On 22nd January I commented on claims by two Canadian psychologists to the effect that conservatives and racists have low IQs. One look at the study told me that it was brainless so I just reproduced the journal abstract and pointed out two of the things that made it brainless. I didn't see any point in a detailed look at the paper.
The study has however become much celebrated in Green/Left quarters, with the ineffable Monbiot in the vanguard. Monbiot's entry into the discussion has however energized a few ripostes from conservatives, with the most amusing point being that after Leftists telling us for decades that IQ scores are meaningless they suddenly have done an 180 degree turn and treat them as highly meaningful!
I thought I might add something to what I regard as the two best conservative responses to the original article. The first is in The Telegraph and makes a number of good points, all of which are worth reading.
I want to say more about just one of them: The point that IQ was measured during childhood (10 or 11 years of age) and that such measures are unreliable. That is however a matter of degree and of purpose. They are accurate enough to be a useful guide to who will benefit from a selective (more demanding) education, for instance.
An interesting aspect of scores at that age, however, is what I call the chimpanzee effect. In brief, this effect is that dummies mature faster so a relatively high score in childhood can lead to a relatively low score in adulthood. So it is quite possible that the high scorers in the data used by the Canadian authors became relatively low scorers later on. So if the high scorers in that body of data were later found to be liberals, it is quite possible that the same people were dummies in later life! So the data could be said to show the opposite of what the authors claim. The data could be said to suggest that it was the liberals who were the dummies.
That is all just speculation, however, The truth is that the data are incapable of telling us which way around it went at all.
That little point is really just a bit of fun, however. The second article by statistician Briggs is by far the most pointed. Briggs had a strong enough stomach to read the whole article. And when he did, he basically found that the authors had misrepresented their results. The correlations with IQ were in fact negligible. They were statistically significant but statistical significance is only a correction for small sample size and the sample sizes in the data used by the Canadians were large.
So statistical significance is irrelevant. It is other forms of significance we have to look at. Let me put it this way: What the Canadians found was (roughly) that out of 100 high IQ people, 51 would be liberals and 49 would be conservatives. Such a near-even split means of course that IQ is essentially irrelevant to ideology, or is not a socially or scientifically significant predictor of ideology.
Now we come to "racism". The correlations between conservatism and racism were more substantial. Briggs rightly detects the flaw in that. The correlation is between WHAT THE AUTHORS SAY is conservatism and racism and there is no external validation of either measure. So all I want to do is draw attention to something I set out long ago: That even eminent Leftist psychologists have NO IDEA what conservatism is. A much noted paper in the field even identified Stalin, Khrushchev and Castro as conservatives! Can you get any madder than that? So it is no wonder that when they use their questionnaires to predict how people will vote, they find that "conservatives" AS IDENTIFIED BY THEM are just as likely to vote Democrat as Republican (for instance). How clueless can you get? What is going on of course is that Leftist psychologists swallow hook line and sinker of Leftist propaganda about conservatives. They believe that conservatives really are as Leftist propaganda describes them. It would appear that they never bother to talk to any actual conservatives to find out what they really think.
By contrast, I am a conservative so a questionnaire that I devised based on a thorough knowledge of what conservatism actually is, did what the Leftist questionnaires could not: Provided a substantial prediction of vote. See here. So once again the arrogance and ignorance of the Left has led them to a false understanding of reality and scientific work that is futile and useless. The work by the two Canadian authors certainly tells us NOTHING about the correlations with conservatism. I have written more extensively elsewhere about the relationship between conservatism and IQ.
For reference, the Canadian study is: "Bright Minds and Dark Attitudes: Lower Cognitive Ability Predicts Greater Prejudice Through Right-Wing Ideology and Low Intergroup Contact" by Gordon Hodson and Michael A. Busseri
The Breivik salute
I did not immediately comment on this because I thought it would be obvious to everyone -- but apparently not. When Breivik last faced court over his massacre he gave a salute as he came into the courtroom. His lawyer, Geir Lippestad, said was 'some kind of Right-wing extremist greeting.'
It was not, of course. It was a COMMUNIST salute. The Communist salute is a clenched-fist salute while the Fascist salute is with an open hand.
What the significance is we can only speculate. While it is true that he mostly read and cited conservative sources in the buildup to his actions, that was rather inevitable given his dissatisfaction with Muslims. Only conservatives have the guts to call a spade a spade where Muslims are concerned. Breivik's other ideas could perfectly well be Leftist.
And his desire to restore traditional Norwegian society is in keeping with that idea. Norway is a very Leftist place and it was only their failure to deal with the Muslim problem that caused the Social Democrats to lose votes in the last election. We may note, for example, that a doctor was recently denied employment at a Norwegian hospital because he did not believe in the Theory of Evolution. See here. Pretty extreme.
That it was Leftists whom Breivik killed makes no odds. Rival Leftist groupings have a long history of killing one-another. The ice-pick in the head that Trotsky got from Stalin is a case in point.
If You Got A 'Free' Colonoscopy, Thank Bill Dunphy - He Helped Pay For It
Under ObamaCare, Medicare and private insurers are supposed to eliminate the co-pays for preventive care such as colonoscopies. Politicians and ObamaCare crusaders refer to this as “free preventive care.” Those in the real world call it “shifting the cost to someone else.”
That someone else is Bill Dunphy: Bill Dunphy thought his colonoscopy would be free. His insurance company told him it would be covered 100%, with no co-payment from him and no charge against his deductible. The nation’s two-year-old health law requires most insurance plans to cover all costs for preventive care, including colon cancer screening. So Dunphy had the procedure in April. Then the bill arrived: $1,100.
Dunphy, a 61-year-old Phoenix small-business owner, angrily paid it out of his own pocket because of what some prevention advocates call a loophole. His doctor removed two noncancerous polyps during the colonoscopy. So while Dunphy was sedated, his preventive screening turned into a diagnostic procedure. That allowed his insurance company to bill him.
Now that insurers can no longer charge co-pays for colonoscopies, they have to find a way to make up the cost. They could raise premiums, although that risks losing customers. Far better to require folks like Dunphy whose preventive procedure morphs into a diagnostic one to pay the whole bill. That’s $1,100 the insurance company won’t have to pay. And if the average co-pay for a colonoscopy is $50, Dunphy helped pay for the “free” colonoscopy for 22 patients whose colons were squeaky clean. In short, the sick are helping to pay for the healthy.
Last year IBD noted that Medicare Advantage was dealing with “free” preventive services by charging co-pays on chemotherapy drugs and radiation treatment for cancer patients. We dubbed this “reducing costs on the back end.” That is, to stay in business insurance companies will impose cost-sharing or deny care when patients are sickest and in most need of the protection that insurance is supposed to provide.
We also noted who are the prime beneficiaries of reducing costs on the back end:
This may not fit the needs of patients very well, but it suits the needs of politicians quite well. After all, politicians want to maximize their political survival. They can please voters by giving them lots of “free” stuff, and the more voters you can so please, the better. Lots of voters want free preventive care, so politicians find it worthwhile to force insurers to give it to them. Far fewer voters, however, will develop a serious illness, so protecting them is not nearly as useful for politicians who wish to get re-elected.
The truly insidious thing about it is that politicians will be able to blame others for the problems they have created. They will get on their high horse and excoriate the heartless and cruel insurers like Independence Blue Cross. Politicians excel at obfuscation, making it difficult, as Thomas Sowell says, to trace their fingerprints back to the murder weapon.
Economic Chaos Ahead
Let's think about the kind of mess that we're in. Federal 2010 Medicare and Medicaid expenditures totaled $800 billion. The projected annual growth of both programs is about 7 percent. Social Security expenditures are more than $700 billion a year. According to the 2009 Social Security and Medicare trustees reports, by 2030, 49 percent of federal revenues will go for Social Security and Medicare payments. The unfunded liability of both programs is already $106 trillion.
But not to worry. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that it's possible to sustain today's level of federal spending and even achieve a balanced budget. All that Congress would have to do is raise the lowest income tax bracket of 10 percent to 25 percent and the middle tax bracket of 25 percent to 66 percent and raise the 35 percent tax bracket to 92 percent. That's a static vision that assumes that people will have no response and they'll work just as hard and send more money to Washington. If Congress did legislate such tax increases, it would be the economic equivalent of committing national hara-kiri.
Professor Daniel Klein, editor of Econ Journal Watch, and Professor Tyler Cowen, general director of the Mercatus Center, both based at George Mason University, organized a symposium to promote a better understanding of the U.S. debt crisis. The symposium's title, "U.S. Sovereign Debt Crisis: Tipping-Point Scenarios and Crash Dynamics" (http://econjwatch.org), is a strong hint about the seriousness of our nation's plight.
Professor Cowen introduced the symposium pointing out that in 2011, the major crisis was in the eurozone, where Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland dealt with the risk of default. The survival of the eurozone is now seriously doubted. Cowen added: "When it comes to a sovereign debt crisis, it is no longer possible to say 'it can't happen here.' Right now, we are borrowing about 40 cents of every dollar the federal government spends, and the imbalance has no end in sight."
Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, associate professor of economics at San Jose State University, says that a default on Treasury securities appears inevitable. He says that the short-run consequences for the economy will be painful but that the long-run consequences, both political and economic, could be beneficial. That's because an economic collapse is the only way we will come to our senses. That's a tragic statement about the foresight of the American people.
Participant Garrett Jones, associate professor of economics at George Mason University, is a bit more optimistic, seeing default as being less likely. But he argues that "default is still possible, and the GOP offers a uniquely American path to default: an unwillingness to raise taxes."
Dr. Arnold Kling is a member of the Financial Market Working Group at the Mercatus Center and tells us that the "U.S. government has made a set of promises that it cannot keep." He says that the "promises that are most important to change are Social Security and Medicare."
Joseph J. Minarik is senior vice president and director of research at the Committee for Economic Development. He argues that a "U.S. financial meltdown today is eminently avoidable. The wealthiest nation on earth, despite a painful economic slowdown, maintains the wherewithal to pay its bills. The open question is whether it maintains the will and the wisdom."
Peter J. Wallison holds the Arthur F. Burns chair in financial policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. He agrees with Kling that "the most likely source of a U.S. sovereign debt crisis ... is a failure of the U.S. political system to address the growth of the major entitlement programs -- Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid."
My translation of the symposium's conclusions is that it is by no means preordained that our nation must suffer the same decline as have other great nations of the past -- England, France, Spain, Portugal and the Ottoman and Roman empires. All evidence suggests that we will suffer a similar decline because, as Professor Cowen says, "the American electorate has dug in against both major tax increases and major spending cuts."
Let us hope that the euro and the EU do collapse: "Now yes, agreed, I am known for my euroscepticism, both of the very EU system and of the currency, thinking them both thoroughly bad ideas from start to finish. But I'd like to point out that there are those not as entirely crankish as I am on the subject who think that the toppling of one or both wouldn't be so bad: could even be desirable."
South Carolina sues DoJ over blocked voter ID law: "The U.S. Justice Department was wrong to block South Carolina from requiring voters to show government-issued photo identification to vote, the state's top prosecutor argued in a lawsuit filed Tuesday. ... The Justice Department in December rejected South Carolina's law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls, saying tens of thousands of the state's minorities might not be able to cast ballots under the new law because they don't have the right photo ID."
CA: 9th Circus rules in favor of homosexual marriage: "A federal appeals panel in San Francisco ruled Tuesday that California’s Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, a decision that could lead to the Supreme Court’s consideration of the controversial social issue. By a 2 to 1 vote, the panel overturned the proposition, which was approved by 52 percent of the state’s voters in 2008 and amended the state’s Constitution to limit marriage to a man and a woman." [No surprise. This was always going to go to SCOTUS]
Battle for reform starts in Wisconsin: "If a national symbol exists for the movement to rein in the power of public employee unions, it is Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker. He pushed aggressive measures to curb the power and influence of government unions and now faces a union-funded recall campaign, which, if successful will empower unions and expand their power in Wisconsin and throughout the country, including in California."
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