Tuesday, January 15, 2008

"Culture" is what you have when you are not having "race"

The research summarized below shows that whites and Asians think differently but the authors ASSUME that all differences between Asians and Caucasians are cultural. There is not a breath of a suggestion about the obvious possibility that the two groups may be genetically different. To give the authors their due, however, they do make some attempt to show that the differences are cultural. They show that Asians who have the most Asian attitudes also have the most Asian brain function. That, however, is simply to confuse cause and effect. The evidence that attitudes are strongly transmitted genetically is summarized here. Sadly, however, the authors HAD to attribute their results to culture. Otherwise they would have been tarred as "racists"

Psychological research has established that American culture, which values the individual, emphasizes the independence of objects from their contexts, while East Asian societies emphasize the collective and the contextual interdependence of objects. Behavioral studies have shown that these cultural differences can influence memory and even perception. But are they reflected in brain activity patterns"

To find out, a team led by John Gabrieli, a professor at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, asked 10 East Asians recently arrived in the United States and 10 Americans to make quick perceptual judgments while in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner--a technology that maps blood flow changes in the brain that correspond to mental operations. Subjects were shown a sequence of stimuli consisting of lines within squares and were asked to compare each stimulus with the previous one. In some trials, they judged whether the lines were the same length regardless of the surrounding squares (an absolute judgment of individual objects independent of context). In other trials, they decided whether the lines were in the same proportion to the squares, regardless of absolute size (a relative judgment of interdependent objects).

In previous behavioral studies of similar tasks, Americans were more accurate on absolute judgments, and East Asians on relative judgments. In the current study, the tasks were easy enough that there were no differences in performance between the two groups. However, the two groups showed different patterns of brain activation when performing these tasks. Americans, when making relative judgments that are typically harder for them, activated brain regions involved in attention-demanding mental tasks. They showed much less activation of these regions when making the more culturally familiar absolute judgments. East Asians showed the opposite tendency, engaging the brain's attention system more for absolute judgments than for relative judgments.

"We were surprised at the magnitude of the difference between the two cultural groups, and also at how widespread the engagement of the brain's attention system became when making judgments outside the cultural comfort zone," says Hedden.

The researchers went on to show that the effect was greater in those individuals who identified more closely with their culture. They used questionnaires of preferences and values in social relations, such as whether an individual is responsible for the failure of a family member, to gauge cultural identification. Within both groups, stronger identification with their respective cultures was associated with a stronger culture-specific pattern of brain-activation.




Jeff Jacoby has a useful summary of why the "600,000 Iraqi deaths" study published in The Lancet was just propaganda. Tigerhawk has some good comments too.

Change: the empty word: "It's hard to think of a more meaningless political watchword than "change," but "change" is what the presidential candidates are promising. Barack Obama's endless repetition of the word won him the Iowa caucuses, prompting other Democratic and Republican presidential candidates to make it their mantra too. Hillary Clinton and [RINO] John McCain won in New Hampshire by arguing that they too wanted change and that they had the experience necessary to bring it about." And Mark Steyn rightly points out that it is WHICH change that matters, not just any change.

Reality dawns very slowly in the EU: "The use of armed "sky marshals" on passenger planes is set to spread across Europe, following a deal on aviation security hammered out in the 27-nation European Union. After the September 11 attacks in the United States, the European Union adopted joint rules for checking air passengers, their baggage, freight, mail and flight and ground crews. But measures such as the use of on-board security personnel were optional. At the end of consultations, European parliament members and officials from EU states agreed on a compromise setting new common rules and standards. "The necessity of new security measures that are implemented quickly and effectively is undoubted," transport committee chairman Paolo Costa said."

Britain. The cancer of bureaucracy again: "A quango distributing lottery money has been accused by the Conservatives of wasting millions of pounds on salaries and administration while cutting donations. Costs at the Big Lottery Fund, which is responsible for handing out half the money for good causes raised by the Lotto, have risen from 73 million in 2006 to 77 million pounds last year. The amount distributed has dropped from 696 million to 469 million because the Government has diverted funds to the 2012 Olympics. The fund's administration costs amounted to 12.8 per cent of its income. In comparison the charities Scope and Children in Need spent 2 per cent and 4.4 per cent respectively. The research showed that the fund, where five of the twelve board members are Labour members, has 1,103 employees compared with 1,170 at the Treasury, but while the fund distributes 630 million annually, the Treasury distributes 500 times that amount."

Some of the doubts about Obama: "When Hillary Clinton warned that Barack Obama had not been thoroughly "vetted", as she has been, she was hinting darkly at trouble to come over her rival's radical pastor and shady patron in Chicago, the Illinois senator's home town.... The smear that Obama is secretly a Muslim, or too close for comfort to that religion, has already taken hold among some voters. "We have to peel back his identity," said one elderly white voter in South Carolina, a state Obama must win on January 26. "Did you know his middle name is Hussein? He is a Muslim and was raised in an Islamic school." ... The unorthodox pastor of Trinity church is the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, who is refusing all interviews. He married Barack and Michelle Obama and baptised their two daughters. He is already attracting attention on right-wing websites for describing the September 11 attacks as a "wake-up call" to America for ignoring the concerns of "people of colour", and for claiming that Americans "believe in white supremacy and black inferiority . . . more than we believe in God". The other potential threat to Obama comes from the indictment of one of his leading donors, Antoin "Tony" Rezko, a Syrian-born property developer in Chicago, who is accused of extortion.

9th Circuit - No background checks on NASA employees: ""A federal appeals court ruled Friday that NASA should be blocked from conducting background checks on low-risk employees at its Jet Propulsion Laboratory, saying the practice threatens workers' constitutional rights. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the 28 scientists and engineers who refused to submit to the background checks "face a stark choice - either violation of their constitutional rights or loss of their jobs." The decision written by Judge Kim Wardlaw reversed a ruling by U.S. District Judge Otis Wright and sent the case back to him with orders to issue an injunction on the workers' behalf. The workers sued the federal government, claiming that NASA was invading their privacy by requiring the investigations, which included probes into medical records and questioning of friends about everything from their finances to their sex lives. If they didn't agree to the checks, they could be fired."


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"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here.

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) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party".


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