Friday, December 27, 2002


The Economist has always been my favourite magazine but I think that in one recent article they have got part of their story back to front. They claim that conservatism is doing much better in the USA than in Britain and that Ronald Reagan therefore had more lasting influence than did Margaret Thatcher.

I think that the real problem for the British Conservative party is that Prime Minister Tony Blair of the British Labour Party has stolen their thunder -- he has taken over most of the the Tory causes and themes. In other words, Britain�s most effective Tory is now the very popular head of a still somewhat Leftist party. In keeping with that, a British Labour party stalwart (Peter Mandelson) recently said: "We are all Thatcherites now". Can you imagine Ted Kennedy or any other prominent U.S. Democrat saying "We are all Reaganites now"? Lady Thatcher changed the whole agenda in Britain -- more than Reagan did in the USA. I must say, though, that while I admired Margaret Thatcher, I loved Ronald Reagan.

That the British are inherently less promising material for conservatives than are Americans, however, I do not doubt. For hundreds of years the more enterprising and independent Brits have been emigrating to Britain�s daughter countries in North America, Australasia and Africa. We now have much evidence (e.g. Lake et al., 2000) that personality is one of the many human traits that are genetically inherited so it is no surprise that the descendants of the Brits who remained at home in Britain should be more inclined to suck on the teat of the Welfare State.

Lake, I.E., Eaves, L.J., Maes, H.H.M., Heath, A.C. & Martin, N.G. (2000) Further evidence against the environmental transmission of individual differences in neuroticism from a collaborative study of 45,850 twins and relatives on two continents. Behavior Genetics. 30 (3), 223-233.



Wow! Robert Musil has a great blog. He really knows what he is talking about in economics and science. I don�t know why he likes the French, though.



Wow! There has been a great stoush recently between economist John Quiggin and scientist Aaron Oakley over global warming! I declare Aaron the winner!

(Hmmm ... Is "stoush" a term used outside Australia? Literally, it means a punch-up or a fight but in this case I am referring to a vigorous controversy.)



Leftist logic always leaves lots out but it is at least usually easy to follow -- far too simplistic if anything. But the latest Leftist idea that American Indians should not be allowed to use Indian mascots or use such Indian terms as "Braves" to refer to themselves or name their sporting teams leaves me crosseyed with the deviousness of its "logic". Apparently it is supposed to be "non-racist" and "inclusive" to ban Indians from referring to their own group names and their own past. I guess that whites who refer to themselves as "Anglo-Saxons", "Germans", "Italians" etc. will be in the firing-line next. And Americans who remember and praise the deeds of George Washington must be a bad lot too by the same logic. David Yeagley (an American Indian) has been fulminating about it for some time. He has good reason to be angry at such oppression in the name of "tolerance" (of all things!). Only George Orwell would not be surprised by it all.

So the supposedly "anti-racist" Left is now not only persecuting Jews again (particularly on U.S. College campuses) but it is now persecuting the poor old American Indians too, because they have the temerity to be proud of their warrior past! With friends like the Left, who needs enemies?



People from time to time point out that what Americans rather cruelly call "white trash" show much the same low achievement levels as blacks and they take this as an indication that there is no genetic basis for black underachievement. The (unproven) claim is that whites who underachieve do so because of bad habits, customs or culture and that therefore bad habits, customs and culture also explain low levels of achievement among blacks. This has however been tested just about as carefully as can be imagined and been found not to be so: If whites and blacks are reared in the SAME family, the black disadvantage persists (Whitney, 1996).

But if the "cultural" explanation fails on the evidence the genetic explanation does not. As Richard Lynn and many others have pointed out, it has been known for nearly a century now that IQ correlates substantially with most indices of social disadvantage -- lower educational achievement, lower occupational status, lower income, smoking, crime etc. So the commonalities between blacks and poor whites can be simply explained by saying that BOTH poor whites and blacks suffer from lesser intelligence and that the lesser intelligence is the major factor leading to the lower achievement and the maladaptive customs and behaviour that people observe in both groups. Whether you are black or white, lower intelligence is a broad-ranging handicap.

So poor social habits and practices can indeed lead to low achievement but we then need to go on and ask why some people (both black and white) display such disadvantageous behaviours. And in many cases the answer will be: because of low intelligence. So in such cases unwise behaviour is simply the MEANS whereby low intelligence exerts its unfortunate effect. It is not the basic cause itself.

Ray, J.J. (1972) Are all races equally intelligent? Or: When is knowledge knowledge? Journal of Human Relations, 20, 71-75.
Ray, J.J. (1985) Smoking and intelligence in Australia. Social Science & Medicine 20, 1279-1280.
Whitney, G. (1996) Professor Shockley's experiment. Mankind Quarterly, 37 (1). Reproduced here and here.


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