Sunday, June 12, 2016

WHAAT?  Premature babies are brighter??

When I first saw the findings below I thought I was looking at another example of researchers getting their statistics back to front.  The logical and conventional view is that premature birth harms the baby to some degree.  And that is the official medical view too.  The authors of the study below were obviously pretty perturbed by their results too and turned themselves inside out trying to think of ways in which their very strong study got it wrong.  And I think that they went close to isolating the problem, but did not have the psychometric background needed to get it exactly right

The thing that told me what was going on was the Dutch Famine Study.  In the closing phase of WW2, Nederland experienced a severe food shortage.  The mothers of babies born at that time did the best for their infants but a lot still went very hungry.  But a food shortage at that early age could be expected to handicap the infant to some degree, with brain damage being probable.  So when that birth cohort came up for conscription into the Dutch army 18 years later, there was great interest in what their average IQs would be.  Most armies do carry out ability testing as an aid to weeding out soldiers who would be more dangerous to their companions than to the enemy. Putting lethal weapons into the hands of dummies is not recommended.

So what did the Dutch psychologists discover?  Did they find that the average IQ for that year was low?  No. To the contrary, they found that the average IQ was unusually HIGH for that year.

So what had happened?  It was a eugenic effect.  As has repeatedly been shown, high IQ is a marker of general biological fitness -- and only the fit babies survived the famine.  The less fit were weeded out -- died.  So only the fit survived and they had higher IQs than average.

So you might by now see the strong analogy with the results below.  Less fit babies did not survive pre-term birth.  Those who did survive were generally  more fit biologically and hence of higher IQ.  It's actually interesting confirmation of the Dutch findings.  The other finding below, of a slight probability of physical impairment probably shows that even a selection effect cannot cancel out all the stresses and disadvantages that pre-term birth must be expected to impose

Long-term Cognitive and Health Outcomes of School-Aged Children Who Were Born Late-Term vs Full-Term

David N. Figlio et al.


Importance: Late-term gestation (defined as the 41st week of pregnancy) is associated with increased risk of perinatal health complications. It is not known to what extent late-term gestation is associated with long-term cognitive and physical outcomes. Information about long-term outcomes may influence physician and patient decisions regarding optimal pregnancy length.

Objective: To compare the cognitive and physical outcomes of school-aged children who were born full term or late term.

Design, Setting, and Participants:  We analyzed Florida birth certificates from 1994 to 2002 linked to Florida public school records from 1998 to 2013 and found 1?442?590 singleton births with 37 to 41 weeks' gestation in the Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics. Of these, 1?153?716 children (80.0%) were subsequently located in Florida public schools. Linear and logistic regression models were used to assess the association of gestational age with cognitive and physical outcomes at school age. Data analysis took place between April 2013 and January 2016.

Exposures: Late-term (born at 41 weeks) vs full-term (born at 39 or 40 weeks) gestation.

Main Outcomes and Measures:  There were a number of measures used, including the average Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test mathematics and reading scores at ages 8 through 15 years; whether a child was classified as gifted, defined as a student with superior intellectual development and capable of high performance; poor cognitive outcome, defined as a child scoring in the fifth percentile of test takers or having a disability that exempted him or her from taking the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test; and Exceptional Student Education placement owing to orthopedic, speech, or sensory impairment or being hospitalbound or homebound.

Results:  Of 1 536 482 children born in Florida from singleton births from 1994 to 2002 with complete demographic information, 787 105 (51.2%) were male; 338 894 (22.1%) of mothers were black and 999 684 (65.1%) were married at time of birth, and the mean (SD) age for mothers at time of birth was 27.2 (6.2) years. Late-term infants had 0.7% of an SD (95% CI, 0.001-0.013; P = .02) higher average test scores in elementary and middle school, 2.8% (95% CI, 0.4-5.2; P = .02) higher probability of being gifted, and 3.1% (95% CI, 0.0-6.1; P = .05) reduced probability of poor cognitive outcomes compared with full-term infants. These cognitive benefits appeared strongest for children with disadvantaged family background characteristics. Late-term infants were also 2.1% (95% CI, −0.3 to 4.5; P = .08) more likely to be physically impaired.

Conclusions and Relevance: There appears to be a tradeoff between cognitive and physical outcomes associated with late-term gestation. Children born late-term performed better on 3 measures of school-based cognitive functioning but worse on 1 measure of physical functioning relative to children born full term. Our findings provide longer-run information for expectant parents and physicians who are considering delivery at full term vs late term. These findings are most relevant to uncomplicated, low-risk pregnancies.



Another Liberal Publication Calls For Violence Against Trump

These nutty liberals can't help themselves. In response to the violence visited upon Trump supporters, President Obama urged liberals to "stop acting like the other side." A editor urged people in towns on the campaign trail to riot in response to Trump. Now, a writer for the Huffington Post is calling for worse:

A writer for the Huffington Post is defending his recent op-ed that "a violent response” is the “logical” approach to stopping presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.

Jesse Benn wrote in the op-ed titled “Sorry Liberals, A Violent Response To Trump Is As Logical As Any,” posted on Monday, “[T]here’s an inherent value in forestalling Trump’s normalization. Violent resistance accomplishes this.”

"These denunciations of violence from anti-Trump protestors rest on the misguided view that the divide Trump’s exposed is a typical political disagreement between partisans, and should be handled as such.," he wrote. "This couldn’t be further from the truth. Trump might not be a fascist in the 20th century European sense of the term—though many of his supporters are—but he might represent its 21st century US version."

"Violent resistance matters. Riots can lead to major change," Benn wrote. "It’s not liberal politicians or masses that historians identify as the spark underlying the modern movement for LGBTQ equality. Nor was it a think piece from some smarmy liberal writer. It was the people who took to the streets during the Stonewall Uprising."
Benn has it all wrong. The answer to speech one disagrees with is more speech. The Founders understood that unfettered political speech and a robust marketplace of ideas was the antidote to tyranny, and  that a robust public forum would force the worst ideas to contend with the best ones. The truth might not always win out, but those that knew it could use it to hold the powerful accountable. Martin Luther King understood this when he urged non-violent resistance in the face of terrible persecution and the most vile racist rhetoric. He forced a nation to consider the gravity of "all men are created equal" by not using force.

In a system where irrational violence is condoned, only those willing to commit the most irrational, violent acts win out. The truth is defined by the violent, and the violent decide what is tolerable and what is punishable. That's the very fascism that Benn claims to hate so much.



Trump and the Judge

Something that we think still confuses a lot of conservatives is their presumption that leftwing arguments are supposed to be applied evenhandedly.  Thus their befuddlement over Trump’s comment about the judge. To be clear, we don't like what Trump said and find the implications troubling. We are not defending that position specifically. But we also think that this issue points to an underlying problem resulting from the politicization of the judiciary begun by the left.

When Sonia Sotomayor said that being a “wise Latina” influences her decisions for the better, that—we were told—was not merely nothing to worry about but a sign of her judicial temperament and fitness for the High Court.  When Trump says being a Latino will influence this judge’s hearing of his case, he’s Hitler.

There may seem at first glance to be an inconsistency here.  But there is a common thread.  The left mostly takes for granted, first, that people from certain ethnicities in positions of power will be liberal Democrats and, second, that they will use that power in the interests of their party and co-ethnics.  This is a core reason for shouts of “treason!” “Uncle Tom” (or Tomas) and the like.  People like Clarence Thomas are offending the left’s whole conception of the moral order.  How dare he!

The implicit assumption underlying Sotomayor’s comment and Thomas’ refusal to play to type is that there is a type—an expectation.  By virtue of her being a liberal, a Democrat, a woman, and a Latina (wise or otherwise), Sotomayor’s voting pattern on the Court ought to be predictable.  As, indeed, it is.  So should Thomas’, but he declines to play his assigned role.

The slightly deeper assumption is that this identity-based predictability is necessary, because the institutions and laws as designed will not reliably produce the “correct” outcome.  That’s the logic of diversity in a nutshell.  If everybody in power strictly followed law and procedure, the good guys—the poor, minorities, women, etc.—would lose a great deal of the time and that would be bad.  We need people who will look past the niceties of the rule of law and toward the outcome—the end.  The best way to ensure that is “diversity,” i.e., people more loyal to their own party and tribe than to abstractions like the rule of law.

Trump simply took this very same logic and restated it from his own point-of-view—that is, from the point-of-view of a rich, Republican, ostentatiously hyper-American defendant in a lawsuit being litigated in a highly-charged political environment.  He knows full well that at least 50% of the country will howl like crazy if he wins this suit.  He knows that the judge knows that, too.  He further knows that judge knows what his own “side” expects him to do.  It would take an act of extraordinary courage to act against interest and expectation in this instance.  And our present system is not calibrated to produce such acts of courage but rather to produce the expected outcome.

That’s what diversity is for.  That is, beyond the fairness issue, viz., that in a multiethnic country, it’s unwise and arguably unjust for high offices to be monopolized by one group.  But that’s an argument for something like quotas—or, if you want to be high-minded about it, “distributive justice”—and the quota rationale for diversity is pass√©.  The current rationale is that diversity provides “perspectives.”  Perspectives to aid in getting around the law and procedure.  Otherwise, who cares about diversity?  Just apply the law.  Simple.

Trump is taking for granted the left's presumption that ethnic Democratic judges will rule in the interests of their party and of their ethnic bloc.  That's what they’re supposed to do.  The MSM and the overall narrative say this is just fine.  It’s only bad when someone like Trump points it out in a negative way.  If a properly sanctified liberal had said “This man is a good judge because his background gives him the perspective to see past narrow, technical legalities and grasp the larger justice,” not only would no one have complained, that comment would have been widely praised.  In fact, comments just like it are celebrated all the time.  That is precisely what Justice Sotomayor’s “wise Latina” phrase was meant to convey.

Plus, Trump has whacked the hornets’ nest by his criticism of Mexican immigration, which he feels this judge is bound to take personally.  And why shouldn’t he conclude that?  The left (and the domesticated right) tell us incessantly that any criticism—however fair or factual—that touches on a specific group will inevitably arouse the ire of that group.  Don’t say anything negative about immigration or the Hispanics will never vote for you!  Don’t say anything critical of Islamic terror or more Muslims will hate us!  But when Trump uses that same logic—I’ve criticized Mexican immigration so it’s likely this judge won’t like me—he’s a villain.

To look for logical consistency in any of this is to miss the point.  Trump is bad, and he is using these leftist arguments for bad (that is, not their intended) ends.  Therefore he is both bad and wrong, even though others who say logically identical things are good and right. Restoring confidence in the impartial rule of law will require eliminating this sort of divisive rhetoric on both sides.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both 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.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


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