Thursday, January 07, 2016

Does poverty reduce your IQ?

Only in America, allegedly.  That poverty CORRELATES with low IQ has long been known.  Poor people are often that way because they make dumb decisions -- spending all their money on beer, drugs and cigarettes, for instance.  A much more interesting question, therefore is whether poverty CAUSES low IQ.  We know that low IQ causes poverty but does poverty cause low IQ?

A recent very extensive and very sophisticated study set out to examine that -- and the results have been reported enthusiastically -- as showing that poverty DOES have an effect on IQ.  I reproduce a popular report of it below.

I have however, in my usual pesky way, gone back to the underlying academic journal article and read it. I have even looked at the numbers!  Despite its great methodological care and statistical complexity, it is an amusing example of failing to do something that the best journals now recommend:  Pre-register your expectations.  Studies that do not do that are very prone to data dredging effects -- looking for any correlation in the data that seems large and changing your hypothesis to say that's what you expected all along.

And the authors below did not pre-register their expectations.  They data-dredged.  After all the hard work they did in gathering and analysing their data, they initially found NO EFFECT of poverty on IQ.  So they desperately looked at their data to see what was in fact going on.  And they found that if they used U.S. data only, there was a weak effect in the direction expected.

Findings that were not pre-registered can of course still be accepted and there are long-standing procedures to allow for data dredging -- adopting an experiment-wise error-rate approach, for instance.  That is however very rarely done in fact.  It would take all the fun out of a lot of research. But some approach to allowing for that sort of thing is now being given emphasis in journal review policies.  In simple words, a much stronger effect is required for an unplanned relationship to be taken seriously. A weak relationship could be just a random oscillation.

The effects reported below were however very slight so I think that by current academic standards we should accept the null hypothesis.  We should conclude that poverty does NOT demonstrably affect IQ.

I don't like to flog a dead horse but a second defect in the study is that the findings were not controlled for race. Could race alone account for the aberrant U.S. results?  Knowing as we do how atypical are the IQs of persons with sub-Saharan African ancestry ("blacks", to use non-academic language) the researchers  should clearly have excluded blacks from all analyses on the grounds that they are a quite separate population requiring study in their own right.  The authors admit this but did not do it

The original study is rather misleadingly titled:  "Large Cross-National Differences in Gene × Socioeconomic Status Interaction on Intelligence"

Poverty has long been linked with lower levels of intelligence, especially among children, but a new study has suggested its impact may depend on where you live.

Scientists believe a person's intelligence is formed by a complex interplay between the genes they inherit from their parents and the environment they grow up in.

But a study of twins has determined that childhood poverty appears to 'dampen down' the potential contained within a person's genes - and the situation varies from country to country.

The study, conducted by researchers at University of Texas at Austin and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, found people born in the US tend to suffer the effects of poverty more.

Elsewhere, the link between poverty and a lower IQ was less noticeable in Western Europe and Australia, and in fact the opposite may be true in the Netherlands.

The study, which is published in the journal Psychological Science, analysed the findings of 14 peer-reviewed papers.

Combined, they drew upon almost 25,000 sets of twins and siblings from the US, Australia, England, Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands.

The researchers said the differences between the US and European countries may be due in part to more universal access to healthcare, which has helped to close some socioeconomic gaps.

Differences in the education systems in the countries may also play a role.

The researchers behind the study added that the results could prove useful in helping to tackle gaps between socioeconomic groups.

They said that providing more uniform access to education and healthcare can counter and even reverse the negative effect of poverty on genes involved in IQ.



Oregon standoff: Militia occupy wildlife refuge for fourth day

The Leftist attempt to brand these people as "terrorists" is typical Leftist absurdity.  Terrorists kill people.  Who have these people killed?  Similar groups agitating for Leftist causes would be called "protesters" -- and that is what these people are.  And, to use more leftist terminology, what they are doing is a "sit in"

AMMON Bundy, the militiaman leading a standoff at a remote US wildlife centre in Oregon now in its fourth day, has hit back at claims he is a domestic terrorist.

Saturday’s takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge outside the town of Burns, Oregon, was spurred by the imprisonment of two ranchers for setting fires that spread to federal land. The occupation marked the latest protest over federal management of public land in the west, long seen by political conservatives in the region as an intrusion on individual freedom and property rights.

Bundy, 40, whose father’s ranch in Nevada was the scene of an armed standoff against federal land managers in 2014, said his group was defending the Constitution and personal liberty against the federal government.

Online, public opinion was sharply split on what was quickly dubbed the #Oregonstandoff, with many branding the takeover an act of domestic terrorism, while others saw an act of resistance against government oppression.

A CNN reporter approached Bundy on Monday night and asked him about people saying his group is committing terrorism.

“There’s been a lot of social media discussion about what you all are doing out here,” the reporter said. “They’ve used words like ‘Ya’ll Qaeda’ and ‘Vanilla ISIS.’  And while they sound like funny names, they are basically calling you terrorists. How do you respond to these kinds of accusations?”

Bundy responded: “Well I would just encourage — well, one, I think that is the minority. But I would encourage people to look into what is really happening and find out who is truly doing the terrorising,” he said.

“Who has been taking ranches? This refuge alone, over 100 ranches have been taken so they can make this refuge.”
Ammon Bundy CNN interview

The protesters say they aim to protect the rights of ranchers and start a national debate about states’ rights and federal land-use policy that they hope will force the federal government to release tracts of western land.

The FBI said it was working with state and local law enforcement for a peaceful resolution.

The ranchers whose cause Bundy’s group has embraced — Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son, Steven — surrendered to federal authorities in California on Monday after being resentenced to longer prison terms for arson.

While turning themselves in they complained their five-year terms were “far too long” and announced they would seek rare clemency from President Barack Obama.

A Gallup poll released last month showed a majority of Americans view “big government” as the biggest threat to the nation in the future, when asked to choose between that, big labour and big business.



Crocodile tears

PRESIDENT Barack Obama wiped away tears as he condemned gun violence across the US and announced a new plan to tighten gun rules.

Mr Obama delivered a powerful address in the White House on Tuesday, surrounded by family members of people killed in shootings. His voice rose to a yell as he said the constitutional rights of Americans to bear arms needed to be balanced by the right to worship and gather peacefully.

“People are dying. And the constant excuses for inaction no longer do, no longer suffice,” he said. “That is why we are here today. Not to debate the last mass shooting, but to do something to prevent the next one.”

Mr Obama has often said his toughest time in office was grappling with the December 2012 massacre of 20 children and six adults at a primary school in Newtown, Connecticut.  “Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad,” Mr Obama said, tears rolling down his cheek.

Mr Obama laid out executive action he is taking to require more gun sellers to get licences and more gun buyers to undergo background checks.



Obama plans to allow health care providers to provide information about mentally ill patients to the FBI for its background check system. No one wants a mentally ill and potentially violent person to be able to buy a firearm in order to hurt or kill people, but we expect that Obama telling states and agencies to violate HIPAA and snitch on patients isn't going to survive in court. The sticking point has always been what constitutes sufficient mental problems to override Second Amendment rights. Furthermore, Obama's implied assertion that this will deter "gun violence" is dubious.

The background check provision is both worrisome and peculiar, in that it could have some interesting effects that Obama didn't' intend.

Obama will direct the ATF to focus on what it means to be "engaged in the business" of selling firearms. "Quantity and frequency of sales are relevant indicators," the White House fact sheet says. "There is no specific threshold number of firearms purchased or sold that triggers the licensure requirement."

In other words, Obama took a vague requirement and ... did nothing to make it more specific. Instead, it will be left to the ATF to look for people "engaged in the business." As The Truth About Guns' Nick Leghorn put it, "Either the Executive Action is simply Obama paying lip service to 'closing the gun show loophole' by appearing tough on private gun sales while actually doing nothing, or this is Obama being purposefully vague to allow his ATF to go after as many people as possible."

On the other hand, Obama, already Gun Salesman of the Decade, might also become "kitchen table FFL dealer" creator of the decade. If he's going to blur the line around what constitutes "engaged in the business" of selling firearms, then more Americans than ever could soon become not only gun owners but licensed firearms dealers.

Complicating the process by which trusts obtain items regulated by the National Firearms Act (NFA) targets already law-abiding gun owners, not criminals. If you try to find examples of NFA-regulated items being used in crimes, you'll have to go back at least a decade. Even then there's some disagreement since the federal government doesn't track those crimes, likely because then they'd have to admit crime with such items isn't a real problem.

In short, there is absolutely no rationale for Obama changing anything related to NFA items. It's just a way to say "screw you" to the most enthusiastic gun owners — the "bitter clingers," if you will. Most people can't afford a $30,000 fully automatic M16, but most of the people who can are likely Republicans who donate heavily to the NRA.

Obama has done nothing to deter crime. Does anyone expect the gang bangers of Chicago, for example, to suddenly engage in only lawful firearms transactions? Murder is against the law, no matter the weapon used. Criminals won't comply or be deterred by this new hoop.

It's also worth reiterating that these measures wouldn't have stopped a single recent mass shooting, from Newtown to San Bernardino. Obama knows that, which simply means he's aiming for what's beyond the target.

Meanwhile, one positive change is that people will no longer need permission from their local Chief Law Enforcement Officer to obtain an item regulated under the NFA, like suppressors. In some states, that's a big deal, because individuals can't procure NFA items when their sheriff or police chief refuses to approve any and all NFA applications.

Obama wants to appropriate "funding for 200 new ATF agents and investigators to help enforce our gun laws." As we have noted previously, enforcement under Obama has become lax. We're hardly in favor of expanding bureaucracy, but if enforcing the laws already on the books becomes a focus, then it might be a welcome change.

Far more worrisome than the specific proposals themselves, Obama's actions continue a tyrannical trend: He demands his ideological preferences be passed into law, and when Congress declines, he takes action to do it anyway. As House Speaker Paul Ryan put it, Obama "is at minimum subverting the legislative branch, and potentially overturning its will." Ryan added, "This is a dangerous level of executive overreach."

Specifics aside, this lawlessness not only is a grossly unconstitutional executive overreach in itself, but it sets a precedent and a legacy that is dangerous to our Republic.


There is a  new  lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- mostly about political correctness and the Cecil Rhodes controversy


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. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

RE - Oregon Standoff: . . .

Contrast that with the "peaceful" behavior of Obama's last Attorney General