Wednesday, July 12, 2006


As I have long ago shown elsewhere, academic psychology just goes around in circles, continually reinventing the wheel. The latest example is the following "discovery:

"Beauty may be more than skin deep after all. New research suggests that good-looking people do better in exams and thus probably in later life, than the plain or downright ugly. In the study, better-looking students achieved superior results in both oral and written exams -- the latter marked anonymously -- suggesting that success is not just down to teachers favouring attractive students but to superior natural ability.

"Physical appearance has a significant and economically meaningful effect on the performance of students," said the authors of the study, led by Giam Pietro Cipriani, associate professor of economics at the University of Verona in Italy.

The study -- presented to the annual conference of the European Society for Population Economics in Verona -- will reignite the debate on whether good-looking people get on in life through talent or beauty.

The authors of the study and the journalists commenting on it are scrambling for all sorts of explanations of the finding but are overlooking the one "nasty" explanation -- which happens to be the true one.

Back in the 1920s, Terman & Oden did a series of studies which they called "Genetic Studies of Genius". They took high IQ kids and tracked them for many years. What they found was that high IQ was only one aspect of a general syndrome of biological good functioning. The brain is only one part of the body and if the brain is functioning well, the rest of the body will usually be pretty good too. So high IQ kids tended to end up taller, have fewer health problems, have better social lives etc.

Cipriani has simply rediscovered that. There has long been a consensus that what we see as beautiful or attractive is a reflection of health, strength and fitness. So what Cipriani should have done is look at the IQ scores of his beautiful people. He would have found them to be somewhat brighter on average -- and that explains their greater academic success.



From Jerry Lerman, referring to this report

In retrospect it was probably a bad idea to have the cell phone ring tone set to shout "I am a terrorist" while waiting to board a plane at the airport. A 15-year-old Singaporean girl was apprehended by Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport security in China when her cell phone shouted out "I am a terrorist" when a call came in.

Because this happened in China where human rights and personal freedom is much more restricted and individual liberty is less respected and valued by the government than here in the United States, she was permitted to board the plane only after being forced to delete the ring tone and after receiving "a severe telling off" from security forces instead of being arrested for delivering a terrorist threat, ruined for life with a felony record, and forced to remain in an interrogation cell for weeks on end with all of her rights canceled because she did something dumb at the airport, especially with her being from another country.

And surprisingly they didn't even evacuate the airport, delay flights for hours or send in dozens of police squads and security forces to contain her. They are so under-reactive in China.



There is an interesting book out called Samson Blinded: A Machiavellian Perspective on the Middle East Conflict that Amazon refuses to list. Banning a book is of course a fairly reliable indication that the book contains unwelcome truths and so it is on this occasion. The basic point of the book is that Israel is going to have to get a lot tougher with the Arabs before they will give up their aggression. I am afraid the author (a senior Israeli politician writing under a pseudonym) is right.

Growing Revenues to Shrink Deficit: "The economy and federal revenues are growing at such a rapid rate that the deficit will shrink in the short term, President Bush's chief budget official says . . . . Rob Portman . . . said the president's economic policies have led to exceptional economic growth, which has in turn led to bulging federal receipts."

The GM struggle: "The timing could not have been more pointed. As Americans prepared to celebrate Independence Day, Kirk Kerkorian, a billionaire investor who owns nearly 10% of the world's largest carmaker, suggested that the best hope for General Motors was to join Renault and Nissan. A symbol of American commercial might needed rescuing by France and Japan... In particular, Mr Kerkorian and his sidekick Jerry York--veteran of turnarounds at Chrysler and IBM--wanted Mr Wagoner to endorse targets and a timetable for reversing GM's decline.... Mr York damned Mr Wagoner with faint praise and eulogised Carlos Ghosn, chief executive of Renault and Nissan, for saving Nissan with ambitious targets that he hit early. Mr Ghosn's secret is to form cross-functional teams, have them draw up detailed plans and then enforce them. He made it work at Michelin in Brazil and America, at Renault in France (where he was called "le cost killer"), and most famously at Nissan in Japan, where he was parachuted in after Renault took a stake in the ailing company in 1999. At the time, Bob Lutz, now GM's vice-chairman, likened the investment in Nissan to filling a container with $6 billion in gold bullion and sinking it in the Pacific. GM's losses have since far exceeded that sum, whereas Nissan has notched up the best profit margins in the industry."

Peter Huber explains economics to the educated ignoramuses who demonize "Big Pharma".

Rather amusing: There is now a Carnival of Wal-Mart up! Posts from both pro- and anti-Wal-Mart bloggers.



"All the worth which the human being possesses, all spiritual reality, he possesses only through the State." -- 19th century German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Hegel is the most influential philosopher of the Left -- inspiring Karl Marx, the American "Progressives" of the early 20th century and university socialists to this day.

The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialistisch)

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