Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Jim Flynn gets one thing right

It always seemed obvious that the 20th century rise in measured IQ was due to a reduction in environmental barriers (such as minor brain damage due to poor obstetric procedures) to the realization of full genetic potential. The interesting and unresolved question has always been which were the main environmental barriers. That IQ has now largely stopped rising (in statistical terms: "approached an asymptote") confirms the defining role of genetics. Jim Flynn has all sorts of his usual Leftist waffle about what the implications of the asymptote are but appears not to have mentioned the genetic elephant in the bedroom. Excerpts below from "The Times":

It is a common refrain, repeated in response to every new television reality show and every bumper crop of school exam results: society is dumbing down. Scientists have long argued the opposite, pointing to the now widely accepted "Flynn effect", which shows that over the past century average IQ scores have improved across the developed world, irrespective of class or creed. Now the man who first observed this effect, the psychologist James Flynn, has made another observation: intelligence test scores have stopped rising.

Far from indicating that now we really are getting dumber, this may suggest that certain of our cognitive functions have reached - or nearly reached - the upper limits of what they will ever achieve, Professor Flynn believes. In other words, we can't get much better at the mental tasks we are good at, no matter how hard we try....

In a lecture in Cambridge yesterday, he said that the study of intelligence has for too long been asking the wrong question: "The questions are not `Are we getting smarter?' and `Are our children really smarter than we are?' If the rise in IQ scores meant that we were smarter, that would mean our grandparents were dull and our great grandparents idiots, which is clearly not the case. The question should be, `Have certain cognitive skills risen?' And the answer to that is yes."

What accounts for our rise in intelligence test scores, Professor Flynn believes, is social and environmental changes that have given us the opportunity to exercise the kinds of skills that IQ tests measure. We increasingly fill leisure time with cognitively demanding pastimes, such as puzzles and computer games. We have also developed a more scientific way of viewing the world. "In 1900 if you'd asked a child what do a dog and a rabbit have in common, they might have replied with a concrete answer like, `Dogs are used to hunt rabbits'. Today a child would be more likely to say, `They're both mammals'. We classify things scientifically."...

Professor Flynn believes there is no reason to believe IQ gains will go on for ever. He points out that although gains are still robust in America, they have stopped in Scandinavia. "Perhaps their societies are more advanced than ours and their trends will become our trends," he told his audience at the Cambridge Assessment Psychometrics Centre.

More here



There would be nothing as realistic as partitioning Iraq into three separate States for the three separate ethnic groups but partition of any State appears to be the great no-no of modern politics -- as the unfortunate Ibos of Nigeria found out some decades ago. Czechoslovakia shows that it can successfully be done, however.

Last Monday Bush was, at last, briefed on an actual plan for victory in Iraq, one that is likely to be implemented. Retired general Jack Keane, the former vice-chief of staff of the army, gave him a thumbnail sketch of it during a meeting of five outside experts at the White House. The President's reaction, according to a senior adviser, was very positive. Authored by Keane and military expert Frederick W. Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute, the plan (which can be read at aei.org/publication25292) is well thought out and detailed, but fundamentally quite simple.

It is based on the idea - all but indisputable at this point - that no political solution is possible in Iraq until security is established, starting in Baghdad. The reverse - a bid to forge reconciliation between majority Shia and minority Sunni - is a non-starter in a political environment drenched in the blood of sectarian killings.

Why would the Keane-Kagan plan succeed where earlier efforts failed? It envisions a temporary addition of 50,000 troops on the ground in Iraq. The initial mission would be to secure and hold the mixed Baghdad neighbourhoods of Shia and Sunni residents where most of the violence occurs. Earlier efforts had cleared many of those sections of the city without holding them. After which the mass killings resumed.

Once neighbourhoods are cleared, US and Iraqi troops in this plan would remain behind, living day to day among the population. Local government leaders would receive protection and rewards if they stepped in to provide basic services. Safe from retaliation by terrorists, residents would begin to co-operate with the Iraqi Government. The securing of Baghdad would be followed by a full-scale drive to pacify the Sunni-majority Anbar province.

The truth is that not all of Iraq needs to be addressed by an increased US presence. Most of southern Iraq and all of the Kurdish north are close to being free of sectarian violence. It's Baghdad that has become the centre of gravity for the insurgency, according to Keane. And it could be brought under control by the end of 2007.

The Keane-Kagan plan is not revolutionary. Rather, it is an application of a counterinsurgency approach that has proved to be effective elsewhere, notably in Vietnam. There, Creighton Abrams cleared out the Viet Cong so successfully that the South Vietnamese government took control of the country. Only when Congress cut off funds to South Vietnam in 1974 were the North Vietnamese able to win.

More here



Obama sagging: "The hottest potential contender for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, Barack Obama, has been drawn into his first scandal, coming under scrutiny for links to a shady businessman over the purchase of his $US1.65million ($2.1 million) family home in Chicago. After winning extraordinary adulation, the Illinois senator's honeymoon period is coming to an end. Senator Obama, a relative political novice, is being mocked for his middle name, Hussein - "like the dictator", as a member of his staff helpfully put it - and pilloried as Odumbo the elephant because of his jug ears. The public is beginning to learn that the charismatic senator took drugs, including cocaine, as a young man and that he still smokes cigarettes. And his left-wing voting record in the Senate is being picked over" [If he is typical of blacks, there will be plenty of lawbreaking to be found in his background].

Real Christians desert the Church of Homosexuality: "Two of the most prominent Episcopal parishes in Virginia voted overwhelmingly yesterday to leave the Episcopal Church and join fellow Anglican conservatives to form a rival denomination in the United States. Truro Church, in Fairfax, and The Falls Church, in the city of Falls Church, plan to place themselves under the leadership of the Anglican Archbishop Peter Akinola, of Nigeria, who has called the acceptance of gay relationships a "satanic attack" on the Church. Martyn Minns, Truro rector, was consecrated a bishop by the Church of Nigeria this year to lead Archbishop Akinola's Convocation of Anglicans in North America. "This has been our spiritual home, so separating is very hard," he said... Four other Virginia parishes have left, and eight more are voting or will vote soon on whether to follow."



"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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