Culture, politics, science, philosophy.
General manifesto *****
The deep Crisis of the West
Educational attainment by foreign born students in Sweden
23.12.2008. Statistics Sweden has a new report (pdf) out on the integration of foreign-born Swedes and their children - nearly 20 percent of the Swedish population. Continue reading at Congenial Times.
Different spatial skill linked to brain structure
23.12.2008. Men consistently outperform women on spatial tasks, including mental rotation, which is the ability to identify how a 3-D object would appear if rotated in space. Now, a University of Iowa study shows a connection between this sex-linked ability and the structure of the parietal lobe, the brain region that controls this type of skill. Continue reading at ScienceDaily.
Changing times in Australia
10.12.2008. DISCRIMINATION against dominant white males will soon be encouraged in a bid to boost the status of women, the disabled and cultural and religious minorities. Such positive discrimination -- treating people differently in order to obtain equality for marginalised groups - is set to be legalised under planned changes to the Equal Opportunity Act foreshadowed last week by state Attorney-General Rob Hulls. [...]
Victoria's peak business body expressed concern yesterday about the need for the proposed laws, and questioned if they would undermine the right of companies to make legitimate business decisions. At present, individuals or bodies wanting to single out any race or gender for special treatment must gain an exemption from VCAT. Companies and public bodies accused of discrimination can only be held to account after a complaint has been made.
But the proposed changes go much further, allowing the commission to inquire into discrimination, seize documents and search and enter premises after attempts to bring about change have failed. Businesses and individuals would be required to change their ways even if a complaint had not been received. Action could be taken where an unlawful act was "likely to occur", not just in cases where discrimination has taken place. The commission would also have real teeth to enforce its rulings via VCAT and, as a last resort, in the courts. Continue reading at Herald Sun.
HonestThinking comments: This sounds like a recipe for disaster, and one more step in the direction of turning Australia into a totalitarian state. From another point of view, this is an attempt at forcing the landscape to conform to the utopian map of the politically correct elites. Anyone who honestly desires to understand what the results of this kind of discrimination is going to lead to, should read Jared Taylor's thoroughly researched book (from 1993) Paved with good intentions – the failure of race relations in contemporary America, which deals with the disastrous consequences of Affirmative action in the USA.
The reader should also compare the above with the Human Rights Commission scandal in Canada (which at least one of the major political parties in that country is now having second thoughts about).
Words associated with Christianity, the monarchy and British history have been dropped from a leading dictionary for children
10.12.2008. Oxford University Press has removed words like "aisle", "bishop", "chapel", "empire" and "monarch" from its Junior Dictionary and replaced them with words like "blog", "broadband" and "celebrity". Dozens of words related to the countryside have also been culled. The publisher claims the changes have been made to reflect the fact that Britain is a modern, multicultural, multifaith society. Continue reading in The Telegraph.
Discussions at the Political Academy of the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP)
Is there a Euro Islam?
08.12.2008. Last month a panel discussion was held in Vienna sponsored by the Wiener Akademikerbund (aka The Vienna Association of Academics; VAA). It is interesting to notice that VAA has proposed that the following demands be presented to Muslims in Austria:
- Full disclosure of religious foundations, as required in the law on religion. A certified translation of the Qur’an and the Ahadith are to be deposited (in the Ministry of Interior).
- All fatwas from imams preaching in Austria are to be translated into German and deposited in the Ministry of Interior.
- Public Service: All Muslims entering public service must dissociate — in writing — from Koranic verses prohibiting subordination to the instructions of “infidel” officials and judgments from “infidel” judges.
- School: Teachers, including Islamic religious instructors, must dissociate from those Koranic verses that propagate the disadvantage of women, corporal punishment and violence against members of other religions (and atheists and non-theists).
- Friday prayers and Quran lessons in Quran schools (i.e. madrassas) must be held in German.
- Ban on covering faces: Total ban of burqa and chador in public.
- Mosques I: Adjustments to the building regulations so that the preservation of the Austrian Cultural heritage is guaranteed (no dome and minarets).
- Mosques II: Prayer houses and rooms are often misused and thus viewed as conducive to setting up cells of Islamic parallel society. Mosque-affiliated businesses, restaurants, commercial areas are — unless correctly legally established — to close immediately.
- Criteria for the awarding of citizenship: Knowledge about the Christian-humanist foundations of our social order is to be tested authoritatively.
- Asylum applications: An applicant must show a commitment to our Christian-humanist values.
- Forcing the headscarf on children is to be considered an act of violence on the part of the legal guardian and must be treated as child abuse.
- Animal Cruelty: Ban on trade in and the sale of meat slaughtered according to Islamic rites.
- Polygamy: As prescribed by law to religious groups in Austria, a ban on marriages in mosques without prior civil wedding must be enforced.
- Immediate cessation of all public measures designed to encourage refusal of integration (separate cemeteries, special treatments in hospitals, offer of social services in the languages of the countries of origin of migrants, etc.).
- Call on the Islamic Faith Community to focus efforts on enforcing building permits for Christian Churches in Islamic states.
Read more at Gates of Vienna (where else?!). Readers might want to compare the demands from VAA with Sam Solomon's Proposed Charter of Muslim Understanding (pdf).
HonestThinking comments: This posting does not imply an endorsement of the points of view expressed by VAA or Solomon. I simply believe that these kinds of documents should be discussed.
Are you smart enough to outsmart yourself?
08.12.2008. It appears that David Brooks is one of these guys who is so smart that he can actually outsmart himself, at least if he gives it a really hard try. On 14 September 2007 he published an op-ed in New York Times that soon earned him some well-deserved ridicule.
For example John Derbyshire writes in National Review Online:
I can never think about the topic of I.Q. without recalling the late Willard Espy’s immortal “I-ku haiku.” From memory:
I ku; you ku; he, she, or it ku;
We ku; you ku; they ku.
Espy’s lines don’t make much sense, but they make more sense than a lot of the stuff that gets written about I.Q. Case in point: David Brooks’s remarkably lame-brained piece in the New York Times the other day. I say “remarkably” because David is a very smart guy, and people that smart do not often sign their names to such unmitigated twaddle.
The review by Alex B. at Gene Expression concludes as follows:
In the world of academia, to have your ideas printed in a reputable journal, you have to go through the peer-review process. While there are arguments for the pros and cons of this process, at least it frequently squashes ill-informed, blatantly false propaganda from reaching the masses. After reading op-ed like this, one wishes the NYT had a similar mechanism in place.
And Steve Sailer chose a witty approach:
I couldn't agree more! Obviously, judging from laws like No Child Left Behind, our political and pundit classes have spent quite enough time studying and publicly elucidating the subtleties of the science of IQ. C'mon, guys, enough is enough with all the IQ expertise on display in the press! We're into diminishing marginal returns on IQ knowledge by now.
Aren't we all sick of hearing George Will and Thomas Friedman harp on and on about Spearman's Hypothesis about the g factor on every Sunday morning talk show? And how many dozens of articles about IQ and the Wealth of Nations can The Economist run in one decade? And by now haven't we've all heard NPR explain ad infinitum that the reason that young whites have an 80% higher combat death rate in the Iraq War than young minorities is in large part because the military's well-validated devotion to IQ testing makes it much harder for minorities, with their lower average IQs, to enlist? And do we really have to see Arthur Jensen and Linda Gottfredson on the evening news every week being asked to give an IQ expert's perspective on every social issue under the sun? Can't we ever debate immigration without Dana Milbank of the Washington Post reminding us of the lower average IQ of illegal immigrants?
And when will critics of IQ research ever get any media attention whatsoever? Will the little-known paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould, who died in poverty because of persecution by the all-powerful IQ Establishment, ever get any recognition for his (admittedly obscurantist) critique of IQ?
And when will all the Schools of Education stop requiring all future teachers to spend a semester studying The Bell Curve? Wouldn't 8 weeks be enough to spend on that one book?
Brooks is right! Enough of the never-ending IQ-this and IQ-that in the media!
Gates of Vienna comments on race issues
05.12.2008. Earlier this week Baron Bodissey, editor of Gates of Vienna, posted an article on race issues which begins as follows:
I minored in Anthropology in college, and during my senior year I wrote a term paper for Physical Anthropology about Professor Arthur Jensen and his work on race and intelligence. After examining his studies and those of other scientists, I concluded that there seemed to be an irreducible genetic component to IQ. However, there was not enough evidence to draw firm conclusions, and given the incendiary nature of the topic, I suggested that it would be unwise to force the issue.
My proto-PC attitude was typical of a high-minded long-haired college student in the early 1970s. Little did I know that further work on this subject — indeed, even the mere discussion of it — was about to be shut down. By the middle of the decade, the current reign of politically correct science had begun, and it was no longer possible to consider any linkage between genes and intelligence.
It just wasn’t done. It was the hypothesis that dared not speak its name.
In the intervening thirty-five years, the scientific evidence on the issue has continued to accumulate. Prof. Jensen’s widely reviled scholarship has never been refuted by the data, but his conclusions have been politically squashed. On race and intelligence — just as on global warming — “the science is settled”. The academic establishment has determined the truth by fiat, and any further discussion of the subject can only be evidence of “racism”.
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James Watson, the renowned biologist and co-discoverer of the double helix in DNA, ventured an opinion last year on the subject. His statements put him on the wrong side of “science”, and the disapproval of the establishment came down on him like a ton of bricks.
Back in October, Honest Thinking posted a pair of articles about the whole affair. The first one focused on an article by Jason Malloy published in Medical Hypotheses, “Those who punish, those who lie, those who silence, those who condemn, those who intimidate… they have corrupted science”.
Continue reading at Gates of Vienna.
HonestThinking comments: Breaking this taboo has its costs not only in scientific circles, but also in the blogosphere. I'm glad to see that Baron Bodissey will not let himself be bullied into silence on this topic. For the record, he also makes reference to a second HT posting focused on an article by J. Philippe Rushton and Arthur Jensen.
How civilization accelerated human evolution
Cover of the soon-to-be-released book by Cochran and Harpending.
03.12.2008. The following is taken from the Product Description at Amazon:
Much of humanity’s past is a mystery. Until recently, we had only bones and artifacts to help us understand prehistoric human life. But today we have a new window into the past: the historical record that survives in our genes. We can now examine material from our own genomes and analyze it in light of evolutionary theory—a combination Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending call evolutionary genomics. The overwhelming surprise emerging from this new field of research is that human evolution did not stop with the emergence of Homo sapiens. Instead, it sped up—and has continued accelerating into historical times.
The 10,000 Year Explosion is the first book to introduce the new ideas coming from evolutionary genomics that will revolutionize humanity’s understanding of its past. Harpending and Cochran reveal the genetic changes that led to behaviorally modern humans and that allowed our ancestors to adapt to new environments. The majority of these changes, including adaptations to physical and social inventions such as agriculture and urban environments, seem to have started in a huge burst only 10,000 years ago. Cochran and Harpending make clear that many of the important transitions in human history involved biological changes that were the products of natural selection.
Full of revelatory and wondrous findings, The 10,000 Year Explosion proves that humanity’s genetic inheritance can change remarkably fast—and that our own civilization can cause the change.
About the authors
Gregory Cochran is a physicist with a specialty in optics. He worked in the defense industry for years but has recently turned his attention to human evolutionary biology, specifically evolutionary medicine and recent human evolution.
Henry Harpending holds the Thomas Chair as Distinguished Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Utah, the strongest biological anthropology department in the United States. He played an important role in the development of the Out-of-Africa theory of human origins.
HonestThinking comments: If Cochran and Harpending are right, this will be another nail in the coffin of the (extremely unlikely in the first place) idea that no significant, genetic, racial differences exist.
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