Monday, March 27, 2006


What I put up yesterday about IQ was preparatory to what I want to say today. I have been thinking about the Lynn effect -- which is usually called the Flynn effect -- after its main publicist -- James Flynn. It was however discovered by Richard Lynn. What it refers to is the fact that average IQ test scores rose steadily thoroughout the 20th century. The process may however have reached an asymptote (peaked) now.

For a long time, I accepted that the rising scores represented a real increase in 'g' (underlying general intelligence). Two of my three very minor contributions to the academic literature on IQ were based on that view (See here and here). There were good reasons for that view. Nutrition does have a (usually small) effect on IQ and nutrition did improve over the 20th century. IQ can be influenced in some ways by general health -- and medical care did improve over the 20th century -- with improved perinatal care being an obvious candidate for positive effects. And signs that people were in fact better off physically were there -- an increase in average brain size particularly. And brain size does correlate to a degree (correlation of around .40) with IQ.

BUT: It seems that I was wrong. Although scores on all sorts of IQ subtests (puzzle categories) rose, they did not rise evenly. And the scores that rose least were for those problems that loaded most highly on 'g' (See e.g. here). The implication is that scores on a perfect measure of 'g' would not have risen at all.

So how do we explain the Lynn effect? There is no general agreement but I find the commonest explanation to be pretty persuasive -- that it reflects increasing test sophistication. Kids now spend MANY more years in the educational system than they once did and although there is probably little to show for that overall, kids DO get a lot of practice in passing tests of various sorts. And practice may not make perfect but it would be surprising if test-taking skills and strategies (such as guessing when you are not certain) were not improved by many years of extra practice at taking such tests.


Senate corruption

"Remember when Al Gore pledged to create a 'lockbox' to protect Social Security trust fund surpluses from the annual Congressional spending raid? Well last week, while voting to raise the federal-debt ceiling to $8.96 trillion, Senators had a chance to terminate this notorious money-laundering scheme. And guess what? Every Democrat in the Senate joined with eight Republicans to kill an amendment by GOP Senators Jim DeMint and Mike Crapo that would have stopped the Bonnie and Clyde budgeting...

Apparently, these Senators want the money stored in a lock box, but only on the condition that they know how to pick the lock. The DeMint-Crapo proposal would deposit surplus payroll tax dollars in personalized bank accounts for each U.S. worker. This would in effect have created more than 100 million personalized lock boxes-and as taxpayers' private property, well out of the reach of the politicians.

We're talking big dollars here. The payroll tax will collect some $80 billion more in taxes next year, and $436 billion more over the next five years, than Social Security will pay out to current retirees. Under today's law, Congress simply keeps that cash to spend itself. Under the DeMint-Crapo idea, the average young worker would be able to accumulate roughly $40,000 in tax-free wealth for retirement based on eight years of surplus tax payments and 30 years of interest. And if you want to know why Members of Congress want to keep this annual spending raid going, all you have to do is look at the budget outline for Fiscal 2007 that this ostensibly Republican Senate passed last week."




Media bias about the economy: "Media Research Center (MRC) examined the year 2005, specifically how ABC, NBC and CBS covered employment news. In 2005, the economy created 2 million jobs. According to the MRC, however, more than 50 percent of the stories involved job losses rather than gains. Professor John Lott, economist and resident scholar at American Enterprise Institute, and Kevin A. Hassett, the Institute's director of economic policy studies, examined, among other things, newspapers' economic political bias as reflected by their headlines: "We found that newspaper headlines reporting economic news on unemployment, gross domestic product (GDP), retail sales, and durable goods tended to be much more frequently negative when a Republican was in the White House".

I have just put up on Australian Politics a story about a nasty little bit of Leftist bias in the Australian media too.

Left versus Right: Chimps versus cavemen?: "Wrote Tucker: "Once established, however, monogamy proved to have enormous advantages. Our ancestors were smaller, weaker, and slower than almost evey other species with which they cohabited, Their only advantage was their ability to work together. Armed with only the social compact of monogamy, they were able to survive on the savannah, learn to scavenge and hunt, make tools, tame fire, and eventually migrate to almost every climate on earth. It is a remarkable outcome for such a small social adjustment." It is conservatives, of course, who defend the ideals of monogamy. It was the lefties who promoted free love and all sorts of other tommyrot which reached fruition in the simian couplings of Bill Clinton in Little Rock hotel rooms and Oval Office ante-rooms, and (to believe the reports) of Ted Kennedy in all sorts of hideouts. Then there's the fact that gorillas and chimps are almost entirely vegetarian -- another primarily Lefty fetish".

The real tragedy of Iraq: "The tragedy of what went wrong in Iraq, therefore, is that the failure to locate WMD has made action against Iran or North Korea far harder to advance to Western public opinion. This would have been true even if Iraq, post invasion, was now a land of peace and plenty. The final tragedy is that while many will prosper within Iraq over the next three years, the price of inept peacetime policies between 2003 and 2005 is that there will be no more Iraqs in the foreseeable future. To that extent, the Stop the War coalition, assisted, ironically, by the Pentagon, will be satisfied. And what does this mean in practice? It means no more sadistic totalitarian dictators removed from office. It means no more free and fair elections for those who have never had them. It means no more openings for civic and religious liberty. It means no more chances of a cultural reawakening. Democracy might well progress in parts of the Middle East but, alas, mostly in the states that were most benign to begin with. There is little reason to suppose that the ruling elites in Damascus, Tehran or Tripoli have the cause for fear that they must have briefly felt three years ago. Nor have the people under their yoke any reason for optimism that they might yet escape servitude."

For more postings, see EDUCATION WATCH, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE. Mirror sites here, here, here, here and here. On Social Security see Dick McDonald and for purely Australian news see Australian Politics (mirrored here). I also post several times a week on "Tongue-Tied". There is an archive of my "Tongue-Tied" posts here or here


Practically all policies advocated by the Left create poverty. Leftists get the government to waste vast slabs of the country's labour-force on bureaucracy and paperwork and so load the burden of providing most useful goods and services onto fewer and fewer people. So fewer useful goods and services are produced to go around. That is no accident. The Left love the poor. The Left need the poor so that they can feel good by patronizing and "helping" them. So they do their best to create as many poor people as possible.

The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialistisch)

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