New paper out: The international general socioeconomic factor: Factor analyzing international rankings

Many studies have examined the correlations between national IQs and various country-level indexes of well-being. The analyses have been unsystematic and not gathered in one single analysis or dataset. In this paper I gather a large sample of country-level indexes and show that there is a strong general socioeconomic factor (S factor) which is highly correlated (.86-.87) with national cognitive ability using either Lynn and Vanhanen’s dataset or Altinok’s. Furthermore, the method of correlated vectors shows that the correlations between variable loadings on the S factor and cognitive measurements are .99 in both datasets using both cognitive measurements, indicating that it is the S factor that drives the relationship with national cognitive measurements, not the remaining variance.

This one took a while to do. Had to learn a lot of programming (R), do lots of analyses, 50 days in peer review. Perhaps my most important paper so far.


Comment on CPGGrey’s new video on the future of automatization

Posted on reddit.


This is your best film yet, and that says something.

For automatization for clinical decisions, it has been known for decades that simple algorithms are better than humans. This has so far not been put to much practice, but it will eventually. See review article: Grove, W. M., Zald, D. H., Lebow, B. S., Snitz, B. E., & Nelson, C. (2000). Clinical versus mechanical prediction: a meta-analysis.[1] Psychological assessment, 12(1), 19.

There is only one temporary solution for this problem. It is to make humans smarter. I say temporary because these new smarter humans will quickly make robots even smarter and so they can replace even the new smarter humans.

How to make humans more intelligent? The only effective way to do that is to use applied human genetics aka. eugenics. This is because general intelligence (g-factor) is about 80% heritable in adults (and pretty much everything else is also moderately to highly heritable). There are two things we must do: 1) Find the genes for g. This effort is underway and we have found a few SNPs so far.[1-2] It is estimated that there are about 1k-10k genes for g. 2) Find out how to apply this genetic knowledge in practice to make both existing humans and the new ones smarter. The first effective technology for this is embryo selection[2] . Perhaps CRISPR[3] can work for existing humans.

  1. Rietveld, C.A., Medland, S.E., Derringer, J., Yang, K., Esko, T., et al. (2013). GWAS of 126,559 individuals identifies genetic variants associated with educational attainment. Science 340: 1467-1471.
  2. Ward, M.E., McMahon, G., St Pourcain, B., Evans, D.M., Rietveld, C.A., et al. (2014) Genetic Variation Associated with Differential Educational Attainment in Adults Has Anticipated Associations with School Performance in Children. PLoS ONE 9(7): e100248. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0100248

A troublesome inheritance (Nicholas Wade)

This book is very popsci and can be read in 1 day for any reasonably fast reader. It doesnt contain much new information to anyone who has read a few books on the topic. As can be seen below, it has a lot of nonsense/errors since clearly the author is not used to this area of science. It is not recommended except as a light introduction to people with political problems with these facts.


But  a  drawback  o f  the  system  is  its  occasional  drift  toward
extreme  conservatism.  Researchers  get  attached  to  the  view  of their
field  they  grew  up  with  and,  as  they  grow  older,  they  may  gain  the
influence  to thwart change.  For  50  years  after it was  first proposed,
leading geophysicists  strenuously resisted the idea that the continents
have  drifted  across  the  face  of  the  globe.  “Knowledge  advances,
funeral  by funeral,”  the economist Paul  Samuelson  once  observed.


Wrong quote origin.

>A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.



Academics, who are obsessed with intelligence, fear the discovery
of  a  gene  that  will  prove  one  major  race  is  more  intelligent  than
another.  But  that  is  unlikely  to  happen  anytime  soon.  Although
intelligence has a genetic basis, no genetic variants that enhance intel­
ligence  have  yet  been  found.  The  reason,  almost  certainly,  is  that
there  are  a  great  many  such  genes,  each  of  which  has  too  small  an
effect  to  be  detectable  with  present  methods.8  If  researchers  should
one  day  find  a  gene  that  enhances  intelligence  in  East  Asians,  say,
they can  hardly argue on that  basis that East Asians are more  intelli­
gent than other races, because hundreds of similar genes remain to be
discovered  in  Europeans  and  Africans.
Even  if  all  the  intelligence-enhancing  variants  in  each  race  had
been identified, no one would try to compute intelligence on the basis
of genetic  information:  it would  be  far easier  just to  apply  an  intelli­
gence test.  But IQ  tests already  exist, for what  they may  be  worth.


We have found a number of SNPs already. And we have already begun counting them in racial groups. See e.g.:




It s social behavior that is of relevance for understanding pivotal—
and otherwise imperfectly explained— events in history and econom­
ics.  Although  the  emotional  and  intellectual  differences  between  the
world’s peoples  as  individuals are slight enough,  even a  small  shift in
social  behavior  can  generate  a  very  different  kind  of society.  Tribal
societies, for instance, are organized on the basis of kinship and differ
from  modern  states  chiefly  in  that  people’s  radius  of trust  does  not
extend too far beyond the family and tribe.  But in this small variation
is  rooted  the  vast  difference  in  political  and  economic  structures
between tribal and modern societies. Variations in another genetically
based behavior, the readiness to punish those who violate social rules,
may explain why  some societies  are  more conformist than others.






The  lure  of  Galton’s  eugenics  was  his  belief  that  society  would
be  better  off  if  the  intellectually  eminent  could  be  encouraged  to
have  more  children.  W hat  scholar  could  disagree  with  that?  More
of  a  good  thing  must  surely  be  better.  In  fact  it  is  far  from  certain
that  this  would  be  a  desirable  outcome.  Intellectuals  as  a  class  are
notoriously  prone  to  fine-sounding  theoretical  schemes  that  lead
to  catastrophe,  such  as  Social  Darwinism,  Marxism  or  indeed
By  analogy  with  animal  breeding,  people  could  no  doubt  be
bred,  if it were ethically acceptable, so  as to  enhance  specific desired
traits.  But  it  is  impossible  to  know  what  traits would  benefit  society
as a whole. The eugenics program, however reasonable it might seem,
was  basically incoherent.


Obviously wrong.




The  principal  organizer  of  the  new  eugenics  movement  was
Charles  Davenport.  He  earned  a  doctorate  in  biology  from  Harvard
and  taught  zoology  at  Harvard,  the  University  of  Chicago,  and  the
Brooklyn  Institute  of  Arts  and  Sciences  Biological  Laboratory  at
Cold  Spring  Harbor  on  Long  Island.  Davenport’s  views  on  eugenics
were  motivated  by  disdain  for  races  other  than  his  own:  “Can  we
build a  wall high  enough around this country so as to keep  out these
cheaper  races,  or will  it  be  a  feeble  dam  .  .  .  leaving it to  our  descen­
dants to abandon  the country to the  blacks,  browns  and  yellows and
seek  an  asylum in New  Zealand?”  he wrote.9


Well, about that… In this century europeans will be <50% in the US. I wonder if the sociologists will then stop talking about minority, as if that somehow makes a difference.




One  of  the  most  dramatic  experiments  on  the  genetic  control  of
aggression was performed by the Soviet scientist Dmitriy Belyaev. From
the same population of Siberian gray rats he developed two strains, one
highly sociable  and  the  other  brimming with  aggression.  For  the tame
rats, the parents of each generation were chosen simply by the criterion
of how well they tolerated  human presence.  For the  ferocious  rats, the
criterion  was  how adversely they reacted  to people.  After many gener­
ations of breeding,  the  first strain was  now so tame that when visitors
entered  the  room  where  the  rats  were  caged,  the  animals  would  press
their  snouts  through  the  bars to  be  petted.  The  other  strain  could  not
have  been  more  different.  The  rats  would  hurl  themselves  screaming
toward  the  intruder,  thudding  ferociously  against  the  bars  of  their


Didnt know this one. The ref is:

N icholas  Wade,  “N ice  R a ts,  N asty  R a ts:  Maybe  I t ’s  All  in  the  G en es,”
N ew  York  Tim es, Ju ly  2 5 ,  2 0 0 6 ,
25 ra ts.h tm l?p a g ew a n ted = a ll& _ r=0  (accessed  Sept.  2 5 ,  2 0 1 3 )




Rodents and humans use many of the same genes and  brain regions
to control  aggression.  Experiments with  mice  have  shown that a  large
number of genes are involved in the trait, and the same is certainly true
of  people.  Comparisons  of  identical  twins  raised  together  and  sepa­
rately  show  that  aggression  is  heritable.  Genes  account  for  between
3 7%  and 72%  of the heritability, the variation  of the trait in a  popula­
tion, according to various studies.  But very few of the genes that under­
lie  aggression  have  yet  been  identified,  in  part  because  when  many
genes control  a  behavior,  each  has  so  small  an  effect  that  it  is  hard  to
detect.  Most  research  has  focused  on  genes  that  promote  aggression
rather than those at the other end of the  behavioral  spectrum.


This sentence is nonsensical.




Standing  in  sharp  contrast  to  the  economists’  working  assumption
that  people  the  world  over  are  interchangeable  units  is  the  idea  that
national  disparities  in  wealth  arise  from  differences  in  intelligence.
The possibility should  not be  dismissed  out of hand:  where  individu­
als are concerned,  IQ  scores do correlate,  on average,  with economic
success, so  it is not unreasonable to inquire if the same  might  be true
of countries.


Marked sentence is nonsensical.




Turning to economic indicators, they find that national  IQ scores
have an extremely high correlation  (83%)  with economic growth  per
capita  and  also  associate  strongly  with  the  rate  of economic  growth
between  1950  and  1 9 9 0  (64%  correlation).44


More conceptual confusion.




And  indeed  with  Lynn  and  Vanhanen’s correlations,  it  is  hard to
know  which  way  the  arrow  of  causality  may  be  pointing,  whether
higher  IQ  makes  a  nation  wealthier  or  whether  a  wealthier  nation
enables  its  citizens  to  do  better  on  IQ  tests.  The  writer  Roy  Unz  has
pointed out from  Lynn and Vanhanen’s own data examples  in  which
IQ  scores  increase  10  or more points  in  a generation  when  a  popula­
tion  becomes  richer,  showing  clearly  that  wealth  can  raise  IQ
scores  significantly.  East  German  children  averaged  90  in  1 9 6 7  but
99  in  1984.  In  West  Germany,  which  has  essentially the  same  popu­
lation,  averages  range  from  99  to  107.  This  17  point  range  in  the
German  population,  from  90  to  107,  was  evidently  caused  by  the
alleviation  of poverty,  not genetics.


Ron Unz, the cherry picker.




East  Asia  is  a  vast counterexample to the  Lynn/Vanhanen  thesis.
The  populations  of China, Japan  and Korea  have consistently  higher
IQs  than  those  of Europe  and  the  United  States,  but  their  societies,
despite  their  many  virtues,  are  not  obviously  more  successful  than
those of Europe and  its outposts. Intelligence can’t hurt, but it doesn’t
seem  a  clear  arbiter  of  a  population’s  economic  success.  W hat  is  it
then  that determines  the  wealth  or poverty of nations?


No. But it does disprove the claim that IQs are just GDPs. The oil states have low IQs and had that both before and after they got rich on oil, and will have in the future when they run out of oil again. Money cannot buy u intelligence (yet).




From  about  9 0 0  a d   to  1700  a d ,  Ashkenazim  were  concentrated
in  a  few  professions,  notably  moneylending  and  later  ta x  farming
(give  the prince  his  money  up  front,  then  extract the  taxes  due  from
his  subjects).  Because  of  the  strong  heritability  of  intelligence,  the
Utah team calculates that 20 generations, a mere 5 0 0 years, would be
sufficient for Ashkenazim to have developed an  extra  16 points of IQ
above that of Europeans. The Utah team assumes that the heritability
of  intelligence  is  0 .8 ,  meaning  that  8 0 %  of the  variance,  the  spread
between high and low values in a population, is due to genetics. If the
parents of each generation have an  IQ of just  1  point above the mean,
then  average  IQ  increases  by  0 .8 %  per  generation.  If  the  average
human  generation  time  in  the  Middle Ages was  2 5  years,  then  in  20
human  generations,  or  5 0 0  years,  Ashkenazi  IQ  would  increase  by
2 0  x  0.8  =  16  IQ  points.


More conceptual confusion. One cannot use % on IQs becus IQs are not ratio scale and hence division makes no sense.

The IQ Controversy, the Media and Public Policy (1988, Snyderman, Rothman)

The I. Q. Controversy The Media and Public Policy Stanley Rothman 323p_0887381510


I read this becus i want to do a follow-up study like this. Both analyzing media output and doing another expert survey.



I had been thinking about using PCA on political questions to see any obvious underlying structure. Basically, I want to do OKC questions style. Gather lots of questions, have lots of ppl answer them. Do PCA, see what results are.

Political perspective was assessed in two ways. First, respondents stated their agreement or disagreement with a series of six political statements. The statements dealing with U.S. economic exploitation, the fairness of the private enterprise system, affirmative action, the desirability of socialism, alienation caused by the structure of society, and the propriety of extramarital sexual relations. Responses to these statements were discovered, in a previous investigation incorporating many more such statements, to load highly on a factor representing overall political perspective.6o Agreement was assessed on a 4- point scale, where I was “Strongly agree” and 4 was “Strongly disagree.” For four of the six statements, the mean response is approximately at indifference. Respondents are somewhat more likely to disagree that “The United States would be better off if it moved toward socialism” and that “The structure of our society causes most people to feel alienated.” The second measure of political perspective asked experts to indicate their global political perspective on a 7-point scale, where I was “Very liberal” and 7 was “Very conservative.” Mean self-assessment on this scale is 3.19 (s.d.: 1.28, r.r.:95.6%), putting this expert population slightly to the left of center.

Factor analysis of responses to the six statements and the global rating reveal that all questions, with the exception of the statement about extramarital affairs, load highly on a single factor (i.e., are highly correlated). The five statements and the global rating were therefore normalized and combined to form a political perspective supervariable. It is this variable that is used as a measure of overall political perspective. Note that the liberal position on the five included statements (e.9., belief in socialism, affirmative action, economic exploitation) can all be characterized as placing a higher value on equality of outcome than on economic efficiency.

This tactic has been used before, even if only on a limited set of political opinions.


While few would argue that intelligence and aptitude test scores do nor affect self-esteem and motivation, the magnitude of this influence is difficult to measure. There have been many reports of significant positive correlations between test scores and self-concept, motivation, or expectancy, but causality remains rhe evidence seems to indicate, however, that the influence of test scores on these affective variables is probably not large. (Causation in the opposite direction may not be very significant either, as the correlation may reflect the influence of a third variable, students’actual level ofability and success in school.) Brim and his associates found that high school students tended to greatly overestimate their own intelligence, as measured by test scores. This was particularly true of students with low scores. Fifty percent of students thought their scores were too low relative to their actual level of ability, while 45 percent thought their scores were accurate. only 7 percent ofthe students reported lowering their self-estimates of intelligence as a result of their test scores, while 24 percent raised their estimates.16

Dunning Kruger, but much earlier.

Reference 16 is: Orville G. Brim, Jr., ‘American Attitudes Towards Intelligence Tests,” American Psychologrsl 20 (1965):125-130; Brim et al. 17. Goslin, p. 133

Review: Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government Is Smarter (Ilya Somin)

This book is a quick read and covers the area decently well. The major drawback is that it doesnt discuss deliberative democracy or liquid democracy. IMO this book is not as good as Caplans recent book on the same topic which i also read. Maybe cuz i read his first.


many people conflate political ignorance with sheer “ stupidity.” 2

But often, ignorance is actually smart. Even highly intelligent voters

can rationally choose to devote little or no effort to acquiring political

knowledge. Indeed, political knowledge levels have stagnated over the

past several decades, despite the fact that IQ scores have risen enormously

during the same period.3


This error with the FLR effect is one that Somin continously makes thruout the book, so I will just address it once here.


The FLR effect is not g-loaded. It is like training effects. Training increases the IQ, but not g. Training does not make u smarter. It is a form of error introduced to the measurement.






However, it turns out that the decision to vote is rational so long as the

voter perceives a significant difference between candidates and cares even

slightly about the welfare of fellow citizens, as well as his or her own.15

A simple calculation suggests why this is true.16

Assume that Uv equals the expected utility of voting, Cv equals

the cost of voting, and D equals the expected difference in welfare per

person if the voter’s preferred candidate defeats her opponent. Let us

further assume that this is a presidential election in a nation with three

hundred million people, that the voter’s ballot has only a one in one

hundred million chance of being decisive, and that the voter values the

welfare of his fellow citizens an average of a thousand times less than

his ow n.17

The figure of one in one hundred million is used for ease of exposition.

Adopting the slightly more accurate figure of one in sixty million— the

average odds of decisiveness in the 2008 presidential election— would

not significantly alter the result.18

Thus, we get the following equation:


The Utility o f Voting

D*(300 million/1000) / (100 million) – Cv = Uv


Ive seen this argument before. It is surely wrong. The difference between the various political options is very small. Especially in the US. A decisive vote will change very, very little in these countries. Might change nothing.


This is one of those, works in theory under perfect conditions but not in real politics-arguments.




M ore realistically, the average citizen probably lacks the time and

expertise to study either the Gelman model or the alternatives. Unless

he or she finds the reading interesting or has an extensive background in

statistics, the costs o f doing the reading and analyzing the models would

be far greater than the expected benefits.2 Thus the rational citizen could

reasonably base his or her decisions on voting and acquiring political

information on a rough intuitive sense that the chance of decisiveness is

extremely low, but still higher than zero. And that is exactly what most

people actually seem to do.


No. If one actually asks a lot of people why they vote, and i did this, they dont give answers like that. Their answers come in two categories basically:


1) The Kantian Voting argument

2) The lost right to complain arguments


The first one goes simply: if everybody thought like that (about not voting), something very bad wud happen (i.e. democracy wud crash, or somesuch).


A moment’s reflection will show that this is not good reasoning. Just swap ”voting” with ”become a firefighter”. In reality this is a matter of game theory. To the rational person, the fewer other ppl who vote, the more reason to vote, cuz his power is higher then. Ofc, if everybody was perfectly rational, they wud never admit to not voting if they wanted to vote. Why? The more people ppl believe that u vote, the less their own vote is worth, and hence it will make them less likely to vote, which increases the worth of ur vote. And so on.


2) I will let Carlin handle this one:


Also, ppl sometimes claim that one has a duty to vote. I think duty ethics is garbage, but some countries do have compulsory laws:




Belief in many other political conspiracy theories is common as well,

including claims that the government is hiding evidence of visitation by

alien civilizations, claims that the AID S virus was deliberately manu­

factured to target African Americans, and assertions that government

agencies planned the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and

other prominent political leaders.84


This reminds me of Gordon’s very interesting paper: Gordon, Robert A. “Everyday life as an intelligence test: Effects of intelligence and intelligence context.” Intelligence 24.1 (1997): 203-320.



He shows clearly that belief in conspirary theories correlates perfectly with group mean IQ.




Rational irrationality also deserves some of the blame. It is prob­

ably no accident that Republicans are disproportionately susceptible to

birtherism, while Democrats are far more likely to endorse 9 /11 conspir­

acy theories. It is no secret that partisan Republicans tend to be hostile

to Obama, while most partisan Democrats felt similarly about Bush.

These predispositions make partisans more willing to believe any claim

that reflects poorly on their political enemies— often without carefully

considering whether the claim is true or even plausible.


Such bias seems irrational if the partisans’ only goal is to get at the

truth, to determine whether the allegations against Bush or Obama are

accurate. But it is perfectly rational if their objective is at least partly to

enjoy the emotional satisfaction of being confirmed in their preexisting

views. After all, the partisan voter who mistakenly embraces birtherism

or 9 /11 conspiracy theories suffers no personal harm as a result, while

deriving at least some psychological benefit.


This kind of rational irrationality does not work. It implies the false thesis of voluntarism, namely that one can choose to believe things without evidence. This is not how beliefs work. One cannot just will oneself into believing something absurd. Rational irrationalism can work in that one can rationally decide that analyzing certain things properly and thoroly is not worth the time and hence relying on shortcuts instead, which are more error prone.






The ability of voters to punish large and obvious policy failures by

incumbents is one of the major advantages of democracy over dictator­

ship. It probably helps explain the remarkable fact that no mass famine

has ever occurred in a modern democracy, no matter how poor.72 By

contrast, famines deliberately engineered by the government have often

occurred in dictatorships.73

Even generally ignorant and irrational voters can recognize a mass

famine when they see one, and are likely to hold political incumbents

responsible for it. Similar factors may explain the fact that democratic

governments rarely if ever engage in mass murder against their own

citizens, while many authoritarian and totalitarian dictatorships do so



Somin has made these claims before. As for the famine one, it checks out. See Wiki:


The sources for 73-74 are:


73. Joseph S talin ’s com m unist governm ent deliberately engineered a fam ine th at

killed millions in the early 1930s U.S.S.R. See R ob ert Conquest, The H a rvest o f S o rro w

(New York: Oxford University Press, 1986). An even larger governm ent-created fam ine

occurred in M aoist China, tak in g an estim ated th irty m illion lives. See Jasper Becker,

H u n g ry G hosts: M a o ’s Secret F am ine (New York: H o lt, 1996).


74. Rudolph Rum m el, P o w er K ills : D em o cra cy as a M eth o d o f N o n v io le n ce (New

Brunswick: Transaction, 1997); Rudolph Rummel, Death by Governm ent(New Brunswick:

T ran sactio n, 1994)-




If the connection between two or more matters of public policy is

not obvious or is ignored by politicians and the media for their own rea­

sons, voters may fail to pick it up. Social Security reform, for instance,

is almost never defined as a racial issue, yet the lower life expectancy

of blacks combined with the fact that they pay Social Security payroll

taxes at the same rate as whites turned Social Security into a major hid­

den redistribution from black workers to white retirees.89 The subtlety

of the connection leads the relevant black issue public to ignore it. Such

problems might often prevent an issue public from ever forming to begin

with. Thanks in part to political ignorance, some potential issue publics

are likely to be numbered among Mancur Olson’s “ forgotten groups who

suffer in silence.” 90


This wud be true if africans and europeans contributed equally. They dont. Europeans earn much more money and thus pay much higher taxes.




In addition to alleviating knowledge problems by transferring decision­

making power to foot voters, reductions in the size and complexity of

government might also reduce information problems with respect to

issues that still remain subject to the ballot box. The debate over voter

ignorance has focused on how much voters know but rarely on the ques­

tion of how much government there is for them to know about. Yet it is

clear that the greater the size and scope of government, the more voters

have to know to control its policies through the ballot. As James Madison

put in Federalist62, “ [i]t w ill be of little avail to the people that the laws

are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that

they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood.” 94


Indeed. Also great quote.




Unfortunately, the lack of systematic survey evidence of political

knowledge in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries makes it very

difficult to directly compare knowledge levels then to those that prevail

today. Yet we can get some idea through analysis of the sophistication of

political rhetoric directed at voters by politicians. Candidates and politi­

cal office-holders have strong incentives to accurately gauge the level of

sophistication of their audience so as to make more effective campaign



Linguistic researchers at the website used the

Flesch-Kincaid scale to gauge the grade level of the language and phras­

ing used in every presidential inaugural address from 1789 to 20 0 1.11

They found that every inaugural address prior to 1900 reached what

would today be considered a izth-grade level, except for one that scored

at 1 1 .5 .103 By contrast, inaugural addresses over the past fifty years have

been around a 7th- to 9th-grade level.104


Political scientist Elvin Lim documents a similar pattern in the evo­

lution of presidential speeches over the past sixty years, concluding that

they have become increasingly simplistic.10′’ The same pattern emerges

from linguist Paul J J Payack’s content analysis of political debates. In

the Lincoln-Douglas debates in 1858, D ouglas’s speeches rated an 1 1 .9

grade level, and Lincoln’s an 1 1 . z.106 Recent presidential debates tended

to fall somewhere between the 6th- and 9th grade-levels.107 The differ­

ence is all the more striking in light of the much higher education levels

of modern voters compared to those of the nineteenth century.


Obviously, linguistic sophistication is not the same thing as substan­

tive sophistication. It is theoretically possible that modern politicians are

simply making complex arguments using simple words. Nonetheless, lin­

guistic complexity and substantive complexity do tend to be correlated.

To the extent that is true, it would seem that politicians are directing

much less sophisticated arguments at voters than did their predecessors

o f a century ago.


Very interesting!


The source is this one:


The obvious hypothesis seems to be true: mass media made presidents lower the level, so as to target more ppl. Starting with radio and become worse with TV. At least, it cant get worse now, but we are also at rock bottom.




Empirical studies almost uniformly show that education and political

knowledge are highly correlated, even when controlling for other variables.7

Not surprisingly, those people with the highest education levels also tend

to have greater political knowledge. Unfortunately, however, there is a

major fly in the education-increases-knowledge ointment: massive rises in

education over the past fifty years have not led to significant increases in

political knowledge.8 From 1972 to 1994, average educational attainment

for Americans over the age of thirty grew from eleven years of schooling to

thirteen, while measured political knowledge remained roughly constant.9

On an education-adjusted basis, political knowledge may actually have

declined, with 1990s college graduates having knowledge levels comparable

to those of high school graduates in the 1940s.10 It is also noteworthy that

rising education levels have failed to increase political knowledge despite

the fact that measured intelligence has been rising, with IQ scores increas­

ing substantially over the past century.11


The stagnation of political knowledge levels in the face of greatly

augmented educational attainment suggests that further raising of edu­

cation levels cannot be counted on to increase political knowledge in the



The decline is surely due to opening up of education. High school in 1940 was more g selective than college is today in the US.


HS or more was about 24% in 1940, and college is about 32% now. Add to that all the lower g immigrants, it means that the college level is quite low now compared to HS in 1940.

Back then ”high school” actually meant just that.




An alternative but not mutually exclusive explanation is that edu­

cation correlates with political knowledge in large part because it is a

proxy for intelligence. When IQ is controlled for, the correlation between

education and economic knowledge is sharply reduced, and intelligence

turns out to have the greater effect of the tw o .11 Political knowledge may

function similarly. Yet rising IQ scores over the last several decades have

also seemingly failed to increase political knowledge.


I was going to cite this study, but he did it himself. :)

its this one, by Caplan, his libertarian brother in arms.


Caplan, Bryan, and Stephen C. Miller. “Intelligence makes people think like economists: Evidence from the General Social Survey.” Intelligence 38.6 (2010): 636-647.




Nonetheless, future technological breakthroughs might still signifi­

cantly increase political learning through the media. This is particularly

likely if future technologies make it possible for people to assimilate

new information with less time and effort than is possible at present.

Rationally ignorant voters may continue to limit the resources they are

willing to devote to learning about politics. But more advanced informa­

tion technology might make it possible for them to learn more without

devoting any more effort to the task than at present.74


Genetic engineering, gogogo! :)



Eugenics and the Welfare State: Sterilization Policy in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland (1996)

Interesting small book that casts light on the use of sterilizations in nordic countries. It shows quite clearly that eugenics has it origin in collectivist and socialist thinking and was supported by most parties in the 20-40s. Clearly not just something the nazis did (and did wrong).


In Sweden, however, th e au th o rities advocated p ersu asio n , n o t force. The

Swedish sterilization p rogram contained several procedures by which involun­

tary sterilization was carried out. The legally incompetent, to begin with, could

be subjected to sterilization without their consent according to the 1934 and

1941 laws. How was this category defined? According to instructions circulated

by the Board of Health in 1947, a person should be able to understand “the

meaning and the consequences” of the operation to be declared legally compe­

tent. But: “Such an understanding is n o t at hand only because he knows that he

cannot have a child after a sterilization; it must furtherm ore be required that

he to some extent comprehends the importance o f sterilization for himself and

for society.” As to the mentally retarded, legal incompetence was said to prevail

if he or she could be com pared intellectually with a person twelve years old or



Mental age of 12 seems to accord nicely with modern deviation based definitions. 12/16=.75 or 12/18=.67. Normalt siger man at <70 IQ er retarderet. Det samme gælder i Danmark, jf.




Mjoen condemned this lenient attitude toward alcohol as an irresponsible

handling o f scientific results by a “spectacle-wise” academic. M ohr was guilty

o f neglecting the risk involved by the uncertainty o f the results, argued Mjoen.

He admitted that no effects on the hereditary material had been proven. But

the lack o f scientific p ro o f in no way justified the lack o f action. “We have every

reason to believe that alcohol is a much more serious enemy for the family, the

people and the race than one has so far considered it to be!”42


The arg u m en t o f u nacceptable risk was often used by M joen to justify

eugenic measures. The risk incurred by not acting was so serious that it was

morally irresponsible n o t to take immediate action even on the basis o f quite

u n certain knowledge. He also justified steps against race crossing w ith the

same kind o f argument. He admitted uncertainty about the detrimental effects

and agreed that more knowledge must be sought, but in such a situation it was

safest to say, “ Until we have acquired sufficient knowledge be careful/”43


apparently another example of the irrational precautionary principle:

Review: Making sense of heritability



This is a GREAT book, which goes down to the basics about heritability and the various claims people have made against it. Highly recommended. Best book of the 29 i have read this year.


The denial of genetically based psychological differences is the kind of sophisti-

cated error normally accessible only to persons having Ph.D. degrees.

David Lykken


Quote checks out.




I was introduced to the nature–nurture debate by reading Ned Block

and Gerald Dworkin’s well-known and widely cited anthology about

the IQ controversy (Block & Dworkin 1976a). This collection of arti-

cles has long been the main source of information about the heredity–

environment problem for a great number of scientists, philosophers, and

other academics. It is not an exaggeration to say that the book has been

the major influence on thinking about this question for many years. Like

most readers, I also left the book with a feeling that hereditarianism (the

view that IQ differences among individuals or groups are in substantial

part due to genetic differences) is facing insuperable objections that strike

at its very core.


There was something very satisfying, especially to philosophers, about

the way hereditarianism was criticized there. A strong emphasis was on

conceptual and methodological difficulties, and the central arguments

against hereditarianism appeared to have full destructive force indepen-

dently of empirical data, which are, as we know, both difficult to evaluate

and inherently unpredictable.


So this looked like a philosopher’s dream come true: a scientific issue

with potentially dangerous political implications was defused not through

an arduous exploration of themessy empiricalmaterial but by using a dis-

tinctly philosophical method of conceptual analysis and methodological

criticism. It was especially gratifying that the undermined position was

often associated with politically unacceptable views like racism, toler-

ation of social injustice, etc. Besides, the defeat of that doctrine had a

certain air of finality. It seemed to be the result of very general, a priori

considerations, which, if correct, could not be reversed by “unpleasant”

discoveries in the future.


But very soon I started having second thoughts about Block and

Dworkin’s collection. The reasons are worth explaining in some detail

I think, because the book is still having a considerable impact, especially

on discussions in philosophy of science.


First, some of the arguments against hereditarianism presented there

were just too successful. The refutations looked so utterly simple, elegant,

and conclusive that it made me wonder whether competent scientists

could have really defended a position that was somanifestly indefensible.

Something was very odd about the whole situation.



There is indeed something about this. This book is a premier case of what Weinberg called mentioned with his comment “…a knowledge of philosophy does not seem to be of use to physicists – always with the exception that the work of some philosophers helps us to avoid the errors of other philosophers.”






Of course,Bouchardwould be justified in notworrying toomuch about

these global methodological criticisms if the only people who made a

fuss over them were philosophers of science. Even with this unfriendly

stance becoming a consensus in philosophy of science, scientists might

still remain unimpressed because many of them would probably be sym-

pathetic to JamesWatson’s claim: “I do not like to suffer at all from what

I call the German disease, an interest in philosophy” (Watson 1986: 19).


Source is: Watson, J. D. 1986, “Biology: A Necessarily Limitless Vista,” in S. Rose and L.

Appignanesi (eds.), Science and Beyond, Oxford, Blackwell.




At this point I am afraid I may lose some of my scientific readers.

Remembering Steven Weinberg’s statement that the insights of philoso-

phers have occasionally benefited scientists, “but generally in a negative

fashion – by protecting them from the preconceptions of other philoso-

phers” (Weinberg 1993: 107), they might conclude that it is best just to

avoid reading any philosophy (including this book), and that in this way

they will neither contract preconceptions nor need protection fromthem.

But the problemis that the preconceptions discussed here do not originate

from a philosophical armchair. Scientists should be aware that to a great

extent these preconceptions come from some of their own. Philosophers

of science uncritically accepted these seductive but ultimately fallacious

arguments from scientists, repackaged them a little, and then fed them

back to the scientific community, which often took them very seriously.

Bad science was mistaken for good philosophy.


Sesardic clearly saw the same connection to Weinberg’s comments as i did. :)




It may seem surprising that Jones dismissed the views of the founder

of his own laboratory (Galton Laboratory, University College London)

in such amanner. But then again this should perhaps not be so surprising.

One can hardly be expected to study seriously the work of a man whom

one happens to call publicly “Victorian racist swine” – the way Jones

referred to Galton in an interview (Grove 1991). Also, in Jones’s book

Genetics for Beginners (Jones & Van Loon 1993: 169), Galton is pictured

in a Nazi uniform, with a swastika on his sleeve.


The virulent antinazism among these lefties is extraordinary. It targets everybody having the least to do with ideas the nazis also liked. It is a wonder no one attacks vegetarians or people who campaign against smoking for being nazis…




Arthur Jensen once said that “a heritability study may be regarded

as a Geiger counter with which one scans the territory in order to find

the spot one can most profitably begin to dig for ore” (Jensen 1972b:

243). That Jensen’s advice as to how to look upon heritability is merely

an application of a standard general procedure in causal reasoning is

confirmed by the following observation from an introduction to causal

analysis: “the decomposition of statistical associations represents a first

step. The results indicate which effects are important and which may be

safely ignored, that is, where we ought to start digging in order to uncover

the nature of the causal mechanisms producing association between our

variables” (Hellevik 1984: 149). High heritability of a trait (in a given

population) often signals that it may be worthwhile to dig further, in the

sense that an important geneticmechanismcontrolling differences in this

trait may thus be uncovered.8


Another great Jensen insight.


Citation is to: 1972b, “Discussion,” in L. Ehrman, G. S. Omenn, E. Caspari (eds.), Genetics,

Environment and Behavior, New York, Academic Press.




Second, even if a trait is shared by all organisms in a given population

it can still be heritable – if we take a broader perspective, and compare

that populationwith other populations. The critics of heritability are often

confused, and switch from one perspective to another without noticing it.

Consider the following “problem” for heritability:


the heritability of “walking on two legs” is zero.And yetwalking on two legs

is clearly a fundamental property of being human, and is one of the more

obvious biological differences between humans and other great apes such

as chimpanzees or gorillas. It obviously depends heavily on genes, despite

having a heritability of zero. (Bateson 2001b: 565; cf. Bateson 2001a: 150–

151; 2002: 2212)


When Bateson speaks about the differences between humans and other

great apes, the heritability of walking on two legs in that population

(consisting of humans, chimpanzees, and gorillas) is certainly not zero.

On the other hand, within the human species itself the heritability may

well be zero. So, if it is just made entirely clear which population is

being discussed, no puzzling element remains. In the narrower popula-

tion (humans), the question “Do genetic differences explain why some

people walk on two legs and some don’t?” has a negative answer because

there are no such genetic differences. In the broader population (humans,

chimpanzees, and gorillas) the question “Do genetic differences explain

why some organisms walk on two legs and some don’t?” has an affirma-

tive answer. All this neatly accords with the logic of heritability, and cre-

ates no problem whatsoever. The critics of hereditarianism like to repeat

that heritability is a population-relative statistic, but when they raise this

kind of objection it seems that they themselves forget this important



Things like the number of finger is also heritable within populations. There are rare genetic mutations that cause supernumerary body parts:


However, these are very rare, so to spot them, one needs a huge sample size. Surely the heritability of having 6 fingers is high, while the heritability of having 4 fingers is low, but not zero. Of the people who have 4 fingers, most of the casesare probably caused by unique environment (i.e. accidents), but some are caused by genetics.




(4) It is often said that in individual cases it is meaningless to compare

the importance of interacting causes: “If an event is the result of the joint

operation of a number of causative chains and if these causes ‘interact’

in any generally accepted meaning of the word, it becomes conceptually

impossible to assign quantitative values to the causes of that individual

event” (Lewontin 1976a: 181).But this is in fact not true.Take, for example,

the rectangle with width 2 and length 1 (from Figure 2.3). Its area is 2,

which is considerably below the average area for all rectangles (around

100). Why is that particular rectangle smaller than most others? Is its

width or its length more responsible for that? Actually, this question is

not absurd at all. It has a straightforward and perfectlymeaningful answer.

The rectangleswith thatwidth (2) have on average the area that is identical

to the mean area for all rectangles (100.66), so the explanation why the

area of that particular rectangle deviates so much from the mean value

cannot be in its width. It is its below-average length that is responsible.


Even the usually cautious David Lykken slips here by condemning

the measurement of causal influences in the individual case as inherently

absurd: “It is meaningless to ask whether Isaac Newton’s genius was due

more to his genes or his environment, as meaningless as asking whether

the area of a rectangle is due more to its length or its width” (Lykken

1998a: 24). Contrary to what he says, however, it makes perfect sense to

inquire whether Newton’s extraordinary contributions were more due to

his above-average inherited intellectual ability or to his being exposed

to an above-average stimulating intellectual environment (or to some

particular combination of the two). The Nuffield Council on Bioethics

makes a similar mistake in its report on genetics and human behavior:

“It is vital to understand that neither concept of heritability [broad or

narrow] allows us to conclude anything about the role of heredity in the

development of a characteristic in an individual” (Nuffield 2002: 40). On

the contrary, if the broad heritability of a trait is high, this does tell us

that any individual’s phenotypic divergence from the mean is probably

more caused by a non-standard genetic influence than by a non-typical

environment. For a characteristically clear explanation of why gauging

the contributions of heredity and environment is not meaningless even in

an individual case, see Sober 1994: 190–192.


This is a good point. The reason not to talk about the causes of a particular level of g in some person is not that it is a meaningless question, it is that it is difficult to know the answer. But in some cases, it is clearly possible, cf. my number of fingers scenario above.




Nesardic mentions two studies that fysical attractiveness is not correlated with intelligence. That goes against what i believe(d?). He cites:


Feingold, A. 1992, “Good-looking People Are NotWhatWe Think,” Psycholog-

ical Bulletin 111: 304–341.


Langlois, J. H., Kalakanis, L., Rubenstein, A. J., Larson, A., Hallam, M., and

Smoot, M. 2000, “Maxims or Myths of Beauty? A Meta-Analytic and Theo-

retical Review,” Psychological Bulletin 126: 390–423.


But i apparently dont have access to the first one. But the second one i do have. In it one can read:


According to this maxim, there is no necessary correspondence

between external appearance and the behavior or personality of an

individual (Ammer, 1992). Two meta-analyses have examined the

relation between attractiveness and some behaviors and traits

(Feingold, 1992b2; L. A. Jackson, Hunter, & Hodge, 1995). Fein-

gold (1992b) reported significant relations between attractiveness

and measures of mental health, social anxiety, popularity, and

sexual activity but nonsignificant relations between attractiveness

and sociability, internal locus of control, freedom from self-

absorption and manipulativeness, and sexual permissiveness in

adults. Feingold also found a nonsignificant relation between at-

tractiveness and intelligence (r = .04) for adults, whereas L. A.

Jackson et al. found a significant relation for both adults (d = .24

overall, d = .02 once selected studies were removed) and for

children (d = .41).


These meta-analyses suggest that there may be a relation be-

twe^n behavior and attractiveness, but the inconsistencies in re-

sults call for additional attention. Moreover, the vast majority of

dependent variables analyzed by Feingold (1992b) and L. A.

Jackson et al. (1995) assessed traits as defined by psychometric

tests (e.g., IQ) rather than behavior as defined by observations of

behaviors in actual interactions. Thus, to fully understand the

relations among appearance, behaviors, and traits, it is important to

broaden the conception of behavior beyond that used by Feingold

and L. A. Jackson et al. If beauty is only skin-deep, then a

comprehensive meta-analysis of the literature should find no sig-

nificant differences between attractive and unattractive people in

their behaviors, traits, or self-views.


So, maybe. It seems difficult that g and pa (phy. attract.) is NOT associated purely by effect of mating choices, since females prefer males with high SES and males prefer females with have pa. Then comes the mutational load hypothesis, and the fact that smarter people presumably are better at taking care of their bodies, which increases pa. I find it very difficult indeed to believe that they arent correlated.




In my opinion, this kind of deliberate misrepresentation in attacks on

hereditarianism is less frequent than sheer ignorance. But why is it that a

number of peoplewho publicly attack “Jensenism” are so poorly informed

about Jensen’s real views? Given the magnitude of their distortions and

the ease with which these misinterpretations spread, one is alerted to

the possibility that at least some of these anti-hereditarians did not get

their information about hereditarianismfirst hand, fromprimary sources,

but only indirectly, from the texts of unsympathetic and sometimes quite

biased critics.8In this connection, it is interesting to note that several

authors who strongly disagree with Jensen (Longino 1990; Bowler 1989;

Allen 1990; Billings et al. 1992; McInerney 1996; Beckwith 1993; Kassim

2002) refer to his classic paper from 1969 by citing the volume of the

Harvard Educational Review incorrectly as “33” (instead of “39”). What

makes this mis-citation noteworthy is that the very same mistake is to

be found in Gould’s Mismeasure of Man (in both editions). Now the

fact that Gould’s idiosyncratic lapsus calami gets repeated in the later

sources is either an extremely unlikely coincidence or else it reveals that

these authors’ references to Jensen’s paper actually originate from their

contact with Gould’s text, not Jensen’s.


Gotcha. A nice illustrating case of the thing map makers used to use to prove plagiarism.


Incidentally, in this case it ended up having another use! :)




Nesardic quotes:


In December 1986 our newly-born daughter was diagnosed to be suffering

from a genetically caused disease called Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa

(EB). This is a disease in which the skin of the sufferer is lacking in certain

essential fibers. As a result, any contact with her skin caused large blisters

to form, which subsequently burst leaving raw open skin that healed only

slowly and left terrible scarring. As EB is a genetically caused disease it

is incurable and the form that our daughter suffered from usually causes

death within the first sixmonths of life . . .Our daughter died after a painful

and short life at the age of only 12 weeks. (quoted in Glover 2001: 431 –

italics added)


from: Glover, J. 2001, “Future People, Disability, and Screening,” in J. Harris (ed.),

Bioethics, Oxford, Oxford University Press.


Nasty disease indeed. Only eugenics can avoid such atrocities.




On the contrary, empirical evidence suggests that for many important

psychological traits (particularly IQ), the environmental influences that

account for phenotypic variation among adults largely belong to the non-

shared variety. In particular, adoption studies of genetically unrelated

children raised in the same family show that for many traits the adult

phenotypic correlation among these children is very close to zero (Plomin

et al. 2001: 299–300). This very surprising but consistent result points

to the conclusion that we may have greatly overestimated the impact

of variation in shared environmental influences.6The fact that variation

within a normal range does not have much effect was dramatized in the

following way by neuroscientist Steve Petersen:


At a minimum, development really wants to happen. It takes very impov-

erished environments to interfere with development because the biological

system has evolved so that the environment alone stimulates development.

What does this mean? Don’t raise your children in a closet, starve them, or

hit them in the head with a frying pan. (Quoted in Bruer 1999: 188)


But if social reforms are mainly directed at eliminating precisely these

between-family inequalities (economic, social, and educational), and if

these differences are not so consequential as we thought, then egalitar-

ianism will find a point of resistance not just in genes but also in the

non-heritable domain, i.e., in those uncontrollable and chaotically emerg-

ing environmental differences that by their very nature cannot be an easy

object for social manipulation.


All this shows that it is irresponsible to disregard constraints on mal-

leability and fan false hopes about what social or educational reforms can

do. As David Rowe said:


As social scientists, we should be wary of promisingmore than we are likely

to deliver. Physicists do not greet every new perpetual motion machine,

created by a basement inventor, with shouts of joy and claims of an endless

source of electrical or mechanical power; no, they know the laws of physics

would prevent it. (Rowe 1997: 154)


I will end this chapter with another qualification.Although heritability

puts constraints on malleability it is, strictly speaking, incorrect to say

that the heritable part of phenotypic variance cannot be decreased by

environmentalmanipulation. It is true that if heritability is, say, 80 percent

then at most 20 percent of the variation can be eliminated by equalizing

environments. But if we consider redistributing environments, without

necessarily equalizing them, a larger portion of variance than 20 percent

can be removed.


Table 5.5 gives an illustration how this might work.

In this examplewith just two genotypes and two environments (equally

distributed in the population), themain effect of the genotype on the vari-

ation in the trait (say, IQ) is obviously stronger than the environmental

effect. Going from G2 to G1 increases IQ 20 points, while going from the

less favorable environment (E2) to the more favorable one (E1) leads

to an increase of only 10 points. Heritability is 80 percent, the genetic

variance being 100 and the environmental variance being 25. Now if we

expose everyone to the more favorable environment (E1) we will com-

pletely remove the environmental variance (25), and the variance in the

new population will be 100. The genetic variance survives environmental

manipulation unscathed.




But there is a way to make an incursion into the “genetic territory.”

Suppose we expose all those endowed with G1 to the less favorable

environment (E2) and those with G2 to the more favorable environment

(E1). In this way we would get rid of the highest and lowest score, and

we would be left only with scores of 95 and 105. In terms of variance, we

would have succeeded in eliminating 80 percent of variance by manipu-

lating environment, despite heritability being 80 percent.


How is this possible? The answer is in the formula for calculating vari-

ance in chapter 1 (see p. 21). One component of variance is genotype–

environment correlation, which can have a negative numerical value.

This is what has happened in our example. The phenotype-increasing

genotype was paired with the phenotype-decreasing environment, and

the phenotype-decreasing genotype was paired with the phenotype-

increasing environment. This move introduced the negative G–E corre-

lation and neutralized the main effects, bringing about a drastic drop in



The strategy calls to mind the famous Kurt Vonnegut story “Harrison

Bergeron,” where the society intervenes very early and suppresses the

mere expression of superior innate abilities by imposing artificial obsta-

cles on gifted individuals. Here is just one short passage from Vonnegut:


And George, while his intelligence was way above normal, had a little

mental-handicap radio in his ear – he was required by law to wear it at all

times. It was tuned to a government transmitter and, every twenty seconds

or so, the transmitter would send out some sharp noise to keep people like

George from taking unfair advantage of their brains. (Vonnegut 1970: 7)


We all get a chill from the nightmare world of “Harrison Bergeron.” But

in its milder forms the idea that if the less talented cannot be brought

up to the level of those better endowed, the latter should then be held

back in their development for the sake of equality, is not entirely with-

out adherents. In one of the most carefully argued sociological studies

on inequality there is an interesting proposal in that direction, about

how to reduce differences in cognitive abilities that are caused by genetic



Asociety committed to achieving full cognitive equality would, for example,

probably have to exclude genetically advantaged children from school. It

might also have to impose other handicaps on them, like denying them

access to books and television. Virtually no one thinks cognitive equality

worth such a price.Certainlywe do not.But if our goalwere simply to reduce

cognitive inequality to, say, half its present level, instead of eliminating it

entirely, the pricemight bemuch lower. (Jencks et al. 1972: 75–76 – emphasis



So although Jencks and his associates concede that excluding geneti-

cally advantaged children from school and denying them access to books

may be too drastic, they appear to think that the price of equality could

become acceptable if the goalwas lowered andmeasuresmademoremod-

erate. Are they suggesting that George keeps the little mental-handicap

radio in his ear but that the noise volume should be set only at half



I wonder if someone cud make a good video based on this… Oh that’s right…




David Lykken had a good comment on this tendency of some

Darwinians (he had John Tooby and Leda Cosmides in mind) to pub-

licly dissociate themselves from behavior genetics, in the hope that this

move would make their own research less vulnerable to political criti-

cisms: “Are these folks just being politic, just claiming only the minimum

they need to pursue their own agenda while leaving the behavior geneti-

cists to contend with the main armies of political correctness?” (Lykken



There are some obvious, and other less obvious, consequences of polit-

ically inspired, vituperative attacks on a given hypothesisH.On the obvi-

ous side, many scientists who believe that H is true will be reluctant to

say so, many will publicly condemn it in order to eliminate suspicion that

they might support it, anonymous polls of scientists’ opinions will give

a different picture from the most vocal and most frequent public pro-

nouncements (Snyderman & Rothman 1988), it will be difficult to get

funding for research on “sensitive” topics,19the whole research area will

be avoided by many because one could not be sure to end up with the

“right” conclusion,20texts insufficiently critical of “condemned” views

will not be accepted for publication,21etc.


On the less obvious side, a nasty campaign against H could have the

unintended effect of strengthening H epistemically, and making the criti-

cism of H look less convincing. Simply, if you happen to believe that H is

true and if you also know that opponents of H will be strongly tempted

to “play dirty,” that they will be eager to seize upon your smallest mis-

take, blow it out of all proportion, and label you with Dennett’s “good

epithets,” with a number of personal attacks thrown in for good measure,

then if you still want to advocate H, you will surely take extreme care to

present your argument in the strongest possible form. In the inhospitable

environment for your views, you will be aware that any major error is a

liability that you can hardly afford, because it willmore likely be regarded

as a reflection of your sinister political intentions than as a sign of your

fallibility. The last thing onewants in this situation is the disastrous combi-

nation of being politically denounced (say, as a “racist”) and being proved

to be seriously wrong about science. Therefore, in the attempt to make

themselves as little vulnerable as possible to attacks they can expect from

their uncharitable and strident critics, those who defendHwill tread very

cautiously and try to build a very solid case before committing themselves

publicly. As a result, the quality of their argument will tend to rise, if the

subject matter allows it.22


Interesting effects of the unpopularity of the views.




First of all, the issue about heritability is obviously a purely empirical

and factual one. So there is a strong case for denying that it can affect

our normative beliefs. But it is worth noting that the idea that a certain

heritability value could have political implications was not only criticized

for violatingHume’s law, but also for being politically dangerous. Bluntly,

if the high heritability of IQ differences between races really has racist

implications then it would seem that, after all, science could actually dis-

cover that racism is true.


The dangerwas clearly recognized byDavidHorowitz in his comments

on a statement on race that the Genetics Society of America (GSA)

wanted to issue in 1975. A committee preparing the statement took the

line that racism is best fought by demonstrating that racists’ belief in the

heritability of the black–white difference in IQ is disproved by science.

Horowitz objected:


The proposed statement is weak morally, for the following reason: Racists

assert that blacks are genetically inferior in I.Q. and therefore need not

be treated as equals. The proposed statement disputes the premise of the

assertion, but not the logic of the conclusion. It does not perceive that the

premise, while it may be mistaken, is not by itself racist: it is the conclusion

drawn (wrongly) from it that is racist. Even if the premise were correct, the

conclusion would not be justified …Yetthe proposed statement directs its

main fire at the premise, and by so doing seems to accept the racist logic.

It places itself in a morally vulnerable position, for if, at some future time,

that the premise is correct, then the whole GSA case collapses, together

with its case for equal opportunity. (Quoted in Provine 1986: 880)


The same argument was made by others:


To rest the case for equal treatment of national or racial minorities on

the assertion that they do not differ from other men is implicitly to admit

that factual inequality would justify unequal treatment. (Hayek 1960:


But to fear research on genetic racial differences, or the possible existence

of a biological basis for differences in abilities, is, in a sense, to grant the

racist’s assumption: that if it should be established beyond reasonable doubt

that there are biological or genetically conditioned differences in mental

abilities among individuals or groups, then we are justified in oppressing

or exploiting those who are most limited in genetic endowment. This is, of

course, a complete non sequitur. (Jensen 1972a: 329)

If someone defends racial discrimination on the grounds of genetic differ-

ences between races, it is more prudent to attack the logic of his argument

than to accept the argument and deny any differences. The latter stance can

leave one in an extremely awkward position if such a difference is subse-

quently shown to exist. (Loehlin et al. 1975: 240)

But it is a dangerousmistake to premise themoral equality of human beings

on biological similarity because dissimilarity, once revealed, then becomes

an argument for moral inequality. (Edwards 2003: 801)


Good point indeed.

Review: Taking sex differences seriously (Steven E. Rhoads)

This shortish book contains a wealth of information and 100s of citations. Unfortunately, the author has not kept a high standard of citing things, nor does he make it clear when he cites something less reliable. This makes it the case that one cannot just take the points for granted and have to check every interesting but potentially dubious claim.

I thought chapters 1-3 were the most interesting, as it was about the science of sex differences. The least interesting part was the one about fatherless families. Pretty much all he cites is a lot of correlational studies, and does not discuss the methodology either.

Its worth a read if one is interested in a huge collection of sex differences, but its not a good introduction to the science of that area. For that, try David Buss’s introduction to evolutionary psychology instead.


In 1966, a botched circumcision left one of two male identical

twins without a penis. A leading sex psychologist, Dr. John

Money of Johns Hopkins University, persuaded the parents to

raise the toddler as a female. When the child was twenty-two months

old, surgeons castrated him and constructed what appeared from

the outside to be female genitalia. Called Brenda and treated like a

girl, the child was later prescribed female steroids to “facilitate and

mimic female pubertal growth and feminization.”1

When Brenda was twelve, Dr. Money reported that she and

her parents had adjusted well.2 The media loved the story of the

“opposite-sex identical twins.” In a long report, Time magazine

called the case “strong support” for the view that “conventional

patterns of masculine and feminine behavior can be altered.” The

1979 Textbook of Sexual Medicine noted the girl’s “remarkably

feminine” development, which was taken as demonstrating the

flexibility and “plasticity of human gender identity and the rela-

tive importance of social learning and conditioning in this


In academia, numerous introductory psychology and sociol-

ogy texts used the case to argue that sex roles are basically learned.4

Theorists who believed that gender roles are socially constructed

were ecstatic. In 1994, Judith Lorber described how the girl’s par-

ents “bent over backwards to feminize the girl and succeeded. Frilly

dresses, hair ribbons, and jewelry created a pride in looks, neatness

and ‘daintiness.’” The social construction of gender, she concluded,

“overrode any possibly inborn traits.”5

In retrospect, one wonders whether it is fair to say that what

happened to Brenda was simply “social construction.” With the injec-

tion of female hormones and without the male hormones coming

from testicles, Brenda was getting a bit more encouragement toward

femininity than families and society usually administer. Nonethe-

less, when the facts became more accurately known, it was clear

that neither the chemicals nor the socialization efforts had succeeded

in making Brenda a girl. Some hardworking researchers and jour-

nalists were able to show that Dr. Money had completely misrepre-

sented the results of his experiment. In the early 1990s, they located

the grown-up Brenda and found that she was now named David,

working in a slaughterhouse, married to a woman, and the adop-

tive father of three children.6 At age fourteen, Brenda had decided

to start living as a male, and at fifteen, she had been told the truth

about her biological past. She then announced that she had always

felt like a male and wanted to become one again. She was given a

mastectomy, male hormones and a constructed penis.

The story that emerged revealed that David had always acted

like a male even when everyone in his world had told him he was a

female and should behave like one. The first time “Brenda” was put

in a dress, she pulled it off. When given a jump rope, she tied people

up or whipped them with it. At nine, she bought a toy machine gun

when she was supposed to buy an umbrella. The toy sewing machine

went untouched; she preferred to build forts and play with dump trucks.

She rejected cosmetics and imitated her dad shaving. On a trip to New

York, she found the Rockettes to be sexy. She wanted to urinate stand-

ing up. On the playground, her kindergarten and elementary school

teachers were struck by her “pressing, aggressive need to dominate.”7

As the real story of the reconstruction of David was made pub-

lic, responsible researchers on the Johns Hopkins medical staff

decided they should find out what had become of the many boys

born without penises, most of whom had been castrated and sub-

sequently raised as girls. Of twenty-five located (ranging in age from

five to sixteen), every single one exhibited the rough-and-tumble

play more characteristic of boys than girls. Fourteen had declared

themselves to be boys, in one case as early as age five. Two children

were found who were born without a penis but had not been cas-

trated or sexually reassigned. Both these children, raised as boys, fit

in well with their male peers and “were better adjusted psycholog-

ically than the reassigned children.”8

On hearing this Johns Hopkins paper, Dr. Margaret Legato, a

Columbia University professor of medicine and an expert on sex-

ual differentiation, asserted: “When the brain has been masculin-

ized by exposure to testosterone [in the womb], it is kind of useless

to say to this individual, ‘you’re a girl.’ It is this impact of testos-

terone that gives males the feelings that they are men.”9

Im surprised it didnt work better than it did. This is a huge change in environment and hormonal levels, even castration. Nature is stubborn, very stubborn.


Other writers whose approach to gender has been influenced

by biology have more directly blamed feminists for ignoring or belit-

tling good science on sex differences.22 But the other side replies that

some of the sociobiological literature is filled with “sexism,” “biased

selection of examples” and “a social construction of gender that is

relatively independent of the facts.”23 Mainstream feminists regu-

larly charge that a hidden or not so hidden agenda meant to pre-

serve male status lies behind the sex difference research.24

Feminists who make charges of this kind are often remarkably

candid in declaring that their politics influence their scientific judg-

ments. Thus Anne Fausto-Sterling admits to demanding “the high-

est standards of proof . . . on claims about biological inequality.”25

Sheila Tobias, author of Overcoming Math Anxiety, says she does

research on girls and math to get the truth, but also to get the coun-

try to believe that girls have the potential to perform equally with


Ah, the difference of standards of evidence.

Note that this is not grounded in any claims about it being extraordinarily claims, and thus having a low prior and thus needing stronger evidence to get P>0.5.


Today, however, the majority of the sex difference researchers

who focus on biology are women. In preparing his book on sex dif-

ferences, Robert Pool read widely and spoke to many researchers

in the field, and was struck by the fact that this research fraternity

was “really a sorority. Most of the scientists doing the provocative,

ground-breaking research into human sex preferences are women.”

This seems to be for two reasons: First, men are wary about pub-

lishing any findings that might bring charges of sexism. Second,

some female researchers seem to have been suspicious about what

their male colleagues were up to; these women say they got involved

because they believed that male researchers were neglecting the seri-

ous study of women. Others did so because they were intrigued and

troubled by some differences favoring men and they wanted to find

out what could explain these results.37 Pool finds that almost all of

these female researchers “identify themselves as feminists or at least

sympathize with feminist goals. . . . They are not fools or tools of

male-dominated society, nor do they have any hidden agendas, and

they uniformly resent such implications.”38

Many of these female researchers also began their studies con-

vinced that sex differences were minimal and that societal forces

caused those that existed. John Williams and Deborah Best, for exam-

ple, began their international comparison of stereotypes believing

there was no basis for them, but concluded that they had “a substan-

tial degree of behavioral validity” and were explained in part by biol-

ogy.39 Similarly, Diane Halpern intended to demonstrate that any

gender differences in cognition were the result of “socialization prac-

tices, artifacts and mistakes in the research, and bias and prejudice.”

After reviewing a pile of journal articles that stood several feet high

and numerous books and book chapters that dwarfed the stack of

journal articles, I changed my mind. . . . [T]here are real, and in some

cases sizable, sex differences with respect to some cognitive abilities.

Socialization practices are undoubtedly important, [sic] there is also

good evidence that biological sex differences play a role.40

It is not usually pleasant to change one’s mind about core convic-

tions, but these researchers say the data has forced them to do so.41

Eleanor Maccoby’s research has led her to give more emphasis to

biology in her study of children. In a recent lecture, after noting the

stereotypical pattern of young boys’ and girls’ fantasy stories (Bat-

man and the like for boys, brides and ballet for girls), Maccoby told

her audience of fellow academics, “I too want to say, ‘ugh.’”42 But

the truth was the truth.

Nature really is stubborn.


Many other male hobbyists, like the Battlebot community of

technonerds, have interests that focus on machines or war. There

are the car enthusiasts, the model train lovers, the war board-game

connoisseurs, the Civil War buffs. These hobbyists are single-minded

about what they love; and studies have found single-mindedness

and a highly focused brain to be more characteristic of men than


This seems like an interesting claim, it is especially related to geniuses, of which there is an extreme sex ratio. Note 107 leads to: Moir, 1999, pp. 253–55; Lubinski et al., 1993, p. 702.

which leads to

Moir, Anne, and Bill Moir. 1999. Why Men Don’t Iron. New York:

Citadel Press.

Lubinski, David, C. P. Benbow and C. E. Sanders. 1993. Reconceptu-

alizing Gender Differences in Achievement among the Gifted. In

International Handbook of Research and Development of Gifted-

ness and Talent, ed. K. A. Heller, F. J. Monks and A. H. Passow.

London: Pergamon Press.

unfortunately, these are both books so i cant look them up easily.


In 1975, the California Department of Education went so far

as to reject reading texts with any portrayal of women in a house-

hold role. The publisher Open Court appealed the rejection of its

reading texts, which had already been revised to meet standards of

gender equality. (The publisher noted that California bureaucrats

had even complained about a brief reference to Mother Hubbard.)145

Open Court made little headway. In later editions of the text, for

example, The Little Engine That Could became female.

It may be time to start questioning the assumption that soci-

ety pressures young women to be homemakers. My observations of

bright University of Virginia students suggest that they feel pres-

sured in other directions entirely. I remember one young woman

with a 3.8 grade point average in economics who told me how furi-

ous she was at her economics professors. When she told them she

loved children and wanted to be an elementary school teacher, they

let her know they were disappointed—she could do so much more.

I encounter feminist students who seem to have absorbed all

of their teachers’ opinions but whose hearts appear to be at war

with their opinions. In class they are sure that women would be

physicists and engineers—or, at the very least, have demanding

careers of some kind—if it were not for discriminatory socializa-

tion. I remember one of my students who openly declared that she

was looking for a husband who would be the “wife” so she could

quickly advance in her career. But when our discussion meandered

into the popularity of romance novels, she said she read them all

the time. When I expressed surprise and asked why she would pur-

chase so many books filled with powerful and worldly heroes and

spirited but traditional heroines, she said, “Lots of things I do have

nothing to do with what I spout around campus all day.”

Indeed, the effect of the environment is proved to be of smaller importance, since women are routinely exposed to these anti-traditional stories, and yet they still prefer natural gender roles. Nature triumphs over environment here.


It is not surprising, though, that women everywhere seem to

care very much about how they look. In Syrian universities, women

attending classes with men spend as much time dressing for classes

as American women spend dressing for a dinner party. On the streets,

demure Muslim girls in head scarves practice a “below the knees

exhibitionism” with sheer stockings and sling-back heels beneath

their skirts.90 A student who spent a summer in a small Jordanian

city confirms that when Islamic women are not allowed to show

hair or ears and when they wear their skirts to their ankles, they use

more makeup than Western women do and spend more time on

pedicures. A recent study examining the self-images of Iranian-born

women living in Los Angeles and Tehran found that the latter group,

largely unexposed to Western media and required to wear body-

encasing clothes, were nonetheless more concerned about their weight

and more dissatisfied with their bodies, on average, than were the

women living in Los Angeles.91

We will see in the next section that men also have to compete,

in those areas that women care about. Still, it seems unfair, in some

cosmic sense, that men can attract women in different ways—through

success in politics, business, sports or music, for instance—whereas

for women so much depends on how they look. As a thoughtful author

of a book on beauty puts it, “Every woman finds herself, without her

consent, entered into a beauty contest with every other woman.”92

As long as men love female beauty, women will care about

their appearance. And the “male gaze” so often attacked bySex 61

mainstream feminists will continue to please as well as annoy. As a

younger woman, writer Anne Roche Muggeridge hated the street

taunts and the “horrid, cold-faced girl-watching in school corridors

and pubs.” But, like most women, she enjoyed being “approvingly

noticed.” She even liked—“very much” liked—the clearest sign of

such notice, the wolf-whistle:

Girls don’t know whether they are pretty or not. They stand in despair

in front of their mirrors and wail to their mothers: I look so ugly!

[Mothers reassure,] and the daughters don’t believe it. But when a

group of young, handsome male strangers spontaneously burst into

a chorus of admiring notes, a girl must, even in her confusion and

diffidence, experience a glow of pleasure and a dawning self-


Muggeridge wishes she were still in “the being-whistled-at age

bracket.”93 Other women approaching their fifties also feel a loss

because men no longer gaze at them in “that safe but sexual kind

of way.”94 Indeed, feminists such as Germaine Greer are among those

who have complained about becoming invisible to men as they grow


It is impossible to please these women. Damned if u whistle, damned if u dont…

It also reminds me of a similarly natural but irrational man thing: trying to impress prostitutes.


A few years ago, a student brought me a romance novel, Laura

Taylor’s Anticipation, that was used in her course on women’s lit-

erature. She said the climactic scene appeared to her to be a rape.

In it Spence declares that Viva and he will marry, and Viva asserts

they will not. Her blue eyes flash as she walks out of the room toward

her bedroom. He follows, relieves her of her wine glass, and smiles

at the outraged expression on her face. He scoops her up and deposits

her on the bed while shedding his clothes in record time. She glares

at him and says, “Are you deaf?” He gently topples her on her back.

Leaning over her, he efficiently jerked the front of her caftan apart,

sending dozens of buttons flying every which way, then stripped it

off her body.

What do you think you are doing?” she demanded as she glared

at him.

He watched her nipples tighten into mauve nuggets that invited his

mouth. “Easing your tension,” he announced in a matter of fact tone,

despite the heat flooding his loins and engorging his sex. He came

down over her, his hips lodging between her thighs, his upper body

weight braced by his arms. “As sexist as that probably sounds.”

She squirmed, trying to free herself, and a sound of fury burst out

of her when she failed to budge him.

Spence abruptly says their children should have names. She asks

what children; they are not getting married. He declares his love.

She asks if he is sure. He’s “‘never been more sure of anything in

my life.’” He asks if she will make babies and grow old with him.

“‘Yes, Yes, Yes!’” Then they make love “as their bodies, hearts and

souls mated forever.”141

This is very rough sex, in which consent comes only after the

man has forcefully and matter-of-factly stripped off the woman’s

clothes and placed his nude and aroused body between her legs. It

comes as the high point in a fantasy aimed at women.

There have been many academic studies of sexual fantasies.

One of the most interesting has found that pornographic films can

be classified by theme. Of the nine themes reported by psychologist

Roy Baumeister, the one that was by far the most sexually arousing

for women

involved a woman who was initially reluctant to have sex but changed

her mind during the scene and became an active willing participant

in sexual activity.142 [This study and another] suggest that the woman’s

transition from no to yes, as an idea, increases sexual excitement.

A review of the literature on sexual fantasies found that fantasies

of being overpowered and forced to have sex were far more common

among women than men. In some studies, over half the female sam-

ple reported fantasies of being overpowered, and other research found

a third of women endorsing such specific fantasies as being a slave

who must obey a man’s every wish. When women are given lists of

sexual fantasies to choose among, that of being forced sexually is

sometimes the first or second most frequently chosen one.

And the ubiquitous rape fantasies:


To proliferate their genes, our male ancestors either mated with

many women or promoted their offspring’s survival by supporting

and defending the mother and children. In a subculture where it is

possible to take either the quantity or the quality approach to sir-

ing the next generation, McSeed, with less of what social scientists

call “embodied capital” than more mainstream males, is better able

to succeed with the quantity approach.60 A white version of McSeed

was more recently in the news when the Wisconsin Supreme Court

affirmed a judgment forbidding a man named David Oakley from

having any more children until he supported those he already had.

Oakley, an unemployed factory worker, had nine children by four

different women.

that doesnt sound legal… where is the eugenics police?

besides, quality vs. quantity, see:

besides, the roles that fathers can provide: resources and protection, we now have the state to be and the police. to be sure, fathers are still those paying for the state and hence the police, but they arent the immediate helper, making them seem less important.


In addition, one letter writer had a question about how to greet

a guy she had hooked up with who never called again, and another

asked whether the guy she slept with on the first date will think she

is a total slut. The “advice guy” responded that it depends on the

guy. A poll in another issue, however, found that 76 percent of male

respondents said they would not date again any girl they slept with

on the first date.

No source given. Really? why does it matter?


Men want more space than women do. In the workplace, men

have a much stronger desire than women for jobs with no close

supervision. Studies show that women like to be alone within the

confines of a bedroom or an office, whereas men are more likely to

need real isolation—a long drive or a trip to the mountains. Think

also of those frequently solitary and overwhelmingly male pastimes,

hunting and fishing. No matter how good their relationships, men

are far more likely than women to report that they need free time

to relax and pursue hobbies away from their mates.119

Boys do travel in large groups, bonded by a mutual interest in

the same activities; but they are relatively more attached to things,

less to people. From childhood, girls but not boys focus on close

relationships and, especially, a best friend.120 When female college

students tell stories about themselves, they speak of friends and com-

munity; they are often giving or receiving advice, and if they act

alone, something bad happens. Men’s stories are very frequently

about acting alone in contests, and they have happy outcomes.121

There is an okcupid question on this one can data mine:

How important is it to you to have your own unique “thing” (like a weekly Girls’ Night Out or Guys’ Movie Night) that you don’t share with your partner(s)?

Very – I need some ME time to be happy

Sort of – I need friends outside of my partner

Not much – I like sharing stuff with my partner

I’d prefer not to have exclusive things


Moreover, it is a massive risk to rely on modern medicine to

help reset the biological clock and make late childbirth safer. Recent

studies have revealed increased rates of major birth defects in infants

born through intracytoplasmic sperm injection and in vitro fertil-

ization over those conceived naturally. Even after controlling for the

age of the mother and other factors, a child conceived by either IVF

or ICSI is still more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with a major

birth defect than is a naturally conceived child.135

probably due to insufficient embryo selection:


Women in their late twenties are, with reason, much more pes-

simistic today about ever marrying.139 Studies show that “the older

she gets, the harder it is for a college-educated woman to find a hus-

band.” College-educated women “tend to seek husbands who are

slightly older and have even higher levels of education and achieve-

ment than they do,”140 but the number of men in this already lim-

ited pool declines as women age. So it is not surprising that 63 percent

of women hope to meet their future husband in college. They will

never again be surrounded by so many eligible men who share their

interests and aspirations.

One wonders about the effects of the fact that there are now about 2 women per 1 man with a university degree. If womens hypergamy leads them to select blindly for degrees, there will be a lack of such men. Uh oh!


What does one say to a boy who continually badgers a girl for

oral sex? Or who sticks his crotch in the girl’s face? The answer is

that we can’t say much if we assume that there are no differences

between males and females. We often can get young people to be

more considerate by saying, “How would you feel if someone did

that to you?” That might work if a boy took a girl’s book bag. If

we say, “How would you feel if she did that to you” about the crotch-

in-the-face stunt, the boy is likely to say, “That would be great.”

Most boys don’t find this sort of behavior degrading or obnox-

ious. Why should they believe that girls do? If sex is recreational,

why is it degrading?

Another failing of the golden rule.

the generalized failure condition for that is when people do not share interests or desires. if one tries to fix it one gets: act so that ur actions is what the other desires… which is just preference utilitarianism on a local level. ;)


Starting education early might be expected to improve the

school performance of inner-city children; and this does hold true

for girls. Those who went through Head Start are only one-third as

likely as girls of similar socioeconomic backgrounds to drop out of

high school years later. But for boys, Head Start seems to have no

effect on high school completion rates.104

cite goes to: Mathews and Strauss, 2000.

Mathews, Jay, and Valerie Strauss. 2000. Head Start Works for Girls.

Washington Post, 10 October.


I re-read Murrays description of Head Start studies.

he writes

This brings us to the third-grade follow-up of the national impact assessment of Head Start, submitted to the government in October and released to the public late last year. Head Start has been operating since the 1960s. After decades of evaluations that mostly showed no effects, Congress decided in 1998 to mandate a large-scale, rigorous, independent evaluation of Head Start’s impact, including randomized assignment, representative samplings of programs and a comprehensive set of outcomes observed over time.

Of the 47 outcome measures reported separately for the 3- year-old and 4-year-old cohorts that were selected for the treatment group, 94 separate results in all, only six of them showed a statistically significant difference between the treatment and control group at the .05 level of probability — just a little more than the number you would expect to occur by chance. The evaluators, recognizing this, applied a statistical test that guards against such “false discoveries.” Out of the 94 measures, just two survived that test, one positive and one negative.

The executive summary is here:

In summary, there were initial positive impacts from having access to Head Start, but

by the end of 3rd grade there were very few impacts found for either cohort in any of the four

domains of cognitive, social-emotional, health and parenting practices. The few impacts that

were found did not show a clear pattern of favorable or unfavorable impacts for children.

Head start does NOT WORK.


But the progress that Senator Kennedy wants will come at the

expense of lost opportunities for still more male athletes. From 1985

to 1997, over 21,000 collegiate spots for male athletes disappeared.

Over 359 teams for men have disappeared just since 1992.8

Christine Stolba of the Independent Women’s Forum commented to the

Title IX commission that “Between 1993 and 1999 alone 53 men’s

golf teams, 39 men’s track teams, 43 wrestling teams, and 16 base-

ball teams have been eliminated. The University of Miami’s diving

team, which has produced 15 Olympic athletes, is gone.”9

I didnt know anyone was foolish enuf to have affirmative action for sports…


But the Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Education

rules that cheerleading and competitive dance are not sports, and

that participants do not count for Title IX compliance purposes.

The principal problem seems to be that cheerleaders and dance teams

usually perform to raise spirit at contests played by other, usually

male, athletes.92 As one ex-cheerleader told me, cheerleading has a

selfless quality—it’s getting people to yell for other people.

Apparently it doesn’t matter if these people compete as well

as cheer for others. The Office of Civil Rights deems that at least

half their appearances must be in a competitive setting, or their activ-

ity is not a sport. In response, the University of Maryland recently

divided its cheerleading team into a “spirit squad” and a competi-

tive squad. The latter group will perform only at competitions and

will be eligible for scholarship money, a move “designed to keep

Maryland in compliance with Title IX while returning some schol-

arships to the school’s eight underfunded men’s programs.”

Senior team member Erin Valenti opted to stay with the spirit

squad, which must fundraise to cover its costs. “They’re splitting

us only so they can convince whoever the head of Title IX is that

cheerleading can be considered a sport,” she said. “To make it a

sport, you’re taking out the whole reason to do cheering to begin

with.” That is, the cheering part.93

The Women’s Sports Foundation’s Web page contains a posi-

tion statement supporting the current policies that deny sports sta-

tus to cheerleaders who compete less than they cheer for others.94

But the Web page also has a “Women’s Sports on TV” section that

includes listings for yoga and aerobics shows.95 If yoga and aero-

bics are sports, why aren’t cheerleading and dance?

I rather universities did not have these sports stuff. Its a US thing, or at least DA universities do not do this. They do something else tho, have science show competitions.

there is a european page about it here:


Not only do these feminists want to limit women’s choices, but

NOW also wants to withhold information that might lead women

to make the “wrong” choices. I noted earlier that many highly edu-

cated women greatly overestimate their chances of getting pregnant

after age forty. In the summer of 2002, the American Society for

Reproductive Medicine wanted to place public service ads in shop-

ping malls and movie theaters that could have helped correct this

misinformation. The ads were designed to enable women to make

reproductive choices based on the facts. In particular, they wanted

to tell women how they could prevent infertility.

The opposition of groups such as NOW aborted the whole

program. The ad that particularly angered NOW contained the mes-

sage: “Advancing Age Decreases Your Ability to Have Children.”

NOW accused the doctors of using “scare tactics.” They further

argued that “the ads sent a negative message to women who might

want to delay or skip childbearing in favor of career pursuits.”139


Some sleep scientists believe that the mothers’ breathing and

heartbeat would help prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

if Western mothers slept with their children. This view is controver-

sial with some U.S. doctors who emphasize the instances of adults

inadvertently suffocating babies who share their bed.196 Nonethe-

less, the international comparisons are striking. The U.S. has far and

away the highest rate of SIDS in the world (2 per 1,000)—ten times

higher than Japan and one hundred times higher than Hong Kong,

both countries where mothers routinely sleep with their children. In

most of the world, parents sleep with their young children, and the

lowest incidences of SIDS are in societies with widespread co-sleeping.

Sounds too easy to be true. According to Wiki, it is:


I wrote Meg and asked if she did not think that people have a

tendency to say that things—like marriage—are not all that impor-

tant to them if they think that there is a decent chance they won’t

happen. Psychologically, it’s tough to get through days if things you

desperately want aren’t happening; it seems logical to downplay

their importance. So perhaps it can be tough for women to be hon-

est with themselves about their own desires.

She replied in the affirmative:

I’d say your point about downplaying goals that seem out of reach

is quite valid. The problem is that it’s self-perpetuating; for societal

reasons marriage and family become difficult to obtain, thus women

deny that they want these things, thus they become even more diffi-

cult to obtain because they’ve been deprioritized.



They do not generally understand female-style emotional support.

They are used to helping a pal by downplaying his troubles or giv-

ing advice, not by sympathetically hearing him out. In one study,

98 percent of wives reported that they wanted their husbands to

talk more about their thoughts and feelings.17 For men, problems

call for advice or action, not talk. When told he should show his

wife more affection, one man went home and washed her car.18

Very common problem in M-F relationships, i think.

Review: The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies



This is very interesting book. Most interesting I’ve read in a while.




If neither way of verifying the existence of preferences over beliefs

appeals to you, a final one remains. Reverse the direction of reason­

ing. Smoke usually means fire. The more bizarre a mistake is, the

harder it is to attribute to lack of information. Suppose your friend

thinks he is Napoleon. It is conceivable that he got an improbable

coincidence of misleading signals sufficient to convince any of us.

But it is awfully suspicious that he embraces the pleasant view that

he is a world-historic figure, rather than, say, Napoleon’s dishwasher.

Similarly, suppose an adult sees trade as a zero-sum game. Since he

experiences the opposite every day, it is hard to blame his mistake on

“lack of information.” More plausibly, like blaming your team’s defeat

on cheaters, seeing trade as disguised exploitation soothes those who

dislike the market’s outcome.


Common problem with reincarnation reports. Also:




In extreme cases, mistaken beliefs are fatal. A baby-proofed house

illustrates many errors that adults cannot afford to make. It is danger­

ous to think that poisonous substances are candy It is dangerous to

reject the theory of gravity at the top of the stairs. It is dangerous to

hold that sticking forks in electrical sockets is harmless fun.

But false beliefs do not have to be deadly to be costly If the price

of oranges is 50 cents each, but you mistakenly believe it is a dollar,

you buy too few oranges. If bottled water is, contrary to your impres­

sion, neither healthier nor better-tasting than tap water, you may

throw hundreds of dollars down the drain. If your chance of getting

an academic job is lower than you guess, you could waste your twent­

ies in a dead-end Ph.D. program.


There was a recent danish study on the quality of bottled water vs. tap water, and they were found to be the same. Bottled water is seriously waste of money.




Mosca and Jihad. In the Jain example, stubborn belief leads to dis­

comfort. Gaetano Mosca presents a case where stubborn belief leads

to death.


Mohammed, for instance, promises paradise to all who fall in a

holy war. Now if every believer were to guide his conduct by that

assurance in the Koran, every time a Mohammedan army found

itself faced by unbelievers it ought either to conquer or to fall to

the last man. It cannot be denied that a certain number of individu­

als do live up to the letter of the Prophet’s word, but as between

defeat and death followed by eternal bliss, the majority of Moham­

medans normally elect defeat.45


Yes, religious people are irrational, even about their own irrational beliefs:


they should also try to get themselves killed as soon as possible. After all, heaven is infinitely good, so it’s obviously infinitely better than being on earth. An infinite improvement!




If you listen to your fellow citizens, you get the impression that they

disagree. How many times have you heard, “Every vote matters”? But

people are less credulous than they sound. The infamous poll tax—

which restricted the vote to those willing to pay for it—provides a

clean illustration. If individuals acted on the belief that one vote

makes a big difference, they would be willing to pay a lot to partici­

pate. Few are. Historically, poll taxes significantly reduced turnout.65

There is little reason to think that matters are different today. Imagine

setting a poll tax to reduce presidential turnout from 50% to 5%. How

high would it have to be? A couple hundred dollars? What makes the

poll tax alarming is that most of us subconsciously know that most

of us subconsciously know that one vote does not count.


Citizens often talk as if they personally have power over electoral

outcomes. They deliberate about their options as if they were order­

ing dinner. But their actions tell a different tale: They expect to be

served the same meal no matter what they “order.”


What does this imply about the material price a voter pays for polit­

ical irrationality? Let D be the difference between a voter’s willingness

to pay for policy A instead of policy B. Then the expected cost of

voting the wrong way is not D, but the probability of decisiveness p

times D. If p = 0, pD = 0 as well. Intuitively, if one vote cannot change

policy outcomes, the price of irrationality is zero.




But rational irrationality does not require Orwellian underpinnings.

The psychological interpretation can be seriously toned down with­

out changing the model. Above all, the steps should be conceived as

tacit. To get in your car and drive away entails a long series of steps—

take out your keys, unlock and open the door, sit down, put the key

in the ignition, and so on. The thought processes behind these steps

Eire rarely explicit. Yet we know the steps on some level, because when

we observe a would-be driver who fails to take one—by, say, trying to

open a locked door without using his key—it is easy to state which

step he skipped.


Once we recognize that cognitive “steps” are usually tacit, we can

enhance the introspective credibility of the steps themselves. The

process of irrationality can be recast:

Step 1: Be rational on topics where you have no emotional attach­

ment to a particular answer.

Step 2: On topics where you have an emotional attachment to a

particular answer, keep a “lookout” for questions where false be­

liefs imply a substantial material cost for you.

Step 3: If you pay no substantial material costs of error, go with the

flow; believe whatever makes you feel best.

Step 4: If there are substantial material costs of error, raise your level

of intellectual self-discipline in order to become more objective.

Step 5: Balance the emotional trauma of heightened objectivity—

the progressive shattering of your comforting illusions—against

the material costs of error.


There is no need to posit that people start with a clear perception of

the truth, then throw it away. The only requirement is that rationality

remain on “standby,” ready to engage when error is dangerous.


Relevant to the ethics of belief:–.htm




So Classical Public Choice’s stories about rational ignorance prove

too much. But not much too much. By any absolute measure, average

levels of politicsil knowledge Eire low.8 Less than 40% of American

adults know both of their senators’ names.9 Slightly fewer know both

senators’ parties—a particularly significant finding given its oft-cited

informationEil role.10 Much of the public has forgotten—or never

learned—the elementary and unchanging facts taught in every civics

class. About half knows that each state has two senators, and only a

quarter knows the length of their terms in office.11 FEimiliEirity with

politicians’ voting records and policy positions is predictably close

to nil even on high-profile issues, but amazingly good on fun topics

irrelevant to policy. As Delli Carpini and Keeter remark:


During the 1992 presidential campaign 89 percent of the public

knew that Vice President Quayle was feuding with the television

character Murphy Brown, but only 19 percent could characterize

Bill Clinton’s record on the environment. . . 86 percent of the pub­

lic knew that the Bushes’ dog was named Millie, yet only 15 percent

knew that both presidential candidates supported the death pen­

alty. Judge Wapner (host of the television series “People’s Court”)

was identified by more people than were Chief Justices Burger or







Apparently irrational cultural beliefs are quite remarkable:

They do not appear irrational by slightly departing from

common sense, or timidly going beyond what the

evidence allows. They appear, rather, like down-right

provocations against common sense rationality.

—Richard Shwedei1




Economists’ love of qualification is notorious, but most doubt that

the protechnology position needs to be qualified. Technology often

creates new jobs; without the computer, there would be no jobs in

computer programming or software development. But the funda­

mental defense of labor-saving technology is that employing more

workers than you need wastes valuable labor. If you pay a worker to

twiddle his thumbs, you could have paid him to do something socially

useful instead.

Economists add that market forces readily convert this potential

social benefit into an actual one. After technology throws people out

of work, they have an incentive to find a new use for their talents. Cox

and Aim aptly describe this process as “churn”: “Through relentless

turmoil, the economy re-creates itself, shifting labor resources to

where they’re needed, replacing old jobs with new ones.”75 They illus­

trate this process with history’s most striking example: The drastic

decline in agricultural employment:


In 1800, it took nearly 95 of every 100 Americans to feed the country.

In 1900, it took 40. Today, it takes just 3…. The workers no longer

needed on farms have been put to use providing new homes, furni­

ture, clothing, computers, pharmaceuticals, appliances, medical

assistance, movies, financial advice, video games, gourmet meals,

and an almost dizzying array of other goods and services.. . . What

we have in place of long hours in the fields is the wealth of goods

and services that come from allowing the churn to work, wherever

and whenever it might occur.76


These arguments sound harsh. That is part of the reason why they are

so unpopular: people would rather feel compassionately than think

logically. Many economists advocate government assistance to cush­

ion displaced workers’ transition, and retain public support for a dy­

namic economy. Alan Blinder recommends extended unemployment

insurance, retraining, and relocation subsidies.77 Other economists

disagree. But almost all economists grant that stopping transitions

has a grave cost.


While this is correct in the general, it does not work in the case where there some jobs that have no possible jobs left, or too few jobs they can perform. Humans are limited by their intelligence, if we can make robots that can do what humans do better or equally well at lower costs, this WILL be a problem.





Economists are especially critical of the antiforeign outlook because

it does not just happen to be wrong; it frequently conflicts with ele­

mentary economics. Textbooks teach that total output increases if

producers specialize and trade. On an individual level, who could

deny it? Imagine how much time it would take to grow your own food,

when a few hours’ wages spent at the grocery store feed you for weeks.

Analogies between individual and social behavior are at times mis­

leading, but this is not one of those times. International trade is, as

Steven Landsburg explains, a technology:


There are two technologies for producing automobiles in America.

One is to manufacture them in Detroit, and the other is to grow

them in Iowa. Everybody knows about the first technology; let me

tell you about the second. First you plant seeds, which are the raw

materials from which automobiles are constructed. You wait a few

months until wheat appears. Then you harvest the wheat, load it

onto ships, and sail the ships westward into the Pacific Ocean. After

a few months, the ships reappear with Toyotas on them.59


Great quote! I will remember that one.




Skipping ahead to the present, Alan Blinder blames opposition to

tradable pollution permits on antimarket bias.39 Why let people “pay

to pollute,” when we can force them to cease and desist? The textbook

answer is that tradable permits get you more pollution abatement for

the same cost. The firms able to cheaply cut their emissions do so,

selling their excess pollution quota to less flexible polluters. End re­

sult: More abatement bang for your buck. A price for pollution is

therefore not a pure transfer; it creates incentives to improve environ­

mental quality as cheaply as possible. But noneconomists disagree—

including relatively sophisticated policy insiders. Blinder discusses a

fascinating survey of 63 environmentalists, congressional staffers,

and industry lobbyists. Not one could explain economists’ standard

rationale for tradable permits.4


Sounds like:




Good intentions are ubiquitous in politics; what is scarce is accu­

rate beliefs. The pertinent question about selective participation is

whether voters are more biased than nonvoters, not whether voters

take advantage of nonvoters.59 Empirically, the opposite holds: The

median voter is less biased than the median nonvoter. One of the

main predictors of turnout, education, substantially increases eco­

nomic literacy. The other two—age and income—have little effect on

economic beliefs.

Though it sounds naive to count on the affluent to look out for the

interests of the needy, that is roughly what the data advise. All kinds

of voters hope to make society better off, but the well educated are

more likely to get the job done.60 Selective turnout widens the gap

between what the public gets and what it wants. But it narrows the

gap between what the public gets and what it needs.


great quote, “Good intentions are ubiquitous in politics; what is scarce is accurate beliefs.”


If people dont vote for self-interest, then representation is not necessary. To complaints about lack of representation are not well-founded, at least to some degree.




In financial and betting markets, there are intrinsic reasons why

clearer heads wield disproportionate influence.61 People who know

more can expect to earn higher profits, giving them a stronger to in­

centive to participate. Furthermore, past winners have more assets to

influence the market price. In contrast, the disproportionate electoral

influence of the well educated is a lucky surprise. Indeed, since the

value of their time is greater, one would expect them to vote less. To

be blunt, the problem with democracy is not that clearer heads have

surplus influence. The problem is that, compared to financial and

betting markets, the surplus is small.


More meritocracy is needed, it seems.




If education causes better economic understanding, there is an ar­

gument for education subsidies—albeit not necessarily higher sub­

sidies than we have now.62 If the connection is not causal, however,

throwing money at education treats a symptom of economic illiteracy,

not the disease. You would get more bang for your buck by defunding

efforts to “get out the vote.”63 One intriguing piece of evidence against

the causal theory is that educational attainment rose substantially in

the postwar era, but political knowledge stayed about the same.64


this indicates that it is g not education that causes greater political knowledge. In other words, g is a common cause of both better education and greater political knowledge. This isnt surprising at all. But it might still be that education has some beneficial effect, the study referred to is faulty in some way. Or that perhaps we’re doing education wrong. Perhaps we need incentives for people to increase their political knowledge? After all, if greater political knowledge causes better democratic results, and better democratic results cause more economic growth for the country, then it does pay for itself. It might even be a good investment.


The cite of 64 is: Delli Carpini, Michael, and Scott Keeter. 1996. What Americans Know About

Politics and Why It Matters. New Haven: Yale University Press.


It cant be found on either bookos or libgen, so i cant look it up.





Before studying public opinion, many wonder why democracy does

not work better. After one becomes familiar with the public’s system­

atic biases, however, one is struck by the opposite question: Why does

democracy work as well as it does? How do the unpopular policies

that sustain the prosperity of the West survive? Selective participation

is probably one significant part of the answer. It is easy to criticize

the beliefs of the median voter, but at least he is less deluded than

the median nonvoter.






If voters are systematically mistaken about what policies work,

there is a striking implication: They will not be satisfied by the politi­

cians they elect. A politician who ignores the public’s policy prefer­

ences looks like a corrupt tool of special interests. A politician who

implements the public’s policy preferences looks incompetent be­

cause of the bad consequences. Empirically, the shoe fits: In the GSS,

only 25% agree that “People we elect to Congress try to keep the

promises they have made during the election,” and only 20% agree

that “most government administrators can be trusted to do what is

best for the country.”71 Why does democratic competition yield so few

satisfied customers? Because politicians are damned if they do and

damned if they don’t. The public calls them venal for failing to deliver

the impossible.




As in economics, laymen reject the basics, not merely details. Toxi­

cologists are vastly more likely than the public to affirm that “use of

chemicals has improved our health more than it has harmed it,” to

deny that natural chemicals are less harmful than man-made chemi­

cals, and to reject the view that “it can never be too expensive to

reduce the risks associated with chemicals.”81 While critics might like

to impugn the toxicologists’ objectivity, it is hard to take such accusa­

tions seriously. The public’s views are often patently silly, and toxicol­

ogists who work in industry, academia, and regulatory bureaus largely

see eye to eye.82


seems worth looking up these studies.


81. Kraus, Nancy, Torbjörn Malmfors, and Paul Slovic. “Intuitive toxicology: Expert and lay judgments of chemical risks.” Risk analysis 12.2 (1992): 215-232.


82. Lichter and Rothman (1999) similarly document that cancer research­

ers’ ideology has little effect on their scientific judgment. Liberal cancer re­

searchers who do not work in the private sector still embrace their profes­

sion’s contrarian views. “As a group, the experts—whether conservative or

liberal, Democratic or Republican—viewed cancer risks along roughly the

same lines. Thus, their perspectives on this topic do not appear to be ‘con­

taminated’ by either narrow self-interest or broader ideological commit­

ments” (1999: 116).






Why then does environmental policy put as much emphasis on

dosage as it does? Selective participation is probably part of the story.

Mirroring my results, Kraus, Malmfors, and Slovic (1992) find that ed­

ucation makes people think like toxicologists.84 The bulk of the expla­

nation, though, is probably that voters care about economic well-being

as well as safety from toxic substances. Moving from low dosage to

zero is expensive. It might absorb all of GDP. This puts a democratic

leader in a tight spot. If he embraces the public’s doseless worldview

and legislates accordingly, it would spark economic disaster. Over

60% of the public agrees that “It can never be too expensive to reduce

the risks associated with chemicals,”85 but the leader who complied

would be a hated scapegoat once the economy fell to pieces. On the

other hand, a leader who dismisses every low-dose scare as “unscien­

tific” and “paranoid” would soon be a reviled symbol of pedantic in­

sensitivity. Given their incentives, politicians cannot disregard the

public’s misconceptions, but they often drag their feet.


nowhere is this as clear as with pesticides and radiation. The public’s extreme fear of those do not at all mirror the scientific evidence of their harmfulness at low dosages.




Leaders’ incentive to rationally assess the effects of policy might be

perverse, not just weak. Machiavelli counsels the prince “to do evil if

constrained” but at the same time “take great care that nothing goes

out of his mouth which is not full of” “mercy, faith, integrity, humanity

and religion.” One can freely play the hypocrite because “everybody

sees what you appear to be, few feel what you are, and those few will

not dare oppose themselves to the many.”10 Yet, contra Machiavelli,

psychologists have documented humans’ real if modest ability to de­

tect dishonesty from body language, tone of voice, and more.11 George

Costanza memorably counseled Jerry Seinfeld, “Just remember, it’s

not a lie if you believe it.”12 The honestly mistaken politician appears

more genuine because he is more genuine. This gives leaders who

sincerely share their constituents’ policy views a competitive advan­

tage over Machiavellian rivals.13


I’ve sometimes heard the claim that privately, politicians really do acknowledge that ex. war on drugs does not work and is counter-productive, but that they go along with the voter opinion anyway. Perhaps this isn’t true. Perhaps the politicians really are as deluded as the voters? Or even more! Polls in Denmark show that politicians are firmly against legalization, while the public/voters are slightly positive.




To get ahead in politics, leaders need a blend of naive populism

and realistic cynicism. No wonder the modal politician has a law de­

gree. Dye and Zeigler report that “70 percent of the presidents, vice

presidents, and cabinet officers of the United States and more than

50 percent of the U.S. senators and House members” have been law­

yers.14 The economic role of government has greatly expanded since

the New Deal, but the percentage of congressmen with economic

training remains negligible.15 Economic issues Eire important to vot­

ers, but they do not want politicians with economic expertise—espe­

cially not ones who lecture them and point out their confusions.


no wonder they think new laws can solve everything…




It helps to sell the right kind of favors. Like a journalist with an ax

to grind, a shrewd politician moves along the margins of voter indif­

ference. The public is protectionist, but rarely has strong opinions

about which industries need help. This is a great opportunity for a

politician and a struggling industry to make a deal. Steel manufactur­

ers could pay a politician to take (a) a popular stand against foreigners

combined with (b) a not unpopular stand for American steel. In

maxim form: Do what the public wants when it cares; take bids from

interested parties when its doesn’t. Bear in mind, though, that the

important thing is not how burdensome a concession is, but how bur­

densome voters perceive it to be.


Always lean to the green, as it is said in Congress.




Consider the insurance market failure known as “adverse selec­

tion.” If people who want insurance know their own riskiness, but

insurers only know average riskiness, the market tends to shrink. Low-

risk people drop out, which raises consumers’ average riskiness,

which raises prices, which leads more low-risk customers to drop

out.52 In the worst-case scenario, the market “unravels.” Prices get so

high that no one buys insurance, and consumers get so risky that

firms cannot afford to sell for less.


Interesting. This shud happen to some degree becuz of the new consumer genomics. It may also be illegal for the insurance companies to utilize known information to change rates. For instance, feminists’ ideas about equality of the sexes had the result that it become illegal in the EU to change rates conditional on sex. This means that prices rose for women and fell for men even tho men cause most of the accidents.




The main upshot of my analysis of democracy is that it is a good

idea to rely more on private choice and the free market. But what—if

anything—can be done to improve outcomes, taking the supremacy

of democracy over the market as fixed?. The answer depends on how

flexibly you define “democracy.” Would we still have a “democracy”

if you needed to pass a test of economic literacy to vote? If you needed

a college degree? Both of these measures raise the economic under­

standing of the median voter, leading to more sensible policies. Fran­

chise restrictions were historically used for discriminatory ends, but

that hardly implies that they should never be used again for any rea­

son. A test of voter competence is no more objectionable than a driv­

ing test. Both bad driving and bad voting are dangerous not merely

to the individual who practices them, but to innocent bystanders. As

Frederic Bastiat argues, “The right to suffrage rests on the presump­

tion of capacity”:


And why is incapacity a cause of exclusion? Because it is not the

voter alone who must bear the consequences of his vote; because

each vote involves and affects the whole community; because the

community clearly has the right to require some guarantee as to

the acts on which its welfare and existence depend.56


A more palatable way to raise the economic literacy of the median

voter is by giving extra votes to individuals or groups with greater

economic literacy. Remarkably, until the passage of the Representa­

tion of the People Act of 1949, Britain retained plural voting for gradu­

ates of elite universities and business owners. As Speck explains,

“Graduates had been able to vote for candidates in twelve universities

in addition to those in their own constituencies, and businessmen

with premises in a constituency other than their own domicile could

vote in both.”57 Since more educated voters think more like econo­

mists, there is much to be said for such weighting schemes. I leave it

to the reader to decide whether 1948 Britain counts as a democracy.


wow, never knew this!




Since well-educated people are better voters, another tempting way

to improve democracy is to give voters more education. Maybe it

would work. But it would be expensive, Eind as mentioned in the pre­

vious chapter, education may be a proxy for intelligence or curiosity.

A cheaper strategy, and one where a causal effect is more credible, is

changing the curriculum. Steven Pinker Eirgues that schools should

try to “provide students with the cognitive skills that are most im­

portant for grasping the modern world and that are most unlike the

cognitive tools they Eire born with,” by emphasizing “economics, evo­

lutionary biology, and probability and statistics.”60 Pinker essentially

wants to give schools a new mission: rooting out the biased beliefs

that students arrive with, especially beliefs that impinge on govern­

ment policy.61 What should be cut to make room for the new material?


There are only twenty-four hours in a day, and a decision to teach

one subject is also a decision not to teach another one. The ques­

tion is not whether trigonometry is important, but whether it is

more important than statistics; not whether an educated person

should know the classics, but whether it is more important for an

educated person to know the classics than elementary economics.62