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February 07, 2004
[ See extended entry below for the image, which is very wide ]
Krebs created a network map of political books based on purchase patterns from major web book retailers and found that there is an almost total divide between left and right in America. (Surprise!) The two sides of the canyon are connected by only the thinnest of tightropes - the books Sleeping with the Devil and Bush at War. The incestuous amplification of the two solitudes is troubling, not because of some imaginary need to march to the beat of a common drum (see Jonah Goldberg's essay) but because this is indicative of a lack of intellectual cross-fertilization. Minimizing one's exposure to intellectual and ideological challenges leads to armies of sheep and the need to align oneself to a broad spectrum of clustered beliefs in order to find a home in one of the camps.
I really enjoy reading the trevails of Godless when he ventures into some leftist blog (Crooked Timber and CalPundit) and challenges the sacred cows. I think that this is an intellectually vigorous process that should be encouraged. I don't see many leftists charging into the midst of the rightest blogs and doing the same. There is much dogma that is accepted as scripture, on both sides, rather than for the pablum it is.
The network map of blue books and red books is indicative of a trend away from engagement and a move towards idiotarianism on both sides. With debate, what emerges from the heated forge is usually something to which I will give due consideration. Unfortunately, if one buys into a pre-packaged worldview, all one need do is learn by rote, the slogans and dogmas, and then one is sufficiently prepared to shout past his ideological opponent without understanding the nuance of the issue.
Most troubling of all is that this network map is focused on bookreaders, who would seem largely predisposed to being opinion leaders and thus very influential. The very people who should be most open to cross-fertilization are running from battle and finding succor and refuge in the midst of intellectual isolation.
How often do any of us come across people who will concede to a winning argument? I dare say not frequently. Usually what happens is a strategic withdrawal of the outgunned party, to wit the Battle of Godless and Democritus at Tactitus.
Now, I don't think that the other side (pick your side) are all a bunch of misguided idiots. It's just that most frequently it is idiots, who know their dogmas by rote, that are the most vocal defenders of their faith. The people who aren't idiots, and who could think for themselves, choose not to, and that's very distressing for they are misguided through apathy and ideological ossification.
I'm wondering whether the Blue-Red schism is really more a manifestation of intellectual apathy on the part of the populace and less indicative of the ideological differences.
It's good to be HOT
I recently found this article on the negative impact of HDTV on some "hot" stars when their imperfections are displayed for the world to see (via Slate via Charles Murtaugh). That's interesting, because someone recently asserted on an e-list which I'm a member of that "top hollywood actresses are 3 standard deviations above the mean in attractiveness." I objected-and tend to agree with Steve Sailer that 2 stds is more realistic. I dug up this story about the top paid actresses in the movie industry-Julia Roberts, Cameron Diaz (whose acne marked face is commented on in the above link about HDTV), Drew Barrymore, Jodie Foster, Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Lopez were in the top 10. All good-looking, but 3 standard deviations above the norm???
Will the rise of HDTV and other super-crisp formats herald the ushering in of a new cabal of genetically endowed actors and actresses with perfect skin? Well, I'm not so sure-who exactly goes to watch Julia Roberts films after all? Look at this list, and note that where she is a lead, it is often a chick flick. My prediction? Crisper formats will put the hurt on B-grade actresses, who have only their looks to lean on (and on down the food chain, to titty-flicks and porn). The average female movie goer won't be too excited to go watch films with women who are as beautiful in real life as they are on screen-women for whom the "it's the make-up & retouching" excuses don't hold.
Homing Pigeon Navigation
Apparently, the pigeons weren't using magnetic navigation, but were navigating primarily via ground features. It is pretty clear from this map that they are following roads.
I have often wondered what would happen to birds under a re-alignment of the magnetic poles (this happens occasionally). Birds depending on their magnetic sense would be confused as a species, and would probably lose their magnetic sense to natural selection. This, of course, would lead one to suspect that magnetic navigation in birds isn't as sensitive as was previously thought, and that it is used primarily as a long range guide.
I suspect that birds with short range migration patterns probably do not have their magnetic sense as well developed as long range ones. Clearly, there are birds that migrate over large bodies of water, so the magnetic navigation theory cannot be excluded outright (there is a large body of data that supports this).
Mars Rover - Problems with Lowest Bidder
Here is a movie of what can go wrong.
February 06, 2004
Aempiricism, not arationalism
Jason Soon picks up on Steve Sailer's characterization of elements of the Right as "arational." I emailed Steve and suggested that "aempirical" might be a better term. It is important to frame what matters to individuals and political movements, because sometimes facts are not relevant and value judgements are paramount when making a decision. For instance, under the prodding of the Catholic conservatives National Review periodically seems to give some press to adult stem cells and their utility in research. Of course, the pro-lifers at National Review don't really care about the empirical reality of what they are reporting. They want to slant as far to the pro-adult stem cell side as they can, because they are pro-life as a matter of values. In contrast, I don't care if adult stem cells show promise. I would still favor work on fetal stem cell lineages until the superior utility of adult stem cells is established beyond a reasonable doubt, because I think fetuses are tissue rather than human beings. The empirical considerations are so much shadow boxing, as the principled opponents on either side of the "is-the-fetus-a-human" values judgement try to persuade the mushy-middle with empirical arguments. (The pro-choice side will tend to trumpet fetal stem cells more than empirical considerations might entail, of course).
On the related issue of Iraq, I think that there was a value judgement on the part of the neocons that coalesced with whatever instinctive decision GW Bush came to - and that the empirical arguments made were so much smoke. Some liberal hawks like Christopher Hitchens have been frank that as a matter of principle they would have preferred that the Iraqi people be rid of Saddam...and the lack of WMDs isn't that much of a concern as that wasn't the reason that they favored invasion in any case.
There are always some foundational issues that aren't going to be amenable to empirical refutation for any given individual. The problem arises when a given person is not wholly candid about the weighting of empirical and foundational/value considerations. It seems then that the invasion of Iraq was a good idea because it was moral, rather than being made retrospectively moral because it was a good idea. In contrast, the first Gulf War was made moral because it was a good idea (at least in the judgement of Bush I).
Interesting BBC special on the community of Tiger Bay in Wales. It's an old seaport where seamen from all over the world settled down and married local Welsh women, resulting in a highly diverse community.
Irshad Manji gives a long interview where he elaborates her views. My friend Aziz Poonwalla might be interested to know that she says good things about the liberalism of the Ismaili (Aziz's confession), and notes sadly that she is sometimes accused of being one herself so as to to explain her heterodoxy (some readers know that the founder of Pakistan had an Ismaili background).
Into a Minefield
Tyler Cowan, over at the Volokh Conspiracy, looks at the issue of immigration. One of the categories he proposes would use IQ and English language proficiency as the criteria for admission to the US. I haven't read Mr. Cowan's body of commentary in enough detail to know whether he realizes the potential for controversy inherent in his proposal.
Is it the IQ requirement, or the English proficiency, that would most set off the critics?
The English proficiency requirement would seem to support the goal of assimilation as espoused by Francis Fukuyama in this recent column.
What principles? These principles!
There are reasons that conservatives like Joseph Farah are turning against Bush. The Washington Times reports that Republican lawmakers are enraged at Bush over spending & immigration. Bush responded:
Look, I know Bush is a politician. He's not going to satisfy everyone. He'll withdraw from the national ATM more than the libertarians want him to. He'll allow more babies/fetuses to be sliced & vacuumed than the pro-lifers would like. He'll do less world conquering than the neocons want him to. He'll stand up for the rights of the "root stock" (*wink*) far less than the paleocons want. That's politics-dirty rotten compromise. But above, Bush is telling you where he'll make a principled, anti-political stand. It's all rather bizarre to me-and I don't have any pigeon-hole to place GW in at this point. The citizens of Mexico are decent human beings who deserve a decent government and responsive politicians. I would just rather not have GW Bush step in and play that role for them.
February 05, 2004
Scientists can study Kennewick man! A Dateline NBC special a few years back asked a Native American activist why they opposed studying the remains, and his response was along the lines of, "all we need are the stories of our old people." I can understand it when people assert that what we can see here and now is not self-sufficient, that at the center of things is something that goes beyond the merely human, that we live by what is transcendent on a personal or sociological level, but I'm all for the march of science where reductionism is surely to be fruitful. How could you not want to know? How? Let me be frank and note that for far too long non-Western cultures have been satisfied by the "stories of their old people." No longer. Knowledge is our birthright in the modern age, and the bones of old sacralities must be brushed aside.
Being anti-Islamist is not being racist!
This conflation of Islam = non-white is ridiculous, Islam is a confession, a belief system, non-Muslim societies are under no obligation to honor the Muslim tradition that one is Muslim if one's father is Muslim (just as non-Jewish societies do not give much heed to the custom of matrilineal descent among Jews). Rhys-Davies fears cultural destruction and extinction. If the words of men like Rhys-Davis are only espoused by ethnic nationalists in the Western world-than I might as well pick up move to be with "my own kind," because the promise of a universal liberal order where equality before the law is a dead letter that no one will fight for it when they come for the apostates:
Fuck your opinion, I know what the average "Joe Ali" thinks about apostasy, and what they would do if sensitive white liberals stood by and allowed cultural "traditions" to supersede equality before the law. Berlusconi was right damnit! And the Muslims know it, why else would they be killing themselves to cross into Europe!
Look at this picture of Rhys-Davies, an archetypical dark Welshman, I imagine a little Photoshop with his clothes could turn him into an "Arab." If he converted to the Muslim faith would he then be a racial minority???
The World Christian Database is an interactive site that allows you scan info on countries, religions and peoples around the world. Its raison d'être is to help missionaries evangelize those in heathen darkness, but, in the process it offers us a lot of free data that we can sort and filter however we want. For instance, I used it to figure out that of the East African countries where Gujarati merchant clans dominate commerce, those in Uganda are most likely to be Hindu, while those in Madagascar are Muslim. Sometimes you get strange results, for instance, Russia is #11 in a list of nations sorted by absolute numbers of Hindus. It's ahead of Britain, Fiji or Mauritius, nations with large South Asian communities. It seems that the Russian results are fueled by conversions by aggressive Hindu sects like the Hare Krishna-so much so that Hinduism has surpassed Buddhism, though the latter is one of Russia's "traditional" religions (being the religion of the Mongolian peoples from the time of the Czars).
In any case, praise the Lord and pass the data!
Some of the data should be taken with a grain of salt, as it's obviously provided by missionaries in the field who make their own personal judgements. Nevertheless, a great resource if you know how to use it well.
On a similar note, check out The Unreached Peoples Profiles, lots of detailed ethnographic information on peoples who are about to recieve Christ and so of course will blot out 10,000 years of distinctive heathen darkness after baptism into the faith of the Great White God. But at least the missionaries are recording their pagan practices for posterity. Here you can find that in Vietnam, the Cham ethnic group, which is split between Islam and Hinduism, differs sharply in their attitude toward Christianity. The latter (the Hindus) have a large Christian convert community, while the Muslims are resistant and allow no converts. If Muslims & Christians worship the same god, why is that the children of Abraham have such a hard time converting each other, and must look to idolaters?
Brown flight & the British magnet
Attached is a copy of an article from The Economist that documents the flight of Asian Britons from Southall. I have also attached another piece that documents the impact of freedom of movement through the EU on England.
Update: A friend forwarded me this from a friend:
NO BRITISH neighbourhood is so intensely sub-continental as Southall. On South Road, sari shops and paan salesmen nestle next to the Himalaya Palace cinema, which purveys the latest Bollywood blockbusters. While Punjabi Sikhs and Muslims predominate, though, the streets are less homogeneous than they used to be. New faces, many of unfamiliar hues, have arrived in the area. And that does not please the established residents.
“The neighbourhood is getting worse,” according to Ashraf Jussab, a Malawi-born Asian Muslim who works at a local nursery. “When I came here, in 1973, it was safe and enjoyable. Now it has become a dumping ground for asylum-seekers. War criminals, murderers—they are all coming to Southall.”
The immigrants causing Mr Jussab and others so much distress are a mixed group of Afghans, Somalis, Kosovans and east Europeans. Like the Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis who came to London three decades ago, many are refugees; also like the Asians, their arrival has been controversial. But while the outcry over asylum-seekers has been loudest in middle England, it is Asian neighbourhoods like Southall that are actually seeing many of the new immigrants. Among local youths, tensions are rising: one local pastor describes the mood as “dynamite”.
For those who can afford it, and do not wish to fight, flight appears the most appealing option. Southall's Punjabis are heading to Hayes, on the western fringe of London, and to towns in the Thames valley. In Wembley, estate agents report an accelerating drift of middle-class Indians to more distant leafy suburbs like Harrow, Stanmore and Bushey.
The Asian exodus closely follows a trail blazed years ago by London's Jews. This is partly deliberate. Wembley's Gujuratis, in particular, are keen to emulate a group that they perceive as ambitious, educated and family-minded. And the Jews also have the virtue of tolerance. Were Asians to head in other directions, they would run into the people who left London specifically in order to get away from them. For that reason, much of Essex is out; so is Broxbourne, a Hertfordshire settlement just north of the capital that voted overwhelmingly for the British National Party in a 2002 local election.
This shuffling of ethnic groups has produced some new patterns. Harrow, which now contains at least 40,000 Hindus (more than any other borough in the country), is also the second most Jewish area in London. In Redbridge, 28,000 Muslims live alongside Jews, Hindus and Sikhs—each community more than 10,000 strong.
One route remains unexplored, however. Despite the fond imaginings of the BBC, which has placed an Asian family in “The Archers”, a carrot-crunching radio drama, few have explored village life. Earlier experience suggests that such a move would be hazardous to communal identity. Barry Kosmin, who heads the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, says that those Jews who brave the countryside mostly abandon traditional observances.
Indeed, even Asians driven out by the new wave of asylum-seekers have found that it pays to keep in touch with the old neighbourhood. In Southall, absentee landlords have begun to rent space to Afghan trinket dealers and gangs of Kosovan car washers. In Wembley, departing Asians are not so much selling up as remortgaging, subdividing and letting. Repeating another old pattern, yesterday's strivers have become today's slumlords.
Those roamin' Roma
AN UNSTOPPABLE tide of British journalists is flooding into eastern Slovakia, swamping law-abiding local residents with demands for free interviews. The reason for the hacks' sudden interest in the obscurer bits of central Europe is that Britain has just woken up to one of the consequences of the enlargement of the European Union on May 1st—the free movement of people and labour, including the wretchedly poor Roma minorities of new member-states like Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
Have freedom of movement, will travel
The reaction to the idea that Roma might choose to exercise their right to move to Britain has been—to put it mildly—uncharitable. The Daily Express proclaimed on January 20th—“The Roma gypsies of Eastern Europe are heading to Britain to leech on us. We do not want them here.” Reports like this prompted Denis MacShane, Britain's Europe minister, to speak out in Parliament against “rancid hate campaigns” in the British press, which he likened to the demonisation of Jewish immigrants in the 1930s. But Tony Blair is clearly feeling the pressure. On February 4th, he suggested that Britain might re-examine its “concessions” to would-be workers from the new EU members and will tighten up the welfare system to prevent possible abuse.
But while the language used by some newspapers is repellent, they may have identified a real issue. Incomes are low and unemployment rates high across much of central Europe. But conditions are much worse still for the Roma minorities, who number about 1.5m in the countries joining the EU this year, and another 3m or so in Romania and Bulgaria, which are on schedule to join in 2007. In Hungary the poverty rate is about five times greater among Roma than among non-Roma, the World Bank reported last year.
The poorest of Slovakia's 500,000 or so Roma live in clusters of wooden shacks without mains water or sewerage, on refuse-strewn wasteland, often segregated from “white Slovak” housing. Families pack into freezing huts. Roma were usually the first to lose their jobs when communism collapsed. Whole villages have been living for years on meagre child-benefit payments, charity and foraging. With no jobs to be had, parents have lost sight of the link between education and employment, so many Roma children are growing up unschooled.
Slovakia's “Roma parliament”, a community body, said last month that the favoured destinations for Roma emigrants this year would be Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and the Czech Republic. Many may be too poor to make the trip to Britain. But for those who can scrape £60 ($110) together, there is a flight from Bratislava to London.
The British government is under particular pressure because it is throwing the labour market open immediately to workers from the new member-states. The south-east of England is already awash with Polish builders and nannies. More may come in May when the remaining restrictions lapse—and a good thing too. But would those who fail to find work be eligible for welfare benefits?
That is not clear. A senior diplomat in one of the accession countries says that he has appealed to London several times for guidance, but that the answers he has received have been incomprehensible and contradictory. One thing is clear, however: EU countries cannot introduce laws that discriminate against other EU citizens on grounds of nationality, so the benefit rules that apply to Britons must apply to immigrants from the rest of the EU.
Other EU countries clearly fear that their welfare systems might be open to abuse. Last week, Goran Persson, the Swedish prime minister, said that workers from the new member-states would, “once inside our country, have access to the entire social security safety net. I expect enormous problems unless we protect ourselves.” The Swedes—and almost all other EU countries except Britain and Ireland—will require workers from eastern Europe to get work permits for the first few years.
Britain is—so far—resisting taking similar measures. British officials point out that insisting on permits for those who want to work will do nothing to roll back one of the fundamental freedoms of the EU—the freedom to move from one country to another. Even without the right to work, central European immigrants could apply for the bottom level of the British social safety net—means-tested payments such as income support and housing benefit.
To qualify for those, applicants must meet a test of “habitual residence” in Britain. This used to be defined as six months' unbroken residence, but the conditions were softened after complaints from Britons who had spent time abroad. Government officials are talking of reintroducing a well-defined “habitual residence” test.
Would such a measure—combined with the fact that the most generous benefits are restricted to people with a record of employment—solve the problem? Not necessarily. Central Europe's poor may still come, on the grounds that poverty in Britain is unlikely to be worse than destitution is Slovakia; and, as one British minister puts it, “If people are lying around on the streets, we won't leave them to die.” The burden of providing emergency housing and food would fall on local social-services departments. This kind of help is normally regarded as strictly temporary, until a more permanent solution can be found. What that solution might be in the case of Roma immigrants is unclear.
I've added a small new feature to the comment boards, above where you post new comments you will be able to add relevant links with a short description. The links will be listed right above the text boxes where you added them.
February 04, 2004
Religious Koreans aren't stupid!
My Christmas Eve post which plotted religion vs. national IQ kind of developed a life of its own. But within broader patterns there are details that are missed. For instance, this article documents the rise in religious affiliation in South Korea in the post-war period, and the correlation of Christian affiliation with higher socioeconomic status and educational attainment. A 1997 Gallup Poll in South Korea showed that:
It would follow that if religious belief has a positive correlation with education & income, it is likely IQ also does if it covaries with education & income, at least in South Korea. Also, it might interest readers to note that Roman Catholicism in particular is an upper to upper middle class religion in the Korean context (and tends to be associated with "progressive" political views), while Protestantism tends to correlate more with a modest middle class status.
I point this out because South Korea is one of those countries with individuals of high IQ and low religious sentiment (though Americans have a stereotype of South Koreans as very religious Christians because of Korean Americans, only 1 out of 4 are Protestant or Roman Catholic).
fn1. Though one might wonder how many "non-religious" Koreans accept fortune telling and astrology, beliefs that were not included in the survey, and so might mask the tendency toward irrationalism in people who are without religious affiliation.
fn2. Within the "Christian" affiliation there is obviously a range of beliefs, and it is sociologically documented that high status individuals with weak religious motivations often attend establishment religious services as a signal of their high standing in the community. It could be possible that within the Christian population of Korea the most well educated tend to have the least conservative religious views (this is often found cross-culturally). Also, please note that the same Gallup Poll found Christian South Koreans were more socially progressive on issues such as family and the rights of women than Buddhists or non-religious South Koreans.
A New Cognitive Elite?
In a couple of posts (here and here) I looked at some recent studies on social mobility. The general drift of the evidence was that social mobility in western countries had always been quite high (at least since 1900), and there was no obvious trend for mobility to increase - if anything, it might recently have declined.
A number of comments on my posts suggested that societies are becoming increasingly stratified with respect to intelligence. People with high IQ are becoming more concentrated in the upper social strata, while people with low IQ sink into a cognitive underclass. On this view, social mobility would be expected to decline, and eventually come to a stop, because all the high IQ people will be in the high-IQ occupations.
These suggestions puzzled me a bit, as they didn’t seem to tie up with the evidence I was aware of. So I decided to look into the question more closely......
At first sight it may seem obvious that if people with high IQ move up the social scale, then high intelligence will become increasingly concentrated in the higher socio-economic classes. If you shake up a bottle of milk, and then leave it to stand, the cream will rise. The process is cumulative in its effects. Eventually most of the cream will be concentrated at the top of the bottle and ‘cream mobility’ will stop.
Social mobility does not work this simply. Social class is not perfectly correlated with IQ. Many factors other than IQ influence occupational outcomes, and the correlation between IQ and socio-economic status (on a 5-class scale) is only about .5 or .6. Even these moderately high correlations leave great diversity of IQ in each social class. If diversity is measured by the standard deviation of IQ around the regression line, then a correlation of .5 only reduces diversity by about 15% of its level in the whole population. The correlation would have to be over .85 to reduce diversity by as much as half. There may be less ‘scatter’ of IQ in particular occupations than in a broad social class, but even scientists (presumably among the most intelllectually demanding of all occupations) have a wide spread of IQs (see e.g. the classic study by Anne Roe).
The inheritance of IQ is also imperfect. The correlation for IQ between parent and child is only about .5, which is about what would be expected if IQ differences within a population are mainly genetic. (Assortative mating would tend to increase it, but dominance and epistasis would tend to reduce it, compared to a simple additive model.) Parents frequently produce offspring much brighter or dimmer than themselves.
These factors tend to offset the ‘sorting’ effect of social mobility. Returning to the milk bottle analogy, we should imagine the bottle being gently shaken all the time. At some point we would expect the amount of cream falling as a result of shaking to balance out the amount rising through buoyancy. This is, roughly speaking, Cyril Burt’s theory of social mobility, and it seems consistent with most of the evidence.
However, it has been argued that the intensity of ‘IQ sorting’ has increased over the last 50 years. In Herrnstein and Murray’s terms, this leads to creation of a cognitive elite. It’s a long time since I read The Bell Curve, so I thought I would dust it off and see what H & M have to say. They argue that modern societies are increasingly efficient at identifying the brightest young people and guiding them into narrow educational and occupational channels (p. 25). More young people are getting higher education, but entry to HE has been based more on cognitive ability, as measured by SATs and similar tests (30-35). Colleges themselves have become more preoccupied with cognitive ability, leading to increased differentiation between different colleges (40). A higher proportion of high-ability youths are going to college, and the link between ability and higher education has become tighter (34-35). After college, a higher proportion of the high-ability group go into occupations (the professions) requiring high IQ for success (56). Whereas previously high-IQ people were quite widely scattered through a variety of occupations, a higher proportion are now concentrated in the high-IQ occupations (61). High-IQ people are also more likely to live in the same localities (103-4), and to marry each other (111), though H & M admit they have no direct evidence for an increase in assortative mating with respect to IQ.
This is all quite interesting and plausible, but so far as IQ is concerned it is inconclusive. It is possible that as the proportion of people obtaining higher education increases (due to economic growth) the link between intelligence and occupation is increasingly mediated through educational qualifications, without the link itself becoming notably stronger. The acid test is whether the correlation between IQ and occupation has actually increased.
For example, L. E. Tyler, The Psychology of Human Differences, 3rd edn, 1965, p. 336, gives army test data from World War 1 which show occupational classes already well-differentiated by IQ, contrary to the impression given by The Bell Curve (e.g. p. 61: ‘In midcentury, America was still a society in which a large proportion of the top tenth of IQ, probably a majority, was scattered throughout the population...’). N. J. Mackintosh, IQ and Human Intelligence, 1998, p. 114, quotes data in which the difference in mean IQ between the highest and the lowest social classes was very similar in studies spanning 60 years. This conflicts with H & M’s hypothesis, since ‘ceiling’ and ‘floor’ effects, combined with a wider spread of IQs in each class, would affect the mean IQ of the highest and lowest classes.
Explicit correlation data also seem to have been broadly unchanged over the period in which IQ has been studied (roughly from 1920 onwards). The correlation between IQ and occupation can be measured directly, by the correlation of between the IQ of individuals and their own occupational status as adults, or less directly, by the correlation of children’s IQ with the occupation of their fathers. (The latter correlation is naturally somewhat lower than the former). Studies carried out over a very long period seem to produce consistent figures, namely about .5 for the direct correlation, and about .35 for the indirect. For example:
1. P. E Vernon, Intelligence and Attainment Tests, 1960, p. 143, ‘The correlation of father’s occupational level with child’s IQ is consistently found to be about .35’.
Nor could I find any direct evidence that assortative mating for IQ is becoming stronger. However, one well-known implication of stronger assortative mating is that the variance of children’s IQ in the population as a whole would increase. I don’t think psychometricians have noticed such a trend, and in fact Teasdale and Owen’s Danish studies suggest that the variance may have fallen, though this is probably due to greater educational equality rather than any changes in assortative mating.
I conclude provisionally that the hypothesis that societies are becoming increasingly stratified with respect to intelligence is not supported, and is prima facie refuted, by direct evidence. As so often happens: nice theory, shame about the facts.
Call for help
My office mate's sixth grader brought home the following math homework:
Marbles come in 10 colors. There are always seven marbles in a bag, always of seven different colors.
I logically arrived at 91 marbles clinching it, so 13 bags. 1. Is that correct? 2. In any event, I have no idea how to produce a general equation governing this situation. What is it?
Any assistance is appreciated. I apologize in advance if I have overlooked something glaringly obvious.
The Religion Instinct
The Secular Web has an essay up this month titled Narrative in the Rise of Religion-but it could be retitled "The Religion Instinct." The author uses the Chomskyian & non-Chomskyian models of language and their interrelationship with biology to elucidate the possible mental modules that form religious belief and practice. An analogy with verbal skills is interesting because in human beings the ability to use language is a default phenotype, but, there is still a normal distribution of aptitude underneath this. Religion is generally considered a "human universal," but, but most would admit that there is a spectrum of "zeal." Additionally, while women are characterized as having greater verbal fluency, they are also often considered somewhat more religious cross-culturally.
February 03, 2004
The NBA lists its international players. So I decided to look at the data. I limited it to the European players, and here is what I found....
(using Russia as a baseline of 1, I've put in bold the over-representation of small countries in the NBA-if someone wants to do a proportional projection based on European population, go ahead, but I don't have time to do that-I just wanted a relative metric that shows the relationship between the small countries)
Serbia 9 (123)
France did pretty well huh? Well, click the photos and you'll see that none of the French guys really pass the muster as "root" stock-they're noveau French, so to speak. Same with the Netherlands and England. The Scottish and Icelandic guys do look like what we imagine Scottish and Icelandic people should look like.
All I can conclude from this is that Northwest Europeans can't jump. Sort of...you watch Peja and Vlade play, and they don't have hops either, but they do have some mighty skills. Northwest Europeans can't shoot? Well, Larry Bird...you get my point.
But look at the eastern European data, and you'll see that the former Yugoslavs are the Kalenjin of European basketball. But what about little Georgia and Lithuania? They have 2 players and 3 players each, while Russia only has 1. Greece and Turkey also make contributions, as do a few Slavic nations. Keep in mind the population numbers for some of these countries. Georgia 5 million. Lithuania 3.5 million. Germany 80 million. England, 60 million. France, 60 million. Italy, 55 million.
What explains this? The people of the Dinaric region are pretty tall, but so are Scandinavians. Perhaps it's because the weather is so bad up north that you can never play rat-ball?
Intel Science Talent Search
The 40 finalists for the Intel Science Talent Search have been selected, note how many New Yorkers there are!
Addendum: Just realized that the observation about "New Yorkers" might be taken as a reference to Jews. Actually, it was simply because California is so much more populous, but New York seems to have walloped it in geek-yield (using this metric). Also, Texas (more populous) is hardly present. This is obviously attributable to the Ashkenazi Jewish presence, but that wasn't the main thrust of my comment. Just wanted to clarify. I've added a map showing the states represented and the numbers from each state below.
Below is an alphabetic listing of their surnames....
Fewer infections than thought?
Abiola has a post up summarizing a journalist's claims that the AIDS epidemic in Africa is being overblown. I find this plausible-it seems more and more people are coming to this conclusion.
Where are the perverts @ NRO?
I guess since Goldberg took a back seat over @ NRO it makes sense that KJ Lopez would miss an obvious mistake that any male internet user could catch. This article argues that evolutionary psychology indicates that men would not be attracted to 38 year old Ms. Jackson, in contrast Britney Spears, who the writer thinks has "big blue eyes," is an object of our youth-fixation. Those eyes are brown. I would think I'm being petty, but the article is very snooty and how-stupid-could-you-be in its tone. I guess the author (female) was paying attention to other things besides eyes on Ms. Spears....
Evolutionary Quantitative Genetics
Googling "correlated response," I found this short but dense page of lecture notes on "Evolutionary Quantitative Genetics" from UBC. Worth a look.
February 02, 2004
A bit o' humor
I came across this Zoloft parody today, and found it rather whimsical. A long time ago, I had not thought SSRIs were a laughing matter. Then I did an internship at an inpatient unit, and received a Paxil baloon, and my whole outlook changed. Plus, with the industry's odd commercials, one cannot help but get a chuckle.
Why do Russians get drunk?
This story about Russians carrying a gene that doesn't metabolize alcohol in the same way as other Europeans because of the prevelance of a Mongolian allele among them has been making the rounds (via Dienekes). My first reaction is that this might be bogus (like the "Blondes will die off" research), but the institute mentioned seems to exist. The data set seems really small, 12 students.
A few points:
1) Most members of the Golden Horde that ruled Mongolia were "Turkic" rather than "Mongolian." The terms are kind of confusing in the first place, but I figure this should be made clear when speaking of a "Mongol" gene.
Anyway, I'm still not convinced that this might not be a joke.
Broken record-who won the culture wars?
I assume most readers saw the Janet Jackson nipple slip. Justin Timberlake, late lover of quasi-virgin Britney Spears, who used to throw out "What would Jesus Do" bracelets at concerts with his bandmates back in the late 90s, thrust and strutted across the stage, and revealed Ms. Jackson's breast to one of the largest viewerships (the largest?) of the year! So who won the culture wars Mr. Anderson?
I'm harping on this because there seems to be a tendency toward false consciousness on the part of some sunny "conservatives." They lose battle after battle and declare victory in the war by ceding 90% of the territory. These are the very kind of sunny conservatives who are most often the boosters of the Iraq War, and the there-are-WMDs-if-you-look-hard-enough, school (just have faith brother!). They are also the types that are most prominent in (rightly) lambasting the bizarro theories about Israel, the West and "the Jews" that come out of the Arab world. No matter what happens, no matter how many young Arab men blow themselves up, it is the fault of the Jews, the Arabs are blameless, it was Mossad robots designed to look like Arabs.
I suspect that as a function of time "nipple slips" have been sharply increasing in our culture. This is caused by the scant dress and the tendency to thrust and gyrate in public. Never mind, conservatives have won the culture war! Better a nipple or a butt cleft than a priapus or pudenda, at least until the next loss in battle that leads to the victory in war.
Dogs & evolution
Sierra Club & immigration
The inevitable controversy over the Sierra Club's move toward U.S. population stabilization has erupted.
How do you define what is "Islamic," and other questions
I mentioned earlier that simply asserting that system of belief A has n plural views is not precise enough, in that n views might not be equally represented among those who espouse system of belief A (in this case, I am speaking about Islam, but this problem is common). Scott in the comments for the above post notes that "Muslim refusenik" Irshad Manji does not believe that the Koran is the literal word of God. Is she a Muslim? She calls herself one, and I am not going to contradict her. But should we behave as if Islam does not imply a belief that the Koran is not the literal word of God? I believe that as a first aproximation that such a characterization, that "Muslims" believe the Koran is the literal word of God, might be justified.
For most readers this is obviously a somewhat esoteric discussion. So let me move to a more familiar terrain for readers, Christianity.
How about the following statement:
There is a problem with this though. Three major "Christian" groups reject this Trinitarianism.
Many "mainstream" Christians would simply assert that these groups are not Christian, and a rejection of the Athanasian Creed is a major part of this. But, it is a fact that the Athanasian Creed was not fixed as mainstream Christian doctrine until three centuries after Christ. The Arian confession among the Gothic peoples preserved an explicit non-Athanasian Christianity until the 7th century. Over the centuries, many Christian intellectuals, such as Isaac Newton, came to reject the Trinity. Religious pluralism in the wake of the Reformation and the sundering of the Western Church quickly resulted in the rise of Unitarianism.
I believe the above shows that belief in the Trinity is not always synonymous with profession of Christianity. But, Muslims will sometimes behave as if belief in Trinity is one of the major achilles heels of Christianity, that it is shirk (multiplying the nature of God). Are Muslims justified in this?
I think they are. At the present time the vast majority of Christians are Trinitarians, likely over 95%. Over the 2,000 year history of Christianity, the vast majority of that period has seen the dominance of Trinitarianism as a central concept of Christianity. I do believe there is nothing foundational that implies that Christianity must be Trinitarian, but in practice it has been. Operationally, I think anti-Christian apologists, Muslim, Jewish, etc. can make a first aproximation, and speak as if Christians were Trinitarians by definition.
Now we move back to Islam and Scott's original question: can one be a Muslim that does not believe that the Koran is the literal word of God? Strictly speaking, of course, if someone professes the shahada (the statement of faith that there is no God but God and Muhammed is his prophet). So where does Scott's query come from?
In the 9th century there was a dispute in the Muslim world. The details are confusing, but eventually, the position that Koran is the Uncreated word of God, transmitted to Muhammed from God through the intermediation of the angel Gabriel, became a "central dogma" of Islamic theology. There are major dissenters, especially the Shia tradition, which because of its anti-establishment tendencies and separation from the temporal powers, allowed room for greater pluralism on this issue. But among the mainstream Sunni tradition, the consensus that the Koran is the word of God was the overwhelmingly dominant position from 900 CE onward. Before this time, the consensus was not established, and for a brief period liturgical "liberals" (though politically despotic) who argued for a created Koran that was not necessarily the literal word of God were ascendant.
This position about the Koran is one reason that many Muslims give for why prayers are uttered in archaic Arabic, a translation of the words of God Himself is simply not possible, and translations of the Koran into vernacular tongues are spiritually not equivalent to the Arabic original.
Historians like Bernard Lewis and intellectuals and thinkers hostile to Islam will often use this position to argue for why literalism is prebuilt into the Muslim religion, why it is by its very nature averse to change and susceptible to fundamentalism. There is of course a problem with this in that a non-trivial minority of Muslims have always dissented, primarily within the Shia tradition, and this theological position has been "orthodox" only since the 10th century.
There is an order of magnitude difference between Islam's position on the Uncreated Koran that is the literal word of God and Christian Trinitarianism. The Trinitarian position has a longer history of near complete dominance, and even today holds under its way a greater percentage of Christians than the Uncreated Koran and the literal word of God among Muslims. So can one assert that Muslims are by definition fundamentalists?
Well, that depends, and personal judgement on where to draw the line is obviously crucial. If you assume that the 10% of Muslims who are Shia are not literalists (this is only partly true I suspect), you are left with the 90% who are Sunni. Some of these, such as the abangan Muslims of Indonesia are not very orthodox, but these groups do not contribute much to the international discourse in Islam, their faith being locally rooted, rather than a transnational ideology. Sufi groups are somewhat difficult to characterize, but are often inward looking if their thinking deviates much from conventional norms. How many among the Sunni are articulate defenders of a Created or non-literal Koran? My personal experience is very few. I was taught the Uncreated Koran theology as a child, and my mosque was certainly not a "fundamentalist" (fundamentalist as in wild-eyed fanatic) hub. Aside from its historical dominance, it has a certain simplicity in its appeal, the power of the words of God Himself uttered during prayer must be part of the attraction.
I suppose the question must go to how many Irshad Manji's of the world there are. In the West, among the acculturated and assimilated, they are a non-trival presence. But unlike Manji, most of these Muslims are not participants in the Islamic subculture as active voices for theological change and a diversification of the status quo monopoly of the Uncreated Koran. In the Dar-al-Islam, theological liberals, defined as those who accept that portions of the Koran must be interpreted figuratively are probably a trivial minority (see the case of Abu Zeid, and Egyptian professor that was declared an apostate for somewhat liberal interpretations of the Koran).
At this point, I think non-Muslims engaging in dialogue with Muslims must simply admit that the vast majority of Muslims are adherents of a literalist position. Obviously this is not foundational in Islam, but it is the reality on the ground and how Islam is experienced and expressed at this moment in time. The Shia alternative is something that non-Muslims should keep in mind, for even though operationally most Islamic discourse is literalist, the fact that a minority are amenable to interpretation and "modernizing" can not be forgotten. Many more universal generations have been falsified by the march of time, but that is not to declare that the future is present now.
Through the Looking Glass
Godless posed the question of whether people are rational voters in this post.
I'd like to draw your attention to the fact that voter's ideology, in addition to their rationality, seems to be confused.
This post in the NY Times reports on the Tax Foundation's Special Report on Tax Burdens and Expenditures By State. Here is the news release.
The highlights as explained in the NY TImes are that:
The Democrats' electability predicament comes into focus when you compare the map of Giver and Taker states with the well-worn electoral map of red (Republican) and blue (Democrat) states. You might expect that in the 2000 presidential election, Republicans, the party of low taxes and limited government, would have carried the Giver states — while Democrats, the party of wild spending and wooly bureaucracy, would have appealed to the Taker states. But it was the reverse. George W. Bush was the candidate of the Taker states. Al Gore was the candidate of the Giver states.
If the ideology of each party is what sells, yet the reality on the ground is diametrically opposite of the ideology, then on what basis do people make their decisions? Are fiscal concerns the least important of political identifiers?
What does it really mean to be a Republican or a Democrat today?
February 01, 2004
More than bare shelves
Another scary article on what it's like to be a non-white in Russia. Of course, with the social chaos that is gripping much of the country, it's probably somewhat scary to be a human being there, no matter the color. I would like to add that a friend of mine who visits Israel frequently (he has dual citizenship) says that the "Russians" (this being mostly Russian Jews) have reputation for being racist there as well.
This is not to smear Russians as a whole, my parents encounter recent Russian immigrants every day in the Seattle area, and they are good decent folk. But, this is perhaps a testament to the havoc that Communism can wreak on a culture. We know that Communism was a failure economically, but perhaps more attention needs to be focused on what it does to cultural traditions, slicing away thousands of years of continuity, leaving an amoral vacuum that allows society to regress torwards its most atavistic and atomistic manifestations. I believe in a fashion that the same process has destroyed Chinese culture. The traditions of Confucianism, for all their problems, no longer exist in a robust nuanced fashion to buffer the nation against the more militaristic jingoistic tendencies at the aggregate level, and the single-minded focus on glitzy material acqusition on the individual scale.
fn1. I don't think consumerism is bad, but when it becomes the end, I think something is wrong. I would also like to note that traditional Confucian scholars were against the rise of racialism in China in the early 20th century, rather, it was "progressive" leaders and intellectuals who pushed forward the conflation of is and ought.
A Pox on Your House
As the nation is diverging into two distinct political camps with less room for a moderate middle, the Pox on Your House - Take No Prisoners style of politics is increasing in vigor.
Preceding this schism has been the Washington revolving door, where our politicians take a lucrative hiatus in the private sector. Of course the benefits of the revolving door would have to flow in both directions for a beneficial arrangement to take place. The companies usually sought preferred access to lucrative government contracts.
Of course the revolving door has been cited by critics as a threat to the integrity of government.
Perhaps the Pox On Your House tactics will actually serve to restore integrity back to government service by disincentivizing the revolving door through the intense scrutiny directed at companies that hire former politicians and bureaucrats.
Consider the case of Halliburton, the firm Vice-President Cheney used to head during his hiatus from government. They now list their association with the Vice-President as a Risk Factor in their S.E.C. 8-K Filing of January 23, 2004.
Since his nomination as Vice President, Halliburton has been and continues to be the focus of allegations, some of which appear to be made for political reasons by political adversaries of the Vice President and the current Bush administration. We expect that this focus and these allegations will continue and possibly intensify as the 2004 elections draw nearer. These allegations have recently centered on our government contracts work, especially in Iraq and the Middle East. In part because of the heightened level of scrutiny under which we operate, audit issues between us and government auditors like the DCAA or the inspector general of the Department of Defense are more likely to arise, are more likely to become public and may be more difficult to resolve. As a result, we could lose future government contracts business or renewals of current government contracts business in the Middle East or elsewhere. We could also be asked to reimburse material payments made to or through us or be asked to accept lesser compensation than provided in our contracts. In certain circumstances, we could be subject to fines and penalties under the U.S. False Claims Act, under which treble damages could be sought. In addition, we may be required to expend a significant amount of resources explaining and/or defending actions we have taken under our government contracts. There can be no assurance that these and any additional allegations made under our government contracts would not have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations.
I Hear Voices
The art of psychiartic diagnosis absent physical data on the brain structure of the patients has many similarities to what we see with IQ studies.
Further the enmity directed at the perpetrator is striking similar to that affored to E.O. Wilson, Arthus Jenson, Charles Murray and Richard Hernstein, et al. Here is an exchange between Dr. Spitzer, the defender of the faith, and the journalist about the welfare of the hoax perpetrator.
Spitzer pauses. "So how is David Rosenhan?" he finally asks.
Deserved retribution from on high for challenging authority. Hmmm.
The sanctity of the authority though seems to have been misapplied for the professionals were clearly oblivious to that which was clearly obvious to the patients.
The strange thing was, the other patients seemed to know that Rosenhan was normal, even while the doctors did not. One young man, coming up to Rosenhan in the dayroom, said "You're not crazy. You're a journalist or a professor." Another said, "You're checking up on the hospital."