G.L.Piggy [at] gmail.com
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It gets pretty tiresome reading that because beliefs about possible genetic reasons for group differences in IQ were once touted by people with explicitly racist agendas that the people who don’t run away from the ideas like they’re on fire are also racists. The left never has to face this charge when it’s pointed out that Planned Parenthood was connected to the eugenics movement.
These charges imply that the reasons people today believe in group IQ differences were the same reasons that people of the past believed in innate racial differences. It would be like saying that the people who started up Planned Parenthood explicitly in order to mold society in a certain way are the same as the supporters of Planned Parenthood today who, I believe, generally just want women to have the freedom to choose what to do with their bodies (maybe not a better starting point, but at least a different one). I’m not a big fan of making the connection to Planned Parenthood and explicit eugenics, but I will trot it out in order to point to the double standard.
That’s why I think it is important for people who do believe that there is a possibility that race group differences are to some degree genetically determined should explain how they came to believe such things. I didn’t come easy to this line of thinking myself. I was raised liberally and had black friends and black family members. But when introduced to The Bell Curve and other pieces of evidence (low income whites scoring higher on IQ-ish tests than high income minorities was a strong piece of evidence for me) it became hard to deny that there is a possibility that genes may have something to do with these observed differences. It’s possible, possible, possible. And when this Pandora’s box of possibility is opened, a whole new way of thinking about policy emerges. I remember that before this Bayesian revision impacted my views that I was very reluctant to even think about the causes of these differences.
One point in the Richwine discussion is whether or not a belief in a possible innate differences or even just strongly entrenched cultural differences provides enough of a foundation on which to build policy. Those who are against the genetic explanation seem to not want it to venture into the policy discussion until it is proved beyond the shadow of doubt, but no policy is made with 100% certainty that its premises are true.
I don’t know what % I’d put on my belief that genes are a significant factor for group IQ differences. Maybe 50-50. We also can’t place a number on Murray, Richwine, Sailer or anyone else who doesn’t scream at the possibility, but I know that that number could be shifted one way or the other if there was an open discussion and open research on the topic.
On Mondays now I check out NBER’s series of working papers. They usually contain a few interesting pieces of research. One from this week looks at capital city isolation and state-level corruption.
We show that isolated capital cities are robustly associated with greater levels of corruption across US states, in line with the view that this isolation reduces accountability, and in contrast with the alternative hypothesis that it might forestall political capture. We then provide direct evidence that the spatial distribution of population relative to the capital affects different accountability mechanisms over state politics: newspaper coverage, voter knowledge and information, and turnout. We also find evidence against the capture hypothesis: isolated capitals are associated with more money in state-level campaigns. Finally, we show that isolation is linked with worse public good provision.
This research was covered last year and written up in the LA Times:
The most corrupt state capitals – Jackson, Miss., Baton Rouge, La., Nashville, Tenn., Pierre, S.D., Springfield, Ill., and Albany, N.Y., for example – are all more isolated than average. Nashville is the least so, being a major city in its own right although distant from other population centers in the state. Springfield and Pierre rank as the two most isolated on the list. The less isolated the capital, the more likely it is to rank low on corruption.Isolation doesn’t explain everything, of course. Some states, such as Oregon, Washington and Vermont, have unusually low levels of corruption. But the impact of isolation appears strong.
What might cause the relationship between isolation and corruption, the researchers asked. One possibility was that newspapers, which provide most coverage of state governments, may be less likely to cover the capital when it is further from their circulation areas. So they examined the content of 436 U.S. newspapers, searching for references to state government. Sure enough, “in states where the population is more concentrated around the capital,” the study found “more intense media coverage of state politics, and therefore greater accountability.”
Illinois and New York are interesting. Those two states seem to be competing for most corrupt state status. The distance between where the money in those states is made and where its laws are crafted leaves plenty of room for skimming.
1. Willa Paskin wrote in an NYT profile of Shonda Rimes, the creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal:
“Scandal” is out of the melodrama closet. It embraces all the freedoms afforded a soap opera — the outlandish plots and juiced-up emotions — and it plays them out on a world-historical stage where typically marginalized people are at the center of power, doing exactly what the white guys usually do: making a sloppy, sordid mess of everything.
No comment. As for Rimes’ latest creation, I glanced at the TV the other night while my girlfriend was watching it, and saw that the President was telling his top adviser that he was not going to seek reelection because he was in love with the show’s female lead. Disney fairy tale, no wonder it’s on ABC.
2. This isn’t significant enough to merit its own blog post, but in my surveying of Oberlin students I finally got one guy to respond to me. He thought he might know the two guys kicked off campus in March for their participation in the incidents at Oberlin, but he ended up not wanting to speculate. Fair enough. But he did tell me that he believed the general consensus among students on campus was that the incidents were all a hoax. I’m speculating that the guy I communicated with does know who the two students are but doesn’t want to tell someone who might report it as fact. Instead of saying that he knows who the guys are and that this was a hoax he’s whispering to me that he might know who the guys are and if it’s who he thinks they are then, yes, it’s a hoax. We’re getting warmer.
3. Bryan Caplan on his high horse.
4. 19 injured at Mother’s Day parade shooting in New Orleans.
5. What hinders low-income, high-achievers? This really is a nice relief from the discussions about what hinders low-income, low-achievers. LIHA are generally one-offs in their high schools; low income students tend to go to school with other low income students and so the school doesn’t have the infrastructure in place to keep the student aware of the possibilities. The researchers point out that while there is a 2:1 ratio in the number of HIHA (high income high achievers) and LIHA in the student population, admissions staff at more elite universities see 8 to 15 HIHA for every LIHA.
That work has often stretched outside the home. In the century since Americans first came together to mark Mother’s Day, generations of women have empowered their children with the courage and grit to fight for change. But they have also fought to secure it themselves. Mothers pioneered a path to the vote, from Seneca Falls to the 19th Amendment. They helped write foundational protections into our laws, like freedom from workplace discrimination and access to affordable health care. They shattered ceilings in business and government, on the battlefield and on the court. With every step, they led the way to a more perfect Union, widening the circle of opportunity for our daughters and sons alike.That history of striving and success affirms America’s promise as a place where all things can be possible for all people. But even now, we have more work to do before that promise is made real for each of us. Workplace inflexibility puts a strain on too many mothers juggling their jobs’ needs with those of their kids. Wage inequality still leaves too many families struggling to make ends meet. These problems affect all of us — and just as mothers pour themselves into giving their children the best chance in life, we need to make sure they get the fairness and opportunities they deserve.
Whereas American mothers bear a major responsibility in the tasks of maintaining healthy home environments, of training their young ones with firmness and wisdom, and of guiding their children to mature citizenship; and
AREAS the mothers of our Nation have, in succeeding generations, given their children their utmost devotion, and by their love, precept, and example have sought to endow them with the ideals, qualities, and strength of a great people; and
Whereas it is appropriate that we should join on one day of each year in acknowledging and expressing the gratitude we share for our own mothers and for the blessings of motherhood.
Hugo Schwyzer is the feminist community college circuit equivalent of Dr. Drew Pinsky. Lately he’s been pushing a porn class he’s been teaching at his community college, and now he’s over at The Atlantic trying really hard to make this schtick stick. The premise for his class is based on a lie:
…my students examine the limitations of familiar feminist anti-porn critiques. Research suggests that nearly as many young women as men watch (or, if you prefer, “use”) porn for masturbation fodder, making it increasingly difficult to characterize porn watching as a primarily male pastime. Women aren’t just swelling the ranks of porn consumers—they’re also increasingly directing and producing erotic entertainment that reflects a decidedly feminist vision.
Is this at all true? Reading that and just being aware of the world, one suspects that research showing that “nearly as many” women as men consume porn is not looking at the overall time spent using it. That sweeps a lot of information under the rug and doesn’t clue us in to the strength of the preference for porn. You don’t have to look far to find time use research. One Danish study (and Denmark is not a sexually conservative country) finds vast differences in how men use porn compared to women.
Those disparities are huge. Nearly six times as many men than women use porn more than 3 times per week. Nearly 70% of men and only 18% of women use porn more than once a week. When women do use porn, it is more likely to be alongside a partner which indicates that some of women’s porn use is a byproduct of men’s desire to consume porn. This isn’t to celebrate men watching porn or ignore that over-reliance on porn has negative effects, but to point out that Schwyzer’s class is misguided if it doesn’t think of porn as being a very male-oriented endeavor. And women being big users of porn is crucial to Schwyzer’s class because if porn was just something that men liked Schwyzer wouldn’t be interested in it. It would be like teaching a class about football. So Schwyzer has an interest in making it seek like porn is a girl thing too. But it’s really not.
There’s also a snippet from one of Schwyzer citations which doesn’t provide much support to his claim. Good editing, Atlantic:
Overall, women were still far less assiduous watchers than men, with only five percent of porn consumers watching frequently — once a month or more — against 34 percent of men.
Another 13 percent watched a few times a year, compared to 29 percent of men.
Frequent women viewers were younger, making up 17 percent of under-25s against less than five percent of the over-35s. And women with no sex experience were the most eager, making up a third of all regular viewers.
Based on a representative sample of 1,101 people aged 18 and over, the study was commissioned by Marc Dorcel, a provider of pornographic content, to mark the launch of a new porn site targeting the women’s market, Dorcelle.com.
I don’t need to pry, however, to hear stories—as I invariably do—about confusion, guilt, and fears of “addiction” to porn. Millennials may be more tolerant of sexual diversity than earlier generations, but many grow up in homes where masturbation—which is, after all, almost inextricably linked with pornography viewing—is still seen as shameful or sinful. Many worry that they watch porn too much, or watch the “wrong kind,” while quite a few have had bitter arguments with romantic partners over the ethics of porn use in a committed relationship.
This sounds different than the Schwyzer I’m familiar with. The Schwyzer I know holds men to a different standard than women. The Schwyzer I know writes stuff like this:
If a man can’t get off to a fantasy in his head (if he’s in a relationship, preferably about his partner) then he’s had a rather sad failure of imagination.
I’ve heard from many guys who tell me that they lie about porn (and the other kinds of sex they may buy) because, as one put it to me, “women go ballistic when you tell them the truth.” But it’s not women’s job to ratchet down their anger in order to make it safe for men to get real. We owe it to the women we love – and to ourselves – to have the courage to name what it is we’re doing and how often we’re doing it.
If a woman lies about something (like about the paternity of her child) then she has every good reason in the world to do it; if men lie about something then they’re callous. The truth is that in relationships men feel more shame than women about using porn (when unattached men are talking in general about porn – or porn in the abstract – they are less guarded in talking about their porn usage, but when they are *really* talking about their porn habits, they are more likely to evade the question). This pressure mostly arises because since the man uses it more often he can be painted as an addict. Women are less likely of being accused of being addicts of anything though.
Dave Weigel corresponded with George Borjas, one of Jason Richwine’s dissertation advisers:
“I have never worked on anything even remotely related to IQ, so don’t really know what to think about the relation between IQ, immigration, etc,” Borjas told me in an email. “In fact, as I know I told Jason early on since I’ve long believed this, I don’t find the IQ academic work all that interesting. Economic outcomes and IQ are only weakly related, and IQ only measures one kind of ability. I’ve been lucky to have met many high-IQ people in academia who are total losers, and many smart, but not super-smart people, who are incredibly successful because of persistence, motivation, etc. So I just think that, on the whole, the focus on IQ is a bit misguided.”
That is always the cop-out of people who wade in the waters of thoughtcrime but are too scared to go in past the waist. “It’s really not that interesting.” Yeah right. It’s completely fascinating, but a Harvard prof like Borjas doesn’t want to come down on the wrong side of the issue so he just pretends that it’s just kind of boring. I yawn at his yawn.
Weigel also corresponded with another adviser, Richard Zeckhauser:
Yet they don’t embrace everything Richwine’s done since. “Jason’s empirical work was careful,” Zeckhauser told me over email. “Moreover, my view is that none of his advisors would have accepted his thesis had he thought that his empirical work was tilted or in error. However, Richwine was too eager to extrapolate his empirical results to inferences for policy.”
That makes little sense given that Richwine’s dissertation was approved by the Committee on Public Policy there at Harvard. He wrote a thesis clearly about IQ’s importance in thinking about immigration policy. Richwine himself was not “too eager” in any regard because that implies that he forced through his dissertation without any oversight.
Katie Roiphe wonders if the transition of writers from bohemians to bobos perhaps all the way to bourgeoisie will have any impact on product:
This would be a trivial or juvenile question, if not for one thing: Is all of this healthiness affecting the work? Edna O’Brien said, “[W]riting, I think, is an interestingly perverse occupation. It is sick in the sense of normal human enjoyment of life.” But is that sickness, that perversity, that willingness to live askew of normal life sometimes vital to the artistic endeavor? Is the safeness of current literary life, the modest materialism, the responsible, upstanding bourgeois aspiration affecting or cramping the imagination of its writers? Is there something missing, some great doomed restlessness that is bad for life, but good for work? Are our preoccupations sometimes too cramped, too narrow, our imaginations reined in by what we think will sell, or by a kind of ordinariness or tameness or domesticity or responsibility, by going to the gym every day?
I’ve wondered the same:
Going forward, what sort of art will come out of our increasingly affluent society*. If art is a response and a coping mechanism to a certain deficiency or loss – which I think is usually the case – then what will artists and creative types bounce off of? If they have nothing readily available will they create their own suffering? Maybe that is the point of postmodernism. There is no more suffering because suffering creates its own succor which means that it is no longer suffering in the pure sense.
So longer term, pretending that the world can move nearer perfection – the world is safe and clean and personal relationships are devoid of coercion and manipulation: will art exist? Or is this why I get the general impression that “art” in its various forms is waning?
A few more thoughts: We can apply hygiene hypothesis here as well. As social problems become less pressing on us, what sorts of people will become writers of literature? Perhaps the fact that literature is itself on the decline indicates that there is not enough source material.
In Bobos in Paradise, David Brooks cites Irving Howe’s essay “This Age of Conformity”: “Writers today [in the 1950s] have no choice, often enough, but to write for magazines but the New Yorker – and worse, far worse.” Howe also wrote: “But far more prevalent and far more insidious is that slow attrition which destroys one’s ability to stand firm and alone: the temptations of an improved standard of living.”
The question is, did artists change with the times or did artists help change the times? Writers like Hemingway were just a lot closer in temperament and behavior to regular people of his era. He experienced more worldly adventure, but his drunkenness and his brawling weren’t something that caused his contemporaries to shun him. Imagine if Jonathan Franzen beat someone up at a swanky New York bistro. Society now compartmentalizes certain behaviors to a certain class of people, and writers cannot belong to that class. A pregnant woman smoking today is a pariah, but a pregnant woman smoking 30 years ago was a common sight. The act stayed the same, but the judgments of the same behaviors have changed. This is the same for being indebted, being a drunk, beating your wife, brawling, and going in and out of mental institutions. The only way to succeed as a writer having done any of those things is to write a personal essay on them. Those were just facts of life in the previous era; today they are focal points of personal failure. As Brooks hints in his book, intellectuals and writers have become two peas of the same washed, rewashed, and FDA inspected pod.
A brief roundup of who has written about Jason Richwine over the past couple of days.
1. At The Daily Beast, Jamelle Bouie holds an outdated view:
Remember, racial groups are imagined communities; there’s nothing biological or genetic that makes someone “black” or “white.” These are social distinctions.
He cites SPLC as an arbiter of what is a white supremacist organization and throws in John Derbyshire’s name in order to conjure up not too forgotten memories of last year’s most recent rally against racism.
2. Zach Beauchamp at Think Progress:
For whatever reason, conservatives can’t get over their fascination with race and IQ.
Some conservatives. Others think that Benghazi is actually a more important policy discussion even though it is actually just a safe way for conservative types to take a stand on something. But the question of the heritability of IQ and whether or not group differences in IQ exist and also whether or not IQ is a good measure of the ability to create and maintain economic value is actually a very, very crucial policy point – one which is largely ignored by policymakers and intellectuals.
Some conservatives discuss race and IQ because they hold a fundamental view that liberals are purposely not discussing race and IQ. These conservatives believe that liberals are avoiding a discussion which, if fully engaged, can only erode the foundation for the policies they’ve worked so hard to instill. So if you ask why conservatives seem more “fascinated” with race and IQ it’s because liberals show a relative lack of fascination in the subject which, if it did not carry a potential for political loss, would be a really fascinating academic discussion.
3. Garance Franke-Ruta at The Atlantic: “Jason Richwine’s Racial Theories are Nothing New”. Correct, they are not new at all, but liberals need to circle the wagons every once in a while.
4. Jason Richwine wrote for AlternativeRight.com. Let’s kill him.
5. Adam Serwer at Mother Jones.
6. The Hispanic Leadership Network, where Jeb Bush sits on committee released a statement:
The beliefs espoused by the Heritage Foundation’s Jason Richwine are ignorant and reflect a lack of understanding of our immigration system and the American immigrant experience. American Hispanics are not a community of low intelligence but rather one of entrepreneurship and upward mobility.
7. Salon speaks to a former Heritage big-wig who claims that the new Heritage has betrayed Ronald Reagan. Who?
8. Molly Redden reached out to Charles Murray for The New Republic. Murray said: “Jason’s dissertation was, I think, a careful presentation of the data on the subject. His mistake is that he wrote about a taboo subject,” he said. “And to write about IQ and race or ethnicity is to take a very good chance of destroying your career. And I really hope that doesn’t happen.”
George Zimmerman’s attorney Mark O’Mara recently called for an evidentiary hearing to determine whether or not voice forensics ‘experts’ listed on the State’s witness list meet Florida’s Frye standard for forensics evidence. The Orlando Sentinel reported last year that two voice analysis guys, Tom Owen and Ed Primeau, believed that the voice heard screaming on the crucial 911 tape was not that of George Zimmerman.
O’Mara’s motion does not identify which experts he’s challenging, but two audio experts analyzed the voice on the tape last year for the Orlando Sentinel, and both concluded it was not Zimmerman. Prosecutors put them both, Tom Owen, chairman emeritus of the American Board of Recorded Evidence, and Ed Primeau, an audio engineer from Rochester Hills, Mich., on their witness list.
Owen is a courtroom veteran, but in his analysis of the voice on that 911 recording used a new software program he had developed. He removed all other sound from the recording, except for the cries for help, and using biometrics, compared it to a recording of Zimmerman’s voice and concluded it was not him. Owen came to no conclusion about who it was.
Primeau used a different technique, based on audio enhancement and human analysis, and concluded the voice belonged to Trayvon because it was “a young man screaming”.
I’m interested because I reported on this for The Daily Caller and asked some actual voice forensics experts whether or not a voice match could be determined given the poor quality of the 911 call. Thinking back, the Sentinel story was such a softball. Once you looked up Owen’s credentials and saw that his daughter also worked in some capacity for the organization which he created, you got the sense that the world of voice forensics experts was about like the world of secret decoder rings for kids who drank Ovaltine back in the 1950s. Virtually everyone I talked to who had tenure and didn’t have a strong incentive to pitch their expertise to a newspaper found fault in their methods:
Wayman also said he would be willing to testify against the admissibility of Owen’s findings on the grounds that they don’t meet the criteria required for evidence in federal courts.
“There is no history of, or data on, the comparison of a questioned scream to a known speech sample,” Wayman said.
The problem, he said, is that the two voice samples were recorded in difficult acoustic conditions over different cell phones.
“Even if we were to have Mr. Zimmerman recreate the scream under identical conditions with the same cell phone,” Wayman explained, “it would be difficult to attribute the scream to him without a sample of a similar scream from Mr. Martin under the same conditions. This is clearly not possible.”
“Naïve voice recognition is so prone to error that it is acknowledged that it is worthless as evidence,” Rose said via email.
And speaking of Owen’s findings, another industry insider said that “a legitimate biometrics expert would likely refute the contentions” and suggests that these were “incendiary publicity plays.”
At Slate, Emily Bazelon writes of Girls Gone Wild founder Joe Francis:
Joe Francis is headed to prison for the second time. May he rot there. The founder of Girls Gone Wild was convicted Monday on misdemeanor charges of assault and false imprisonment. The allegations: In 2011, Francis met three women who went out after college graduation, took them home with him, and then tried to separate one from the other two, in the process grabbing her by the hair and throat and slamming her head to the floor. Charming.
You caught that: “misdemeanor charges” warrant “rotting” in jail. You’d be hard-pressed to find many people of liberal persuasion, especially Slate writers, call for the summary rotting of even a murderer. Perhaps a murderer of women or a rapist would receive that harsh rhetorical sentence, but few other lousy and judgment-worthy people would. It’s why you’ll see articles where people become crazy outraged about relatively uneventful and uncomfortable cat-calling on the street while not caring much about street thievery or flash mob beatdowns. Why is this? Why do liberals, typically, suggest punishments that are more dramatic than the crime?
I think this is a really important point to think about because it will explain one of the complaints that politicized liberals are often very shrill. This tactic is a little different than shaming tactics because those are usually aimed directly at the perpetrator. This is a more abstract concept and it is often expressed away from the action.
This ties into Liberal Germ Theory which asserts that a tolerant, sanitized and equitable society is prone to freaking out over minor crudities, in the sense that as the magnitude of the crime (or fuzzy social misstep) nears zero in terms of punishability, the expressed outrage over it increases in kind. Some become unhinged over it. As the justice system is limited in what punishments it can hand out for certain crimes, rhetoric steps in to fill out the sentence.
Joe Francis is receiving this rot wish not just because of his crimes but because of who he is. Bazelon feels that whatever punishment he receives through the court does not match the full brunt of his offensive behavior. She wants to address his hubris and privilege. It is that part of his behavior that receives these snarky comments. But the justice system cannot really deal with cockiness, caddishness, and crudeness even when a rich white man is doing it, so it must rely on these extra-legal treatments, usually issued by progressive footsoldier-bloggers. We saw this with Duke lacrosse as well, and we could name many other examples.
The rhetoric is imprecise and the ones using it don’t realize what they’re doing. It comes very close if not outright asserting that the perpetrator should actually be punished to the full extent of the rhetoric (Joe Francis actually rotting in jail) rather than understanding that the rhetoric is an add on itself to the punishment that has been handed out by the courts.
I distinguish this punishment mechanism by ideology because I believe that most conservatives (who rely more on good old-fashioned shame) does not actually hope for state-issued punishment and imprisonment. But I do think that there are quite a few liberals who would enjoy imprisoning or at least issuing citations to cat-callers or people who use the n-word in public if they could get away with it. And if you put a more radical liberal or a feminist in charge of crafting the justice and penal system, you’d probably find that they’d tack on more years specifically to redress perpetrators of higher status.