Wednesday, April 27, 2011

IQ is as much a measure of motivation as intelligence?

This is a rather silly study. Of course people who are not motivated to solve a puzzle will be unlikely to do so. And IQ tests are composed of puzzles. The only thing that is interesting is whether or not anything can be done to increase the scores of highly motivated people -- and there has been very little success at that

Scientists have shown that offering a financial reward for doing well can increase their score by up to 20 points on the scale where the average is 100 and Mensa membership is around 150.

The team at the University of Pennsylvania made the findings after setting out to prove [That alone makes their conclusions very dubious] that scores in the test were not just related to intelligence but also to motivation.

They looked at 46 previous studies of more than 2,000 children to see if monetary incentives had any bearing on the result. They found that on average a financial reward improved the score by 10 points but that higher values – above $10 (about £7) – could be rewarded with a 20 point increase. The size of the increase seemed to be proportional to the amount of reward offered.

A second study of 500 boys found that those who showed signs of boredom and lack of motivation – for example yawning or looking around during the test – scored lower test marks. [What a surprise!]

Angela Lee Duckworth, a psychologist who led the study, said: "IQ scores may predict various outcomes in life, but in part for reasons that intelligence tests weren't designed for. "I hope that social scientists, educators, and policy-makers turn a more critical eye to any kind of measure, intelligence or otherwise as how hard people try could be as important to success in life as intellectual ability itself."



What Trump gets right


The boomlet for Donald Trump as a Republican nominee for president of the United States ought to be a wake-up call for Republican candidates and Republican Party leaders alike. Why has Trump surged ahead of other Republican candidates and potential candidates in the polls? It is not likely that his resurrection of the issue of Barack Obama's birth certificate has aroused all this support.

The birth certificate issue does more political damage to Obama's critics than to the president himself, because it enables the media to paint those critics as kooks. Nor are Donald Trump's political positions such as to create a stampede to his cause. Radio talk show host Mark Levin has rebroadcast Trump's varied and mutually contradictory statements on political issues and personalities over the years. It was a devastating revelation of Trump's "versatility of convictions," to use a phrase coined long ago by Thorstein Veblen.

What then is Donald Trump's appeal -- and why should it concern Republican leaders in general?

What Trump has that so many other Republicans are so painfully lacking is the ability and the willingness to articulate his positions clearly, forcefully and in plain English. Too many Republicans talk like the actor of whom a critic once said, "He played the king like he was afraid that someone else was going to play the ace."

What electrified so many Republicans about Sarah Palin in the 2008 election campaign was that she was such a contrast to the usual mealy-mouth talk that was more common among other Republican candidates, including Senator John McCain. Whether you agreed or disagreed with her position on the issues, you didn't have to wave your hand in front of her eyes to see if she was awake.

Donald Trump is dangerous in at least two senses. If, by some tragic miracle, he should become the Republicans' candidate for president in 2012, that would be the closest thing to an iron-clad guarantee of a second term in the White House for Barack Obama. That would be a huge setback for the Republicans -- and, far more important -- a historic catastrophe for this country.

What seems more likely is that Donald Trump as a candidate for the Republican nomination would use his superior articulation skills -- not to mention brash irresponsibility -- to trash all the other Republican candidates for that nomination, leaving them damaged goods in the eyes of the public, and therefore less able to gather the votes needed to prevent the reelection of Obama.

Why Republicans seem not to understand the crucial importance of putting the same time and attention into articulating their positions as the Democrats do is one of the enduring mysteries of American politics.

It was obvious that the Democrats coordinated their talking points and catch-phrases -- "social justice," "tax cuts for the rich," etc. -- even before the overheard and recorded statements of Senator Chuck Schumer about Democrats' plans to repeatedly use the word "extreme" to characterize Republicans. But how many Republican catch-phrases can you remember? Republican rhetoric tends to range from low key to no key.

Nor is there much evidence that Republicans have asked themselves how the left-wing of the Democratic Party gained such ascendancy in recent years, in a country where millions more people identify themselves as conservative than identify themselves as liberals.

In short, there is little or no evidence that most Republicans see any need to fundamentally change their approach to the public. But if they think that they can rely on Obama's declining popularity to win the 2012 election, they may be in for a rude shock. Worse yet, the whole future of this country and of western civilization will be in jeopardy, in a world where the likes of Iran and North Korea become nuclear powers, while we engage in empty talk at the U.N.

Barack Obama's declining support in public opinion polls make some conservatives feel that his reelection hopes are doomed. But Donald Trump can be Barack Obama's secret weapon in his fight to remain in the White House. The Donald can be his Trump card.



The Welfare State and the Selfish Society

Capitalism teaches people to work harder; the welfare state teaches people to want harder. Which is better?

In the contemporary world, where left-wing attitudes are regarded as normative, it is a given that capitalism, with its free market and profit motive, emanates from and creates selfishness, while socialism, the welfare state, and the “social compact” as it is increasingly referred to, emanate from and produce selflessness.

Whatever its intentions, the entitlement state produces far more selfish people — and therefore a far more selfish society — than a free-market economy. And we have little evidence that this widespread selfishness can be undone once it catches on.
Here’s an illustration: Last year, President Obama addressed a large audience of college students on the subject of health care. At one point in his speech, he announced that the students will now be able to remain on their parents’ health-insurance plan until age 26. I do not ever recall hearing a louder, more thunderous, and more sustained applause than I did then. I do not believe that if the president had announced that a cure for cancer had been discovered that the applause would have been louder or longer.

It is depressing to listen to that applause. To be told that one can be dependent on one’s parents until age 26 should strike a young person who wants to grow up as demeaning, not as something to celebrate.

Throughout American history, the natural — or at least hoped-for — inclination of a young person was to become a mature adult, independent of Mom and Dad, and to become a grown-up. But in the welfare state, this is no longer the case.

In various European countries, it is increasingly common for young men to live with their parents into their 30s and even longer. Why not? In the welfare state, there is no shame in doing so.

The welfare state enables — and thereby produces — people whose preoccupations become more and more self-centered as time goes on:

How many benefits will I receive from the state?

How much will the state pay for my education?

How much will the state pay for my health care and retirement?

What is the youngest age at which I can retire?

How much vacation time can I get each year?

How many days can I call in sick and get paid?

How many months can I claim paternity- or maternity-care money?

The list gets longer with each election of a left-wing party. And each entitlement becomes a “right,” as the Left transforms entitlements into the language of “rights” as quickly as possible.

What handouts do, and what the transformation of handouts into rights does, is create a citizenry that increasingly lacks the most important character trait — gratitude. Of all the characteristics needed for both a happy and morally decent life, none surpasses gratitude. Grateful people are happier, and grateful people are more morally decent. That is why we teach our children to say “thank you.” But the welfare state undoes that. One does not express thanks for a right. So, instead of “thank you,” the citizen of the welfare state is taught to say, “What more can I get?”

Yet, while producing increasingly selfish people, the mantra of the Left, and therefore of the universities and the media, has been for generations that capitalism and the free market, not the welfare state, produces selfish people.

They succeed in part because demonizing conservatives and their values is a left-wing art. But the truth is that capitalism and the free market produce less selfish people. Teaching people to work hard and take care of themselves (and others) produces a less, not a more, selfish citizen.

Capitalism teaches people to work harder; the welfare state teaches people to want harder. Which is better?




When dictators fall, who rises?: "The secular despot Saddam Hussein protected the Christians. But the U.S. liberation brought on their greatest calamity since the time of Christ. Scores of thousands of those Iraqi Christians fleeing terrorism and persecution after 2003 made their way to Syria, where they received sanctuary from President Bashar Assad. Now, as the FT and Washington Post report, the Christians of Syria, whose forebears have lived there since the time of Christ, are facing a pogrom should the Damascus regime fall."

Don’t raise the debt ceiling: "The people running this government are never going to deal with this untenable situation unless and until it becomes untenable for them. The only way that will happen is if Congress refuses to raise the debt ceiling and forces the administration to prioritize payment of those obligations that must be paid to maintain our full faith and credit — for as Kevin and Veronique point out, this already perilous situation could be blown sky high if the interest rate we must pay to borrow spikes. Only when there is no way around it will we get serious consideration of what government should and should not do, and what kind of welfare state the public is willing to pay for."

The debt ceiling charade: "With respect to the debt ceiling, let me issue an easy prediction: The Republicans are going to cave. They are going to vote to raise the debt ceiling. Oh sure, there will be plenty of posturing. There will be expressions of anger and outrage over out-of-control federal spending, borrowing, and debt. There will be political tactics to gain electoral advantage, including threats to 'shut down' the government."

Governor moonbeam still spending: "After years of deficit financing, my state, California, is currently hurtling toward bankruptcy, the revenue from its savage personal income tax having been consumed, and over-consumed, by government employees' salaries and benefits. Yet in the midst of the budget turmoil, Governor Jerry Brown has just negotiated yet another Rolls Royce contract with one of the biggest beneficiaries of state government, the prison guards' union. The deal was so friendly that even the state's mainstream media began to criticize it."

MA: Insurers’ ambulance bill practice protested: "Cities and towns could be forced to sue their own residents, eliminate life support services, and pay higher health care bills unless the Legislature reins in an attempt by health insurers to slash ambulance costs, said lawmakers, fire chiefs, and municipal officials yesterday. ... At issue is a practice recently implemented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts intended to cajole ambulance providers to join the company’s contracted network: Rather than pay for ambulance services provided by out-of-network companies, Blue Cross will cut a check to patients for the cost of their ambulance ride. That would leave it up to the ambulance companies to seek out their patients and collect the check."

ME: Three bills propose smaller legislature: "Sponsors of three bills to cut back the size of the Maine Legislature say it's time for the state to economize as lawmakers ask others to do the same. Republican and Democratic lawmakers say Maine has one of the smallest state populations, but the 10th largest legislature. ... Maine's Legislature now has 186 members, and the bills would reduce its size by different amounts."

SCOTUS: No to expedited healthcare hearing: "The US Supreme Court declined on Monday to immediately take up Virginia’s challenge to the constitutionality of the new health-care reform law. Virginia’s Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli had asked the court to bypass the usual appeals process by allowing the case to proceed directly from a district-court ruling to the nation’s highest court. The justices, without comment, refused the request. "

RomneyCare’s unhappy anniversary: "Higher costs and less accessible medical care has been the Massachusetts experience -- and will soon be the nation's. Earlier this month, the landmark Massachusetts health care reform law turned five years old. Democrats were quick to applaud the anniversary, as the Bay State law is the model for the federal health care reform package that passed last year. The anniversary has proved especially inconvenient for former Massachusetts Governor and probable Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who argued forcefully for his state's reforms."


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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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