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Friday, March 27, 2015

Jon Entine, Taboo, and Black Athletes - Basketball and the NBA

Continuing to analyze Jon Entine's book, "Taboo: Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports and Why We’re Afraid to Talk About It" published in 2000, Jon moves from East Africa, whose natives dominate long distance marathon running with slow twitch muscles, to West Africa. According to Entine, the West Africans are genetically gifted with fast twitch muscles. This allows West Africans, as well as many African Americans who are primarily of West African descent, to dominate in sports that require speed, explosive power, jumping, and strength. This makes West Africans, and so many African Americans, genetically superior in sports like short distance sprinting, basketball, and football. Let's examine the globally popular sport of basketball and the NBA.

Statistics show that while Blacks made up 13% of the American population in the late 1990s (the latest figures available in Taboo), Blacks made up a staggering 80% of the NBA. There was a clear trend of Black dominance in the NBA. If you take stats like the percentage of Black players in the NBA since the 1950s or earlier, then plot each percentage every year on your Excel spreadsheet, you would see a clear trend of increasing Black presence and dominance in the NBA. Take other stats, like minutes of playing time, points scored, rebounds, and you would see the same increasing trends.

Look at the Dream Team of the best NBA players in the 1992 and 1996 Summer Olympics. It was dominated by Black players of West African descent, and even more so in 1996. The 1996 Dream Team was down to just one white guy, John Stockton. Both Dream Teams dominated the best basketball players of the world by about 50 points per game in 1992 and 30 points in 1996.

This staggering trend led Jon Entine to conclude that, due to their genetic fast twitch muscle advantages, the percentage of Black players in the NBA would continue to increase and never decline. Other races and nationalities who are not West African would never be able to effectively compete against the Black NBA players, especially the elite NBA players like the Dream Team.

Then reality struck hard after 2000, when Taboo was published. Jon Entine's analysis and predictions were soon discredited over the years. Here are the major events which proved him wrong.

Black player percentage in NBA declines
From an all time high of 80% of NBA players in the 1990s, that percentage declined after 2000 and did not resume the peak of 80% since then. International players from all around the world brought more diversity to the NBA. The percentage of Black players in the NBA has been in the 75% to 78% range after 2000, and at 76% as of 2013.

International basketball players bring diversity to the NBA
The NBA of the 21st century saw much diversity of basketball players of many races and nationalities. Not only did they bring diversity to the NBA, but they have the genetics to effectively compete and be as great as the best African NBA players. Below are three famous NBA superstars that prove the point.

Yao Ming (China)
NBA: 2002-2011

 Dirk Nowitzki (Germany)
NBA: 1998-Present (2015)

Pau Gasol (Spain)
NBA: 2001-Present (2015)

Here are the names of non-African countries which have produced basketball players who have played in the NBA after 2000, grouped by continent.
Europe: So many countries in Europe
Asia: China, Japan, South Korea
South America: Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Uruguay
Central America and Carribean: Mexico, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Panama,

2000 Summer Olympics
This is where Taboo first started falling apart. The Dream Team of the best NBA players of West African descent were playing against the international elite, but the international players, skills, teamwork, and coaching improved dramatically. The 2000 Dream Team could not replicate past success, often beating the better teams by less than 20 points rather than around 30 points in past years. The big stunner was when the Lithuania team, a small country in northern Europe, was ahead of the Dream Team in the semi-finals. The Dream Team barely pulled ahead and beat Lithuania by 2 points. Then they beat France in the finals by an unimpressive 10 points to barely win the gold medal.

2004 Summer Olympics
This is where Taboo's theory of Black dominate in international basketball was officially buried. After their disastrous losses, they were no longer named the Dream Team. During the regular games, the US team lost to Puerto Rico (73-92) and Lithuania (90-94) for 3 wins and 2 losses. In the championship rounds, the US team lost to Argentina (81-89) in the semi-finals and went home with the bronze medal.

2008 Summer Olympics
By now Team USA was nicknamed the Redeem Team. The best players of the NBA, primarily of West African descent, trained and practiced hard to redeem themselves from the 2004 Olympics. They won all the regular games and beat Spain in the finals (118-107) to take home the gold medal. Team USA played well, but is was not a domination like in the 1990s.

2012 Summer Olympics
Team USA won the gold medal again, but it was even a closer tournament than 2008. Black player dominance from Team USA did not happen, and it became clear that every race and nationality can compete effectively against Team USA. They beat Spain in the finals (107-100) in a closer game than 2008 to barely win the gold medal.

Another point Jon Entine needs to explain is why Nigeria, a heavily populated country (over 170 million) in West Africa, did so bad in the 2012 Olympics? Nigeria was one of the worst teams, losing 4 out of 5 games in the regular tournament.

Jon Entine needs to write a new book sequel, "Taboo II: Where Jon Entine Went Wrong, and Why He Doesn't Want To Talk About It". Using any of the pictures of the basketball stars above would be a good cover.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Jon Entine, Taboo, and Black Athletes - The Boston Marathon

Jon Entine is a sensationalist journalist and a former member of Steve Sailer's Human BioDiversity (HBD) group way back around the late 1990s to early 2000s. It was his book, "Taboo: Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports and Why We’re Afraid to Talk About It" published in 2000, that gave him some publicity, and his analysis on race, genetics, and sports that got him invited to Sailer's HBD group.

It's been 15 years since Taboo was published. Let's analyze how accurate Entine's analysis and predictions came about. While some of his Sailer-esqe sensationalized pseudo-science and pseudo-journalism have relevant facts, there is always a cloud of doubt, and critical facts refuting their ideas are often omitted.

I'll cover three sports that the book Taboo analyses in depth: The Boston Marathon, Basketball, and Football. First is the Boston Marathon.

Taboo mentions East Africans, such as from Kenya and Ethiopia, are genetically gifted with slow twitch muscles which give them genetic superiority in long distance marathon running. Look at the history of Boston Marathon winners - East Africans from Kenya and Ethiopia have mostly won the first place spot since 1991 for Men's and 1997 for Women's.

Winning the Boston Marathon is an impressive feat. It is a 26.2 mile course and the Men's winners complete the course in a little over two hours. To run a marathon in 2 hours and 11 minutes, you would have to run at a consistent pace of 5 minutes per mile throughout the whole marathon with no breaks.

Jon Entine would like to make it seem East Africans have a astronomically dominant genetic advantage in the marathon, which makes other races genetically incapable of competing or beating East Africans in the marathon. After all, the odds of a Kenyan winning the Men's Boston Marathon from 1991 to 2000 (Taboo was published in 2000) is some astronomical, outrageous figure of many millions times billions to one.

A more realistic analysis into the Boston Marathon shows quite a lot of absurd overexaggerations by Jon Entine. If you look at the Kenyan winners of the Boston Marathon, many of them are repeat winners who have won multiple years. Most of the Kenyan have won first place at least twice, and Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot from Kenya won five times.

Can other races compete with or even beat East Africans in the marathon? Yes. Just one year after Taboo was published, Lee Bong-Ju from South Korea won the Boston Marathon in 2001. The Men's Kenyan Boston Marathon winners have times from an all time best 2:03:02 to 2:12:40. Here are Boston Marathon winners outside of East Africa since 1980 who have ran the time in the Kenyan winners' time range.

  • 1980 - Bill Rodgers - United States (MA) - 2:12:11
  • 1981 - Toshihiko Seko - Japan - 2:09:26
  • 1982 - Alberto Salazar - United States (MA) - 2:08:52
  • 1983 - Greg Meyer - United States (MI) - 2:09:00
  • 1984 - Geoff Smith - United Kingdom - 2:10:34
  • 1986 - Robert de Castella - Australia - 2:07:51
  • 1987 - Toshihiko Seko - Japan - 2:11:50
  • 1990 - Gelindo Bordin - Italy - 2:08:19
  • 2001 - Lee Bong-Ju - South Korea - 2:09:43

There is a much bigger picture than analyzing just one winner out of thousands of the best marathon runners in the world. Every year thousands of the best marathon runners in the world compete in the Boston Marathon. Let's analyze the top 10 winners of the 2014 Boston Marathon.
  • 1) Meb Keflezighi - United States - 2:08:37
  • 2) Wilson Chebet - Kenya - 2:08:48
  • 3) Franklin Chepkwony - Kenya - 2:08:50
  • 4) Vitaliy Shafar - Ukraine - 2:09:37
  • 5) Markos Geneti - Ethiopia - 2:09:50
  • 6) Joel Kimurer - Kenya - 2:11:03
  • 7) Nicholas Arciniaga - United States - 2:11:47
  • 8) Jeffrey Eggleston - United States - 2:11:57
  • 9) Paul Lonyangata - Kenya - 2:12:34
  • 10) Adil Annani - Morocco - 2:12:43
The first place winner, Meb Keflezighi, is born from East Africa, so I'll count him as an East African like Kenya or Ethopia. In 2014, the top ten winners consisted of 6 East Africans, 3 White European descent (places 4, 7, 8), and one from Morocco which is more Arabic (place 10). They all have respectable times just a few minutes of the first place winner, and demonstrate they can compete against the best Kenyan runners.

The Women's Boston Marathon winners also show a similar story. While East Africans won most of the first place sports since 1997, many of them were repeat winners who won multiple years. White Russian women won the Women's Boston Marathon in 2003 and 2007, and runners all around the world can compete with the East African runners.

Conclusion of Taboo? Well, it was an old book and some parts were right for its time. It got Jon some revenue and publicity. But as a whole package it never passed as credible scientific research; it only survived in isolated pseudo-scientific groups like Sailer's HBD group. Everyone has to make a living, but that book is past and it looks like Jon have moved on to other research areas to make a living.