Monday, December 08, 2014

Church-goers are NOT dumber

That people are religious because they are stupid has been a  frequent assertion, particularly from the Left.  Some recent high-quality research (below), however, refutes that.  They found no association between church-going and IQ but did find a weak association between non-committed religiosity and IQ.  And religious people are also NOT more likely to go ga-ga as they get older.  See also here and here

Religiosity is negatively associated with later-life intelligence, but not with age-related cognitive decline


A well-replicated finding in the psychological literature is the negative correlation between religiosity and intelligence. However, several studies also conclude that one form of religiosity, church attendance, is protective against later-life cognitive decline.

No effects of religious belief per se on cognitive decline have been found, potentially due to the restricted measures of belief used in previous studies. Here, we examined the associations between religiosity, intelligence, and cognitive change in a cohort of individuals (initial n = 550) with high-quality measures of religious belief taken at age 83 and multiple cognitive measures taken in childhood and at four waves between age 79 and 90.

We found that religious belief, but not attendance, was negatively related to intelligence. The effect size was smaller than in previous studies of younger participants. Longitudinal analyses showed no effect of either religious belief or attendance on cognitive change either from childhood to old age, or across the ninth decade of life.

We discuss differences between our cohort and those in previous studies – including in age and location – that may have led to our non-replication of the association between religious attendance and cognitive decline.



A dark cloud with a silver lining

Obama is amazing. He is rebuilding the American dream!

1. Obama destroyed the Clinton Political Machine, driving a stake through the heart of Hillary's presidential aspirations - something no Republican was ever able to do.

2. Obama killed off the Kennedy Dynasty - no more Kennedys trolling Washington looking for booze and women wanting rides home.

3. Obama is destroying the Democratic Party before our eyes! Dennis Moore had never lost a race. Evan Bayh had never lost a race. Byron Dorgan had never lost a race. Harry Reid - soon to be GONE! These are just a handful of the Democrats whose political careers Obama has destroyed. By the end of 2014, dozens more will be gone.

Just think, in December of 2008 the Democrats were on the rise. In two election cycles, they had picked up 14 Senate seats and 52 House seats. The press was touting the death of the Conservative Movement and the Republican Party. However, in just one year, Obama put a stop to all of this and gave the House and the Senate - back to the Republicans.

4. Obama has completely exposed liberals and progressives for what they are. Sadly, every generation seems to need to re-learn the lesson on why they should never actually put liberals in charge. Obama is bringing home the lesson very well: Liberals tax, borrow and spend. Liberals won't bring themselves to protect America. Liberals want to take over the economy. Liberals think they know what is best for everyone. Liberals are not happy until they are running YOUR life.

5. Obama has brought more Americans back to conservatism than anyone since Reagan. In one year, he has rejuvenated the Conservative Movement and brought out to the streets millions of freedom loving Americans. Name one other time when you saw your friends and neighbors this interested in taking back America!

6. Obama, with his "amazing leadership," has sparked the greatest period of sales of firearms and ammunition this country has seen. Law abiding citizens have rallied and have provided a "stimulus" to the sporting goods field while other industries have failed, faded, or moved off-shore.

7. In all honesty, one year ago I was more afraid than I have been in my life. Not afraid of the economy, but afraid of the direction our country was going. I thought, Americans have forgotten what this country is all about. My neighbors and friends, even strangers, have proved to me that my lack of confidence in the greatness and wisdom of the American people has been flat wrong.

8. When the American people wake up, no smooth talking teleprompter reader can fool them! Barack Obama has served to wake up these great Americans! Again, I want to say: "Thank you, Barack Obama!" After all, this is exactly the kind of hope and change we desperately needed!!

9. He made Jimmy Carter happy since Jimmy is no longer the worst president we've ever had.


It’s official: America is now No. 2

Chinese economy overtakes the U.S.’s to become the largest

There’s no easy way to say this, so I’ll just say it: We’re no longer No. 1. Today, we’re No. 2. Yes, it’s official. The Chinese economy just overtook the United States economy to become the largest in the world. For the first time since Ulysses S. Grant was president, America is not the leading economic power on the planet.  It just happened — and almost nobody noticed.

The International Monetary Fund recently released the latest numbers for the world economy. And when you measure national economic output in “real” terms of goods and services, China will this year produce $17.6 trillion — compared with $17.4 trillion for the U.S.A.

As recently as 2000, we produced nearly three times as much as the Chinese.

To put the numbers slightly differently, China now accounts for 16.5% of the global economy when measured in real purchasing-power terms, compared with 16.3% for the U.S.

This latest economic earthquake follows the development last year when China surpassed the U.S. for the first time in terms of global trade.

I reported on this looming development over two years ago, but the moment came sooner than I or anyone else had predicted. China’s recent decision to bring gross domestic product calculations in line with international standards has revealed activity that had previously gone uncounted.

These calculations are based on a well-established and widely used economic measure known as purchasing-power parity (or PPP), which measures the actual output as opposed to fluctuations in exchange rates. So a Starbucks venti Frappucino served in Beijing counts the same as a venti Frappucino served in Minneapolis, regardless of what happens to be going on among foreign-exchange traders.

PPP is the real way of comparing economies. It is one reported by the IMF and was, for example, the one used by McKinsey & Co. consultants back in the 1990s when they undertook a study of economic productivity on behalf of the British government.

Yes, when you look at mere international exchange rates, the U.S. economy remains bigger than that of China, allegedly by almost 70%. But such measures, although they are widely followed, are largely meaningless. Does the U.S. economy really shrink if the dollar falls 10% on international currency markets? Does the recent plunge in the yen mean the Japanese economy is vanishing before our eyes?

Back in 2012, when I first reported on these figures, the IMF tried to challenge the importance of PPP. I was not surprised. It is not in anyone’s interest at the IMF that people in the Western world start focusing too much on the sheer extent of China’s power. But the PPP data come from the IMF, not from me. And it is noteworthy that when the IMF’s official World Economic Outlook compares countries by their share of world output, it does so using PPP.

Yes, all statistics are open to various quibbles. It is perfectly possible China’s latest numbers overstate output — or understate them. That may also be true of U.S. GDP figures. But the IMF data are the best we have.

Make no mistake: This is a geopolitical earthquake with a high reading on the Richter scale. Throughout history, political and military power have always depended on economic power. Britain was the workshop of the world before she ruled the waves. And it was Britain’s relative economic decline that preceded the collapse of her power. And it was a similar story with previous hegemonic powers such as France and Spain.

This will not change anything tomorrow or next week, but it will change almost everything in the longer term. We have lived in a world dominated by the U.S. since at least 1945 and, in many ways, since the late 19th century. And we have lived for 200 years — since the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 — in a world dominated by two reasonably democratic, constitutional countries in Great Britain and the U.S.A. For all their flaws, the two countries have been in the vanguard worldwide in terms of civil liberties, democratic processes and constitutional rights.



LA Landslide: Republican Bill Cassidy Gains Ninth GOP Senate Seat in Win Over Landrieu

The 18-year long reign of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) has finally come to an end in Louisiana. In a landslide victory in Saturday’s runoff election, Republican Bill Cassidy defeated the incumbent and captured the ninth Senate seat for the GOP, capping off a victorious midterm election for his party. Cassidy pulled in 56 percent of the vote, to Landrieu's 44 percent.

The road was rocky for Landrieu from the start. The public found out about her improper use of taxpayer funds, then the fact she doesn’t even own a home in Louisiana. Then, she dissed her constituents. Because of all her missteps and Cassidy’s growing lead, Democrats quickly gave up on Landrieu after the general election on November 4. Now, it’s clear Louisianans have given up on her as well.

And with that, this very long midterm election is over.



Progressivism Claims Another Life

Eric Garner died in July because he resisted arrest, forcing police to take him down the way they take down thousands of suspects daily. Only Garner wasn’t an average suspect. He had allowed himself to become morbidly obese and had diabetes, heart disease and who knows what other self-imposed health problems. Still, he never should have died that summer day.

Big government killed Eric Garner. Police were just the weapon.

Garner was selling “illegal cigarettes” that day, or “loosies” – individual cigarettes from a pack. Why would anyone buy individual cigarettes? Because government, in this case New York, both city and state, have, through exorbitant taxation, made buying a whole pack too expensive for many.

Government’s heavy hand incentivized the creation of a black market for cigarettes. But government’s heavy hand also made selling cigarettes outside of its approved, and taxed, avenues a crime. Government, like the mafia, doesn’t like competition. The mafia will execute you; the government will arrest you.

In Garner’s case, he resisted that arrest and died because his body could not tolerate the force he brought on himself from police. But the police would not have been there had progressive officials and activists not made what Garner was doing into a crime.

Had reselling cigarettes, individually or in packs, not been criminalized by a government wanting its “taste of the action,” Eric Garner still would be alive.

Police have better things to do with their time, more important crimes to investigate, than selling cigarettes individually. But, unlike the newly discovered powers of the president to pick and choose which laws to enforce, when cops get a call, they have to respond—no matter how stupid they may think the “crime” is.

The race-baiting progressives saw an opening in the Garner case and took it. The media, either unwilling or incapable of seeing their philosophy caused this and many other deaths and arrests, followed their lead and made this story about race. Garner is still dead, and repealing the laws that led to his death isn’t even being discussed.

Neither Mayor Bill De Blasio, President Obama nor Attorney General Eric Holder killed Eric Garner. Progressive governance that criminalizes everyday activities did. And so did Garner himself. He didn’t deserve to die by any stretch of the imagination, but he did it to himself.

Not the selling of “loosies.” He didn’t create the stupid law he was breaking, but he resisted arrest. Once he started flailing his arms, he sealed his fate.

If you watch the video, the officer did not put Garner in a “chokehold.” He hooked under his right armpit and around his neck. That is a restraint, not a chokehold. Garner’s right arm was incapacitated, leaving the others to deal with only his left arm. Garner’s decision to continue to struggle caused the officer to lose his grip, which he re-established around his neck.

The officer was perfectly in the right to do that as Garner was fighting, not complying. Letting him go at that moment would’ve put every officer involved in danger. It wasn’t held long, and it wouldn’t have happened at all had Garner, who was no stranger to police or arrest, not caused it to happen.

It’s an inconvenient truth, and a truth very few people want to admit. But it’s a truth nonetheless.

But the deeper truth still holds—it was progressive big government, the overregulation and taxation of everything—that was the first domino to fall in the events that caused Eric Garner’s death.

The mayor of New York is pushing “re-education” of the police so they can “better” interact with minority communities. That sounds an awful lot like “separate but equal” application of the law. Black people have different melanin levels, they aren’t a different species. But to progressives they might as well be.

It’s a sick, sad “soft bigotry of low expectations” that would make Goebbels blush. Goebbels famously said, “The English follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous.”



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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