Friday, February 12, 2021

The Decline of Intelligence in the West

The article below by Canadian essayist David Solway is a dazzling display of cultural awareness but lacks sober consideration of any of the issues he addresses. So let me fill in some of the gaps.

Why the decline in average IQ?  There does seem to be such a decline but it is no mystery.  For around 50 years, effective contraception has enabled women to enjoy sex and male company generally without childbirth resulting.  So many women have opted out of childbearing.  And, sadly, highly intelligent women  are more likely to do that.  And that means that they do not pass on their genes for intelligence.  So present-day mothers have a lower average IQ.  And that can only mean a population with a lower average IQ.

So what are the implications of a population with a lower IQ?  We do of course already have some such populations:  Africans and Arabs, for instance.  And both those have created societies where it is not inviting to live. But such societies have many differences from ours so the dysfunction could be due to other factors than IQ.

A much more hopeful observation is that all societies are only superficially democratic. It is the <a href="">smart fraction</a> that rules the roost. So Israel is run by the Ashkenazim, Brazil and Mexico are run by whites and the 7% of Britons who get a private school education run almost everything in that country. And such elites trend to be self-perpetuating. Private school boys tend to marry the sisters of their classmates and black/white marriages are rather rare. And Sephardi/Ashkenazi marriages are the exception rather than the rule.

So what will happen is that as long as the smart fraction intermarry, their societies will tend to be run much as before.  A large dumb majority will not matter much

But one needs to be cautious in attributing everything to IQ.  There are other influences which have produced the dumb behaviour that Solway documents.  An obvious one is the decline in American education. American education is now decisively in the hands of the Left and producing well-informed citizens does not seem to be one of their priorities.  They want to produce "woke" people above all.  And being woke is rather inimical to real knowledge.  

And woke attitudes are now society-wide, with few on the Left being immune to them.  Most conservatives have no time for wokery but they too sometimes make obeisances to it for the sake of peace.  So the deterioration in the national discourse can largely be traced to the ideological needs of the Left</i>

Recent studies have reported a worrisome decline in IQ scores in Western nations over the last decades, a reversal of the once-hopeful Flynn Effect (named after the late philosopher and psychologist James R. Flynn) which posited a growth in cognitive abilities for much of the 20th Century. Now the Flynn Effect seems to have reversed, leading to predictions of a general dumbing down of selective populations. Other studies report that IQ erosion is not confined to this century but that IQ has dropped by an average of 14.1 percent over the last century. As Evan Horowitz writes for NBC News, "A range of studies using a variety of well-established IQ tests and metrics have found declining scores across Scandinavia, Britain, Germany, France and Australia."

Horowitz argues that the plummet in cognitive abilities "could not only mean 15 more seasons of the Kardashians, but also. fewer scientific breakthroughs, stagnant economies and a general dimming of our collective future." Flynn himself, who did the original research on the eponymous effect, has stated that "The IQ gains of the 20th century have faltered." Flynn's more optimistic Are We Getting Smarter: Rising IQ in the Twenty-First Century was published in 2012; his subsequent findings led in an opposite direction.*

The brainchild of French psychologist Alfred Binet, the IQ construct is a controversial issue with many different interpretations and applications. Charles Spearman proposed the variable notion of a g factor, or general intelligence measure, responsible for overall performance on various mental ability tests such as memory retention, spatial processing, and quantitative reasoning. The g factor has been compared to general athletic ability which allows a person to excel in different fields and activities. There has been vigorous debate over the strict equivalency between IQ scores and intelligence, but there is broad agreement on a general waning of intelligence or, from a clinical perspective, an ebbing of IQ scores. Of course, smart people can sometimes do poorly on IQ tests and obtuse people can sometimes rank high on aspectual tiers of these tests. But the consensus appears to be that the correlation approximately holds while allowing for scalene anomalies. In effect, the g factor is eroding.

One recalls MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, the architect of Obamacare, who referred to "the stupidity of the American voter" as helping him to pass the controversial law. One wonders if Gruber ever heard of Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget's test results purporting to show that "the rot starts at the top." This would implicate Gruber and his cohort in the experience of what Piaget calls horizontal d‚calage, which stymies the application of cognitive functions and logical operations to extended tasks. In other words, Gruber et al. are also stupid, gradually destroying the very society that enabled them to flourish. But the rot can also start at the bottom, as a combination of generalized mental vacancy and low-to-no-information voters furthers cultural and social degeneration. As Morris Berman remarks in The Twilight of American Culture, "A society cannot function if nearly everyone in it is stupid."

Why should we be surprised that an American president should pronounce "corpsman" as "corpseman"? Or that a Canadian prime minister says "peoplekind" in lieu of "mankind"? Or that a Washington, D.C., mayor and his staff should have objected to a perfectly good word like "niggardly"? Or that a Methodist pastor and Congressman should follow the exclamation "Amen" with "a-woman," when an ordained minister should surely know that "Amen" is an acronym for the Hebrew ??? ?????? ??????? (El melech neeman: "Lord and faithful King")-or, as some scholars think, a calque for the Aramaic "so be it"? One can multiply these gaffes, misnomers, and malapropisms indefinitely among those who should know better-and that is merely scratching the surface. The dumbing down phenomenon is virtually encyclopedic in heft and extent.

One sees the same intelligence deficit in the names chosen for some of our major social media networks. "YouTube" is cringe-worthy-just say it dispassionately to yourself. "Facebook" is a ridiculous moniker, as well as a dubious platform: as Niall Ferguson quips in The Great Degeneration, Facebook is "a vast tool enabling like-minded people to exchange like-minded opinions about, well, what they like." Then there's "Twitter." A conversation between human beings is compared to birds twittering on a digital branch-the implicit message is that communicants are bird-brained. (Contrast to such infelicity a beleaguered platform like "Parler" with its French connotation of real speech and an analogy to a living room where people gather to converse amicably and share ideas.) The Apple logo-an apple with a bite taken out of it-is the fruit of pure bathos and corporate stupidity, inadvertently reminding us of the primal sin in the Garden of Eden and warning us about the perilous quest for knowledge that tantalizes on another digital tree. "Think different" is thus contra-indicated, an original sin. Apple, seriously?

Top or bottom doesn't seem to matter. In his spy thriller Early Warning, Michael Walsh comments about government officials who, presumably "the best minds of the Republic," are merely a "collection of hacks, time-servers, and affirmative-action appointees" whose advancement depends heavily on nepotism. "It was really pathetic, when you thought about it: that more than two centuries of American history had come to this." Believe it. An American congressman fears the island of Guam will capsize. So-called "ambush journalist" Jesse Watters in Watters World interviews young university students; the level of ignorance, functional illiteracy, and smug self-esteem he uncovers is enough to turn the specter of our cultural practices, general knowledge, and university system into a cosmic joke.

And so it goes. A London community activist, asked about removing a Churchill statue during the summer of BLM love, admits she hasn't "personally met" Winston Churchill. A swarm of Twitter users condemns Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Tom Brady as "racist" for defeating half-black Kansas City Chiefs' QB Patrick Mahomes on Super Bowl LV during Black History Month-the fact that the great majority of Brady's teammates are black and are clearly Brady enthusiasts seems to have escaped their attention. Major economic and energy policies seem planned not by cerebral giants but by weed-addled pubescents. Bill Gates, for example, wants to pepper the sky with aerosols to reflect sunlight out of the atmosphere and initiate global cooling-the risks are incommensurable and likely irreversible. Gates has what we might call "sector-intelligence" and might do well on segments of the Stanford-Binet IQ test, but I wouldn't bet on his g score. The travesty of intelligence, prudence, and wisdom is beyond calculation, and it is only getting worse as IQ continues to slip down the great chain of thinking. This is the world that the classic film Idiocracy extravagantly punctures.

Why this should be is anybody's guess. No one really knows. Various theories have been proposed to account for accelerating neural descent, ranging from the Dewey-inspired "progressive education" agenda working its leveling passage from the turn of the 20th century to the decrepit public schools and failed universities of the present day; to the softening effect of prolonged affluence and ease on a culture; to the debilitating influence of "smart" technology that performs our cognitive functions for us; to the assumption that women of higher intelligence are having fewer children, implying that women of lower intelligence are driving population growth; to the effects of increased media exposure and the consequent lessening of reading; to the emergence of the vices of envy and resentment owing to radical egalitarianism and the rancor of the under-performing against the skilled, hard-working, and successful, a dynamic cogently analyzed by Dinesh D'Souza in Stealing America; or to the merely inescapable fact of decay: as Robert Frost wrote, "Nothing gold can stay." One thinks, too, of poet Gerard Manley Hopkins' remark in his Journal: "From much, much more; from little, not much; and from nothing, nothing." Whatever the cause or causes may be, intellectual deterioration seems to be the case.

What, then, is to be done? We need to go to literature to contemplate possibilities for restoration. The problem, says Barry Lopez in Arctic Dreams, is that "The good minds still do not find each other often enough." In his reflections on culture In Bluebeard's Castle, George Steiner imagined a future of small, eremitic clusters of intellectual light dotting an arid landscape, recycling Max Weber's notion of frail enclaves of enlightenment as the last resort of a civilization sinking into darkness. Walter M. Miller Jr.'s classic A Canticle for Leibowitz portrayed an obscure abbey in the Utah desert where historical knowledge is kept alive and preserved from the "Simpletons," even if it's only a sacred shopping list or a mysterious blueprint for circuit design. "Let us change the icons," wrote Will Durant in The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, "and light the candles."

Berman calls this the "monastic option," but he does not regard it as an assembly of cenobites residing in a physical plant somewhere in the outback. Instead, it consists of a disparate collection of individuals, "cultural nomads," who may not know one another but are dedicated to a life of private decency, "the disinterested pursuit of truth, the cultivation of art [and] the commitment to critical thinking." The "new monks" derive from and support "traditions of craftsmanship, care, and integrity, preservation of canons of scholarship, critical thinking, individual achievements and independent thought." Their purpose is "to transmit a memory trace of what a culture can be about."

It's a daunting task. The number of people incapable of lucid argument and civil debate, whether Internet trolls, social media vulgarians, angry progressivists, media ignoramuses and intellectually challenged political leaders, is legion. It is therefore by no means astonishing that the greatest civilization the world has ever known, the Judeo-Christian West, is subsiding into a state of cognitive expiry, prone to fantasies and delusions, unable to confront and parse the reality of the world, oblivious to the symbiosis of man, history and nature, distracted by pseudo-scientific baubles, bereft of spiritual substance, and foreign to the very idea of truth.

In Social and Cultural Dynamics, Pitirim Sorokin, one of the great thinkers of our time, distinguished between "ideational" cultures, which are knowledge-and-spiritually focused, and "sensate" cultures, which are primarily informational and materialistic, the latter eventually devolving into a condition in which coercion, fraud, debasement of the creative impulse, family breakdown, and the encroachment of "untruth" into the human conscience (read: political correctness, fake news, electoral debauchery) are paramount. The latter is our present cultural home, lacking reflective capacity and experiencing a downtrend in clarity of thought and general percipience, shaving off IQ points as clarity and percipience drop. The concept of intelligence is complex and multifactorial, but if by "intelligence" we mean something like the ability to see the world as it is, to understand context, and to act in ways proven to be beneficial over time, then, according to Sorokin, intelligence is likely to decline in the latter stages of a "sensate" age.

The decline of intelligence-moral rectitude and creative exuberance are collateral casualties-is now in full throttle. The exceptions to the debacle-monks, nomads, people of integrity, people capable of common sense, the classically educated-represent the only viable hope for a new "ideational" age to arise out of the rubble of a "sensate" disaster. It may take another century to bring about what Sorokin called "the turn," the slow ascent up the IQ ladder, which is cold comfort indeed. But I suspect it's the only real comfort we have

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Closing Australia’s education divide will take a generation, landmark study finds

More pretence that all students have equal potential.  The "divide" is the poor achievements of Aboriginal and working class children.  In the USA the "gap" is between black and white pupils. And huge efforts and many bright-eyed ideas have been used to close that gap -- to no effect. So it would be optimistic indeed to think that things might be different in Australia

They are not. All sorts of efforts have been made to improve Aboriginal education but just getting Aboriginal children to attend school is a major difficulty.  School is just not attractive to them and the parents don't care

And the basic thing underlying the gap is the same in the USA and Australia: the difference in Average IQ.  IQ is highly correlated with educational success and both Aborigines and American blacks score abysmally on it.  There is simply no way out of that situation

One of the most comprehensive studies of Australia's education system has found postcodes and family backgrounds impact the opportunities available to students from pre-school to adulthood, with one in three disadvantaged students falling through the cracks.

Sergio Macklin, the deputy lead of education policy at Victoria University's Michell Institute, released the report Educational Opportunity in Australia, which calls for immediate extra resources to help disadvantaged, Indigenous and remote students.

"Educational success is strongly linked to the wealth of a young person's family and where they grow up," Mr Macklin said.

"I think Australia's really letting down students from low-income families, Aboriginal students and those in remote areas."

The report critiques progress on last December's Alice Springs Education Council meeting where, in the wake of Australia's poor performance against its international counterparts, education ministers pledged to deliver a system that produced excellence and equity.

Last year's poor results on equality of education have now been exacerbated by remote learning, with some students without internet or stability at home falling weeks behind their peers.

"The children and young people that were being worst served by the education system are probably the ones that are being most affected by it," Mr Macklin said.

"So you'll see employment stress in families dramatically increased student vulnerability."

The report followed the progress of more than 300,000 students from school entry through primary school, into high school and onto early adulthood.

Mr Macklin believes the problem will take a generation to fix.

The report found disadvantaged students were more than twice as likely as their peers to not be in study or work by the age of 24.

The national average of students missing out on either work or study is 15 per cent, but this rises to 32 per cent of students from the lowest SES backgrounds, 38 per cent from very remote areas and 45 per cent among Indigenous young people.

"I think what this report highlights is that we're losing young people's opportunities in adulthood — and that's a real problem for young people," Mr Macklin said.

"But it's also a real problem for Australia. It puts a handbrake on our recovery efforts from the COVID recession."

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Are all white people racist? Why Critical Race Theory has us rattled

The article below is a reasonable summary of the claims and counter-claims of the currently influential "Critical race theory".

It is however a theory in search of something to explain.  It arose as an attempt to explain the immovably "disadvantaged" state of American blacks.  It sought to find an explanation of that state in the way white society operates.  Society was at fault as the cause of black poverty etc.

But if society is inherently racist and oppressive to minorities, how come most minorities in America do very well?  The highest-paid ethnic group in America is in fact Indians, with Japanese, Jews, Koreans and Chinese not far behind.  If the mechanisms of American society are so oppressive, how do we expain the stellar record of those minorities?  White society may not have given them a bed of roses but its "oppressive" mechanisms would appear to be in fact very weak, far too weak to explain the badly depressed state of black achievement.

So why are blacks such a standout? Is there anything in white society which affects only them?  The reality tends in fact to be the opposite of that.  There is a great deal of prejudice in their favour, usually under the rubric of "affirmative action".  Yet still they fail as a group both economically and in other important way such as the crime-rate and disruptive male-female relationships.

So it is clear that the cause of the uniquely bad state of American blacks has to be found in something unique to blacks.  And from a scientific point of view what that is could hardly be clearer.  But "clear" does not mean socially acceptible.  Around 100 years of scientific research showing that blacks on average have markedly low IQs just cannot be accepted.  And East Asians of course have markedly high levels of average IQ.  Average IQ is the critical variable.  The very low level of black IQ explains perfectly the very low level of black achievement

So "critical race theory" is a tortured attempt to explain black disadvantage in a way that defies clearly  established scientific facts.  As such it deserves no respect.  The "racist" nature of American society is a desperate delusion -- as the great success of most racial minorities in America shows

There's a good chance you've never heard of Critical Race Theory. But if its opponents are to be believed, this niche academic discipline poses the biggest threat to Western civilisation since the Dark Ages.

Donald Trump has called it "toxic propaganda" that threatens to destroy America. British Conservative MP Kemi Badenoch, a black woman of Nigerian parentage, last month told Parliament it leads to a "segregated society" and makes everything "about the colour of your skin"; teaching it in British schools without offering an alternative view, she added, was "illegal". In Australia, the Murdoch media has railed against it for "reducing people to a racial essence", and judging them on the basis of "group identity" rather than "individual character, behaviour and merit".

Its advocates say it lays bare the hidden machinery of "systemic" racism, but its critics say it is itself racist, pitting white against black, peddling damaging notions of "white privilege" and "white supremacy" and making a virtue of victimhood.

But what exactly is Critical Race Theory — CRT for short — and is it really as dangerous as all that?

CRT has its origins in US law schools in the mid-1970s, as researchers began to ask why the legal advances won by the Civil Rights movement had produced so little improvement in the lives of minorities. The answer, they came to believe, lay in the way these new laws that supposedly guaranteed equal opportunity were being applied — and effectively resisted or undermined — by the courts. This was, they argued, "systemic racism" in action.

"Think how our system applauds affording everyone equality of opportunity," wrote Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic in their 2001 book Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, "but resists programs that assure equality of results."

The term Critical Race Theory was coined in 1989, and the discipline has ebbed and flowed in the years since. In Britain and the United States it has found its way into the education system and workplaces in explicit terms, prompting Badenoch's speech in parliament and Trump's September edict that no government funding would go to federal diversity training programs that drew upon it "because it's racist".

But in Australia it remains a minor field, cropping up in the odd humanities, law or politics department, though only occasionally labelled explicitly as CRT. For the most part, it's only in the occasional flare-ups on social media that we see its influence in this country.

The language deployed around the Mukbang controversy at the Sydney Film Festival in June was typical. In drawing upon a Korean internet phenomenon and featuring a briefly seen anime-style drawing of a white girl strangling a black boy, the short film (directed by a young white woman) was guilty of cultural appropriation and racism, critics insisted. In awarding it a prize, and allowing the offending anime image to be removed after the fact, the festival was even more guilty, of both whitewashing and of upholding a "white supremacist" system (never mind that the festival’s director, Nashen Moodley, is a South African-born person of colour).

Condemnation flared again in August when the candidates for the Rob Guest Endowment, a $50,000 scholarship offered to an up-and-coming star of musical theatre, were announced — all of them white. There was outrage, a botched apology, and finally the mass withdrawal of “the 30 former semi-finalists" in solidarity with "artists identifying as First Nations and People of Colour".

This masthead found itself in the crosshairs in May when it appointed five emerging book critics — again, all of them white. Amid outrage at yet more evidence of "white supremacy" in action, two resigned, labelling the selection process "a missed opportunity to support non-white voices in arts criticisms in Australia". In August two new reviewers from diverse backgrounds were appointed.

The accusations are typically fierce, and the apologies that follow often reek of the re-education camp.

It's easy to be dismissive, to chime in with the tired observation that each one of these outbursts is just another case of "political correctness gone mad". But focusing on the doctrinaire nature of the language only obscures and distracts from the critique that informs it — and it's a critique that perhaps ought to be taken seriously if we are to avoid the ructions currently splitting American society.

Broadly speaking, Critical Race Theory argues that the laws and institutions of Western societies only appear to be neutral; in truth, they discriminate against black, indigenous and other people of colour in myriad ways, often invisible to the naked eye. The job of the antiracist is to expose the workings of this systemic racism, no matter how incremental, and call them out.

The key insight of CRT may be that it locates racism not just in the acts of individuals — the white supremacists of bedsheets and cross burnings, say — but in a system that upholds, deliberately or not, inequality of outcome on the basis of race. It might manifest as racial profiling in policing, say, or failing to get into university because of the way eligibility is assessed (favouring tutored wealthy white kids over under-resourced kids in Indigenous communities, for example), or in the lack of diversity in particular kinds of workplaces.

Tim Soutphommasane, professor of sociology and political theory at the University of Sydney and Australia's former Race Discrimination Commissioner, says CRT is not the only model for dissecting racism, and nor is it "beyond reproach". But for many people concerned with combating racism, "there has long been the view that a liberal approach that focuses on individual attitudes and behaviours only gets you so far ... you can't understand racism without understanding how it involves power."

Plenty of white people who think of themselves as non-racists might find it hard to accept the idea that our institutions — education, employment, policing, the law, even health and welfare services — might be shot through with racism, and that they benefit from it. And for working-class whites struggling to pay the bills, the idea of "white privilege” is even harder to swallow (one reason why the issue has been so divisive in the US, and prompted many traditionally Democrat voters to swing to Trump).

"Many people still think you shouldn't be tagged as racist unless you subscribe to racial supremacist doctrine," Soutphommasane says. "Many don't understand that racism is as much about systemic impact as it is about individual intention."

One of the key criticisms of CRT, particularly from those on the Right, is the way it identifies "whiteness" as an object of study — and a problem. But advocates insist there's an important distinction to be made between "whiteness" as a system of power, and "white people", who may or may not be "allies" in dismantling that structure in order to end racism.

"Any decent critical race work doesn't focus on the individual, it focuses on the system, the structure," says race critical scholar Alana Lentin, an associate professor at the University of Western Sydney. "As soon as we can see that, we also see that no one benefits from a divided society."

One of the most widely cited "proofs" of CRT's inherent racism is history professor Ibram Kendi’s assertion that to declare oneself "not racist" while doing nothing to actively combat racism is the same as actively being racist.

"Being antiracist is not harmful," Claire Lehmann, founder of the liberal politics and philosophy website Quillette, has said. "What is harmful is this notion … that everything is either racist or antiracist. That's a really damaging idea because it doesn't allow for neutrality."

Kendi's version of CRT — as articulated in his book How to be an Antiracist — would argue that neutrality is anything but. It would, for instance, cast the recent assertion by Wallabies coach Dave Rennie that players taking the knee before a match would be a "political move" in a very different light. Given the rise of the gesture around the world as a display of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and the campaign against racially motivated police violence against people of colour, not taking the knee would be seen as the real political statement.

It's not only conservatives who have issues with CRT, though. Writing on the broader subject of cancel culture in the most recent issue of The Monthly, Waleed Aly observed that the insistence on calling out "microaggressions" (the tiny daily instances of discrimination, none prosecutable in their own right but collectively degrading) was counterproductive.

"In this world view, no act or comment is too small to be considered part of a system of oppression," Aly writes. "[But] when nearly everything can be found problematic, when labels like 'white supremacist' can be hurled at most social behaviour and people, they flatten out the very idea of oppression."

For James Lindsay, host of the New Discourses podcast and a staunch critic of CRT, its real intent is nothing less than to overthrow liberal society. It aims, he says, to "awaken ... that awareness of oppression ... agitating people to see how bad their lives are even when they liked them, so that they would want to effect a revolution".

Or, as Australian writer, actor and Twitter activist Michelle Law put it in June, it seeks not to reform the system so much as to "burn it all down".

White supremacist groups such as Proud Boys are clearly racist. But is failing to speak out against such groups and their beliefs similarly racist?
White supremacist groups such as Proud Boys are clearly racist. But is failing to speak out against such groups and their beliefs similarly racist? CREDIT:AP

Not everyone who identifies with CRT holds that view, though. Just as liberalism is a broad church encompassing everything from anti-government libertarians to pro-welfare interventionists, so CRT hosts a range of views.

"I haven't read anything in CRT literature that argues that white people are the only people who can perpetuate racism," says Amy Maguire, associate professor in law at the University of Newcastle. "Whiteness theory situates whiteness in Western societies as the neutral or non-raced position, and situates non-white people as racialised/other. My read is that it would be possible for a non-white person to engage in racism against racialised communities in this type of framing."

CRT isn't a prescriptive set of rules, says Dr Tess Ryan, president of the Australian Critical Race and Whiteness Studies Association and an Indigenous woman of Birapai descent from Taree in NSW. "There are a lot of learnings from the US and Europe and the UK that need to be nuanced and adapted to the Australian situation. I think it's about taking what you need at a particular time and in a particular context. It's a toolkit situation — or a dilly bag, if you will."

It would at any rate take a very great effort of will to pretend inequity and racism do not exist in Western societies (or in non-Western societies for that matter). And if we agree on that point we have a choice: to accept it as the natural order of things, or to try to change it.

CRT demands change. In some versions it seeks to force people into extreme positions - of black victim and white supremacist, or of self-flagellating white ally - that do little to encourage faith that we might find a middle path to a better, post-racist society.

But, says Dr Ryan, it doesn’t need to be that way. "You don't have to walk down the street slapping yourself with a whip," she says. "It's about recognising and acknowledging, and that's not hard to do."

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Children raised in greener neighbourhoods have higher IQs and lower levels of difficult behaviour, study finds

Only a small groan about this study Income is of course the big potential confounder.  Rich people tend to be the ones living in leafy areas and they tend to be smarter.

And the researchers knew that and tried to control for it. And they didn't do a bad job. But both the index of income and the index of greenery encountered were geographical rather than personal so the correlations were ecological and such correlations are often high.  The results are not given in correlational form but appear to be undramatic so are lower than expected in the circumstances.  Testing the theory using individual measures could well have confirmed the nul hypothesis.

That the finding is not a strong one is also suggested by the fact that it was found in urban areas only, not in suburban or rural areas

Growing up in an area with more green space is beneficial to a child's intelligence, according to a new study that found those in greener urban areas had a higher IQ.

A team from Hasselt University, Belgium, analysed IQs of over 600 children and then used satellite images to examine the green coverage of their neighbourhoods.

The children in the study were all aged between 10 and 15, according to the team, who say a 3 per cent increase in greenery led to an IQ increase of about 2.6 points.

Researchers also found that children in the study had lower levels of behavioural problems if they lived in an area that more green coverage.  

IQ point increases as a result of living in a green environment had the biggest impact on those at the lower end of the spectrum as small changes made a big difference.

This is the first time IQ has been considered as a potential benefit of being exposed to green spaces in childhood - other studies have looked at wider cognitive benefits.

The researchers aren't sure exactly why IQ increases with exposure to a green environment, but suspect it could be to do with lower levels of stress.

The data on IQ and location came from the East Flanders Prospective Twin Survey (EFPTS), a registry of multiple births in the province of East Flanders, Belgium.

The average IQ of those involved was 105 but the team found 4 per cent of the children with a score below 80 had grown up in areas with low greenery levels.

It wasn't just intelligence that was impacted by living in an area that was more green - the team found it also helped improve the behaviour of some of the children.

They found that behavioural problems reduced for every 3 per cent rise in greenery.

The team said that a well planned city could offer unique opportunities to create an 'optimal environment' for children to develop to their full potential.  

'Whereas in 1950, only 30 per cent of the world’s population lived in urban areas; nowadays, this is already more than half of the global population, and it is expected to increase to 68 per cent by 2050,' the team explained.

'There is more and more evidence that green surroundings are associated with our cognitive function,' study author Tim Nawrot told The Guardian.

'I think city builders should prioritise investment in green spaces because it is really of value to create an optimal environment for children to develop their full potential.'

According to the study authors the benefits of greenery recorded in urban areas weren't replicated in more rural communities - likely because those areas had enough green space for everyone to benefit so the effects weren't as localised.

The authors believe that a combination of lower noise levels and lower stress levels found in green space areas contribute to the improvements in IQ and behaviour.

Part of this is also due to the fact there are more opportunities for physical and social activities in areas with more greenery - which can improve IQ scores on their own.  

'Our results indicate that residential green space may be beneficial for intellectual and behavioural development of children living in an urban environment.

'We showed a shift in the IQ distribution of urban children in association with residential green space exposure,' the authors wrote.  

The findings have been published in the journal PLOS Medicine.


Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Is coaching for exams beneficial?

The Australian writer below is broadly right. There is no substitute for inborn IQ.  The results one gets from IQ can however be influenced to some extent by the child's environment. Families who send their kids to coaching probably already provide a good opportinity for intellectual development, however

The revamping of the selective high school entry examination will inevitably be viewed as an attempt to make the test less coachable. But why do we have such a problem with coaching?

When it comes to academic performance, Australian culture places a premium on natural ability. Yet in other endeavours, such as sport, we have no problem with systematic training. Few look at a star football player and remark bitterly: “Well, his mother was taking him to training since he was four.” Likewise, the ballerina who practises diligently 12 hours a week is a source of admiration for her dedication.

Even children feel the stigma, with many gifted students underplaying their amount of study in the belief that you are not really smart if you have to put in effort. Academic success that appears to come easily is more highly valued than that which is the result of hard work.

There is a perception among many that undeserving children who have been coached from an early age are stealing places at selective high schools from naturally bright students. Often coupled with racist undertones, this argument in part stems from a certain streak in mainstream Anglo-Australian culture which hates a “try hard”.

Coaching, many feel, confers an unfair advantage. This is certainly true from an economic perspective. Students whose parents can afford years of tutoring may gain an edge over an equally bright child whose parents lack the means for extracurricular support. Yet this applies to most fields of endeavour. Our footy star and ballerina also need parents who are able to pay for coaching.

So there’s a certain hypocrisy at play when parents are criticised for providing academic coaching but admired for supporting their child’s dream with other forms of coaching.

But before you rush out and enrol your child in the closest coaching college to get that “academic advantage”, consider the following. What can coaching focused exclusively on test preparation really do for your child?

Research tells us it can reduce test anxiety. If you have never sat a test before, then you are probably going to be nervous, especially if your parents and peers have whipped you into a frenzied belief that this is the most important exam of your life.

Most Year 4 students sitting the Opportunity Class exams have only had one experience of a formal assessment, NAPLAN, so the experience of going to a large hall at a different school can itself be overwhelming.

If you have sat tests before, then you know what to do and what to expect. You know how to manage your time and not spend too long on one question. You know that tests start with easy questions and that the harder questions are at the end. You know that you should read the whole question before answering. You know that with one minute to go, you should fill in “C” for any multiple choice you have not answered.

These are techniques that coaching colleges are adept at drilling and as the government's selective high school review confirmed in 2018, they could make the few marks’ difference between getting a place or not. However, they are also techniques you can learn by practising with a $15 book from your local newsagent.

I am yet to see any research that shows that coaching of any description can turn a child of average ability into a gifted child. Nor is there any evidence that children who have been coached wouldn’t have got into selective high schools on their own merits – and saved their parents a great deal of money in the process.

<a href="">SOURCE</a>  

Monday, June 29, 2020

Masks Increase Co2 Levels - making you Dumber

I don't know the political breakdown, but top health and political authorities in various states are mandating that masks be worn, even when the number of COVID-19 Hospitalizations and Deaths are declining. Here in Democrat-controlled Illinois, wearing a facemask is required, through all 4 phases of reopening the state.

Presidential Candidate Joe Biden said yesterday that we will probably have to wear masks for at least another year, as a "new normal", in order to protect ourselves and others.

All the emphasis and mandates regarding wearing a face-mask, comes from the same "people" who shut down the country over a virus that kills only 1.4% of the people who contract it.

Sure enough, there has been quite a bit of research on the subject, due to so many complaints of mental and physiological problems from workers in careers where masks are worn a lot. (Medical, Painting, Construction, etc..)

Findings Summary from a Study on N-95 face masks:

The results show that above 60% of inspired air is respired air in case I (wearing a mask), compared to less than 1.2% in case II (not wearing a mask).

In conclusion, the N95 respirator trapped respired air within the respirator which increased the VOF of respired air during inspiration. This might be one of the major contributors to elevated carbon dioxide level while wearing N95 respirator.

Full Study <a href="">here</a>

MOST IMPORTANTLY...This study explains what happens to us after repeated stints of Carbon Dioxide(CO2)/less Oxygen(O2) Inhalation:

Participants were tested on their cognitive abilities each day at about 3 pm. They were given real life situations (an example of a situation: if you were to be the mayor of the town what changes would you bring to your town) and the answers were later analyzed using software. The nine parameters that the participants were tested were:

* The ability to make decisions at any given time
* The capability to make decisions that achieved the desired goal
* The capacity to pay attention to surroundings
* The capability of completing given tasks
* The capacity to respond to an emergency
* The ability to gather information
* The ability to use the gathered information for the given goals
* The capacity to make decisions using a variety of options along with multiple dimensions
* The capacity of complex thinking

The results of the study were amazing.

Participants experiencing the elevated CO2 levels were found to have significant difficulty with their decision making abilities and thinking capabilities.

So what is the reason behind the impairments of the cognitive ability?

Increased level of CO2 in the blood decreases the cerebral metabolism of oxygen. In simple words, the brain becomes oxygen deprived and has an impact on our thinking abilities.

Carbon dioxide dissolves in our blood and reacts with the water in our blood to create carbonic acid. This, in turn, dissolves into ions of hydrogen and bicarbonate. If there is an increase in the concentration of hydrogen ions in our blood the blood acidity level increases and creates electrolyte imbalance, causing decline in intellectual performance.

With increased CO2 levels, a decrease in the IQ by even 5 points will bring a lot more people into the ‘mentally handicapped’ range, unless corrective action is taken immediately.

Google does not let you see the above articles unless you filter out (not show) any search results after 12/31/2019. All the articles/studies this year describe how great face masks are for us! No ill effects whatsoever.

Word to the wise...If there are rules/laws mandating face masks where you live, only wear it when necessary. Save those brain cells. Keep your independent critical-thinking abilities in tip-top shape! (We will need them if our leaders push things too far.)

<a href="">SOURCE</a>

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Some truths may not be uttered

An adviser in British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's office has resigned after online comments resurfaced where he linked intellect to race and seemed to advocate a eugenics policy.

Andrew Sabisky once suggested that black Americans had a lower average IQ than white Americans. <i>[All the research says they do]</i>

He also said in a 2014 web post that one way to stop unplanned pregnancies "creating a permanent underclass" was to force people to use contraception.

Mr Sabisky said he was in the middle of a "giant character assassination" and was stepping down because he did not want to be a distraction.

"The media hysteria about my old stuff online is mad but I wanted to help HMG, not be a distraction," he said on Twitter using the initials for Her Majesty's Government.

"Accordingly I've decided to resign as a contractor."

He said he hoped the government hired more people with "good geopolitical forecasting track records and that media learn to stop selective quoting".

"I signed up to do real work, not be in the middle of a giant character assassination: if I can't do the work properly there's no point," he said, adding that he had "a lot of other things to do" with his life.

Downing Street had repeatedly refused to say whether Mr Johnson supported the views expressed by Mr Sabisky.

<a href="">SOURCE</a>