Friday, February 05, 2016

Some new/old findings about IQ

A paper titled "Top 10 Replicated Findings From Behavioral Genetics" has just come out with Robert Plomin as lead author.  The finding of the paper is an embarrassment to most psychologists.  We now know that most findings from psychological research are NOT replicable.  They are a flash in the pan with no generalizability.  They tell us nothing. So the fact that findings about the influence of genetics on behavior ARE replicable makes them stand out from other research.  It is putting it a little to strongly to say that it is the only sort of psychological research that it worth bothering with, but it gets close to that. I say here why I gave up on survey research after 20 years of doing it.

I have always noted that the heritability of IQ is by far the best replicated finding in psychology but Plomin shows that other effects of genetics on behaviour are highy replicable too.  Leftists hate all mention of genetics so on that issue, as on many others, they are on the wrong side of history.  And how ironic that is precisely the most well substantiated findings in psychology that are too politically incorrect for general mention.

So why are studies in the genetics of behaviour so robust?  Plomin suggests five sensible reasons but let me give a more impressionist reason:  It is because genetic effects on  behaviour are REAL.  There really is something going on there.  And, as Plomin's other findings show, what is going on is that genetics have a strong and pervasive effect on ALL behaviour.  As Plomin points out, even family environment is not an influence in its own right.  It too is affected by genetics.  I am reminded of something Hans Eysenck said to me around a quarter of a century ago:  "It's ALL genetics".  Already in his time, he had seen how pervasive genetic influences were.

My days as an active psychological researcher are long gone and I read very little in the psychological research literature these days.  I have however kept a watching brief on research on IQ.  So I was well aware of one of Plomin's more surprising findings:  The influence of IQ GROWS as the person grows up.  IQ is only a small influence of behaviour in early childhood but a large influence on the same person's behaviour in adulthood.  The genetic infuence in fact seems to keep growing until about age 30.  That can be seen as rather counterintuitive.  One would think that a small child had ONLY genetic influences to guide his behaviours but as he grew up he would come under all sorts of additional influences on his behaviour.

Plomin explores some possible reasons behind that finding but I think he misses the obvious:  A child is very heavily regulated whilst growing up.  He is pushed in all sorts of directions by parents, teachers and others.  It is only in adulthood that he is reasonably free to "be himself".  And that is exactly what happens.  He throws off most of his environmental influences and behaves in a way that feels good or right to himself.


21st century California dreaming

Where unaccountable bureacracy leads

The stylish new eastern span of the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge cost $6.4 billion, about $5 billion more than the original estimate, and came in ten years late. As we noted two years ago, all that time and money could not prevent hundreds of leaks during the first winter storm. A supposedly watertight steel chamber supporting the roadbed was leaking, and water also entering through guardrail holes for lights and service panels. Caltrans bosses were stumped and said that any solution would be “high maintenance.” About this time last year, the bridge continued to leak water inside the structure and efforts to caulk about 900 bolt holes had only been partly successful. Independent experts warned about corrosion and rust on strands of the main cable and anchor rods. Caltrans bosses didn’t want to talk about it, but in early 2016 they think they’ve got the problem whipped.

“After spending more than $1.4 million trying to plug leaks that put the cable of the Bay Bridge’s new eastern span at risk of corrosion,” writes Jaxon Van Derbeken in the San Francisco Chronicle, “Caltrans says it has finally hit on a fix that costs less than $100,000—and has all but eliminated a problem that plagued the project for years.” Caltrans maintenance engineer Ken Brown explained that water was coming in through gaps on the roadway side of the guardrails and the application of industrial-grade caulking plugged up 90 percent of the leaks. Brown, however, still sought a longer-term fix and Berkeley corrosion expert Lisa Fulton said “we will have to wait and see,” whether Caltrans “got something right this time.” Taxpayers, meanwhile, have good reason to remain skeptical.

Since the leaks were not supposed to happen, the bridge’s design wasn’t exactly right. The new span was supposed to cost some $1.5 billion, not more than $6 billion, so costs were out of control. The new span was supposed to be safe but the problems persist. Congressman Mark DeSaulnier, who as a state senator held hearings on the bridge problems, is on record that “there’s never been anyone in the management of the bridge who has been held accountable.” The congressman has that right, so despite the industrial-grade caulking the stylish new span is still the bridge to no accountability.



Trump Like Reagan? This GOP Leader Thinks So

Donald Trump has compared his potentially transformative, magnetic candidacy to Ronald Reagan. At least one man who remembers Reagan fondly agrees: former New York Senator Al D'Amato:

Former Sen. Alphonse D’Amato (R-N.Y.) says he sees similarities between Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump and former President Ronald Reagan.

“You know, 30 years ago there was a movement started by someone who establishment Republicans were opposed to,” D’Amato said of Reagan in a radio interview with John Catsimatidis on "The Cats Roundtable" on New York's AM-970.

“Well let me tell you, I think Trump has got a movement that’s picking up steam, and once a movement picks up that kind of steam, pretty hard to stop.”
The former New York senator praised Trump’s decision to hold a fundraiser for veterans instead of attending Thursday's GOP presidential debate on Fox News.

“He demonstrated that he’s not going to be pushed around,” D’Amato said.

He added that Trump’s decision to include the last two Republican winners of the Iowa caucuses — Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum — was politically “brilliant.”

Trump decided to skip last week’s Fox News debate after a harsh statement released by the network mocked him for not wanting to participate in a debate that anchor Megyn Kelly would be hosting.



America’s Economic Freedom Has Rapidly Declined Under Obama

America’s declining score in the index is closely related to rapidly rising government spending, subsidies, and bailouts

Millions of people around the world are emerging from poverty thanks to rising economic freedom. But by sharp contrast, America’s economic freedom has been on a declining path over the past decade.

According to the 2016 Index of Economic Freedom, an annual publication by The Heritage Foundation, America’s economic freedom has tumbled. With losses of economic freedom in eight of the past nine years, the U.S. has tied its worst score ever, wiping out a decade of progress.

The U.S. has fallen from the 6th freest economy in the world, when President Barack Obama took office, to 11th place in 2016. America’s declining score in the index is closely related to rapidly rising government spending, subsidies, and bailouts.

Since early 2009:

Government spending has exploded, amounting to $29,867 per household in 2015.

The national debt has risen to $125,000 for every tax-filing household in America—a total over $18 trillion.

The government takeover of health care is raising prices and disrupting markets.

Bailouts and new government regulations have increased uncertainty, stifling investment and job creation.

This is not something to take lightly. Economic freedom is the foundation of U.S. economic strength, and economic strength is the foundation of America’s high living standards, military power, and status as a world leader. The perils of losing economic freedom are not fictional.

It is painfully clear that our economy has been performing far below its potential, with individuals, families, and entrepreneurs being squeezed by the proliferation of big-government bureaucracy and regulations.

As documented by the index, and by other scholars, America’s economic freedom has been declining at an alarming pace.

Indeed, as The Wall Street Journal recently summed it up succinctly, Obama is “a champion when it comes to limiting economic freedom, and American workers have the slow growth in jobs and wages to prove it.”

Not surprisingly, our economic dynamism and innovative capacity have been measurably reduced.

Not surprisingly, our economic dynamism and innovative capacity have been measurably reduced. Self-inflicted wounds include:

The U.S. has the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world. This has driven new jobs to other, more competitive nations and has meant fewer jobs and lower wages for Americans.
The overall annual cost of meeting regulatory requirements has increased by over $80 billion since 2009, with more than 180 new regulations in place. In terms of ease of starting a new business, analyzed by a recently published World Bank report, the U.S. is ranked shockingly low at 49th, trailing countries such as Canada, Georgia, Ireland, Lithuania, and Malaysia.
No wonder the labor force participation rate has remained at near record lows after more than five years of steady decline.

Worse, vibrant entrepreneurial growth has been stymied by greater policy uncertainty and mounting debt. And a disturbing trend toward cronyism has gravely eroded the rule of law and distorted our free-market system.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, keynote speaker of the official release of the 2016 Index, recently stated:

It’s been almost seven years since the Obama “recovery” began, and our economy is barely out of neutral. Why does America have to settle for this?

Restoring economic freedom is prerequisite to revitalizing and brightening America’s future. 2016 is the year to reaffirm the principles of limited government, free enterprise, and rule of law so that we can reconstitute an America where freedom, opportunity, and prosperity flourish.

The time to act is now.



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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