Friday, June 01, 2018

Genetic Intelligence Tests Are Next to Worthless (?)

I take the title above from the title of a long and very readable article by Carl Zimmer, a NYT journalist.  You could almost predict the title from the fact that he is a NYT journalist.

But the article is extremely well done.  It is something of a triumph of the journalist's art. He explains the facts and issues of his subject beautifully.  I wish I could write as well.  We both try for lucidity and simplicity but he does by far the better job. That he is a journalist and that I am an academic shows. I never could get teddy bears into my writing.

The article is a long one so I am not even going to excerpt it.  Instead I am going  to offer what I hope is a fuller perspective on the matters he raises.  Put simply, he mistakes the major issue involved.

When we look at his title, we have to ask: "Worthless for What? His answer is that currently available genetic information is useless as a substitute for a normal IQ test.  He is absolutely right about that and his warning is well-taken.  People who claim to assess your IQ from your genetic profile are little better than quacks and their results are of no everyday use.

And the reason for that is that IQ appears to be just one aspect of your body's general good functioning.  The brain is just one organ of the body and if the body overall is functioning well the brain should be working pretty well too. And from the research with IQ tests we find an amazing range of good things that high IQ correlates with -- better health, longer life more harmonious marriages etc.  You name it, more or less. 

So that lies behind the fact that there are a LOT of influences on your IQ. They may be scattered anywhere in your body.  What IQ researchers have said for a long time is that IQ is "polygenetic".  It is the sum of a whole lot of little genetic influences.  Almost anything that influences your overall health could also influences your IQ.

At this stage I have to stress that I am talking about the "in general" case.  As elsewhere in life, there are exceptions to the general rule. There are healthy specimens who are as dumb as a brick (some Hollywood actors?) and there are other unfortunates such as Stephen Hawking and Carl Steinmetz where a brilliant brain inhabits a broken body.  Sometimes you need just one faulty gene to have a big influence on your bodily health.

And it is the general case that interests scientists.  They are not actually much interested in YOU.  They are only interested in what emerges from a study of people in general. So when they find some of the many influences on IQ in people's genes they see themselves as being on the right track in seeing IQ as mainly genetic.  And the advances are already exciting.  As each new study comes out, more and more of the genetic influences on IQ are being found.  Genetics generally is in its infancy and the genetics of IQ are no exception. 

And so far there has not been a single study looking at epigenetic influences on IQ.  Epigenetics are bits of your genetic profile which influence how other genes work.  They can even turn a gene "on" or "off".  So to expect that current studies could give us the whole genetics of IQ is very naive.  The fact that we have at this early stage already been able to detect some of the genetics involved is the interesting and exciting part. 

In other words the issue is not whether or not we can measure your IQ from your genes right now but rather whether we are on the right track towards that.  And from a scientific point of view we are doing amazingly well considering the huge difficulty of such research -- JR.


Your father's Republican Party has vanished. His Democratic Party has, too

by Jeff Jacoby

ADDRESSING THE New York State Democratic convention last week, Joe Biden endorsed Governor Andrew Cuomo for reelection and delivered some blistering criticism of the party that controls Congress and the White House.

"This is not your father's Republican Party," declared the former vice president. With its "phony populism" and "fake nationalism," he said, the GOP is "sending a vision of America around the world that is distorted, that's damaging."

Biden is reportedly considering another run for president in 2020, so attacks on Republicans and their leader are to be expected. But he's not wrong: The GOP under Donald Trump manifestly isn't the Republican Party of a generation ago. The turn against free trade, the harshness on immigration, the rising admiration for Russia's ruler, the tolerance of debauchery and bad character in political leaders — today's Republicanism is indeed a far cry from that of Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan.

But it isn't only the GOP that has changed so profoundly. So has the Democratic Party.

"We have to take a long look in the mirror and face the hard truth," Cuomo told the Democratic delegates in his convention speech. That truth, he said, is that Democrats lost the last presidential election "because we lost the connection with who we are and why the middle class and working families made the Democratic Party their home in the first place."

Cuomo's concern for middle- and working-class values may be genuine, or it may reflect the fact that he's facing a primary challenge from actress Cynthia Nixon, whose politics are skewed even more to the left than his. Either way, there's no denying that the Democratic Party today has far less sympathy for Main Street attitudes it used to embrace.

There was a time, for example, when self-described "pro-life liberals" were welcome in the Democrats' big tent. Democratic governors like Ella Grasso of Connecticut and Robert Casey of Pennsylvania firmly opposed abortion; as recently as 2009, dozens of House Democrats initially opposed the Affordable Care Act because it lacked restrictions on abortion funding. But no longer is there room in party councils for more than one position on the issue. Democratic Party chairman Tom Perez decreed last year that Democratic candidates must support a woman's right to choose. "That," he said, "is not negotiable."

Dissent is not permitted on other topics as well.

Moderate liberal Joe Lieberman of Connecticut was a rising star in Democratic circles in the 1980s; by 2000 he was the party's candidate for vice president. But Lieberman strongly supported the Iraq war, a position that by 2006 made him persona non grata in Democrats' eyes. Lieberman's ostracism confirmed that the once-robust national-security wing of the Democratic Party — the home of Cold War hawks like Harry Truman, Jack Kennedy, and Scoop Jackson — was defunct. Democrats, the original party of peace through strength, became the party of disengagement and retreat.

Liberal Democrats in the 1960s believed in color-blindness — they agreed with Thurgood Marshall that "racial criteria are irrational, irrelevant, odious to our way of life." Liberal Democrats today insist on racial criteria, demanding rigid "diversity" in everything from workplace hiring to college admissions to the Academy Awards.

Your father's Democratic Party was an ardent defender of Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East. No more: Liberal Democrats today, reports the Pew Research Center, are much less likely to support Israel than to support its Palestinian enemies.

Two decades ago, a popular president fought hard for a North American Free Trade Agreement, signed the Iraq Liberation Act, and kept his promise to "end welfare as we know it." He not only enacted a Balanced Budget Act, but produced four consecutive federal budget surpluses. He cut the top capital-gains tax rate from 28 percent to 20 percent. He led NATO in liberating Kosovo. He resisted same-sex marriage. He codified economic sanctions against Cuba.

Bill Clinton is still popular with Democrats. But in a party that has shifted sharply leftward, there's little room for the centrist positions he upheld as president.

Biden is right about the Trump GOP: It is decidedly not your father's Republican Party. And your father's Democratic Party? It too, alas, is a thing of the past.



Don the Lemon is so unbalanced it is a wonder he can walk without falling over

Leftists can be as abusive and foul mouthed as they like but other must not step a foot out of line

During a segment on Tuesday night, Lemon began discussing news that ABC cancelled the hit show “Roseanne” after its star, Roseanne Barr, sent out a controversial tweet about Valerie Jarrett, a former top aide under President Barack Obama.

“Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj,” Barr wrote in a now deleted tweet about Jarrett. Barr has since apologized for her tweet.

As noted by Mediaite, Lemon tied Barr’s comments to Trump and his supporters, strongly implying that the president is responsible for fostering a culture in America that promotes bigotry and racism.

“We know what Donald Trump thinks. We know what Roseanne Barr thinks. It’s time for us to stop playing around with soft words by saying, ‘Oh, well they’re saying insensitive things.’ No, it’s racist! They’re exhibiting racist behavior. And far too many of our fellow American citizens agree with them. And feel emboldened to say out loud the things they wouldn’t have dared to say in public just a few years ago. In an America where racism happens every day, in our neighborhoods, in our workplaces, in our schools, in a Starbucks, in a park, at an Airbnb, what is America going to do about it?”

“We have to stop pretending that this president has nothing to do with it, that he’s not emboldening racists and racism and giving them a platform and making it okay.”

Lemon calling Trump and his supporters racist further confirms what many believe about CNN, but he also proved how biased and tone-deaf he is regarding media figures who have made disturbing comments on television.

Lemon and the media were no where to be found when ABC late night host Jimmy Kimmel mocked First Lady Melania Trump’s accent.

What about when Fox News host Sean Hannity exposed Kimmel for being a pervert? Hannity tweeted out numerous videos of Kimmel from years ago, where he is asking women to feel his crotch, and even “joked” that one girl was underage.

Remember when ABC’s “The View” co-host Joy Behar said Christians have a mental illness?

How about MSNBC’s Joy Reid getting busted a second time in recent months for having dozens of bigoted, homophobic posts on her personal blog, The Reid Report, that slandered the LGBT community?

What about MSNBC “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski saying President Trump has a sexually transmitted disease?

None of those liberals were ever suspended or reprimanded and still have their jobs.

Lemon never condemned them for making those sick comments, yet he used an entire segment on Tuesday to label Trump and his supporters as racist over something Barr said.

This is just the latest example of CNN blaming Trump and smearing his supporters.



Horror!  CNN Brings in Deportee’s Wife, She Defends President Trump

Months after federal immigration agents deported a husband and father who had been in the U.S. since he was brought to the country illegally at the age of 10, his family is still desperate to be reunited.

Jorge Garcia’s case made national headlines in January after video surfaced of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers escorting him away from his sobbing wife and children.

Despite her grief, however, Garcia’s wife of 15 years does not blame the Trump administration. Cindy Garcia told CNN’s Brooke Baldwin this week that this situation was caused by a broken immigration system, not those tasked with upholding the laws as they are currently written.

“I am not upset at our government due to the fact that I am a U.S. citizen and that our laws come first,” she said. “Our laws are just broken and I can’t be mad at Trump for doing his job because that is his job to protect us, as U.S. citizens, from criminals.”

Garcia cited her family’s experience as a prime reason America should reform its immigration policy.

“The only thing is my husband was not a criminal and those are the laws that need to be fixed because they are broken,” she said. “For the people that are here, brought as children, doing the right thing and have never committed a crime, we need to fix a pathway to citizenship for them.”

On the other hand, she took a firm stance that “criminals that have come here illegally … need to go back.”



U.S. Back At No. 1 Competitiveness Ranking — Will Trump's Critics Ever Admit To Being Wrong?

Have Donald Trump's policies had a big impact on the U.S. economy and its competitiveness? The answer, we think, is an obvious yes. Now comes a new report, based mainly on "hard" data, that confirms that.

The report comes from the IMD Competitiveness Center in Switzerland. Each year it ranks countries by 256 different variables to come up with its global competitiveness rankings.

For 2018, there was a surprise: The U.S. leapt three places to take over the top spot in global competitiveness — just ahead of Hong Kong, Singapore, the Netherlands and Switzerland. That jump was based on its "strength in economic performance and infrastructure," ranking first in both areas.

That this is so shouldn't shock anyone with any knowledge of what's going on in the economy.

Since Trump took office, GDP growth has averaged 2.9%, up from 2% under President Obama. Unemployment now stands at 3.9%, and jobless rates for African-Americans, Asians and Hispanics are at or near all-time lows.

Inflation, at about 2%, remains under control. Business investment is surging, and a big reason for that is that corporate taxes are low, thanks to Trump's tax cuts.

Meanwhile, Trump continues to slash away at the thicket of regulations that strangles the U.S. economy, costing us collectively nearly $2 trillion a year. All of this has helped to fuel an economic renaissance of sorts. U.S. households are $7.1 trillion richer since Trump entered office, thanks to rising share prices and strong real estate markets.

Just to be clear, we're not citing this one report as a be-all and end-all for competitiveness or even for the fate of the economy. Nor are we in the forecasting business.

But others are, and among them have been some of Trump's fiercest critics. To read what they wrote and said, the U.S. returning to No. 1 in competitiveness wouldn't just be unlikely — it would be impossible.

Just last November, for instance, a blog post on the Economic Policy Institute's website informed us that "Republican tax plan will reduce American competitiveness." That was, to be kind, wide of the mark.

Similarly, the liberal Brookings Institution opined in March of last year that "Trump's 'America First' budget will leave the economy running behind." Didn't happen.

Going back even further, many economists and pundits were wrong — dead wrong — about Trumponomics. But to this day they can't bring themselves to admit it. Imprisoned by the illogic of their own liberal ideology, they all saw not just failure, but instant disaster. They still do.

3% Growth Is Possible

Trump might be on the verge of another big win over his critics in the media and economics profession.

Recall that when Trump promised 3% growth, he was roundly criticized and even ridiculed for what many claimed was pie-in-the-sky political hyperbole. Some even said such growth would be impossible.

But, as we noted, GDP growth has averaged 2.9% since Trump moved into the White House, just a hair under 3%. If the Atlanta Fed's GDP "Nowcast" — which uses current data to make up-to-date forecasts — is correct, 2018's second quarter could see growth of as much as 4%.

That would push average growth above 3% for Trump's term. If so, that would be yet another "crazy" idea that Trump had that turned out to be true.

While all those dire prognostications we mentioned proved false, the media continue to quote those who made them uncritically.

It seems that among the media and the Beltway and coastal elites, no distortion of Trump's many successes ever gets corrected — only repeated. And facts are never acknowledged — only ignored or distorted.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL 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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


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