Tuesday, November 21, 2006

IQ and nations

Richard notes that there is an anti-academic petition going around to punish a researcher who dared to suggest that there are IQ differences between races and htat this might effect welfare.

Well I dont know how he did his researchor if he has made silly claims (the articles seel to imply that he made the silly claim that 'poverty doesnt matter IQ only matters' - but I doubt that). But I assert that not only is this sort of petition anti-academic but the people proposing it are flat out wrong.

“Nobody could prove that there are racial or national differences in IQ” is just crazy talk.

the 'intelligence' (however you measure it) of any two individuals is unlikely to be identical (and intelligence is effected by genetics – just as some one with a genetic intelligence retardation disorder). Thus the 'intelligence' of any two groups is unlikely to be identical.

Evolution of traits like aggression in foxes takes about 10 generations so being separated for any more than about 10 generations is plenty of time to have a significant difference in traits where there are different selection pressures. being separated by, for example, 2000 generations could easily result in one group having a higher 'intelligence' although it is likely that one group would be better at certain mental tasks while the other would be better at others. But its VERY unlikely they would be identical

As another poster noted
"I'm tempted to start a petition demanding that LSE issue a statement denying that people with white skin absorb more vitamin D. After all, this could be used by racists. Some people also suggest that red-haired people tend to be more prone to freckles."

Saturday, November 11, 2006

My Future predictions

What will the world be like in 2050?

To help you understand we will introduce you to a family called the Tollens. The tollens are both 50yrs old and as is of often the case in 2050 - have no children.

When the Tollens go and see the doctor things have become much more efficient. When they go to the doctor the doctor has their DNA on record. The medical science of 2000 seems as archaic as that of 1800 seems to us. Cancer has not been cured but many way have been determined to fight it off and life expectancy is now about 110. But it will soon be much more for reasons to be visited later.

The air is much cleaner, the most recent round of the “Kyoto protocol” has placed very tight targets on carbon and other environmentally damaging pollutants and every country is a signatory and no one would dare to try to exit the treaty.
Most cars are small and electrical in some form. Hydrogen cars are not used - instead a new form of battery has been discovered that is more efficient and is pervasive through all battery like aplications. As with many other products, one company has a virtual monopoly. There is no fusion power yet but it is no longer science fiction – it is just not quite economically feasible. there is a diversity of energy production methods, tides, wind, hydro power but alone they could not provide enough power - the main method at present is New GE biotech plants (which are grown on the open ocean and harvested).

Shopping GE free is possible but almost everything in the supermarket is unashamedly interest free.

The wealth of the rich continued to become much greater than the poor through the Tollen’s childhood but while you can still see massive differences in wealth between the middle class Tollens and the poor or the rich - more recently the tide has turned this has been driven by a number of major changes.

The first is a massive increase in wealth taxes such as capital gains taxes. With the Chinese swallowing up more and more of the global economy, capital ceased to be the untamed monster that many of the poor had come to see it as. All the protests against globalization of the early 21st century had come to nothing but in a few years when China turned it’s attention to taxing wealth the tide turned. Pressure came upon weaker countries like the EU and the US to fall into line and have equal taxes on capital and this was quickly enacted. The Tollens therefore don’t own their house – there is no potential for gain on it’s value and homeownership is slowly dropping and the day that it will be more or less zero is not far in the future.

The stock exchange is effectively managed by computers. Computers have become much stronger and now central computers regulate investment, greatly decreasing the potential for rich people to make money of privileged information. It would be difficult to invest on the stock exchange and you would be almost guaranteed to loose money since it has become so efficient.

The Tollen’s see the government as being quite benevolent but at the same time are careful to obey the law. Government has become progressively more able to control and control in a much more nuanced way. The government’s presence is hardly felt but there is a massive degree of surveillance. Every police officer and every politician is under surveillance all the time as is almost every public space. As a result crime has been slashed as has abuse of power. While this might have terrorized 2000 AD westerners it is more a fact of life in 2050.

With China’s rise to power the public has reversed the individualistic sea change of the 1960’s and has become much more collectivist. However the country is very socially liberal not concerned with homosexuality or race. Chinese faces are common far beyond their proportion of the population in big business and politics – speaking Chinese fluently and being able to deal with China has become a massive advantage. Chinese is taught in every school, Hindi is also encouraged. Traditional languages like French and Spanish are now uncommon despite being still spoken in much of the world.

The country is at war with a small country in Africa which has tried to breach one of the complex set of international agreements, but there is little on the news about it and the Tollen’s are only aware in a vague sense. No casualties ever come home because there are no soldiers on the battle front. The enemy tries to fight a guerilla war but with little or no targets besides themselves, and almost total support from the other foreign governments, their defeat is seen as inevitable.

When the Tollens buy products at the store most products are environmentally friendly, biodegradable and meets standards that green party supporters of 2000 could only dream of. Technology has removed the need for a cheep vs. environmentally friendly tradeoff. Better yet almost everything is cheap. The Tollens are concerned to make sure what they buy is “good for society” and are reassured that government agencies will ensure that advertising is not misleading.

Mr tollen wears a tiny almost invisible machines hung around their necks and something reminiscent of the old cell phone devices sits on his belt and provides the screen. These devices are universal remotes as well as performing every function such a small screen can handle. At home people still have multimedia centers - rooms that now have screens on every wall to create a “right there” feel.
Technophiles and people in industries such as medicine and politics place the same tiny machines on the side of their heads actually linked to their brains which can perform all these function directly. People without these just can’t do some of the most highly paid jobs.

The Tollens are thinking of having a child – something that is no longer a strange thought for a 50 yr old couple. Human genetic engineering is taking off (although it didn’t change the Tollen’s generation or that of their children). Most parents no longer just select healthy genes but mix them up. However the most common request is just for the doctor to make the standard improvements (which the government ensures has some variety) since this is more or less free and almost any other changes result in a reduction in intelligence and longevity. GE thus instead of creating a “super upper class” as was once predicted has instead leveled the playing field.

In the evening the Tollens sit down in their entertainment centre to hear about the Chinese landing on Mars (with robots) which will build a station from material previous robots have been mining and hear optimistic talk of Humans living in a space station on mars one day.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

political compass

political compass
Economic Left/Right: -3.75
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: 0.00

wow I almost exited the top left hand section and moved a litle left.
I am slightly disapointed!

Political survey update

Political survey

1 left/right -0.1987 (-0.0120)
2 pragmatism +2.7699 (+0.1667)

Looks like I have had almost no change over the last year or two

An inconvenient truth

Canada free press has an argument against gore's new film. Now I don’t think gores film is perfect but it seems to be worth defending against these attacks.

> Gore’s credibility is damaged early in the movie when he tells the audience that, by simply looking at Antarctic ice cores with the naked eye, one can see when the American Clean Air Act was passed.

I'll give them this - it doesn't make a hell of a lot of sense - but to be charitable maybe it was an unusual piece of ice.

> Gore repeatedly labels carbon dioxide (CO2) as “global warming pollution” when, in reality, it is no more pollution than is oxygen.

This is silly semantics. There are traces of almost everything in the environment including gasses such as NO2 or CO but we still consider excessive amounts of harmful substances pollution. Similarly ozone isn’t a pollutant in the ozone layer but it is surrounding a machine at ground level. If CO2 is harmful it is reasonable for gore to call the excess released by humans "pollution".

> Professor Jan Veizer demonstrated that, over geologic time, the two are not linked at all. Over the intermediate time scales Gore focuses on, the ice cores show that CO2 increases don’t precede, and therefore don’t cause, warming. Rather they follow temperature rise - by as much as 800 years.

Did not this author just say they ere no linked? I think he just undermined his own credibility.

> Even in the past century, the correlation is poor – the planet actually cooled between 1940 and 1980 when human emissions of CO2 were rising at the fastest rate in our history.

1) Does he mean rising as a %? I presume so - in which case the point is specious.
2) If his argument is that the world would "all things being equal" be going through a cooling phase then he has just increased the evidence for the threat of global warming without realizing it.

> Similarly, the fact that water vapor constitutes 95% of greenhouse gases by volume is conveniently ignored by Gore.

if CO2 caused 100% of the temperature on earth then doubling the CO2 concentration by almost 50% and the relationship was direct between heat and CO2 (ridiculous assumptions of course) then we would be looking at 2000 being 140 degrees or so hotter than 1900. If it had 1% of the effect it might be 1.4%, obviously it doesn't have to be 100% to be significant.

> While humanity’s 3 billions tones (gigatonnes, or GT) per year net contribution to the atmosphere’s CO2 load appears large on a human scale, it is actually less than half of 1% of the atmosphere’s total CO2 content (750-830 GT).

So over 100 years you add 50% right? And increase the temperature but (using the really rough 5% assumption) by 7 degrees? Tiny eh?

>Perhaps even more significant is the fact that the uncertainty in the measurement of atmospheric CO2 content is 80 GT – making 3 GT seem hardly worth mentioning.

This implies a misunderstanding of uncertainty. That is a bit like saying we cant be sure how many people died this year so no one will notice me killing a few more.

>Dr. Timothy Ball, notes, “The theories that Gore supports indicate the greatest warming will be in Polar Regions. Therefore the temperature contrast with warmer regions - the driver of extreme weather - will lessen and, with it, storm potential will lessen.”

Actually everywhere should heat up. More heat in the equatorial regions means slightly more storm energy powered by slightly hotter water and slightly hotter poles means slightly less ice.

"There has been no increase in EW events in Canada in the last 25 years."

As I understand it there is no increase in number, but there is an increase in power. Are one or both sides being disingenuous?

> “In fact some EW events such as winter blizzards have definitely declined”, say Khandekar.

heh - no kidding. less winter could cause that.

> Besides clumsy errors in the presentation of the facts (Katrina did not get “stronger and stronger and stronger” as it came over the Gulf of Mexico)

generally they get stronger over hot water and weaker as they approach land - so probably a bit of both.

> In their open letter to the Canadian Prime Minister in April, 61 of the world’s leading experts modestly expressed their understanding of the science: “The study of global climate change is an "emerging science," one that is perhaps the most complex ever tackled. It may be many years yet before we properly understand the Earth's climate system.”

most scientists would try to not be presumptuous in their claims. BUT one should take action based on the best evidence, and at present GW has more evidence behind it than "not GW". Besides even the anti GW 'scientists' are arguing 'the effect isn't quite as big as you think as opposed to 'there is no effect'. even a small effect of lets say 1 degree, could easily warrant action.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Occams razor

Two things that bug me

1) if you go to a car auction or a tender you will make a bid at a certain price (lets say $6000 for a car. but afterwards you will probably find that there are a couple of extra fees a "on road cost" and a "tender/auction charge" maybe another $600.

Now the problem is when I am in an auction making a bid the seller isn't there. It is just be and the auction staff, why is it that I don’t bid by saying the full price I am willing to pay? Is there any other reason other than to make it look as though I am getting a cheaper deal than I really am?

2) Taxi drivers. If you look at their charge rates they will have a flag fall and a per km rate. But if you watch carefully you will see the amount they are going to charge you changes even while they are not moving. This appears to be due to a "waiting time" charge. Now any normal person would think waiting refers to "time spent waiting for the customer" but in reality it seems to be "time spent in total on this job (times a certain rate per minute).

Future predictions

This guy did a prediction of what 2000 would be like from 1950

I think this guys did qiute a good job of predicting what we COULD do. But he underestimated how easy it would be to change. And he emphasises the standardization/ social pressures to be the same - maybe that is pre 1960's psychology...

He seems to sugest pretty big redesigns of cities and destruction of old houses replaced by new ones and massive lights that might well drive people nearby insane. The implication being that those wanting changes would steamroll them through.

and he thought women would be happy with this - "When Jane Dobson cleans house she simply turns the hose on everything. " i is very unlikely that would be the best way to clean anything.

and this!!!

"Following suggestions made by Zworykin and Von Neumann storms are more or less under control. It is easy enough to spot a budding hurricane in the doldrums off the coast of Africa. Before it has a chance to gather much strength and speed as it travels westward toward Florida, oil is spread over the sea and ignited. There is an updraft. Air from the surrounding region, which includes the developing hurricane, rushes in to fill the void. The rising air condenses so that some of the water in the whirling mass falls as rain."

Didn't he stop to think what that would do to fishing??

Otherwise it was quite good I think.

Weasel awards

Weasel awards

Oil 13275
Mainstream Media 8401
Tobacco 6754
Health Insurance 4487
Pharmaceuticals 4035
Wall Street 1513
Corn Growers 1065
Automobiles 743

Weaseliest Company?

Halliburton 10436
Wal*Mart 8489
ExxonMobil Corp.5983
Fox News 5958
HP 3564
Sony 3153
Ford 1465

Weaseliest Politician?

George W. Bush 15447
Donald Rumsfeld 5216
Hillary Rodham Clinton 4315
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Iranian President) 3842
Ray Nagin (Mayor of New Orleans) 3765
Kim Jong-il 2867
Ted Kennedy 2503
Kofi Annan 1631
Pervez Musharraf 838

Weaseliest Country?

United States 9121
North Korea 9110
France 6552
Iran 5034
Israel 3125
Venezuela 2966
China 2316
Pakistan 2022

bad news for Hiliary's chances to win the election I guess unless she is runnign against Donald Rumsfeld.


Scott adams is at it again
" You reminded me that all government initiatives are doomed. Sure, the government has a few lucky successes, such as building highways and schools and dams and reducing pollution and eradicating polio and encouraging the Internet and winning World Wars I and II. But a broken clock is right twice a day too."

Friday, November 03, 2006


Instapundit brings up a relevant quote in regards to hypocrisy and a evangelical sex scandal

"You know, when I was a young man, hypocrisy was deemed the worst of vices," Finkle-McGraw said. "It was all because of moral relativism. You see, in that sort of a climate, you are not allowed to criticise others -- after all, if there is no absolute right and wrong, then what grounds is there for criticism?"

"Now, this led to a good deal of general frustration, for people are naturally censorious and love nothing better than to criticise others' shortcomings. And so it was that they seized on hypocrisy and elevated it from a ubiquitous peccadillo into the monarch of all vices. For, you see, even if there is no right and wrong, you can find grounds to criticise another person by contrasting what he has espoused with what he has actually done. In this case, you are not making any judgment whatsoever of his behaviour -- you are merely pointing out that he has said one thing and done another. Virtually all political discourse in the days of my youth was devoted to the ferreting out of hypocrisy.

"We take a somewhat different view of hypocrisy," Finkle-McGraw continued. "In the late-twentieth-century Weltanschauung, a hypocrite was someone who espoused high moral views as part of a planned campaign of deception -- he never held these beliefs sincerely and routinely violated them in privacy. Of course, most hypocrites are not like that. Most of the time it's a spirit-is-willing, flesh-is-weak sort of thing."

"That we occasionally violate our own stated moral code," Major Napier said, working it through, "does not imply that we are insincere in espousing that code."