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May 17th, 2014

A new sandpit for long side discussions, idees fixes and so on.

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  1. Ikonoclast
    May 17th, 2014 at 15:10 | #1

    Re: The downdraft tower concept from the last sandpit. I would be worried about the water requirements unless it is by the sea and can use seawater. Then, salt, corrosion and salt water run-off drains would be the problems. I would also doubt the energy equation of this concept. The water has to be pumped to the height of the tower and then sprayed through high pressure misting nozzles (I assume). That is a large energy cost right there. Even if all the water evaporated and fell in humid air, the tower is not going to get all the “water budget” energy back. So net energy must come from falling air and the consequent wind turbine energy from that. The tower is also fighting natural convection which “wants” to go the other way from warm surface to normally cooler top. This is unless there are physics principles I don’t understand.

    Hermit mentions its a bit of a worry that it needs a billion to prove the concept. Maybe, but how many military budget billions were spent to prove nuclear power?

    “Between 1948 and 1995, the government spent more than $61 billion (in 1995 dollars) on nuclear power research- almost two-thirds of all federal support for energy research and development.” – thirdworldtravellerdotcom

  2. Hermit
    May 17th, 2014 at 16:38 | #2

    I suspect a lot of that nuclear spending was intended for military applications not civilian. Arguably money well spent since there have been no nuclear wars and the US Navy for example has never had a nuclear submarine accident caused by that technology.

    Currently we appear to be a flogging a few dead horses including CCS, dry rock geothermal and install-anywhere Gwh scale energy storage. We could now be throwing good money after bad if they never pan out.

    Cooling towers lose a lot of water to evaporation which is why new nukes should be where the towers already exist (eg Hazelwood) or use immersion cooling on the sea shore. California has banned use of once-through cooling water, salty or fresh. Surprise surprise it just happened to help the plan to close the seawater cooled San Onofre nuke plant. Emissions subsequently went up. Car radiator type closed loop cooling systems as in Kogan Ck and Milmerran Qld coal stations are said to impose a 20% output penalty.

  3. Midrash
    May 17th, 2014 at 17:05 | #3

    I suppose the old Sandpit in which Julie Thomas challenged me to declare my IQ and expressed the view that she could probably shade me a standard deviation without actually declaring hers has by now become toxic sludge and been closed behind a Hazchem sign so I rely on the invitation in “idée fixe” as reason to respond here.

    There were others to who seemed to think they knew more than they gave evidence of about IQ tests, the utility thereof and the significance of IQ and seemed to disapprove of the simple idea that smart successful people are more likely to produce smart successful children who invent things, cure people’s legal and medical problems, build solvent businesses and be net taxpayers than are less smart and successful people and so should be encouraged to have a due proportion of the next generation of children because it is in everyone’s interests. Maybe I can say something to them too at least en passant.

    Julie Thomas reminded me of a despairing friend’s lament about his clever sisters that they were the living proof that very high IQ was compatible with complete foolishness. Why, in particular, because Julie Thomas must be amazingly naive to believe whatever IQ figure (I think it’s under 200 on most tests actually) or that I would believe whatever figure she chose yo boast of.

    My IQ hasn’t been formally tested since I was 10 years old but I find myself flattered by the willingness of the Six Sigmas, especially in the Americas, to talk to and correspond with me. Actually only one of them has the chutzpah to use the Six Sigma expression (and he’s not Jewish) and when he expressed disdain for the current concerns of another, half a generation older, I was too slow witted to point out that the other (who is Jewish) famous for a variety of achievements, was also publicly known for his Seven Sigma IQ.

    So what? There are as I would be quick to point out severe limitations to the predictive power in relation to any one or two individuals. And so as not just repeat the platitudes has it occurred to others that you may have an outstanding short term memory and a real six sigma speed of symbol manipulation but can you listen much faster than other people? Can you talk commensurately faster or even type so fast that your superior cognitive equipment gets full use. Etc, etc and still lots more refinements. And do different aspects of the mind, even those that are basically cognitive, interfere with each other? For example does the person who can pass a reading comprehension test at 1500 words per minute actually read at that speed if he is a high scorer on tests of what used to be (?still) divergent intelligence, or does he cknstantly find himself diverted by seeing problems of logic, of spelling, of ambiguity, of questionable consistency with an earlier proposition, with factual accuracy etc.? The brilliant mind that can score high on an IQ test may or may not be able to harness his/her mental speed to providing new and better solutions to real problems – though the attributes which produce high IQ scores are always better to have unless you are seeking to fill roles for which tolerance for boredom is a plus.
    I don’t recall a Julie Thomas at the International Society for Intelligence Research’s conference in Melbourne last December. Any other of our supercilious blogging company perhaps? If you are doing a relevant PhD you might get an invitation to present your work in Austria later this year. If you haven’t been invited you could just drop you anonymity and I should be able to fix it for you.

    Julie Thomas, somewhere on JQ’s blogs said something about probability which suggests an understanding of something critical to knowing what the significance of IQ tests might be. Perhaps she is not condemned to relying on the Marxist influenced cr*p of the late Stephen Jay Gould (for whom it was suggested the first Lysenko Prize should be awarded – in the same spirit as the Ignobels but specifically for those who should have known better) and Leon Kamin.
    Apart from the now long past work of Hans Eysenck and his recently deceased pupil Arthur Jensen, the most important background reading would certainly include everything from Prof James Richard Flynn who (re)discovered the Flynn Effect which consists in the average IQ scores in Western countries having increased by approx 3 per cent a decade over most of the last 100 years. Obviously this is not the result of genetic change (which could have had some minor influence in the opposite direction) so the reasons for it are well worth inquiring into.
    Flynn’s own explanation(s) tend to emphasise an increasingly abstract approach as a result of modern education in contrast to the concrete, not to say earthy, approach of a 19th century countryman. I would proffer also antibiotics, aspirin and other anti-inflammatories, test sophistication, parlour games (including video), and even radio comedies because you had to keep your mind focussed or you would.miss something.

    The works of Lynn and Vanhenen, notably IQ and the Wealth of Nations, is of interest despite some absurd figures (though they might respond that some of the low figures
    arevactually valid (if only for a limited period) as an index of modernity. In any event it was Ron Unz, at the time the publisher of The American Conservative, who wrote a notable piece for it a couple of years ago showing that most of Llynn and Vanhenen’s low figures had to do with a rural urban divide – most notably, from memory, for Ireland and Slovenia.

    None of which means that IQ tests don’t have important uses. I note for those who only think they know something about the subject that the most commonly used culture fair tests (not that it isn’t a help to have done lots of tests) are Raven’s Progressive Matrices; that Wechsler (the regular restandardisation of which gave rise to the discovery of the Flynn effect), Stanford Binet and most others have a standard deviation of 15 around a population average of 100; that Cattell used an sd of 24 with average 100.
    Enough, or more.


  4. Julie Thomas
    May 17th, 2014 at 17:56 | #4


    lol Julie Thomas is just a bit speechless actually and that doesn’t happen often, some people would say. Have you noticed how often you used my name? Is there some sort of cultural significance for conservatives in referring to a someone by their name several times?

    I think the last time I was spoken to, or about, like that it was some old fart teacher. I think this behaviour was and is, supposed to be intimidating but not having social skills I never noticed that and I just considered – well judged really – them to be incredibly stupid and rude and deserving of pity.

    You can’t help yourself can you? Just a product of your genes and upbringing.

    I’d be interested, though, in any explanation you can provide about what it was in particular that I said that rendered you so irrational. This is an exercise that can increase your IQ and your intelligence.

    Try identifying clearly the offensive words and then the emotions that you are feeling or did feel in response, and see if you can understand how these irrational emotional responses are unconsciously motivating you to defend yourself when you have not been attacked.

  5. Ikonoclast
    May 17th, 2014 at 20:02 | #5


    Oh come on mate, you say: “…the US Navy for example has never had a nuclear submarine accident caused by that technology.”

    It’s a very careful choice of words that you use. All quotes following are from Wikipedia.

    “Eight nuclear submarines have sunk as a consequence of either accident or extensive damage: two from the United States Navy, four from the Soviet Navy, and two from the Russian Navy.”

    So, eight nuclear subs have sunk. It doesn’t really matter whose they were. That’s 8 reactors poisoning the ocean.

    “Of the 8 sinkings, 2 were due to fires, 2 were due to explosions of weapons systems, 1 was due to flooding, 1 was weather-related, and 1 was sunk intentionally due to a damaged nuclear reactor. In 1 case, the cause of sinking is unknown.”

    The US has lost 2:

    “Thresher (SSN-593), the first submarine in its class, sank April 10, 1963 during deep-diving trials after flooding, loss of propulsion, and an attempt to blow the emergency ballast tanks failed, causing it to exceed crush depth. All 129 men on board died. Location: 350 km (190 nmi) east of Cape Cod.

    Scorpion (SSN-589), a Skipjack-class submarine, sank May 22, 1968, evidently due to implosion upon reaching its crush depth. What caused the Scorpion to descend to its crush depth is not known. All 99 men on board died. Location: 740 kilometres (400 nmi) southwest of the Azores.”

    Note, it is not known what caused the Scorpion to descend to its crush depth. Thus we cannot know for certain that it was not a reactor accident.

    Your “lawyer’s claim” certainly is only a half-truth at best and very dissembling disinformation at worse. And finally, is all that has really happened on US nuclear subs on the public record or does the US still have secrets? We don’t know what they are not telling us and it might be significant or not, we just don’t know.

  6. Ikonoclast
    May 17th, 2014 at 20:37 | #6


    On the other hand, I agree that CCS (Caron Capture and Storage) is a dead horse. In energy and price terms it would put a very large overhead (I am guesstimating 20% or more) on the price of coal fired power. And long term safe reservoirs for permanent CO2 storage (no out-gassing) are dubious.

    Geothermal is either dubious or a long way ahead. Energy storage, smart grids, smart use patterns, smart pricing schemes etc. can do a lot and that technology is here now. But it is starting from a low base as all things must at the beginning.

    California is short of fresh water (major drought) so it can’t afford once-through fresh water cooling in evaporations towers. Sea water cooling raises the temperatures of bays, damages the ecosystem and nuke generators on seaboards are a BAD idea anyway. Just ask Fukushima residents.

  7. May 18th, 2014 at 03:13 | #7

    I notice that reflections tend towards idee fixes.

    The probability of a Double Dissolution is I imagine very low. Therefore, the Government will have to compromise its stated positions and stitch deals with the players in the Senate. This means that minority parties and individual representatives have an influence disproportional to their electoral support.

    A second reflection concerns what Bill Shorten referred to as the social contract. Understandably, I suppose, if you work hard and are well paid with the facility for wealth generation, why should you pay for “malingers”, free loaders, non-lifters, non-learners – or what ever the “targeting” might be? Don’t worry if the rhetoric and the assumptions are dehumanizing. People, mostly (I will assert) participate in politics through media, rather than political parties, essentially professional electoral organizations. In recent times, what was always the case, seems to have intensified. This is reflected in Joe Hockey’s need to address a fund raising after his budget.

    Ideally, what we should be doing is having a wide-ranging conversation prior to elections and budgets. Elections have become debased democratic coinage. Perhaps, the Senate election especially, for a range of reasons, excludes the full disclosure of prior of ideology and likely political alliances to the poll. Ideology, I define as a set of assumptions. Was there a sensible discussion of the structural fiscal imbalance with alternatives? Did Joe proclaim prior to the election, as he proudly did to his funders, that “[big government makes us small, and small government makes us large]“. I observe the effect, Mr Hockey.

    Rather than worry about IQ (re Midrash) perhaps the purpose of conversation is best addressed with empathy for foolishness and patience to deal with it as well as an appreciation for insight. In other words that rather difficult idea to get of “uniformity and diversity”. That, to be clear, is ideological.

  8. Ron E Joggles
    May 18th, 2014 at 06:03 | #8

    wmmbb :
    Understandably, I suppose, if you work hard and are well paid with the facility for wealth generation, why should you pay for “malingers”, free loaders, non-lifters, non-learners – or what ever the “targeting” might be?

    I was struck by the punitive measures aimed at the young unemployed and disabled – obviously predicated on the belief that a significant proportion of them are malingerers and that they can be pressured to find work by having benefits cut – both of these beliefs apparently held in the absence of substantial evidence.

    I’m disappointed that Labor, while criticising the measures as harsh, hasn’t strongly argued that the rationale for them is unproven and mistaken.

    I think it’s likely that we’ll see as a result an increase in homelessness, mental illness, substance abuse, crime, imprisonment and suicide.

  9. Brett
    May 18th, 2014 at 07:27 | #9

    I was thinking about the Social Security Trust Fund, and how it’s required to buy only US Treasury Securities. Should we Americans allow it to operate more like a regular insurance company/Sovereign Wealth Fund with reliable income and pay-outs, and let them invest in a broader spread of higher-yielding securities as long as they could still make payments to beneficiaries?

    There might be some potential for moral hazard since the existing Fund is backed by the Full Faith and Credit of the US Government, but maybe it would still be a good thing.

  10. Ikonoclast
    May 18th, 2014 at 11:07 | #10


    “This means that minority parties and individual representatives have an influence disproportional to their electoral support.”

    In the 2013 election the Greens got 8.65% of the primary vote for the Reps. This gave them 1 seat out of 150. If they had receieved 8.65% of the seats this would have given them 17 seats to the nearest integer (rounded down).

    On the other hand, the Coalition got 45.55% of the primary vote and got 90 seats out of 150. Proportionally, they should have won only 68 seats to the nearest integer (rounded down).

    Thus we can see that minor parties like the Greens are massively disadvantaged by our unfair, undemocratic voting system and the major middle and right wing parties (Labor & Coalition) are massively advantaged.

    If the Greens had influence comparable to their electoral supporty their influence would be considerably enhanced as it should be. Australia would be a better place if our electoral system was proportional. Indeed, with proportional system, Labor and the Greens could have formed a coalition in parliament and governed.

    So there is the true result, we should have had a Labor-Green coalition government if the system was actually fair and democratic!

  11. May 18th, 2014 at 12:55 | #11

    It seems to me that if the jobs are there and the only reason that young people aren’t getting them is because of they are too lazy to fill out job applications or their sense of entitlement is so huge they think they should just be given a job without having to go through any effort to get it, then surely the answer would be to get these lazy, entitled people to pay for a job. After all, that’s what employed people do when they want something, they pay for it. Let’s say we charge them $1,500 for a full time job and maybe $700 for a part time job. And because we care, we can let the scum pay for it with low interest loans linked to CPI. You can’t get fairer than that. Now there will be expenses involved in finding and arranging jobs to sell, but since the only real barriers to employment are laziness and a sense of entitlement these costs shouldn’t be high. In fact, Tony could probably get on the phone to his mates and organise thousands of jobs for sale in an afternoon. Really, we owe it to the scum of Australia to let them pay for jobs. What better way could there be to demonstrate that a person wants to work than making them pay for the privilage?

  12. Donald Oats
    May 18th, 2014 at 15:51 | #12

    @Ronald Brak

    Well, I guess there is a perspective from which a job may be viewed as product to be bought by consumers; trendies in every city CBD purchase high-end status symbols like apartments and cars and fancy clothes, so why not jobs as well? A good job is a status enhancer, well worth paying for in this dog-eat-dog world. And if you can’t afford a job, there is always the opportunity to move back to the parents’ home (oops, they since shifted into a full-time old age care facility). Heck, auction the jobs off in job lots and make a reality TV show about it…which the malingerers can sloth around watching, can of VB in hand, ciggy in the other, well stained blue singlet and stubbies the mode for the occasion.

    I’m beginning to enjoy this whole perceptual shift in my perspective on reality, thanks to the Budget rhetoric—until the toe-cutters come for me :-(
    Perhaps then it won’t be so much fun.

  13. yuri
    May 18th, 2014 at 16:45 | #13

    You disappoint me. Here you are proving to be another of those intellectually sloppy enough (I refrain from suggesting anything worse) to thunder about democracy and what is democratic as if the inclusive and exclusive definition is clear and it is indeed what you Humpty Dumpty decide it to be. OK, you don’t like our electoral system and would prefer one where wheeling and dealing and chiselling and compromising and reneging could give us the blessings of the kind of government performance you get in Israel, Italy and the great example which springs to mind because it had no government for months, Belgium.

    Have you ever heard the views on PR of a real experienced governing party politician? Even including tinpot parish council sized polities like Van Diemen’s Land?

  14. yuri
    May 18th, 2014 at 16:48 | #14

    @Julie Thomas
    I actually read what Midrash had to say. I don’t think you did. Have you tacitly given up? If so, very sensible.

  15. J-D
    May 18th, 2014 at 17:00 | #15

    In the previous Sandpit, I posted the following:

    If Midrash knows of some quick, simple, cheap, and easy method for dividing the population into those who are ‘intelligent, energetic, balanced, disciplined and focused’ and those who are not, then I would like to hear about it. I don’t believe there is any such method. Indeed, if Midrash knows of some method for dividing the population into those who are ‘intelligent, energetic, balanced, disciplined and focused’ and those who are not, being a method that is slow, complicated, expensive, and difficult, so long as it is reliable, I would still like to hear about it.
    There’s no effective method for encouraging members of one of those groups to have more children if we have no reliable way of distinguishing them from members of the other in the first place.

    No response, though.

  16. Fran Barlow
    May 18th, 2014 at 17:11 | #16


    In the 2013 election the Greens got 8.65% of the primary vote for the Reps. This gave them 1 seat out of 150. If they had receieved 8.65% of the seats this would have given them 17 seats to the nearest integer (rounded down).

    12 actually. We’d have got 17 in 2010 because our primary was 11.7%.

  17. Ikonoclast
    May 18th, 2014 at 17:15 | #17

    When there is a major war which threatens national survival, the elites have no trouble utilising the entire humanpower of the nation. In the case of an existential threat to the nation, the elites too are threatened and they then find full motivation to employ the entire nation in the war effort; variously in combat, industry, agriculture and military research.

    Thus, if the elites do not employ the entire nation in peacetime, it is not because the elites cannot do so but because they will not do so. It is clearly possible to employ all able bodied persons in any well organised society if the simple will and wish to do it exists at the governing level. Since we have many pressing concerns to meet including ones which could present an existential threat (global warming, limits to growth etc.) then this is a time when all (including the elites) face new existential threats.

    It is a heavy idictment of our system and our elites that we can employ all human resources for war but not all human resources for peace and civilization. It is a sign of a deep pathology in this system which will not expunged until the system itself is reformed completely.

  18. Ikonoclast
    May 18th, 2014 at 17:23 | #18

    @Fran Barlow

    My apologies, I must have used the wrong election data. I think my point stands. The current election system (preferences by seats) heavily favours duopoly political power. It urgently needs reform particularly as Liberal and Labor are morally bankrupt and economically illiterate. We need a system that does not confer duopoly power to the existing intellectually and morally corrupt major parties. We need a system that gives newer views more influence. The current system stifles positive new developments and entrenches old reactionary power, particularly those views refuted by science.

  19. sunshine
    May 18th, 2014 at 18:43 | #19

    Midrash has a remarkable fascination with IQ . Its not just another young boys pissing competition is it ? Reading him my Left bias had me feeling he(?) was bursting to ,at any moment, assert a genetic cause for high IQ ,but did not.

    My friend has just moved out of a rental house in Brunswick where she has been for 13 years .She gets a disability pension and worked about 50% of those years ,has no family backup ,and has turned to crime to keep afloat and get a bit ahead .She lived most of the years there by herself but did sometimes have housemates too. About $200,000 rent has been paid while she lived there . 13 years ago the house may not have been worth much more than 250 ,now it would be close to 800 k.

    Once I had 220k and wanted to borrow 20 more to buy a house but the Comm bank wouldnt lend it to me because I had no job at that time. 7 years later that house is worth 400k. He said -’go get a pizza delivery job ,come back tomorrow and I will lend you 100k’ . Yet they lend 3,4,500 k to married couples instantly when they know 1/3 of marriages end in divorce.

    My point being -if you have no job you are told to go pay someone else’s house off .I dont have an easy answer for that.

  20. zoot
    May 18th, 2014 at 18:51 | #20

    You disappoint me. Here you are proving to be another of those intellectually sloppy enough (I refrain from suggesting anything worse) to thunder about democracy and what is democratic as if the inclusive and exclusive definition is clear and it is indeed what you Humpty Dumpty decide it to be.

  21. Julie Thomas
    May 18th, 2014 at 19:29 | #21


    Really? You managed to read that incoherent list of disconnected bits and pieces of folk knowledge that some old conservative considers to be important? Or impressive perhaps? Is Midrash after some validation of his intelligence? Whatever :roll:

    Given up? Given up what?

  22. May 18th, 2014 at 22:26 | #22

    Federation, reflecting the former colonies, created the unrepresentative Senate with subsequent form of proportionate voting, and a House of Reps subject to redistribution.

    Abolishing the Senate increasingly looks like a relevant proposal, subject to the pipe dream of constitutional change. My proposal that a political party would be required to stand in a local government election and receive a threshold vote, for example 5% of the total state-wide vote , before they stand as Senate candidates (or for matter the NSW Legislative Council, which I would extend to all candidates) has I think merit. That way a candidate would have a known track record. It would not be just a matter of winning the Senate voting lottery, or having the financial resources to buy up the media.

  23. May 18th, 2014 at 22:37 | #23

    Oops to be elected to the NSW Legislative Council, I would propose a candidate would have to a serving local government representative.

  24. Midrash
    May 18th, 2014 at 22:59 | #24

    @sunshine Perhaps I have missed a connection between the bulk of your post and your preamble concerning IQ, my views, and genetic causes but I shall confine myself to dealing with the latter.

    You seem to have a lot of ground to make up if you read my post as suggesting that I am “bursting” to assert a causal connection between genetic inheritance and high (or low) IQ. You seem to think I would have asserted it but knew that all right thinking people thought the opposite so prudently or timidly refrained. Only someone profoundly ignorant of the science and the literature could believe that.

    Do you doubt that there are genetic contributions to a person’s height, as well as the many factors such as diet and disease? Is it just chance or upbringing that makes it more likely that children who run fast or hit balls skilfully will be the children of parents with similar distinctive traits than otherwise? And do you not recognise that the brain and nervous system are just as much a part of the total human body which starts with zygotes containing the paired chromosomes along which are arrayed amongst the so-called junk DNA the genes which switch on and off the development of the physical human being?
    It would be like denying evolution to deny that many aspects of mental performance, by no means confined to, though certainly including, the cognitive, are greatly influenced by one’s genes – or more accurately by one’s individual alleles.

    There are perhaps 300 genes of which it can be said that the different alleles correspond to different effects on cognitive ability (one very recently identified has been suggested as explaining an astounding 6 per cent of IQ variation but half of one per cent has otherwise been thought the max). Then there are gross effects from e.g. Fragile X Syndrome and from the homozygotic manifestations of neurological genetic diseases like Tay Sachs, Wiston’s Dystonia, Niemann Pick, Gaucher’s disease and others with a curious connection to high IQ in their heterozygotic manifestations.

    On average it is a reasonable ballpark generalisation to say that about half the variance in IQ scores is explained by biological inheritance. More, or less, according to whether one is speaking of narrow sense or broad sense heritability amongst other technical niceties.

  25. Midrash
    May 19th, 2014 at 00:07 | #25

    I may return to your misconceived challenge but for the moment give a short answer and take the opportunity to pick up on a silly jibe by another blogger that I remember irritating me briefly.

    Someone said something like “have you heard of regression to the mean?”. That remark betrays ignorance about regression to the mean. It certainly does not lead to all the descendants of high scoring and low scoring groups on any heritable characteristic you like to name ending up indistinguishable in the distant future. There are at least two confounding factors.
    One is the rate of regression – perhaps 50 per cent on average in one generation which still leaves the children of IQ 150 parents on average 125 which could be quite productive. The other, rarely noticed, is the definition of the population whose average is regressed to. Ashkenazi Jewish average seems to be somewhere between 107 and 115 so obviously regression from a parental average of 150 will be less than for other Europeans with average 100.

    And it is not a trivial exception if you consider the prevalence of assortative mating amongst a number of groups not organised by ethnicity. E.g. in that great marriage market, the Ivy League universities….

    As to how I would decide who I would like to be enabled to produce more children without an impossible supervision by something like Plato’s guardians applying a massive multifactorial checklist I would rely on mankind’s (actually very much womankind’s) traditional ways. Who has been successful in respectable or at least lawful competitive activities that are non-trivial?

    It is interesting that Andrew Leigh, writing in Fairfax Media about the lack of social/economic mobility over many generations fails, though he makes nodding reference to genetic inheritance doesn’t pick up on his colleague Greg Clark’s evidence in “A Farewell to Alms” [thanks to some blogger for putting me on to it: it's a great book] that the smart and successful out bred the poor for several hundred years in England, a fact which was, according to Clark, an important cause of the Industrial Revolution occurring where it did. Smart women never did the equivalent of casually getting themselves pregnant with any old drummer in any old pop group.
    So I would do one very simple thing which is consistent with John Stuart Mill’s notion of taxable income. I would allow those who have shown their competitive capacities by earning high asessable (for tax) incomes to keep more of it until their children are grown up. Deductions for something like the real cost of children (and if for good reason, or meanness or ideology you sent the kids to government schools you would miss out on some deductions but then you wouldn’t need them to meet the policy objectives in question). Later in life I wouldn’t be indulging those parents if they sought to fiddle their incomes and assets to get the OAP and health card.

    This rough and ready start would be supplemented by the way academics usually contrive to get a good education for their children even when they don’win scholarships like Mum and Dad. Then there
    are the clergy whose children are usually looked after without high fees having to be paid. What a waste if executives, entrepreneurs, or professionals who, in their 50s can afford anything they want, look back with regret at not being able to afford a third or fourth child because of the tax they were paying in their 30s.

  26. yuri
    May 19th, 2014 at 00:37 | #26

    I think demonstrating your ability to copy and paste from my post could be described as cute, at least in a 10 year old, but in your case truly not clever enough by half.


    Simply that I was not, unlike the many bloggers who do, and to whom I direct my criticism, using “(un)democratic” and its cognates as a question-begging rhetorical weapon of uncertain meaning but great clanging force. So what was your point, if any?

  27. Julie Thomas
    May 19th, 2014 at 06:54 | #27


    But east Asians have the highest IQ’s so to increase our IQ we should all just breed with east Asians – simple.

    IQ does not measure ‘intelligence’ – just a set of abilities that some wealth white male people a couple of hundred years ago decided, on the basis of hubris and their self-determined judgement that they were the most awesome human beings on earth, were the important abilities.

    But, there are some problems with this simplistic and self-serving idea.

    The data gathered from the administration of IQ tests is highly suspect because of the fundamental irrationality of human test takers and test givers.

    The stats used in psychometrics are poetry at best and highly speculative at worst. Do you understand factor analysis?

    The ‘ballpark’ generalisations about IQ and intelligence that you make clearly show that you have not kept up with the latest research in this fascinating and very contested area.

    The growing area of interest is the way in which personality variables mediate ‘intelligence’ is the critical variable that determines outcome.

  28. Julie Thomas
    May 19th, 2014 at 08:04 | #28

    and Midrash, this song is for you. These men and specially the little girl on bass, have the sort of intelligence that makes the world a liveable place for the really intelligent.

  29. J-D
    May 19th, 2014 at 09:22 | #29

    You call that a short answer? Do you have difficulty with the concept of ‘short’?

    If you mean that people on high incomes are more ‘intelligent, energetic, balanced, disciplined, and focused’ than people on low incomes, you have given no reason to suppose that to be true.

  30. May 19th, 2014 at 09:46 | #30

    Another great year for state-owned enterprises in New Zealand.

    $20 billion in assets, $20 million net in dividends to the taxpayer, and a $200 million capital injection into KiwiRail.

    Throwing good money after bad, a soft budget constraint and governments are never willing to admit that a state owned enterprise has to go bankrupt.

  31. sunshine
    May 19th, 2014 at 11:43 | #31

    Midrash – Australian social researcher Hugh Mackay claims IQ is not correlated to any kind of life outcome at all ? That surprises me ,but I’d love if it were true.

    No doubt there is some useful research around IQ ,as you point out .However I worry that the damage done from its deployment in any kind of eugenic style thought (which is very common) far, far outweighs any positive effect. Your motivation may be pure but in the real world these kinds of ideas are usually mainly about power .

  32. Midrash
    May 19th, 2014 at 15:18 | #32

    Point taken, but my inclusion of all those desirable qualities was as much as anything to indicate that I wasn’t seeking to put too high a value on whatever an IQ test or some other simple measure might say about people. I am inclined to accept for the sake of argument that people with high IQs, people who pay $500,000 a year in income tax or whatever are otherwise average on balance, energy, discipline etc.

    From that it follows that I am content with the rough and ready common sense in mating practices that produced the successful families before modern contraception…

  33. J-D
    May 19th, 2014 at 18:02 | #33

    I understand that you like the idea of people on high incomes having more children, but you have still given no reason why anybody else should share your preference.

  34. Midrash
    May 19th, 2014 at 18:24 | #34

    @Julie Thomas
    You implicitly assert that you have kept up with the latest research in what you now, in an interesting change of tack, describe as a fascinating area. You give not the faintest whiff of evidence that this is true. As you have not even made a comment on my remarks, and offer, concerning the ISIR and its conferences would you care to give some evidence that you are doing more than trying to bluff your way out of embarrassment at having been caught out?

    You seem to have some trouble with the coherence of my replies to you. The coherence largely consists in their being resonses to you with elements a bit mixed up because they have to be based in part on guesses as to what you know, what might fit in with your cognitive style and what might, if your mind is not completely closed, spark your imagination and, consequently, even your understanding. But…..

    Let me keep things simple for you.

    East Asian IQs? Sure, I’m pleased my not-very-extended family has incorporated

  35. Midrash
    May 19th, 2014 at 19:10 | #35

    family has included East Asian as well as Ashkenazi and Brahmin Indian genes in with the European mongrel mix. No Parsee infusion though: that’s hard to come by. But are you aware that the East Asian IQ scores you are referring to are of doubtful validity if you are trying to prove that East Asians generally have more of what causes people to score high on IQ tests? Test them in the US (and not counting the descendants of those who came as cheap labour to build the railways), and in Hong Kong and Shanghai but don’t test peasants with thyroid deficiencies and you get one answer. But the more interesting observation in this age when the Tiger mother seems to be taking over from the Jewish mother is that Asian students in America seem to overperform compared with non-Asians with similar scores on IQ or equivalent tests.

    (I wonder whether you are as pleased as I am about the immigration of so many bright and hardworking Chinese and Indians? Not enough of them to become disruptive minority groups lobbying excessively for their own advantage or having enough votes to think they can make unreasonable demands: just lots of the best kind of future dinkum Aussies. Mind you Jews were a very small minority in 1930s Germany, and hugely intermarried, but the reasons why that didn’t save them I don’t think have relevance to 21st century Australia).

    As you seem to be the amateurish dilettante, flavoured by left feminist dogma, in the area of psychometrics and connected areas of research, I expect you don’t know of the various theories (quite plausible) as to why the descendants of rice farming East Asian peasants might have higher average IQs than many other ethnys or the very different explanation of high Jewish IQs given by the likes of Greg Cichran and Henry Harpending. But no time to elaborate though I have my own additions and qualifications to make.

    I doubt if you are aware that IQ differs greatly by caste in India? Of course “untouchables” have become Presidents and university professors. But, in general, if your ancestors for a thousand years were condemned to cleaning out dunnies simply to stay alive long enough to procreate it is hadly alleles for high IQ that you would expect to be selected for. (One wonders how often attractive Dalit girls were impregnated by scions if the upper castes…)

    I mention the sub-continental situation because you might find it useful to reflect on the reasons for the much higher academic achievement in the UK of students of Indian descent compared with those with Pakistani or Bangladeshi background. Pakistan of course was much more tribal and pre-modern under the Raj than the rest but, still TBC

  36. May 19th, 2014 at 20:42 | #36

    Could someone point these geniuses to the “/b-quote” tag immediately above the comment text box.

  37. Ron E Joggles
    May 19th, 2014 at 21:01 | #37

    @Julie Thomas I can’t thank you enough, Julie – that was excellent!

  38. Midrash
    May 20th, 2014 at 04:22 | #38

    @ Megan

    Thanks for drawing attention to the b tag which my genius had discovered but only as a part of a workaround I needed to use on my smartphone to get up the “Submit Comment” button that didn’t otherwise appear. At least I didn’t do it all in capitals. Marks for that please?

  39. Midrash
    May 20th, 2014 at 05:03 | #39

    I think the continuation of my riff on sub-continental IQs (which I imagine to be of some interest and not well known – partly because some of it is my own putting together of some slightly better known facts) was lost on a smartphone after a lot of one finger labour.

    The explanation for lower academic achievement in the UK by students of Bangladeshi and Pakistani descent than of Indian could have a lot to do with the caste system. After all, who would have had the incentive to convert to Islam when the Muslims conquered most of the sub-continent? Clearly the lowest castes because of Islam’s egalitarianism and also because they would be the most likely to be enslaved and Muslims aren’t allowed to enslave Muslims. Some confirmation of the caste-IQ relationship is to be found in the very considerable difference between two groups in Eastern Europe, both, curiously, by the late 19th century, including a lot of illiterates and itinerant pedlars. On the one hand Ashkenazim whose proportion of the Nobel Prizes won by Americans (e.g.) exceeds their proportion of the population by about a factor of ten and have exhibited any number of evidences of high cognitive abilities, visible to everyone since the Enlightenment. On the other hand the gypsies. Well who can’t enjoy Flamenco dancing and Stefan Grapelli’s jazz violin but…… 1000+ years ago they were the (Indian) low caste camp followers of armies were they not?

    Do I really need to acknowledge JT’s platitude that IQ and intelligence are not one and the same? Of course. And there are indeed interesting observations to be made about how other discernible distinguishable mental traits seem to affect the deployment of the cognitive features most notably associated with high IQ scores. (JT seems to be acknowledging there the way multi-factorial analysis can be used to produce constructs like Spearman’s g which, despite being constructs are usefully predictive in various ways – the original Stanford-Binet tests being, if my memory is correct, designed to discover those whose retardation might require special assistance or make them unsuitable for standard education and after that the sorting out of army recruits who might be able to drive a truck without causing accidents, read a map without going over a cliff etc. and on and on).

    I was delighted at a conference in Canada a few years ago where they all tend to be so very PC an acknowledgement by an educational researcher who had just given me a spiel about all sorts of intelligences that yes (she actually smiled too) they did all tend to correlate highly with g. So, yes, it is worth finding out whether we can identify superior (or any) abilities/ mental characteristics of less obviously g loaded character, how heritable they are, how malleable they are, how useful they are and so on….. None of that detracts from a certain weighty, if circumscribed, importance of having a higher IQ population whether that is a result of the conditioning factors in urban modernity or genetic inheritance, both of which will almost of necessity be significant causal elements.

    I am not sure why I am wasting time on someone who is so ignorant, or so tied down by leftist-feminist- pre-1990s dogma that she can spout this of IQ
    “[just] a set of abilities that some wealth white male people a couple of hundred years ago decided, on the basis of hubris and their self-determined judgement that they were the most awesome human beings on earth, were the important abilities.” But perhaps she is trolling. However this might confirm the otherwise uninterested in prejudices they have picked up from charlatans like S.J.Gould (good on beatles I think and amusing to read some of his stuff, even interesting and suggestive).

    Early IQ tests were, as noted above, designed to detect those who couldn’t be educated by normal schooling. Early tests also presumed literacy and made assumptions about common knowledge/ Not surprisingly gross errors were made like treating Jewish immigrants who were still barely literate in English as being thick (until not long before the Ivies began discriminating against Jews with quotas to stop too many displacing the old elites – interesting now that it is Jews in those institutions, according to the Jewish Ron Unz, who are discriminating against Asians and bright non-Jewish whites!!). But there has been a bit of development in a 100 years or so and JT might have noted how important to the running and to the papers at the most recent ISIR conference women were. Heard of Linda Gottfredson Julie? And of course the Raven’s Progressive Matrices have largely displaced the old culture specific tests though I can’t help feeling even more sympathy for the dismissive tones I heard from an old judge many years ago when he had seen what the IQ tests his grandchildren were doing involved. How on earth can those Raven’s Progressive Matrices being a better way of ranking g scores than a mixture of the verbal, numeric and spatial? But the predictive value remains clear enough with all its limitations and the uselessness in predicting life success as between say, a 12 year old scoring 110 and another scoring 115.

  40. Midrash
    May 20th, 2014 at 05:10 | #40

    @Julie Thomas I haven’t played your contribution of a musical piece but it does prompt me to note that success in nearly all areas does, on average, correlate with the g factor, the multifactorial extract from IQ tests. Thus Brian Cox is not so surprising a phenomenon.

  41. Julie Thomas
    May 20th, 2014 at 07:10 | #41

    No Midrash, success is far more likely to be correlated with personality variables and NOT with IQ.

    You really are a boring old fart and continue to demonstrate that your knowledge about ‘intelligence’ is not current. There are some very good blogs by neuro-scientists, evo psychs, anthropologists that you could read to get yourself up to speed. Ask me for some links if you can’t find them yourself.

    You really should not be displaying your ordinariness in public like this.

    I find myself embarrassed for you. It is shameful really that you are so childishly chagrined at me and even more shamefully, you seem not to be able to can’t control this emotional outrage.

    Is it the idea that there might not be a correlation between financial success and intelligence that really gets your dander up? Is this the only justification you have for your existence?

    I have some hats to make for the craft shop today so I’ve not much time to be refuting your corny old eugenic ideas.

    I did pick out a few choice bits of ignorance and hubris in your ‘screed’, or perhaps these epistles are a scream of pain as your ‘truth’ lies bleeding and dies the death of a thousand cuts. And I do agree it would be very useful for you and your psychological well-being, to ponder just why you are wasting your time on me.

    I have quite a few theories about what motivates people with your type of personality to expose yourself as childishly, emotionally labile and childishly vulnerable to criticism and yet in your mind you consider yourself an adult. Perhaps your enormous IQ doesn’t provide you with as much control over your ‘self’ as you think?

    Feel free to continue to display your personality flaws though. It is all information about human behaviour.

  42. J-D
    May 20th, 2014 at 09:07 | #42

    I’m not sure why you’re wasting your time either, although I’d be prepared to hazard a guess if I had to.

  43. John Quiggin
    May 20th, 2014 at 09:29 | #43

    Midrash, nothing more on these lines please.

  44. May 20th, 2014 at 19:58 | #44

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  45. Adam K
    May 25th, 2014 at 16:46 | #45

    (Response to J-K to “It looks as if you are saying that the tactics likely to be used against the present government by its political opponents are unlikely to be effective. If that’s what you mean, do you have any different tactics to suggest?”)

    That is correct. I am not saying that Shorten hasn’t shown a few encouraging signs but the Labor party has to stand for something as a matter of principle. In our case it is defending the welfare state, social cohesion and environmentally sound policies. They must not be a party “standing for nothing except for the ego of the PM”.

    They must also defend the legacy of economic policies of Kevin Rudd from 2008. In my opinion the perceived waste of resources (“Pink Batts”) was far outweighed by the fact that aggregate demand did not collapse.

    We may instead need a Royal Commission into deaths of poor people caused by the imminent welfare “reforms”.

    There is no worse thing than premature optimisation in software engineering – the same applies to other complex systems, there needs to be some redundancy and eliminating waste at any price is often too expensive. In our case the price would have been a recession in 2008/2009. I am not saying that more supervision to the insulation installation process had not been a good idea but this is a separate issue.

    IMO the strategic mistake was to admit that budget deficit was a problem what happened under Swan and Wong. This shifted the debate – allowed for the usual framing. Ideologically this was it. “Our children have to pay back the debt” “We cannot afford universal health care” etc. The war between Rudd and Gillard didn’t help either but the war was already lost at that time.

    The Greens also did not scream about the ideologically-driven deficit-cutting mania. Some time ago I met in person one Green Senator and the results were disappointing. They didn’t care… what I was saying wouldn’t save bilbies and wasn’t left-wing enough. Maybe I am notoriously bad in explaining my views in face-to-face meetings.

    The only way to defeat a bully is to stand your ground.

    The way forward is simple – the right-wing propaganda has to be countered aggressively – whenever Joe Hockey says that the budget has to be balanced ASAP because otherwise our grandchildren will be bankrupt, his claims need to be debunked. They will be poor and destitute if we cut the budget deficit too quickly because of the slow growth and social injustice. When the ideological smoke-screen is blown off the real machinations of the business elite will be seen in bright light. The framing of the Labor was that they were corrupt and inefficient. The framing of the Liberals should be that they are going after the prosperity of average Australians, destroying our future.

    The so-called heterodox economics offers a rich set of tools to debunk toxic myths spewed by the oligarchy linked with the Liberals. Again – I am not advocating that everyone should force himself/herself to follow Bill Mitchell (knowing that the has made a lot of abrasive remarks about other economists) but a careful evaluation of his arguments won’t do any harm to anyone.

    The debunking work cannot be done by official Labor MPs because they cannot identify themselves with the heterodox economics. Where are the Trade Unions? Where are the left-wing student organisations? They can and should promote the alternative points of view. Making loud protests won’t change the outcome of the next elections. Distributing leaflets and establishing independent social media outlets is the way to go.

    Where are the newspaper articles branding Abbott a liar not because he lied when he made promised he could not have delivered but because he is using discredited economic theories to make his point and mould the society to move back to the pre-war era of colonial golden prosperity (for some lucky individuals)?

    The best strategy for the progressives / left libertarians is to unify and be a “small target”. All the heavy lifting should be done by “independent critics”, social media groups and foundations. Just like Putin’s green men in Crimea (but without all cruelty of war – I am not a V.V.Putin’s supporter, I have only acknowledged his efficiency in implementing his goals). I am happy to be a green man injecting toxic mems to the circulation.

    Bill Shorten should just hold his ground, block the budget and if possible trick the Liberals into double dissolution – maybe even by offering the shared unity list in Senate to some independents. Double dissolution at any price because whoever comes after Abbott will be less toxic.

  46. J-D
    May 25th, 2014 at 18:12 | #46

    What makes you think that the publication of articles along the line you suggest will be effective in hindering the government?

  47. May 25th, 2014 at 18:41 | #47

    This is weird and disturbing.

    All this talk about IQ.

    There was yet another mass shooting in the US yesterday. The guy who did it was a very disturbed person named Elliot Rodger (son of one of the brains behind the Hunger Games). He wrote a 140 page “manifesto” explaining his hatred of women.

    It is not for the faint-hearted.

    When I read this part (page 136) I immediately thought of this ‘Sandpit’ thread:

    Women should not have the right to choose who to mate and breed with. That decision should be made for them by rational men of intelligence. If women continue to have rights, they will only hinder the advancement of the human race by breeding with degenerate men and creating stupid, degenerate offspring. This will cause humanity to become even more depraved with each generation. …
    In fully realizing these truths about the world, I have created the ultimate and perfect ideology of how a fair and pure world would work.

    In order to carry this out, there must exist a new and powerful type of government, under the control of one divine ruler, such as myself. The ruler that establishes this new order would have complete control over every aspect of society, in order to direct it towards a good and pure place.

    The similarities with the ‘thinking’ of some commentary (especially the type featured in or fuelled by News Ltd) is chilling.

  48. Ikonoclast
    May 25th, 2014 at 22:19 | #48


    He was insane. Megalomania, delusions of grandeur, loss of touch from reality etc. etc. Sad but dangerous. Insane asylums are required for some.

  49. Ikonoclast
    May 25th, 2014 at 22:23 | #49

    Also, leaving aside all moral issues it is easy to note that sexual selection by females (as well as males) plays a role in the evolutionary sense. His (quite insane) thesis that females should have no rights and no mate selection role, as well as being morally repugnant, makes no evolutionary sense. Of course, the fellow was mad so we can expect no sense from his “manifesto”.

  50. May 25th, 2014 at 23:57 | #50


    Yes, of course.

    But re-read this thread (and the previous one) from top to bottom and then tell me that this thinking isn’t widespread – or trying to make itself widespread – in society.

    If you’re up to it, the entire 140 pages is online.

  51. May 26th, 2014 at 00:19 | #51

    Also, a few weeks ago his family called the police after he posted videos to you-tube setting out in detail what he was planning and how he intended to do it.

    The cops spoke to him out the front of his house for about five minutes and then declared “nothing to worry about here”.

    It may well be insignificant that he was pale-skinned, rich, connected and living in a ‘good’ part of town but ‘social meeja’ is pondering what his fate may have been if he had been a poor, dark-skinned person of non-Christian origin posting that sort of stuff.

    I would have thought that was a valid and important question. We are told that we have to give up all our rights and freedoms so that we can be spied on, and the majority of my fellow citizens seem to accept this.

    Similarly we are supposed to accept NSA spying on every aspect of our lives – for our “security” of course.

    But this person posted his mass murder plans on you-tube, the police had to be called by his family, it was declared ‘no problem’ and he went ahead and carried it out almost exactly as warned.

    I’m worried about how much evidence it is going to take before my fellow citizens accept that this mass-surveillance has absolutely nothing to do with protecting us and everything to do with protecting our rulers FROM us.

  52. Collin Street
    May 26th, 2014 at 07:41 | #52

    > Insane asylums are required for some.

    Sure. But the federal budget appears to be driven by the same mix of hate, resentment and insecurity as this guy, and will kill rather more people.

  53. Julie Thomas
    May 26th, 2014 at 07:47 | #53

    “Rodger’s full manifesto, (which) is a document that oozes hate for women, that causes the hair on the back of your neck and your arms to prickle with sick recognition:

    “this might be mental illness, but it is an illness that is not unfamiliar to women who routinely and disproportionately are the victims of harassment, neglect, violence, and death at the hands of men.

    “Rodger’s actions were an extreme manifestation of a cultural view that is not actually uncommon: that women “owe” men attention, that women who don’t put out are bitches, that women who do put out — for other guys, of course — are sluts, and all these women get what they “deserve” — violence from men.”


    I think that our PM has said something to the effect that a woman does not have the right to absolutely ‘withhold’. I presumed that he was not advocating rape but was referring to married woman who apparently having ‘married’ lose the right to have a choice and say no.

    I think that it is probable that it was the ‘class’ or wealth of the family as well as his ‘race’ that deterred the authorities from taking it seriously and apparently the person himself, who is said to be a high functioning aspie, was totally coherent when interviewed and presented himself as quite sane and rational.

    I do know about high functioning aspies and it seems to me that this man could have been capable of ‘acting’ normal, when being interviewed by less intelligent authorities and ‘becoming’ whatever personality and adopting whatever attitude it took, to convince people that he was ‘just joking’ when he wrote that stuff.

    I think the insanity comes from the unimaginable emotional pain – unimaginable for ‘normal’ people – that some young aspie men can feel in this society that values only certain types of intelligence and attributes and this pain turns to hatred of course.

    Fundamentally the problem seems to be that some kids, even with all the privilege that comes with wealth, do not get an upbringing or a society that provides them with a way of fitting in and succeeding.

  54. Ikonoclast
    May 26th, 2014 at 08:20 | #54

    He was mentally ill. He couldn’t help himself. Others should have helped him. Having said that, it may have been difficult for professionals to assess the level of risk he posed to himself and others. Further, it seems possible to me that individual mental pathologies “vibrate harmonically” in accord to prevailing social pathologies. That is to say, bad social values that de-humanise women appeal to such persons and the pathology reaches new levels in them. Just a lay opinion though.

  55. J-D
    May 26th, 2014 at 09:03 | #55

    Even if he was mentally ill, I don’t see how that’s sufficient basis for the assertion that he couldn’t help himself. But how do you know he was mentally ill? What’s the basis for that assertion?

  56. Julie Thomas
    May 26th, 2014 at 09:06 | #56

    For sure, Ikon, individual mental pathologies – and this is just a convenient term this society uses to categorise unacceptable ‘difference’ – vibrate harmonically with the prevailing social pathologies or values.

    I’m pretty sure that personality is ‘all’ upbringing in that almost any genetic mix in an individual can be modified by a clever and supportive environment so as to be a positive part of that society. This makes sense, to me anyway, if you think of the genetic/culture question as the genetic input being 100% deterministic and the environment also being 100% responsible for how the genetic endowment is managed.

    The behaviourist Watson said he could raise any child to be any profession, and the Jesuits apparently claim that they can own a child if they have exclusive socialisation rights. So the idea that children are not tabula rasa but inherently malleable by their culture is not new or radical.

    He could have helped himself if he had a clear idea of what he was expected to do and others ‘should’ have helped him because it is in their self-interest to help him, unless they want to live in a society that makes war on those who are ‘different’.

    Why did he not ‘want’ to help himself? What motived his choice to take revenge on those who rejected him?

    This society and some upbringings, give young men with a certain type of genetic input, those without social skills and a tendency to think a certain way, no help in managing the essential problem of how to feel good about themselves in a society that doesn’t value them.

  57. J-D
    May 26th, 2014 at 09:07 | #57

    The failure of the police to act on the family’s warning in this case should be scrutinised, but I don’t see the connection with surveillance programs. That the police decided not to intervene because he came from a privileged background, that’s a plausible case; but are you suggesting also that the police failed to intervene because they were too preoccupied with surveillance programs? or is this just your delenda Carthago?

  58. J-D
    May 26th, 2014 at 11:02 | #58

    @Julie Thomas
    Pathology is not just a term this society uses to categorise unacceptable ‘differences’, and it’s also not just a term this society uses to categories unacceptable differences (you must be supposing that it’s worth making a distinction between difference and ‘difference’, although I can’t see what).

    The idea that children can be moulded by the way they’re raised is indeed neither new nor radical, but that does not make it correct to conclude that there are no limits on how they can be moulded.

  59. Julie Thomas
    May 26th, 2014 at 12:26 | #59


    So what is pathology then in your understanding?

    And what are the limits on how a brain can be moulded?

  60. J-D
    May 26th, 2014 at 13:41 | #60

    @Julie Thomas
    A pathology is an abnormality that significantly impairs function (in other words, a disease).

    I don’t know the limits on how children can be moulded, but that’s not a sufficient basis for concluding that there are none.

  61. Julie Thomas
    May 26th, 2014 at 14:35 | #61


    Have you considered that you might have some sort of pathological personality trait that inclines you to make picky little comments pointing out other people’s shortcomings?

    But I think that you need to explain/define both ‘abnormality’ and what is a ‘significant impairment’ for your definition to be in any way useful.

    On what rational basis would you conclude that because you don’t know the limits that you can assume that there are none?

  62. May 26th, 2014 at 14:47 | #62

    There are two apposite quotes that come to mind on the issue of terrrsm, the surveillance/police state, privacy/freedom:

    “If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.”
    -James Madison

    “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
    -Benjamin Franklin

  63. J-D
    May 26th, 2014 at 16:31 | #63

    @Julie Thomas
    I am not assuming that there are no limits to how children can be moulded. My position is that I don’t know what limits, if any, there are. What’s your position? that there are no limits? or that there are limits? or what?

    I value precision. That’s not pathological: it doesn’t significantly impair my functioning, but rather the reverse.

    An abnormality is something that differs from what is usual; an impairment is something that reduces ability to function. How would you define ‘disease’ without invoking these or similar concepts?

  64. Collin Street
    May 26th, 2014 at 17:28 | #64

    > But how do you know he was mentally ill? What’s the basis for that assertion?

    1: Murder a half-dozen people
    2: ????
    3: Oceans of pussy

  65. Tim Macknay
    May 26th, 2014 at 18:15 | #65

    @Collin Street
    > But how do you know Collin Street is talking bollocks?

    1: Blithe assumption that murder has something to do with mental illness
    2: ???
    3: Completely unjustified conclusion

    Take the anti-mental illness bigotry over to Catallaxy, or some other cesspit.

  66. Tim Macknay
    May 26th, 2014 at 18:26 | #66

    As a rather more bizarre adjunct to Megan’s comments on the police response, the more rightward corners of the internet are now proclaiming that the Rodgers mass murder is actually an Obama/Liberalfeminazi false flag operation to take away our gunz!!!1!!

  67. Collin Street
    May 26th, 2014 at 18:46 | #67

    > 1: Blithe assumption that murder has something to do with mental illness

    Look. Any specific behaviour, in its original context, sits somewhere on a continuum between “healthy” and “not very healthy at all”.

  68. Tim Macknay
    May 26th, 2014 at 18:52 | #68

    @Collin Street
    I’ll take the bafflegab as a withdrawal of your offensive assumption.

  69. J-D
    May 26th, 2014 at 19:34 | #69

    @Collin Street
    It looks as if you are suggesting that it was irrational for the killer to think that his spree killing would lead him to the success he apparently longed for with sexual partners. It’s not clear that he did think that, but if he did then those expectations were unreasonable. However, unreasonable expectations cannot be validly equated with mental illness.

    Maybe I’ve misunderstood, though, and your actual meaning was something different from what I’ve guessed.

  70. Julie Thomas
    May 27th, 2014 at 08:01 | #70


    “Maybe I’ve misunderstood, though, and your actual meaning was something different from what I’ve guessed.”

    This happens quite often to you does it not?

  71. J-D
    May 27th, 2014 at 08:42 | #71

    @Julie Thomas
    I have no evidence to suggest that it happens to me more often than it does to other people.

  72. Julie Thomas
    May 27th, 2014 at 09:25 | #72


    Have you ever looked for any evidence? And would you be able to ‘see’ it if it was there?

  73. J-D
    May 27th, 2014 at 16:23 | #73

    @Julie Thomas
    Have you ever looked for any evidence about how the frequency with which you misunderstand people compares with the frequency other people have that experience?

  74. Julie Thomas
    May 28th, 2014 at 06:52 | #74


    Yep an intensely critical parent and years of depression and anxiety and intense inappropriate self-criticism dogged me in the first half of my life and I remain very aware of my faults.

    I use Buddhist techniques to cope with my failure to be a perfect person.

Comments are closed.