles, boys?

Now what can “level the playing field” mean? The field was the test and it was already the same for all, men and women alike. What could be more “level” than having the exact same test for everybody? Is that not already egalitarian? Is that not true equality?

Of course not. Egalitarianism is not a theory about “level playing fields”. It is a theory about the equality of people. Because people are not equal, and everybody knows this, the field has to be made unlevel so that equality of outcome is a result. The field can be made unlevel by either making the men work harder, a tactic which is rarely adopted, or allowing the women to have it easier, which is eagerly embraced.

Thus a “level playing field” means the precise opposite of its plain English definition.

Isn’t that right, Mr Egalitarian?

“Would ya look at the time?”

And then this from the progressive Washington Post: “Opinion: It’s time to reevaluate standards for women in the military“. Having Marines be, well, Marines, elite physically robust unstoppable soldiers, “does not help the military win wars” says the Post, without offering proof (except to claim other egalitarian armies contain a few women). Besides, it is a myth that manly “farting, burping, and swapping sex stories invaluably promote infantry unit cohesion”.

It isn’t just the military. Firemen, too, are no longer all firemen. Earlier this week: “Woman to become NY firefighter despite failing crucial fitness test.

Rebecca Wax, 33, is set to graduate Tuesday from the Fire Academy without passing the Functional Skills Training test, a grueling obstacle course of job-related tasks performed in full gear with a limited air supply, an insider has revealed…

Some FDNY members are angry.

“We’re being asked to go into a fire with someone who isn’t 100 percent qualified,” the source said. “Our job is a team effort. If there’s a weak link in the chain, either civilians or our members can die.”

This is a seemingly unanswerable argument. But it is easily rebutted by an egalitarian, for, do you see, “Only 44 of the FDNY’s 10,500 firefighters are female.” This is a “disparity”, an “inequality”, and is thus, given egalitarianism, automatically “unfair”. Inequalities must be eliminated.

And since women are, as everybody knows, not even close to being equal to men physically, the standards must be, and are being, lowered. Right now the responses are still of the “Would ya look at the time?” stripe. But in time the New York Times will offer an editorial which says something like, “Most fires are easy to put out.”

It is worth pointing out that the lowering of physical standards has already taken root in all police departments. And last week I saw a commercial which asked, “Where will you be when the first woman pitches in the majors?”

Right here in my chair, well pleased with myself for having predicted the leveling effects of egalitarianism.

Update Perhaps the most pertinent quotation from the linked article:

“In terms of physical capability, the upper five percent of women are at the level of the male median. The average 20-to-30 year-old woman has the same aerobic capacity as a 50 year-old man.”

See also the table.

Update Yawrate below reminds that I stupidly forgot to emphasize that egalitarianism means equality of outcome and not (strictly) equality of opportunity. We already have in the entrance exams equality of opportunity, but it is, as we see, not enough.

42 Comments

  1. Say, aren’t brains physical, too?

  2. Someone needs to start a Facebook campaign to desegregate a sport (say, track and field) and see what happens. Could we make predictions on it? I’d guess that some egals will agree, totally oblivious to the fact that women cannot compete with men, some would oppose it, saying that it’s not fair and arguing for the need to give women a fair chance in their own division, and then the former will turn on the latter like screaming Harpies of tolerance (to use Lydia McGrew’s phrase).

  3. I don’t watch the show and so have no opinion about it one way or the other, but the other day I walked into the room when “Chicago Fire” was on. The characters were in the middle of fighting a fire and the camera was on a petite woman firefighter who was swamped by her fire fighting outfit. I said to my husband, “If those were real firefighters, I sure wouldn’t want her at the fire! Can you imagine her having to chop down a wall or drag some injured guy?” Of course she is an actress, and most successful TV actresses are tiny, so some suspension of disbelief is necessary — probably very few 5 ft, size zero women are on any fire and rescue squads. But next thing I knew, I read that headline about the woman failing the NY fitness test and getting certified anyway. These are people’s LIVES on the line!

    Now I can see if you have volunteer fire department and have to take who you can get, that a man or woman with less than optimal physical strength might be perfectly fine most of the time, and the best you can manage. But when you have a choice, why would you ever pick weaker people for a job that requires strength???

  4. Silly me, I thought egalitarianism was equality of opportunity.

  5. Thanks Bill, I almost spit out my coffee.

    If you want to make a lefty’s head spin (yes I’m generalizing), first get them all amped up about evolution and the genotype/phenotype relationship. It’s very easy to do, and if they start wavering, just question if they are ‘anti-science’, and they’ll start popping back into line.

    Then ask the “So, if you believe in evolution, and that people have non-equal DNA, how can you scientifically rule out a possible X phenotypic difference?” question. Continue to ask “are you anti-science?” as they shy away from the inevitable conclusions.

  6. Yes, let’s hold our standards. All the soldiers in the Corps, both young and old, should be tested annually too. You know, it’s not about equal opportunities and outcomes to be glorious or for the retirement benefits and entitlements paid to soldiers. Better make sure all our war fighters, again both young and old, are ready to fight physically.

    To win a war is to kill. Gotta be strong physically to kill your enemies in modern days.

    Being dramatic is more fun, isn’t it, boys?

    [T]he Marine Corps announced the scheduled end of an 18-month experiment to vet females through its Infantry Officer Course.

    So does this mean women will not be able to join the Marine Corps, or women don’t need to take the test, or the standards have been lowered? What is the next step?

    It seems it’s possible that the opportunity for women to join the Corps could be closed as Kelm states in the opinion piece –

    Arbitrarily closing jobs based on gender could soon become untenable from a manpower perspective.

    I don’t see any egalitarian arguments in Kelm’s opinion piece. If anything, he assumes the physical differences, acknowledges opponents’ views, and attempts to argue why those views are not valid and to explain how women have contributed successfully in different countries and in various fields.

  7. The fix is in and the women will pass with flying colors. The instructors know that failing a woman will have an adverse impact on their careers. The Navy’s first female F-14 fighter pilot, Lieut. Kara S. Hultgreen, was passed despite doing things which would have resulted in a male being sent to a review board. She crashed her aircraft in a training accident and was killed. The Navy blamed engine failure for the accident. because her aircraft had a compressor stall on a landing approach. The F-14 engine was well known for compressor stalls. and you had to be careful not to stall the engine.

  8. Ray : The F-14 engine was well known for compressor stalls. and you had to be careful not to stall the engine.

    That reminds me of the line from “Field of Dreams” when “Doc” as a young rookie was almost beaned by the pitcher.
    The kid said: Hey ump, how about a warning.
    The ump looks at the kid and says: Watch out that you don’t get your block knocked off!

  9. Briggs

    May 7, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    JH,

    Looks like you didn’t know they do test physical fitness annually in the military; and the women are still held to lower standards.

    But I’m gratified you understood that it is the job of a soldier to kill the enemy. This is exactly so. Yet it almost sounds like you were being sarcastic and thus had a different notion of the role of an army?

    Lastly, it’s not at all strange that you didn’t “see any egalitarian arguments in Kelm’s opinion piece.” He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

  10. Briggs,

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/13/130125-women-combat-world-australia-israel-canada-norway/

    “A study on the integration of female combatants in the IDF between 2002 and 2005 found that women often exhibit “superior skills” in discipline, motivation, and shooting abilities, yet still face prejudicial treatment stemming from “a perceived threat to the historical male combat identity.””

    Canada sent women infantry in Afghanistan and there were no complaint from the male soldier that the women couldn’t keep up. The thing is that there are other ways to do things than the muscle way.

    https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2012-11-01/let-women-fight

    “…In the 1970s, the Canadian military conducted trials that tested women’s physical, psychological, and social capacity for combat roles. The results informed the final decision of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to remove Canada’s female combat exclusion. After similar tests, Denmark also lifted its combat ban in the late 1980s. ”

    You really want to bring back the world to the middle ages.

  11. John B
    You especially don’t want a compressor stall on final approach to the aircraft carrier because you don’t have enough altitude to recover. If I recall the story correctly, when one engine stalled she went balls to the wall with the remaining engine. When you do that you lose directional control of the aircraft because the engine thrust will rotate the plane no matter what you do with the rudder or elevator. As the plane rotated towards the ocean, the rear seater ejected but the pilot didn’t eject and the plane crashed into the ocean.

  12. Briggs,

    “Lastly, it’s not at all strange that you didn’t “see any egalitarian arguments in Kelm’s opinion piece.” He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”

    No man is as blind as he how will not see.

  13. Correction: how -> who

  14. What you must realize however is what a nice female gender studies major told me is being tonight to her at a Catholic university “Because women have been repressed by men over millennia, they have not been able to biologically evolve to be as strong as men.”

    The “logical” progression then goes that once you lower the standards now, you can raise them again once female biology evolves to be equal with men.

    Or something.

  15. Veritas,
    Women don’t have the right hormones to build muscle. Not that it can’t be done of course. Remember the East German women’s Olympic team? I really admired those women. They had everything a man could want, big muscles, a deep voice, a mustache and curly hair on their chest.

  16. If leftwing progressives continue to advance their agenda, our military will be reduced to the level of European militaries*: A government jobs program.

    This would be OK if, like European militaries, we didn’t have to do any hard fighting.

    *- not denigrating them. Their commo techs are awesome and their special forces fearsome, but the regular forces host a lot of overweight and generally not-fit-to-fight people.

  17. Sylvain,
    You’ve outdone yourself this time my lad. “Canada sent women infantry in Afghanistan and there were no complaint from the male soldier that the women couldn’t keep up.”

    I honestly doubt that the military is in the habit of soliciting anonymous criticisms from soldiers who are expected to follow orders without question, and unsolicited criticisms would subject the unfortunate soldier to unpleasant disciplinary action. This reminds me of Krushchev’s anti-Stalin comments that led to this exchange:

    “I have heard that somebody had stood up while Khrushchev was listing the torture systems and the murderings that had gone on and shouted well if he was so bad, why didn’t you get rid of him? And Khrushchev stopped and said, Who said that? And there was silence in the hall. So he repeated himself. Who said that? And there was still silence, and he said, Well, now you understand why we didn’t do anything.”

    “The results informed the final decision of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to remove Canada’s female combat exclusion.”

    A military run by the CHRT? Oh my, what could possibly go wrong?

    “You really want to bring back the world to the middle ages.”

    According to the history channel the Middle Ages was full of female warriors. In fact all ages except for a brief period prior to the present was full of them and, of course, if trends continue and we reach the golden age of universal egalitarianism it will be discovered it was always thus and always will be. You must be careful, Sylvain, to keep up with currently accepted beliefs or you will find yourself in the gulag.

  18. RE: “The Marines are dropping a fitness test…”

    That doesn’t mean much — despite the hype to the contrary, becoming a Marine isn’t all that hard relative to becoming a soldier (Army) or seaman (Navy). The Marine’s basic training drop-out rate is next to the lowest of the four uniformed services (after the USAF).
    The time to worry is if the Marine’s Public Affairs hype machine starts breaking down — then the masses will learn the truth, they’re not the toughest, just the third-toughest (out of four).

    Don’t believe that? Check out the numbers:
    http://usmilitary.about.com/od/joiningthemilitary/l/blbasicattrit.htm

  19. Briggs

    May 7, 2015 at 6:12 pm

    Veritas,

    I’m hoping this is an exaggeration. But if not and you’re able, please use the contact form to email me details.

  20. Egalitarianism does mean a society where everyone has equal opportunities not a society where all outcomes are equal, i.e., a communist society. Although it does have other connotations. (Australia is or was thought of as a fairly egalitarian society, meaning not just equal opportunity but that wealth was relatively evenly distributed; there was not a large underclass relative to the middle or upper classes.)

    I think the problem here is that Dr Briggs and other critics, tend to accept without question the progressive framing of the debate. When progressives attempt to capture a word, such as ‘egalitarianism’, to imply some different meaning, critics seem to rally against the word itself, not what progressives are attempting to do it. This provides progressives the slippery tactic of falling back on the original meaning, making the defenders of common sense look extreme or silly. You see Jersey McJones types play this trick on every internet forum on the planet every day.

  21. Veritas, Briggs,

    This is standard Marxist-Leninist reasoning which incorporates a Lamarckian mode of evolution. A sufficient shock to the population will allow soviet man and women to emerge. The proper environment must be created to produce that shock.

  22. You are correct Will N. and thus have partially redeemed yourself. We should never allow our opponents to frame the debate.

  23. I’m glad I’m partially redeemed, although if I was fully redeemed I’d be worried.

  24. We had a female news anchor a few years ago pass the fireman’s test. She said she trained for a couple of months to do so. It was part of a news story–she really wasn’t trying out for the fire department. The fact that a news anchor could pass the test made my respect for the fire department drop to zero. All those years of hearing how tough qualifying was–all lies, it seems.

    This will only end when men grow a set and stop working and let women run the police and fire departments all by their little old selves. Women are so smart and so capable, they don’t need men anyway. Sure, it will be ugly and a few thousand deaths will result, but who are we to question fairness anyway? Besides, men could find that working in safe jobs with regular hours is way better than putting out fires or confronting drug dealers. Let women handle it.

    Sylvain: Terrorists are equal opportunity–they accept women for suicide bombers and other terrorist activities.

  25. @Ken,

    “The Marine’s basic training drop-out rate is next to the lowest of the four uniformed services”

    More because they are more selective about who they recruit in the first place than the other services. Their basic training regimen is also the longest at 12 weeks, vs 10 for the army and 8 for the navy and Air Force

  26. The Navy has really gone downhill. When I went into the Navy in the mid 1960s I spent 4 months at Navy OCS in Newport, Rhode Island. It was like being in prison but you had they key and could get out any time you wanted. Of course if you decided to get out you went to the fleet as a seaman recruit.

  27. You remind me of Metternich, Briggs.

    JMJ

  28. Scotian

    Soldiers were interviewed by journalist either in Afghanistan or when they return here. All men were unanimous that the women handled combat well and that they were more than adequate soldiers.

    Canada has always one of the heaviest rate of casualties. The German feared the Canadian because of their nightly and sometimes daily raid

  29. Oh, and while you wax semantic on the word “egalitarian,” I’m curious what you, a person with a related background, think of what the GOP in the House is up to here… http://www.huffingtonpost.com/harlan-green/repubs-antiscience-agenda_b_7232286.html

    JMJ

  30. Huffington Post link: Defunding NASA’s earth-science program takes willed ignorance one giant leap further, says Colbert. It means that not only will climate studies be ignored; but weather data won’t be collected that helps to predict the increasing number of natural disasters.

    That post is making a silly claim. For one, weather satellites are generally operated by NOAA at Suitland — not NASA. They were built using NOAA funding.

    NASA is the ONLY agency doing studying climate? Was funding of NOAA for climate research cut or proposed to be cut? Why would or should the National Aeronautics and Space Agency do climate and Earth sciences in general anyway? Why not HEW too? How about the US Treasury and the FBI? Oh yeah, because that’s not what they where chartered to do. It’s one thing to build satellites for the purpose of conducting Earth science; it’s quite another to be PI of same.

  31. Just to be clear, this funding stuff has nothing at all to do with the current topic. Have you run out of things to say on the topic of “Egalitarianism”?

  32. Weather forecasting is getting very good. Keep funding that, as it’s useful. Seasonal forecasting, pretty flaky and only moderately better than no skill. Funding doesn’t sound unreasonable. Climate modelling, a complete fail. Nothing worth saving there, bloated public funding should be largely cancelled. That field needs to start over, from scratch. This reminds me a little of Nixon’s War On Cancer. Throwing funding at a problem doesn’t help solve it if you don’t yet understand the fundamentals. Put the money saved back into healthcare system or medical research.

  33. “Weather forecasting is getting very good. Keep funding that”

    No one is trying to defund weather forecasts. The complaint oddly seems to be that defunding earth sciences from NASA (which never did weather forecasting or operated a weather network or any components of one) will somehow prevent NOAA from continuing to provide forecasts.

    But I guess that since both NOAA and NASA have something to do with air the confusion by some is understandable . Strange they never ask why water treatment facilities don’t build and operate battleships like the navy does since, after all, they both have something to do with water.

  34. Briggs

    May 8, 2015 at 6:00 am

    JMJ,

    Would ya look at the time?

    And, to your earlier comment: flatterer.

  35. Sylvain,
    I doubt if the interviews were anonymous and if not are valueless. Better to ask a retired senior officer who still might want his identity kept secret in the present political climate. You don’t find an unanimous opinion suspicious? It strongly implies either fear of discipline or reporter fudging. Sort of like a soviet election.

    What’s with the non sequitur of the historical reference? The Germans weren’t fighting female combat soldiers or has the history of the world wars been rewritten already?

  36. As far as cutting NASA funding (NOAA is the one that keeps weather records, as DAV noted): I thought this was simple, settled physics, beyond doubt, etc. It’s really idiotic to keep studying something we already KNOW is true–it’s like giving funding to study gravity, which climate science’s accuracy is often compared to. I say YES, cut that funding for a worthless, repetitive subject. Yes. As Will notes, and I have noted elsewhere, fund something useful with the money.

    People don’t often understand that NOAA and NASA are not doing the same thing. It may be because NASA is the propaganda wing that writes all the articles on climate change. People recognize NASA and think this agency that went to space is somehow an expert in climate.

    Actually, this may not be off-topic. Suppose some “victim” comes crying to a professor that teaching about global warming triggers memories of the assault she suffered during a heat wave and she is so traumatized she is going to the Dean now and complain. So no more teaching global warming. Same could be true for any weather, any topic. Once you open the door to this, you shut down all meaningful discourse and drop into ridiculous ideology and responses to people who should not be listened to in this context at all. Not to mention you emotionall cripple people and ruin their lives for them far more than the assault ever did. It’s outright cruelty. And now the door is open.

  37. Briggs

    May 8, 2015 at 10:10 am

    All,

    I’ve noticed our progressive pals have neglected (thus far) to discuss the lady fireman who flunked the physical fitness test.

  38. Sengendragon

    May 8, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    I would suggest Sylvain refer to the 11 and 43 page discussions here: http://army.ca/forums/index.php/topic,27742.1050.html and here: http://army.ca/forums/index.php/topic,108570.100.html with regards to Canada. No, there isn’t unanimity, and consider that the “too afraid to denounce Stalin” comparison is quite apt. People like Sylvain and JMJ run Canada with an iron fist from top to bottom, and do pose a threat to dissenters’ careers. Anything you hear from up here (feel-good study, official pronouncement, etc) take with a huge brick of salt. Considering this, the fact that there is even some cautious, half-apologetic semi-disagreement says quite a bit.

    In my BMQ/SQ (basic training), I never saw women in the field lugging man-packs and C9 LMGs (the men tended to pick up the slack). Every single ruck march, like clockwork, the truck would swing by to the back of the formation and pick up the women. They still passed. In PT, to give one example, soldiers had to fall backwards as dead weights and be caught and lowered by one of their comrades. When the women had to catch them, the much heavier men were allowed to slowly lower themselves backwards under control. No, the standards weren’t the same. Yes, there were hush-hush complaints at the back of the bus.

  39. Mike in KC, MO

    May 9, 2015 at 12:22 am

    “Someone needs to start a Facebook campaign to desegregate a sport (say, track and field) and see what happens. ”
    – MMA / Ultimate Fighting has separate divisions for men and women. Why not combine the two? Make the women fight hand to hand against the men for the championship. Come on! It could work. It could go either way in a fight!

  40. Briggs,

    Concerning female firefighter. The question you don’t ask is how many veteran who while still active, would actually not fail the test.

    A diversified group of people will always out do an heterogeneous group people. The best example is baseball where a balanced team will out do a team compose of home run that are poor in defence.

  41. Sylvain,
    The question of veterans is irrelevant. It has nothing to do with the topic at hand. Furthermore, your analogy misses the mark. A more apt baseball analogy would be a team that has mostly major league players and then some junior college ball players who would never sniff A ball, let alone the majors, who are simply on the team because of “fairness” to people with “all skillsets.” That is not a matter of balancing different strengths of weaknesses (your analogy) that is a matter of people who belong and those who don’t (what Briggs describes).

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