Monday, January 29, 2018

Smart people are less likely to go mad

That's an easy to understand heading, is it not?  It's my summary of an article titled: "Association of Heritable Cognitive Ability and Psychopathology With White Matter Properties in Children and Adolescents".  It appeared in JAMA Psychiatry. Published online January 24, 2018

By a Norwegian, a German and a Vietnamese (Dag Alnæs, Tobias Kaufmann and Nhat Trung Doan), all of whom work at Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway


Importance:  Many mental disorders emerge during adolescence, which may reflect a cost of the potential for brain plasticity offered during this period. Brain dysconnectivity has been proposed as a common factor across diagnostic categories.

Objective:  To investigate the hypothesis that brain dysconnectivity is a transdiagnostic phenotype in adolescence with increased susceptibility and symptoms of psychiatric disease.

Design, Setting, and Participants:  We investigated clinical symptoms as well as cognitive function in 6487 individuals aged 8 to 21 years from November 1, 2009, to November 30, 2011, in the Philadelphia Neurodevelopmental Cohort and analyzed diffusion magnetic resonance imaging brain scans for 748 of the participants.

Main Outcomes and Measures:  Independent component analysis was used to derive dimensional psychopathology scores, and genome-wide complex trait analysis was used to estimate its heritability. Multimodal fusion simultaneously modeled contributions of the diffusion magnetic resonance imaging metrics fractional anisotropy, mean diffusivity, radial diffusivity, L1 (the principal diffusion tensor imaging eigen value), mode of anisotropy, as well as dominant and secondary fiber orientations, and structural connectivity density, and their association with general psychopathology and cognition.

Results: Machine learning with 10-fold cross-validation and permutation testing in 729 individuals (aged 8 to 22 years; mean [SD] age, 15.1 [3.3] years; 343 females [46%]) revealed significant association with general psychopathology levels (r = 0.24, P < .001) and cognition (r = 0.39, P < .001). A brain white matter pattern reflecting frontotemporal connectivity and crossing fibers in the uncinate fasciculus was the most associated feature for both traits. Univariate analysis across a range of clinical domains and cognitive test scores confirmed its transdiagnostic importance. Both the general psychopathology (16%; SE, 0.095; P = .05) and cognitive (18%; SE, 0.09; P = .01) factor were heritable and showed a negative genetic correlation.

Conclusion and relevance:  Dimensional and heritable general cognitive and psychopathology factors are associated with specific patterns of white matter properties, suggesting that dysconnectivity is a transdiagnostic brain-based phenotype in individuals with increased susceptibility and symptoms of psychiatric disorders.


Comment:  Aren't you glad I summarized that for you?  To be fair, they had to tell you all that stuff to make their point.  And what they say goes well beyond my simple summary. They found that a particular brain feature was associated with (and probably caused) both low IQ and a variety of mental disorders.  And it was all genetically inherited.

So to make it simple again: Some people are born with defective brains.  That's not terribly new news, of course.  What is interesting is that a particular brain feature,  "dysconnectivity", underlies both personality and IQ.  You can be both dumb and off your head at the same time!

And that relates well to something I have been saying for a long time:  That a high IQ tends to be just one symptom of general biological fitness.  "To him that hath, more will be given him", as Jesus said several times (Matthew 13:12 & 25:29; Mark 4:25). There is no equality in nature.  We knew that already but it is nice to see it in a particular brain feature. 


European CEOs Go One By One To Tell Trump They Are Investing Billions Back In The US

The Left were all confident that Trump would be ignored and denounced at Davos.  Roughly the opposite happened

President Donald J. Trump hosted a dinner with European business leaders and CEOs at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland Thursday evening. Trump has been making the rounds in Davos, holding bilateral meetings with other world leaders and conducting business roundtables. Trump met with various business leaders in shadow of the recent economic boom in America.

In a stunning moment, one by one, European titans of industry from companies like Adidas, Siemens and Bayer went around the table to thank Trump for the passage of tax cuts and the easing of corporate tax burdens. Almost every CEO had a new US-based investment or strategic business to announce.

The president of Seimens, Joe Kaeser, said, “since you have been so successful in tax reform we have decided to develop the next generation gas turbines in the United States.”

Trump responded “That’s great!”

Exchanges like this continued all around the table.



Objections to Trump

The Left say he is anti-democratic but it is they who want to overturn a duly elected President.  The Left just can't help their authoritarianism. It is intrinsic to them

One year after his inauguration, the idea that Donald Trump is a tyrant continues to be a strong current in political discussion. Of course this charge has been a mainstay of his critics, from Democrats to those who imagine themselves to be ‘the resistance’. But we also hear it from Republican politicians and conservatives as well. Recently, outgoing Republican Jeff Flake compared Trump to Joseph Stalin, for referring to the media as ‘the enemy of the people’. And David Frum, former speechwriter for George W Bush, has a new book out, Trumpocracy, in which he argues that Trump is a corrupt authoritarian.

These claims that Trump is a despot are over the top, and don’t correspond with the reality of his actions in office. In fact, it is hard to say Trump stands for any principle, as his views seem to change by the day, or tweet. If he is an autocrat, he is far from a consistent one. Yes, he does make authoritarian outbursts, but he has not followed through on them. He has threatened to change the libel laws, introduce a Muslim travel ban, investigate voter fraud (and potentially suppress certain voters), remove those disloyal to him in the Department of Justice, and dismiss Robert Mueller as the special investigator. But none of these things has materialised.

Moreover, an aspiring would-be dictator would need to subordinate the institutions around him – after all, in the US federal system there are many levels of government and the president’s powers are limited. In Trump’s first year, he simply hasn’t done that. His cabinet often disagrees with him: congressional Republicans have pursued their longstanding agenda, which conflicts with Trump’s electoral promises (and to which Trump has willingly acquiesced, desperate to have any sign of success); Democrats in Congress have successfully opposed his policies, including his proposed reforms to Obamacare and immigration, which triggered the latest government shutdown. Trump clearly hates the media, and his threats are wrong and should be opposed, but he is unsuccessful in silencing them – the mainstream media are obsessed with denouncing Trump’s every move.

Among the most consistent talking points of Trump’s first year is that he is a ‘danger to democracy’. And yet nothing he has proposed is as anti-democratic as the goal of his antagonists: to remove him from office. Their arguments for ousting Trump keep changing: he’s Hitler, he’s colluding with the Russians, and, more recently, he’s mentally unfit and a racist. As do their suggested methods of removal: Electoral College coup, obscure interpretation of the 25th Amendment, impeachment. Such an overturning of the vote, which they so desperately want, would directly undermine democracy.

Time and again, it appears that Trump’s bark is worse than his bite. Does that mean that everything is okay with his presidency? That we should ignore his outbursts, or laugh them off as ‘just words’ or ‘just tweets’? No. Trump’s bigoted comments, his lies and name-calling, his illiberal intimidations – these are all serious problems and cannot just be waved away, as his apologists often try to do.

For Trump’s defenders, these are superficial issues of personality. For instance, Reverend Jerry Falwell Jr recently tweeted: ‘Complaining about the temperament of the @POTUS or saying his behaviour is not presidential is no longer relevant. @realDonaldTrump has single-handedly changed the definition of what behaviour is “presidential” from phony, failed & rehearsed to authentic, successful & down to Earth.’

Likewise, the conservative Victor Davis Hanson says the negative reaction to Trump’s behaviour can be explained by elitist prejudices: ‘To many progressives and indeed elites of all persuasions, Trump is also the Prince of Anti-Culture: mindlessly naive American boosterism; conspicuous, 1950s-style unapologetic consumption; repetitive and limited vocabulary; fast-food culinary tastes; Queens accent; herky-jerky mannerisms; ostentatious dress; bulging appearance; poorly disguised facial expressions; embracing rather than sneering at middle-class appetites; a lack of subtlety, nuance, and ambiguity.’

There’s no doubt that a good portion of the visceral opposition to Trump is down to a snobbish reaction to what he represents culturally, and reflects the cultural elite’s horror at not having complete dominance, as they did when Obama was in office. But that doesn’t mean there is nothing wrong with Trump’s conduct. Trump gives his opponents much that is objectionable to work with. Take the recent ‘shithole’ comment about immigrants from Africa and Haiti. The response may have been hysterical (as if prior presidents had not said worse). But Trump’s comment was clearly racist and should be roundly denounced.



Poll: Voters Overwhelmingly Support Medicaid Work Requirements

Two-thirds of Pennsylvania voters support Medicaid work requirements. In other states, thousands of Americans previously dependent on government programs have transformed their lives and achieved independence thanks to work requirements. But Pennsylvania’s human services system still traps people in poverty by discouraging work—and voters want that to change.

Two-thirds of Pennsylvania voters support requiring healthy adult Medicaid recipients to pursue work in order to continue receiving government benefits, according to polling released today by the Commonwealth Foundation. The poll of 400 likely Pennsylvania voters, conducted by McLaughlin & Associates, found majority support for work requirements across party lines and among all demographics.

“Voters recognize that promoting work can transform lives and expand resources for those who need them most,” commented Elizabeth Stelle, director of policy analysis for the Commonwealth Foundation. “States like Kansas and Maine have proven work requirements in food stamps boost incomes and help individuals transition to productive careers. The success of work requirements in other programs led the federal Department of Health and Human Services to approve a landmark Medicaid work requirement for healthy Kentuckians last week.”

“Pennsylvania lawmakers already recognize the popularity of this reform,” Stelle continued. “HB 59, vetoed by the governor last fall, directed state officials to pursue a work search requirement for healthy adults with Medicaid coverage. Likewise, state House members recently promoted HB 1659 to restore work requirements in food stamps.”

Work requirements spurred half of those leaving the SNAP (food stamps) programs in Kansas and Maine to more than double their incomes, according to a recent study by the Commonwealth Foundation. If Pennsylvania adopted similar reforms in its food stamps program, the results would be transformative: as many as 100,000 people would rejoin the workforce and wages would grow by $175 to $210 million, according to estimates.

“We must not let people languish in a broken system because we lack the political will to fix it,” Stelle said. “Lawmakers and the governor must recognize that promoting work is key to ending generational poverty and preserving resources for those who need them most.”



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.

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