Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Bell Curve 11 - Effects of Cognitive Stratification

Thomas Sowell demonstrates that what is happening here and now has happened before; Herrnstain and Murray predicted it would happen.

Here's the link:

More coming; stay tuned . . . . .

Monday, July 26, 2010

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Bell Curve 10 - An Example of the Result of Cognitive Stratification

I recommend this link.

Here are some quick cuts from Hanson:

"There is no racial, regional, religious, or tribal commonality. One shared allegiance perhaps is to higher education that certifies the cultural elite by diplomas of all sorts from a “good school,” as well as a respectable salary and a nice home with appurtenances. The good life of the elite is defined by both the absence of worry about necessities, and a certain status that accrues from properly recognized advanced education and sensitivity.

"How would we characterize the new aristocracy? In a number of ways. 1) Untruth; 2) Nature; 3) Muscularity; 4) Gender; 5) Logic."

Basically Hanson is explaining and describing the results of cognitive stratification -- what happens when the people I call "overeducated pinheads" talk only to each other.

It is posted in excerpt by

Monday, July 19, 2010


I have recently seen two billboards around the Twin Cities that give me the cold shudders.

One says:
my pop culture
my gossip
my radio station
my talk

The other one says:
The station for the Obama generation.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A comforting night prayer

This is the Anima Christi, as freely translated in verse by John Henry Cardinal Newman. I find it very comforting to say as my last prayer while lying in bed waiting for sleep.

(My usual bedtime is 2:00 am, old student habit, I think; and usually by 2:00 I'm in such a trance of fatigue I can scarcely get up from my knees from my usual night prayers. But when I get fatigued my mind wanders all over the place; many times it wanders to wondering how wonderful it would be to have a warm soft cuddly wife in bed with me. And since this is a thought I must not think, for obvious reasons, I say the Anima Christi. If I'm not asleep by then, I start saying the Stations of the Cross, and rarely get to the end.)

So here it is:

Soul of Christ, be my sanctification.
Body of Christ, be my salvation.
Blood of Christ, fill all my veins.
Water of Christ's side, wash out my stains.
Passion of Christ, my comfort be.
O good Jesus, listen to me.
In Thy wounds I fain would hide,
Ne'er to be parted from Thy side.
Guard me should the Foe assail me,
Call me when my life shall fail me,
Bid me come to Thee above,
With Thy saints to sing Thy love
Forever and ever. Amen.

The Latin is elegantly sparse and compact; a literal translation equally so; I like this best.

Friday, July 16, 2010

New Title

How about if we start calling him the Presidentissimo? (Note the similarity to the musical term prestissimo, which I believe means "loudest," and to the kleptocratic term "generalissimo.") I think it fits.

Woodworking and Catholic thought

While scraping and sanding two window sashes that will be re-stained and re-varnished, I noticed that it's nearly impossible to get all the old stain out of the wood. Scraping is like going to confession: the surface junk comes off, but the stain remains. Purgatory (that merciful doctrine) tells us that all the deep-seated stains, come from years and decades of sin, can be and are removed; probably very slowly and painfully, but with the promise of heaven when we're purified enough to go there. I suspect that for most humans (me especially) the deepest stain is an attachment - sort of a deformed affection - for our favorite sins. That is what needs removal the most.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Understanding the Revised Mass Texts

I found this book at a religious book store last week. It's very good. I bought one for myself, and one for a dear friend who is a convert from Judaism, so did not get the benefit of hearing Mass in Latin, as I did when I was in grade school (graduated 1958) and high school (graduated 1962). I recommend it to everyone.

To my unknown Chinese (?) commentator

Dear Sir, Madam, or Miss -

When you write comments that are:

1, In English,

2, relevant to what I'm saying, and

3, civil and respectful -

I will publish them. Until then, no.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

le 14 Juillet 1789, July 14 2010

A bas la Bastille!
A bas les Aristos!
(And I think you know which ones I mean).
Later addition: a paragraph from a book called The Secret of D-Day, by Gilles Perrault. He wrote it about 1964, gleaning material from Allied and German intelligence files. It was first published in 1964 by Librairie Arthème Fayard, and earned its author the Prix de la Resistance.
"A Führer is always more or less convinced that he is always right; it is one of the peculiarities of the breed. He has his own personal star to guide him toward his destiny. He has revelations, he knows the secrets of the gods. Fortune is one his side, ready to tip the scales if necessary. He is surprised if the Red Sea does not part to let his army cross. Hitler, for example, could not admit that it was bad weather which had forced him to postpone his offensive four times between November, 1939, and May, 1940. It was abnormal. He was the man of sunlight."
(Sound like anyone else we know of?)

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Bell Curve 9 - The NLSY and Defining Cognitive Classes

The introduction to Part II of the book says: "Part II presents our best estimate of how much intelligence has to do with America's most pressing social problems. The short answer is 'quite a lot,' and the reason is that different levels of cognitive ability are associated with different patterns of social behavior. High cognitive ability is generally associated with socially desirable behaviors, low cognitive ability with socially undesirable ones."

But Herrnstein and Murray add what looks like a disclaimer, that associated with does not mean coincident with. (As statisticians are fond of saying, correlation does not mean causation.) "What this means in English is that you cannot predict what a given person [my emphasis] will do from his IQ score -- a point that we have made in part I and will make again, for it needs repeating. On the other hand, despite the low association at the individual level, large differences in social behavior separate groups of people when the groups differ intellectually on the average."

If you go back to my example given in the second essay (Feb. 1, 2010), "What looks random maybe isn't," you'll see that I tried to emphasize that no single flip of the little sink strainer can be predicted (seat or not seat itself), but after 187 trials of ten flips each, a pattern emerges. What is unpredictable singly can be accurately estimated en masse.

Now here comes what looks like a side-step. Where can one get anough data to do decent analysis on, let alone draw valid conclusions from?

The authors point to a long-term study called the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, begun in 1979 with 12,686 persons aged 14 to 22 at the time. (Check out for more info. The page is maintained by the US Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.) Herrnstein and Murray call the study "the mother lode" and add that it is unique because it combines in one study all the elements that had to be studied piecemeal beforehand -- and presumably the elements had to be gathered from many different studies.

(I had somewhat the same problem when dealing with estimated traffic demand at a proposed new interchange. The highway volume data came from the state; the cross-street volume data came from a county or city. The data had to be integrated into one data set before any analysis was even possible.)

The next thing Herrnstein and Murray do, after explaining where they get their best data, is to define cognitive classes. They divide the population into five classes, as seen here, and what isn't in the picture is in the text: classes I and V are each only 5% of the population; classes II and IV are each 20%, and class III is 50% of the population.

Then comes an important note to the reader: "You -- meaning the self-selected person who has read this far into the book [p. 121] -- live in a world that probably looks nothing like the figure. In all likelihood, almost all of your friends and professional associates belong in that top Class I slice. Your friends and associates whom you consider to be unusually slow are probably somewhere in Class II. Those whom you consider to be unusally bright are probably somewhere in the upper fraction of the 99th centile, a very thin slice of the overall distribution. In defining Class I, which we will use as an operational definition of the more amorphous group called the "cognitive elite," as being the top 5 percent, we are being quite inclusive. It does, after all, embrace some 12 1/2 million people." [Note this was 14 years ago.]

Very important endnote: In the light of eternity, how smart we are matters little compared to what we do with what we've got. "The greatest of these is love." Remember the parable of the Talents. "Much is required from him to whom much is given." It's the same as a great quip I saw on a blog, maybe one of yours: the most glorious monstrance in the world is nothing compared to Who is in it.