The Dumbing Down: Lower the Standards to Meet the Men

Future Feds of America

Recently, frequent commenter JAFO reminded us on Gab of the disaster that was MacNamara’s 100,000. This was a 1960s attempt to use the Armed Forces for social engineering by deliberately admitting 100,000 volunteers a year who did not meet minimum standards for volunteers or the draft. What kind of standards? Today, the standards the services’ recruiters struggle to meet are fitness standards, given the latest Rotund Generation, and medical standards, given the universalization of psychoactive drugs. (And yes, social engineers decry those standards, but that’s a whole other issue). But fifty years ago, with a much larger military and an active draft, the people who wanted in but could not get in were disqualified, mostly, by low IQ.

They were too dumb to grunt. Process that. 

First, some background. Army mental standards are not especially high, although they vary from job to job. They divide the population into bins based on standard deviation from the mean. The bottom bin (Category V) and the next-to-bottom (Cat IV-B) are not ever supposed to be admitted. In 1966, the harsh term used for these people was mentally retarded. For the IV-Bs, perhaps, educable mentally retarded. Since then, we’ve had so many iterations of euphemisms, with each one in turn flaming out as the truth of it burns through, that we’re not really sure what the buzzword du jour is. It doesn’t alter the fact that these recruits could not do much meaningful military work in the far lower-tech Army and Marines of 1966, and they’d been even less useful now.

The next group up, Cat IV A, are admitted when the personnel wallahs are desperate for warm bodies. During the Vietnam War, for example, and during the Hollow Army of the mid and late 1970s. These are the ones the compassionate educator termed, fifty years ago in 1966, borderline retarded. 

Warm body desperation is a pathology all its own, given the highly incentivized recruiting realm, where carrots and sticks are both wielded with abandon by Recruiting Command. There are frequent test-cheating and recruiting corruption scandals as it is, most of which somehow involve tests being pencil-whipped or ringers being substituted at test time so that Slow Joe can become GI Joe. So some of these people scrape through or are smuggled through, all human-devised barriers being, ultimately, porous to incentivized human ingenuity.

IQ is highly correlated with a lot of things in life, from earning potential to impulsivity to educational attainment to crime. In fact, most psychometricians know, although few would write it down and nail it to the cathedral door, that a great deal of interracial disparities in outcomes of all kinds are downstream of interracial disparities in IQ.

Most people tend to sort themselves into groups of people of similar IQ. A Great Assortation has taken place since World War II. We mate with similarly smart spouses; we move to neighborhoods full of people much like ourselves; we work in offices full of people with similar levels of intelligence and education. Only people in public-facing jobs see the full range of human diversity in intellectual ability. Thus, because our personal heuristic field is rationally bounded by the people we know, and the people we know are not representative but are from a restricted range of a wider distribution, we’re likely to misjudge where “average” is and just how far it is to rock bottom.

We’ll get back to that, but first let’s talk about the history of The Dumbing Down.

MacNamara’s 100,000

In the mid 1960s, Robert S. Macnamara (the S. was, suitably, for “Strange” — we are not making that up), decided that the Army and Marines could cure some of the problems of underperforming civilian youth by giving 100,000 dummies a year an opportunity to excel in uniform. The project was successful at recruiting or drafting 385,000 people with IQs as low as 62 (!) into what Salon calls “McNamara’s Morons.” As you might expect, these pitiful privates did not excel in the military, and were disproportionately represented among courts martial and NJP’d troops.

FMI on Mac’s Morons, this weird site suggests it was a white man’s plot to exterminate black men, but it’s worth checking out the period (1968) New York Times story embedded therein, about the outcomes for the substandard soldiers. This dictionary entry from the Vietnam Project at Texas Tech gives a concise and neutral explanation. This Master’s Thesis from the University of Utah[.pdf] illustrates what happens when a modern, poorly educated but credentialed social justice warrior examines this through the usual SJW prisms of racism and marxist jargon.

The Colin Powell Commission and SF

SF PatchIn 1993, the first Clinton Administration wanted to start small in social engineering and work their way up. One of the first things the social engineers wanted to arrange in the military is ,not to put too fine a point on it, more minorities in Special Forces. Why this was necessary was so obvious to them that they couldn’t explain it rationally. All they could do, if you asked “why?”, was to label you racist and shriek at you — even though you were not the one trying to structure things racially. If pressed by some “racist,” they had slogans — you know the type. “Diversity is Our Vibrancy.”

Now, SF was at the time at least 40% minority, but these were the wrong minorities. SF had a lot of Hispanics. Lots of Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Central Americans, Tex-Mex border guys. We also had some other minority groups at higher-than-national average counts, including Asians, American Indians, Pacific Islanders, and Jews — when these four groups were extremely underrepresented in Big Green as a whole.

These “minorities” were invisible to the Clintonistas, who counted them all as “white.” (Fair cop, as far as the Jews and most of the Spanish-speakers, some of whom barely had a functional command of English, were concerned). “Minority” meant “black,” another one of those metastasizing euphemisms. (Remember, this was 1993; today, they’re “African Americans.” Do try to keep up, Winston Smith).

The only “minority” anybody in the Clinton Pentagon could  think of was Colin Powell, who had become a media hero for being the spokesman during the Gulf War. So they found General Powell and set him at the head of a commission looking into the desperate straits of Diversity is Our Vibrancy in Army Special Operations, especially SF.

During Powell’s career, which stretched from the sixties to the nineties, the percentage of blacks in the Army and in the combat arms had declined. One explanation (for the diversicrats, the only explanation) was deep-seated institutional racism. Which is why Powell was terminal at Lieutenant Colonel… oh, wait. Another explanation gave America a little more credit: in 1966, a bright black kid really did face a tough future, and one way forward that had a concrete set of rules and that did its imperfect best to treat all citizens alike was the armed services. It was a great pathway to the middle class for people who didn’t have another. But by 1996, their sons (and daughters) had other pathways. Colleges wanted them, employers wanted them, and the Armed Services were just one more option, not the standout option they’d been to Dad or Uncle Mike.

But Powell, at his core an honest man, didn’t come up with a bullshit report, but rather, with two possible structural changes in SF recruiting standards that might meet the quotas-not-quotas envisioned by the politicians.

Two things were keeping “minorities” out of SF, Powell said: the swim test, and the GT Score or IQ cutoff. An SF volunteer has to swim the length of a pool and back (although at least once they passed a guy for walking the whole thing on the bottom and periodically sounding for air like a marine mammal, because he was such a will-not-quit dude), and an SF guy has to be about one standard deviation above mean IQ. (Technically, GT 110, with GT 100 normed to the mean).

Now, for reasons known but to God (but that we’re going to offer informed speculation about here), blacks come to the Army less likely to be able to swim, statistically speaking, and they have a harder time learning to swim. Army diversicrats (a vast and extremely pampered group these days) have a bunch of nonsense about inner city kids, victims of racism, no swimming opportunities, yadda yadda. In the NCO corps, this same idea was more pungently expressed that “some kids played in the swimming pool, some kids played in the fire hydrant,” and there might be some truth in it.

But in our experience, a bigger swimming problem for black SF recruits was biology. Ceteris paribus, young black men have considerably less body fat than their white or Asian cohort. This translates quite directly into less buoyancy, making learning to swim both more difficult and more frightening than it is to your training teammates.

The swim test could probably be dispensed with, although it is very, very useful to be a strong swimmer in many surprising military situations. But SF guys work in teams; the water lovers self-select onto scuba or maritime operations teams, and on any other team, one weak swimmer or two is just something the team sergeant keeps a mental note of — one hopes the guy has other, strengths (as anyone who makes it through SF training tends to do). Nobody liked it but they saluted and carried on.

The IQ test was different. There is no place for a dumb SF guy, and the average team house probably has a higher average IQ than the liberal arts faculty at a state university. The guy you thought was your team’s village idiot was at least one standard deviation at least above the general run of humanity.

Moreover, the diversicrats knew the toxic effect of just lowering the GT Score — the military test’s IQ equivalent — for the desired minorities, would serve to flag members of that minority as “probably dumb,” and engender rather than diminish discrimination, unfairly, especially against the guys who were already capable of meeting the extant standard. (Mind you, there was no evidence for discrimination, just uneven volunteer rates and pass rates by race). So they did something that the guys hated even more — they lowered the IQ gate for everybody. This meant a rivulet of borderline black recruits amidst a Niagara of borderline whites.

And we waited, out in the team rooms and company HQs, for the deluge of idiots (actually, average-IQ men) to the teams. But it didn’t happen. What happened was this: completing SF training, too, had always been highly correlated with IQ or GT Score.  So more dumb (really, average) guys entered the training pipeline, but almost all of them flunked out, or dropped out. The Army just wasted a ton of money encouraging good but not-SF-material guys to try out. Even more unfortunately, the experience soured some of them on the Army overall, depriving who knows how many conventional companies of competent commanders, and platoons of solid sergeants, down the line?

After some years, and the departure of the Clinton suits (although they left behind plenty of sporulating diversicrats in the civil service ranks) the GT score gate was put back up, at least partially. We don’t think about the racial make-up of the SF Regiment today, but it’s probably about where it was in 1993, 60% white, 40% minority, maybe 5-8% of those minority guys being black. But they all met a known standard, and that’s solid gold in a profession where intramural trust is paramount.

They’re now saying that recruiters have to be able to recruit troops with criminal records. You know, for Diversity. Because Diversity is Our Vibrancy.


The Department of Justice Today and Police

And now, we have the Department of Justice arguing in a position paper on Advancing Diversity in Police Hiring (press release and .pdf) that we need to turn the cops into a modern equivalent of MacNamara’s Morons, plus we need to stop doing background checks on candidates because Diverse Vibrancy candidates are more likely to be felons and/or gang members. Therefore, being a felon or gang member, says DOJ, should not be a DQ.

Gee… even MacNamara just hired retards, not retarded felons.


63 thoughts on “The Dumbing Down: Lower the Standards to Meet the Men

  1. Bill T

    You know the old cliche of a Southern man saying, “Some of my best friends are black”. Well it’s true and some of my worst enemies are “white”. As Fred Sanford said about his alleged robbers, “They were colored, they were PINK!”
    It’s hard enough to face an armed enemy without having to think about who has your back or if, in the worst case, they are physically capable of picking you up and carrying you to safety or mentally capable of making a plan to escape to safety.
    I was in SF in the 60’s and we were certainly not a bunch of white guys. All ethnicities were represented but they ALL excelled in the Brain Capability. In fact, a group of “brothers” adopted me as an “Honorary Brother” but, I was too white to be a “Brother” on the weekend. They said I couldn’t handle it on a weekend.
    It really boils down to who can handle the assignments and who comes up to the standards. Standards are the FLOOR of your capability. Everyone expects you to exceed this level.
    Hopefully Mr Trump will replace most of these “bean counters” with people who are NOT so PC as to be useless and more of a drag on the Military than a help.

  2. WellSeasonedFool

    How do you compensate for literacy? GT scores are based on written tests. Combat Engineers in the 60’s had 75-80% with the lowest scores possible and still be in the Army. The other 20-25% had far above average scores. So, four strong backs to one strong brain. I can testify those 75-80% weren’t so much dumb as illiterate.

  3. Alan Ward

    But, but..IQ is a racist social construct just meant to keep poor minorities down.
    Power to the people! ( you know which ones)

    Working in a public facing job for the last 17 years, mostly at a K-6th grade level, but with some fresh experience at the high school level, I’ve seen the full range of both IQ levels and the rampant move to discard, ignore or tamp down the use of this tool. Most of us listen to the “consultants” then go about doing our best, whilst reverently hoping that some of the kids don’t meet up later and propagate the gene pool.

  4. W. Fleetwood

    Two thoughts. First; the (tiny) kernel of truth in the pile of Diversity crap is that one really does need to periodically recheck your selection criteria. The classic example is the requirement for dental occlusion by at least two forward sets of teeth. In 1860, when a soldier had to bite off the top twist of a paper cartridge it made perfect sense, by, say, 1942, it didn’t.

    Second; Movies and TV not withstanding, a civilian criminal put in uniform simply be comes a military criminal and is entirely a liability. With one possible exception. In the units I fought in we had a small, but very valuable, group of soldiers who had been on the other side. On paper Treason, Armed Insurrection, and, let’s face it, Murder, is a pretty rough rap sheet, but they were some fine soldiers. I suspect it would be impossible to write down in black and white a selection criteria for Turned Terrs, or Ralliers, or what ever they might be called. I suspect it boils down to “I know it when I see it.”. Still, it’s my observation and experience that the effort can pay large dividends.

    Two cents, for what they’re worth.

    Wafa Wafa, Wasara Wasara.

    1. Aesop

      The classic example is the requirement for dental occlusion by at least two forward sets of teeth. In 1860, when a soldier had to bite off the top twist of a paper cartridge it made perfect sense, by, say, 1942, it didn’t.

      Except it still did.
      In 1942, both parachuting from unpressurized aircraft (and much later on parachuting from high altitude), and the nascent aqualung technology made perfect teeth more of a necessity, not less, as anyone who’s ever seen the aftermath of a facial pressure grenade formed by air pockets hidden amongst bad teeth and/or bad dental work, and exposed by a sudden dearth or surplus of atmospheric pressure can attest.

      The medical requirements for a host of military specialties and officer candidates is referred to as a picket fence : 1-1-1-1-1-1, for cause and good reason, exactly as it ought to be.

      WRT criminals, there is ever a small subset percentage worth salvaging, who will turn out to have just needed a better option. But the other 90-99% you’ll have to get through to find the rest are the problem with that approach. So doing it or not comes down to time, resources, and selection temperament. In most cases, that lemon isn’t worth the squeeze, exceptions notwithstanding.

      And probably the worst thing to do to find salvageable crooks is to hand all of them high explosives and automatic weapons, and see who excels. especially with your back turned to them. You will have far more Maggotts than Wladislaws in every Dirty Dozen, which is why it’s a work entirely of fiction.

      1. John Distai

        Will you please expand on the 1-1-1-1…comment above?

        Are you implying those with dental work have their teeth internally explode or implode when exposed to sudden changes in pressure? Will you please expand on this to educate folks like me?

        1. Aesop

          The military rates physical examinations using PULHES:
          Physical stamina
          Upper extremities
          Lower extremities
          Hearing & ears

          The ratings go from 1( max rating) to 4 (craptastic/washout).
          Thus a perfect physical specimen is rated 1-1-1-1-1-1. “Picket fence”.

          Those with crappy teeth, unsecured abscesses, or bad dental work, which may leave an air pocket, can and do shatter or explode if they go from sea level to unpressurized HALO altitudes, or from ocean pressure towards sea level. Diving is worse, because at 100 ft., you’re going from 3 atmospheres to 1 at sea level, whereas in flight you’re going from 1Atm at sea level to some percentage of 1 Atm, depending on the altitude.

          And yes, both teeth and dental work can and have fractured or shattered when this isn’t attended to.
          Imagine the worst toothache of your life, just as you surface to go ashore, or when they depressurize the cabin before a HALO jump, including bleeding in the mouth and excrutiating pain.

          Because of this, it is not uncommon for people with iffy teeth or dental work to require it to be all done over, to meet additional physical qualifications for their dental health, to meet flight/dive specs, i.e. no air pockets, in order to begin enlistments or enter commissioned service involving aerial flight, parachuting, diving, and/or all of the above.

          Google “barodentalgia”. The Diver’s Alert Network has horror stories that are far from uncommon.
          (E.g.:”When I began my ascent after 30 minutes at 135 ft, I experienced pain again, but this time it was sharp and severe. It affected several of my teeth, and after ascending only 6-7 ft) I felt a sensation that several fillings in my teeth were loose. Within a few feet, two fillings just fell apart, and the pain became even more severe and intense.

          I halted my ascent for a few minutes until the pain subsided to a manageable threshold. I switched from my primary closed circuit on my rebreather to my secondary open-circuit unit to bail out at a depth of approximately 98 ft to spit out the debris of my fillings. I was mostly afraid that the broken fillings could damage the important dive surface valve (DSV) on my rebreather and cause me further complications. Even the smallest object that becomes lodged in the DSV could cause a leak in the loop and allow for a carbon-dioxide breakthrough (and death – Aesop).

          I returned to the closed-circuit loop for optimal decompression and to conserve gas. Throughout my ascent, the feeling I had in multiple places in my mouth is best related to a dentist placing a needle in the nerves of my teeth. Everything in my mouth hurt with excruciating pain.“)

          For Joe Blow it’s not a big deal unless he dives or jumps or flies.
          For Joe Blow with a flight crew/PJ/SEAL/SF 18Z enlistment contract, or any commissioned officer considering those MOSs or flight duty, it’s quite a thing.

        2. Hognose Post author

          Depends on the dental work, but yeah. I was sent to remedial dentistry on more than one routine or predeployment physical. They also take a panoramic oral X-ray (panorex) after all work, before every deployment, so that Graves can ID your busted dead head without having to break out the DNA kit and wait for the lab.

  5. Fuel Filter.

    “…about one standard deviation above mean IQ. (Technically, GT 110, with GT 100 normed to the mean).”

    Wrong, wrong wrong.

    One SD is 15 IQ points. Anything  two SD below the mean (69) is what used to be called “retarded”, now termed “developmentally disabled”.  Anything above two SD (130) used to be called “gifted”, now termed “exceptional”.

    I know this because I used to do a ton of  psychometric testing and, of course, statistics never lie (unless they’re “damned statistics”).

    Of course, with all the  “diversity” now pushed onto us by low birth rates of a certain (huge) demographic and high imports of another demo (read south of the border) the mean has been pushed downward since a certain 1964 immigration act. (Funny how that cohort has been pegged at 11 million for about 50 years, isn’t it?)  The high birth rates of Baby Mammas since the Great Society (again, 1964, no coincidence there)  have also contributed to this. 

    1. Alan Ward

      Also intermarriage among certain groups over the years has led to alarmingly high rates of birth defects and intellectual challenges far beyond the norm for the whole population. This is evident across race lines and geographic ones as well. something to be said for keeping the gene pool diversified.

    2. bloke_from_ohio

      Here is some delicious context for the lies and statistics comment.

      I worked for the real life “outside test outfit” from the movie Pentagon Wars. It was literally my job to hold program offices and contractors accountable for shady statistics and over optimistic performance claims. While at that most rewarding of assignments I attended a leadership course TDY. During a briefing on ethics and the importance of integrity I summarized my duties thusly:

      “My unit and I exists to catch and prevent the cooking of books via creative/deceptive statistics. We seek to uncover the truth about the weapons our nation buys. If we let people get away with lying, then Americans will die.”

      I was “counseled” for that statement. My instructor was appalled that I would admit that such tomfoolery was a thing in the military despite having served in both the military himself and worked in industry as an engineer.

      I grew more that day than I did the whole rest of the course.

      -Overly Educated Operations Analyst

  6. Bill Robbins

    “Diversity” is the modern battle cry of the Conformist Class. The idea is to ignore every aspect of human ability and behavior that millennia of evolution and human history have proven to be correct. The enemy of Diversity is the normal curve. No matter how hard the Diversocrats try to change the shape of the normal curve, most people still end up being average. Funny, how that happens. It’s almost as if there is some immutable law. By the way, off topic, but, I’ve noticed that every time I put my hand in a flame, it gets hot. No, you moron, not the flame. My hand.

      1. John Distai

        In regards to the “testing the flame hypothesis” and morons…

        I used to work for a beltway bandit. Their particular racket was “No Child Left Behind” and “Headstart”. As I watched the annual shenanigans about “improving test scores” play out, a kind person took me aside and explained the racket:

        “Each year they have a testing period to evaluate program effectiveness. The test scores don’t increase from year to year. Due to this, they add one more variable, hoping to see the significant jump. A few years ago it was ‘hunger’, so in came the free school lunches. They found that this didn’t make a difference, so they added free breakfasts and tried again. This didn’t have an effect, so now they are adding a new variable ‘tweak’. And so it goes, year after year, to no effect. ”

        I believed it was a cultural educational values issue, and no matter what you tried, nothing would work until you changed the home value systems. But that thinking was of course “racist”, and the real program was “No Contractor Left Behind”.

        These were morons indeed, as calling out the naked Emperor was a threat to their honey pots. I left soon thereafter.

  7. Keith

    Oh the Progressives/Tranzis/Cosmos have no problem with a normal curve as long as they define it and they and there’s are on the highest end.

    “…of course, statistics never lie (unless they’re “damned statistics”).”

    After having taken (and passed) two statistics classes in college that the instructor said were in his opinion a senior and post graduate level classes (listed as junior and senior level) I laughed so hard I had to stop reading till I got over it. So very very true and the sad fact to me is just how willfully ignorant people are on even the basics of this subject.

  8. JoeFour

    “… Powell, at his core an honest man … ”

    Sorry, but I don’t believe he is … an honest man wouldn’t have put on that dog and pony show at the UN concerning Iraq’s (supposed) weapons of mass destruction. Word has it he voted for Hillary. Somehow I think the two things go together.

    1. Jim Scrummy

      Amen. Not a fan of the ultimate DC Affirmative Action Establishment Burocrat General. Honesty…seriously? That’s a good laugh.

  9. Loren

    There’s a footy commentator in Australia named Sam Newman who is somewhat infamous for being nonPC in a very PC country.
    He was accused one day by a media A-hole of thinking he was better than the average guy. This being a Cardinal sin in OZ. His response, being Sam Newman, was “Have you ever seen the average man?
    Enough said.

  10. Aesop

    The statistic I would love to know about re: MacNamara’s (Fellow) Retards was their casualty rate, vs. the mean.

    And I can’t speak to the Army phenom, esp. WRT the SEAsia Wargames, but IMHExperience, the Marines tended to move heaven and earth to get dumbasses out of the grunts (or refuse their entry in the first place) or other combat arms, to include engineers, and into occupational specialties where their mental shortcomings, however lamentable, wouldn’t adversely affect the overall combat performance. One dumbass grunt, even an ordinary one, let alone Recon (now MARSOC) will screw up by the numbers, and require inordinate resources in supervision early, and later on medical care or funeral expenses.

    So they shunt them to places like cooks and bakers school. Which explains a lot about the food.

    1. Stacy0311

      I actually had the displeasure of serving with what quite possibly was one of the last of McNamara’s Special Projects people. At the time he was a Staff Sergeant (who made Gunny before retiring). When I asked another SSG what his problem was (stupid, stubborn or just retarded) the response was “He was one of McNamara’s 100,000.” I had to research it. He was borderline retarded, ragingly stupid, and completely resistant to logic and common sense. How he managed to hang around for so long was a mystery. Maybe because he could max the PT test?
      He made Mongo look like a Rhodes Scholar

      1. Hognose Post author

        “Mongo” is a quasi-traditional nickname for the strongest guy on an SF team, if there’s one guy whose youth and strength stands out. Then it tends to stick to the guy for life!

        1. Stacy0311

          In the grunts we tend to think of Mongo more in the line of “Mongo not know. Mongo just pawn in game of life.”
          This particular Mongo was on the larger side, but to put it politely, he wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, the sharpest shovel in the shed, the brightest bulb on the Christmas lights, etc.
          When a Marine grunt says you’re stupid, that’s a pretty harsh assessment.

    2. SemperFi, 0321

      I served in 2nd Recon in the mid 70’s, we averaged 1-2 blacks per 25 man plt. And they were good.
      But again, it was the swim test that kept them out. Next step after RIP (ReconIndocProgram) was Amphib Recon School, and we started with a 1 mile day swim, then a 1 mile night swim, and on up until we had completed a 5 mile night swim out to the Chesapeake Bay bridge. If that didn’t wash you out, then you might make it to scuba school too. Basically we were USMC frogmen, without the UDT rating.
      And funny as it sounds, but blacks hated going to the bush also. Before Recon I was with 1/9 in Oki, those black grunts hated the jungle with a passion. They were lined up at sick bay every time we got word we were going to the bush at CTA or NTA again. They had the most ungodly fear of spiders and snakes I’ve ever seen. Must have been PTSD from all that time they spent picking cotton.

    3. Joseph P. Martino, Col. (Ret) USAF

      Can’t speak for the Army, but in the Air Force McNamara’s Morons were assigned to menial duties like washing down the aircraft after a flight. They couldn’t handle any other job.

    4. Organic mama

      Perhaps that’s why all of my uncles were Marines! My family has always considered ourselves well above average in intelligence.

  11. Sando182

    “…The Army just wasted a ton of money encouraging good but not-SF-material guys to try out. Even more unfortunately, the experience soured some of them on the Army overall, depriving who knows how many conventional companies of competent commanders, and platoons of solid sergeants, down the line?…”

    This matches my experience with women in the fire service. Some have the endurance, strength and stamina to make it to a firehouse but few last a 20-30 year career.

  12. Kirk

    Thing is… Not all those guys who fell into that category were really that stupid, in the true meaning of that word. I worked for a guy back in the 1980s who was arguably one of the smartest people I’ve ever met, but who had a sub-80 GT score. I’m pretty sure he should have been diagnosed and treated as dyslexic, but that wasn’t a thing back during the 1960s. Anything involving people and hands-on stuff? The man was a genius; I truthfully believe I was only one of the few people that ever cottoned on to the fact that he was functionally illiterate. Dude managed a career in the Army, made it to CSM and 28 years, and I don’t think anyone ever noticed he couldn’t read. Hell of a leader, though–Someone you would automatically just follow, because he just exuded competence and confidence that he knew what he was doing.

    Probably the exception that proves the rule, though. Although, I have to admit that I don’t have the confidence in intelligence testjng I once had, and that started with him.

      1. Hillbilly

        We always said the good ones had skipped the mandatory frontal lobotomy while they were at the Sergeant Major Academy.

      2. Kirk

        The guy I’m talking about came up the ranks before the Academy. He never went, probably would have refused.

        Dude was street-smart, and I don’t mean that in any denigrating way. When a new manual came out, he’d have a little set-down session with the junior NCOs, and have them read the damn things out to him as a “training event”. After he’d heard the verbiage once or twice, it was his for life. And, you’d hear him repeat it verbatim, six weeks later in some random context. Took me forever to figure out what the hell he was doing, and when the light dawned, the Battalion XO swore my ass to silence. Which I’ve maintained for years, and you’ll never pry this guy’s name out of me. I’m pretty sure that if he’d been alive before the invention of writing, he’d have been an equally exceptional person, because he could memorize stuff on the fly and retain it without apparent effort. I could go on for about an hour with all the little dodges I caught him using to conceal the fact that he couldn’t really read, but it would be pointless; suffice to say, he did it, and actually managed to function in a superior manner. It was actually kinda awe-inspiring, to be honest.

        I still haven’t quite figured out how the hell he knew that his RTO had fucked up shackling some stuff out of the CEOI, but he caught it as the kid was transmitting authentication. That one was mind-boggling, looking back on it. At the time I observed it, I hadn’t realized he was functionally illiterate, and I didn’t pay much attention to it. Later on, when the XO confirmed that the CSM was basically so dyslexic that he saw everything in writing as if it were random gibberish, I was like “Wait… Howinthehell…?”. All I can figure is that he must have heard someone else doing it, and remembered the right sequence of letters from that. I really wish I’d paid more attention to what was going on that day, because that would be one less mystery of my life to try to comprehend…

        1. Chris

          Just curious – how did he get to be all the way up to CSM without writing counseling statements? Seems like dyslexia would have been apparent to the CoC somewhere along the way.

          1. Kirk

            A. Old Army didn’t run on paper the way we do now, and B., he just dragooned a subordinate into typing the paperwork he did have to do, “because his handwriting was so bad due to war wounds”. Since he had had his hands and forearms rather well-chewed up by something that went “bang” in Vietnam, there wasn’t anyone willing to call him on it.

            Since he was an Engineer, you would think he was screwed. But, no, he just had the guys in his squad do the necessary calcs and the paperwork, and he turned everything in and just told the boss he had done it as a training event. I ran into a guy who had been under him for a year or two as one of his team leaders back when he was a squad leader, and this guy was completely oblivious about the reading thing. Went on and on and on about what a great trainer he was, and how working with him was so great, because of the way he “powered down”, and let his subordinates shine…

            As far as I could tell, this team leader never noticed a damn thing about his boss not being able to read. And, he didn’t strike me as someone that easy to fool, either…

    1. 2hotel9

      During my years in Army, ’79-’86, I knew a couple of senior NCOs who were functionally illiterate. Excellent leaders, their downfall was the transition from 8inch howitzers to MLRS. They had learned their skills in the Old Army, ’50s and ’60s and kept current through hands on training. The first iteration of field”capable” computers didn’t trip them, they were such crap. MLRS and its multitude of electronics at each stage was beyond the “learn it by rote” system. They up or outed quickly there after.

      Education does not always equate to intelligence. I have known many educated idiots, worked with them, for them, make a serious effort to avoid them.

      1. Kirk

        Truer words were never spoken, about education.

        I come from an educated family–My Mom’s side is Phi Beta Kappa back two generations, my Dad attained a Master’s. Growing up, the expectations were high, and I was expected to do similar things.

        Trouble was, I got exposed to the product of the modern American university in the Army, and about the time I realized I was having to explain most of my jokes and cultural references to them, I lost a lot of my interest in formally furthering my education in the same manner. When you have to explain to a college graduate who the f**k Sisyphus is, and what the significance is when you refer to him in the workplace, or allude to rolling a stone uphill, forever, and get a blank stare in return…? Yeah, you start to wonder why the f**k it might be worth $60,000.00 a year to go to an Ivy League school.

        Being an auto-didact may leave holes in your education, and you don’t have credentials to show anything, but… You also don’t have the embarassment of knowing you fell for a huge con, blew a ton of money, and find out that some bookish Mongo in your platoon has a larger vocabulary, has read more books in the last year than you have in your life, and has a much higher reading comprehension level than you do after four years of college education.

        Took one of the pre-tests for EIT (engineer in training, the precursor to a PE) once. Not sure how I did it, but I did some serious damage to one of my lieutenant’s ego and self-confidence by scoring about half-again higher on the damn thing than he did. He had just finished his degree from a prestigious Mid-western engineering school the year before. Poor bastard spent more time doing humanities and the general ed requirements to graduate than he did on actual engineering and math, seems like. He also didn’t know shit about a whole bunch of stuff I thought were basic Western Civ facts, and virtually nothing of military history, despite being the Distnguished Military grad for his year group in ROTC.

        Education, she ain’t what she used to be.

  13. John M.

    “And now, we have the Department of Justice arguing in a position paper on Advancing Diversity in Police Hiring…”

    Were I the career-oriented bureaucrat at Justice who has been tasked with this, I would’ve started slow walking it, oh, about Wednesday morning this past week.

    But I think there’s a massive overlap on the Venn diagram of the set of career-oriented bureaucrats at Justice and the set of people at Justice who really think this kind of thing is a good idea.

    Anyhow, I don’t think this idea is going to survive long in the Trump administration. I’ll be interested to see how President Trump and the bureaucrats handle each other, and not just on this issue. It’s not for naught that the Democrats are called the Party of Government.

    -John M.

    1. John Distai

      Don’t wax all romantic about what you think Trump is going to do. We had great visions of a Republican controlled Congress under Obama, and what did we get? More of the same.

      Check out the Scott Adams blog (Dilbert) to see how Trump will go soft on every one of his campaign promises and return to his natural mean, which was just short of where the crooked witch was.

      1. John M.

        Believe me, I’m a born cynic. The folks who think Trump is going to repeal NFA are smoking hash.

        But would you be the guy who volunteers to look across the desk and tell President Trump all about his Justice Department’s program to hire felons as cops? Or explain why illegal-immigrant-who-dumped-that-girl-in-a-well-guy is still in Pres. Trump’s country?

        I call “not it.”

        The man may be temperamentally liberal, but he has a streak of good sense about a mile wide down his middle that keeps him clear of the loony left.

        -John M.

  14. Silence DoGood

    The rung above retarded is “trainable,” or in 21st Century PC parlance, ‘trainable mentally handicapped.’ “Educable” is the next rung above ‘trainable.’

    Cassius Clay originally was classed 1-Y (and exempt) because of low literacy. Not sure if Robert “Strange” did this one but they lowered the standards in ’66 and Clay was reclassed 1-A.

  15. James F.

    Remember, mentally retarded didn’t start out as a harsh term, it was first used as a euphemism for what, in the 1890s, was called “feeble-mindedness”.

    And THAT. was polite compared to early medical terms like imbecile, idiot, moron, and cretin.

    Now they’re calling it the “r-word” which is kind of retarded in and of itself.

    The latest is “intellectual disability”, which will turn into the same thing as soon as schoolkids start yelling it at each other. I believe Steven Pinker called this the “euphemism treadmill.”

    1. DaveP.

      These days it’s “exceptional”, which is exactly the same word they use for the kids who are too smart for the grade level.
      I’ll let you guess how that makes the smart kids feel, and how much it encourages them to show off how smart they are.

  16. Cap'n Mike

    There are a lot of dumb things in that DOJ/EEOC report, But This really stands out to me.

    “Many law enforcement agencies also require candidates to be U.S. citizens.84 In fact, more than 40 states have statutes, regulations, or administrative rules in place that restrict the ability of law enforcement agencies to employ non-citizens.85 While Federal law allows law enforcement agencies to impose a citizenship requirement where it is authorized by state or local law,86 this requirement may prevent a considerable number of racial and ethnic minorities – many of whom have valuable foreign language skills – from being hired by law enforcement agencies.”

    Anyone considering lowering the standards for Police Officers needs to look at how that worked out for the New Orleans PD, who has not 1 but 2 former Officers/diversity beans on death row, Len Davis and Antoinette Frank.

  17. James

    Why are we dumbing down our citizens on so many levels?!We should be instead working with them/helping them to be better/working with their strengths ect.This is true with all jobs,not just the military example here.I work construction,we do not care about your ethnicity/religion/sexuality/monied status/formal education status ect.Tis a dangerous profession if folks do not work well together,that is all that matters,are you safe with other workers and if new willing to learn to be safe?We have all sorts on sites and we watch out for/teach each other,that tis what matters.

    1. Bill Robbins

      Hi, James:

      I will offer a few reasons why the citizenry is dumbing-down, and at an accelerating rate:
      1. Technology, namely, the internet, which reduces everything to the lowest common denominator of information transfer. In the good old days, communicating (sending signal, receiving signal, with maximum fidelity) required effort (thinking). Today, “communicating” involves little more than than the intellectual equivalent of cutting-and-pasting and tapping an icon on a smartphone screen.

      2. Politics, also known as “controlling people for fun and profit.” Someone always wants to be top-dog. In the modern world (same as the old world, plus technology) controlling people is done through manipulation of the tools and channels of communication. Communication? See item #1, above.

  18. Chris

    I read a report a while back that talked about these different race proportions in Combat vs. CS/CSS jobs: they are actually economic. Folks from poor families who join the service are more likely to be looking to learn a marketable skill. Folks from middle and upper-class families are more likely to be looking for adventure or service to country. Hence a higher percentage of minorities choosing the combat support and combat service support positions.

    It seems an easy inference that most people who are successful at SFAS and the following pipeline would come from the combat MOS’s.

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  20. George

    I realize that this is a older thread, but thought I would add this anyway:
    I read somewhere on the net in the past few months that the Air Force would love nothing more than to be able to boast about having a very diverse force of jet fighter pilots. Reality gets in the way, however and the black constituent among those pilots is less than 5%, and there is nothing that can be done to alter that figure without risking the loss of some very expensive planes.


    Prefatory Caveat: I was Airborne Artillery (51 months consecutive Jump Status in “America’s Guard of Honor”) during the Mr James E (“Jimmy”) Carter-era “Hollow Army” and have NO/ZERO/NIL SF/SO training or experience. (PULHES: 111121 and “Borderline” (but waiverable) Color Blind, too.)
    RE: Swimming and “Combat Water Survival Test”
    QUESTION: What are the Swimming Standards for SF?
    As a Cadet, we all had to pass the Combat Water Survival Test (FM 21-20, Physical Training) as follows:
    **UNIFORM: Regular, with boots. LBE (Belt, H-Suspenders, 2 Pouches (each with 3 empty, 20-round M16 magazines), 2 Canteen Covers with 2 FULL Canteens (no buoyancy)). M16A1, with sling.
    **STATION 1: Enter pool. Hand rifle to AI at poolside and then remove LBE and hand to AI at poolside.
    **STATION 2: Enter pool. Swim 25 yards.
    **STATION 3: With sandbag-hood (blindfold), walk-off 3 meter board (“surprise entry into water”) and swim to side.

    On the first day of Ranger School, which began on Tuesday morning at 0001, after the PT Test (and a “cool-down” crawl through them “Worm Pit”) we ran from Harmony Church to Victory Pond (?) where the CWST was administered as follows:
    **UNIFORM: Regular, with boots. LBE (supplied by the RIs): Belt, H-Suspenders, 2 Ammo Pouches (each filled with a brick and wired/tied shut), 2 Canteen Covers (each filled with a brick and wired/tied shut), and
    L-shaped “Flashlight” (“Training Aid” filled with lead shot). M14 Rifle (TASC Dummy) and sling.
    STATION: From at least 5 meters, we were hooded (sandbag) and thrown-off/pushed-off the side, told to remove our hoods, and swim 25+ meters. (Ranger Efficiency: Stations 1 and 2 and 3–all combined into one, single time-saving event!)

    And two of the four must-pass “Confidence Tests” at Ranger School involved water: the “Log Walk and Rope Drop” and the “Suspension Traverse” both at Victory Pond. We did this the day we returned to Harmony Church after Camp Darby. My understanding is that, at one time, these two “Confidence Tests” were given on the FIRST Day, in lieu of the CWST, on the theory that this is a really good “Gut Check” to get things started!

    1. Hognose Post author

      SF swim test, 1983: had to swim two lengths (one lap) of an Olympic sized pool in duty uniform and boots. Some classes allowed jungle boots and some did not (you would definitely rather do this in jungle boots than all-leather combat boots). There’s a few SF legends of guys who couldn’t swim but walked it on the bottom and were passed out of pure studliness.

      Ranger School, class 1-83 (Oct-Dec 82): had to jump off a deck or quay into victory pond, and swim about 15 feet in fatigues and LBE, holding a rubber duck. (M16). An RI held a piece of 550 tied to the duck in case the student dropped it. If he failed to swim he was a no go. If he swam like crap or dropped the duck, he was a “weak swimmer” and had to stitch an extra ranger eye on his hat, sit in the middle of the RB-15, etc. etc. The log and rope thing (with a step in the middle) was done the same day, as was the suspension traverse, which they were calling the “slide for life.”


    Follow-up Comment: Read the Army publication from 1965: “The Marginal Man and Military Service”.

  23. Thumbs up

    Wonder what the iq was to operate noisy machinery back in the day? Borderline?

    The USA somehow needs to motivate people to learn and do more. Seems like too many people are comfortable stopping at the American Dream. There is so much quality information, knowledge, and experience that is readily accessible. Could definitely use some organization and direction. College is a waste of money these days unless one is active in research which is a skill set. Most college classes can effectively be taught online and should probably be free by now. Replace degrees with tests with mandatory recertification.

    Perhaps hard and dangerous times will motivate people to become smarter and stronger. Equality will transition to respect.

    Good write up. Good tidbits in the comments.

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