Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Jensen and Flynn
Anyone who has followed the decades-long controversies over the role of genes in IQ scores will recognize the names of the two leading advocates of opposite conclusions on that subject-- Professor Arthur R. Jensen of the University of California at Berkeley and Professor James R. Flynn, an American expatriate at the University of Otago in New Zealand.
What is so unusual in the academic world of today is that Professor Flynn's latest book, "Are We Getting Smarter?" is dedicated to Arthur Jensen, whose integrity he praises, even as he opposes his conclusions. That is what scholarship and science are supposed to be like, but so seldom are.
Professor Jensen, who died recently, is best known for reopening the age-old controversy about heredity versus environment with his 1969 article titled, "How Much Can We Boost IQ and Scholastic Achievement?"
His answer-- long since lost in the storms of controversy that followed-- was that scholastic achievement could be much improved by different teaching methods, but that these different teaching methods were not likely to change I.Q. scores much.
Jensen argued for educational reforms, saying that "scholastic performance-- the acquisition of the basic skills-- can be boosted much more, at least in the early years, than can the IQ" and that, among "the disadvantaged," there are "high school students who have failed to learn basic skills which they could easily have learned many years earlier" if taught in different ways.
But, regardless of what Arthur Jensen actually said, too many in the media, and even in academia, heard what they wanted to hear. He was lumped in with earlier writers who had promoted racial inferiority doctrines that depicted some races as being unable to rise above the level of "hewers of wood and drawers of water."
These earlier writers from the Progressive era were saying, in effect, that there was a ceiling to the mental potential of some races, while Jensen argued that there was no ceiling but, by his reading of the evidence, a difference in average IQ, influenced by genes.
When I first read Arthur Jensen's landmark article, back in 1969, I was struck by his careful and painstaking analysis of a wide range of complex data. It impressed me but did not convince me. What it did was cause me to dig up more data on my own.
A few years later, I headed a research project that, among other things, collected tens of thousands of past and present IQ scores from a wide range of racial and ethnic groups at schools across the United States. Despite serious limitations in these data, due to constraints of time and circumstances, these data nevertheless threw some additional light on the subject.
A feature article of mine in the Sunday New York Times Magazine of March 27, 1977 pointed out that any number of white groups, here and overseas, had at some point in time had IQs similar to, and in some cases lower than, the IQs of black Americans. During the First World War, for example, white soldiers from some Southern states scored lower on army mental tests than black soldiers from some Northern states.
Professor Jensen read this article and came over to Stanford University to meet with me and discuss the data. That is what a scholar should do when challenged. But the opposite approach was shown by Professor Kenneth B. Clark, who earlier had sought to dissuade me from doing IQ research. He said it would "dignify" Jensen's work, which Clark wanted ignored or discredited instead.
Unfortunately, Professor Clark's ideological approach became far more common in academia, so much so that Jensen's attempts to speak on campuses around the country provoked dangerous disruptions, instead of reasoned arguments.
Years later, Professor James R. Flynn created the biggest challenge to the hereditary theory of intelligence, when he showed that whole nations had risen to much higher results on IQ tests in just one or two generations. Genes don't change that fast.
Professor Flynn told me that he would never have done his research, except that it was provoked by Jensen's research. That is just one of the reasons for having a free marketplace of ideas, instead of turning academic campuses into fortresses of politically correct intolerance.
Sowell's comments are those of an unusually decent man but his argument is unpersuasive. You can to this day find some whites who are dumber than some blacks but it is the groups OVERALL (and preferably across time) that are of greatest interest and the overall black/white gap has been consistent as far back as it has been measured. But there are exceptions to every rule and some blacks are very bright. Sowell is one of them.
Yes, slash farm subsidies - but don't stop there
by Jeff Jacoby
As a candidate for the US Senate, Elizabeth Warren showed a livelier interest in raising federal revenues than in cutting government spending. But about one spending target the senator-elect has been admirably blunt. When asked to name some items in the federal budget she'd like to see slashed, the first program she cites is one of the most indefensible: agriculture subsidies.
To be sure, it's easier to oppose welfare for agribusiness when you represent Massachusetts, which ranks 44th among the 50 states in federal farm payments, and where only 7.7 percent of local farms collect subsidies. But that doesn't alter the fact that farm subsidies are egregiously bad policy in every way, and Warren will deserve hearty bipartisan applause if she leads a serious effort to eliminate them.
According to the Environmental Working Group, agriculture subsidies have robbed taxpayers of more than $275 billion over the past six years. Like most corporate welfare, farm programs redistribute wealth upward. In congressional testimony last June, Cato Institute analysts Chris Edwards and Tad DeHaven pointed out that the average income of farm households was $84,400 in 2010, or 25 percent higher than the average income earned by all US households that year. Moreover, the great majority of American farms (62 percent) collect no subsidies at all. Nearly 75 percent of government payments go to just 10 percent of all farm businesses.
For years critics have pointed out glaring problems with the government's farm program: The tens of millions of dollars paid annually to recipients who are millionaires. The more than $1.1 billion disbursed to people who were dead - in many cases, dead for years. The damage inflicted on the environment, and on farmers in poor nations.
Then there are the lavish "farm" subsidies shelled out to owners of land not used for farming at all. In some communities, ABC News reported in 2008, real-estate agents were using the prospect of agriculture payments as a lure to entice home buyers. "Do you have to farm . to receive it?" one woman was shown asking a realtor during a home showing. "No, no, no, no," the agent assures her. "It's like a little bonus that you don't really have to do anything to get."
US agriculture doesn't require tax dollars to flourish. The proof was on your Thanksgiving table - and in the grocery where you stocked up before the feast. Most varieties of food grown in America aren't subsidized, as ABC's reported noted. There's no apple subsidy, no banana subsidy, no subsidy for carrots or lemons or lettuce. Yet walk into any supermarket and you can find all of them in abundance.
The case against farm subsidies is clear and compelling. Most Americans rightly oppose them, and Warren rightly calls for ending them. Granted, that wouldn't make more than a small dent in the $1 trillion annual deficits Washington has been running. But it would make a good start. And wiping out all the other corporate welfare in the federal budget - the equally indefensible subsidies for high-speech rail and alternative energy, for automakers and broadband networks, for small business and mortgage lending, for export promotion and shipbuilding - would make an even better one.
Yet earnest talk about cutting the budget never seems to lead to earnest budget-cutting. Every subsidy has its vocal defenders, every taxpayer has his favorite subsidies, and no matter how much evidence piles up to the contrary, Americans continue to believe that government spending is essentially virtuous. No political truth seems harder to bear in mind than this one: Every dollar the government gives to X is a dollar the government must take from Y. Yet no political truth is more ironclad.
We are beguiled by what political scientist James Payne calls the "philanthropic illusion" -- the idea that the government has money to bestow on needy people and worthy causes. It doesn't. Washington is not a source of wealth, and its subsidies are not largesse.
It is heartening that Massachusetts' senator-elect can brush aside the philanthropic illusion when it comes to crop supports. Here's hoping she comes to see that what is true of Washington's farm programs is true of every budget item: Government can only help some by hurting others.
More on Swedish healthcare
While Sweden has long taken pride in its public healthcare system, lengthening queues and at times inconsistent care have prompted many Swedes to opt for private healthcare with many gaining the benefit through insurance policies offered by employers, currently responsible for 80 percent of healthcare insurance market.
The idea behind private health insurance is simple enough: those put off by the idea of heading to publicly funded clinics and hospitals can purchase a policy through an insurance company and instead enjoy speedy medical attention with private doctors.
Of course, the option doesn't come cheap. While the public system will set a patient back no more than 350 kronor per visit ($52), regardless of the procedure, and this fee is capped at a total of 900 kronor annually, insurance policies can run into thousands of kronor, depending on how much or how little is covered.
"We've got several different premiums to choose from, but the standard one costs about 4,000 kronor per year," says Andersson.
Despite the cost, as many as 500,000 Swedes [out of 8 million] are now estimated to be using private healthcare insurance, up from 100,000 only ten years ago, according to a recent report from daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN).
And a flawed public system is often cited as the cause of the rapid expansion. "It's a question of people not being satisfied with the accessibility of today's public healthcare," explains Andersson.
Long queues are one of the main complaints for consumers of Sweden's public healthcare services, with patients sometimes forced to wait as much as fifteen times longer for treatment compared to private options.
Insurance company IF, for example, offers insurance policies which guarantee specialist care within two days, while patients can wait at least a month to see a specialist in the public system.
Long wait times have been a long-standing problem with the Swedish healthcare system and one that the government has attempted to address. The Healthcare Guarantee (V+rdgaranti), a reform implemented in 2007, was supposed to ensure patients can visit a doctor and receive treatment within specific time frames.
Despite much fanfare at the time, the reform's results have been limited, according to Andersson. "The Healthcare Guarantee isn't a guarantee," he explains.
"If you don't receive care within the promised time, there are no sanctions, and you don't get any compensation."
As a result, private healthcare remains in demand, despite some objections that the development results in a two-track system in which wealthy, employed patients receive better, faster care.
But with more and more Swedes opting for private healthcare, Andersson is hopeful that Swedish healthcare can evolve into a system where public healthcare is capable of offering good care for all, and private insurance becomes an extra option for those who wish to invest more.
SCOTUS revives challenge to Obama health law: "The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday revived a challenge to President Barack Obama's healthcare reforms, allowing a Christian college to pursue litigation raising First Amendment objections to a law that the court mostly upheld in June. Liberty University, based in Lynchburg, Virginia, had challenged both the individual mandate, which required all people to obtain insurance by 2014 or pay a penalty, and a separate mandate requiring large employers to provide coverage for workers."
TX: Man pulls gun on line cutting shopper: "Black Friday got off to a rowdy start at a San Antonio mall where police say one shopper pulled a gun on another who punched him in the face while they were waiting in line at a Sears store. Police Sgt. Rob Carey tells the San Antonio Express-News a man rushed into the store when it opened Thursday night to get to the front of a line, started arguing with people and tried cutting in front of them. One man who got punched pulled a gun and that scattered shoppers, including the impatient line-cutter who took cover behind a refrigerator. Then he fled"
Cold cash Jefferson off to jail at last: "The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear the appeal of former Louisiana congressman William Jefferson, who had challenged his 2009 conviction on multiple charges of bribery and money laundering. ... A federal jury had found Jefferson guilty of soliciting bribes, money laundering and participation in a racketeering scheme. He was sentenced to 13 years in prison but remained free while pursuing an appeal."
How to spot a sociopath: "Sociopaths are masters at influence and deception. Very little of what they say actually checks out in terms of facts or reality, but they're extremely skillful at making the things they say sound believable, even if they're just making them up out of thin air. Here, I'm going to present quotes and videos of some legendary sociopaths who convinced everyday people to participate in mass suicides. And then I'm going to demonstrate how and why similar sociopaths are operating right now ... today."
The morass that is Obamacare: "Another physician told me, two weeks ago, about the nightmare that is the compliance requirement for Electronic Medical Records, where 'one size is required to fit all,' and the same questions must be asked of every patient, and those results MUST be reported to the Federal government. Do you smoke? MUST be reported to the Feds. Have you ever used marijuana? MUST be reported to the Feds. Ever suffered from depression? MUST be reported to the Feds. Are you pregnant? If you are a 17-year-old female, this MUST be reported by the doctor to the Feds, even though s/he is not allowed to report it to your parents."
For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena . GUN WATCH is now put together by Dean Weingarten.
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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)
Posted by JR at 12:16 AM