Barrel Strength

Over-Proof Opinion, Smoothly Aged Insight

Barrel Strength - Over-Proof Opinion, Smoothly Aged Insight

Only government can engineer a marihuana shortage (2)

The National Post seems to have caught up with an earlier posting of mine. I wish the economists in the Financial Post would get their heads out of their ideological asses and apply the same economic reading they give to statist intervention in markets to this new doozy invented by Health Canada, which will

  • a) transfer large  amounts of now broadly distributed wealth to a small group of privileged licencees;
  • b) illegalize the previously legal growing of dope;
  • c) expand police powers; and
  • d) put more people in jail

Nice going, Conservatives!

On human inequality

Several articles have caught my attention of late on the inherent inequality of humans.

Jim Goad Equality: Where’s the Evidence?

Fred Reed: The Unfortunately Innate Nature of Intelligence

Gregory Clark in the New York Times “Your Fate: Thank your ancestors” 

Experts are concerned that advances of scientific knowledge are giving rise to neoracism

When you try to found your political doctrines on the sand of falsity, it is not surprising that advances of scientific knowledge of the human genome are threatening the foundations of modern political orthodoxy. Political equality is a belief; it is a postulate, it is not a fact. When you hold that all people should be treated equally, you hold to a political doctrine (one which, you may interested to know, that I believe). When you assert that people are in fact equal, I do not know what you mean. I do not know what you ever could mean. I am not Beethoven, Newton, or Darwin, and neither are you.

See Human Accomplishment. As Charles Murray wrote, the contribution to science of Michael Faraday alone is greater than all of Arabic civilization’s.

 

A target-rich environment (2): microaggressions

I wrote recently about how feminist discourse on the Internet was being poisoned by the impossibility of saying anything that did not offend someone well-versed (usually black and lesbian) in finding aggression, homophobia, gender-fixation, able-ism and other thought crimes in the writings of some other person  -preferably white and middle class. (Tone Policing, January 31st, 2014)

Now tone policing  has come to broader public attention through the antics of the McGill University students’ association. There is even a non-ironic site called McGill micro-aggressions (I am not making this up!) where everyone’s little senses of hurt can be set out for the cosmos to see and be concerned about.

Excellent coverage of the event is given at Legal Insurrection here.

The image in question was an extension of the cultural, historical and living legacy surrounding people of color—particularly young men—being portrayed as violent in contemporary culture and media. By using this particular image of President Obama, I unknowingly perpetuated this living legacy and subsequently allowed a medium of SSMU’s communication to become the site of a microaggression; for this, I am deeply sorry.”

Of course, the last thing ever to be discussed is whether the portrayal of young black males, or African American males, as more aggressive than other races is true. That remains undiscussable. Or as Thomas Sowell said in Race and Culture (at p.227):

“History itself has become the target of a desperate attack by those for whom truth threatens devastating consequences to their visions, their egos, or their projects. A whole new class of intellectuals has arisen to supply history geared to what people currently wish to believe, rather than to record the past”.

But no one is fooled. To make an issue of the fake gif of President Obama kicking a door only shows the power of the stereotype. Yet the stereotype of the aggressive black male is founded on reality, not on someone’s unfounded racial prejudice.

The equity policy says that if someone is offended, that is the fact which has to be addressed. Reality has nothing to do with it, indeed, reality may have to be denied, because the fact of comparative differences constitutes the offence.

-I believe you are a witch. Therefore, according to the rules of the campus equity policy, you must defend yourself against the accusation of witchcraft. The burden of proof is on you.

-But there are no witches because witchcraft is scientifically impossible!

-Your assertion that witchcraft is impossible is part of the hetero-normatve, phallocentric, able-ist  white logical mindspace which is the offence!

Fortunately, the occasional eruption of this sort of shit provokes the necessary and beneficial social reaction against it.

Anyone for an explicit political purge of universities? Volunteers, anyone?

Pawn to King 4

I must say I am impressed with young Mr. Trudeau. Declaring his entire Senate caucus to be independents was bold. It shows the ruthlessness, lack of excessive concern for human sentiments, cunning, and leadership we expect in our Prime Ministers. This will be a game in which the real Prime Minister, the Supreme Court, the Opposition leaders, and even Preston Manning will be playing. But for a decisive gesture, I am amused and think better of him already, in a Machiavellian sense.

Says the Globe :

Mr. Trudeau, the Liberal Leader, took Canadian politics by surprise Wednesday morning when he announced that he was expelling all Liberal senators from his Parliamentary caucus and would advocate a non-partisan process for appointing future senators that would fill the Senate with independents.

It matters not at all that the gesture is dismissed by anyone; its effect is to show the public that Trudeau can be decisive. That is all he needs to do at this stage.

Harper hits homer

The Israel trip tells the world, once again, that it has lost its moral compass.  Like calling the Durban gatherings what they are, anti-Semitic hatefests, Mr. Harper demonstrates that there are rights and there are wrongs, with a clear distinction.  And even when the press jumps on the MP who wanted to be on the shot at the Wailing Wall with the PM, the message gets through – of course the man wanted to be seen with his leader, leading. Thank you, non-Sun media, for making sure his voters saw him trying to do just that.

York is quite right, of course.

If a student’s religion compels the avoidance of women, it is not the school’s duty, or anyone else’s, to force him into situations that compromise his values or deny him the education he is paying for. It is Canadian society’s obligation to accommodate him, now and throughout his lifetime. Women clearly lose nothing by his absence, and they gain the principle that they in turn can bar men from their activities. This is the fruit of multiculturalism under the Charter. How does it taste?

Ramachandran on IQ

A Californian neuroscientst called V.S. Ramachandran has written a highly informative and entertaining book called The Tell Tale Brain. I recommend it to all who are interested in brain/mind issues. His approach is rather open-minded, for a neuroscientist, that is.

Ramachandran has a few tough words for the proponents of a single number to describe “g”, or general intelligence.

Ironically, the IQ evangelists (such as Arthur Jensen, William Shockley, Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray) use the heritability of IQ itself (sometimes called “general intelligence” or “little g”) to argue that intelligence is a single measurable trait. That would be roughly analogous to saying that general health is one thing because life span has a strong heritable component that can be expressed as a single number – age! No medical student who believed in “general health” as a monoloithic entity would get very far in medical school or be allowed to become a physician – and rightly so – and yet whole careers in psychology and political movements have beenbuilt on the equally absurd belief in a single measurable general intelligence. Their contributions have little more than shock value. (page 171)

To which I say, not so fast, Dr. Ramachandran. What you think is plausible is actually piffle.

  • the various diseases of the body are not even roughly analogous to the ability or abilities of the mind to engage in thought;
  • we use statistical aggregates all the time as a stand-in for measuring ongoing phenomena (temperature, gross domestic product, mortality figures).
  • You do not have to understand how cars work to understand the significance of their cost and their longevity. Likewise with intelligence testing.

More to the point, intelligence testers and neuroscientists are engaged in entirely different pursuits. The intelligence testers  are concerned with outcomes, neuroscientists with causes.

Let Murray and Herrnstein speak for themselves. From The Bell Curve at pages 22-23:

  1. there is such a thing as a general factor of cognitive ability on which human beings differ.
  2. All standardized tests of academic aptitude and achievement ,easure this general factor to some degree, but IQ tests expressly designed for that purpose measure it most accurately.
  3. IQ scores match, to a first degree, whatever it is that people mean when they use the word intelligent or smart in ordinary language.
  4. IQ scores are stable, although not perfectly so, over much of a person’s life.
  5. Properly administered IQ tests are not demonstrably biased against social, economic, ethnic or racial groups.
  6. Cognitive ability is substantially heritable, apparently no less than 40 percent and no more than 80 percent.

 Or let us hear from Geoffrey Miller, who describes himself as a left-wing secular humanist Jew, and who has written The Mating Mind and Spent: Sex, Evolution and Mating Behavior. From page 186 of Spent:

General intelligence (a.k.a. IQ, general cognitive ability, the g factor) is a way of quantifying intelligence’s variability among people. It is the best established, most predictive, most heritable mental trait ever discovered in psychology….Intelligence predicts objective performance and learning ability across all important life domains that show reliable individual differences.

 The irony about general intelligence is that ordinary folks of average intelligence recognize its variance across people, its generality across domains, and its importance in life. Yet educated elites meanwhile often remain implacable opposed to the very concept of general intelligence, and deny its variance, generality and importance. Professors and students at elite universities are especially prone to this pseudohumility….

Similarly, general intelligence is not a mental organ, but a latent variable that emerges when one analyzes functional efficiencies of many different mental organs(such as memory, language ability, social perceptiveness, speed at learning practical skills, and musical aptitude.)

 Intelligence (says Prof. Miller at page 189 of Spent) is positively correlated to:

  • brain size
  • speed of performing basic sensory motor tasks (“reaction time is a factor”, as the cop said in Blade Runner)
  • height
  • symmetry of face and body
  • semen quality (!)
  • health, physical and mental
  • longevity
  • sexual attractiveness for long term relationships

Intelligence: the gift that keeps on giving. If you want to see what life is like when you lack the necessary minimum, go live in Detroit.