Wednesday, December 01, 2010

How did Australia dodge the GFC?

Martin Hutchinson looks at how several countries have done after the GFC but omits the real standout economy -- Australia -- possibly because Bondi beach is all he knows about Australia. So maybe I should fill in a little gap there.

The first point to note is that Australia had NO crisis at all. A Leftist government had come to power just a couple of months before the global financial meltdown and paraded around spending money and offering government guarantees but that was just typical Leftist approval-seeking. They wanted there to be a crisis that they could seem to solve so they went around pretending that there was one.

The major Australian banks were never in trouble and in fact continued to make profits and pay dividends at around their normal levels. And unemployment is about half the U.S. level -- again at around its historically normal levels: A dream by world standards. And, as I have got about half my share portfolio in Australian banks, I am acutely aware of all that. By way of example, I have a parcel of shares in Westpac bank and in the year of the crisis, Westpac announced a profit decline from the previous year -- of only 1.5%

So Australian banks would be the obsessive subject of study by all the economists of the world if there were any mystery about why they did so unusually well. But there is no mystery. The answer can be given in one word: DEREGULATION. Australian banks were extensively deregulated a couple of decades ago and promptly went wild. With the government not telling them what to do they embarked on all sorts of "innovative" lending policies and got badly burnt in the process. The various banks owned by State governments all went bust in fact.

So they learnt their lesson. The surviving banks worked out how to do prudent lending and stuck firmly to those policies from that point on. And there were no government laws dictating that they make unwise loans, unlike the USA. Hence they didn't have any significant overhang of bad debt when the crisis struck. They had all bought small amounts of American paper because of its attractive yields but their now ingrained caution meant that they largely stuck to their own knitting. So losses on the American paper could be absorbed from domestic profits.

All that I have just said any economic historian should be able to dig up but it is not the full story. In my usual wicked way, I will now tell you the rest.

The American practice of making poorly secured loans and apparently thriving by doing so was deeply impressive worldwide and was therefore copied in many other countries -- and they suffered for it along with America in due course.

And in Australia also there sprang up a slew of financial intermediaries who offered what they called "low doc" loans. And they DID suffer from the GFC. But not too badly. They were mostly just taken over by the banks and everything continued on as normal.

So how come they did not cause a huge crash? Easy. As in the USA, the people who were given the poorly secured loans were mostly minorities. But Australia's big minority is very different from America's two large minorities. Australia's big minority is East Asian, mostly Han Chinese racially. And if you know anything about the Han you know that they would rather DIE than default on a home loan. The loss of face would be unendurable. If in trouble they would just get a third job. So loan defaults were relatively rare in Australia because Australia has a better class of minorities. Do you see why no-one else would ever tell you that?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

"Smart fraction" theory

There is now plenty of evidence of variability in national average IQs and equally strong evidence that the differences concerned matter a lot. To put it bluntly, low IQ nations tend to be hellholes and high IQ nations are prosperous and comfortable.

An odd exception to that was China, with a very high average IQ but also high levels of poverty. Recently, however, we have seen that with the yoke of communism partially removed from them, the Chinese have been going ahead economically in leaps and bounds -- and they will undoubledly soon arrive at the level of prosperity that their average IQ would indicate. China's recent advance is in fact an excellent validation of IQ theory. Just giving them the opportunity to realize their potential produced amazing successes. It is exactly what IQ theory would predict for a high IQ nation.

In all countries, however, economic advance is driven by a small minority. Most people are "wage slaves", not entrepreneurs. So among IQ researchers there has been a proposal that it might be more enlightening to look not at the average guy but rather at the top people in his nation's population. We should take (say) the top 5% (as measured by IQ score) of any population and look at THEIR average IQ rather than the average IQ in that nation as a whole. The average IQ of the "smart fraction" in a population might give us even better predictive power about that nation than the average IQ of that nation as a whole does.

Recently, some research has been done which tests that theory. They did not use IQ scores as such but estimated IQ from measures of educational attainment. Educational attainment and IQ are highly correlated. The journal abstract is below:
The impact of smart fractions, cognitive ability of politicians and average competence of peoples on social development

By Heiner Rindermann, Michael Sailer and James Thompson


Smart fraction theory supposes that gifted and talented persons are especially relevant for societal development. Using results for the 95th percentile from TIMSS 1995- 2007, PISA 2000-2006 and PIRLS 2001-2006 we calculated an ability sum value (N=90 countries) for the upper level group (equivalent to a within country IQ-threshold of 125 or a student assessment score of 667) and compared its influence with the mean ability and the 5th percentile ability on wealth (GDP), patent rates, Nobel Prizes, numbers of scientists, political variables (government effectiveness, democracy, rule of law, political liberty), HIV, AIDS and homicide.

Additionally, using information on school and professional education, we estimated the cognitive competence of political leaders in N=90 countries.

Results of correlations, regression and path analyses generally show a larger impact of the smart fractions’ ability on positively valued outcomes than of the mean result or the 5th percentile fraction. The influence of the 5th percentile fraction on HIV, AIDS and homicide, however, was stronger.

The intelligence of politicians was less important, a longitudinal crosslagged analysis could show a positive influence on the cognitive development of nations.


So the results supported the theory. How smart a nation's smarties were told us even more than average IQ did. Note the very large number of variables that were successfully predicted by the study. How smart your nation's smarties are is very important indeed.

Note also that how dumb the dummies were (the BOTTOM 5%) also strongly predicted a few things: The incidence of HIV, AIDS and homicide! To put it very bluntly, real dummies are murderous and will stick their dicks in anything.

Steve Sailer has a much more detailed discussion of the paper but misses the point that IQ in even the Jewish population of Israel (not counting the Arabs and the illegal immigrants) is bimodal. Most Israeli Jews are of Middle Eastern origin and hence not too bright. It is the minority of Israeli Jews who are of European origin (Ashkenazim) who account for Israel's advances. To really understand Israel, you need to treat the Ashkenazim as a separate population in its own right. They are in their own way a good example of how important the "smart fraction" is.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Why Jews Vote Democratic – Redux

Many conservative Jews have tried to answer the question Bialosky tries to answer but it seems to me that both his and their answers only scratch the surface. Bialosky seems to be saying that Jews tend to be Leftist because Liberal Jews block other Jews from hearing the conservative side of the argument. And he is of course right about the way Leftists generally do their darndest to silence conservatives. "Free speech for Leftists only" seems to be their motto.

Jews are however in general intelligent people well able to seek out any information they want. It would be hard to imagine a group less likely to permit itself to be subjected to censorship. Just the suspicion of it would produce instant rebellion. So I think we will have to look deeper than Bialosky does.

I have been reading attempts to explain Jewish Leftism for a long time and have found none of the other explanations to be very persuasive either. I particularly took an interest in such explanations after I read in "Mein Kampf" Hitler's claim that all the Marxist rabble-rousers he encountered in Vienna of the '20s were Jews. He actually lists them in "Mein Kampf". He says that it was their constant preaching of Marxist class war and support for revolution that decided him that Jews were the enemies of the German people and hence must be eliminated. Read more on that here.

I am inclined to think that Hitler's account of his own mental processes is a straightforward one but I am not going to hang my hat on it. If someone can come up with a better explanation for Hitler's campaign against the Jews, I would be most interested to hear it. Most writers on the subject however have NO explanation of it at all, treating it as if it were a mystery of inspissated darkness. The only explanation usually proffered is that Hitler resented being rejected by the Jewish Rector of the Vienna art school and then took it out on all Jews -- but that is pretty laughable if one reads Hitler's own account of that matter. He actually agreed enthusiastically with what the Rector said!

At any event, it does appear that Jewish Leftism has a long pedigree, going back to Karl Marx himself, of course. And it does seem that the Leftism concerned has served Jews extraordinarily badly -- a point also made by Bialosky above.

Yet I don't myself see the motivation for Jewish Leftism as any more mysterious than the motivations of Adolf Hitler. Let me put the explanation in one sentence: Successful people in life tend to be Leftist and Jews tend to be successful in life.

Why successful people tend Left is of course a large topic in its own right so I will refer readers elsewhere for a full discussion of that topic.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

That old hatred of IQ again

It's seldom that I laugh out loud while reading a bit of Left-leaning, do-gooder nonsense but I have just had that experience.

I don't know how the editor of the Green/Left "New Scientist" (Roger Highfield) got to write for the generally conservative "Daily Telegraph" but it has happened -- but not in a good way. After a series of dogmatic and unreferenced assertions in which he pours out contempt and contumely on conventional IQ tests, he then says that there is a new type of test which is much better. He then however goes on to admit that he doesn't know if the new test works!
Dr Owen is part of the Medical Research Council's Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge. With his colleague, Adam Hampshire, he has devised the ultimate intelligence test. Drawing on data from brain scans, his test – featuring a dozen tasks – triggers as much of the brain's anatomy as possible, combining the fewest tasks to cover the broadest range of cognitive skills.

For example, spot-the-difference puzzles boost activity in a range of areas at the back and bottom of the brain. Similarly, when you navigate your way around an unfamiliar supermarket, you rely on visuospatial working memory, which is linked to activity in the ventrolateral frontal cortex behind the eyes and the parietal lobe at the back and on top of the brain. However, as the questions become more complex, demanding more use of strategies and stored memories, broader regions of the frontal and parietal lobes become active – in particular, the large area behind the temples known as the dorsolateral frontal cortex.

Adrian and Adam regard this as the ultimate intelligence test – so all that is left is to find out whether it works. To that end, New Scientist has put it online, in a joint project with the Discovery Channel. If you have a half-hour to spare, and want to put your brain through its paces while advancing the cause of neuroscience, have a go here.


Highfield has obviously drawn his conclusions before he has seen the evidence -- which is exactly the opposite of what scientists do. But that is just standard Leftist practice so we must not be at all surprised.

The only further comment I would make is that it is quite an absurd assumption to say that a good measure of intelligence should use as many areas of the brain as possible. The brain does many things and problem solving is only one of them. That problem solving ability should involve only a few parts of the brain would seem a much more reasonable expectation.

Monday, November 08, 2010

More Hitler history

The account of Hitler given recently in the WSJ is reasonable on the whole but is rather laughable in the way it reveals that none of the authors concerned seem to have actually read "Mein Kampf". They breathlessly reveal that Hitler's conversion to antisemitism did not happen until he was in Vienna in the 20s. Yet that is precisely what Hitler said of himself in "Mein Kampf".

They also seem to find it surprising or hypocritical that he had a brief flirtation with Bavarian Reds in the immediate aftermath of the war. But that should not be remotely surprising. Nazism had much in common with Marxism. Its major difference was in being a more moderate version of Marxism! Hitler rejected the "class war" ideas of Marxism in favour of a war against the Jews but that was the major point of difference.

They also say that Hitler's war service was not in the front lines and imply that it was not therefore dangerous. If so how did he get gassed?

And if they had read "Mein Kampf", they would not conclude "we still haven't answered the question of what turned Hitler into an anti-Semitic idealogue". Hitler offers a perfectly cogent explanation of that in "Mein Kampf" but they make no attempt to discuss it so clearly have not read it. See here for a summary. Whether or not one agrees with Hitler's account of how his own thinking developed, it was surely worth discussing

Incidentally, the fact that Hitler reached only the rank of "Gefreite" (corporal) in WWI was not seen by him as any embarrassment. He in fact put up posters boasting about it in his election campaigns. He saw it as credentialling himself as a plain man of the people

Translation: "The Marshall and the corporal fight alongside us for peace and equal rights"

Friday, October 29, 2010

Genetic defect identified in Leftists

My heading above is tendentious but so are the interpretations offered in the article I am about to discuss

I have been pointing out for years that genetics largely determines politics -- on the basis of twin study evidence. And James Fowler, co-author of the academic article I am talking about, has previously confirmed in 2007 how powerful is the genetic effect on politics revealed in twin studies.

But the mechanism behind the relationship has remained conjectural. The evidence now, however, suggests that there is a gullibility or suggestibility gene -- so people with that gene who also mix a lot with young people tend to adopt the politics of the young. Because they have yet to learn how complex the world really is, young people do tend Left -- the Left being the home of simplistic ideas

The full academic article can be read here or here. The title of the article is "Friendships Moderate an Association between a Dopamine Gene Variant and Political Ideology". Note that this is a study of young adults only so whether the effect lasts into later life remains, again, conjectural. Given the normal movement from Left to Right that most people undergo as they age, the effect of whom you associate with in your youth could well be a transient one

The article also identifies the gene concerned as leading to novelty seeking and my research has shown that Leftists tend to be sensation-seekers. So change for change's sake would seem to be part of what drives Leftism

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A small anecdote and some reflections on race and culture

I originally wrote this post for my personal blog but it seemed to fit here too

A few days ago I went in to a private hospital to get my hearing tested and a hearing-aid prescribed. I've already got one plastic eye lens so a computerized ear comes next! That's aging for you.

Greenslopes private hospital does however have one of those murderous automated car-parks. You have to deal with a machine to get in and out. And it is not easy. I got so frazzled trying to get the machine to let me out that I left all the documentation from the audiologist on top of the machine concerned and ended up driving home without it.

It was only when I got home that I realized that I did not have my receipt etc. So what did I do? One thing I was NOT going to do was negotiate that accursed car-park machine again. So I just thought to myself that some kind person would find my documentation and take it to the audiologists -- who would return it to me. And that is exactly what happened. I received it in the mail today.

Now isn't that nice to live in a largeish city and still get treated with village courtesy? But it is no coincidence. I find that my fellow Anglo/European-Australians are generally like that: Good kind people.

And that largely happens because the Australian population is still overwhelmingly white. You would have to go to Eastern Europe to find a whiter country. The most recent figures I can find show that Australians are 70% Anglo-Celtic, 18% European and 5% East Asian, with most of the latter being Han Chinese racially. The balance are mainly Indians Pakistanis and Arabs, with Africans less than 1%.

Now it does of course sound racially bigoted to attribute Australia's friendly civility to race but it is in fact mainstream sociology. Robert Putnam in particular is known for his studies of racial homogeneity. Sociologists are almost universally Left-leaning and Putnam is too -- but he was man enough to publish his findings (after some hesitation) even though they did not suit him ideologically.

What he found was that people who live in racially mixed neighbourhoods (he is American so that means neighbourhoods with a lot of blacks or Hispanics in addition to whites) were much more likely to keep to themselves. They stayed home at night a lot more, for instance. Racial admixture killed community feeling, to put it bluntly.

Fortunately Australia has largely escaped that. Until recently our population had ancestry that was almost exclusively from Europe or the British Isles. And regardless of whether your origins were Lithuanian, Irish, Italian, German or English, we all saw one another as simply Australian. Ancestry made no difference in most cases.

In more recent years, however, Australia HAS acquired one largeish "minority": East Asians, mostly Han Chinese -- now about 5% of our population. But the Han are admirable people. They are in general quiet, peaceful, patient, intelligent, hard-working people who strive to get on well with everybody. So they fit in very well and do nothing to cause anyone to stay home at night. So even though they have disrupted Australia's racial homogeneity, they have, if anything, enhanced its social harmony.

So it was no accident that some kind person returned my papers. It is what happens in a society where people are in general kind to one another because they can identify with one another and sympathize with one another.

But all silver linings have a dark cloud and Australia has recently acquired one of those too. Australia has in recent years accepted a considerable number of African "refugees" and they already figure prominently in crime . Sad that they may destroy the remarkable and valuable harmony that Australia still has.

Mind you, Australia's native blacks -- Aborigines -- are not bad people. They often live in appalling squalor but they mostly keep to themselves and are undoubtedly one of the most polite populations on earth. They also have an excellent sense of humour and some perceptual abilities that are quite eerie at times. But alcohol is their great downfall. The lady in my life -- Anne -- knows them particularly well and has great affection for them -- something that I understand.

They are actually extraordinarily sociable people -- which is why it is so effective when they "sing" transgressors among them. The transgressor dies of grief.

Much to learn of human diversity. And shrieks of "racism" when it is discussed come only from fools or the ill-intentioned.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Pick your proxy

What do we conclude when temperature proxies contradict both one another and real-world data?

We see here that a new proxy temperature measurement from South America shows the Medieval warm period and little ice age that Warmists like Michael Mann tried to "iron out" of their "hockey stick" graphs.

It also however shows a temperature upturn in the 20th century that exceeds the temperature observed in their proxy data for the Medieval warm period -- which contradicts what we certainly know about the Medieval warm period -- when the historical data that we have (Vikings farming in Greenland etc.) shows that period to be warmer than the present.

Additionally, we know that Briffa's Russian pine tree proxies showed a now famous DECLINE in 20th century temperatures -- a decline that Phil Jones & Co. famously used a "trick" to "hide". There is certainly no grounds from the thermometer readings to conclude that temperatures declined overall in the 20th century, though an argument could be made that there was no significant increase.

So where do we go from there? One could quite reasonably conclude that all temperatures are local and that we should not generalize from one place to another -- and that is a highly satisfactory conclusion for skeptics and a nasty one for the Greenies.

But my conclusion is even harsher than that. I don't see how we can trust ANY proxy unless we have ACTUAL temperatures to validate it against. And we just don't have such temperature data beyond about 150 years ago.

I am acutely aware of the validity issue because it lay at the heart of my own research into psychometrics. I was attempting in my work something just as daunting as what paleoclimatologists try to do. I was trying to put numbers to human attitudes and personalities.

One normally does that via a questionnaire. One uses questionnaires as proxies for what people are thinking. But how do you know that the answers to your questionnaire reflect anything real? You don't -- unless you seek some sort of validation for the measure you have constructed. You need some objective or independent data to compare your questionnaire answers with. And in my career I was a demon about insisting on such external validation.

Many of my colleagues were more insouciant however and took the questionnaire answers they had at face value. As a result I often was able to point out that they had got it wrong and that their research could not support the conclusions that the author concerned had drawn from it. I got a lot of papers published in the academic journals by pointing out such follies.

So if I had been in Briffa's shoes and found that the actual temperature record for the 20th century contradicted what my proxy data seemed to be showing, I would have concluded that the proxy was invalid and could not be used to support any conclusions. That is what any honest scientist would have done. Briffa, however, ignored the glaring invalidity of his proxy data and pretended to draw conclusions about temperatures for the last 1,000 years or so from it.

So from my perspective as a specialist in measurement, I can see no way of drawing sound conclusions about temperature from ANY proxy data so far available. The whole Warmist enterprise is an edifice built on sand.

Being a good scientist, however, I am going to specify what a valid temperature proxy would show. It would show the Roman warm period as warmest of all for the last 2500 years (when Hannibal took elephants over the Alps in WINTER and grapes grew in Northern England). It would show the Medieval Warm period as warmer than today (when Vikings farmed in Greenland). And it would show temperatures over the last 200 years as essentially flat (as even the Warmists claim a temperature rise of less than one degree Celsius over that period). I know of no such proxy in existence so far.

Given the inherently coarse resolution of proxies, it is in fact doubtful that any proxy COULD do what Warmists ask of it. Few people seem to realize that the graphs of leaping temperature that Warmists produce are calibrated in tenths of one degree. It may be possible to extract that degree of precision from thermometers but asking it of proxies is drawing a very long bow indeed.

I will stick with the well-established facts of history and conclude that present-day temperatures are in no way exceptionally warm. Publius Cornelius Scipio could well have made that sort of complaint but we cannot

Monday, September 06, 2010

Muslims and Hispanic illegals: Can we judge the present by the past?

It is generally true that the past is the best guide to the future that we have but that is not to say that it is always a good guide. Does anybody seriously think that (say) America of 100 years ago is the same as the America of today?

Yet by far the commonest argument coming from the Left about immigration in general and about Muslim immigrants in particular is precisely that America of today IS just like the America of 100 years ago. You can read the latest such article in the NYT (by Kristof). It is an argument so hackneyed by now that he could almost have written it in his sleep. Maybe he did.

The argument is that the Irish, Italians and others who came to America in the 19th century were viewed with grave suspicion by many and suffered from discrimination but in the end blended in seamlessly with Americans of other ancestries: The melting pot.

From that Kristoff and others conclude that Muslims will eventually "melt" into a homogeneous American population also. And perhaps many will. But there are two crucial difference that will at least greatly hinder full integration:

1). In the 19th and most of the 20th century, immigrants were EXPECTED to assimilate whereas these days multiculturalism reigns and the very word "assimilate" is almost an obscenity to the Left.

2). The Italians, Irish and Poles came from CHRISTIAN backgrounds so had a considerable degree of common culture with Americans originating from earlier waves of immigration. More to the point they did not come from a culture that DESPISES Christian and post-Christian civilization, whereas Muslims do.

It is a basic imperative of Islam to attack and if possible conquer other civilizations -- and they have been doing it more or less continuously ever since the conquests led by Mohammed himself. They were even attacking Christian targets at the time of America's War of Independence and President Jefferson sent warships to combat them.

So the wave of Muslim immigrants is a wave of people whose basic teachings are hostile to America. That has never happened before and therefore makes comparisons with previous immigrant waves invalid.

The controversy over the "Ground Zero" mosque in NYC has of course brought to the fore the question of how Americans should react to Muslims in their midst. I myself, as an Australian living in the happy obscurity of a small Australian city most people have never even heard of, have no dog in that fight. I think the response to the mosque proposal is for New Yorkers and New Yorkers alone to judge. But I don't think it is unreasonable for New Yorkers to be hostile to anything Muslim given the hostility of Islam to the West.

But Muslims are still a very small immigrant group in America and the long-standing argument about immigration to America is about Latino illegals, not Muslims. And here we see the same argument from the Left: People who arrived legally from Europe a century or so ago eventually assimilated so people who arrive illegally from Mexico (etc.) will also eventually assimilate. And no doubt many will and in fact many have already done so.

But arriving legally and arriving illegally are two very different things and Europe is also very different from Latin America. Europe is the fountainhead of modern civilization whereas Latin America is a civilizational backwater (to put it kindly). So once again there are large differences between earlier arrivals and recent ones that create considerable potential for outcomes different from what we have seen in the past.

And the omens for Hispanic illegals assimilating are not good. The children of Irish, Polish, Italian (etc.) legal immigrants became indistinguishable from other Americans but that is not so with the Hispanics. That Hispanics have a notably higher crime-rate than non-Hispanic whites is concern enough but their children are even worse, even more prone to criminality. As well as black gang-bangers America now has a proliferation of Hispanic gang bangers. Far from assimilating into the mainstream, the children of the illegals have moved even further away from it.

So once again the complexities of reality upset the simplistic theories of the Left. Neither in the case of Muslims nor in the case of Hispanic illegals can we expect the universal assimilation of the past. Permanently hostile subgroups are instead to be expected. Americans are right to be concerned about that.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Are conservatism and racism indistinguishable?

That question will no doubt amuse most readers here but that they are indistinguishable is the burden of a recent Leftist book -- called Conservatism and Racism, and Why in America They Are the Same (Part of the SUNY Series in African American Studies). From the blurb:
In this provocative, wide-ranging study, Robert C. Smith contends that ideological conservatism and racism are and always have been equivalent in the United States. In this carefully constructed and thoroughly documented philosophical, historical, and empirical inquiry, Smith analyzes conservative ideas from John Locke to William F. Buckley Jr., as well as the parallels between the rise and decline of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1970s and the ascendancy of the conservative movement to national power in 1980. Using archival material from the Reagan library, the book includes detailed analysis of the Reagan presidency and race, focusing on affirmative action, the Voting Rights act, the Grove City case, welfare reform, South Africa policy, and the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Conservatism and Racism, and Why in America They are the Same goes beyond a focus on the right wing, concluding with an analysis of the enduring impact of the conservative movement and the Reagan presidency on liberalism, race, and the Democratic Party.


It seems to be mainly a belated bit of Reagan hatred and consists of the author's own angry interpretation of various historical events.

One wonders what he makes of the fact that Hitler was a socialist, that it was Democrat politicians (George Wallace, Orval Faubus etc.) who were the chief opponents of racial integration in the South, that the KKK was almost entirely composed of Democrats and that a greater percentage of Republicans than Democrats voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

I might also note that I did some actual psychological research into the question during my academic career. I did a random population survey and found that racist attitudes were equally likely to be found among Leftist and Rightist voters in Australia. And there is little reason to expect Americans to be very different from Australians in that regard

Monday, August 30, 2010

Alternative history

I am something of an alternative history buff. Alternative history features quite a lot in Sci Fi and I used to read a lot of Sci Fi once so maybe that is why.

It seems to me that there were two great turning points in the 20th century which would have left us with a very different world today if they had been decided differently.

The first is the distinctly odd decision of Britain to enter what became WWI in support of their old enemy: France. It led to a slaughter of Britain's young men to rival the American North/South War and what did it achieve? Had Britain stayed neutral, the outcome of the war would surely have been similar to the Franco Prussian war of the 1870s: A flag-waving German withdrawl with a few small bits of German-speaking France hacked off and returned to German rule -- and a resumption of Edwardinan calm by all.

OK. I know why Britain did not go down that road. They were rightly spooked by Tirpitz's Luxusflotte. And in the one big naval engagement of the war -- the battle of Jutland -- those fears were amply confirmed -- with admiral Scheer running rings around admiral Jellicoe.

The second big turning point was Hitler's decision to make himself Oberkommando des Heeres (army chief). If he had given that job to the man who most deserved it -- Von Manstein (the conqueror of France) -- Russia would have been conquered, no doubt about it (Von Manstein destroyed two Russian armies even AFTER the Stalingrad debacle). And what a different world that would have been! How different goes beyond even my alternative history imagination.

Psychologists preaching feminism again

I had a bit to do with this in my own research career. I found huge holes in the feminism-supporting "research" of my fellow psychologists at the time. So the latest bit of nonsense does not surprise me. It says that feminized boys are psychologically healthier, just as lots of other psychologists repeatedly claim (by ignoring a lot of evidence) that leftists are psychologically healthier.

The report below has not yet passed peer review and been published in an academic journal so is a bit difficult to evaluate but it clearly depends on a questionnaire called the Children's Depression Inventory, and they almost certainly used it inappropriately. Note here for instance, that it should not be used alone as a diagnostic tool. It is too weakly predictive for that. It is supposed to be used only in conjunction with a diagnostic interview. There is no mention of such a precaution below.

Additionally, a standard warning with the test is that is is very open to the respondents "faking good" yet there is no mention below of that being controlled for or examined in any way. Use of a Lie scale might have been considered, for instance.

And since teaching is so feminized these days, more feminine boys are probably more aware of teacher expectations and are therefore both better at faking good and more motivated to do it. So their "healthier" scores could well be simple fakery.

The findings below are then readily explained as the product of sloppy and biased research rather than reflecting anything real
Being a mama's boy, new research suggests, may be good for your mental health. That, at least, is the conclusion of a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association by Carlos Santos, a professor at Arizona State University's School of Social and Family Dynamics.

Santos recently conducted a study that followed 426 boys through middle school to investigate the extent to which the boys favor stereotypically male qualities such as emotional stoicism and physical toughness over stereotypically feminine qualities such as emotional openness and communication, and whether that has any influence on their mental well-being. His main finding was that the further along the boys got in their adolescence, the more they tended to embrace hypermasculine stereotypes. But boys who remained close to their mothers did not act as tough and were more emotionally available. Closeness to fathers did not have the same effect, his research found.

Using a mental-health measure called the Children's Depression Inventory, he also found that boys who shunned masculine stereotypes and remained more emotionally available had, on average, better rates of mental health through middle school. "If you look at the effect size of my findings, mother support and closeness was the most predictive of boys' ability to resist [hypermasculine] stereotypes and therefore predictive of better mental health," Santos says. He adds that his research did not examine why a close mother-son relationship differed in its effect from a close father-son bond, but he suspects that fathers use stereotypically male behaviors to guide their sons into adulthood. "It could be, men see close relationships with their sons as an opportunity to reinforce traditional gender roles," he says. (See a story on mothers who opt for breast milk, not breast-feeding.)


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Religion and theology

Theology is an attempt by religious people to construct a version of their faith that they can intellectually assent to. There are many oddities in Christianity (such as the paradox of evil) and not everybody can simply ignore them.

I notice that with Rudolf Bultmann (1884 – 1976), a noted Lutheran theologian. He is something of a villain to traditional Christians because of his dismissal of Bible stories as essentially fairy stories. Yet if you read of his life and works you can see that he was a deeply religious man. He was not aiming so much to attack Christianity as to make it something that he could believe in.

I think that I am an instinctively religious person too. I was certainly religious in my now-distant teens. But in the end I cannot do as Bultmann did. I cannot construct a version of Christianity in which I can have faith. So I remain a sympathizer with Christianity but not a Christian myself. I sometimes wish it were otherwise but rationality intervenes and I remain an atheist.

I am reminded in that connection of a relative of mine who in his youth was an Assembly of God minister. But you don't have to have much in the way of qualifications to be an AOG minister. You just have to have the spirit. For those who don't know it, the AOG is a very fundamentalist group.

After a while however he decided that he needed to study theology. So I said to him: "Don't or you will lose the faith". But he did and he did. He is a very knowledgeable academic now.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Israel, India, China and IQ

It has always been a puzzle that Israelis tend to score BELOW the Western average on IQ. Israel is such a brilliant nation scientifically and technologically, that the finding almost seems to invalidate IQ tests. India presents a similar puzzle. Indians do very well wherever they migrate but on average seem to have low IQs back home in India.

As is common, however, the problem would seem to arise from generalizations that are too sweeping and fail to look closely at the populations concerned. I will say a bit more about India below but what needs to be noted is that both nations are NOT ethnically homogeneous. High caste Indians are a lot different from "Dalits" and Israeli "Ashkenazim" (Jews of Northern European recent origin) are VERY different from Israelis of Middle Eastern origins.

And MOST Israelis are of Middle Eastern origins. They are mostly the Jews that were kicked out from Muslim lands after the foundation of modern Israel. Hitler got most of Europe's Ashkenazim West of Moscow, leaving NYC as the great remaining Askenazi centre, and NYC is too comfortable for many Jews to leave.

And at least since the story of Ruth, Jews have never been very endogamous, and Yiddisher Mommas grieve over that to this day. One way or another, Jews have tended to become genetically assimilated into the population within which they live. So many Lithuanian Jews look just like Lithuanians and many Middle Eastern Jews look just like Arabs. Sadly, however, it is not only Arab looks that many Israelis share but also Arab IQ, which is low.

So yes. The Sephardim and Mizrachim of Israel are a bit dumb (though it is VERY incorrect to say so), but the Ashkenazim are very bright and it is they who make Israel an intellectual powerhouse.

Although there are similarities, India is not quite the same. The Northern and Southern Indians do appear to be at least partly of different racial origins and the Northerners seems to be descended in part from lighter-skinned conquerors from somewhere North of India. The conquerors were probably relatively few in number, however, as all Indians are pretty brown.

Indians generally are pretty keen endogamists, however, so the Brahmins are relatively fair of skin and are probably the most closely related to the original Northern invaders. And it is of course the Brahmins who run India. So it is the IQ of the Brahmins and other high castes that is crucial and I know of no studies that have separated out Indian IQ by caste.

And even in India some exogamy does happen. In India, you can generally tell how rich a man is not by his skin colour but by the skin colour of his wife. A rich brown Indian will generally have a fairer-skinned wife. So over the centuries capable Indians from all castes will have worked their way up the status tree and contributed higher IQs to the upper ranges of that tree.

But there is clearly a second influence at work in India: The rural effect. For various reasons a rural background tends to go with a lower IQ. You see that even in South Africa. The Afrikaners (whites of Dutch origin) have a lower average IQ than whites of British origin, even though there is no difference between the parent populations in Europe. And the Afrikaners have always been predominantly farmers.

So the current average IQ of the Indian population is undoubtedly held down by its overwhelmingly rural character. And when even Indians of a relatively low caste move elsewhere, that disadvantage seems to be lost and they prosper -- as in Fiji or South Africa, for instance.

A canny critic might at this point say: "But what about China"? The Chinese are mostly rural and their average IQ is high. Again, however, the very word "China" is an oversimplification. There are many distinct nations within China with their own languages and traditions and a generally low opinion of other such linguistic groups. The picture-based written language of China is not so much an anachronism as a necessity. It's the only way many Chinese can communicate with one another.

And from what I can gather most of the IQ testing has been done on Chinese from the coastal cities. Deep inland in rural China the IQ picture will probably be much different.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Are antisemites mad?

Shrinkwrapped is a very thoughtful blog by a conservative-oriented psychoanalyst in New York. From recollection, the author is Jewish. It is a generally very good blog well worth reading for those of us who are particularly interested in the psychology of politics -- which is my field of academic research.

Recently, Glenn Reynolds linked to an article by Roddy Boyd ("Killing Jews For Fun and For Profit: The Continuing American Adventures of Arab Bank") documenting a court case against an Arab Bank which illustrates how even supposedly rational and reasonable institutions, once in thrall to antisemitism, end up behaving irrationally and self destructively. Shrinkwrapped has responded with an article titled "Anti-Semitism as Thought Disorder".

To be a little crass about it, Shrinkwrapped argues that antisemitism sends you mad. That argument is of course not a new one. There are several versions of it and "The authoritarian personality" version of 1950 is perhaps the best known.

It is however basically an "armchair" theory. As far as I can tell, the people putting it forward have little if any personal knowledge of actual antisemites. For some reason, however, I have always had the compulsion to test theory against reality -- which usually does nothing for my popularity. And much of my research career was devoted to testing inferences derived from "The authoritarian personality" theory.

Readers who know my skeptical stance on global warming and health science will not be surprised to hear that I regularly found inferences from the theory not to be supported by the data.

And one of the things I did was to apply the characteristic methodology of anthropology to an examination of antisemitism. Anthropologists have the view that you can never understand a group "from the outside" -- You have to join the group and become accepted into it before you will ever have any chance of understanding it. I did that with the neo-Nazi group in my city. In other words I got out of my armchair and had a close-up look at what I was talking about. My resultant observations were published in The Jewish Journal of Sociology.

And what I found was actually something extremely common -- perfectly normal sane people who had just got hold of a wrong theory -- not unlike most Global Warmists today and not unlike the hordes of grade school teachers who think that just looking at words without any mention of phonics is a good way for kids to learn to read.

All three theories -- Jewish evil, global warming and "look and learn" have been catastrophic in different ways and illustrate the importance of getting your theories right. They also, sadly, illustrate the reluctance of people to let go of a theory they have accepted when confronted with evidence that the theory concerned is wrong.

Scientists are in fact some of the worst people at that. They cling to the theories of their youth through thick and thin and it is only the arising of a younger generation of scientists with more open minds that allows scientific thinking to advance.

So I disagree with Shrinkwrapped in seeing antisemites as being in some way psychologically abnormal. I think they are all too normal in fact. And it is precisely their normality which makes me despair of changing their views.

So in the end I am more pessimistic about antisemites than Shrinkwrapped is. He seems to think that psychological "help" could change their views whereas I doubt that anything will change their views. Israel can kill the antisemites that surround it but it will not change their minds.


Shrinkwrapped has offered some polite comments on my post above. I am a bit amused by his heading. He uses the rare word "emended" -- which refers to minor textual corrections. But his post is much more extensive than that. In a nutshell, he says that antisemitism can drive a whole society mad even if all the individuals in it are sane.

That seems a stretch to me but I will think about it. I tend to agree with Margaret Thatcher's thoroughly conservative observation that there is no such thing as society, only individual people.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

There is no lid on the greenhouse

There is now an increasing number of physical scientists who are ridiculing the entire basis of the greenhouse theory. What they are saying is a bit hard to follow for the layman so I am going to have a stab at explaining it for a general audience. Apologies in advance if I oversimplify.

In a real greenhouse (growing tomatoes etc.) there is a glass lid on the greenhouse, which means that the hot air rising off the bottom of the greenhouse cannot escape and just sticks around in its hot state. Then further hot air rising also cannot escape and adds to the amount of trapped heat.

But there is no glass lid circling the earth. CO2 is just a gas and cannot trap anything. So scientists have to come up with a new type of "greenhouse" if they want to offer a theory about why the earth should be heating up. And their theory is that heat is like a rubber ball: As soon as it hits some CO2 it bounces back down to earth ("backradiation")

But heat is not a rubber ball or anything like it. Heat is just motion -- motion among molecules. So if heated air rising off the earth hits some CO2 it may transfer some of its motion to the CO2 (and thus heat it up a bit) but that is the end of it. There is nothing to bounce and nothing to bounce off.

So the entire "global warming" theory is absurd. Prof Claes Johnson below gives a more precise explanation -- JR
Why a Cold Body Cannot Heat A Warm Body

This post connects to previous posts arguing that backradiation is unphysical.

Recall that backradiation from atmospheric greenhouse CO2 is the scientific corner-stone of IPCC climate alarmism, supported by in particular the Royal Society and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. This corner-stone is unphysical and purely fictional.

In Computational Black Body Radiation I give a mathematical explanation of Planck's black body radiation law based on finite precision computation, as an alternative to the statistics of quanta used by Planck himself.

The basic problem is to explain why and how nature avoids an ultra-violet catastrophy by cutting off radiation of frequencies higher than a certain cut-off frequency proportional to the temperature according to Wien's displacement Law (see fig above): Higher temperature allows higher frequencies to be radiated, as seen in the color of a fire changing with temperature.

Planck explains the cut-off using statistical mechanics by viewing radiating waves to be assembled from a certain smallest unit of energy (quanta) and assuming that high energy/frequency is rare because it requires assembly of many quanta.

In Computational Black Body Radiation I propose an alternative explanation viewing radiation the result of a form of analog finite precision computation (performed by oscillating
atoms/molecules) with the precision being proportional to temperature (mean oscillation amplitude) leading to high frequency cut-off.

The explanation of cut-off by finite precision computation offers an explanation of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics expressing that heat/radiation energy by itself can be transferred from a warm to a colder body, but not from a cold body to a warmer. Why is it so?

Because in transfer from warm to cold, high precision/energy/frequency waves are transformed to low precision/energy/frequency waves. In short, high precision can transformed by itself (with low precision) to low precision.

On the other hand, transfer from cold to warm, would require low precision to be transformed into high precision, and that is only possible by exterior (high precision) intervention.

Let us now give some examples illustrating that transfer from warm to cold is physical/observable while transfer from cold to warm is unphysical/nonobservable, because of limitations in analog finite precision computation:


Monday, July 05, 2010

Another lame attempt to wriggle out of the Race/IQ correlation

It's not much of a guess to say that stupid people are not very good at looking after their health and -- though lack of precautions -- may get a lot more disease than smarter people. And when you have got a whole nation of dumb people, the chances of them having good public health measures -- such as providing reticulated sewerage and clean drinking water -- must also be rated as low. So a finding that stupid people get a lot more illness is not remotely surprising.

And that is what the authors of Parasite prevalence and the worldwide distribution of cognitive ability by Eppig, Fincher and Thornhill found. Rather bizarrely, however, they reverse the causal link. They say that poor health causes low IQ! They do end up admitting that they have no proof for their "reversed" chain of causation so their work proves nothing but it is nonetheless amusing to note a few things about their study.

The whole point of the paper is of course to show that Africans have low average IQs not from genetic inheritance but because they are worm infested. And there is no doubt that Africans in Africa do carry a heavy burden of worm infestation -- mainly due to the great lack of public health measures there.

Where it gets amusing is that Eppig et al. did their study in various regions of the world and in 5 out of 6 regions, the correlation held. The exception was South America. The correlation collapsed completely there. Why? Because the South American region included several Caribbean nations almost wholly inhabited by Africans! So why were the results there different from the rest of South America? Could it be a racial difference?

Oh no! Eppig et al say: "It is possible that local parasites ... are causing these outliers". In other words, they abandon the obvious in favour of a totally vague and unfounded speculation!

Two other reasons why the perverse theory of Eppig et al is wrong: They pinpoint nutritional deficit as the mechanism by which parasite load inhibits brain development. But if poor nutition lowers IQ, how do we explain the famous Dutch famine study? In the closing phases of WWII, Nederland experienced a severe famine. So all the Dutch kids born during the famine should be real dummies, right? The reverse happened. They were of higher average IQ than other Dutch cohorts. Only the very healthy survived and, as we have seen, good health and high IQ correlate.

And a second very obvious disproof of the perverse Eppig et al. theory is that black Americans have very similar health environments to white Americans but are still a whole standard deviation lower in average IQ. The Eppig et al theory is, in other words, arrant and transparent nonsense

Sunday, July 04, 2010

The USA: A country for the little guy

An Independence Day reflection

I was born and bred in the Australian working class and, despite my success in academe and business, I still feel most at home among working class people. They seem to me to have a realism that the bourgeoisie lack. And I notice the same good-humoured realism among small-town Americans too. Big cities and grand theorizing seem to undermine common sense.

And there is no doubt that people from humble beginnings can rise to the top in both Australia and the USA -- from a B grade actor like Ronald Reagan to a parasite like Barack Obama.

But I think that a major factor in making America great is an extraordinarily simple one and one that is often overlooked: America has Congressional elections every two years. That puts the politicians in mortal fear of the little guy -- of ordinary Americans.

The politicians have got very little room to maneuver. If they run off the rails they will very rapidly be out on their ear. And that fear does mostly restrain them from grand follies. So America is in a very real sense the country where the little guy rules -- and that has made it great. And there is no doubt that the grand folly of Obamacare will deliver many a well-deserved boot up the backside to Democrat politicians this November.

And one of the wonderful things about ordinary Americans and Australians is that they are benevolent. They are kindly people who are ready to help others if they can. And that has made the USA into an incredibly generous nation.

What leaves me in awe is that America has repeatedly shown its readiness to risk the lives of its finest young men in order to rescue people in other countries from tyranny and brutality. America itself has not been seriously threatened for around 200 years so most of America's many wars have simply been efforts to help others.

And I think therefore that it is very right to remind ourselves of that awesome sacrifice on this day. I think the video below does that:

Saturday, June 19, 2010

For Leftists, hate takes the place of knowledge

Last year, I put up a post on STACLU about an allegedly Christian organization, "World Vision", refusing to take donations on behalf of poor Jewish children.

The article got a number of comments at the time, some clearly antisemitic. JS, the owner of the blog, deleted the more virulent ones, which was rather a pity. It is always amusing to see the combination of ignorance and hate which is typical of Leftist comments on conservative blogs.

Another commenter has, however, just left a comment on the post which offers some amusement. JS has already deleted it but I get a copy of all comments by email so I am going to revive it. Here it is:
John, you are exactly the type of person that needs to be wiped off this earth. You give your religion a horrible name and you look like a ridiculous fool in the process.

Pam's comments are totally fine. Israel is the most heinous country in the world...note I said ISRAEL not JEWS

The writer appears to be a Canadian named Gordon Sands []. He appears to be an administrator with an outfit called "Real Estate 101 Forum". He also informs us, as part of a foul-mouthed tirade, that "I masturbate once a week". Impressive!

But isn't it charming how he thinks that people who he disagrees with should be wiped off the face of the earth? A Canadian Stalin or Hitler could rely on Gordy to do their dirty deeds. Brutal disregard for others seems to be in the genes of Leftists. They are fundamentally hate-motivated.

And also in good Leftist style he feels no need to check his facts. He just KNOWS. We see that in his apparent assumption that I am Jewish. The most casual Google search would reveal that I am an atheist of Presbyterian background and British ancestry.

And the one-eyed condemnation is also typical Leftism. If Israel is the most heinous country in the world, what price Burma, Iran, North Korea, Sudan etc.?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Amusing crap about IQ

A murder in your area lowers your IQ -- even if you don't know about the murder concerned? It's totally implausible but Leftists never give up in their hatred of around 100 years of IQ research that show IQ to be mostly genetic.

The author below found that people living in areas where a crime had occurred recently have lower IQs. But what sort of area is likely to have experienced a crime recently? A area that has high rates of crime generally and an area where anybody with brains would NOT live. Note that criminals have long been known to have generally low IQs and very low levels of educational attainment.

So all that the author below in fact found was that people living in high crime areas tend to be dumb, which is no surprise to anyone. The journal article is The acute effect of local homicides on children's cognitive performance.

The statement below to the effect that "The effects wear off after a week to nine days" is simply not supportable from the data available. It is just another perverse guess. You would need before-and-after data on the same person to substantiate that claim and the author simply did not have such data.

A murder in the neighborhood can significantly knock down a child's score on an IQ test, even if the child did not directly witness the killing or know the victim, U.S. researchers reported on Monday....

Sharkey compared data on crimes broken down to within a few blocks in a neighborhood with school test scores.

He collected details of more than 6,000 murders in the Chicago area and the results of two surveys of children and families in Chicago neighborhoods. The surveys included scores from tests that are used to determine a child's IQ.

If a murder occurred in a child's neighborhood -- an area of roughly six to 10 square blocks as denoted by the U.S. Census -- the children's test scores fell by an average of half a standard deviation, Sharkey reported.

On an IQ test using 100 as the average or norm, one standard deviation is 15 points. So if a child took the test within a week of a local murder, his or her score was 7-8 points lower on average than the score of a similar child in a similar neighborhood where there was no murder.

This fits in with what is known about the effects of post traumatic stress, Sharkey said. "The results suggest that children may carry the burden of violence with them as they take part in daily life within the neighborhood or school settings," he said.

The effects wear off after a week to nine days, Sharkey found. But in areas with a lot of crime, this does not provide much relief.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

The "Nazi" Pope

I am not going to say one thing below that is original. But it always appalls me when people believe the opposite of the truth and I have to speak up about it.

Eugenio Pacelli was a small but determined man of great intelligence and high principle. He became Pope Pius XII in 1939 and was Pope throughout WWII. He had been papal nuncio in Germany for many years prior to that and came to speak perfect German -- a remarkable achievement for an Italian who had all his education in Italy. During his time in Germany he saw of course the rise of Nazism and regularly condemned it in no uncertain terms.

In 1937 he wrote on behalf of Pius XI the encyclical Mit brennender Sorge ("With burning sorrow") -- a condemnation of Nazi persecution of non-Nazis. Encyclicals are usually written in Latin so writing this encyclical in German showed how determined the church was to speak up on behalf of all those being oppressed by the Nazis.

The tiny minority of Pacelli's critics who have some knowledge of history sometimes point to the fact that in his role as nuncio, Pacelli was responsible for a Konkordat with the German Federal government that was signed in 1933. Pacelli's job was to arrange concordats (agreements) with various governments that would safeguard the independence of church schools, allow the preaching of Catholic doctrine etc. And he did in fact achieve many such agreements, an agreement with the Southern German (and very Catholic) State of Bayern (Bavaria) being one of the earliest. German Laender, were, like American States today, substantially independent and had their own legal and school systems etc.

Pacelli had been trying for some time to get such an agreement with the Federal German government but had always been knocked back. When Hitler came to power, however, he was keen to legitimate himself so he changed the prior Federal stance and signed up. At that stage Hitler was simply the newly-elected German Kanzler (Prime Minister) and there was of course no knowledge of his future deeds. So how was Pacelli at fault about that? It may be noted that when Mit brennender Sorge was issued Hitler broke his agreements in the Konkordat and persecuted Catholic clergy. So the arrangement of a Konkordat was a wise precaution, even if it was a precaution that ultimately failed.

Pacelli did however learn from what happened when Mit brennender Sorge was issued. When war broke out, Pacelli fell largely silent. He saw that he would probably bring down further persecution of the church by adding to his existing criticisms of Nazism. Instead he concentrated on deeds rather than words. The Vatican became a lifeline for endangered Jews. It supplied money to get them out of Germany and false ID documents saying that they were Christians. And note that this was at a time when the church regarded the Jews as enemies. In the theology of the time, the Jews had killed the Catholics' God and that was one hell of a bad way to start a friendship.

And when the Germans came to Italy itself, Pacelli rose to even greater efforts. He exempted monasteries and nunneries from their normal rules so that they could take in and hide Jews that the Nazis were pursuing. Even his own summer residence at Castel Gandolfo was said at one time to be hiding 3,000 Jews, though nobody knows the exact number.

And this is the man whom many Leftists refer to as "Hitler's Pope"! So why the lie? Why is this exceptionally fine man "controversial"?

Easy: Soviet disinformation. As we all know, the church utterly opposed "Godless" Communism and the Soviets rightly perceived the Vatican as an important enemy. So the Soviets and their fellow travellers in the West put about this abominable lie that Pacelli was antisemitic and sympathetic to the Nazis. And it suits the anti-Christian stance of modern-day Leftists to believe it too.

So it grieves me greatly that this true man of God is taken for the opposite of what he was. The world needs more men like Eugenio Pacelli -- perhaps now more than ever. Even I as an atheist salute him.

There is an interesting story here about how one man finally broke through the lies and found out the truth about Pacelli.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

"Tomorrow belongs to me"

The film "Cabaret" is set in Berlin in the early days of the Nazi party. In it, a Hitler Youth member sings the song "Tomorrow belongs to me" and it inspires his audience. It is actually a pre-Nazi song that was altered for the purposes of the film but it certainly expresses Nazi thinking. The singers of the Horst Wessel Lied (the song of the brownshirts) certainly thought that the future belonged to them. And some genuine lines from the actual song of the Hitler youth are:

Uns're Fahne ist die neue Zeit. (Our flag is the new time)
Und die Fahne führt uns in die Ewigkeit! (And the flag leads us into eternity)

And we also had, of course Hitler's claimed "Tausend Jahr Reich" (Thousand year empire).

So it is interesting to put the following NYT article into historical context.
Is “Left” becoming a four-letter word? You’d think so lately with each day bringing more news of unconscionable conservative tilts in the electorate, while the drumbeat of the Democrats’ supposed death march to November gets ever louder.

For example, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey released this week found that a majority of Americans supported Arizona’s hostile new immigration law, even as most allowed that the law is likely to lead to more discrimination against legal immigrants. Apparently, for some, there is an acceptable level of collateral damage.

A May 7 Gallup poll found that 42 percent of people wanted a Supreme Court nominee who would make the court more conservative, as opposed to only 27 percent who wanted a nominee who would make it more liberal. That was before Elena Kagan was nominated. Afterward, 40 percent rated her as a good or excellent choice, but that was the lowest such rating in recent history, even 4 percentage points lower than Harriet Miers’s.

An Associated Press-GfK poll released this week found that a plurality of people still favor increasing drilling for oil and gas off the coasts even as an unprecedented natural disaster unfolds in the Gulf of Mexico. Environment be damned.

And Gallup released a poll on Friday entitled “The New Normal on Abortion: Americans More ‘Pro-Life.’ ” It buttressed the finding from last summer when, for the first time since the question began being asked in 1995, more people self-identified as “pro-life” than as “pro-choice.”

This string of bad news has only compounded an already palpable sense of loss and longing on the left, an enveloping fear of the inevitable: rejection. The right, and most importantly, the middle, unnerved by spending in a recession and unhinged by Obama in the White House, have not bought into the liberal vision of a new America. In fact, they’re increasingly weary of it, if not hostile to it.

So by most accounts, Nov. 2 is going to be a blue day in blue America. That is in part because of a sizable enthusiasm gap that favors Republicans.

Liberals may want to crouch in a corner, wait for the storm to pass, then resurface and survey the damage, but that would be avoidance rather than acknowledgement and acceptance.

Better to acknowledge that the anger and frustration felt across the country, however fanatical and freighted, must find release, and it will do so in November. Then you can accept it for what it is: not a failure of philosophy, but a fear of the future. That future can be deferred, but it will not be denied.

I am convinced that the right may win the day, but the left will win the age. That’s because the right is running an intellectually bereft campaign of desperation and disenchantment, amplified by a recession.

Great Recessions don’t last. Great ideas do.

So are his closing sentiments right? You may be surprised to hear that I think that he is indeed right. Whether redistributing the wealth and bringing everything under government control are "great" ideas is a laughable proposition but they are certainly ideas that seem inbred into human DNA. Even conservatives accept a watered-down version of such ideas. Actual libertarians are a tiny, though sometimes influential, minority.

Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan held back the tide for a while but it has all gradually crept back. Who would have thought that America would one day have a Government Motors instead of a General Motors?

Mussolini was right. In the 1920s he said that the 20th century would be the century of Fascism -- and so it turned out to be. In Mussolini's Italy, the government did not OWN all industry (that is the Communist folly) but the government CONTROLLED all industry. And, by way of laws and regulations, that is the case in all developed countries today. Freedom for businessmen to do as they please is roughly as restricted in the USA today as it was in Fascist Italy.

So, Yes. In the hands of both the GOP and the Donks, government control of all we do will continue its relentless advance. The Communist idea of the party directing the economic activities of the nation is dead. But the Nazi/Fascist idea of leaving businessmen to run business under tight government controls is triumphant. Both 20th and 21st century history is clear about that.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Leftists and the armed forces

I have long argued that the difference between Left and Right can only be understood psychologically rather than ideologically. Leftists run on pure emotion. Conservatives have emotions too but they are governed by reason as well.

Leftists will use ANY argument that suits their emotional needs of the moment. They have certain recurrent themes in their arguments -- such as "poverty" being the cause of all ills -- but such themes are little more than verbal tics. They are not a serious attempt to explain anything.

A rather hilarious proof of that is that Leftists for quite a while after 9/11/2001 explained Muslim antagonism to America as being caused by poverty -- even though Osama bin Laden is a billionaire! The Leftist mouths uttering such nonsense were clearly not engaged in any serious way with thought or any sincere effort to understand.

And one of the things that Leftist emotions will never engage with is the army. Leftists just can't understand why anybody would LIKE being in the army and Leftist governments will always cut back military funding if they can plausibly do so. Australia's Leftist government has done so this week, even though there are frequent calls on the Australian army for overseas deployments to various theatres of conflict, Iraq and Afghanistan included.

Yet lots of people DO like being in the army, including women. In my far-off military days the corps with the longest waiting list was the WRAACS (Women's Royal Australian Army Corps). Each corps has a certain "establishment" -- meaning that the corps can only enlist as many people as they are allocated by the defence bureaucrats. So a popular corps will often have a waiting list of people waiting for a vacancy in the establishment. And LOTS of women wanted to get into the WRAACS.

And that continues to this day. Even exceptionally attractive women often love the army. G.I. Jill won a beauty contest as Miss Utah but still was keen to get back to military duties. And Miss England (aka "Combat Barbie") at the moment is keen to get back into army uniform too. And my most recent bride spent 9 years in the army and you can see what she looks like here (scroll down).

And who could be more privileged than a member of the British Royal family? But it IS a military family and Prince Harry in particular is well known for his devotion to the army and his keenness for active service. He even once said of his very attractive girlfriend, Chelsy, that he loves Chelsy but the army comes first! I doubt that any Leftist mind could comprehend that! I can, though.

Left to right above: Prince Charles, Chelsy Davy, Prince Harry. Photo from earlier this month

And in the most minor of ways, my own totally undistinguished military career shows a little of that spirit too. In the Vietnam era I was at a university in Brisbane where there were vast anti-Vietnam rallies. So I joined a local army reserve unit. While most of my fellow students were marching around with placards, I was trying my best to acquire some military skills. And I enjoyed it immensely.

After completing my first degree, however, I moved down to Sydney and naturally assumed that I would join the Sydney reserve unit of my corps. But they were "up to establishment"! They had no vacancy for me. So did I just say "too bad!". No way! I went on full-time duties with the regular army instead! The regular unit of my corps had vacancies even if the reserve unit did not!

I can't imagine that any Leftist would understand that. Personally, I think they are inadequate people who are simply too cowardly for the army. They will of course think that I am simply stupid but as I have a Ph.D. and 200+ academic publications that explanation would be as silly as their "poverty" explanation.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Germany's "Democratic Party" in the 1930s

In my various writings I am much indebted to readers who send me interesting links and, occasionally, interesting books. One regular and generous correspondent has just sent me a copy of a recent book: Living with Hitler: Liberal Democrats in the Third Reich.

To understand what the book is about, you need to know that the German electoral system both then and now is/was run on proportional representation lines. There was nothing like the "First past the post" voting system that prevails in most Anglo-Saxon countries. In other words, the number of seats in the legislature that a party gets reflects roughly the proportion of votes cast that the party got in the most recent election. This invariably leads to a parliament in which MANY parties are represented, unlike the two-party system of the USA. It is very rare for any one party to get a majority of the seats available and governments are therefore usually formed by alliances between different parties. Israel and most of Europe has such a system to this day.

And in interwar Germany, politics were dominated by various flavours of Leftism. There was very little support for much in the way of conservatism. And the parties could be ranked in their degree of Leftism -- from Communist, to Nazi, to Social Democrats to Liberal Democrats. The Social Democrats were equivalent to the Labor parties that one finds in the Anglosphere, strongly allied with the Labor unions, and the Liberal Democrats saw themselves as "progressives", quite similar to the Democrats in the USA today. And it is that latter group that the book concerns.

So how did the German "Democrats" go in Hitler's Germany? Did they furiously resist Nazism, as the rhetoric of modern-day Democrats would suggest? No way! Like the FDR Democrats in the America of the 1930s, they got along with Hitler to various degrees. There were a small number of highly principled ones who fled Germany but most did little more than mutter and got by quite well under Hitler. Some even made distinguished careers under Hitler. Most thought that Hitler was too rough and too extreme but they appreciated his basic Leftism and went along with him willingly.

Conventional history since the war has focused on the small number of German "Democrats" who fled Germany but this latest book shows that they were highly atypical. If you want the details, you will have to read the book. It is a large and comprehensive work so you will be left in no doubt at the end of it about how easily "Democrats" can drift into Fascism. With the passage of Obamacare, many American conservatives would say the the drift concerned is now well underway in the USA.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Some stray thoughts on Vorwärts! Vorwärts! (The song of the Hitler Youth)

While I have the work I did on the subject a couple of days ago still in mind: I see that British critics of the HJ (Hitler Jugend; Hitler Youth) during the war described it as "education for death". And there have been academic articles that identify Fascism/Nazism as a death cult too. And if you look at the last line of the first verse of Vorwärts! Vorwärts! (below) you can see why. HJ members were encouraged to give up their lives for Hitler if need be.

But is it really fair to condemn that? Consider two other well-known statements: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). Is Christianity a death cult? Early Christians certain did often lay down their lives for their faith.

And what about: "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country"? (Originally said by Pericles and recycled by JFK in his first inaugural). Was JFK inaugurating a death cult?

Neither quote is an exact analogue of what the HJ asked of its members but throughout history it has normally been seen as heroism to give up one's life for others and I personally see the sadly misled young members of the HJ as walking in that tradition. The only pity is that their dedication was so badly abused.

They in fact thought that they were fighting for Freiheit und Brot (freedom and bread). We forget in our age of affluence that an abundance of food for all is a quite recent achievement. Hunger was just around the corner for most people throughout history. And Hitler did promise to banish that danger via his policy of Lebensraum. And hunger is an urgent need so fighting for "bread" was a much more important goal in the time of the HJ than it is today. Hence its prominence in their song.

But perhaps the most interesting bit in Vorwärts! Vorwärts! is that the HJ also thought they were fighting for "freedom". Freedom from what? Basically, freedom from Jewish oppressors, I think. It was a fantasy of course but one that was widely believed at the time. The prominence of Jews in all walks of life in prewar Germany certainly helped foster that illusion.

And the flag of the HJ heralded "the new time". I can remember the days in the 50's, 60s and even 70s when "new" was a Leftist catchword. The "new" theatre or the "new" school would be understood by politically aware people as being on the far Left. So, as far Leftists, the Nazis presented themselves that way too. That tyranny and collectivism are as old as the hills was somehow ignored. But for a long time people did think -- or hope -- that Fascism and Communism were something new, improved and positive. I think it was the obviously sclerotic state of the old Soviet union that eventually caused the Left to abandon their propaganda about being "new". Though I suppose that "hopey change" is just a variation on it.
Uns're Fahne flattert uns voran. Our flag flutters before us
In die Zukunft ziehen wir Mann für Mann We trek into the future as man for man
Wir marschieren für Hitler We march for Hitler
Durch Nacht und durch Not Through night and hardship
Mit der Fahne der Jugend With the flag of youth
Für Freiheit und Brot. For freedom and bread
Uns're Fahne flattert uns voran, Our flag flutters before us
Uns're Fahne ist die neue Zeit. Our flag is the new time
Und die Fahne führt uns in die Ewigkeit! And the flag leads us into eternity
Ja die Fahne ist mehr als der Tod! Yes the flag is more to us than death

Monday, March 08, 2010

Nazi Music: One of the engines of Nazism

A brief historical introduction

This is a difficult subject to broach both because of its political sensitivity and because musical tastes differ so much from person to person.  While there is some music that has near-universal appeal (some of the arias from "Carmen", for instance), it also seems to be true that no two persons have exactly the same musical preferences and that must obviously influence how Nazi music is perceived and evaluated.

It is also  a field that is  bound up with emotion so it is both difficult and dangerous to attempt the sort of objective comments that should characterize any discussion of history.   I think however that we need to take a stab at it.  And I submit  that it is a grave omission to neglect music as an element in the historical appeal of Nazism to Germans.  Wherever they marched, Nazi formations sang  -- be they Hitler Youth, brownshirts or the armed forces.  And being German, their music was very good.  Germany is the home of good music.  German-speaking people are responsible for something like two thirds of the classical repertoire  -- from Bach and  Handel to Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Wagner, Schumann etc.

As a libertarian, any form of Fascism is anathema to me but I think it was William Booth (founder of the Salvation Army) who noted that the Devil had all the good songs.  And the Nazis, just because they were German DID have many good songs.  There were many Fascist movements worldwide in the first half of the 20th century but none of them were remotely as musical as the Nazis. 

So good music had great power to move a musical people and it seems clear to me that music was one of the things that made Germans march for Hitler.  Music is however a form of communication that  transcends time and space so it seems to me that there is one way that I can support my contention about the importance of music to the appeal of Nazism:  I can actually play you some of the music and you can judge it for yourself.  I start with the Badenweiler march.  This is actually a First World War march but Hitler made it his own.  It was normally played only in his presence.  It announced his arrival at rallies etc. 

The famous song of the S.A. (Brownshirts) was of course the Horst Wessel Lied.  It refers to prewar street fighting with the "Reds".  There is no rivalry like sibling rivalry, though after Hitler came to power, many of the Reds simply joined the Nazis. 

The English translation is a poor thing but I give it below for those who understand no German.

The flag high! The ranks tightly closed!
SA march with calm, firm steps.
Comrades shot by the Red Front and reactionaries
March in spirit in our ranks.
Clear the streets for the brown battalions,
Clear the streets for the stormtroopers!
Already millions look with hope to the swastika
The day of freedom and bread is dawning!
Roll call has sounded for the last time
We are all already prepared for the fight!
Soon Hitler's flag will fly over all streets.
Our servitude will soon end!
The flag high! The ranks tightly closed!
SA marches with a calm, firm pace.
Comrades shot by the Red Front and reactionaries
March in spirit in our ranks.

The original is much more moving:

Die Fahne hoch! Die Reihen fest geschlossen!
SA marschiert mit ruhig, festem Schritt.
Kam'raden, die Rotfront und Reaktion erschossen,
Marschier'n im Geist in unser'n Reihen mit.
Die Strasse frei den braunen Batallionen.
Die Strasse frei dem Sturmabteilungsmann!
Es schau'n aufs Hakenkreuz voll Hoffnung schon Millionen.
Der Tag fuer Freiheit und fuer Brot bricht an!
Zum letzten Mal wird schon Appell geblasen!
Zum Kampfe steh'n wir alle schon bereit!
Bald flattern Hitlerfahnen ueber alle Strassen.
Die Knechtschaft dauert nur mehr kurze Zeit!
Die Fahne hoch! Die Reihen fest geschlossen!
SA marschiert mit ruhig-festem Schritt.
Kameraden, die Rotfront und Reaktion erschossen,
Marschieren im Geist in unseren Reihen mit.

Then there is Vorwaerts, Vorwaerts  -- the very  inspirational song of the Hitler Youth.  It absolutely EXUDES dedication and heroism.  The power of it may perhaps be judged from the fact that it is still illegal to play or sing it in Germany today.  The words are actually quite simple and that may be the reason why some commenters describe them as banal -- but those who sang it certainly did not see it that way.  They lived it during the closing stages of the war  -- displaying great heroism in defending their country.  The idealism  is probably one of the reasons why those survivors of the Hitler Youth who are still alive today often have warm memories of their time in the Hitler Youth.

There is actually a better rendition of the song here but it lacks subtitles

For those who wish to study the song, I also give the words below with my translation.


Uns're Fahne flattert uns voran.  Our flag flutters before us
In die Zukunft ziehen wir Mann fuer Mann We trek into the future as man for man
Wir marschieren fuer Hitler We march for Hitler
Durch Nacht und durch Not Through night and hardship
Mit der Fahne der Jugend With the flag of youth
Fuer Freiheit und Brot. For freedom and bread
Uns're Fahne flattert uns voran, Our flag flutters before us
Uns're Fahne ist die neue Zeit. Our flag is the new time
Und die Fahne fuehrt uns in die Ewigkeit! And the flag leads us into eternity
Ja die Fahne ist mehr als der Tod! Yes the flag is more to us than death

Vorwaerts! Vorwaerts! Forwards, forwards
Schmettern die hellen Fanfaren, Blare the bright fanfares
Vorwaerts! Vorwaerts! Forwards, forwards
Jugend kennt keine Gefahren. Youth knows no danger
Deutschland, du wirst leuchtend stehn Germany, you will brightly stand
Moegen wir auch untergehn. Even if we have to die
Vorwaerts! Vorwaerts! Forwards, forwards
Schmettern die hellen Fanfaren, Blare the bright fanfares
Vorwaerts! Vorwaerts! Forwards, forwards
Jugend kennt keine Gefahren. Youth knows no danger
Ist das Ziel auch noch so hoch, No matter how high the goal
Jugend zwingt es doch. Youth will force it through

Jugend! Jugend! Youth, Youth
Wir sind der Zukunft Soldaten. We are the soldiers of the future
Jugend! Jugend! Youth, Youth
Traeger der kommenden Taten. Bearers of coming deeds
Ja, durch unsre Faeuste faellt  Yes, through our fists fall
Wer sich uns entgegenstellt Anyone who opposes us
Jugend! Jugend! Youth, Youth
Wir sind der Zukunft Soldaten. We are the soldiers of the future
Jugend! Jugend! Youth, Youth
Traeger der kommenden Taten. Bearers of coming deeds
Fuehrer, wir gehoeren dir, Leader, we belong to you
Wir Kameraden, dir! We are your comrades

Hitler youths using their fanfare trumpets

For more on the HJ (Hitler Youth) see here

There is of course much more Nazi music but the above will hopefully give you the idea.  My apologies to any Jewish readers who may be offended by this article  but Wagner is performed  in Israel these days so I think the time has come when music can be judged as music, regardless of its appalling associations.

And Hitler himself loved his music. The photo below shows him in white tie and tails attending the Wagner opera festival at Bayreuth in 1939.  There is no doubt of his real devotion to opera  -- and indeed to classical music generally

Saturday, February 27, 2010

A nasty memory of bigoted Leftism among American academics

My career as a social science researcher was not a difficult one. As a conservative, I had to write at a much higher standard than if I had been a common or garden variety Leftist but I could do that so 200+ of my articles got published in the academic journals.

One episode from the '90s, however, I still remember with displeasure. In the early '90s the editor of Sociology & Social Research was David Heer -- a sociologist who was basically interested in the facts of the matter rather than pushing an ideological wheelbarrow. He was located then and still seems to be at USC.

And I did at one stage submit a paper to him for publication in S. & S.R. which he accepted for publication. He seems however to have been too mild for the frantic Leftists in USC sociology and got pushed out of the journal editorship shortly thereafter.

And his successor at the journal -- Marcus Felson -- did something almost unheard of in academe: He "unaccepted" my paper. It was apparently too conservative for him, though he gave some other quite specious reason for rejecting it. He seemed to be a young man in a hurry so I appealed the matter to his Department Head at the time: Paul Bohannan. Bohannan was unmoved. So I appealed to the university President. But he was unmoved too.

The paper eventually appeared in another journal so Heer was vindicated and Felson was shown up as the nasty piece of work that he is. Without blowing the dust off some very old files (which makes me sneeze) I cannot remember for certain which paper it was but I am pretty sure that it is this one. I submitted the paper to S. & S.R. because it dealt with a matter originally raised in that journal.

I did write a scornful letter to Bohannan when the paper finally appeared in print. Felson I regarded as beneath contempt.