Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Jews and victimology

Consider this statement: "School bullies are inadequate people who endeavour to compensate for their own inadequacies by attacking vulnerable fellow-students".

Is there anything wrong with that statement? I don't think there is. But whether it is right or wrong, note what it does. It explains bullying by referring to two things: The characteristics of the bully ("inadequate") and the characteristics of the victim ("vulnerable"). And the entire social science discipline of Victimology does that. It sees victimization as an interaction between the characteristics of the victim and characteristics of the victimizer. And, being myself a social scientist I tend to look at human relations generally that way: as an interaction between different parties in different positions.

But here come the tricky bit: I do that when I speak of Jews too. I am the madman who thinks I am entitled to treat Jews like any other group and expect them to have both strengths and weaknesses. And you will see that I do that even in my side column. On the one hand I speak of Jews as being "the best we've got" and on the other I describe Jews in general as being politically stupid. And when I look at why Jews are persecuted and hated, I take into account vulnerabilities in Jews that might be one side of the explanation for the phenomenon. I think there is no doubt that doing that is good social science but it is of course politically perilous.

Which is where Punditarian comes in. He and I have engaged in dialogue about Jews several times and it has always been a civil and enjoyable exploration of the facts. He is himself one of the NY Ashkenazim so he does well to talk civilly with someone who tends to put him on the defensive. Jews are used to ignorant criticism but fact-based criticism from Goyim is normally beyond their experience. Jewish criticism of one-another is however a torrent. One only has to read the Israeli press to see that. Israelis who do their best to undermine Israel are appallingly common.

I recently put up a post about the role of high drive in both Jewish success and antagonism twoards Jews and Punditarian has just responded to that. I reproduce his comment:
"You are making a very old mistake, of seeking in some feature of the Jew the reasons for his persecution. Jew-hatred comes first, however, and the reasons the Jew-haters give come after.

While it may be true that the Ashkenazi Jews are a couple of standard-deviations [actually about half a standard deviation -- JR] more intelligent than the populations surrounding them, and that they may have an energy or drive that the surrounding populations seem to have lost, the Mizrachi or Eastern Jews in the Arab and Muslim countries were hated by the people around them, despite the fact that they don't test out with such substantially higher IQ results, and were not more prominent in their countries than other members of the middle and merchant classes.

I think my preamble about bullying etc. has adequately answered his first point so I will go straight to his point about the Mizrahim. He is quite right in saying that in IQ and in other characteristics the Mizrahim are not readily distinguishable from the Muslims among who they resided for many centuries. He is also right that they were oppressed by the Muslims. But were they any more oppressed than were the Christians living in Muslim lands? Not notably as far as I know. Muslims oppressed ALL "infidels". Mohammed during his early conquests did slaughter Jewish communities whom he thought stood in the way of his plans so The Koran in fact offered ample warrant for a holocaust against the Jews. But there was no holocaust. So I think that what Mizrahi Jews suffered was because they were kuffars (non-Muslims), not because they were Jews as such.

So I think the experience of the Mizrahim is quite dissimilar to the experience of the Ashkenazim and leaves the fate of the Ashkenazim in need of an explanation which considers just them and their experience. And I try to do that.

I might add that I do NOT go along with the story of a "golden age" for the Jews under the Moorish (Muslim) rulers of Spain. The Moors discriminated against Jews as much as did other Muslims. The grain of truth in the myth is that the Muslims were at least better than the Catholics -- who expelled all Jews from Spain once they had conquered the Moors.

It is always tempting to see deep similarities where there are only superficial similarities. In 1290 a Catholic King of England -- Edward I -- expelled all Jews from England too. That seems like pretty good comparability with Spain but it is not. The Spanish expulsion was motivated by religious fanaticism whereas Edward was mainly aiming at dodging his debts. The superficial similarity is there but the explanation is different.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Another small meditation on antisemitism

I can't help myself, can I? I can't leave Die Judenfrage alone. I can never quite free myself from the dangerous delusion that my goodwill towards Israel in particular and Jews generally should permit me to speak freely about why I think Jews have the horrendous problems that they do have.

There has been much said about Ashkenazi IQ and I think that there is no doubt about a substantial Ashkenazi advantage in that regard. Much less noted is something that I think is equally important: High Ashkenazi drive. By that I mean motivation to "succeed" in various ways. And the combination of high drive and high IQ does put Ashkenazim into society's prestigious positions with great frequency -- a frequency which enraged Hitler and has enraged many others before and since.

It would be easy to say that the drive to succeed and grow rich is a natural response to persecution: Because of their horrendous past, Jews feel a need to "make up" for that past somehow or protect themselves in the event of a new Pogrom. And I think there must be an element of that. But I think, for what it is worth, that there is a genetic component too. There is plenty of evidence that personality is strongly inherited genetically so that is a fairly safe conclusion. The environmental influences that selected for high IQ could well have selected for high drive too. Jews should be brimming over with energy, and I think many are, from what I see.

What I now want to ask is whether that drive is safe. How do other people respond to finding that large numbers of people in positions of influence in their society are Jewish? I think that to ask the question is to indicate the answer: Lots of people resent having "aliens" telling them what to do and think. And while a significant subset of Jews retain a distinctive identity with distinctive practices Jews WILL be seen as aliens. So should Jews ignore that resentment? Maybe. German Jews once did. But I think it is very unsafe to ignore it. Germany was once the most cultured, enlightened and civilized society on earth with a large Jewish elite and look where it ended up.

Advice is the world's most oversupplied and useless commodity but I will venture some anyhow. I think Jews should ease up -- relax more. Among the Goyim there are many high IQ people who work happily away as butchers, mechanics etc. Their friends and family are their rewards in life. Could it be the same for Jews too? Fame and fortune may not really be as good as they are cracked up to be. They might just make you a more prominent and more resented target one day. There is no doubt that antisemitism is once again on the rise worldwide -- even in Japan, amazingly enough.

And achieving that fame and fortune may entail sacrifices that are not worth it. Take, for example, England's Susan Greenfield (ancestrally Gruenfeld, presumably). She is an academic neurologist so is clearly a smart lady. And she has certainly fulfilled what many would see as a dream. Britain's Labour Party government has made her a Baroness! She is a member of that august body, the House of Lords.

But how did she manage that? By becoming a sort of intellectual prostitute. She has used her academic position to propagandize in favour of many things that Britain's Leftist elite believe in -- such as the belief that the workers spend too much time in front of TV and entertaining themselves with computers. You can see an example of that here where I look at her latest attempt to justify medically that belief in the evils of computers. What she writes is sheer drivel -- pure speculation without an ounce of proof behind it. It is a very low place for a scientist to end up in. I personally think that scientific integrity would have become her better, even if fewer baubles came with it. One hopes that she eventually will come to that conclusion too.

Just for purposes of illustration, let me describe a high IQ, high drive Goy whom I know. I will call him "S". S is in his early 40s, has a beautiful wife and two attractive children. He has recently had a large and airy house built for himself and his family that is specifically designed for entertaining. He is as happy a man as any I know. I am sure he is not perfectly happy. Who is? But I am sure he is at least as happy as (say) Susan Greenfield. From the available online biographies of her I gather that she is divorced and childless. S has been in the military for all his working life and has risen through the ranks but not to a position of any great distinction. He recently served in the Gulf so is no chocolate soldier. As befits a military man his hobby is fighting -- martial arts -- and he is as a result very fit and healthy -- and his hobby is also a good outlet for any surplus energies. So he has lived a good life, greatly appreciated by his friends and relatives but entirely out of the public eye. So he is happy with no need for fame and fortune at all.

I am sure that the life S has chosen would not be attractive to many Jews -- though Greg Sher is remembered with great honour -- but I think it shows clearly that fame and fortune is not the only way to a good life.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Kristof of the NYT thinks he has made a great discovery

He thinks he has found a book that undermines the heritability of IQ. As I said a couple of weeks ago:

"There are always books and articles coming out that purport to show that IQ is unimportant, not hereditary and uniform across races. The research findings show the opposite but that offends against the "all men are equal" credo of the Left so the facts have to be got rid of somehow. Another such treatise has just arrived. I have not read the book and nothing in the review encourages me to do so but I assume that some of my colleagues who specialize in IQ studies will read it and dissect it in due course. Meanwhile, I just offer a few comments (In italics) that occur to me. The book is INTELLIGENCE AND HOW TO GET IT. Why Schools and Culture Count by Richard E. Nisbett. The book is actually better than most in that it is largely research-based so concedes the two major facts that always stick in Leftist craws: That IQ is important and is largely hereditary"

A point to note is that NOBODY denies that environment has SOME influence on final measured adult IQ but environment can only work within the limits set by heredity. No environment in all the world will make everybody into an Einstein. So there SHOULD be various things you can do which will raise that final adult IQ substantially. They seem very hard to find, however -- which suggests that we tend to UNDERestimate the limits set by genetics.

See my previous comments on the Nisbett work but I also do a bit of fisking of Kristoff's article below
Poor people have I.Q.’s significantly lower than those of rich people, and the awkward conventional wisdom has been that this is in large part a function of genetics. After all, a series of studies seemed to indicate that I.Q. is largely inherited. Identical twins raised apart, for example, have I.Q.’s that are remarkably similar. They are even closer on average than those of fraternal twins who grow up together.

If intelligence were deeply encoded in our genes, that would lead to the depressing conclusion that neither schooling nor antipoverty programs can accomplish much. Yet while this view of I.Q. as overwhelmingly inherited has been widely held, the evidence is growing that it is, at a practical level, profoundly wrong. Richard Nisbett, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, has just demolished this view in a superb new book, “Intelligence and How to Get It,” which also offers terrific advice for addressing poverty and inequality in America.

Professor Nisbett provides suggestions for transforming your own urchins into geniuses — praise effort more than achievement, teach delayed gratification, limit reprimands and use praise to stimulate curiosity — but focuses on how to raise America’s collective I.Q. That’s important, because while I.Q. doesn’t measure pure intellect — we’re not certain exactly what it does measure [There is not the slightest mystery about what it measures. It measures general problem-solving ability] — differences do matter, and a higher I.Q. correlates to greater success in life.

Intelligence does seem to be highly inherited in middle-class households, and that’s the reason for the findings of the twins studies: very few impoverished kids were included in those studies. But Eric Turkheimer of the University of Virginia has conducted further research demonstrating that in poor and chaotic [black] households, I.Q. is minimally the result of genetics — because everybody is held back. [Possibly true and not unreasonable but comparable British studies do not confirm that conclusion]. “Bad environments suppress children’s [measured] I.Q.’s,” Professor Turkheimer said.

One gauge of that is that when poor children are adopted into upper-middle-class households, their I.Q.’s rise by 12 to 18 points, depending on the study. For example, a French study showed that children from poor households adopted into upper-middle-class homes averaged an I.Q. of 107 by one test and 111 by another. Their siblings who were not adopted averaged 95 on both tests. [Adoption studies suffer from the problem that only the most attractive children tend to be adopted and I doubt that the French study included many blacks. Even so, the Minnesota adoption study, which DID feature blacks, found a continuing long-term IQ deficit in black children adopted into white households]

Another indication of malleability is that I.Q. has risen sharply over time. Indeed, the average I.Q. of a person in 1917 would amount to only 73 on today’s I.Q. test. Half the population of 1917 would be considered mentally retarded by today’s measurements, Professor Nisbett says. [An old chestnut. This is the "Flynn effect". The short point to note is that BOTH black and white IQs rose. The gap did not close]

Good schooling correlates particularly closely to higher I.Q.’s. One indication of the importance of school is that children’s I.Q.’s drop or stagnate over the summer months when they are on vacation (particularly for kids whose parents don’t inflict books or summer programs on them). [mainly a motivational deficit]

Professor Nisbett strongly advocates intensive early childhood education because of its proven ability to raise I.Q. and improve long-term outcomes. The Milwaukee Project, for example, took African-American children considered at risk for mental retardation and assigned them randomly either to a control group that received no help or to a group that enjoyed intensive day care and education from 6 months of age until they left to enter first grade. By age 5, the children in the program averaged an I.Q. of 110, compared with 83 for children in the control group. Even years later in adolescence, those children were still 10 points ahead in I.Q. [I don't know that study but gains from programs like that do not last into adulthood -- as even the post below this one admits]

Professor Nisbett suggests putting less money into Head Start, which has a mixed record [to put it kindly], and more into these intensive childhood programs. He also notes that schools in the Knowledge Is Power Program (better known as KIPP) have tested exceptionally well and favors experiments to see if they can be scaled up. [KIPP is undoubtedly good at getting the best out of what potential is there]

Another proven intervention is to tell junior-high-school students that I.Q. is expandable, and that their intelligence is something they can help shape. Students exposed to that idea work harder and get better grades. That’s particularly true of girls and math, apparently because some girls assume that they are genetically disadvantaged at numbers; deprived of an excuse for failure, they excel. [Yes. Motivation is a factor -- a small one] “Some of the things that work are very cheap,” Professor Nisbett noted. “Convincing junior-high kids that intelligence is under their control — you could argue that that should be in the junior-high curriculum right now.”

The implication of this new research on intelligence is that the economic-stimulus package should also be an intellectual-stimulus program. By my calculation, if we were to push early childhood education [There is now quite a lot of evidence that early childhood education is harmful to most children in institutional settings such as kindergarten and preschool] and bolster schools in poor neighborhoods, we just might be able to raise the United States collective I.Q. by as much as one billion points. That should be a no-brainer.



More optimistic psychology from the NYT

Some seventh graders who were struggling in class did significantly better after performing a series of brief confidence-building writing exercises, and the improvements continued through eighth grade, researchers reported Thursday. The students who benefited most were blacks who were doing poorly, the study found; the exercises made no difference for white students, or for black ones who were already doing well. Experts cautioned that the writing was hardly transforming. Those who benefited were still barely getting C’s, on average, by the end of middle school.

Yet the results were surprising, because interventions to improve school performance tend to have short-term benefits, and the writing assignments were simple 15-minute efforts. By the end of eighth grade, the students who benefited had nearly a half-point higher grade point average than struggling peers who completed a different writing exercise. The study was published in the journal Science.

“A difference of a third or more on G.P.A. is a large effect, and what’s surprising is that there was apparently no fadeout of the effect,” said Greg Duncan, an economist at the University of California, Irvine, who was not involved in the research. “Fadeout is the coin of the realm in school intervention studies.” [Nisbett, take note!]


Motivation does have some effect for both good and ill but studies wherein blacks have been highly motivated to do well on tests have shown very little difference in final scores

Monday, April 06, 2009


I am going to try to explain where the word "Nazi" comes from. It is as plain as a pikestaff to a German-speaking person but I doubt if I have ever come across an English speaking person who "gets" it. Jonah Goldberg probably gets it but Yiddish is a German dialect so he has a head start.

OK: The first thing to note is that Hitler's political party was called (in English) the "National Socialist German Workers' Party". And the curious thing is that the word "National" is spelled exactly the same in German as in English. So in German the party was called the: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiter Partei. "National" is in fact a borrowing from English/French. It's spelled the same in French too. But it is PRONOUNCED differently in the three countries. Germans pronounce it (approximately) as "nartsionarl". But a German word pronounced that way would not be spelled that way. It would be spelled as "Nazional". German has strict spelling rules (unlike English) so that is obvious in German. So "Nazi" is simply the first two syllables of "National" -- where "national" is pronounced in the German way. Maybe that is as clear as mud but I hope it is not. If not, just take my word for it that "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National". Quite mundane, really. Much less exciting than you might expect.

But Nazis were not simply the "Nationalists". There was another German political party at the time called Nationalists. "Nazis" were "national socialists" because "National Socialists" is one word in German: Nationalsozialisten. So "Nazi" could be an abbreviation of both "Nationalists" and "National Socialists". It was of course normally applied to the latter. Hugenberg's Nationalists were a much more minor party.

Jamming two or more words together to make one longer word is very German. In English we do the same but use Latin and Greek words as the starting point. Perhaps the most curious example of that is the word "television" -- where the Greek word "tele" (meaning "afar") is combined with the Latin word "videre" (to see). In German, a TV set is a Fernsehgeraet, or "far-seeing-gadget". I think the German word is more straightforward.

Mixing Greek and Latin is considered rather crass in the making of English words so "television" should probably have been "teleskopia" if we had stuck to Greek. A bit too close to "telescope", maybe.

Tags: Nazi word meaning derivation origin