Tuesday, April 11, 2006


There is an interesting site here that appears to be run by two microbiologists named Brack and Zhang. They have the entirely commendable aim of finding what the biological influences on political orientation are. And some of their findings sound fun indeed. For instance:

"In our most recent survey, Liberals in general were 43% more likely to report general anxiety disorder than Conservatives. They were 115% more likely to report panic disorders, 119% more likely to report agoraphobic symptoms, 118% more likely to report OCD symptoms. and 54% more likely to report social anxiety disorder. When broken down further into Very Conservative, Conservative, Liberal and Very Liberal cohorts, the numbers spread further apart. The Very Conservatives have the lowest rates of anxiety disorders, the Very Liberals the highest.

Sadly, we cannot get too carried away by that finding. It runs contrary to decades of previous research on the subject -- research of which Brack & Zhang seem to be unaware. In properly sampled surveys, the correlation between anxiety/neuroticism and politics has repeatedly been found to be negligible. See for instance here. And the "sampling" employed by Brack & Zhang is ludicrous. They base their conclusions on people who respond to internet surveys -- a group which can in no way be claimed to be representative of the population at large.

Another problem with the Brack and Zhang reports is that they give the statistical significance of the differences they find as if it were a big deal. But statistical significance is only a means of allowing for small sample sizes and their "samples" are large in statistical terms. It may help if I point out that with a sample of 400 people (the sort of "sample" they use) a totally negligible correlation of .10 would be shown as statistically significant. They would be much more impressive from a scholarly point of view if the first report of their findings were in terms of standard descriptive statistics such as (say) the Pearson product-moment correlations between their variables.



As Economy Roars, Dems Are in Denial: "Building on the nation's historic economic growth under the tax policies of the Bush Administration, the Department of Labor announced today that the economy added 211,000 jobs in March -- 21,000 more than the projected 190,000. Job growth in March brought unemployment to a record low of 4.7%, which is below the average of the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. The March employment numbers brought total job creation for the past 12 months to 2.1 million, and 5.2 million since May 2003. It looks like the best-kept secret in San Francisco is that tax cuts work".

Protectionism will kill Europe: "Protectionism is gaining ground even in member states such as Italy as a reaction against France -- top politicians from the left and the right have been calling for a retaliation against French companies. As a result, the voice of the European Commission (the executive branch of the EU) is getting weaker, especially if you consider that Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs comes from Latvia, a country whose influence is much smaller than France's, and that Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes can't possibly challenge every single protectionist move. Clearly, the European dream of a single market isn't likely to be fulfilled in the short run."

DoD wants Boy Scout ruling overturned: "The Defense Department wants to continue supporting the decades-old National Boy Scout Jamboree because preparing a military base for the event trains soldiers how to deal with displaced people, government attorneys said Thursday. The government is asking a federal appeals court to overturn a ruling that the Pentagon's support of the jamboree violates the First Amendment because the Scouts require members to swear an oath of duty to God."

GM, France and Albany: "At first glance, they seem to have little in common. But the riots in France over labor reform, the slow-motion suicide of General Motors, and the continuing decline of the New York economy all share one defining trait: entrenched and unchangeable union power. These columns have always favored the right to collectively bargain, and any private company that allows a union to organize its workers deserves what it gets. But that doesn't mean we should fail to appreciate the consequences when unions become entrenched inside any organization. On the evidence throughout business and politics today, unions do not provide individual job or income security. On the contrary, they undermine security by contributing to broader business and economic decline".

How Israel can win: "I refrain from suggesting specific steps Israel should take in part because I am not Israeli, and in part because discussing tactics to win is premature before victory is the policy. Suffice to say that the Palestinians derive immense succor and strength from a worldwide network of support from NGOs, editorialists, academics, and politicians; that the manufactured Palestinian 'refugee' problem stands at the dank heart of the conflict; and that lack of international recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital festers. These three issues are clearly priorities. Ironically, Israeli success in crushing the Palestinian war morale would be the best thing that ever happened to the Palestinians."

You can't outlaw a free lunch: "Abramoff and Cunningham ignored existing laws, so it's unclear why their malfeasance is inspiration for new ones. But the faux crackdown on lobbying does reflect a 'hey, how'd that happen?' theory of honest government, a worldview in which lobbyists, and not Congressmen they corrupt, are responsible for the earmarks that snake their way into appropriations bills. Like obese Americans launching lawsuits at McDonalds, Congressmen plead that they are unable to resist free lunch at The Willard without the force of law behind them. Meal restrictions are traditionally got around by exploiting exceptions for 'prior relationships,' so lobbyists and politicos can always claim to be old chums from prep school grabbing a bite. And if the attempt to regulate friendship is futile, the focus on wining and dining is simplistic."

"Pig Book" serves up $29 billion in pork: "For all the hand-wringing on Capitol Hill about larding bills with home-state projects, the latest report from a taxpayer group says lawmakers hit a record last year. Citizens Against Government Waste, in its annual 'Pig Book' released Wednesday, details $29 billion of what it calls pork-barrel spending. For the uninitiated, 'pork' means home-state and home-district projects specially set aside in congressional spending measures, chiefly the 11 annual appropriations bills. ... Some of these earmarks are more audacious than others. For example, last year, there was a 'bridge to nowhere,' a $223 million project connecting Alaska's Gravina Island, population 50, to the mainland. That project drew so much ridicule from the media that an irate public successfully demanded that the bridge be shelved."

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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