Tuesday, February 02, 2010


My internet connection (cable) has been "down" since midday to my blogging today is much disrupted. Some blogs are up as usual while others have reduced or absent posts. It's the obnoxious Telstra/Bigpond again. Their's is the only cable that passes my door so I have to put up with their contempt for their customers. If their service gets any worse I may add a wireless connection via another provider. I am posting this at a friend's place.


Money DOES make you happy

Or so a large recent survey seems to show

Objective Confirmation of Subjective Measures of Human Well-Being: Evidence from the U.S.A.

By Andrew J. Oswald and Stephen Wu

A huge research literature, across the behavioral and social sciences, uses information on individuals’ subjective well-being. These are responses to questions—asked by survey interviewers or medical personnel—such as, "How happy do you feel on a scale from 1 to 4?" Yet there is little scientific evidence that such data are meaningful. This study examines a 2005–2008 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System random sample of 1.3 million U.S. citizens. Life satisfaction in each U.S. state is measured. Across America, people’s answers trace out the same pattern of quality of life as previously estimated, from solely nonsubjective data, in one branch of economics (so-called "compensating differentials" neoclassical theory, originally from Adam Smith). There is a state-by-state match (r = 0.6, P < 0.001) between subjective and objective well-being. This result has some potential to help to unify disciplines.

Science 29 January 2010: Vol. 327. no. 5965, pp. 576 - 579

More detail here. The study actually shows that people are happier if they live in more pleasant places but more pleasant places are of course in general more expensive so money buys you happiness by giving you better location choices.

One would think that location choice was only a small factor in the many things that can affect one's happiness but the authors report a remarkably high correlation of .6 between happiness and the "amenity" of where you live. The correlation is however an "ecological" one (involving grouped data) in statistical terms and such correlations are often inordinately high so can be generalized from only weakly.


Richard Nisbett’s Leftist account of IQ is as crooked as one would expect

I had several shots at Nisbett's nonsense last year (e.g. here) so it is good to see a demolition of his claims from someone at the cutting edge of IQ research -- Professor J. Philippe Rushton (below)

In his book, Intelligence and How to Get It, Richard E. Nisbett, a social psychologist at the University of Michigan, asserts that cultural factors alone are sufficient to explain all the race differences to be observed in IQ and educational achievement.

Nisbett [Email] criticizes the nature + nurture model Arthur Jensen and I presented in 2005 in Psychology, Public Policy, and Law. . [Thirty Years Of Research On Race Differences In Cognitive Ability (PDF)] Nisbett claims the heritability of IQ is lower than assumed, that Blacks have substantially narrowed the gap on Whites, that any remaining differences can be eliminated through educational and social intervention, and that any assertion of a mean IQ of 70 for sub-Saharan Africans is “desperately wrong”.

The dust jacket blurb puts Nisbett’s book in the tradition of Stephen Jay Gould’s Mismeasure of Man (1981, 1996). What is striking, however, is how much ground the egalitarians have given since Gould’s effort to debunk race, genetics, and IQ.

Nisbett concedes that general intelligence exists, that IQ tests predict success at both school and work, that scores are influenced by genes, and that in White populations, genes contribute to social class differences. He even accepts that IQ is related to brain size and that “Blacks are sometimes found to have smaller brains than Whites”. Gould must be spinning in his grave!

Such is the state of expert opinion today that Nisbett simply had to make these concessions lest his book be disqualified as serious scholarship. But while he admits that genes play a role in accounting for within-group differences, he still maintains they play no significant part in between-group differences.

Nisbett acknowledges that measured group differences exist: Jewish (mean IQ = 113), East Asian (107), White (100), South Asian (87), Hispanic (87), African American (85), and sub-Saharan African (70), although he erroneously claims that South Asians score as highly as East Asians. But Nisbett asserts that family pressure for success leads East Asians and Jews to high levels of achievement, while low expectations and a lack of opportunity lead Hispanics and Blacks to much lower levels of achievement.

Jensen and I have provided a long point-counterpoint review of Nisbett’s book in The Open Psychology Journal. [Race and IQ: A Theory-Based Review of the Research in Richard Nisbett’s Intelligence and How to Get It(PDF)] We found much that was admirable and informative in it, such as the cost-benefit survey of the literature on educational interventions and what can be done to increase school performance. But, sadly, we concluded it was mainly a work of advocacy, not scholarship.

Nisbett misrepresents much of the available information using highly selective reviews of the literature. Especially egregious are his many errors of omission. For example, while complaining of unrepresentative samples in a 1991 review paper by Richard Lynn, Nisbett side-stepped the very much larger compilation of data in Lynn and Vanhanen’s 2006 book. Nisbett completely ignores the adoption studies of East Asians, as well as those on brain size showing a genetic contribution to their high achievement.

According to Nisbett, Blacks closed the IQ gap by 5.5 points (35%) between 1970 and 1992. At the same time, Blacks narrowed the gap in educational achievement by a commensurate 35%. Nisbett argues that educational interventions such as the Milwaukee project, the Abecedarian project, and the Infant Health and Development Program, imply the gap could be eliminated altogether.

Contra Nisbett, however, Jensen and I found that IQ differences between Blacks and Whites have been steady for nearly 100 years, at between 15 and 20 points (about 1.1 standard deviations). After re-analyzing the data on which Nisbett relied, we found that the most optimistic assessment of the Black IQ gain was 2.1 points (14%). Using a wider array of tests, we found no narrowing at all. [See The Black-White Test Score Gap and the New Math Results By Charles Murray, AEI blog, October 15, 2009]

Nor has there been much (if any) narrowing on tests of educational achievement. Furthermore, the most powerful intervention strategies result, at best, in moving people from the 16th to the 25th percentile at the cost of millions of dollars per person.

Nisbett reviews several adoption studies to demonstrate the power of environmental intervention on IQ. He claims that poor children adopted into wealthier homes made huge gains—between 12 and 18 points. But he omitted to mention the finding that by late adolescence, these effects have dissipated.

Nisbett’s tendency to omit crucial information is particularly apparent in his discussion of the well-known Minnesota Trans-Racial Adoption Study in which White, Mixed-Race, and Black children were raised by upper-middle-class White parents in Minnesota. This was the largest study of its kind ever undertaken, and the only one with a longitudinal follow-up component, testing the same children at 7 years (in 1975) and 17 years (in 1986).

Nisbett describes how adopted White children averaged an IQ of 112 at age 7, but he omits that on follow-up at age 17, the IQ of these White children had fallen to 106. He did note that the Black children on follow-up had dropped from a mean IQ of 97 to one of 89—which he attributes to the psychological disturbance and “identity problems” they suffered from being raised by Whites!

Compounding his sins of omission, Nisbett neglects to mention three trans-racial adoption studies of East Asian children. In contrast to the Black children, the East Asian children adopted by White parents, despite being malnourished at birth, grew to excel in both intelligence (mean IQ = 108) and educational achievement......

Our conclusion: Predictions that the Black-White IQ gap will narrow are acts of blind faith. A much stronger dose of skepticism is required than Nisbett manifested in regard to the power of educational and social interventions.

Much more HERE (See the original for links)


Less Economic Freedom = Fewer Jobs for Americans

What does America’s declining economic freedom mean for you? It means that America will create fewer jobs. And that means that Americans will be poorer, as well as less free. A statement last week by Graham Mackay, the head of SAB Miller, one of the world’s largest brewers (they make, among many other beers, Miller Lite), explains how and why this will happen.

In 1999, SAB Miller moved its headquarters to London, attracted, Mackay said, by “the liberal and predictable tax regime.” But since the mid-2000s, the UK has been losing economic freedom. In fact, in 2010, the UK fell out of the top ten for the first time, just as the U.S. dropped into the ranks of the ‘mostly free’ in the Index of Economic Freedom. The UK’s ranking has now declined for four consecutive years, and the level of economic freedom in Britain is now as low as it has been since the Index began to measure it in 1995.

As a result, Mackay pointed out, the conditions that drew SAB Miller to Britain no longer exist:
Today the tax system is not predictable and there have been numerous increases, particularly when it comes to personal taxation. This means that as a global company we are no longer able to attract our best global talent to the UK. Why would someone move from Hong Kong where the marginal tax rate is 15 per cent and come to the UK where it is closer to 52 per cent. Taxation was a key part of our decision to locate a new global procurement business not in the UK but in Zug in Switzerland.

That single decision lost Britain 400 jobs. And SAB Miller is not the only company to flee the increasingly unfree economy of Britain. The damage goes far beyond the banking and financial sector: firms such as Vodafone, the cellular provider, have also departed.

And where have they gone? SAB Miller is worried about drawing talent to Britain (ranked eleventh in the Index) from Hong Kong (ranked first) and instead set up its new business in Switzerland (ranked sixth). Vodafone went in part to Ireland (ranked fifth). This is a competitive world, and businesses have choices. If the U.S. continues to fall behind in economic freedom, some businesses – as the example in Britain of SAB Miller shows – will make a rational decision to move elsewhere, and others will have less money to pay workers because they will be giving more to the taxman.

In his State of the Union address, the President stated that “And to encourage these and other businesses to stay within our borders, it’s time to finally slash the tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas and give those tax breaks to companies that create jobs in the United States of America.”

But they’re not “our jobs” by eternal right. They are jobs created by private enterprise, within the context of the burdens imposed by the federal government. And as those burdens get heavier, the number of jobs on offer in this country shrinks. If the President is serious about job creation, he will address the real threat to it: the policies of his administration, and of past ones, that reduced the willingness of companies to invest and their ability to grow by restricting our economic freedom.


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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)


1 comment:

Coetsee said...

There's a movement to radically change California government, by getting rid of career politicians and chopping their salaries in half. A group known as Citizens for California Reform wants to make the California legislature a part time time job, just like it was until 1966.