Friday, February 28, 2003

Deal of a Lifetime

There is a BIG article in the Houston Press about C.R.A.C.K.


Drug addicts can get hard cash to be sterilized or go on birth control. Is it ridding the world of unwanted babies -- or just ducking the underlying problems of abusers? BY CRAIG MALISOW

The urge hits, and Yolanda Ross is out her parents' door.
The 33-year-old mother needs to get high. She says she hates this thing inside her that makes her do this, but there's no fighting it tonight. Plus, she's got money, so she won't need to sell her body this time. Just a quick trip to Sunnyside, see her old friends, the pimps and pros and addicts who taught her how to score.
Ross tells of how she'll make her getaway: An old boyfriend she called will be waiting in the driveway in his car, thinking he's just taking Ross to visit her cousin. He doesn't know she'll be going to Sunnyside for drugs.

Tonight, she'll be leaving behind her parents' nice two-story home in a quiet, clean subdivision near Hobby Airport, leaving behind her daughter. Ross says she drank too much when she was pregnant, so the baby was born with all kinds of problems. Fetal alcohol syndrome. The six-year-old child is four mentally.

But Ross can't think about that now. And she can't think about her son, Steven, the boy she put up for adoption two years ago. She says she smoked crack while he was in the womb. Lord knows he's better off now.

She anticipates her evening, when the former boyfriend will drop her off outside her cousin's home. When he pulls away, she'll head down the road to a house where she knows she can score. Ross will knock on the door until a familiar face greets her. She says she'll be led to a back room where three or four others are getting high. She's got her money -- $10 for a rock -- and will wait for her turn.

Then Ross will fire up and find her peace. No one will bother her tonight. No rough johns, no cops. Even her conscience will let up a bit. She knows she's destroying just herself. There's no baby forming inside her, never will be.

Two years ago, Ross saw a billboard for an organization that pays drug addicts $200 to get sterilized. Steven was inside her then. She eventually gave up her baby, but she knew she couldn't give up her addiction. The sign seemed to know this. It said you can stay on the pipe, just don't bring another baby into this world.
Ross got her tubes tied after giving up Steven. A short while later, she got a check in the mail, along with the numbers for some rehab centers.


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Some history.


Thursday, February 27, 2003


The lengths to which Western countries will go to excuse Muslims of criminality were exemplified in the Spectator (22 ii) by Mark Steyn:

"On 21 January, the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten reported that the court of appeals in Eidsivating had acquitted a Middle Eastern immigrant of raping a retarded woman on the grounds that he had only lived 12 years in Norway and so could not be expected to understand her condition.

The man was 22 years old. Thus, he had lived virtually his entire conscious life in Norway. But the court ruled that his insufficient understanding of the language was a mitigating factor. He was a cab-driver and the woman was his customer. She paid for the ride with a ‘TT’ card — a form of transport subsidy for the handicapped, which he evidently recognised because he accepted it.

Nonetheless, because of his ‘cultural background’, an adult who’d lived in Norway since he was ten years old could not be expected to know that this woman was mentally incapacitated and that he should not assault her."

Perhaps Norway was struggling to send a message as to the impossibility of multiculturalism.



The Loony University of Edinburgh's new Principal, Timothy O'Shea, gave details of how 'widening of student access' (i.e. phasing out of academic entry standards) would be arranged so as to suck up to NuLabour (Times 19 ii). Applicants were to be given bonus points if neither of their parents ever attended a university, if they had any officially recognized handicap, and if they lived in Edinburgh.

The universities sub-committee of the Headmasters and Headmistresses Conference promptly replied that, while supporting widening of access to meritorious students, it deplored admissions procedures showing a "fundamental lack of objectivity" and "sidelining hard-earned grades."

Affirmative classism was also condemned by a Sunday Times leader (23 ii, 'Universities choose failure') which said that "Bristol University and Edinburgh University are presiding over their own demise."

(Bristol was found to have rejected a gifted Indian student, Rudi Singh, who had 5 A-grade A Levels and was an outstanding cricketer. Singh's mistake was to have attended the famous King Edward School, Birmingham (whose headmaster called him a "sensational" student) and to have parents who were rich and well-educated. Following rejection by Bristol, Singh was accepted by Cambridge University.)

The Sunday Times front-paged Comrade O'Shea's plan; and ran an inside story 'And the last shall be first' in which "class war" between Edinburgh and parents was said to be underway, and several University of Edinburgh top-drawer female students said how upset they and their friends were at the University's attitude to them.


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Some history.


Wednesday, February 26, 2003


"[The book A Class Act ] destroys the myth that Britain is a classless society. ….But much more needs to be said. It is not enough to reject genetics [when considering the poor]. There is a large literature on assortative mating, on the measurement of intelligence and on meritocracy that is not confined to the political right and deserves serious review."

A.H.HALSEY (Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of Oxford), 1997, 'Fat cats and top dogs.' Times Higher, 14 xi 1997.


"In recent years, several social science publications have proposed that genetic factors make substantial contributions to social status, not only with respect to individual variation but also regarding racial/ethnic variation (Brand, 1996, J. Biosocial Sci.; Ellis, 1991, Politics & the Life Sciences; McDonald, 1995, Those Who Shall Dwell Along, Praeger; Miller, 1994, Personality & Indiv. Differences; Rushton, 1995, Race, Evolution and Behavior, Transaction). Nevertheless, the publication that has epitomized this position in the minds of most social scientists is Herrnstein & Murray's (1994) The Bell Curve."

Lee ELLIS, 1998, 'The evolution of attitudes about social stratification: why many people (including social scientists) are morally outraged by The Bell Curve.' Personality & Individual Differences 24.


"About one half of the total population variance in adult IQ exists among full siblings who have shared the same family background from birth to maturity. Yet the IQs of full siblings (measured when they are children or adolescents) are positively correlated (+.30 to +.40) with measures of their educational, occupational, and economic status as adults. That is, IQ predicts these and many other kinds of individual outcomes independently of differences in family and social background which, independently of IQ, typically have lesser predictive power than does IQ."

A. R. JENSEN, 1998, The g Factor: the Science of Mental Ability. Westport, CN : Praeger.


"….[my] results demonstrate that while class origins have some effect on class destinations (in particular for those born into the middle classes) ability and effort exert a much greater effect."

Peter SAUNDERS, 2002, 'Reflections on the meritocracy debate in Britain: a response to Richard Breen and John Goldthorpe.' Brit. J. Sociology 53, 4, 559-574.


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Some history.


Tuesday, February 25, 2003


The longstanding Religious Affairs Correspondent of the Times, Clifford Longley, counselled against paedohysteria, especially complaining about people's own computers being used as the only evidence against them.

{Yes, today a computer may well house as much of a person's mind as does his or her brain. While a person's spouse cannot be called upon to testify adversely in criminal proceedings, how can a PC so be called?}

Warnings by libertarians about penalizing paedophilic downloadings (or any other downloadings) proved only too realistic as it emerged in Johannesburg that employers could dump unasked-for pornography into the computers of their employees and make it appear that a criminal offence had been committed.

British police and media continued to hound TV presenter and father-of-two Matthew Kelly over 30-year old allegations of paedophilia but only came up with enough evidence to put his name enduringly under a cloud and to caution him about a quantity of illicit drugs found during rampages through his home.



America continued to give a good kicking to top "cheese-eating surrender monkey" Jacques Chirac of France. The French President made this easy not only by wanting a last last last last chance for Madman Insane but by telling Eastern Europeans (who largely backed American and Britain) to "shut up" and welcoming Zimbabwe's tyrant Robert Mugabe to din-dins in Paris.



After 21 Black kids died in a Chicago night club fire, it turned out the club's owner was a Black man, the Rev. Samuel B. Kyles – a good friend of Revvum Jesse Jackson, who had several played the race card to keep Kyle's club open despite the anxieties of "racist" city authorities.

Zambia's former President, Frederick Chiluba (59 and a diminutive 5'0" but apparently sporting a statuesque girlfriend of age 29) was charged with 66 counts of corruption at the expense of his country (where the unemployment rate was 52% after Chiluba's eight years in power).


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Some history.


Monday, February 24, 2003


In times when psychology has come to acknowledge the centrality of 'cognition' to its concerns, it may seem unlikely that any psychologist would be found disputing the importance of intelligence. Intelligence and intellectual differences have usually been thought key features of the human condition-and of the cultural achievements and social structures of the modern West. Yet disagreement between experts can indeed be found, especially when it is asked:

1) whether we too easily play down the emotional, motivational and conative aspects of human nature;

2) whether measured intelligence (most commonly 'IQ') matters much to individuals; and

3) whether having a certain level and range of intelligence (or IQ) is important to the functioning of human societies as we know them.

[Intellectual differences between people may contribute substantially to the markedly hierarchical socio-economic ordering of Western societies. They may also contribute to the social dominance hierarchies of those other, non-Western societies that do not tolerate the blatant use of physical force, nepotism, personal corruption and ideological indoctrination as ways of sustaining their ruling elites in power.]

Some ways in which intelligence is 'important' may be readily conceded. Intelligence seems to be more important statistically than other variables in accounting for human variation; and it usually looks more interesting than other psychometric or sociometric variables in its wider links to other variables that are themselves better agreed to be 'important'.

Yet there remains the question of how to interpret such correlations in terms of likely patterns of causation. Do the correlations arise because of the operation of still-more-important underlying variables? What is it that really differentiates people? Is it differences in parental devotion, disposable income or domestic happiness; or differences in luck; or differences in some other psychological variable?

{Such a variable might be 'the new IQ derived from Piaget'; or the extraversion that makes for fun (and for somewhat greater educational success in primary school); or the non-neuroticism or conscientiousness that are so often associated with success in the worlds of the uniformed services and business respectively.}

Are IQ's correlates, when properly considered, mere epiphenomena of quite other individual and social processes with which psychologists should really show more concern?

Sometimes dismissals of the importance of intelligence and IQ actually reflect doubts about the existence, nature or origins of IQ-type differences. Again doubts about the intelligence being necessary for socio-economic progress sometimes arise particularly with regard to group (e.g. national) levels of achievement.

(Quotes from many authors relevant to the questions discussed above can be found here).


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Some history.


Sunday, February 23, 2003


Is there really such a thing as intelligence? Does some main 'dimension' of human intellectual differences really 'exist'-or is any such dimension a human fabrication and an imposition on mental ability data that actually deserve a more complex analysis? Is general intelligence (g) readily measurable so as to distinguish reliably, validly, predictively, sensibly and economically between individuals? What should be thought of the notorious 'tests' that issue a person's Mental Age (MA), or Intelligence Quotient (IQ) [controlling for chronological age (CA), via MA/CA]? How are other mental abilities-of whatever relative importance-related to g? These are abiding questions for cognitive, developmental and differential psychology.

Answers to these questions can be divided into two main types.

(1) On the one hand, there are the traditional claims of the London School as to g's 'existence' and 'reality'-at least from a scientific point of view (insisting that g is quite as 'real' as electricity or gravity). The London School involves a line of intellectual descent running from Francis Galton, Karl Pearson and Charles Spearman through Cyril Burt and Philip E. Vernon to Raymond Cattell, Hans Eysenck, Arthur Jensen, Lloyd Humphreys [with stronger behaviourist and environmentalist leanings], and even Thurstone's one-time postgraduate student, John B. Carroll [something of a 'convert' to g- see Carroll, 1993, Human Cognitive Abilities].

(2) On the other hand, there are diverse, complex and sometimes ideologically significant misgivings-beginning with the multivariate preferences of the mighty Godfrey Thomson, Louis Thurstone and J.P.Guilford. Notable recent opponents of some or all of the London School's ideas in recent times would be Leon Kamin, S.J.Gould, Steven Rose, Maurice Schiff, R.C.Lewontin, Howard Gardner, Michael J. A. Howe and Stephen Ceci. [Attempting to straddle the divide with his 'triarchic theory is Robert J. Sternberg (e.g. 1985, Behav. & Brain Sciences).]

Clearly the 'existence' or 'reality' of psychometric g would be more acceptable if anyone could give an account of g in psychological or developmental terms. This thought has frequently occurred to psychologists and led them to accuse their psychometric forebears of neglecting the matter. (As early as 1922, the young Harvard genius, and later historian of psychology, E.G.Boring summarized: 'All we know about intelligence is that it is what the tests test'. His remark was often to be repeated by psychologists who would seem unaware of when it was first made.)

However, even without a psychological advance, the metaphysical claim that g 'exists' need not be controversial. There are real, lasting and general differences between people in handedness, after all, yet no-one feels obliged to denounce laterality quotients or the concept of handedness as involving quite improper "reification". Nor is this because of any triumph of explanatory science.

(How skilled a person is with the right hand, relative to the left, is a continuously distributed variable allowing of uncontroversial measurement and prediction: yet at present, despite great interest in the past thirty years, there is no well-established account of the basis of handedness in genes, training or brain growth and development - see Annett and others, 1996, Cahiers de Psychologie Cognitive.)

(This is just the introduction to a very large series of quotations from many writers discussing the above topics. See here)


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Some history.


Saturday, February 22, 2003


By 'folk psychology' is usually meant the ways in which everyday language allows us to describe each other and our doings as people.

'People' distinctively have thoughts and feelings: they are not just physical objects in particular spatio-temporal locations; nor do they exist only as objects having special value to others-in virtue perhaps of their humour, irascibility, industriousness, noisiness, bizarre mannerisms, brute strength, sensory limitations or sexual attractiveness.

'Folk psychology' furnishes the concepts for our implicit theory (or at least set of understandings) that people are conscious subjects of experience; and that people differ from each other in terms of motives, feelings, intentions and expectations.

Psychologists have often thought they might set aside the everyday language of personality. Its complexities and unexplained conventions often seem to invite pruning. Some philosophers seem to accept Wittgenstein's claim that what were once considered philosophical problems about 'the mind' are little but linguistic confusions. - So why not reach for Occam's razor?

The leading psychometrician-psychologist, Raymond Cattell [b. 1905 in Devon and doing his Ph.D. research under Charles Spearman before emigrating to the USA], was always especially eager that the personality traits which he claimed to recover from testees in factor analysis should not be confused with the traits of ordinary language. Thus he christened many of his traits with names like premsia (for 'tender-mindedness'), harria (for 'adventuresomeness') and protension' (i.e. projected tension -- a psychoanalytic interpretation of what the layman might call 'cynicism, realism or suspicion of others').

However, even Cattell's many sympathisers in the London School of psychology were not to be persuaded to embrace his neologisms. (This is one reason why Cattell's system came to be neglected in favour of the superficially somewhat different dimensions proposed by McCrae and Costa through the 1980's. Another reason was the dauntingly multivariate nature of Cattell's whole scheme.)

Other disagreements with folk psychology have been pursued by latter-day social psychologists. They have believed that personalities (if 'personality' exists at all) are largely 'social constructions' having little biological or other reality. To such psychologists, dispositional terms seem to be derived largely from cultural 'games' played in the medium of language. However, such 'constructivist' views do not account for the fact that similar constellations of traits and readily inter-translatable trait terms are found in different cultures and languages; or for the empirical similarities in rated personality between separated identical twins and the large empirical differences found between unrelated adoptees growing up in the same family.

Except for the acceptance of a little Freudian jargon, ordinary-language- psychology has proved remarkably uncompromising with expert psychology through the twentieth century. Folk psychology's terms for personality are alive and well; and the expectations of Lady Wootton and others in the 1960's that society might increasingly doubt or at least set aside people's traditionally-assumed freedom and responsibility for their behaviour have been largely frustrated.

Cognitive psychologists have lately aspired to 'model' consciousness, expectancy, creativity, repression, self-deception, unconscious motivation-processes previously abjured by psychologists and left to laymen and psychoanalysts. So is it perhaps time to try to reconcile differential psychology with folk psychology - perhaps to the benefit of both?

At present there would seem to be three main obstacles to such a reconciliation, but there are also signs that the obstacles might eventually be surmounted.

(1) The first problem is the understandable, boyish 'elitism' of psychologists and their wish to use science break free of the shackles of traditional religious, philosophical and psychiatric approaches to personhood. Surely the scientist can grasp unaided what are the differences between us that yield individual personalities? Hans Eysenck's earlier work is a good example of such ambition. In rejecting standard verbal psychotherapy, Eysenck rebelled against psychiatry, psychoanalysis and what would become mainstream clinical psychology. In the 1950's, he hoped that the theoretical concepts of neuroticism/anxiety, extraversion, radicalism and tough-mindedness (drawn from Freud, Jung, Cyril Burt and William James) would-in combination with behaviourist interpretations of them (e.g. as dimensions of 'drive' or 'conditionability')- furnish an account of the basic 'structure of personality'.

In contrast to Eysenck, Raymond Cattell began his search for the dimensions of personality by the language-respecting techniques of scouring Roget's Thesaurus to find all the personality terms available. Cattell then had subjects rate acquaintances (using the more neutral and intelligible terms) to see how these ordinary-language concepts were actually used.

In fact, the approaches of Eysenck and Cattell were in many ways complementary. By different routes, both came to believe in the over-arching importance of the broad variables of intelligence, neuroticism/anxiety, and extraversion/exvia - though Cattell always insisted on the more fundamental 'reality' of many further smaller, intercorrelated traits.

However, as attempts to spell out any underlying scientific 'psychology' of neuroticism and extraversion ran into the sand (see e.g. H.J.Eysenck, ed., 1981, A Model for Personality; Brand, 1983, Behav. Res. & Therapy; Brand, 1997 in H. Nyborg, Dimensions of Personality II), Cattell's approach came to seem increasingly attractive. If differential psychologists could not yet have a secure, scientific psychology of personality dimensions, they might as well make sure they were at least working with the correct dimensions in the first place!

Thus the 1980's saw renewed efforts-first in the USA, then increasingly in Holland, Germany, Belgium and Russia -- to examine how trait terms are used by ordinary people and to ensure that modern differential psychology would not be frankly dimension-starved. The question was whether to stick with the original 'Big Three' broad, independent dimensions (including intelligence) from psychometric antiquity; or whether to back Eysenck's long-standing "Gigantic Three"-or Four, including g-which by then included Psychoticism [psychopathy vs superego] as a personality dimension.

Evidently, today, the desire to work with dimensions that are promised to be scientifically explicable has taken a back seat to an empirical realism admitting there has always been more in folk-psychology than strict scientific rigour had admitted. (For examples of today's preferences for some five or six main personality dimensions, see European Journal of Personality 8 (1994), No. 4, or Psychologica Belgica 34 (1994), No. 4.)

(2) A second, quite different obstacle to any reconciliation of psychometric and plebeian approaches to personality is that psychometry has sometimes seemed to be rather more discriminating than is everyday 'person-perception'. Typically, today, psychometricians manage to recover around six independent dimensions of difference between people:

general intelligence / general cognitive capacity
neuroticism / emotionality / changeableness / sensibility
affection / tender-mindedness / openness / intuition
extraversion / energy / surgency / sociability
will / independence / disagreeableness / assertiveness
control / conscientiousness / obsessionality

In contrast, studies of 'person perception' by ordinary people (when they rate trait levels in others) cannot be relied upon to yield (via correlations between traits) more than three broad dimensions of perceived difference. These were first discovered by the American social psychologist, Charles Osgood (e.g. P.B. Warr & C. Knapper, 1968, The Perception of People and Events, London, Wiley):

Evaluation (good, wise, reliable vs bad, silly, fickle)
Potency (strong, firm, tough vs soft, sensitive, feminine)
Active (noisy, quick, moving vs quiet, still, restrained).
However, this difference between the dimensions that appear in work on personality and on 'person perception' is not really as big as it seems, for two particular reasons.

(i) The psychometric 'Big Six' may be conceptualized as elaborations on [or, if preferred, the realities behind] Osgood's socio-cognitive 'Big Three', perhaps as follows:

Evaluation = g versus n
Potency = w versus a
Activity = e versus c
{See Brand, 1994, Europ. J. Personality) for a discussion.}

(ii) Fewer dimensions are usually found in raters of mediocre intelligence who themselves are rating 'target' persons of similar intelligence who are not well known to them (e.g. Brand, 1984, Psychol. Survey 5; Smelyov et al., 1993, Europ. J. Personality). Such unhelpful conditions of 'visibility' are inadequate to allow registration of the more subtle distinctions between people. {See also Brand, 1994, Acta Psychol. Belgica}

Today there is little doubt that both person perception ratings and psychologists' questionnaires will in fact deliver the 'Big Five-or-Six' dimensions under conditions of good 'visibility'. And the idea that there are at least some six main, broad, distinguishable psychological dimensions will probably not upset anyone who has nosed around a Thesaurus or thought about the ways in which people are described by journalists and novelists.

(More detail and quotations in support of the above generalizations can be found here)


Comments? Email Chris Brand.
Some history.


Friday, February 21, 2003


Gaullist France and green-socialist Germany resolved to show the way forward to a neo-Nazism that would leave Israel at the mercy of suicide bombers funded from Iraqi oil.

In the USA, the Franco-German effort was supported by right-winger and 'racist' David Duke and a wide collection of pacifists and virtual communists who marched (like their confr̬res in Europe) protesting about Messrs Bush and Blair Рbut never about Iraq's ruthless dictator, Madman Insane.

In lacklustre Britain, however, the authoritarian British National Party reported no overtures from unimaginative (though reliably comic and healthily whisky-swillinjg) Liberal leader Charles Kennedy. Instead, Britain under Rev. Blair and Iain Duncan Cough remained locked into neoconservative leadership spanning the individualistic-moralistic divide (with the new religion being PeeCee) and aiming at worldwide Americanglish empire.

{Probably Britain was right: there is little point abandoning the Blairite conservative compromise until it is clear that the new 'left' will back not the 'nation' or the 'underdog' but the family (or, better, neofamily) that is the natural way of at once fortifying the nation and solving the underdog problem.}


ALSO .....

A 16-year-old Malaysian girl in Coventry was multiply raped over a 30-hour period by two Black men who had bundled her into their car at 10.30am. As part of the ordeal, she was also taken to a house and repeatedly assaulted. The girl, who had gone to Coventry to visit relatives, finally made her escape when the car stopped for petrol.


Comments? Email Chris Brand.
Some history.


Thursday, February 20, 2003


The dark side of Islam was being glossed over in textbooks used in American schools, declared the American Textbook Council. Subjects such as jihad and the advocacy of violence among militant Islamists to attain worldly ends, the imposition of [Sharia] law, the record of Muslim enslavement, and the brutal subjection of women are glossed over,said the Council's 35-page study.

That multiculturalism is an impossibility achieved legal recognition in London when a High Court judge barred Hindu and Jewish people (and, for good measure, their spouses) from being jurors in the forthcoming trial of an apparent Muslim fanatic.

The University of Cambridge was revealed to have been running a programme of affirmative racism for Black entrance candidates. While 21% of White students at Cambridge were awarded First Class degrees, only 3.1% of Black students were awarded Firsts. These percentages compared with 23.7% for Indian students and 17.9% for Chinese students


ALSO ....

More evidence to bother paedohysterics and feminazies who believe in 'recovered memories' came from American psychologist Elizabeth Loftus. She persuaded a third of adult subjects to believe that in childhood they had had a cuddle with Bugs Bunny in Disneyland. In fact, Bugs is not a Disney character, so the study showed how easily a little conversation could induce false memories.

The internet 'Common Room' set up for UK academics by Times Higher became almost completely deserted -- with hardly any messages since the beginning of the year. Apparently, Britain's liberty-indifferent academics had become either so boring or so cowed by PeeCee that they saw no advantage in any exchange of ideas among themselves.


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Some history.


Wednesday, February 19, 2003


PeeCee religiosity reached the dizziest heights of the US military even on the brink of war. The rear admiral commanding a US aircraft carrier battle group on its way to the Gulf was relieved of duty for allegedly having an improper relationship with a female naval officer.

A fine condemnation of wilful single-parent mothering and its feminasty supporters appered in Ether Zone, February.

Two thirteen-year olds demonstrated their enthusiasm for weenage sex by copulation under a table at the back of their science classroom – and were promptly suspended by joyless Michigan bureaucrats.

General condemnation of paedohysteria and support for an age of consent at 14 appeared in the libertarian magazine Free Life, February.



Progress in finding precise genes for IQ was reported by a Manchester University team including top cognitive psychologist P. M. A. Rabbitt in Molecular Psychiatry 8 , 1, 14-18 (2003) (email

Advocates of genetic factors squared off against two prominent Stanford University scientists in an acerbic debate over ''nature vs. nurture'' in the February issue of the journal Current Anthropology. The debate followed a controversial essay titled ''Genes and Cultures: What Creates Our Behavioral Phenome?'' by Stanford biologists Paul R. Ehrlich and Marcus W. Feldman who pooh-poohed evolutionary psychology and claimed it was wrong to assume identical twins generally have environments no more similar than those of fraternal twins.

{For more see Human Races Archives, February. It was probably a pity that Steven Pinker's recent hereditarian volume, The Blank Slate, relied more on evopsychology than on the more solid evidence linking psychological differences genetically to race. The rationale of twin comparisons was explained in Chapter 3 of THE g FACTOR. It could be that MZs specially share that aspect of the environment provided by their similar co-twin; but in fact MZs often compete and grow apart in measurable aspects of personality, thus draining any strength form Ehrlich and Feldman's argument. There had still to appear at Amazon any review of Ehrlich's book Human Natures: Genes, Cultures, and the Human Prospect, published in 2000.

Biologist Ehrlich came to fame with his Malthusian prediction in the 19780s that 65 million Americans would starve to death in the 1980s. In his 1977 book The Race Bomb, he asserted that there were no intellectual differences between the various races at a biological level. Geneticist Marcus W. Feldman shares this view and has further testified in court – in a case against the race-realistic Pioneer Fund -- that "The biological concept of race is not tenable…." At Stanford, Feldman is 'affiliated' to the Anthropological Sciences school, along with L. Luca Cavalli-Sforza, the geneticist who identifies the usual half-dozen main human groups but declines to call them races.}


Comments? Email Chris Brand.
Some history.


Tuesday, February 18, 2003


The debate about the relative importance of 'nature' and 'nurture' is the most important, the longest-running, and the most fraught of all those debates in psychology that occasionally appear resoluble. (The important and ongoing debate about how the mind is related to the body is almost as heated, but that debate usually appears entirely non-resoluble.

Until the proof, in 1945, of the scale of the Nazi Holocaust, belief in the importance of 'nature' had enjoyed a century of acceptance in the West. In the late nineteenth-century, traditional Christian approaches to improving people and society were unable to cope with the new problems of urban life-rising crime, conspicuous squalor, sexual diseases and child prostitution.

After the First World War, nation-states were increasingly expected by their enlarged electorates to do battle with their own social problems just as they had battled with each other militarily on an unprecedented scale, and to use science in peace as they had in war. Two particular strategies seemed possible. One was to control alcohol consumption by increased taxation or by outright prohibition. The other was to prevent the recurrence of similar social problems in future generations by introducing society's problem-cases to sterilization, castration, contraception or abortion -- if not to the sexual restraint long urged unavailingly by the churches. This second, futuristic route to 'improvement' presumed problems like mental subnormality {the 'learning difficulties' of today}, schizophrenia, criminality and alcoholism to be substantially inherited.

By 1945, it was clear for all to see that both these major efforts toward 'improvement' had been tried and had failed horrifically. In the USA, the 'prohibition era' had yielded more crime, alcoholism and drug-taking than before-together with a corruption of, and public mistrust for the police: laws restricting alcohol consumption had led to illicit brewing and retail, which in turn desensitized many moderate drinkers to engaging in crime.

In Nazi Germany, the initial proposals for 'race hygiene' via eugenics had been quickly discarded in favour of euthanasia for the mentally and physically handicapped and state-orchestrated terror for objectors in general and for the Jews in particular.

Finally, in 1941, as the armies of the Third Reich poured through Poland into Russia and the 'concentration' and slave-labour camps filled up, the Holocaust was set in motion. Now, quite regardless of health, educational attainment or IQ (the testing of which had been banned by Hitler in 1937, apparently to prevent the above-average IQ's of the Jews from being advertised), five million Jews, gypsies and homosexuals lost their lives to racial fanaticism.

After 1945, it became almost a matter of faith in psychology that important aspects of human personality, intelligence and rationality were mainly matters of 'nurture' rather than 'nature'; that 'improvements' were to be sought in education, training or psychotherapy, or by alterations in social conditions-especially for poorer families; and that psychology would follow the path outlined by Russian and American behaviourism.

However, by 1970, behaviourism -- with its stress on the importance of learning and on the apparent discovery of effective 'conditioning' procedures -- had itself taken some hard knocks in academic circles. These came partly from the growing recognition that 'conditioning' could not account for the phenomena of human language and symbol-using intelligence; partly from the increasing success of amelioration of mental illness by drugs; partly from failures of behaviour therapy to bite reliably on many 'unwanted habits' (especially on sexual fixations and on alcohol- and nicotine-consumption); and partly from direct empirical investigation of the role of 'nature' in human intellect, in personality differences, and even in social attitudes.

There are in fact three 'nature vs nurture' issues rather than just one. They concern what is innate, what is inherited, and what is important.

(i) What is innate to the species-in this case, homo sapiens? What features of human behaviour and experience arise from the genes that we all share and without most of which a human child is unlikely to be born? Obvious possibilities are that language (or at least a certain capacity for language) is innate to Man; ditto bipedalism-conferring the major evolutionary advantage that we can carry things easily. But what about the sex-role division of labour -so general a feature of human cultures historically, but now under challenge?

Proving innateness (versus dependence on learning) of a largely species-specific characteristic-like birdsong - may seem easy enough: we 'simply' rear a bird without exposing it to conspecifics or their song. But we can hardly carry out the same experiment with human children today -though the feat was attempted by one or two rulers of the past (e.g. the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, who was curious to see whether children reared in isolation would end up speaking Hebrew, or whether the Almighty might have graced some other language with His approval).

Today there is much discussion of 'sociobiological' ideas as to how we evolved (perhaps as 'aquatic apes'?) and as to what is innate (altruism?, love of our own kith and kin?, inter-racial antipathy?); but to prove points decisively in either the 'nature' or 'nurture' direction is hard work; and such matters are so important that many people are properly reluctant to change their minds without decisive proof.

{The suggestion of the Nobel-Prize-winning German ethologist, Konrad Lorenz (1962, Aggression: the So-called Evil), that human aggression is not only innate but actually 'desirable' (at least, intrinsic to distinctively human patterns of sociality) still remains the outstandingly controversial claim of ethology and sociobiology -- though Freud, too, thought we all had a 'death wish' of some kind that was normally channelled away from the self, towards external targets.}

Altogether, precise attributions of important, universal human features to 'either' nature or nurture looks quite unlikely. The incest taboo is an obvious example: it will be maintained 'naturally' in so far as societies are not so riven with internal strife as to put a premium on the special co-operation that will occur between the genetically similar offspring of incestuous unions; and it is also maintained by religious injunction and folk memory.

Again, the human sex-role division of labour has been well-nigh universal and thus a clear candidate to be thought 'innate'. Yet some obviously think this may change if females continue to have access to physical force (whether via the gun, labour-saving devices, or the police), can delay or abjure pregnancy and child-rearing, and can rely on their nation states to fund the education, health-care and even child-care of their own children while they themselves go out to work. {For presentation of modern nativist claims see e.g. M.Ridley, 1993, The Red Queen and M.S.Gazzaniga, 1994, Nature's Mind.}

(ii) Which differences between us are inherited genetically from our parents? Which characters 'breed true'-with people being more similar to each other according our estimates of the number of genes they share? With which traits can it be said that a 'eugenics' programme would be likely to have some degree of at least technical success? With this matter there are three obvious main lines of systematic inquiry.

(a) We can look at genetically similar (or even identical people (monozygotic (MZ) twins)) who grow up in different environments, thus allowing us to learn whether environmental differences, between families, contribute to final observable ('phenotypic') differences in behaviour and personality.

(b) We can look at children who are genetically unrelated (by population standards) and who grow up in the same family environment-as when adoptive children grow up alongside genetically unrelated children of similar age.

(c) We can look at pairs of children who share the same environment, but who differ in their degree of genetic similarity-as do MZ and DZ (dizygotic, 'fraternal') twins. We ask whether, with environment similar for the twins making up each pair, the greater within-pair genetic similarity (of the MZ's) makes for greater within-pair phenotypic similarity {as measured by intra-class correlation coefficient}.

Of course there are variants on all these methods. For example, in the 1990's there are many half-siblings who grow up largely apart, for example. More importantly, each method has its own limitations. Adoptive children may have been selected by agencies in the past as especially 'suited' to the families to which they were assigned: thus a brown-eyed child might not be assigned to blue-eyed adoptive parents, and a child of a well educated biological mother might be sent to a relatively bookish home.

Investigators have tried variously to allow for, circumvent or neglect such methodological problems. In particular, careful attention is essential to the genotypic, phenotypic and environmental ranges across which any particular study has been conducted: relatively few adoptees are adopted into the extremes of the range of human environments, for example; and twin studies using volunteers will usually under-represent pairs carrying genes for relatively low levels of IQ

In recent years there has been an enormous increase in high-quality psychogenetic work in many Western countries. Interpretations remain contested in some quarters (e.g. L.J.Kamin, 1984, Science; C.R.Brand, 1987, Nature); but a certain amount of fresh practical advice on child-rearing and education can be offered on the basis of the emerging research picture (Brand, 1989, in D.Anderson, Full Circle).

(iii) How do people come to differ as much as they do? How does phenotypic population variance arise? Is it largely accounted by 'broadly heritable', or genetic factors? Importantly, this question is different from the last two, for not all genetic variance is inherited. The best known example of this is the case of eye-colour in homo sapiens: two brown-eyed parents can have a blue-eyed child if each of them carries the 'recessive' gene for blue eyes as well as the 'dominant' gene for brown eyes.

Interaction between genetic factors (epistasis) is another purely genetic phenomenon that will not make for marked parent-child or sibling-sibling similarity: if a certain combination of genes is crucial to a character, within-family resemblances will be modest, since genes segregate in the process of transmission. Tracing such minimally transmissible effects is much harder; and, when they are found, they may somewhat upset the interpretation of other studies: for example, outstanding phenotypic similarity in MZ twin-pairs may reflect epistasis as much as 'narrowly heritable' genetic variance.

Lastly, we come to entirely non-transmissible genetic effects -as when genes mutate or when chromosomes are damaged or appear in triplicate. (For example: 'Fragile X' and 'Down's syndrome' are often the causes of mental retardation in children from families having no general propensity to produce lower-IQ children).

The way ahead to the identification of further such genetic effects is highly technical and even then serendipitous; but at present it is widely believed by geneticists (and by some people who are anxious about the prospect of a 'new eugenics') that many further gene-phenotype links will be discovered as the human genome is mapped in its entirety (see e.g. D.J.KEVLES and L.HOOD, 1992, The Code of Codes, Harvard University Press).

It would be nice to be able to say that whatever features of personality, intellect, psychopathology etc. cannot be attributed to genetic features must clearly be put down to 'the environment', and vice versa. However, psychologists long ago decided that matters were not so simple, and modern work provides ways of firming up this hunch.

Initially, saying that 'nature and nurture interact' -- perhaps 'inextricably' -- to yield human outcomes did little more than draw a veil over the failure of environmentalist theories to prove their main case. To talk of genetic-environmental interaction was more to obfuscate than to clarify. Strictly speaking, G x E interaction occurs when an environmental difference multiplies with a genetic value in determining phenotypic outcome: for example, a good violin level attained by a child will probably reflect not just 'genes for musical ability' and 'a good violin teacher', but their interaction or multiplication-there will probably be little attainment to show for having one but not the other.

Is such G x E interaction a powerful influence in human affairs? Well, if there is a lot of it around, it should mean that MZ twins will be especially similar only when they grow up in similar environments: and this phenomenon is not readily apparent across the range of psychometric test-score 'phenotypes'. However, many other things have been alluded to under the heading of 'interaction effects' by non-specialists; and the most compelling of these is the idea that a child's development occurs as it 'interacts with the environment'.

Since virtually all children quite literally 'interact with the environment' (with the important exception of grossly handicapped children), it is not immediately obvious how this observation is supposed to enable us to account for eventual differences between children. But in recent years, several techniques have come on stream for identifying various forms of what is properly called genetic-environmental covariation (G,E COV).

Theoretically there are three types of G,E COV that may help produce full population variance:

(1) Genotype and environment may be correlated by certain types of children being born into certain types of environment-as with children having genes for high-IQ [if there are such genes, of course] being born into environments that are themselves [correctly] judged by modern educators and social workers to be more likely to boost development.

(2) Parents, educators, etc., may decide to supply a certain type of environment to a certain type of child-smiles for a pretty girl, punishment for a cheeky boy, violins for children who seem interested and prove themselves capable, etc.

(3) Lastly, the genotype itself may lead its possessor to active selection of particular environment-as the child itself comes of an age to choose its toys, treats, friends, hobbies, school subjects etc.

These last two types of G,E COV can usefully be called 'transaction' with the environment: the point is that G has yielded, passively or actively, a changed environment (whether by selection or creation) that, in its turn, will normally be expected to influence the child further. If such 'transactions' occur, perhaps especially of type (iii), then we could expect that children will diverge as they grow up unless they are genetically identical.

And this is just what has seemed to happen in the few studies that have looked for the effect: at around seven years, DZ twins are almost as similar as MZ twins; but by adolescence the DZ's have diverged while the MZ twins have remained as similar as they were. What seems to happen is that the environment is not, as behaviourists could make it for their laboratory animals, a truly independent variable operating from outwith the 'organism'. Quite the contrary: environmental differences between us are largely under our own control after childhood, and psychological divergence seems to follow in line with genetic differences that may not have expressed themselves at all until such environmental opportunities arise.

Classical environmentalists would wish us all exposed to a limited diet of systematically improving arrangements. They would perhaps wish all children to be exposed to the standard British primary 'school' with its staff trained in sociology and Piagetianism. By contrast, the 'transactionist' will look especially at whether the environment provides variety and choice for children, and at whether the environment is responsive to the highly individual pressures from growing children for intellectual and emotional development beyond the levels that individual children have already reached.

Such are some of the main arguments, methods and types of finding that are brought to bear on 'nature-and-nurture' issues today. In general, enormous progress in the direction of agreement amongst experts has occurred in recent years, with few simple social-environmentalist claims being left on the table-except those concerning extreme environments that are seldom encountered in the West.

This would once have seemed a pessimistic thing to say; but it is no longer so. With years of slight achievement for social-environmentalist techniques behind us and with gene replacement therapy said to be just around the corner, probably the happiest thing that victims of psychological ill health or 'learning difficulties' could be told would be that their grandchildren, at least, would be spared their condition.

Whether people will be any more responsible about the 'new eugenics' than the old will remain to be seen. It is always possible that powerful new environmental variables-not seen so far in the twentieth century -will come into play and yield variance between people that would quite dwarf the human differences that result perhaps mainly from genetic differences today. Such overwhelmingly powerful environmental features would presumably resemble those associated historically with religion and associated pressures for strict socialization -- an environmental pressure for which the twentieth-century West professed little use.

More likely, increasing provision of equal opportunity and choice-now available to children in their own homes thanks to the proliferation of TV channels-will mean that the intellectual and personality differences that remain in future populations will be increasingly of genetic origin. High heritabilities will thus be a major testimony to the achievement of equal opportunities for all.

For quotes in support of the above summary see here.


Comments? Email Chris Brand.
Some history.


Monday, February 17, 2003


To differential psychologists, the question of 'What are the main human psychological differences?' provides the sport of kings. Suppose it be allowed that we all 'have' personalities that might be more or less directly 'measured'. The next interesting question will then concern which personality variations have actually turned out to be at all quantifiable in practice.

A great deal hangs on the answer. People probably differ from each other in most aspects of what it is like to be a person-except in capacities which have high biological survival-value. To detect and measure the main differences between people will thus mean we can begin to sketch the psychological structure of the human being which allows such surface differences in personality to occur.

The master psychometrician-psychologists, Raymond Cattell and Hans Eysenck, both made their academic fortunes by arguing persuasively to their audiences that they had managed to 'carve nature at the joints'.

[Cattell claimed to use superior statistical (factor-analytic) methods that were, in principle, more likely to align dimensions with the natural structure of personality and Eysenck claimed (from experimental methods) to have begun to trace the underlying workings of the main psychological 'black boxes' and processes (of motivation and conditioning), the different functioning of which in different people yields our manifest diversity in behaviour and experience.]

The first extensive analysis of personality data was reported on 2,532 patients of general practitioners in Holland by Heymans and Wiersma (1909, Zeitschrift f�r Psychologie 51). By 1927, Cyril Burt felt able to claim (on a visit to Edinburgh, discussing work by colleagues in London--Henderson Trust Lectures, No. 7) that rating-scale data yielded two main temperament factors of neuroticism and extraversion (as they would be called today). (The term "neuroticism" is misleading in so far as neuroticism / emotionality is a perfectly attractive trait when coupled with good intelligence)

In the 1930's Woodworth's personality inventory (tapping n and e) was in use in the USA; and Thurstone and his wife developed additional measures of political and moral attitudes. By 1955, American psychometricians were searching for clusters of co-variation among self-report items and ratings that would allow talk of objectively identified 'dimensions of personality'. Especially to the forefront in this was the British-born Cattell, with his sixteen personality factors (and 16PF Test to measure them), plus another thirty or so ('Universal Index') factors found from time to time outside the questionnaire realm. There were, however, reliable correlations both among these sixteen 'oblique' and between them and others.

This inter-correlation seemed to some (not to Cattell himself) to admit of their reduction to the equally reliably found six chief, independent, 'second-order' dimensions of personality. In the 1980's, data from Paul Costa and Jeff McCrae's Baltimore sample of adults (as part of US research into ageing) provided seemingly the best-ever data for dimension-hunters: data were amassed not only from hundreds of middle-aged testees but also from their spouses and from long-standing friends and neighbours on a good range of psychometric tests. Like Cattell and co-workers, McCrae and Costa came to recognize six chief independent dimensions of psychological variation-a 'Big Five' that appear in questionnaires and ratings, plus Intelligence.

Commonly used titles for the six dimensions, some possible Freudian parallels, and some suggestions as to how to envisage the alternative 'end' of each dimension) would be as follows.

Intelligence, general intelligence vs concretistic thinking;
Emotionality, neuroticism, anxiety, id? vs placidity, stability;
Extraversion, energy, surgency, eros? vs introversion, gravity;
Conscientiousness, control, superego vs impulsivity, casualness, liberality;
Disagreeableness, will, independence, ego? vs subduedness, passivity, affability;
Openness, Culture, affection, idealism vs tough-mindedness, cynicism, thanatos?

Three notes to this summary of the 'Big Six' are necessary.

(1) Many differential psychologists restrict the term 'personality' to non-intellective differences. This is principally because general intelligence (g) is best measured by 'puzzle' items to which the correct answer must be found. Hence there is often talk of 'the five-factor model of personality (FFM)', or 'the Big Five'.

(2) By conventional standards, intelligence is easily and reliably measured. However, it is hard to elicit valid self-ratings of intelligence. This is perhaps because most people mix largely with people of similar intelligence and education to themselves. Thus they find it hard to be realistic about their own levels of intelligence (see Brand, Deary & Egan, 1993, in G.Van Heck, Personality Psychology in Europe).

(3) McCrae and Costa's Disagreeableness seems to be similar to Cattell's Independence (or Promethean Will) vs Subduedness; but McCrae & Costa's Openness is probably a mixture of Cattell's Pathemia (Tender-mindedness) and Intelligence. (Openness correlates at around .35 with g even in studies where IQ range is restricted-see Brand, 1994, Europ. J. Personality.)

Why were the Big Five-or-Six (Big 5-or-6)-the 'Six' including g-not recognized previously?

(1) Cattell's methods were sophisticated; but his writing involved many neologisms. (In fairness to Cattell, these were introduced so as to make clear distinctions between the concepts of factor-analytic psychology and those of ordinary language.) Thus many psychologists found Cattell's opus dauntingly hard to follow. At the same time, Cattell's readiness to incorporate strands of Freudian conceptualization into his analyses gained him few friends in the scientific psychology of his day.

(2) In Britain, Eysenck had championed a markedly smaller number of personality dimensions-urging in particular that only his Extraversion, Neuroticism and (after 1970) Psychoticism possessed much reliability or general significance or had firm, demonstrable bases in learning mechanisms and brain functions.

(3) In crude forms of measurement [asking whether people are 'quick', 'tough' 'strong' etc.], and also when subjects of lower levels of education are surveyed, some of the Big 5-or-6 show a tendency to fuse to yield a reduced number of dimensions.

(More detail about the above and supporting quotes can be found here)


Comments? Email Chris Brand.
Some history.


Sunday, February 16, 2003

'SITUATIONAL' versus 'PERSONOLOGICAL' approaches to human behaviour and experience

The reality of 'personhood' is a fundamental proposition for trait psychology, for depth psychology and probably for Western civilization. The personologist's proposition is that our world is substantially composed of and created by people who have their own essential natures, propensities and histories, and who operate as causal agents.

Yet, however wide its acceptance, this central, personological claim also encounters scepticism. The philosopher, David Hume, seemed to himself, on inward inspection, "nothing but a bundle of sensations"; and modern social scientists balk at the claim's 'individualism' and its implied restriction on the hypothetical influence of social environment and cultural context.

From 1968, with the publication of Walter Mischel's Personality and Assessment, personological claims came under fire from psychologists who were giving up the study of the rat while remaining loyal to the elemental principles of 'stimulus-response' (S-R) behaviourism. The behaviourist insistence on the rag-bag and reflex-like nature of human action was thus to be applied by the new social psychologists to the phenomena of personality at just the time when it no longer seemed relevant to explaining human language, curiosity, creativity or, indeed, quite a lot of learning in animals.

Not content with 'existentialism' (and related forms of 'idealism'-to the effect that we have no essence but only our existence and freedom to entertain ideas), working psychologists began publishing studies and reviews (notably in the prestigious journals, Psychological Bulletin and Journal of Personality & Social Psychology) offering mundane demonstrations of human behaviour appearing to be under 'situational' control.

Perhaps out of background sympathies for existentialism, relativism, behaviourism or environmentalism (see Brand, 1996, The g Factor, Wiley DePublisher), but certainly out of an understandable disenchantment with the slight achievements of much twentieth-century 'personality testing' and 'personality theory', social psychologists examined three main possibilities:

(I) That human behaviour varies markedly across 'situations' -- as between sitting an exam, partying, being trapped in a burning building, meeting one's mother-in-law, etc.;

(ii) That our behaviour changes markedly over time-as 'lifespan development' occurs and we are exposed to new challenges, rewards and, indeed, 'situations';

(iii)That behaviour is an interactive product of both personality and situation-rather as a love affair will be based on more than a simple addition of the 'amorous propensities' and 'sexual attractiveness' of the two partners.

By way of reply, theorists of 'personological' persuasion were inclined to make the following three types of observation.

(I) Cross-situational consistency and temporal continuity can in fact be detected -at least in some researches (using proper sampling of people, and sampling situations with the frequencies with which they naturally occur), and for some people (as people are easily able to tell the psychologist who asks), and for some traits (especially if they involve abilities).

(ii) At least in the modern West, most adults' 'situations'-not least their 'ongoing' situations-are largely chosen by people themselves. Thus many 'situations' that a particular person might find too stressful or too boring-and indeed generative of unusual behaviour-are avoided for the vast majority of the time by means of suitable choices of career, ski resort, romantic partner, etc.

(iii) Predicting 'person x situation' interactions (that Vincent marries Judith rather than Mary, say) is an exercise in which Vincent's 'personality', properly considered, may well be of considerable relevance. By a 'personality description' we often mean to register precisely that the person is 'likely to be affected in special ways by particular situational features' (in the present case, by a girl like Judith).

Whatever the general resolution of the 'person-situation debate', important contributions have been made that have sharpened the thinking of theorists of both 'situationalist' and 'personological' persuasions. An important development through the 1980's was the growing recognition by personality theorists of all kinds of the processes (both active and passive) whereby people select, are selected for and shape their own environments.

(Quotations illustrating the above points can be found here)


Comments? Email Chris Brand.
Some history.


Saturday, February 15, 2003


Are there any identifiable psychological or physiological bases for human individual differences in measured intelligence?

Despite the passing of some eighty summers since the invention of IQ tests, and despite ceaseless calls for psychology to 'go beyond' IQ to identify 'what the tests test', there is still little consensus in and around cognitive and differential psychology as to the nature and bases of intelligence itself. Intelligence has stimulated many attempts to specify its essence-e.g. 'learning ability', 'abstract reasoning ability', 'information processing ability' or just 'the capacity to adapt'; but no one such approach has caught on.

Hardened psychology-watchers will say there is nothing new in this. For psychologists have established no certain research method for proceeding to undertake such fundamental psychological analysis of any human ability or propensity. On the one hand there is macroscopic 'behaviour' (including test performances) that is too big and itself requires explanation in terms of its 'bases'; on the other hand there are (presumably, somewhere) the much-sought-after microscopic processes of low-level neuropsychology and computational cognitivism.

What is hard is to find with any scientific authority is a level in between -- a level at which talk of operating characteristics, goals and strategies (cf. abilities, desires and intentions) seems natural.

It is pretty easy to see what sort of research to do if it is desired to 'measure' an ability, to discover a treatment for a neurotic condition, or to enquire to what degree genetic and/or environmental factors furnish the developmental 'origins' of human psychological differences. Such psychometric, psychotherapeutic and psychogenetic questions present themselves together with straightforward methods relevant to answering them: count and correlate; experiment and observe; follow twins and adoptees. It is precisely psychology that is hard to do convincingly.

This difficulty may arise because 'folk psychology' already does quite a lot of the job so well. Some may thus think it no shame to be uncertain about 'what intelligence really is'. Moreover, psychologists also draw a blank about what underpins or provides any basis for extraversion, authoritarianism, self-monitoring, sexual orientation and other important characteristics that are perfectly 'measurable' (given a little co-operation). Still, intelligence differences are arguably rather special amongst human psychological differences in being especially readily and reliably measured, in having had their origins very fully researched, in being demonstrably important and in having understandably excited the interest of 'cognitive' and developmental psychologists. To that extent, continuing uncertainty about its essential nature must remain something of a puzzle.

In part, the problem is that psychological fashions of explanation have changed repeatedly because of doubts as to the adequacy of any of them. Explanations invoking brain bumps, innate proclivities, types of conditioning, 'black boxes', neurotransmitters and 'interaction effects' have all worn thin. In addition, sustained application to explaining differences is hard to find within any of psychology's major explanatory paradigms or schools of thought. Nevertheless, in recent years (beginning with Hans Eysenck's classic theoretical paper about IQ and reaction time (1967, British Journal of Educational Psychology) increasing effort has been made to trace IQ differences to underlying differences in 'basic information processing abilities'. (More strictly, the effort relates to g differences, for g increases through childhood as well as distinguishing between children and between adults of the same chronological age. In particular, g has been linked to 'mental speed' of various kinds:

1) to overall speed of reaction to stimuli (RT);

2) to speed of choice- or decision-making (DT-which is choice RT minus the 'motor' component of how long it takes a subject to respond to the onset of a simple stimulus that does not require any choice to be made); and

3) to speed of intake of elementary perceptual information (especially 'inspection time' (IT)).

Broadly, the idea of Hans Eysenck, Arthur Jensen, Mike Anderson, Ian Deary, Con Stough and much of the rest of the 'London School' of psychology has been:

(i) that such speed differences are probably central to individual differences in 'fluid intelligence' (gf, the ability to solve new problems); and

(ii) that these differences in speed (and/or fidelity) of elementary information processing express themselves gradually, over the course of development, into further differences between people in 'crystallized general intelligence' (gc, knowledge and skills).
[Normally gf and gc correlate substantially, but gf declines in the average person from perhaps age 27 onwards (and markedly after age 55), while gc 'holds' relatively well-see Quotes XXI.]

Confronting such 'simplistic' theorizing about intelligence is a wide range of experts in subjects outwith differential psychology. Some are social environmentalists who balk at any story of g that lends itself to postulating substantial genetic origins for g differences.

Other objectors are cultural relativists who suppose that cross-cultural comparisons in intelligence are odious and impossible because cultures are so different -- thus intelligence can necessarily have no 'basis' in anything so cross-culturally measurable as 'mental speed' or performance on 'elementary cognitive tasks'.

Some objectors are developmental psychologists who think of intelligence as a multi-faceted 'construction' -- more like gc than gf .

Still others are cognitive psychologists who liken the human mind to a computer, study memory and language in psychology students, decline to insist on reliable tests for use with the general population, and thus claim that they alone are pursuing the question of what intelligence really is.

(For quotes relevant to the above generalizations see here)


Comments? Email Chris Brand.
Some history.


Friday, February 14, 2003

IQ testing for the faint-hearted

A review of:
Lewis R. AIKEN (1996).
Assessment of Intellectual Functioning, 2nd edition.
New York : Plenum. pp. xii + 412. ISBN 0-306-45152-2.

There is doubtless a need for stolidly professional books about IQ-testing. Many trainees for psychology careers and research assistantships need to know how to test IQ even though they would rather spend their time bemoaning psychometrics and its latent ideologies of measurability and inequality. For apprehensive newcomers to the assessment of intelligence, Aiken's book is the near-perfect answer. It sets forth the nuts and bolts of standardized testing plainly, sensibly and in a way that is unlikely to upset anyone.

Aiken provides three general chapters on history, concepts and procedures, seven Buros-style chapters on published tests, and concludes with three chapters touching on explanatory issues and the main obstacles to acceptance of IQ-testing. Everything that the trainee tester could want is here -- including a reminder to provide special desks for left-handers, and an intriguing specimen Parental Consent Form (in use by the Los Angeles Unified School District) offering the assurance that NO STANDARDIZED INTELLIGENCE (I.Q.) TESTS WILL BE GIVEN.

The 'balance' favoured by textbook writers is well maintained throughout. Every significant move towards assertion is rapidly followed by a disclaimer or denial. The Kaufman Ability Scales are commended, but their relative equalization of blacks and whites is admitted to depend on the inclusion of a larger-than-usual number of 'memory' subtests.

The possible effect of birth order on IQ makes an interesting story; but it is acknowledged that recent research suggests some kind of failure of researchers to control adequately for later-borns necessarily coming from larger families.

Likewise, though Howard Gardner supposedly "draws on developmental research findings to demonstrate the independence of [his] seven intelligences", readers are told twelve lines later that "his ideas are based more on reasoning and intuition than on the results of empirical research studies." Aiken probably favours London School claims; but he allows himself to go no further than pointing out difficulties with disunitarian and social-environmentalist viewpoints.

The other textbookish way of maintaining mock-scholarly detachment is simply to avoid key questions altogether. Aiken opts for this too. Despite a generous page allocation, he has little to say about whether IQ tests are fair, whether they are strongly correlated with 'basic processes', whether their variance is largely heritable, or whether what they test is critical to modern life outcomes.

To answer any of these four questions requires some presentation of the techniques of psychometrics, factor analysis, inspection time and psychogenetics; but Aiken is happier to give these techniques a miss. He does not show how to check for fairness -- let alone does he rehearse actual empirical endorsements (e.g. Braden's (1994) demonstration of the tests' fairness with grossly culturally deprived deaf children).

Aiken gives the conventional three-page 'outline' of factor analysis but does not actually show how factors are extracted, so he can claim exemption from discussing the percentages of variance explained by the g factor in contrast with specifics.

Like most American researchers, he has apparently never heard of research on inspection time; he plumps for a heritability of .50 without saying whether this is NARROW or BROAD or indicating what such calculation involves; he declines to mention, let alone contest James Flynn's arguments for the unimportance of IQ; and, though his text has been revised to squeeze in a reference to Herrnstein and Murray (1994), Aiken makes virtually no use of their sociology-crushing results.

All told, Aiken's heart is probably in the right place; but he evidently believes that the way to deal with hysterical political correctness about IQ is 'softly-softly'.

Thankfully there are relatively few outright mistakes -- though Aiken should have learned that his wish to 'update' the 1947 Raven's Matrices has been granted. Also, the British National Foundation for Educational Research has a UK address as well as one in Singapore; and the biblical selection of crack soldiers who scooped up water 'putting their hands to their mouth' (Judges vii 3-7, King James' 1611 Version) (rather than kneeling down and drinking face-into-the-water) would indeed have sorted out those men who took wise precautions against surprise attack.

Trainees will also be glad that Aiken's chapters are accompanied by redundancy-increasing Summaries and by 'Questions and Activities' that will assist preparation for the now conventional examination of trainees' rote learning abilities in today's universities.

BRADEN, J. P. (1994). Deafness, Deprivation and IQ. New York : Plenum.
HERRNSTEIN, R. & MURRAY, C. (1994). The Bell Curve. New York : The Free Press.


Comments? Email Chris Brand.
Some history.


Thursday, February 13, 2003


The Labour MP for multiculti-ravaged Oldham condemned police for failing to investigate cases of racist attacks on Whites. The parliamentarian, Phil Woolas, was himself promptly condemned as racist by Oldham councillor Mohammed Masud and as "absolutely irresponsible" by Labour National Executive Member Shahid Malik (BBC, 3 iii).

The Guardian (5 ii 03) gave front-page headlines to a story that Mr Blair was requiring weekly reports on asylum swindlers ooops seekers and was planning to return them all to 'protection areas' to be maintained by the United Nations within or close to the swindlers' countries of origin. (The next day the Telegraph carried the same story.) Worries about the Government's apparently continuing plan to admit 40,000 more regular immigrants annually (hoping thus to reduce the number of asylum swindlers) met with anxiety among officials of the mighty Transport and General Workers Union, the Times reported (5 ii 03). (Britain was losing 10,000 jobs per month against a background of still greater unemployment problems in Germany.)

A firm case for immigration control was made in the February cover story for the up-market monthly Prospect by left-wing Cambridge economics professor Bob Rowthorn. The article concluded:

"Much of the concern in rich countries about immigration comes from the fact that the potential flow of migrants is so great. Without barriers -- even the rather leaky ones that we have today -- there would be a massive and unacceptable inflow of migrants into rich countries. For this reason, I see no alternative but to support what is known pejoratively as "Fortress Europe." I also believe that Britain should retain her existing independent system of immigration controls to reinforce the wider EU system. In addition, labour mobility from the new EU states should be restricted until their economies have converged more closely with those of existing members."

{Gradually, British intellectuals were coming into line with the 2001 opinion of top liberal-left US sociologist, Christopher Jencks.}

Prime Minister Blair promised to cut asylum swindling arrivals by 40% within a few months, only to be told not only by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats but by his own Home Secretary Blind Joe Blunkett that his promise was "undeliverable". Replying to criticism of Government confusion, the Prime Minister, busy with Gulf War II against France and Germany, cringingly replied that he had not intended to state a "target" but only a "long-term goal."



A very favourable review of Richard Lynn & Tatu Vanhanen's IQ and the Wealth of Nations appeared in Occidental Quarterly, Winter 2002/3. The author, Ed Miller, a professor of finance at the University of New Orleans, concluded that the book demonstrated "the explanatory power of a single variable, the IQ of the country's population." OQ also carried an interesting review saying that Harvard sociologists, led by one Robert Putnam, are at last beginning to notice and lament the decline of 'community' - after decades in which they worked hard to break up people's natural communities of race, religion and family.



Times Higher's thoughtfully provided Common Room saw no action for ten days - literally not a single new communication. Apparently Britain's peecee and 90% liberal-left academics were finding each other too boring to discuss, and preferred to rely on censorship and sacking to get their own views across.

But meantime, a trial opened in Salisbury, England, of a baker who had - wow! - employed "pretty girls" of 14, 15 and 16 and "digitally raped" them from time to time in his fridge without them troubling to leave his employment; and more generally the hysteria continued to take its toll, increasingly of women schoolteachers accused of 'abusing' mid-teen boys.


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Some history.



The Labour MP for multiculti-ravaged Oldham condemned police for failing to investigate cases of racist attacks on Whites. The parliamentarian, Phil Woolas, was himself promptly condemned as racist by Oldham councillor Mohammed Masud and as "absolutely irresponsible" by Labour National Executive Member Shahid Malik (BBC, 3 iii).

The Guardian (5 ii 03) gave front-page headlines to a story that Mr Blair was requiring weekly reports on asylum swindlers ooops seekers and was planning to return them all to 'protection areas' to be maintained by the United Nations within or close to the swindlers' countries of origin. (The next day the Telegraph carried the same story.) Worries about the Government's apparently continuing plan to admit 40,000 more regular immigrants annually (hoping thus to reduce the number of asylum swindlers) met with anxiety among officials of the mighty Transport and General Workers Union, the Times reported (5 ii 03). (Britain was losing 10,000 jobs per month against a background of still greater unemployment problems in Germany.)

A firm case for immigration control was made in the February cover story for the up-market monthly Prospect by left-wing Cambridge economics professor Bob Rowthorn. The article concluded:

"Much of the concern in rich countries about immigration comes from the fact that the potential flow of migrants is so great. Without barriers -- even the rather leaky ones that we have today -- there would be a massive and unacceptable inflow of migrants into rich countries. For this reason, I see no alternative but to support what is known pejoratively as "Fortress Europe." I also believe that Britain should retain her existing independent system of immigration controls to reinforce the wider EU system. In addition, labour mobility from the new EU states should be restricted until their economies have converged more closely with those of existing members."

{Gradually, British intellectuals were coming into line with the 2001 opinion of top liberal-left US sociologist, Christopher Jencks.}

Prime Minister Blair promised to cut asylum swindling arrivals by 40% within a few months, only to be told not only by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats but by his own Home Secretary Blind Joe Blunkett that his promise was "undeliverable". Replying to criticism of Government confusion, the Prime Minister, busy with Gulf War II against France and Germany, cringingly replied that he had not intended to state a "target" but only a "long-term goal."



A very favourable review of Richard Lynn & Tatu Vanhanen's IQ and the Wealth of Nations appeared in Occidental Quarterly, Winter 2002/3. The author, Ed Miller, a professor of finance at the University of New Orleans, concluded that the book demonstrated "the explanatory power of a single variable, the IQ of the country's population." OQ also carried an interesting review saying that Harvard sociologists, led by one Robert Putnam, are at last beginning to notice and lament the decline of 'community' - after decades in which they worked hard to break up people's natural communities of race, religion and family.



Times Higher's thoughtfully provided Common Room saw no action for ten days - literally not a single new communication. Apparently Britain's peecee and 90% liberal-left academics were finding each other too boring to discuss, and preferred to rely on censorship and sacking to get their own views across.

But meantime, a trial opened in Salisbury, England, of a baker who had - wow! - employed "pretty girls" of 14, 15 and 16 and "digitally raped" them from time to time in his fridge without them troubling to leave his employment; and more generally the hysteria continued to take its toll, increasingly of women schoolteachers accused of 'abusing' mid-teen boys.


Comments? Email Chris Brand.
Some history.


Wednesday, February 12, 2003


Watched by some 15 million UK viewers, pop idol Michael Jackson (who in 1993 bought off a paedophilia accusation, paying UKP11M) revealed his obsession with children and said youngsters of 12 sometimes shared his bed and/or bedroom at his 'Neverland' adventure complex - one such boy, a former cancer case, was presented, smiling and tightly clutching Jackson's hand. Said Jackson: "Why can't you share your bed? That's the most loving thing to do, to share your bed with someone." At one point he whispered "I am a Peter Pan at heart" - though apparently meaning simply 'lover of children', not an abuser.

The ITV programme (by ITV's Martin Bashir, who once famously interviewed Princess Diana sympathetically about her failing marriage) linked Jackson's love of children to his piteous claims of having been abused as a child - his father beating him (his siblings agree) with anything that came to hand, and his older brothers making love to girls while he was in the same room and had to pretend to be asleep.

Jackson said he would kill himself if he woke up one morning to find the world empty of children for him to love, but he denied any sexual element to his involvements. Although he was already raising three children (supposedly his own biological offspring) apart from their mothers, he said he was thinking of adopting more children, perhaps two from each continent.

{With these revelations, the popular Jackson seemed on course to re-brand the world's image of 'paedophilia'; or alternatively - in view of likely renewed police scrutiny and outrage from paedohysterics -- he might become the world's richest jailbird. In either case, any open-minded person would agree he had done more good for children than many hundreds of Haringey 'social workers' put together.}

Subsequently, columns in the Daily Mail and Sun condemned Jackson as evil, sick and dangerous; the Independent said he was weird but not wicked; the Guardian actually ran a column titled "Why Jacko is a great dad_but only if you want your child to be a tortured genius" (G2, 5 ii 03, p. 14); and the Times said nothing.

At ITV's phone-in, comments were 80% in favour of Jackson. Sales of Jackson's record 'Thriller' shot up by 500% compared with the previous week's performance and his Greatest Hits package 'HIStory' rocketed by 1,000% at British retail chain HMV. Jackson himself understandably condemned Bashir's treacherous interviewing and reportage as "deceptive" and "tawdry"; but it was quite possible Jackson would have the last laugh if there were no complaints from the many children he had entertained at Neverland. {American Nobelist Carleton Gajdusek managed to adopt and help about 50 children before one of them was lured by police to make a complaint.}

Jackson found considerable support at the ITV website and several parents came forward to say they would be sending their children to his Neverland playground.

Americans were not as supportive and Brits and Europeans, but polls showed that even 51% of US adults thought Jackson "misunderstood." In California's Santa Barbara County, where Jackson's Neverland ranch is located, District Attorney Thomas W. Sneddon, Jr., condemned the ``media circus'' around the documentary and called Jackson's admission that he has slept in the same bed as children ``much ado about nothing.'' ``Sleeping in bed with a kid is not a crime that I know of,'' Sneddon told the Santa Barbara News-Press.

In the Observer (9 ii), two articles defended Jackson as surely a better-than-average father - certainly better than some parents seen in supermarkets, and also better than quite a lot of Hollywood parents. Apparently Jackson's older children are nice, bright, unaffected etc. Altogether, it looked as if there was some chance that Michael Jackson could succeed in abating paedohysteria.


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Some history.


Tuesday, February 11, 2003


(Continued from yesterday)

Today, it is agreeable to think that the Western world has liberated itself from many great evils of the past. In fact, the liberation that began as the dominating dogmas of Christianity were challenged and relaxed has yet to be completed; and the new dogma of PC has scrambled into the saddle just as Christianity seemed on its last gasp.

There must be many mistakes on the way to intelligent and responsible forms of liberty. But the greatest of these mistakes is to have made the past a captive to imaginary ideas of its central evils; and to have allowed that conception of past evil to arrest the liberation into new choices and responsibilities that a civilized world now requires. The way forward is simple: the past must be liberated from the future.

Our hysterically 'evil'-detecting present that shuns any talk of eugenics and personal responsibility must stop re-inventing the past or even scouring it for a quintessence of evil that will never be found; and the future -- our present -- must now be liberated from the state-enforced religions of the past and their natural culmination in an uncriticized ersatz-emperor who could rule without a serious court, parliament, cabinet, church or press corps. Hitler, who now represents most of what constitutes 'history' for grandchildren of the Anglo-American victors of 1945, is blamed for having planned a 'master race.' In fact, Hitler should be blamed for having broken his contract with Germany. Until the modern West appreciates the key dishonesties of the past -- crucially unchecked by critical intelligence -- it will be unable to enjoy the honest freedoms that beckon from what should be its future.

The view of the Nazizeit adopted in this essay would bear comparison with that of the British philosopher (and one-time refugee from Hitler), Sir Karl Popper:
"[For Karl Popper,] Hitler and Stalin were, among other things, dogmatic ideologues in the grip of theories they made no effort to falsify, and they produced governments in which criticism and peaceful replacements of a government were not tolerated." -- Colin McGINN, 2002, New York Review of Books, 21 November.


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Some history.


Monday, February 10, 2003


As many movements of liberation and liberal thought testify, liberty has proved a popular political ideal -- at least since 1776. Today, when slavery and the 'working class' have ceased to present problems in the West, the stress of reformers is on freeing or at least lightening the burdens of all kinds of minority groups -- notably women, the handicapped, the homosexual and the ethnic minorities from the third world.

Nevertheless, modern liberal democracies that rejoice in tolerance and equality have a problem of lack of direction in public policy. Unlike China (for example), they have no big plans for the future. Especially, they cannot face or resolve pressing questions about family life and about the quality and quantity of their citizenry in the next generation. The problem will not go away. The Western family has gone into massive decline since 1985 -- a development unwished by experts of any political colour; and the arrival of genetic engineering means that demographic choices will need to be made quite consciously, whether by individuals or by governments.

The main obstacle to discussion of the West's future arises from the association of biological and eugenic objectives with Nazism. However, apart from doubts as to what the Nazis' 'human biological initiative' actually involved, it is not obvious that any plans at all provided the genesis of the evils of the Nazizeit. Rather, the key feature that allowed Hitler's militarism, totalitarianism and mindless racism to proceed was the delusion that the 'Third Reich' which replaced the Weimar Republic involved any remotely normal form of government.

In fact, instead of policies being presented, discussed and criticized, Hitler's method of operation was capricious and chaotic. It was a betrayal not only of German Jews and other minorities but of all Germans (though especially of German servicemen and their families). There was never any proper agreement as to what National Socialism would involve; and Hitler's highly personalized rule was a betrayal of his implicit contract of government (and of his explicit contract with Franz von Papen, who made him Chancellor). Although Hitler's Mein Kampf had given some warning, few could have expected the rapid destruction of governmental processes that took place between 1935 (Nuernberg Laws) and 1938 (Kristallnacht).

Germany's precipitate descent into government by an equal mixture of caprice and paranoia makes three points of great relevance to the West's problems today. First, the Nazizeit can be blamed to some extent on those Germans who saw it coming and did little except escape it -- as did most of Germany's own 400,000 Jews. Secondly, the Nazizeit shows the key role of governmental contracts and constitutions as bulwarks against deception. Third, the appreciation that what happened was fundamentally a betrayal -- a breach and failure of contract -- should result in resolve for the West's future to encourage people and politicians to make and keep the contracts that they desire.

Personally chosen contracts, however idiosyncratic, should be open and enjoy a serious prospect of enforcement. People's intentions should be seen and criticized rather than obscured; and to liberate individual initiative into the development of self-chosen life-styles is what the West now needs as a follow-up to its economic liberation of the 1980's. Only such a commitment will prevent the West becoming moribund and a prey to the ever-present mass-tyrannical and authoritarian tendencies of even modern liberal-democratic states themselves - tendencies which will become marked if ever their economies falter.

By encouraging, rather than resisting contracts, the West can restore the Enlightenment idea of progress but reconcile it with Ancient Greek ideas of justice and personal responsibility and with modern ideas of maximising human liberty. The Nazizeit itself needs to be liberated from artificial modern attempts to identify in it some quintessence of evil. Rather, human evil results principally from failures -- especially from failures of honesty. Proper understanding of the Nazizeit should yield a new stress on open contract-making. The Hitler period should be seen as a period of normal, not exceptional human folly; and sensible plans made to expose all politicians to scrutiny before unconstrained folly turns into horror.

A move towards accepting honest contracts -- rather than searching for imagined evil and utopian answers to it -- would liberate the West's future from its past. It would do so by liberating that past from what has, in the form of increasing hysteria about Hitlerism, become its future. To install voluntary and open contracts as the stuff of social and political life would inspire the rest of the world -- in which corruption is the biggest problem, often because lawful forms of contract are impossible. Such neoliberalism would show that the West is capable of optimistic realism and respect for the individual as much as of the melancholic idealism which has dogged it since 1945. The West's guilt about its own racist, sexist and inquisitioning past now threatens the rest of the world in the form of human rights demands that show contempt for others' sovereignty. Instead, the West needs an agenda that will at once allow creativity and respect others' own wishes and choices.

The new approach might be called neoliberealism. It would take classical liberalism beyond economics and accept biological realities that will always leave inequalities unless these themselves are engineered out by human choice -- hopefully under open and enforceable contracts; and it would accept the historical reality of competition between nations and let the dead bury their dead. In particular, it would end the bizarre Western propitiation of minorities which themselves had as much responsibility for their past fates as did their oppressors and whose sufferings have anyhow been more than compensated by half-a-century of life in the prosperous free West. It would release creativity -- making new human relationships, families, societies and cultures just as twentieth-century capitalism was able to stimulate economic activity. It would make individuals -- not the religions of the first Christian millennium or the governments of the second -- masters of history. It would liberate the future from the past, and the past from the future.


Comments? Email Chris Brand.
Some history.