Thursday, February 19, 2009

Should scientists study race and IQ?

The usual Leftist strategy when faced with truths that contradict their simplistic theories: Shut down debate. Everything bad is due to "poverty", don't you know? Everything they do seems to lead to impoverishment so I guess there is some sort of weird consistency there. Report below from one of the "Science blogs"

Just in case anyone has missed it, the pair of duelling essays in the latest issue of Nature is well worth a read. The topic is whether there is any justification for scientific exploration of associations between gender or race and intelligence; Stephen Ceci and Wendy M. Williams from Cornell argue the affirmative, while Steven Rose takes up the opposing case.

The debate continues as a lively discussion on Nature Network, which contains many thoughtful comments from both sides.

I find it pretty hard to stomach the notion that any field of scientific enquiry should be completely off the table, even an area as contentious and politically charged as this one - in fact especially in such an area, since nowhere are solid facts needed as desperately as in a debate driven largely by ideals and emotions. Thus while Rose makes some fair points about the difficulties of defining both race and intelligence, I find his overall argument less than compelling.

In fact this sentence from Rose's final paragraph is downright worrying: "In a society in which racism and sexism were absent, the questions of whether whites or men are more or less intelligent than blacks or women would not merely be meaningless -- they would not even be asked."

This borders on defining anyone who even thinks about group differences in cognition as a bigot. Poisoning the well in this fashion is a highly effective strategy for shutting down debate on a particular topic - but this is a terrible strategy for a scientist to adopt.


I should perhaps mention that the first comment on the blog post reproduced above is a tease. Razib is a geneticist of Bangladeshi origin who is in fact confident that the specific genes for IQ will eventually be identified


Some marvellous news from Italy

Another defeat for media-enabled Leftist lies. Report below by Fiamma Nirenstein, a journalist and some-time resident of Jerusalem. She is a new Member of the Italian Parliament. I like her first name. It is Italian for "flame". I have long had great affection for Italians and the report below certainly reinforces that

We didn't expect what you see in this picture. This is the square of the Italian Parliament in Rome, Piazza Montecitorio: You can see the Palace on top of the square, and in front a lot of Israeli flags. That was last night from 6:30 to 9:30 pm. What you cannot see here, is the extraordinary number of members of Parliament, about 100 from all political sides, that took the stage during this time: for about three hours we were speaking about the role of Israel, its right to self defense, its moral height, its fight on behalf of us all, of our civilization and values, against the wild hate of the Islamic jihad represented by Hamas.

It seems to me that for the first time in the too long history of the Arab/Israeli conflict, apart from a minority of crazy leftists and fascists that took the street with anti-Semitic slogans, we have achieved a huge consensus on one critical point: this is not a local conflict, there is nothing in it that reminds us of a peace theme that has characterized the Palestinian issue. This is an attack against the western world, and Iran is behind it.

What happens today, at least in Italy, is the defeat and fall of the leftist ideologies: ideology that has allowed justification of all the most violent crimes and most disgusting verbal attacks. If Arafat launched the terrorist Intifada, if he promoted the martyrdom of children in public speeches, the ideologists were ready to justify him with the issues of occupation, the Palestinian misery and loss of any hope. Not so with Hamas.

History, in Italy, has brought to a profound crisis the ideology of revolution and the justification of any cruel attack against a so-called unjust imperialist order. That time is over, nobody will see Hamas as the resolution of the problem and not even as the problem itself. I think that the word "peace" has lost that healing meaning that it once had. The new non-ideological point of view sees that there is no peace when one of the contenders doesn't want it, and that even if the world in the short run asks for a truce, in the long run it hopes for the defeat of Hamas.

Last night, many people, Ministers and Members of Parliament, composed a very new, interesting mix of opinions. I think that when you are not overwhelmed by exotic thirdworldism, the images of children educated as hate machines, the speeches of jihad leaders, from Ahmadinejad to Nasrallah, to Haniyeh, that deny the holocaust and promise death to Jewish and Christians alike, you are left only with disgust. Westerners, thank God, can still be disgusted by uncivilized levels of political speech.

But most of all, in the Parliament square, many of the Parliament Members said: "I love Israel". You can't imagine how many.



The Decline of California

They still think they can tax their way out of this one.

If you thought Washington's stimulus debate was depressing, take a look at the long-running budget spectacle in California. The Golden State's deficit has reached $42 billion, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is threatening to furlough 20,000 state workers (go ahead, make our day), and as we went to press yesterday Democrats who control the legislature had blocked lawmakers from leaving until they finally get a deal.

It's sad to watch. The Golden State -- which a decade ago was the booming technology capital of the world -- has been done in by two decades of chronic overspending, overregulating and a hyperprogressive tax code that exaggerates the impact on state revenues of economic boom and bust. Total state expenditures have grown to $145 billion in 2008 from $104 billion in 2003 and California now has the worst credit rating in the nation -- worse even than Louisiana's. It also has the nation's fourth highest unemployment rate of 9.3% (after Michigan, Rhode Island and South Carolina) and the second highest home foreclosure rate (after Nevada).

Roughly 1.4 million more nonimmigrant Americans have left California than entered over the last decade, according to the American Legislative Exchange Council. California is suffering more than most states from the housing bust, but its politicians also showed less spending restraint during the boom.

To close the current deficit, the pols in Sacramento are nearing a deal that cuts spending by $15 billion and raises $14.2 billion in higher taxes on income, sales, gasoline and cars. Six years ago Mr. Schwarzenegger helped depose Governor Gray Davis by calling him "Car-taxula." Now he's agreed to double the same tax.

Mr. Schwarzenegger has won at least some concessions from Democrats, who run the most liberal legislature this side of Trenton. The budget deal contains a handful of useful tax breaks for job creation and the first public union workplace reforms in a decade; it also creates a new rainy day fund. These taxpayer victories wouldn't have been possible if Republicans in the legislature hadn't held out for them. But the plan is still far short of the radical tax and spending surgery the state needs. It's loaded with short-term gimmicks -- such as $5 billion of borrowing from future lottery receipts and nearly $10 billion in one-time federal stimulus cash. Even proponents concede the plan doesn't balance spending and revenues 18 months from now.

The tax increases will continue to chase even more productive people out of the state. For at least two years, the sales tax would rise by one percentage point to 8.25% and the income tax by 0.3% to a top marginal rate of 10.56%. These will both be the highest statewide rates in the nation (see chart).

Do these taxes hurt business? Ask Hollywood. Film makers are threatening to flee to avoid the state's high costs, so to keep them in Southern California the deal offers $500 million in tax breaks for producers. Rich liberals like Rob Reiner, who love higher taxes on other people, get a sweetheart tax break and everyone else pays more.

Mr. Schwarzenegger is finally getting a constitutional state spending cap that will be on the ballot in the next election, but even that is flawed. This cap would limit spending hikes in any year to a rolling average of the percentage increase of the past 10 years. Nice idea, except that if Californians vote yes, the higher income and sales taxes automatically kick in for three more years. So to get a modicum of spending restraint, the voters have to agree to tax themselves by $25 billion more for three additional years. Californians can be forgiven if they say "no deal."

The tragedy of this gamesmanship is that the political class still won't address the root cause of its financial problems, which is that the state is becoming less economically competitive. California businesses and high-income families already pay a surtax for locating inside the state. The new budget deal raises that tax toll higher still.

It's no surprise that most CEOs we talk to, many of whom live in California, say they'd be foolish to build another plant in the state. California's budget crisis is the inevitable result of runaway liberal governance, and the state's voters will keep paying for it until they reduce their tax burden and adopt more radical spending controls.




Britain: Race of attackers mentioned for once. I wonder why? "An Australian woman has been subjected to a horrific seven-hour rape ordeal after being snatched from the streets of Edinburgh in broad daylight. Two men grabbed the 24-year old woman and sprayed her in the face with a "noxious substance'' before dragging her into nearby bushes, police say. The woman had been walking through an underpass near the city centre at 3pm on Monday. She was not released until 10pm, after a prolonged assault that has shocked local officers. A police spokeswoman said: "This young woman has been subjected to a terrifying ordeal at the hands of these two men - the trauma she has experienced cannot be underestimated. Police were last night unable to provide further details about the woman, such as which state she was from or whether she was a tourist or resident. The suspects are described as being white, Eastern European, and in their 20s."

What's America's backup plan? : "Barney Frank needs to go back to running a whore house and Chris Dodd needs an economic ejumacation to name a few. Nancy Peeelosi needs a math lesson at the very least with her oft repeated 500,000,000 job loss per month (it's on tape more than once). Hey, Nanc, the population of the entire US is only 300,000,000. Or were you using Democratic voter math? Ok, my bad. Oh, and get back on your meds. The whole bunch has a bad case of hubris and at that can't seem to find a direction or logical path. Oops I forgot, they are emotion based decision makers. The stock market is still waiting on what the government will do, not because they think it will help, but so that they know where to invest with the least likelihood of getting burnt. On the bright side, at least the House Republicans showed a little spine in voting against the Porkulus Bill."


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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" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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