Thursday, December 8, 2016

Ability level, coupled with commitment, determines whether and the extent to which noteworthy accomplishments are reached

Want to be successful? Have ability and commitment. Study validates folk wisdom.
The educational, occupational, and creative accomplishments of the profoundly gifted participants (IQs ⩾ 160) in the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth (SMPY) are astounding, but are they representative of equally able 12-year-olds? Duke University’s Talent Identification Program (TIP) identified 259 young adolescents who were equally gifted. By age 40, their life accomplishments also were extraordinary: Thirty-seven percent had earned doctorates, 7.5% had achieved academic tenure (4.3% at research-intensive universities), and 9% held patents; many were high-level leaders in major organizations. As was the case for the SMPY sample before them, differential ability strengths predicted their contrasting and eventual developmental trajectories—even though essentially all participants possessed both mathematical and verbal reasoning abilities far superior to those of typical Ph.D. recipients. Individuals, even profoundly gifted ones, primarily do what they are best at. Differences in ability patterns, like differences in interests, guide development along different paths, but ability level, coupled with commitment, determines whether and the extent to which noteworthy accomplishments are reached if opportunity presents itself.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Security versus xenophobia

From Net Opposition To Immigrants of Different Nationalities Correlates Strongly With Their Arrest Rates In the UK by Noah Carl. Psychology so caveat lector. The abstract:
Public beliefs about immigrants and immigration are widely regarded as erroneous. For example, members of the public typically overestimate the immigrant fraction of the population by ~10–15 percentage points. On the other hand, popular stereotypes about the respective characteristics of different groups (e.g., sexes, races, nationalities) are generally found to be quite accurate. The present study shows that, in the UK, net opposition to immigrants of different nationalities correlates strongly with the log of immigrant arrests rates (r = .77; p = 0.00002; 95% CI = [.52, .90]) and with the log of their arrest rates for violent crime (r = .77; p = 0.00001; 95% CI = [.52, .90]). This is particularly noteworthy given that Britons reportedly think that an immigrant’s criminal history should be one of the most important characteristics when considering whether he or she should be allowed into the country. Moreover, the associations are not accounted for by a general opposition to non-Whites, non-Westerners, foreigners who do not speak English, Muslims, or those from countries with low average IQ. While circumstantial in nature, the study’s findings suggest that public beliefs about immigrants are more accurate than is often assumed.
Translation into the vernacular: 1) People hold accurate estimations of the degree to which different immigrant groups commit crimes and 2) Those criminality rates predict the degree to which people oppose immigration from those countries of origin.

Simpler still: Citizens don't want to import people likely to commit crimes. They distinguish accurately between groups in terms of the probability of committing crimes. Opposition to immigration is based on perceived criminality not on xenophobia or racism.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

IQ, behaviors and life outcomes


Click to enlarge

The source document is: Intelligence Research: Fifty Years of Satisfaction by Douglas K. Detterman

Among his observations in the original slide presentation:
Schools and teachers account for very little of the variance in academic achievement and should not be the focus of improving academic achievement

All psychological traits show significant and substantial genetic influence (with the caveat that no trait is 100% heritable)

Heritability is caused by many genes of small effect (no single silver bullet)

Fifty year forecast: The internet revolution and automation will continue at a quickening pace.
40% TO 60% of current jobs will disappear

A large portion of these jobs will be held by people with IQs less than 115 (85th percentile)
People who manage the flow of information will also be affected

Employment dislocation will be widespread and rapid

No more than 7% of variance between students can be attributed to schools and teachers.

It doesn't matter where you go to college

Human capital can only be improved by focusing on individual students and their capabilities, not by focusing on schools and teachers.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Not global trade but increased efficiency.

It is not global trade, it is improved productivity that causes job losses and disruption. From The Myth and Reality of Manufacturing in America.
Three factors have contributed to changes in manufacturing employment in recent years: Productivity, trade, and domestic demand. Overwhelmingly, the largest impact is productivity. Almost 88 percent of job losses in manufacturing in recent years can be attributable to productivity growth, and the long-term changes to manufacturing employment are mostly linked to the productivity of American factories.
We shouldn't try and stop productivity improvement. That is the path to immiseration and poverty. The focus should be on 1) Continuing to improve productivity and then 2) Improving the support mechanisms related to skill building and job transition.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Pareto in the unlikeliest of places

Not all of them can be politicians.

All the news that fit to be imagined

I really like the New York Times as a news dissemination engine even though I object to their role as a political partisan in the civic discourse.

I comment often on the role that cognitive bubbles play in determining how we think about things and I have commented also that I suspect that much of the apparent bias in the NYT is likely a function of unconscious cognitive isolation. They think what is important among highly educated, highly compensated people in New York must be the same for the nation at large.

I came across this interesting tidbit.

OK, its the NYT. In some ways not too surprising. But it is worth digging deeper.

My first question is whether this is simply a function of hysteria around Trumps election. The NYT is full of articles about how Trump and his supporters are racist, misogynist, homophobic and islamophobic. I did a search at the site Olson uses and came up with these results.

Click to enlarge.

Well, it does look like the rise of Trump is correlated with the NYT talking about racism, islamophopbia, misogyny, and homophobia. Citations are up for each. Racism is up 74% from 2015, islamophopbia up 46%, misogyny up 160%, and homophobia up 56%. Woof. But that's not quite the full story.

When was the most recent low point for mentions for each of these items? Racism was only 0.27% of the time as recently as 2011 and mentions have increased 459% since then. Homophobia was almost gone in 2008 when it was mentioned only 0.03% of the time but mentions have increased 367% since then. Misogyny was also vanishingly small in 2010 when it gained mentions in only 0.02% of articles but has now rocketed up 1200% since then. Islamophobia was hardly on the radar screen as recently as 2013 (0.01% of articles) but now has also increased 1200%.

Have things really gotten so bad, so quickly? Well, not if you look at the FBI hate crime reports which show ups and downs of +/- 5% in any of those years on a very small base (about 5,000 such crimes a year versus some 2 million violent and property crimes.) Is there another way to check? Well, there's always NGRAM Viewer and Google Trends.

NGRAM Viewer only goes to 2008 and it shows a sharp dip in discussions about racism in recent years and a modest drop from a low base for discussions about homophobia and misogyny which had gained some modest currency in the late 1980s and early 1990s before starting to fall. Islamophobia simply isn't on the radar screen in that time period.

Google Trends (what people are searching about) shows a reasonably similar picture since its inception in 2004.

All negative terms are flat or trending down up till late 2012. From 2012 onwards there has been a slow rise in searches on racism and misogyny but nothing too dramatic. Homophobia and Islamophobia are pretty flat through this period.

If we adjust the timeframe to only the past couple of years, it is much the same with the exception of the week of the election when searches about Racism and Misogyny shoot up before falling back dramatically.

Net is that either from crime statistics or based on what people are talking about, there isn't much empirical change or fresh concern about racism, misogyny, homophobia, and islamophobia. The crimes aren't there and the public is not discussing these issues. That suggests to me that the results for the New York Times reflect not an objective reality but reflect the concerns of those who write for the NYT. Concerns not shared to the same degree by their fellow Americans. I'd say this likely supports the bubble theory.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The spirit which is not too sure that it is right

Judge Learned Hand is one of the most quotable judges.
The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which seeks to understand the minds of other men and women.
The above quote is from his evergreen “The Spirit of Liberty” speech at “I Am an American Day” ceremony, Central Park, New York City (21 May 1944) which I have quoted a number of times.

Of course, the real world demands action that presumes you know what is right. The challenge is to act with certitude while retaining the clear understanding that little is known with finality.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Have I kept my honor bright?

I just attended the Atlanta Area Council's Golden Eagle Luncheon, a key event in the annual fund raising for scouts. We raised $1.75 million towards the good works of Boy Scouts of America. The key note speaker was CEO of Exxon Mobil, Rex Tillerson, himself an Eagle Scout. An excellent speech ending with a reminder of the Scout Vesper (sung to O Tannenbaum).
Softly falls the light of day,
While our campfire fades away.
Silently each scout should ask:
"Have I done my daily task?
Have I kept my honor bright?
Can I guiltless sleep tonight?
Have I done and have I dared
In everything to be prepared.?"

Listen Lord, oh listen Lord,
As I whisper soft and low,
Bless my Mom and bless my Dad,
There is something they should know.
I have kept my honor bright.
The Oath and Law has been my guide.
Mom and Dad, this you should know,
Deep in my heart I love you so.

News infused by unconscious ideological partisanship

The complexity of discussion and communication is illustrated in this Politico article, Immigration hard-liner Sessions could execute crackdown as AG by Seung Min Kim. It is my contention that while critics are correct that the mainstream media are markedly biased, that much of that bias is unconscious. They see the world a particular way and do not have the cognitive nimbleness and flexibility of thought to comprehend that there are other weltanschauungs.

The hinge sentence in Kim's article is this:
Some immigrant advocates are alarmed by the idea of a Justice Department led by someone they see as far outside the mainstream.
Indeed, some immigrant advocates do see Sessions as outside the mainstream. But so, apparently, does Kim. The whole article is written from the perspective of immigrant advocates.

My perspective is that we are blessed with the quality of our immigrants but that we are approaching the 15% threshold where all societies begin to display destructive dysfunctionality. We have to throttle down the spigot of incoming immigrants and certainly remove those who have come here illegally who are also creating dysfunction for our citizens such as through criminal behavior. Immigration is not in itself bad. The problem is when there is too much, too quickly and when it is too concentrated geographically.

This is a fairly common perspective and indeed was the standing policy before the current administration.

This reality is what creates the reporting dissonance in the article. Kim writes the article from the perspective of immigrant advocates where Sessions is a threat. She does not seem to be reading her own materials though. The threat is not from Sessions but from the enforcement of standing policy. The law already exists because it is already written. Before the Obama administration it was enforced. And during the Obama administration it has been enforced. Indeed, Obama has deported more people than any other president.

Sessions is not out of the mainstream. Immigration enforcement was part of the campaign debates so it is not as if a tighter enforcement was not endorsed by the electorate. The law already exists because it was been passed years ago by the people's Representatives. It is already being enforced to an ever greater degree than it was in the past by Obama.

The people want it, the law exists, the law is already being enforced. Yet Kim has written an alarmist article presenting Sessions as out of the mainstream and a monster. What Kim is doing is presenting an ideological argument against Sessions, not an historical or fact-based argument.

Why? I suspect that Kim is simply hostage to an ideological partisan perspective and does not realize she has written such a biased article. I suspect that this type of blind ideological partisanship is what is driving people away from the mainstream media. You don't have to dissect an article in the fashion I just did in order to know what is going on.

And the remarkable thing is that is all going on without a full awareness or explicitness.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Much ado about nothing

In the post-election hysteria, there are all sorts of claims circulating that there has been an increase in classroom bullying and in hate crime in general. I have viewed these claims as emotional reactions and simple nonsense arising from cognitive dissonance. There is no national database of bullying incidents as far as I am aware. The FBI does release annual reports on hate crimes but, again, as far as I am aware, no monthly or weekly reporting. People making these claims are simply conjuring anecdote and vaporous imaginings to revile the winners of the election.

The basis for the claims of spikes in bullying and hate crimes are simply anecdotes. Whether there has been a hate crime spike is further clouded by the fact that so many of the reported incidents appear to be false flag operations, i.e. left wing groups committing apparent hate crimes in order to make it appear that there is a spike. Reason Magazine's Elizabeth Nolan Brown has a run down of the various Hate Crimes, Hoaxes, and Hyperbole: A reality check for all sides.

The Southern Poverty Leadership Center has their own reporting and are claiming 867 hate crime incidents since the election. Given that there were only 5,850 hate crime incidents in all of 2015, it would seem unlikely that there would be nearly 15% of that rate in the three weeks since the election. In addition, when you get in to the details of SPLC reporting, saying mean things is a hate crime and many of the groups reported are left wing groups, i.e. clearly not Trump related.

SPLC has a tweet with a map showing where hate crimes are occurring:

Click to enlarge

I love maps as a form of communication but they have their limits. In this case, it generally looks like there is a broad scattering of hate crimes across the country.

But there is a different, more analytical way of looking at this based on the numbers. From the blogger Random C. Analysis,

Click to enlarge

So the states where Clinton won have, on average, higher levels of hate crime per 100,000 people. The highest levels of bigotry are occurring in Blue States. That's what the data says and contradicts the narrative being pushed.

My guess is that there has been no increase in hate crimes, or at least no increase beyond the normal noise in the system. SPLC's numbers are grossly exaggerated and include numerous false flag incidents. The data analysis suggests to me that the elevated number of incidents in Blue States is not evidence that Democrats are the people with more bigotry and violence. Rather, I suspect the data says that Blue States are where there are a lot of false flag incidents.