Thursday, October 04, 2007


Thomas Sowell has another one of his admirably balanced articles here -- where he broaches the heavily forbidden topic of the heritability of IQ. He is not a psychometrician, however, so he misses a few things.

He points out the long-standing evidence that IQ is strongly hereditary but then goes on to question that evidence on the basis of research by James Flynn -- who has documented a large rise in IQ scores throughout the 20th century. Since genetics do not change over such a short time, one might conclude that the causes of IQ are therefore non-genetic and presumably environmental. He seems to miss the point that psychometricians have always said that the environment has SOME influence on IQ. He is right, however, in saying that environmental improvement is universally seen as what lies behind the "Flynn effect". Exactly what environmental factors lie behind the "Flynn effect" is a decades-old topic of research and discussion among psychometricians but it is a controversy largely unknown to the general public and Sowell has done us all a service in bringing it to the attention of a wider audience.

Sowell would seem to be of the view that the famed black/white difference in average IQ is called into question by the Flynn findings. It is therefore regrettable that he does not mention that the changes of the 20th century seem to have affected most groups equally. Blacks now score more highly than they once did but so do whites. The black/white gap, in other words, has NOT been narrowed by the general rise. That the gap remains the same DESPITE obviously favourable environmental circumstances would therefore seem to STRENGTHEN the evidence in favour of the black/white gap being wholly genetic.

The broadest explanation for the rise in IQ scores over the 20th century is that it reflects the advantages of modernity in general: The elimination of hunger in Western countries, improved perinatal care (particularly less damaging obstetric practices), improved medical care generally, greater access to mental stimulation via movies and TV etc. But the leading cause is thought to be greater test sophistication. The many more years that kids now spend in education makes them good at test-taking strategies generally (e.g. the wisdom of guessing when you don't actually know the answer).

All these influences are essentially one-off however. Once the major limits on maximum brain development are removed, no further improvement in IQ scores can be expected. And in some countries that does already seem to have happened. Test scores there have ceased to increase. Environmental influences do have SOME effect on IQ but once the environment is removed from the equation, the still-large remaining differences in scores between individuals can only be genetic. So Flynn's findings in fact STRENGTHEN the evidence in favour of genetics being the overwhelming influence on IQ.

And the twin studies showed that long ago, anyway. Twins usually have extremely similar environments but identical twins have almost exactly the same IQs whereas fraternal (genetically different) twins may or may not. I personally know of one set of fraternal twins where one flunked High School and the other got a University degree.



More Leftist dishonesty -- smearing Rush Limbaugh: "The latest attempt to crush Rush is by pretending that Rush called any soldier who questions the war a "phony soldier." The claim is baldly false. Peter Wehner over at National Review has a transcript of the call that is the root of this made-up controversy. In short, it is clearly that when Rush talked about phony soldiers, he was referring to actual phony soldiers: people who have made up military credentials in an attempt to add heft to their criticism. And there have been a lot of such phony soldiers during the course of this war and its criticism. Yet since that time Senators Kerry and Harkin and others have been smearing Rush with these false charges. It would be kind to assume that they simply haven't heard the show or seen a transcript, so don't know that the remarks were taken out of context. That would show an astonishing degree of irresponsibility, not to bother having staff actually check what someone said before taking to the Floor of the Senate to denounce him. But I think the truth is that they do know that what they are saying is absolutely untrue and simply don't care. [Kinda amusing that one of Limbaugh's Democrat accusers is himself a phony war hero -- as is another]

Attack on Limbaugh aimed at talk radio generally: "If you need any proof that the Democrats are going to try to rip the guts out of talk radio when they gain control of the White House, you need look no further than the current storm surrounding Rush Limbaugh. The instigator here is Media Myrmidons. They like to call themselves "Media Matters" but myrmidons fits so much better. Media Myrmidons is an ultra left-wing machine created by Hillary Clinton and her supporters and backers to carry forth the attack on conservative talk radio. Media Myrmidons started this attack on Limbaugh by writing that Rush called "service members who advocate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq 'phony soldiers.'" Media Myrdions is lying .. and they know they're lying. They also know that they can depend on the mainstream media in this country to not only ignore their distortion, but to actually work to support and spread it. This whole mess starts with a clown by the name of Jesse Macbeth. Macbeth became very popular with the media earlier this year when he started telling stories about all of the hideous crimes he saw our soldiers commit while he was serving in Afghanistan and Iraq as an Army ranger. Oh, how the leftist media sopped it up. The only problem was, Macbeth was lying. "Jesse Macbeth, 23, Tacoma, Washington, sentenced today in connection with his fraudulent claims of military service. Macbeth never traveled outside the U.S. with the Army"."

No consistency in Leftism again: "Ah Democrats. Too clever by half, again. In denouncing Rush Limbaugh, Reid had to admit that in Iraq: "Our troops are fighting and dying to bring to others the freedoms that many take for granted." This is the same Harry Reid who in April pronounced the war in Iraq was lost."



Palestinian Propaganda Coup finally coming apart: "Last month, a French court heard an appeals case whose forthcoming verdict will have far-reaching ramifications for all who value truth and accuracy in Middle East news reporting. The case involves Philippe Karsenty, a French journalist and media commentator, who was found guilty of defamation after he called for the firing of two France 2 Television journalists responsible for the Sept. 30, 2000, news report on the alleged killing of a 12-year-old Palestinian boy, Mohammed al-Dura, by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). It has been seven years since France 2 Television broadcast the excruciating footage of Mohammed and his father Jamal crouching in terror behind a barrel in Gaza's Netzarim Junction while, according to the report, under relentless fire from IDF soldiers. The 59-second clip, which ends with the boy apparently shot dead, was presented around the world as an unambiguous case of Israeli savagery. Shortly following the al-Dura incident, however, a series of inquiries cast grave doubt on the accuracy of the original France 2 report. And yet France 2 refused to release Abu Rahmeh's full 27 minutes of raw footage. It did, however, agree to let three prominent French journalists view the footage. All three concluded that it comprised blatantly staged scenes of Palestinians being shot by Israeli forces, and that France 2's Jerusalem Bureau Chief Charles Enderlin had lied to conceal that fact.

Cheap wine: I have just bought from my local liquor store a box containing 6 standard bottles of Australian Chardonnay wine -- for $18, a similar amount to what I often pay for a single bottle. I intend to open one of the bottles immediately after I post this. Should be interesting. Many cheap Australian wines are quite good and, even though I give away thousands of dollars to selected recipients, my Presbyterian upbringing always makes me interested in a bargain: "Waste not, want not", and all that. Update: It is a perfectly pleasant wine -- though with a bit of bitterness in the aftertaste. Great value for $3.00!


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"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here.

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) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party".


1 comment:

Gareth said...

Flynn's findings on IQ do not strengthen the argument that IQ is primarily hereditary. What they do is show that as a society gets more sophisticated and a larger portion of it's population is engaged in employment which requires critical thinking, IQ scores tend to increase.

This helps to explain in part why IQ scores in the developing world and even in poor neighborhoods in America are lower.