Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Flynn effect

The Flynn effect is the fact that average IQ scores throughout the world rose substantially throughout the 20th century.  The scores for both blacks and whites rose but the gap between the two remained essentially the same.

The effect has been something of a puzzle.  Why did it happen?  There are probably a number of processes causing it  -- processes which could be broadly grouped as "modernization".  An interesting part of the effect is that scores on subtests that load most highly on 'g' (the general factor) have changed least.  This suggests that scores on a perfect test would not have changed at all.

A new researcher has fastened on to that fact and looked at what characterizes high 'g' and low 'g' subtests.  He finds that the subtests which have shown the biggest change are tests where a small group of strategies allow you to answer most of the items successfully.

And that ties in with an explanation commonly given for the Flynn effect -- that ever rising number of years spent in the educational system give students more and more practice at using test-answering strategies.  And they can use some of those strategies in answering IQ tests too. So education increases scores on the least-central question-types.  On items that strategies cannot help you to answer (such as testing how many hard words you know) there has been virtually no change over the years.

So education has now been fairly conclusively identified as the main cause of the rising scores and at the same time the rising scores have been shown as not reflecting a real  rise in underlying abilities.

Steve Sailer has the details


Andrew Sullivan

Sullivan is something of a figure of fun to many of us.  He gets a lot of readers but his changes of direction make it possible to answer almost anything he says today by quoting what Sullivan himself said 5 to 10 years ago.  He has for instance gone from being a passionate Zionist to being a passionate Israel-hater.

And the passion would seem to be the key to his popularity.  I am  guessing that most of his many readers are Left-leaning, and Leftists mainline on emotion, regardless of the facts.

There is a big survey of Sullivan's "thinking" (if you can call it that) here that endevours to make some sense out of what drives him  -- without success.  I think he just likes hearing the sound of his own voice (or its written equivalent).  And he would appear to make significant money out of his writings.


Are Jews a “privileged” class?

This current Leftist variation of an old Marxist "ad hominem" argument rather amuses me.  If anybody told me to check my privilege I would reply: "Am I privileged to be born the son of a poorly educated lumberjack in a small town almost nobody has heard of?".  I think that would have some derailing power.  In fact I feel very privileged to be born in "The Lucky Country", Australia, and to be descended from those who made it what it is today by their hard work.  If all the "disadvantaged" people in the Western world worked as hard as my forebears did, not many would still be poor

A few months ago Louise Mensch was attacked at ‘Comment is Free’ for dismissing the idea of ”privilege checking”.  Mensch had argued the following:

“Check your privilege”, for example, is a profoundly stupid trope that states that only those with personal experience of something should comment, or that if a person is making an argument, they should immediately give way if their view is contradicted by somebody with a different life story.

Laurie Penny is an absolutely prime example; she does it all the time. The other day on Twitter she told people not to rise to what she felt was a race-baiting article by Rod Liddle in the Spectator. She was quite right. Everybody with a blog knows what “don’t feed the trolls” means. However, she was angrily contradicted by the black comedian @AvaVidal who told her that people of colour were striking back and they should rise to it. Instead of defending her position, Penny caved, recanted, and commented mournfully that “having your privilege checked” was painful.

Here are the relevant passages from an essay by Laurie Penny, contributing editor at The New Statesman.

Louise Mensch is confused. The erstwhile MP and professional gadfly has published a blogpost decrying “privilege checking”, and longing to return to a species of “reality-based” feminism where everyone would stop bothering her about class, race and money.

Actually, “privilege” isn’t at all hard to understand. It just means any structural social advantage that you have by virtue of birth, or position – such as being white, being wealthy, or being a man. “Check your privilege” means “consider how your privilege affects what you have just said or done.” That’s it.

Privilege is not the same as power. Nor is it a game whereby only the least privileged people will henceforth be allowed an opinion – the last time I checked, the political conversation was still dominated by rich white men and their wives. These are the people who go into spasms of outrage at the very notion that a black person, or a woman, or a working-class person might have as much right to an opinion as they do on matters that affect them.

Whilst the idea of ‘privilege’ is intellectually suspect for a host of reasons (many of which Mensch explored in her blog post), it’s quite interesting that Jews, of all people, are often considered among “the privileged” within this paradigm.  Not only has the post-Holocaust taboo against antisemitism been eroded, but Jews, who represent a fraction of 1% of the world’s population, are – in a manner evoking classic tropes about Jewish control - typically portrayed, by virtue of their relative success, as an elite, powerful, and privileged class.

Whilst reasonable people can agree or disagree with attempts to explain disparities in economic, educational and social outcomes in terms of one’s ‘privilege’, it seems difficult to avoid including Jews among those who are “historically disadvantaged” when honestly exploring its political implications.

So, for those who fancy the specious argument that you can quantify privilege in terms of one’s race, ethnicity, gender, etc., here’s some food for thought – a list of the advantages (privileges) of waking up in the morning as a non-Jew – the daily effects of non-Jewish privilege.

1. You likely don’t have your people’s right to national self-determination questioned or characterized as racist.

2.  You are not characterized as racist for the alleged sin of caring more about your own people’s safety and welfare than that of other groups.

3.  You are not accused as a group – by virtue of by your current alleged “immoral behavior” – of having betrayed the memory of coreligionists who were victims of genocide.

4.  You are not accused of being more loyal to a foreign state than to the interests of your own nation.

5.  You are likely not held personally responsible for the actions of others who share your religion or ethnicity.

6.  You are not likely to be targeted for terrorist attacks by extremists simply because you happen to share the same religion as the majority population in one foreign state.

7.  You likely don’t have to avoid expressing your religious identity when visiting Middle Eastern or even European countries for fear of violence.

8.  You are likely never accused of being part of an international conspiracy to control the world.

9.  You are not accused of exercising disproportionate control over the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.

10. Your success and personal achievements – and other fruits of your hard work – aren’t turned upside down and characterized as evidence of your ‘privilege‘.

To be clear, none of this is meant to suggest that we subscribe to the facile theory that groups should be divided between the ‘privileged’ and the non-privileged.  However, for those who do give this paradigm credence, it does seem to represent an egregious moral double standard to impute ‘privilege’ to such a historically persecuted, disenfranchised and marginalized minority as Jews.  



New Threat in California

Reliable investigative sources in California say that radical Muslims are planning to go on a rampage in the City of Los Angeles, killing anyone who is a U.S. citizen.

Police fear the death toll could be as high as 9


Obama says that people who have lost their insurance probably had sub-par insurance anyway

As a golfer, he should know that sub-par is better than average.

Even his spins are stupid!!!!


Netanyahu on proposed deal with Iran: 'This Is a Bad Deal--a Very, Very Bad Deal'

A very unusual statement from the Israel prime minister on the eve of a possible nuclear detail between the U.S. and Iran:

"I met Secretary Kerry right before he leaves to Geneva," said Netanyhau. "I reminded him that he said that no deal is better than a bad deal. That the deal that is being discussed in Geneva right now is a bad deal. It’s a very bad deal. Iran is not required to take apart even one centrifuge. But the international community is relieving sanctions on Iran for the first time after many years. Iran gets everything that it wanted at this stage and it pays nothing. And this is when Iran is under severe pressure.

I urge Secretary Kerry not to rush to sign, to wait, to reconsider, to get a good deal. But this is a bad deal--a very, very bad deal. It’s the deal of a century for Iran; it’s a very dangerous and bad deal for peace and the international community."

Robert Zarate of the Foreign Policy Initiative explains how the proposed deal is full of concessions toward Iran:

The potential package of Iranian concessions could reportedly include:

(1)  Partially Increased Nuclear Transparency:  somewhat increased inspection and monitoring of Iranian nuclear material, equipment, and facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), but less than enhanced measures authorized by the so-called “Additional Protocol” agreement that Iran has refused so far to ratify.

(2)  Freeze on Medium Enriched Uranium: a freeze on Iran’s production of uranium enriched to 20-percent (sometimes called “medium enriched uranium” or MEU), and conversion of Iran’s stockpile of 20-percent MEU into harder-to-enrich reactor fuel plates.

(3)  Numerical Limits on Centrifuges to Enrich Uranium:  limits on the number of Iran’s actively-enriching first-generation centrifuges, and a delay on the use of Iran’s installed and more advanced second-generation centrifuges.

(4)  Delayed Start-Up of the Plutonium-Producing Heavy Water Reactor:  deferral on starting up and operating Arak, a heavy water reactor capable of producing spent nuclear fuel containing plutonium that is very well-suited for use in a nuclear weapon.



Former MSNBC host rants at Obama on Twitter after health insurance plan cancelled

Former MSNBC host Dylan Ratigan doesn’t like how President Barack Obama’s health care law is caring for him.

Ratigan, who hosted MSNBC’s “The Dylan Ratigan Show” before abruptly quitting in 2012 to become a farmer, took to Twitter Friday to blame Obamacare for his health-care plan being cancelled and his new monthly insurance rate tripling.

Fortunately for Ratigan, he gets a consolation prize for having to pay more than three times more per month for his health insurance:  a presidential apology. In an interview with NBC News’ Chuck Todd Thursday, Obama apologized to Ratigan and the millions of other Americans he lied to when he promised, while flacking for his health care law, “if you like your plan, you can keep it. Period.”

“I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me,” Obama said Thursday. “We’ve got to work hard to make sure that they know we hear them and that we’re going to do everything we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position as a consequence of this.”

Despite the apology, Obama continued to downplay how many people will be forced off the insurance they like as a result of Obamacare, saying it was a very small number. Other estimates suggest that more than 129 million Americans may not be able to keep their previous health care plan if Obamacare is fully implemented.



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1 comment:

Robert said...

“I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me,” Obama said Thursday. “We’ve got to work hard to make sure that they know we hear them and that we’re going to do everything we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position as a consequence of this.” - Barack Obama

Translation: "I'm sorry that this disaster that my party and I chose to inflict upon the American public is likely to cost us dearly in the 2014 elections."