Sunday, 29 June 2008

Deselecting Mr. Right

Some people like exams; some prefer battle; others lie… in wait.
The UK government proposed a bill in June 2008 by Harriet Harman, in which positive discrimination should be offered to women and minorities regarding job selection.
The bill proposes to address disparity in wages as well as selection criteria; if you honestly want equal pay for equal work, you must first ensure that the workers are equal, and by that we must mean equal in merit and not in token; positive discrimination can only ensure equal pay for unequal merit. And for those that insist this bill will only be used as a tie-breaker in cases where candidates are of equal merit, then I would point out that such instances may expose the inadequacy of the original tests used to distinguish the grounds of merit. It is not inconceivable that a simple test be given, where a large proportion of the candidates pass, and the erroneous conclusion be made that all that passed are of equal merit, thence to discriminate by political choices rather than true merit.
The systems of selection, ranging from favouritism, to merit, include: quota filling, random lottery, interview, popularity, nepotism, game scores, and exams. The selection system must ultimately determine the integrity of the final selection in the same way that a natural environment determined the evolution of wild animals, and breeding determined the aesthetics and functions of domestic animals.

Quota Filling
Trial by Procrustes; we need more pigs! A survey was taken, in secret, which showed that there were not enough pigs present at the nativity. Non-specific tests showed that sows were just as good as boars in almost everything; therefore we will be selecting more sows to lie beside baby Jesus, and sending the excess boars off to the slaughter house.
The flip side of the quota coin is the selection based on what you are not; whole governments have been selected on this condition.

Random Lottery
Trial by chance; this is the fairest way, and therefore stupid, but not as stupid as quota filling, which is stupid and divisive. Nature relies on this method because nature is not only red in tooth and claw, but is also blind. The animals may have various tactics to aid their group survival, such as sexual prejudice, but nature herself has no stratagem to guide evolution to a particular goal, therefore relies on genetic chance alone.

Trial by chat; how often have you heard the palliative comment: “There are no right or wrong answers at interview.” It makes one wonder why they bother to ask such questions; if they want to see how you chat, then why not test you as well? Under inquisitional interrogation the candidate, and the interviewer, will reveal their skills at argument resolution; also a contentious interaction is more likely to expose any deceptive premeditations, as the players become intoxicated by their own hormones: “Let me tell you about my mother… BANG!!!”

Trial by vote, results in so many different types of outcome, that it can be compared with random lottery. Think of the menagerie of celebrities, some celebrated by virtue of looks, some by skill, and yet others by deeds or combinations thereof; there are as many types as there are reasons to like someone, be it desire or admiration. If somebody’s popularity is based on their admirable past record of success, it would be wise to be sure that the skills match the subsequent tasks, else you may fall foul of the Peter Principle, and select a parvenue.

Trial by familiarity; blood is thicker than water. This will include friends and associates; it is as old as recognition. Would party politics, religions, and cults, bother to form if not aided by the mutual survival benefits of ‘keeping it in the fold’? Nepotism is part of human nature; it is also the greater part of feminist nature, therefore has absolutely nothing to do with merit.

Game Scores
Trial by combat is the natural way; red in tooth, claw, and pixel. The aim is to win, and the winner requires the skill and luck to defeat the opposition. The greater the skill difference, the less luck is required to differentiate between winners and losers. The only issue is to ensure that the choice of games match the skills required for the system to which the winner will be selected; there would be no point in holding a 100 metre dash to select the next manager of a nuclear power plant, unless you expect an imminent core meltdown. One obvious choice of ‘game’ would be to score someone’s success in performing the very tasks for which they are to be selected.
Especial care has to be taken when the outcome of a game is decided by judges, as a judge can introduce all the prejudices mentioned above. Another form of diminishing the integrity of a game in regards to measuring skill is to increase the luck or random element, such as games that include dice throws; would we have heard of Bobby Fisher if chess was played like the game of monopoly? Corrupting the integrity of the result can further be achieved by pre-selecting the competitors, so that top seeds are not included, such as all female candidates selected for a constituency, for instance; or more subtly, by arranging a knock-out tournament so that undesired top seeds are matched against each other in the early rounds in order to knock most of themselves out, whilst the ‘favoured’ competitor is matched against lower seeds to minimize their reliance on luck, in order to optimise their chances of reaching the finals, where luck or prejudice becomes more prominent between those of similar skill.

Trial by matriculation; just as game scores can be compared to natural selection, so exams can be compared to breeding; as the exam is fashioned by the requirements of the system rather than the requirements of the examinee. The examiner is looking for compliance between questions and answers, the examinee must mould their answers to fit the questions. The examinee must also be good at the format of exam, which is a kind of game in itself, requiring a set of skills; it is feasible therefore, that a good exam result could be achieved by someone less suitable for the system, than someone better skilled in that system but hopeless at exams. The obvious way to neuter merit is to make the exam so trivial as to render collateral skills pointless; consider for instance the recent report of an experiment where trained chimpanzees were faster and just as accurate at recalling and ordering numbers in a grid on a touch screen, than university students [Tetsuro Matsuzawa], which would you select for the job of postal sorter ... the male chimps or the female chimps?

On trial
If feminism is a set of values rather than a quantity, how many more Harriet Harman types do we need to fill the required quotas to satiate feminist discrimination, after all, we take one aspirin for a headache, and not fifty?
How do you think Harriet Harman got to be selected as a government minister, if she came to you for a job, would you give her one? Was it nepotism, merit, past success, or mere quota filling? How many people must you deselect to end up with a Harriet Harman; and what methods of discrimination would you have to use?
The judge and jury is the army of unemployed men; they may want to know the answer to the above questions, as they fill out their job seekers agreement, and then pass judgement. Alas they may be somewhat biased in their judgement of this government bill, as they contemplate whether the sacrifice of their aspirations, family stability, nutritional requirements, and social standing, was worth the gain to feminists.
Harriet Harman may fool the people, but she will not fool nature, and I say again, nature is red in tooth and claw… and the unemployed have least to lose.