Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Direct measurement of IQ getting closer

Researchers say MRI scans can measure human intelligence, and define exactly what it is.

This could lead to radical leaps in AI with machines programmed to think in the same way we do.

'Human intelligence is a widely and hotly debated topic and only recently have advanced brain imaging techniques, such as those used in our current study, given us the opportunity to gain sufficient insights to resolve this and inform developments in artificial intelligence, as well as help establish the basis for understanding and diagnosis of debilitating human mental disorders such as schizophrenia and depression,' said Professor Jianfeng Feng of the University of Warwick, who led the research.

Together with a team in China he has has been working to quantify the brain's dynamic functions, and identify how different parts of the brain interact with each other at different times – to discover how intellect works.

Professor Jianfeng found the more variable a brain is, and the more its different parts frequently connect with each other, the higher a person's IQ and creativity are.

This study may also have implications for a deeper understanding of another largely misunderstood field: mental health.

Altered patterns of variability were observed in the brain's default network with schizophrenia, autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) patients.

Knowing the root cause of mental health defects brings scientists exponentially closer to treating and preventing them in the future.

Using resting-state MRI analysis on thousands of people's brains around the world, the research found that the areas of the brain which are associated with learning and development show high levels of variability, meaning that they change their neural connections with other parts of the brain more frequently, over a matter of minutes or seconds.

On the other hand, regions of the brain which aren't associated with intelligence - the visual, auditory, and sensory-motor areas - show small variability and adaptability.


I have reproduced above only the parts dealing with the latest brain research.  In an rendeavour to rubbish IQ tests, the article also included a re-run of the old Hampshire research, with its extravagant conclusions.  I cover all that here


Why Donald Trump will win

NO POLITICAL LEADER since Ronald Reagan has created the excitement and buzz that Donald Trump has. He is the first politician since that late, great president to go over the heads of the media and elite ruling class and speak directly to the American people.

He is concerned that our country is no longer a country, and that America has sold out its sovereignty to a nondemocratic internationalist order, at the expense of the American worker and of American jobs. He has been criticized by opponents for not having elaborate position papers down to the last detail. Trump, unlike the robotic and dull Mitt Romney, gives no slick PowerPoint presentations. Trump merely says, “We are getting killed.” And the people know exactly what he is talking about.

Trump is an exciting political presence, responsible for drawing new people into the political process. The American people today are frustrated. They feel our whole political process is unresponsive. They continually vote for political reform, sending people to Washington hoping they will do something, and are then betrayed as the newly elected representatives become a saccharine travesty of the reform they clamored for.

What makes a country a country is its sovereignty. A country that has no borders, and whose independence is restricted by internationalist agreements, is no longer a sovereign nation. The Democrats and, sadly, some Republicans (House Speaker Ryan) would allow noncitizens the right to vote, provide free college tuition for them, and would provide welfare benefits while letting more of them stream over our unprotected borders.

It must be reiterated that Trump is not against immigration. He advocates legal immigration. His mother was an immigrant, a Gaelic speaker from the isle of Lewis, off Scotland. Trump believes the process must be legal, as it was for the millions of those who came to America’s shores over the past two centuries seeking the American dream of economic betterment, peace, and prosperity. Trump’s popularity is perplexing to the establishment. But it is readily understood by the majority of Americans.

Trump speaks for the average American worker. He wants prosperity at home and peace abroad. His conservatism is not a dogma. Trump seeks to conserve our best values at home, and not go abroad promoting monolithic internationalism — a monster of many tentacles, as John Quincy Adams warned.

Trump is not a conservative as defined by George F. Will on one of his Weekly Standard cruises. Will, a former Democrat, is in reality no conservative, but is actually a 19th-century liberal ideologue, of the Manchester school of economics. Trump’s thinking is more akin to the nationalism expressed by Theodore Roosevelt, who believed the government should intervene in the economy to protect all Americans, under what he called the Square Deal.

I believe Trump has been under political assault by the media and establishment because he is beholden to no one. Trump runs his own operation from the fifth floor of Trump Tower, in a kind of unfinished storage area. It is not from the plush surroundings of marble and gold featured in “The Apprentice.” Yet from here, with his small group of campaign staff, he has let forth a cry to Washington insiders and the corrupt political establishment: “You’re fired!” It is a cry like a voice from Mount Olympus that echoes in the hearts of the American people and will put him in the White House by a landslide.



Libertarian Caring

Aaron Ross Powell  debunks the notion that libertarians are uncaring

We value liberty at the expense of caring. That’s the takeaway about libertarians from Jonathan Haidt’s compelling new book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion. The basic idea in The Righteous Mind is that humans have six “moral foundations.” We vary in how much importance we place on each—and that variety explains our political views. Libertarians give the “care/harm” foundation very little weight at all.

I think Haidt is wrong about libertarians—or at least not completely right. Of course libertarians value liberty. But a great many of us, myself included, value caring very highly too. In fact, the reason I shifted from being a progressive to a libertarian was not because my moral foundations changed but because I came to realize that genuine caring means making an effort to actually help people—and that government programs intended to help have a rather poor track record.

I am a libertarian because I want a better—more caring, more fair—society and I believe enhancing the private sphere at the expense of government power is the best way to achieve that. I also strongly believe that liberty, which is after all entirely about how we treat other people, is central to both caring and fairness. Expansive government not only makes things worse from the standpoint of economic consequences, but also creates a world that is less caring and less fair.

Of libertarians, Haidt writes,

> We found that libertarians look more like liberals than like conservatives on most measures of personality (for example, both groups score higher than conservatives on openness to experience, and lower than conservatives on disgust sensitivity and conscientiousness). On the Moral Foundations Questionnaire, libertarians join liberals in scoring very low on the Loyalty, Authority, and Sanctity foundations. Where they diverge from liberals most sharply is on two measures: the Care foundation, where they score very low (even lower than conservatives), and on some new questions we added about economic liberty, where they score extremely high (a little higher than conservatives, a lot higher than liberals).

You can take Haidt’s tests online and see how you compare to his findings. (I encourage you to do so, as the tests are quite interesting and revealing.)

Here’s his explanation of how libertarians diverge from liberals on specific questions:

> For example, do you agree that “the government should do more to advance the common good, even if that means limiting the freedom and choices of individuals”? If so, then you are probably a liberal. If not, then you could be either a libertarian or a conservative. The split between liberals (progressives) and libertarians (classical liberals) occurred over exactly this question more than a hundred years ago, and it shows up clearly in our data today. People with libertarian ideals have generally supported the Republican Party since the 1930s because libertarians and Republicans have a common enemy: the liberal welfare society that they believe is destroying America’s liberty (for libertarians) and moral fiber (for social conservatives).

Yes, libertarians believe the welfare state impinges liberty. But we also believe it harms those it’s intended to help. Thus, we want to reform welfare and entitlement programs in large part because we care about their recipients.1 Social Security doesn’t just mean the government deciding what to do with your money. It also means making you poorer in your twilight years than you would’ve been had you invested that money in a private account.

Of course, libertarians might be wrong about what helps and what hurts. Maybe we’re mistaken in our policy prescriptions. But those mistakes, if they exist, aren’t because we “care” less than liberals, just as mistakes by liberals (should their policies in fact not work) aren’t the result of them caring less than libertarians.

Haidt writes,

> This helps explain why libertarians have sided with the Republican Party in recent decades. Libertarians care about liberty almost to the exclusion of all other concerns, and their conception of liberty is the same as that of the Republicans: it is the right to be left alone, free from government interference.

Again, no. Liberty does not come at the exclusion of all other concerns. Rather, liberty is the best way to maximize all other concerns. Yes there are libertarians who want nothing more than “to be left alone.” But that feeling doesn’t carry with it Haidt’s implied “and screw all the rest of you.” Instead, “left alone” means freed from officious government so we can better go about making the world a happier, healthier, richer, and more caring place.

I also find the wording of Haidt’s question troubling. What’s the “common good?” Who decides? What sorts of limits on “freedom and choices” are we talking about? The answers to those questions are awfully important before any of us can respond with a simple yes or no.



Just How 'Far Right' Is the GOP Platform?

Both The New York Times and NBC News have recently run stories on the GOP’s preparation for its upcoming national convention in Cleveland next week. In their “reporting” on the Republican platform and its field of speakers, two telling words were invoked — “far” and “extreme” — buzz words that the Left often uses in seeking to dissuade anyone from taking conservative ideas seriously.

“Rudy Giuliani … the far-right former mayor of New York City will also speak [at the GOP national convention],” reported NBC News. That was later redacted and replaced with the description that Giuliani is “extremely conservative on national security issues.” Giuliani is strong on national defense, but he’s also pro-gun control and pro-abortion. Hardly “far right.”

Meanwhile, The New York Times headlined, “Emerging Republican Platform Goes Far to the Right.” What are these “far” right and “extreme” conservative issues that make up the Republican Party platform? Four of the major planks of the party’s platform to be highlighted at the convention are: 1. a strong immigration policy, 2. support for traditional marriage and opposition to forced assimilation into the Barack Obama’s transgender bathroom directive, 3. support for a strong national defense, and 4. an “America First” policy when it comes to international trade agreements.

There is nothing novel about these Republican ideals — and most certainly no movement to the “far right.” In fact, was it not Obama who stated in October 2010, “I have been to this point unwilling to sign on to same-sex marriage primarily because of my understanding of the traditional definitions of marriage”? In other words, until just a few years ago, the Republican platform was what nearly all Americans believed. So exactly which party should more accurately be described as being “far” and “extreme”? Where Leftmedia outlets are concerned, if you’re not moving their direction, then you are the “extremist.”



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.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Re. Direct measurement of IQ getting closer.

I think intelligence will be better understood when we understand the nature of consciousness, because I think consciousness and intelligence are the same thing, their difference being only referential.