Monday, March 25, 2019

This post is commentary on "A feminist philosopher makes the case against Jordan Peterson Peterson sounds like a stereotypical postmodernist. By Sean Illing "

 "One part of the book that I found disturbing was when Peterson responded in his capacity as a psychologist to a particular client. According to Peterson, the client announced, “I think I’ve been raped.” "


He wrote that he immediately thought that alcohol was involved. How else to understand “I think”? But that wasn’t the end of the story. She added an extra detail: “Five times.” The first sentence was awful enough, but the second produced something unfathomable. Five times? What could that possibly mean? My client told me that she would go to a bar and have a few drinks. Someone would start to talk with her. She would end up at his place or her place with him. The evening would proceed, inevitably, to its sexual climax. The next day she would wake up, uncertain about what happened — uncertain about her motives, uncertain about his motives, and uncertain about the world. Miss S, we’ll call her, was vague to the point of non-existence. She was a ghost of a person. She dressed, however, like a professional. She knew how to present herself, for first appearances … Miss S knew nothing about herself. She knew nothing about other individuals. She knew nothing about the world. She was a movie played out of focus. And she was desperately waiting for a story about herself to make it all make sense. 

 I’d raise an alternative explanation: Maybe she was raped — five times, as she stated — and then was effectively undermined or even gaslit by her therapist."

OK let's consider what would have to have happened for that to be true.  She would have had to go drinking,  voluntarily, started talking to a man,  voluntarily,  gone home with this man,  voluntarily leaving herself vulnerable to bring raped.   And she would have had to had done this despite being having been raped before in the same situation multiple times. This is incredibly unlikely unless this woman has serious mental issues that make her testimony unreliable at best.

 To be clear, I’m not saying that that is what happened. I can’t possibly know, on the basis of what Peterson writes here. But I’d certainly like to know more, and I’m surprised Peterson has not yet been asked about these and similar passages, in which he comes across as highly contemptuous of female clients. Later, he goes on to say this about the woman: Who are you? What did you do? What happened? What was the objective truth? There was no way of knowing the objective truth. And there never would be. There was no objective observer, and there never would be. There was no complete and accurate story. Such a thing did not and could not exist. There were, and are, only partial accounts and fragmentary viewpoints. Funnily and sadly enough, Peterson sounds like a stereotypical postmodernist here — one of his chief intellectual foes. And it doesn’t seem accidental that his skepticism about objective facts arises when it’s conveniently anti-feminist." 

No this is not like post-modernism.   He is not saying the is no objective truth,  merely that it cannot be determined because there was nobody there who could objectively observe.  He is not skeptical of objective facts at all.

Friday, February 01, 2019

Genetic IQ differences between races are likely

This is a respose to "Why genetic IQ differences between 'races' are unlikely"  by Kevin Mitchell
"In the article, Reich emphasises the arbitrary nature of traditional racial groupings, but still argues that long periods of ancestry on separate continents have left their genetic marks on modern populations."
Note that he 'asserts' this, not concludes it based on the massive evidence that is literally as plain as the nose on  your face.

"These are most evident for physical traits like skin and hair colour, where genetic causation is entirely uncontroversial. However, Reich asserts that all genetic traits, including those that affect behaviour and cognition, are expected to differ between populations or races."
Again he characterises Reich's views as assertions.  This is not an argument.

"But it also suggests that since genetic variation will contribute to higher or lower IQ in any given population, the genetic differences between one group and another will also underpin mean differences in IQ.
In fact, the genetics and evolutionary history of intelligence suggest just the opposite."
Note that we're two paragraphs in and he hasn't even started to support this claim.

"Most of our traits, such as height, for example, are set by natural selection at an optimal level "
Actually height is only 80% heritable so it's not exactly 'set' by natural selection, the range within which environment can influence is set by natural selection.  That he made this basic a mistake this early is not encouraging.

"– it’s good for humans to be about so tall, on average. Some genetic variants tend to make people a bit shorter than average and some tend to make people a bit taller. The balance between these variants has been maintained by natural selection to keep average height 'just right'."
Actually it doesn't, it makes height tend towards the optimal from where it was, which is set by what the optimal was in previous generations.  So again, basic mistakes in evolutionary biology.

"Intelligence is not like that. Unlike height, where being ever taller had no benefit, strong evolutionary forces drove intelligence in one direction only in our ancient ancestors."
No that's not true at all for reasons he will actually mention later.  Even if it were true that doesn't mean that all population evolved intelligence at the same speed.

"This increasing selective advantage of ever greater intelligence led to a snowball effect, which was probably only stopped by the limitations of the size of the birth canal and the metabolic demands of a large brain."
Yes, that's right, genes for greater intelligence have COSTS, which means that his claim that there is only evolutionary pressure to increase intelligence is wrong.

"Evolution thus endowed us with a genetic program that holds the instructions of how to build our complex brains, with our resultant cognitive prowess. But any genetic program will be affected by chance mutations and this one is no different. What sets it apart from traits like height is that most genetic random mutations that affect on intelligence will do so negatively."
Here he's using the term "negatively" to mean "have less of this trait".  This is not very helpful since if you take negatively to mean "badly for the organism" the meaning is completely different and his conclusion applies to ALL traits.


"Instead, genetic differences in intelligence may largely reflect the burden of mutations that drag it down."
Or they may reflect mutations that increase intelligence but for some reason have not been fixed.  He actually mentions the reason why some intelligence-boosting genes might not be fixed*.  More on that later. 

"Because most random mutations that affect intelligence will reduce it, evolution will tend to select against them. Inevitably, new mutations will always arise in the population, but ones with a large effect on intelligence – that cause frank intellectual disability, for example – will be swiftly removed by natural selection. Mutations with moderate effects may persist for a few generations, and ones with small effects may last even longer. But because many thousands of genes are involved in brain development, natural selection can’t keep them all free of mutations all the time. It’s like trying to play multiple games of Whack-a-mole at once, with only one hammer.
The result is that any population at any time will carry a varied bunch of mutations that affect intelligence. These will differ between populations, clans, families, and individuals. This constant churn of genetic variation works against any long-term rise or fall in intelligence."
Only if we assume that all intelligence-boosting genes in humans are already fixed.  He really hasn't offered any evidence of this except the supposedly one-way pressure on intelligence.

"Another crucial point is that genetics tends to affect intelligence in a much more indirect way than it does skin colour, height, and other physical traits. Like that Formula One car’s performance, intelligence is an emergent property of the whole system. There is no dedicated genetic module 'for intelligence' that can be acted on independently by natural selection – not without affecting many other traits at the same time, often negatively."
Did you catch that?  The reason why intelligence boosting genes might not have been fixed in the human population yet?  There are human genes that boost intelligence but are disadvantageous in other ways.  These genes are not necessarily advantageous in any given environment.  The advantages of greater intelligence might not be worth the disadvantages of whatever costs the genes inflict.  Also this might change depending on the environment, which would explain genetic differences in intelligence that Mitchell denies can happen. 

"We need to get away from thinking about intelligence as if it were a trait like milk yield in a herd of cattle, controlled by a small, persistent and dedicated bunch of genetic variants that can be selectively bred into animals from one generation to the next."
While it's harder to selectively breed with large numbers of relevant genes it is not impossible.  Another mistake.

"It is quite the opposite – thousands of variants affect intelligence, they are constantly changing, and they affect other traits. It is not impossible for natural selection to produce populations with differences in intelligence, but these factors make it highly unlikely."
Actually it doesn't, if anything it makes it more likely.  For populations to have exactly the same average intelligence is unlikely because the total effect in the change of all genes that affect intelligence would have to be the same, despite there being dozens of such genes that affect other (dis)advantageous traits.

"To end up with systematic genetic differences in intelligence between large, ancient populations, the selective forces driving those differences would need to have been enormous."
No over the thousands of generations that they would have to be less than 0.015 IQ points per generation difference between the selection pressures of various races.

"What’s more, those forces would have to have acted across entire continents, with wildly different environments,"
Actually no, it would have had to have acted in part of an entire continent and the population in that part would have had to have bred with the rest of the continent.

"and have been persistent over tens of thousands of years of tremendous cultural change."
There hasn't been tens of thousands of years of tremendous cultural change, there have been a few thousand such years since we invented farming and herding.  Before that everyone's culture was hunter/gatherer groups.


"Such a scenario is not just speculative – I would argue it is inherently and deeply implausible."
More implausible than the effects of thousands of genes that affect a trait having exactly the same effect in different environments?  Given that hundreds of those genes have other effects that are differentially selected in the various environments this is not just implausible, it's science fiction.


"The bottom line is this. While genetic variation may help to explain why one person is more intelligent than another, there are unlikely to be stable and systematic genetic differences that make one population more intelligent than the next."
Far from supporting this claim Mitchell has actually provided all the evidence to refute it.

"So if we are concerned about people’s intelligence, we would do better to focus on the environmental and cultural factors that we know are involved and which can be changed."
That would depend on what context we're considering the intelligence in.  If you are considering whether the over- or under-representation of a population might be due to discrimination or other factors you HAVE to consider genetics.

"There is no shortage of them: maternal and infant healthcare, early life nutrition, exposure to neurodevelopmental toxins such as lead, and access to and quality of education all make a real difference."
Actually I don't think there's any evidence that education makes a real difference in IQ.

"IQ scores are a measure of a person’s intellectual ability, not the limit of their intellectual potential."
Which has nothing to do with the point.

"Focusing on things we can change should ensure that everyone can reach their potential."
But acknowledging things you can't change is essential if you're going to understand the subject.  But that wasn't what this article was about was it?

* Fixed means that all instances of a species have that genetic mutation.

Sunday, January 06, 2019

How not to debunk IQ

It
> is via negativa not via positiva.
Don't add Latin just to look smart.

> Designed for learning disabilities, it ends up selecting exam-takers, paper shufflers, obedient IYIs
> (intellectuals yet idiots), ill adapted for “real life”.
And yet it predicts for almost all positive results in society from income to marriage stablity.

> The concept is poorly thought out mathematically (a severe flaw in correlation under fat
> tails,
Which again can't be too bad because it is the best predictor of almost all good results.

> fails to properly deal with dimensionality,
It doesn't need to. Again it's a pretty good predictor of a number of things, that demonstrates it's useful and therefore not pseudoscience. Sure a series of measure for various types of mental functioning would be better. However so far you certainly haven't been able to provide such a series of measures.

> treats the mind as an instrument not a complex system
OK firstly you know an instrument can be a complex system right? And in any case making a simplifying measurement of a complex system doesn't mean you're not treating it as a complex system. It just means you're concentrating on a subset of it's properties so as to more easily analyse it. You know, science?

> and seemed to be promoted by racists/eugenists,
It doesn't matter who promotes it.

> people bent on showing that some populations have
> inferior mental abilities based on IQ test=intelligence;
Nobody argues that IQ test=intelligence and in fact many people pushing the idea that disparate outcomes are explained by cognitive differences go BEYOND the IQ test.  They refer to 'g', the hypotheticized general level of intelligence and point out that questions that are 'g-loaded' are even more racially differentiated than general IQ questions.

> those have been upset with me for suddenly robbing them of a “scientific” tool, as
> evidenced by the bitter reactions to the initial post on twitter/smear
> campaigns by such mountebanks as Charles Murray.
Given that Charles Murray is the smeared academic I've heard of it's rich for you to complain that he responds with smears.  When we're talking about twitter the evidence is easily accessed, so screenshots or it didn't happen.

> psychometrics peddlers looking for suckers (military, large
> corporations) buying the “this is the best measure in psychology” argument
> when it is not even technically a measure
I don't think you know what a measure is.  Nor do I think you understand why large organizations would want a proxy for something, which is not the same as a measure.

> it explains at best between 13% and 50% of the performance in some tasks
> (those tasks that are similar to the test itself),
Earning an income isn't similar to the test itself.  Maintaining a stable marriage isn't similar to the test itself.  Health outcomes aren't similar to the test itself.  Yet all of these are predicted to some extent by IQ.

Far more important is the fact that 13% let alone 50% of the performance in a task is a HUGE difference!  Imagine if you have to pick someone for a task where success can be objectively measured.  Suppose that results from the first attempt form bell curve with a mean of 100 and a standard deviation of 20.  If you had a test that predicted 13% of the outcome that would mean that it had the task would have a mean of 102.6 standard deviation of 17.4 merely from hiring people who score at or above +1 standard deviation.   So over 2% extra productivity merely from applying one test and being somewhat selective on the basis of it.

> minus the data massaging and statistical cherrypicking by psychologists;
Pics or it didn't happen.

> it doesn’t satisfy the monotonicity and transitivity
> required to have a measure
Neither is required to be useful and again, SHOW YOUR WORK!

> (at best it is a concave measure).
I have no idea what a concave measure is.  I looked up what you meant by "concave" and you named it stupidly (it should be "concave up").  How a measure can be concave I have no idea.

> No measure that fails 60-95% of the time should be part of “science”
Actually it should the sign should just be reversed.  But please tell me one test where the predictions of IQ fail 60% of the time?  Show me something where if I make a prediction based on how IQ is presently understood I would not just fail as often as chance but 10-45% MORE OFTEN.  I think you're just lying now.

> The graph that summarizes the first flaw (assuming thin tailed situations),
> showing that
> “correlation” is meaningless in the absence of symmetry. We construct (in
> red) an intelligence test (horizontal), that is 100% correlated with
> negative performance (when IQ is, say, below 100) and 0% with upside,
> positive performance. We progressively add noise (with a 0 mean) and see
> correlation (on top) drop but shift to both sides. Performance is on the
> vertical axis.
Except for that to work you have to ASSUME that the actual correlation is 0% above a certain point.  This is a testable hypothesis.  It's predictions do not pan out.  If there was no effect of greater IQ past a certain point then extremely high IQ individuals would not have different results than those of moderate (but above threshold) IQ.  This is not the case.

> The problem gets worse with the “g” intelligence based on
> principal components.
No it doesn't.  I know it doesn't because you claimed it did and didn't support it.
> There is no significant correlation (or any robust statistical association)
> between IQ and wealth.
So you've found one measurement that didn't corelate to IQ, so what?  Considering that it almost certainly correlates to income and income corelatest to IQ at about .23 that means that IQ correlates to income BETTER when wealth is taken into account.

> Most “achievements” linked to IQ are measured in circular stuff
> s.a. bureaucratic or academic success,
If that were true it would be irrelevant since "most" is not the same as "all".  Otherwise we could just construct a million tests and say "Most achievements linked to IQ are measured in circular stuff." even if literally thousands of legitimate measures were linked to IQ.

> things for test takers and salary earners.
What is wrong with earning a salary?  Why is that somehow an indication you aren't intelligent or aren't using intelligence to succeed.

> Wealth may not mean success but it is the only “hard” number,
No it's not.  Income, conviction rates, accident rates, these are all hard numbers.  You are simply lying how.

> not some discrete score of achievements.


> You can buy food with a $30, not with other “successes” s.a. rank, social prominence, > or having had a selfie with the Queen.
Do you honestly think that nobody ever got free food because they had social prominence?  You don't human very well do you?

> Some argue that IQ measures intellectual capacity real world
> results come from, in addition, “wisdom” or patience, or
> “conscientiousness”, or decision-making or something of the sort. No. It
> does not even measure intellectual capacity/mental powers.
Yes it does.  It's not prefect but if you want a task done that is cognitively complex IQ is a good predictor of whether someone can do it.  If you pick the highest IQ person out of a pair to do such a task you will be right significantly more than 50% of the time.


> If you want to detect how someone fares at a task, say loan sharking,
> tennis playing, or random matrix theory, make him/her do that task;
If you want the task actually done on the other hand, particularly if it's a task that causes bad effects if done badly use all the useful measures to determine if they're going to be good first.  That includes IQ.

> we don’t need theoretical
> exams for a real world function by probability-challenged psychologists.
> Traders get it right away: hypothetical P/L from “simulated” paper
> strategies doesn’t count. Performance=actual. What goes in people’s head or
> reaction to a screen image doesn’t exist (except via negativa).
So the billions of hours spent in  simulators was a waste of time?  The idea that the only way to determine if someone might be good at something is to  have them actually do it is suicidally stupid.  I wonder if this guy will be good at running a nuclear power plan?  Well no way to tell let's just see.

>Even in situations showing presence of a correlation Income-IQ, you see
> MONSTROUS noise. Even at low IQ! From Zagorsky (2007).
So what?  Yes with .23 corelation there is a lot of noise.  That doesn't mean that ignoring IQ is a good idea.  It just means that it's not perfect.  You seem to think that a measure not being perfect means it's useless.  Or rather you pretend to think that.

> Why are we talking about it? This truncates the
> big upside, so we not even seeing the effect of fat tails. Fat Tails If IQ
> is Gaussian by construction and if real world performance were, net, fat
> tailed (it is), then either the covariance between IQ and performance
> doesn’t exist or it is uninformational.
I know you pretend to think you've shown that but you really haven't.

> It will show a finite number in
> sample but doesn’t exist statistically. Another problem: when they say
> “black people are x standard deviations away”. Different populations have
> different variances, even diDifferent populations have
> different variances, even different skewness and these comparisons require
> richer models.
They really don't.  If blacks are say 5 IQ points lower a different variance might change exactly how many blacks you'd expect to be CEOs of major corporations, but it doesn't change that you wouldn't expect them to have substantially less than proportionality.  At least not unless you're saying that they have s.d. at least a point higher than whites.

> These are severe, severe mathematical flaws (a billion
> papers in psychometrics wouldn’t count if you have such a flaw).

> See the formal treatment in my next book. Mensa members: typically high “IQ” losers
> in Birkenstocks.
And here he was criticizing others for smears.  Of course mensa members are self-selected and not necessarily typical of high-IQ individuals.  How you quantify "loser" is not specified and I suspect not specifiable.

> But the “intelligence” in IQ is determined by academic psychologists like the
> “paper trading” we mentioned above, via statistical negative performance (as it
> was initially designed to detect learning special needs)
You know they've changed the tests since then right?

> but then any measure would work there.
Yeah we measured whether they liked banana pancakes and it detected special learning needs.

> A measure that works in left tail not right tail
> (IQ decorrelates as it goes higher) is problematic.
But that doesn't mean it's not useful.  You keep acting like this is a killer argument, it's not.  It would be if you could demonstrate that say, IQ 120 people were as likely to IQ 150 people to achieve any results.

> We have gotten similar results since the famous Terman longitudinal study,
And yet you cite not a single such results, either relating the the Terman study or not.  Frankly from what I've read the Terman's study did show that the "gifted" children succeeded far above what chance would suggest, even correcting for the students being well educated and white.

> even with massaged data for later studies.
Show don't tell.

> The statistical spin, as a marketing argument, is that a person with an IQ of
>  70 cannot prove theorems, which is obvious for a measure of unintelligence
>  but they fail to reveal how many IQs of 150 are doing menial jobs).
Because that's irrelevant.  The relevant number is what proportion are doing extremely complex mental tasks successfully compared to the proportion at other IQ levels.  A proxy for this is holding highly paid and prestigous jobs, being published in scientific journals etc.

> It is a false comparison to claim that IQ “measures the hardware” rather than
> the software.
Did anyone say it did?

> It can measures some arbitrarily selected mental abilities (in a testing
> environment) believed to be useful.
And shown to be by the consistent corelation of IQ to success at all levels, even if it decreases at higher levels.  Again, useful doesn't equal perfect.

> However, if you take a Popperian-Hayekian view on intelligence, you would realize
> that to measure it you would need to know the mental skills needed in a future
> ecology,
No because pattern recognition is valuable regardless of environment.  All successful prediction is based on pattern recognition.  In any case you're assuming that IQ doesn't corelate at all to general intelligence, that is the general ability to complete cognitive tasks.  It does.

> which requires predictability of said future ecology. It also requires the
> skills to make it to the future (hence the need for mental biases for
> survival).
But IQ is corelated to getting to the future.

> 1) When someone asks you a question in the real world, you
> focus first on “why is he/she asking me that?”, which shifts you to the
> environment (see Fat Tony vs Dr John in The Black Swan) and detracts you
> from the problem at hand. Only suckers don’t have that instinct.
No most people in most contexts focus first on helping the person who appears to need help.  Sure in some contexts I might ask myself why they need the help, particularly if they are people who have shown themselves to act against my interests or who are behaving strangely by asking.  Some questions might invite that response.  For instance "Where would you hide a Supreme Court judge's body if you only had a few hours to shift it?" would tempt me to consider the askers motives.  "Where's the bus stop?" probably wouldn't.

> 2) Real life never never offers crisp questions with crisp answers
Should you go back to the ex lover who raped one of your friends once and you multiple times?  That gets a fairly crisp no.

> most questions don’t have answers;
How would you know that?  Where is your evidence?  And why is that relevant?  After all most questions are never asked because nobody cares.  What was the amount of katsup spilled on Chicago Cubs fans sitting in prime numbered seats during home games in the 1997 season?  Nobody knows and nobody cares.  There are an infinite amount of other questions I could ask that are equally irrelevant.

> perhaps the worst problem with IQ is that it seem to
> selects for people who don’t like to say “there is no answer, don’t waste
> time, find something else”.
Where is your evidence for this?  You say "seems" as though it's just something you came up with sans any specific evidence.  Like saying "Asians can't drive." because you remember seeing a lot of bad Asian drivers without considering any actual scientific data on Asian driving.

>) 3) It takes a certain type of person to waste intelligent concentration on
> classroom/academic problems.
Firstly note the assumption that these problems are a waste of time.  He shows no evidence of this and in fact there are literally thousands of examples of problems academics were interested in that were not a waste of time.  Things like imaginary numbers for instance.  Without understanding those we wouldn't have Euler's equation which is vital to understanding electrical waves, which this computer runs on.

> These are lifeless bureaucrats who can muster sterile motivation.
So they are "lifeless" because they can concentrate on something you can't see the point of, but which other people want them to do?  Wow, you're a really horrible person you know that?  I mean condemning people for being able to do a job someone else wants them to do.

> Some people can only focus on problems that are real, not fictional textbook
> ones (see the note below where I explain that I can only concentrate with real
> not fictional problems).
Then you're kinda stupid.  I mean if you can't think something through merely because you can't relate it to a physical entity your imagination is severely limited.

> 4) IQ doesn’t detect convexity (by an argument similar
> to bias-variance you need to make a lot of small inconsequential mistake in
> order to avoid a large consequential one. See Antifragile and how any
> measure of “intelligence” w/o convexity is sterile
> edge.org/conversation/n).
It doesn't need to.  Convexity is a quality of the world, not the minds inside the world.

To explain convexity as you uses the term is a situation where the costs from acting are likely to be small and the benefits big so making multiple mistaken acts for each beneficial one.

> To do well you must survive, survival requires some mental biases directing
> to some errors.
How is that relevant to IQ?

> 5) Fooled by Randomness: seeing shallow patterns in not a
> virtue leads to naive interventionism.
And why would high IQ people see a higher ratio of shallow patterns to deep patterns than lower IQ people?  Sure they would see more patterns regardless of whether they were shallow or deep.  But you yourself point out the value of large numbers of attempt at something even if most are failures.  Hell you wrote a book about it.  So higher IQ people seeing more patterns is a good thing, even if most of them are shallow.

> Some psychologist wrote back to me: “IQ selects for pattern recognition,
> essential for functioning in modern society”. No. Not seeing patterns except
>  when they are significant is a virtue in real life.
But nobody can see only the significant patterns, not even the smartest scientist trained for years.  What happens in fact is that we see a pattern and try to figure out if it's significant.  Now it's true that highly intelligent people will spend time trying to figure out if more chance patterns are in fact valid signifiers of a relationship.  That's OK if they also figure out more valid signifers of a relationship.  False positives are not as bad as false negatives.

> 6) To do well in life you need depth and ability to select your own problems
> and to think independently.
You're not going to define "do well in life" or "depth" are you?  While thinking independently can be valuable if you can't think WELL it's not helpful.  New ideas from an idiot are generally not worth the time to hear.  Present company excepted.

> Upper bound:
> discount the massaging and correlation effects. Picked up from the highly
> unrigorous Intelligence: All That Matters by S. Ritchie.
Note that again he does nothing to back up his claims that everyone else is disingenuously unrigorous etc.  Note that this is from the man who claimed that "most questions" don't have "crisp" answers without a single reference from any field.

> Functionary Quotient: If you renamed IQ , from “Intelligent Quotient” to FQ
> “Functionary Quotient” or SQ “Salaryperson Quotient”, then some of the
> stuff will be true. It measures best the ability to be a good slave.
No it measures the ability to complete complex tasks that have no direct benefit to you in an environment where completing that task pleases others.  In other words it demonstrates that you can work for other people, which in modern society is kinda important.  That's not being a slave.  It's being a worker and if you can't see the difference you're an idiot.  It does not indicate that these people are more subserviant, just that they are prepared to do what others want in certain specific circumstances.

> The argument that “some races are better at running” hence [some inference about
> the brain] is stale:
Arguments are valid or not, there is no such thing as "stale".

> mental capacity is much more dimensional and not defined in the
> same way running 100 m dash is.
How many dimensions something has determines how easy it is to measure, not whether it could have evolved to different extents in different races.  Nor is how something is defined relevant.  Evolution works on things that have real effects however we define things and whether we define them at all.  If we had never tried to define intelligence it would still have a differential effect on our survival and alleles for it would still reproduce at different rates than other alleles.

> The Flynn effect should warn us not just that IQ is somewhat environment
> dependent,
Nobody denies this.

> but that it is at least partly circular.
????

> If you looked at
> Northern Europe from Ancient Babylon/Ancient Med/Egypt, you would have
> written the inhabitants off... Then look at what happened after 1600.
So what?  The fact that a group did not succeed compared to some other group in a different environment thousands of years ago doesn't mean anything about it's IQ or it's effect now.

> The same people hold that IQ is heritable,
Everyone in the field who isn't a complete joke holds that it's heritable.  The evidence is overwhelming.

> that it determines success, that Asians have higher IQs than
> Caucasians, degrade Africans, then don’t realize that China for about a
> Century had one order of magnitude lower GDP than the West.
So what?  Nobody said that high IQ in a population was capable of overcoming the massive problems that culture and government can create.  Find one person who believes in racial IQ differences that believes that whites in the most horrible political system imaginable would be able to thrive.

> Reactions to this piece in the Alt-Right Media:
Name one of the people you describe who identifies as alt-right or who qualifies under Richard Spencer's definition.

> all they got is a psychologist who still hasn’t gotten to the basics of noise/signal.
Again stop making claims without evidence.


> Mathematical Considerations
> CURSE OF DIMENSIONALITY A flaw in the attempts to identify “intelligence”
> genes. You can get monogenic traits, not polygenic (note: additive
> monogenic used in animal breeding is NOT polygenic).
Out of the four ways you could be wrong in the above quote you got one right, and it was the one that favored your opposition.  It's possible to detect genes that affect a  polygenic trait.   That's what I think you meant to say since of course we can detect polygenic traits being tall is a polygenic trait and I can tell if you're tall.  There doesn't seem to be such a thing as "additive monogenic" traits.   Traits with many genes that add up to affect them are called "polygenic".  What I think you meant by polygenic is that a gene will affect a trait differently depending on the presence of absence of other genes.  These can be detected too, easily.

These "synergistic" genes each have an average effect on a trait equal to the probability that the combination of other genes they synergize with are present and the effect on the trait if they are.  So if having genes A, B and C have an effect on IQ of +1 and the probability of genes B and C being present given that gene A is is 0.01 the average effect of gene A is +0.01.  This if there is a population of 100 million people with Gene A the group average IQ will have an s.d. or 15/10,000 or about one sixth the size of the gene's effect.  So Gene A will be six sigmas out.  That's detectable.  Of course it depends on the numbers of people with the gene combination and the size of the effect, but that's true of non-synergistic effects too.  All that matters is a)  how probable is the genetic situation in the population, b) how big an effect does it have on IQ and c) how big is the population you study?    

I know you don't like to think about theorectical situations but it really helps to do so before commenting on them.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Cockburn goes crazy and hears things that nobody said.


A response to 'Trump Knows That He Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit' by Patrick Cockburn
“English nationalism as expressed by Brexiteers is a strange beast. Donald Trump gives an interview in which he assumes the right to intervene in the conflict between Theresa May and Boris Johnson over Brexit.”
He assumed no such right. He merely pointed out, correctly, that May's current plan is a dog's breakfast that would make a free trade deal with America very hard. This isn't an attack on Britain's independence like Obama telling the UK that they would go to the back of the queue if Brexit happened.

He speaks with the same confident authority as he would in his own country, sorting out differences in the Republican Party over who should be the next senator for Alabama or South Carolina.”
Well firstly I don't think that he has much influence on on who gets to be Senator. Secondly he isn't selecting who is going to be in power in the UK, he's merely pointing out the mistakes that May has made and that need to be corrected, and WHY they need to be corrected. Should he have kept quiet about that? Should the British public have waited until a trade deal with the US was impossible because of the Chequers plan? Or should they have been informed of the difficulties that Trump, informed by his State Department sees?

His attempted roll-back later does not alter the tone or substance of what he said.
The aim of Trump’s intervention in the short term is, as always, to top the news agenda and to show up everybody, be they allies or enemies, as weaker and more vulnerable than himself. “

More dangerously for Britain, in the long term, his domineering words”
How is it 'domineering' to point out problems that a plan has? He commented that he could have done the deal better, but then a retarded daschund could have done a better deal. He isn't telling her what to do, he's telling her something she is doing is a bad idea and will have consequences and what those consequences are.

set down a marker for the future relationship between the UK and the US outside the EU which could be close to that between the colony or the vassal of an imperial state.”
How? He's not telling May to bow, or provide troops for his wars, or take orders from him on any matter, foreign or domestic. He's simply saying “this is a problem, here is why and how”.

The terminology is the Brexiteers’ own: Johnson claimed in his resignation letter that the Chequers version of Brexit a few days earlier was so watered down that it meant that “we are truly headed for the status of a colony”. “
And is he wrong? What is the status of a society that must ceded to those outside itself control like control the EU has without any input into how that control is exercised? If this is not a colony what is it?

He cited, as concrete evidence of this servitude, the anger he felt towards the EU for frustrating his efforts to protect cyclists from juggernauts, though media investigation revealed that it was the British government that blocked the life-saving measure.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the fundamentalist Brexit leader, reached back far into the Middle Ages for a bizarre analogy to illustrate his point that Britain would entirely fail to escape the EU yoke under the terms envisaged in the White Paper on Britain’s future relationship with the EU. He described the intention to keep Britain within the EU rule book for goods and agriculture as “the greatest vassalage since King John paid homage to Phillip II at Le Goulet in 1200”.
The use of such an arcane example is presumably intended to show that Rees-Mogg has deeply pondered the great triumphs and betrayals of English history. In doing so he unintentionally reveals one of his many blind spots by choosing an event long preceding the creation of a British nation state incorporating Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.”
What blind spot? He is stating the truth, whether that statement involves an example that pre-dates the conquest of Scotland, Wales and Ireland is irrelevant. That they became colonies doesn't mean England should. Particularly since at least the Celts could claim they fought it and didn't give their sovereignty away like lollipops at the dentist.

A problem about the whole Brexit debate, which has confused the issue since long before the referendum in 2016, is that discussion is focused on the economic connection between Britain and the EU when it should really be about the political relationship.”
Yes and the Brexiteers were quite keen to do that weren't they? It was the Remainers that didn't want to talk about it. I wonder why?

Trump says that the present Brexit plan rules out a US-UK free trade agreement, but even if it did not, there is a strong element of fantasy and wishful thinking in the Brexiteers’ vision of Britain’s economic future.”
What do you mean “even if it did not”? Are you pretending that the present Brexit plan is somehow to essential to the vision of Brexit and that abandoning it will somehow make the Brexiteers' vision less reality based?


Again it is worth looking at Johnson’s letter because it is almost touching in its naivety and wishful thinking about Britain’s future place in the world economy. We are to stifle “self-doubt”, and instead be more “nimble and dynamic and maximise the particular advantages of the UK, as an open outward looking economy”. “
What is wishful about that? What is wrong with trying to be more responsive to economic incentives provided by the rest of the world? What is naïve about thinking that is possible? Without some evidence that this is not 100% achievable calling it naïve is simply shaming tactics.
Apparently, the world is full of hermit kingdoms that have long been short of such vibrant economies and, once freed from the shackles of the EU, we will be able to meet their long unsatisfied needs.”
What are you talking about? Nobody mentioned 'hermit kingdoms' and surely in a trade deal they're not really relevant. The world is full of nations that wish to trade with the UK. I don't know why you ignore this fact.


It is easy to mock and the mockery is well-deserved,”
Then why weren't you able to point out a single thing he said that was wrong? Why did you have to strawman his position to mock him?

but it should be balanced with a much stronger part of the pro-Brexit case which is simply the pursuit of national self-determination regardless of the economic consequences.”
And how is that worse than the pursuit of European union regardless of the consequences? Yes people have other concerns than their pocketbook, how is that either naïve or bad?

This demand for independence has usually preceded the formation of nation states, once imperial possessions, the world over.

Most nationalist movements have claimed with varying degrees of truth or exaggeration that their economic, social and sectarian troubles stemmed from imperial misrule and independence would cure all.”
Who in the Brexiteer camp has claimed Brexit would cure everything?

When this fails to happen few nationalist movements have had a realistic alternative plan.”
Few? Citation needed. How few?


Brexiteers similarly buttress their perfectly legitimate demand for self-determination with dubious assumptions about the degree to which EU regulations hobble the British economy.”
Oh really? What do your numbers of how much the EU regulations hobble the economy say? Oh that's right you're a leftist, you don't do numbers.

Most Brexiteers are on the right so they are neither familiar nor comfortable with anti-imperial arguments traditionally advanced by the left.”
And yet Nigel Farage was the ONLY leader to point out the reality of the Ukraine coup.

They would not be happy to be reminded that much of what they say is the same as Sinn Fein – “Ourselves Alone” – says today in Ireland or Indian and Kenyan nationalists said before independence.”

Wouldn't they? How do you know? Have you asked any? And what if it was the same and they weren't happy about it, wouldn't the argument still be valid?

A further cause of reticence is that focus on the economic benefits of Brexit masks the extent to which the result of the referendum – and the rise of populist nationalists in the US and much of Europe – are fuelled by opposition to immigration and racism.”
Ok then to what extent is the result of the referendum fuelled by opposition to immigration and to racism? Oh of course you're not giving that number either because this is a smear not a serious argument.

But there is a price to pay for the Brexiteers’ skewed picture of Britain and its place in the world. If it leaves the EU, as seems inevitable, it will become a lesser power and no longer able to balance between America and Europe as, to a degree, it has hitherto been able to do.”
How would it become a lesser power? What would lessen it's power? How do you even know it won't become a greater power?


Dependence on the US will inevitably increase”
Why inevitably? What would Britain want, let alone need, that only America could provided? If Britain became a lesser power might it simply stop doing things great powers do and keep itself to itself?

and we have just had a rude foretaste of what this means for Britain’s future in the Trump interview in The Sun.”
So what this “dependence” means is that the US President can tell people the consequences of a proposed action on the negotiations between the UK and USA. Good.

He knows that Britain has nowhere else to go and must bend the knee,”
When did he ask them to bend the knee. He's telling them that they can't get something if they do a particular thing. He's not saying they have to not do that thing, merely that it's a bad idea with specific consequences.

something swiftly confirmed by the evasive British government response to his unprecedented intervention in the UK’s internal affairs.”
Calling it unprecedented is a lie, and even calling it an intervention in the UK's internal affairs is borderline dishonest. He gave advice on a foreign policy matter from the viewpoint of how it will affect US/UK relations. That is all.

The British government would clearly like the old post-Second World War order and Britain’s place in it to continue forever.”
What has that got do to with the Brexit negotiations even if it's true?

British politicians and civil servants are hoping that the Trump visit is a temporary bad dream but is in fact it an early sign of a post-Brexit reality in which Britain will play a lesser role in the world.”
How? Trump is not telling Britain what to do. Britain at this point is in control of it's own destiny, or at least Theresa May is in charge of it. Trump can't block the Chequers plan, all he can do is tell May how stupid it is and why. The fact that her own diplomats didn't tell her is revealing. There is no indication that Britain will play a lesser role in the world, or even not a greater one. You are just making shit up.


Thursday, May 31, 2018

Everyone is smart enough to keep a secret

This is a response to a video, but I can't for the life of me remember who it was I responded to.  Their point was that conspiracies are difficult because people are dumb.

The argument that secret societies can't keep secret for a long period of time because "people are dumb" doesn't follow.  People are smart enough to build bridges, conquer empires, get elected, build huge businesses, repair cities after devastating earthquakes and many other things.  Are we supposed to believe that keeping a secret is harder than all those things?

In fact your own expample of the Ministry of Magic shows that, where it concerns their interests, people are very smart.  Consider how much work the MoM put into convincing everyone it wasn't a totally useless, largely corrupt, incompetent mess of an organization.  It worked.  They managed to do that with very few exceptions and those were mostly people who had special knowledge of MoM screwups.  This is an amazing accomplishment that is almost (?) as hard as doing their ostensible jobs.  So you have an example of a successful conspiracy.  You don't need perfect people to have a conspiracy/secret society you just need the right incentives.

If it's hard to keep secrets then why did the mafia last for centuries, and stay so secret that the government denied their existance for decades?    Other conspiracies that worked for a long time were the British governments secret attempts to get the USA into WWII, which wasn't exposed until people started writing memiors, and the Conintpro FBI programs.  Keeping secrets doesn't require a lot of intelligence it just requires that you only communicate with people who will keep the secret.  If you have a system where there are a lot of people who benefit from keeping the secret or would be harmed if they revealed it, such as an intelligence agency or corporate beuracracy, then just having them talk mostly to each other works.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

The Law of the Stupid Argument and the "Gotta Find the Genes"

When someone makes a particularly stupid argument it implies that they don't have a convincing case without this argument.  If the argument is stupid enough it demonstrates that according to the facts they are aware of they are wrong.  This might not mean they are actually wrong, merely that they have lost the argument due to ignorance.



Take for example the claim that USA's higher homicide rates demonstrate that loose gun control laws result in higher homicide rates.  This is a bad argument because it's a post hoc promptier hoc fallacy.  The USA might have higher homicide rates for any number of reasons, including more slavery, self-selection amoung non-slave settleres etc.  Clearly a better argument would be "Since other countries implemented tighter gun laws their homicide rates declined" because that would deal with the societal differences between the USA and other societies.  That this argument isn't made means that it can't be made, at least not by the arguer, because they don't have the evidence this is true.


Another example is the Gotta Find the Genes argument against racial differences in IQ.  You do not need to find the genes responsible for a different probability of a trait to know they exist.  That is obvious when you consider that genetic factors have qualities that non-genetic ones do not, and therefore you can test for these factors independent of testing for the actual genes.  Colour blindness follows a pattern of occurrence that is obviously genetic, and any statistical analysis of who displays it shows this.  This was suspected when it was originally found in two brothers.  Of course this was an insufficient sample, but now that we have results from millions of people and can compare the probability of someone getting it depending on various relatives having it we can conclude that it is indeed an   X-linked genetic disease.  Compare this to malaria, which affects people who are exposed to mosquitoes carrying plasmodium parasites.  It does not show the statistical patterns which a genetic disease would.  Therefore we can conclude that color blindness is genetic and malaria isn't.  Of course certain families display a lower likelihood of getting malaria in environments where it is likely and THAT has been shown to be genetic.  If someone says that you have to find the genes to show that IQ differences or anything else is genetic, then tell them they know so little science they don't know the difference between malaria and color blindness.  They know literally less than medieval doctors who although they were wrong about the cause of malaria certainly knew it was environmental not inherited.




Friday, March 09, 2018

Is objectivity a means of white male heterosexual supremacy?

"If feminism is a critique of the objective standpoint as male, then we also disavow standard scientific norms as the adequacy criteria for our theory, because the objective standpoint we criticize is the posture of science. In other words, our critique of the objective standpoint as male is a critique of science as a specifically male approach to knowledge. With it, we reject male criteria for verification."

"Questions of falsifiability look different in this context.  One consequence of women’s rejection of science in it’s positivistic form is that we reject the head-counting theory of verification.  Structural truths about the meaning of gender may or may not produce big numbers.  For example to say “not only women experience that” in reply to a statement characterizing women’s experience, is to say that to be properly sex-specific, something must be unique to one sex.  Similarly to say “not all women experience that” as if that contraindicates sex specificity (this point is to Larry Grossberg), is to suggest to be sex-specific something must be true of 100 percent of the se affected.  Both of those are implicitly biological criteria for sex: unique and exclusive."

Catherine McKinnon in “Feminism unmodified:  Discourse on Life and Law”.


TL;DR version, no it is in fact a threat to white male heterosexual supremacy.

To find out why let’s start by defining our terms.  White in this context means those that both indentify as white and have enough of the genes that predominate in people who identify as white to be classed as European by genetic testing.  Male are those that identify as male and are treated as male by society in general.  Heterosexual are those with no significant attraction to the same sex and who are attracted to the opposite sex.  Supremacy is the possession of the ability to impose your preferences either individually or as a member of a group on another individual or set of individuals in contradiction to their own in a large proportion of cases.

Objective measurements by definition aren’t affected by the race, gender, sexuality or class of the observer.  A properly designed objective test does not yield different results if done by a poor black lesbian than a rich white straight man.  Nor does it yield different results if done ON a poor black lesbian rather than a rich white straight man unless those people differ in the thing tested for.  This means that having your own group in a position to conduct the tests is not helpful to maintaining that group’s power.  Since of course an incumbent powerful* group has more power to conduct tests and decide the significance of their results objective tests give them LESS power, not more than subjective tests.

An example of this is the “Shall Issue” reforms to Concealed Carry Weapon (CCW) permits in parts of the United States.  Legally carrying a weapon, particularly a firearm, concealed required a permit. Only Vermont allowed concealed carry without a permit.  There were often no formal rules about who should be issued such permits and the law was therefore effectively quite subjective.  Accusations that this resulted in favouritism and racist policies were common and no doubt had validity in many cases.  In the wake of a shooting where one person claimed she could have saved lives if she had been allowed to carry concealed a reform movement sprang up.  This resulted in many jurisdictions having “shall issue” rules that forced police forces to issue the permits as long as the applicant satisfied certain criterion or state a reason that a judge could reject.   The criterion were things like no previous drug or alcohol problems, domestic violence problems or felony convictions.   Adopting these relatively objective tests deprived the (predominantly) white, male, straight police departments of much of it’s power to refuse concealed carry permits.

To be clear this did not result in a completely objective system of permits or even one that was entirely racially neutral.  If black men are arrested and charged in circumstances that white men would not have been arrested and charged they would still be deprived of CCW permits at disproportionate rates.  However the reforms did result push the balance of power towards poor black people and others, away from rich white men who are able to control the political structure and therefore the police force.

Now the objection might be raised that the power to carry a gun is not a desirable power to give anyone, but that is not relevant to the point.  For a start what power a relatively powerless group should strive for really shouldn’t be decided by a relatively powerful group.  The latter need not have the required information about what power the former needs and in any case telling someone what power they can have is disempowering in itself.  Secondly the point is to give an example of objectivity acting against white, straight male power not an example of objectivity creating a real social good (although I believe it did both in these cases).

In fact objectivity will tend to act against the dominant group because, even if they try to use an appearance of objectivity to legitimise their power, objectivity cannot be totally faked.  If, for instance, a dominant group should argue that they should be in charge of X because they objectively have more of quality Y, that quality can be tested for.  If it cannot be tested for then obviously they are not really appealing to objectivity but to an arbitrarily assigned characteristic.

If a dominant group can assert it’s authority without reference to objective standards there is no limit to their demands on the subordinated group.  A group that claims objective standards can be held to those standards, at least in theory.  Of course it may not be practical to actually hold them to these standards in some cases, but the dominant group cannot violate them blatantly without sacrificing the ideological basis for their authority.  Since all authority is based on ideological claims, not force, claiming objectivity makes all authority vulnerable.  A claim based on subjective standards however cannot be challenged in the same way, since any challenger would find it impossible to prove their case, and an unproven case will be decided in favour of the powerful, because that’s what “power” means.

For another example of objectivity undermining white, male, straight power is civil service exams, particularly multiple choice ones and particularly where the marker has no direct observation of the subject.  These were introduced to defeat favouritism in government appointments and the corruption and incompetence they bred.  While I’m not arguing that they are a perfect or even necessarily the best form of candidate selection they do allow members of non-powerful groups to get power regardless of the wishes of the powerful.  A poor, black man who scores 135 beats a rich white man who scores 133.  Now of course differences in education and other environmental factors means that this need not be a perfectly fair test in terms of ability and/or effort, but it is objective.  There is a way to determine if the black guy or the woman or the transgender person “should” have won, and if it isn’t followed the elites could be in for trouble.  Contrast this with a subjective method of selecting employees where the guy who “seems right” for the job get it.  How would you determine if the selectors were being racist or sexist, consciously or unconsciously?   Of course not, and the fact that no blacks or women get in  merely “proves” that there are no blacks or women that the high, if vague standards required.




*    Whether formally powerful or powerful through some generally accepted social compliance.